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What Does it Take to Run a PR? Five Runners Show You Their Strategies

In my last post, I talked about my decision to be a faster runner. I committed to doing the work that was necessary to bring my performances to the next level. It worked and I ran nearly a minute faster over 8k cross country.

Becoming a better runner isn’t that easy. You can’t just “make the decision” to be faster – you have to do the work, stay consistent with recovery and strength exercises, and make sure not to burn the candle at both ends.

Now, I want to highlight five runners who are actively working toward running faster. They are taking action and are perfect case studies of motivation and hustling your way to faster times. 2011 is the Year of the PR and they embody the spirit of this theme.

Getting it Done

Some runners have extremely busy schedules with professional and family obligations. That shouldn’t stop you. It sure hasn’t stopped Greg Strosaker from dominating the marathon and maintaining Predawn Runner. He’s often up at 4 or 4:30am to run.

It’s paying off – Greg has qualified for Boston and then run even faster at the Akron Marathon. As a father, blogger, and competitive runner with a full-time job, Greg is making his running a priority. Are you making time for your future PR?

Get the Advice You Need

If you don’t know how you should train, enlist the help of somebody else. Sounds like common sense, but a lot of people train with no direction. Not Lisa, who recently asked me to coach her and who’s already progressing rapidly. She even recently bought size 6 jeans!

I wouldn’t plan a mountaineering expedition without getting good advice. Inexperienced runners shouldn’t attempt a half or full marathon without consulting someone more experienced.  Running well over this distance takes the right preparation. Are you getting the training advice you need?

Get a Running Buddy

Use peer pressure to your advantage, which is a powerful psychological motivator. Enlist the help of your partner or good friend to help you train, even when you don’t want to. Isis and Lee accomplished a lot in 2010, including four half-marathons, a slew of 5k and 10k races, and a marathon.

I have no doubt that they were so successful last year because of the support they provide each other. They also write about their goals (accountability) on their blog and harness the motivational power of the running community to achieve large goals. Do you have a hard time motivating yourself to train for a PR?

Reach New Heights

To be a better runner, you have to run more. Most runners are under-trained and not fully aerobically developed because of time constraints, injury problems, or lack of willpower. But sometimes, you just need to get it done – like Steve Speirs, who just completed a 3,000+ mile year.

All of that hard work is paying dividends, as he ran a huge PR at the Marine Corps Marathon last year in 2:47 and another one just last weekend. He also won the Cayman Islands Marathon and completed a 50k – at age 44. Are you running as much as you should?

Don’t Feel Sorry for Yourself

Last year, triathlete and Boston Marathon qualifier Patrick McCrann had a horrific cycling accident where he fractured his hip and collar bone. At first glance, it sounds like he had a career-ending injury. I wondered if he would make a comeback after such a disappointing setback.

Patrick has since gotten back on his bike, resumed running, and is planning a half-marathon, marathon, half-Ironman, and Ironman this year. Goals of that caliber after an injury that severe are inspirational – and the reason why he’ll succeed (despite giving up coffee!). Are you wallowing in sorrow after an injury or disappointment?

Taking your training to a new level, which is often necessary for setting a shiny new PR, requires making different lifestyle decisions. Waking up earlier, getting a coach, or running more will help you accomplish what you’re looking for this year. After all, it is the Year of the PR.

How are you making your future PR become reality this year? Goals are great, but you also need a plan. Get after it.

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