The Lone Wolf Theory: How to Make Enormous Progress Quickly

A lone wolf is one that lives its life independently without a pack – in other words, a loner.

While lone wolves can be stronger and more aggressive by necessity, they’re at a disadvantage. From Wikipedia:

Lone wolves have difficulty hunting, as wolves’ favorite prey, large ungulates, are nearly impossible for a single wolf to bring down alone. Instead, lone wolves will generally hunt smaller animals and scavenge carrion.

This analogy crosses over incredibly well to running: are you a lone wolf or do you belong to a pack?

one man wolfpack

After five years of coaching and running a popular blog, I’ve learned more about the psychology of runners than running itself. What motivates people to take action and improve their running – and why some people sit on the sidelines, complain about their problems, but don’t DO anything.

Indeed, coaching is about a lot more than prescribing workouts – it’s about connecting with people and inspiring them to be their best self.

And with a large blog, I can test certain things like different coaching offers, programs, and types of content. It’s fascinating to study why people buy, subscribe, unsubscribe, send me glowing testionials, or hate mail.

One of the significant trends I’ve noticed over the years is what I’ll call “The Lone Wolf Theory” – that most runners, for some reason, shy away from getting help when it’s available to them.

Instead of using available resources to help them achieve their goals, these lone wolves remain loners – and continue to struggle with their problems.

Just the other day, I surveyed a segment of my email readers to understand more about their struggles and challenges. It’s important for me to understand your specific challenges so I can create resources that will help you succeed.

And the answers were eye-opening. I asked what was confusing about running, and here are a few answers:

1. How to maintain healthy, injury free running while running high mileage.

2. How to incorporate strength into all the running required.

3. Getting faster without getting injured.

4. Structuring the different kinds of runs/workouts along with the different kinds of strength routines.

Guys… I’ve answered all of these questions multiple times already!

Let’s go right down the list and help these runners with their questions:

  1. First, read all of the posts in the Injury Prevention section on SR. Especially this one about how to increase mileage safely.
  2. This article and interview about strength workouts answers this question.
  3. This is the entire goal of Injury Prevention for Runners.
  4. See the previous article mentioned in #2 above. You can also see the library of training plans in our Nutrition or Injury Prevention programs, or I can build a custom plan with all of this taken care of for you.

What do you notice here? Obviously, all of the confusing issues about running to you are NOT confusing to an experienced coach with nearly two decades of running experience. So… ask me your question so it’s not confusing anymore.

If you’ve been following Strength Running for awhile, you know I’m ruthlessly focused on results (you can see examples here and here). So if you’re doubtful a program can help or if my advice works, you can see hundreds of individual runner’s feedback or read more in-depth case studies.

Before any program sees the light of day, it’s researched for months and rigorously tested. SR programs costs thousands of dollars to create and require tens of thousands of data points to get right. It’s this high standard that makes Strength Running coaching programs so effective.

Here are a few more things that confuse runners:

I don’t know how to run faster.

How do I increase my endurance and speed?

When do I do what workout…speed, intervals, tempo, etc.?

Just like before, these runners could follow any training plan from the dozen included in SR’s flagship coaching programs – or get a custom program.

But of course, no everyone has the ability to invest in their running. And that’s fine with me – I’m proud to offer 95% of my coaching material free on the blog. I will continue to publish actionable, helpful advice to help you accomplish your running goals.

And you’ll never have to pay a dime or wade through annoying banner ads to get to this free advice on the blog. It’s YOURS.

Let’s also remember: this isn’t Runner’s World. You can actually email the author (me!) of any article or video and get a direct response.

So, why haven’t these runners emailed me? Or submitted their question for Q&A with Coach? Or invested in their running with a coaching program? Or simply done the research on SR (we have nearly 450 published articles)?

These runners are Lone Wolves – and they’ll never accomplish their potential by acting alone.

My sad cross country training confession…

I know it sounds like I’m preaching – and some will whine that I’m being a bit brash here (I’m from Boston though, remember? I’m just direct!). My coaching style isn’t to hold everyone’s hand, chanting “be the person you were meant to be.”

Look – this is straight talk. And when was the last time someone gave you honest, real advice?

Here’s some more straight talk: I’m completely guilty, too!

I use to always be a lone wolf, making decisions about my training by myself when I had resources available to me. And I suffered because I never sought help.

Going into my second year at Connecticut College, I was determined to make the varsity cross country team. Fall fitness is built during the summer, so I spent hours researching training methods and creating a summer plan for myself.

But just a month into my training, I suffered from plantar fasciitis. Say goodbye to varsity! And what made this injury so frustrating is that it was entirely avoidable had I talked to my coach beforehand.

Can you see how my behavior was completely irrational? I had a coach but didn’t ask him if my summer training plan was a good idea. Why would I not take advantage of that resource?

Just like many SR readers never ask me their questions or invest in their running with a proven coaching program, I didn’t seek help even though I desperately needed it.

Today, I invest in myself considerably. I’m constantly buying books, online programs, attending conferences, and asking other experts for help.

Successful people never act alone – they have a support system. They’re never Lone Wolves because to reach your potential requires guidance.

Please don’t make this mistake!

Have you ever noticed that some runners know exactly what to do with their running, but others seem constantly lost?

All of us face an enormous amount of information and endless advice about running. It’s overwhelming and difficult to know what to do. But unfortunately, most of us do nothing. We succumb to paralysis by analysis.

The result? We’re stuck in a constant cycle of injuries, not knowing whether to run, lift, or rest, or being terrified of increasing our mileage.

Even worse, some runners use the “shotgun approach” to tackle an injury or their training. With an uncoordinated plan, there’s no progression. There’s no consistency. There’s no system.

And this is exactly what I don’t want you to do. Get help when you have a question. Ask an expert. Seek guidance. Invest in yourself. Don’t be a lone wolf.

Most importantly: treat this article like advice that cost hundreds of dollars from a high-priced consultant. This advice has the power to completely transform your running – if you want it to and if you apply it.

But if you skim this post and click back over to Facebook without internalizing this concept, you’ll remain in the injury cycle. You probably will remain confused about how to get faster, build your mileage, or pace yourself correctly.

You’ll stay a lone wolf and never see the success of those in a pack.

I’ve been here since 2010, publishing free running advice and proving to you time and time again that I know how to help you achieve your running goals.

So now I’ll ask you: what can I specifically help you with today? Leave your question or problem in the comments and I’ll reply to every person today.

Get Stronger & Run Healthy

Join our free course to help you better prevent injuries, develop runner-specific strength, and avoid the big mistakes that get runners hurt

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