In a world where people love “quick fixes,” what’s actually possible if you think long-term?
This is Nick, a member of the Strength Running community who adopted a “slow fix” mentality – and changed his life.
Nick could have easily chased false promises like you read on magazine covers:
“The New 5-Minute Miracle Workout”
“Lose 10 Pounds in 2 Weeks!”
“10 Days to a Perfect Butt!”
SR readers know that improvement takes time. While quick jumps in fitness as a beginner runner are common, long-term, ongoing progress takes time and dedication.
While training plans encourage us to look ahead anywhere from 3-6 months with our running, what would it be like to dedicate an entire year to reaching a singular goal?
Ask Nick, and he’ll tell you how it transformed his entire life.
“I’m going to run that race”
Nick is a 32-year old husband and father of two young daughters, busy with his family and a successful business in Alaska. Over a year ago, he watched a 10k from his office window – a race he had run a decade ago – and decided it was time to make some changes in his life.
At 205 pounds, Nick describes himself as being in “the worst shape of his life.”
But he was about to make a commitment that would change everything:
I looked at a coworker and told him, I’m going to run that race next year. I didn’t know what that statement was going to mean at the time, but standing there at 205 lbs. I thought that I’d be happy just being able to finish the race.
Nick had been active in high school and college, playing sports such as ice hockey and basketball as well as mountain biking, but during the years following college he had become more sedentary and the weight had crept on.
Summers were a more active time that allowed him to lose some weight, but he admits that during the Alaska winters he gained that weight back (and then some).
But the moment he decided to run that 10k, the trajectory of the next year of his life changed.
Small, Sustainable Changes
The decision Nick made that day led him down a path he never anticipated. Nick approached the changes he made in his life the right way during this transformation. But most importantly, he kept his goal simple and focused:
From that day forward, I decided that I was going to get into shape for good. But instead of trying to just lose a few pounds, I set a goal of simply trying to live a healthy active lifestyle and see where that would take me.
Here are some of the things Nick started to incorporate into his daily routine:
- He started eating healthy at work and home (more details on this soon).
- He bought a Fitbit and hit his goal of 10,000 steps almost every day.
- He weighed himself regularly, never worrying about the day-to-day increase or decrease, but focusing on the change from week to week.
And the payoff? In 5 months, Nick lost 45 pounds and weighed less than what he did in high school!
Before he began to run regularly, Nick paved the way for a successful start by changing his activity and fitness habits and building a proper fitness foundation.
He lost weight and increased his activity level. Once these new habits had become second nature, it was time to focus on running:
Throughout the summer I never forgot about running that 10k and on September 25th 2014 I decided that it was time to start running. I knew that if I was going to run that 10k I couldn’t just line up on the start line and just do it.
I wouldn’t say that I started running at that time, I more or less walked and kind of jogged. I did 4 miles, my slowest being 17’10” and my fastest being 14’51”. I knew that I had a long way to go, but I was hooked, and excited!
From Setbacks to Success
Nick’s exuberance for running eventually got the better of him. He suffered a series of injuries that affected his hips, back, Achilles and IT band. Fortunately, two things happened:
First, his fitness base and improved health helped him bounce back quickly from each setback. He was never sidelined for more than a week – different than what might have happened if he jumped into running from the very beginning.
Second, he discovered the resources available on Strength Running that would help him get past these nagging injuries to become a stronger, faster runner.
Nick was a “total sponge” when it came to absorbing information about running. Then he did another thing right: he actively implemented all that he learned on a regular basis.
Just like he had made other healthy actions a habit, Nick made dynamic warm-ups and strength work an integral part of his training. They weren’t just “extras” to squeeze in when he had the time, they were essential to helping him stay injury free, which in turn allowed him to train consistently and build some impressive speed!
I began doing your Standard Warm-up Routine before EVERY run, and I’d end EVERY run with the Standard Core Routine, IT Band Rehab Routine, Claymore Routine, Cannonball Routine, or the Tomahawk Medicine Ball Workout.
I could actually feel myself becoming a fitter, stronger runner. And better yet, all those little aches and pains that I had been experiencing slowly started to disappear. I was able to start running more and more miles at a faster and faster pace and experience less and less fatigue, soreness, and pain.
Fewer injuries, more running, less fatigue and soreness, and faster paces. What’s not to love here?!
As Nick continued to improve his running, he also decided to refine his diet even further. He invested in the Nutrition for Runners program that helped take his running to the next level.
Nick kept his diet simple and focuses on the basics that are most important. Most importantly, he fuels properly before and after EVERY run.
He also started to follow one of the program’s 10k training plans. Instead of running haphazard workouts, Nick followed a consistent schedule that kept him healthy and helped him understand the reasoning behind each type of run.
It felt like each run had a purpose, which I later found that each run does have a purpose, and that is to train a different system in your body. I don’t think I would have ever run the distances, or paces that I did had it not been for your training plan.
Of course, Nick didn’t make all of these changes overnight.
If so, he would have been overwhelmed and probably would have given up. But Nick took SR’s free resources, injury prevention content, and the Nutrition for Runners program and implemented them in a way that worked for him.
He never added something new until he had made other changes part of his regular routine – and this process took a year.
When Nick first made the decision to run that 10k, his only goal was to beat his PR of 49:52 from 2001. But as he trained through the winter his goal became far more ambitious.
Soon he wanted to run about 43-45 minutes. But before the race, Nick thought he had a shot of running 40 minutes – a personal best by nearly 10 minutes.
To put this level of improvement in perspective, this means the difference between an 8-minute mile pace for a sub-50 minute 10k, and a 6:26 pace for a 40-minute 10k!
That’s beyond ambitious. In fact, it’s more than a little insane.
But Nick had done the work and trusted his fitness level.
A Year Later…
After a year of learning and implementing this new knowledge – of going “all in” – it was time to find out just how fast he could race.
On race day, I can honestly say that I was in the best shape of my life. I weighed 145 lbs. and felt amazing. I woke up full of energy, excited about life, and ready to step up to the starting line.
I ran the first 5k in a pack of people that was a little faster than I wanted to start the race out at, but it felt comfortable. At the halfway point I increased my pace by around 40 seconds a mile and pulled away from the pack I was in.
I slowed up a bit during the last mile so that I could have enough juice to finish hard. For the last .5 or .25 miles I really gave it all I had … and ended up sprinting full speed for the last few hundred meters.
In the end, my official time was 40:00!
A 40-minute 10k is an incredible accomplishment for anyone, let alone someone who had started running regularly less than a year ago – and weighed 60 extra pounds!
Are you impressed? I know I am.
Despite a few setbacks, Nick did so many things right in the year leading up to this race:
- First, he focused on improving his general health and diet
- He made small but sustainable changes to his activity level
- He took one day at a time, but also had a long-term goal in mind
- Once he began running, he committed to a comprehensive training plan that kept him healthy and running regularly
- He did the work. No shortcuts. Day in and day out for an entire year.
No matter how long you have been running, whether you’re a regular age group winner or just getting ready for your first 5k, all of us can learn something from this level of dedication and commitment. It’s inspiring!
So what’s up next for Nick? He’s already in the midst of half-marathon training for an upcoming race, and beyond that he’s continuing to set ambitious goals for himself:
The Boston marathon was on TV two days after my 10k. I watched the entire thing and decided that I really want to qualify for Boston.
I know that it won’t be easy, but nothing worth doing is ever easy right?
Nick’s absolutely right. So well said, you should click here to tweet it!
Well said, and well lived.
You can learn more about Nutrition for Runners here.
Not ready for the full program? Get our free diet & nutrition course here.
Thanks to Nick for allowing me to share his incredible journey here. It’s uplifting for all of us.
Update on Nick’s progress!
Just one month after this post was published, Nick crushed his half marathon goal.
He emailed me:
Jason, thanks to you… SUCCESS!
I ran my first half marathon and achieved my goal time of sub-90 minutes. I finished in 1:27:36 at roughly 6:41 min/mile. I got 4th place overall, and second in my age group! It was everything like I’ve read… “If you’ve put in the work, the race should be your victory lap”. I felt rested, strong, and ready to run the race.
Thanks again for all the great running information, injury prevention workouts, and nutrition information. I’d say that I completed the better half of 90-95% of the runs on your moderate mileage half marathon training plan.
I wanted to share my success with you as you deserve a lot of credit. Your ‘secret sauce’ has really helped me reach my goals.
Get our free nutrition tips here and you might be our next biggest success story!