Happy 2017! This is going to be YOUR year… when you finally break out and achieve more than what you first thought possible.
Every year on the Strength Running blog, I announce a theme. This helps guide my thinking on the types of coaching material I publish to help you reach your goals.
From 2011 to 2016, we’ve had six distinct themes:
- Year of the PR
- Year of Stretch Goals
- Year of Consistency
- Year of Injury-Free Running
- Year of Getting Out of Your Comfort Zone
- Year of the Team
Last year was a special one. The “Year of the Team” was about community, support, and bringing runners together. Strength Running’s mission is to help runners get stronger, stay healthy, and race faster – and there’s no way any of us can do that alone.
Three major projects helped us bring runners together:
- Team Strength Running
- The SR Podcast
These projects all work differently to create a sense of community among us as runners.
Team Strength Running
The biggest contribution to our theme of “the team” is definitely Team Strength Running. This program allows any runner to be coached affordably, no matter what race you’re training for or where you live around the world.
What makes it so special is not the affordable coaching, or library of 30+ training plans, or the new expert interview every month. Those are great but they don’t make it into a real team.
What makes Team SR so special are the members. Hundreds of real runners just like you sharing stories, asking questions, and experiencing the journey of running together.
You can hear from George on Episode 6 (and Lara on Episode 9) of the SR Podcast. I also featured Catherine’s experience with the team on the blog.
When I get feedback like this, I know the team is helping runners achieve more:
“In a short while, I can already notice improvement in my runs with better planning. I feel more control, I’m getting better health and setting motivational goals.” – Hugo
“Reading fellow team members’ posts about their dedication to training and resulting successes has helped me fully commit to my training program. Because of this, I am a healthier, faster and happier runner.” – Gina
I have a few (secret) plans in store for the team in 2017 so if you’re already on the team, get excited!
If you want to learn more, jump on the notification list here and you’ll be the first to know when we begin accepting new members.
I’ve always had an affinity for geeky running shirts. But most of them don’t really speak to me or highlight the areas that you’ve told me are fun, inspiring, or should get more attention.
So I decided to change that by commissioning unique designs that celebrate many aspects of our sport:
- Trail running
- Humor / NSFW
- Passion for running
- Team SR pride
The result? The Strength Running T-Shirt Shop. Our shirt designs are unique, sometimes controversial, but undoubtedly show your true love for running.
If you see someone wearing a running shirt like these, you know you’ll have to ask them about it!
The Strength Running Podcast
Fostering a greater sense of “a team” turned out to be more difficult than I first realized. How does a virtual coach reach more runners, bring them together, and form a community?
I decided I needed a whole new communication channel. A different medium to reach runners, but also a different medium for runners to get to know me.
So I started The Strength Running Podcast. It’s already been quite successful and for that, I have to thank my guests and listeners. All of you rock!
In just two months, the guests and topics have been unreal:
- Olympians, American record-holders, and pro ultra-endurance athletes
- Top coaches (to everyone from Olympians to beginners)
- Behind the scenes coaching calls with Team SR members
- How to make exercise easy using systems
- New York Times best-selling authors
- Health psychologists on mental training
Bringing my network to you is one of many ways that I’m bring us all closer together.
And I hope that by listening to my coaching calls and hearing me speak about running you’ll get to know me a little better, too.
If you haven’t subscribed yet, I’d be honored if you did right here!
2017: The Year of Fundamentals
As we’ve covered so many different topics over the years, there’s the risk of venturing into more and more obscure themes.
After mental toughness and injury prevention, should we have a “Year of Protein Powder” or a “Year of the Fartlek?”
I hope you think that’s as silly as I do…
So I want to take ten giant steps back. To zoom out and see the bigger picture. To get back to basics.
That’s why I’m thrilled to announce that in 2017, we’re focusing on the fundamentals.
Because if we’re honest with ourselves, there are no magic workouts that will propel your performances into the stratosphere. There’s no “sexy training tip” that makes running easier.
I really enjoyed this tweet by triathlete and endurance journalist Kelly O’Mara:
@kellydomara but… but… where’s the sexy new training tip?! The secret workout?!?!
— Jason Fitzgerald (@JasonFitz1) December 22, 2016
Putting in the work isn’t sexy. But it’s what gets results.
In an age of instant gratification, we need to stop chasing shiny red balls that promise better results with less work (CrossFit Endurance, anyone?).
They don’t exist. This mentality of “run less, run faster” only leads us to run poorly, get slower.
If you truly want to realize your potential, then there are no shortcuts to greatness. There are years of running as much as you possibly can – but that’s not “motivating.”
My prior coaches would have multiple cardiac events if anybody on their teams used these excuses for skipping a workout or half-assing a training session:
- “I couldn’t get out of bed this morning”
- “It was too cold/hot/humid/snowy/rainy”
- “I don’t have time”
- “I’m not an advanced runner, can I do an easier workout?”
- “But it was the holidays!”
It’s easy to complain. But it’s what you do that really matters.
As my entrepreneurship and hustle mentor Gary Vaynerchuk recently posted on Instagram:
Enough … so many of you are really FUCKING CONFUSED – some people have short term “plays” not scams but not long term actions .. and some people inherit $$$.. but 99% of the people you look up to out worked your ass .. and this goes for good parenting, people who have a lot of friends, are in good shape .. 2017, the year we stop judging others and just get to work! #hardwork #work #grinding #putinwork #stopjudging
Man, I love Gary’s intensity.
This doesn’t just apply to entrepreneurship. Every good runner you look up to didn’t get there without a ruthless focus on hard work.
And that hard work is based on the bedrock fundamentals of training theory, exercise science, and physiology.
Ultimately, it’s based on sound training – which always places high importance on fundamental principles.
If you’re a new runner, these are critical.
The Principles of Fundamental Training
You might be asking yourself, “ok, sounds good but what ARE these fundamentals of training?”
The fundamentals are the basics, the first principles, and the core elements that always must be adhered to in any training program.
They’re the 99% of training that actually matter.
If you find a new training program somewhere, you can always evaluate it very well using this simple checklist.
There are five fundamental aspects of training that runners should always focus on:
An injured runner can’t run. And if you can’t run, every other principle is moot.
That’s why I’m so bullish on strength exercises, smart training design, adequate sleep, and being strategic about your goals. With a focus on prevention, everything else falls into place.
You can run more consistently. You can run higher mileage. You can race more often. And you can have more fun!
From a training perspective, this is the top priority. Building endurance through the ongoing development of the aerobic metabolism is perhaps the #1 method for getting faster.
After all, most runners can run already run fast. But they have trouble maintaining that speed for any meaningful distance.
That’s an endurance problem, not a speed problem. And since the vast majority of every race from 5km on up is aerobic, it’s the cornerstone of the Strength Running Philosophy.
Speed is a Skill
I’m often dismayed to see most runners avoid running fast because they think they don’t need to if they’re training for a long race or because they’re worried about injuries.
That’s like a basketball player never shooting a three-pointer because the risk of missing the shot is higher. Of course… but so is the reward!
Like most skills, speed must be practiced through diligent strides, hill sprints, or other speed training.
Whether you’re a veterain marathoner or a beginner, there’s a place in your training for speed work.
Runners can’t just run or else they’ll develop imbalances and weaknesses. Eventually, a lack of general athleticism will lead to injuries and sub-par performances.
There’s a reason why good runners lift weights, skip and perform running drills, get on trails, and do plyometrics. These ancillary exercises build more well-rounded athleticism that improves your running.
More strength, agility, coordination, balance, proprioception, and power lead to faster and healthier runner.
If you have a goal race, then it makes sense to train specifically for that goal race. Want to run a marathon? You shouldn’t be doing 400m intervals faster than 5k pace three months before the race.
That example is one that I see constantly – runners who are doing workouts that aren’t going to help them achieve more in their goal race.
By having a goal and then being strategic about how you train specifically for it, you’ll not only put yourself in a better position to succeed, but you won’t be as likely to get hurt during the training cycle.
These fundamental principles apply to every runner no matter your age, goal race, background, or experience level.
Get these right and most other problems usually fade away…
Will 2017 Be Your Best Year Yet?
Get ready for an incredible year of running. But remember: growth requires a ruthless focus on the fundamentals.
And today I have some work for you. It’s not enough to read this article, think “great stuff Jason!!” and then go on sipping your coffee.
No, we need to take action.
So right now, I want you to think about the ONE AREA in your running that needs the most work. What is it?
What are you struggling with the most? If you could get this one thing right in 2017, how quickly would you improve?
Leave a comment below and tell me. I’ll try to respond to every comment individually with suggestions.
If you’re as excited about 2017 as I am, then let’s prepare to reach new heights!
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