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The 1% Approach to Massive Personal Bests

Would you like to be a strong, healthy runner who barely has to worry about injuries? If so, join the club…

Staying healthy is the #2 goal of Strength Running readers (after “get faster”). And there are a lot of reasons why this goal is so valuable:

  • Healthy runners run more, helping them build more endurance than their chronically injured peers
  • A focus on prevention results in more strategic strength training – which can help you sprint faster at the end of a race
  • Proper training also improves your overall athleticism, coordination, and running economy
  • Pain-free runners are happier! Why waste time on injuries, anyway?

Clearly, by focusing on prevention (here’s how, BTW), you’re focusing on being a better runner.

This week, you’re going to learn how to stay healthy long-term so you can be a stronger, faster, happier runner.

And since 2017 is the Year of Fundamentals, I want to get back to the fundamental building blocks that help you prevent injuries.

I will not be discussing:

  • Whether beet extract will instantly increase your endurance
  • What brand of foam roller is most effective for preventing DOMS
  • How to get ready for your marathon in 5 weeks with no injuries (spoiler: you can’t)
  • Baking soda, creatine, Vitamin D or other wacky supplements

These topics have very little to do with staying healthy…

Instead, we’ll discuss the fundamental pillars of injury prevention so you can focus on what works rather than wasting your time with what doesn’t work.

First, let’s look at some examples of what not to do.

Why Do We Sabotage Ourselves?

Behind the scenes at Strength Running, I’m constantly helping runners improve.

But often, that has nothing to do with a training plan or coaching program. It has everything to do with long-term strategy.

Recently I mentioned this on Twitter:

It’s exactly that perspective that a coach can help you with. Anybody can say “go run 10 miles” or “run 8x400m on the track” – that’s not what makes a great coach.

What makes a great coach is the person who can guide you when you have multiple decisions to make:

  • Will I set myself back if I run through this weird pain in my foot?
  • Should I run the fun run the day before my goal race?
  • I missed my long run – should I make it up, skip it, or something else?
  • I’m 2 weeks from my marathon and my knee hurts. What now?!

Good answers to these questions require perspective – and knowing what to avoid (which is just as important as knowing what to do). Not making mistakes during these crucial times is critical but often ignored.

It’s sexier to focus on “muscling through” an injury.

It’s easier to focus on “complete rest” for an injury.

But both are wrong. And by simply avoiding the wrong thing, runners will thrive.

James Clear knows the value of not making training errors:

Avoiding mistakes is an underrated way to improve. It’s easier to fix errors than boost skills. Rather than do your best, avoid your worst.

This echoes legendary football coach Lou Holtz:

It’s not the great play that wins the game. It’s eliminating the dumb play.

But in our never-ending quest for higher mileage, harder workouts, and faster races we fall into the trap of executing “dumb plays.” We make mistakes because we take shortcuts.

Just look at some of these training errors I’ve encountered over the last two weeks:

  • The trail runner who took a month off from running but wonders why his IT Band Syndrome hasn’t gone away (rest is not the same as treatment!)
  • The half marathoner who SKIPS HER TAPER but wonders why she didn’t race well
  • The beginner who’s attempting his first marathon next week… with persistent Achilles pain

If these runners eliminate the dumb play, they’ll avoid a world of hurt.

But they kept chasing their big goals – despite the warning signs – and will stay injured.

My goal at SR is to look out for you and prevent these mistakes so you can reach your potential and run faster.

So instead of being like most runners who make consistent training mistakes, I want you to think about marginal gains.

This concept is pivotal for preventing injuries and staying healthy long-term.

“The Aggregation of Marginal Gains”

A few years ago, British cycling went through a transformation. They became one of the world’s most dominant cycling countries despite a history of being… well, awful.

This was made possible by the “aggregation of marginal gains,” an approach to improvement that is both simple but incredibly powerful.

In Mark McClusky’s fantastic book Faster, Higher, Stronger he discusses this concept:

Instead of looking for one earth-shattering change, British cycling takes a different approach. It looks at every aspect of performance, and tries to improve each a little bit – even just a tenth of a percent.

If you find a training technique that makes an athlete that tiny bit stronger, it alone might not have a huge effect on a race.

But if you can stack those very small improvements on one another, finding a bit in tires and a bit in the wheels and a bit on the track surface and a bit in nutrition – well, soon those marginal gains begin to add up to big gaps between you and your competition.

How does this help you?

First, it underscores that a healthy lifestyle matters for performance, recovery, and staying healthy. If you can…

…even just a little bit each, then you’ll stack those gains on top of one another and a breakthrough in performance becomes more likely.

The concept of marginal gains can also help you dramatically lower your risk of injury.

Just a few small tweaks to your current training (NOT one earth-shattering change) can make all the difference between yet another setback and a strong, healthy season.

Focus on the 1%

You’ve seen how training mistakes can set you back. You’ve also seen how a series of small improvements can add up to a breakthrough.

This week I’ll be sharing more details on these small improvements and how you can take advantage of them to stay healthy, run pain-free, and get faster.

To start, get your first lesson here.

I’ll also be sharing more advice on social media, so don’t miss anything:

If you’re ready to finally run without injuries, I’m ready to help you transform your running.

I think this is going to be a huge turning point in your running career so get excited!

Make sure you’re on the Strength Running Team to get the best stuff – just sign up here and I’ll take care of sending you the first coaching lesson.

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.