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The Hidden Code of Massive Improvement: How to Accomplish the Impossible

Posted Jan 30 2012 7:30am

by Jason

Today, you’re going to get an ass kicking. I’m going to challenge you like I’ve never challenged you before.

Massive Improvement

When was the last time you did something incredible in your running? Maybe it was last year, or maybe you’ve never accomplished something great.

I believe everyone can go beyond themselves and achieve big things – or stretch goals. Goals that make your friends and family ask you if you’re crazy. Maybe you are - but crazy people are the only ones who wildly succeed.

I named 2012 the Year of the Stretch Goal to push you to run more, run faster, get healthier, and do things you thought were impossible. It’s time that you achieved something on your fitness bucket list.

Maybe it’s to qualify for the Boston Marathon.

Maybe it’s running your first marathon.

Maybe it’s to get healthy and stay injury-free for the entire year.

These goals may sound unbelievable to some people, but they’re not if you take the right approach. If you’re here reading this that means you’re proactive. You take action to achieve your dreams.

I want to help passionate runners who care about their running. Not fast runners. Not just men or just women. I don’t care if you prefer to race 5k’s or marathons. Passion is the only thing I crave for runners in this community.

The typical runner will always run within himself and never challenge himself to do something awesome. Most runners are often frustrated with injuries and not knowing what to do. They say things like:

I need to be realistic.

It seems that every time I try to increase my mileage I get injured.

I find myself trying to figure this all out on my own…and it’s hard.

I just lack the experience and knowledge to know what to do!

Does this sound like you? It’s not your fault – not enough runners use a system to promote health and consistent fitness development. They use random training tactics they read about in a magazine without understanding how they all fit together.

A long run here.

A few hill sprints the next day.

A visit to the gym.

But there’s no cohesion to their training. Poor performers don’t balance the need for recovery and rarely prioritize aerobic and neuromuscular development. They just…run. Random training will always result in random results and most likely, injured and frustrated runners.

There are four principles of training that lets you achieve stretch goals – and all three elude the majority of runners.

Consistency: Running fast, staying healthy, and feeling good during your workouts is dependent on you being a consistent runner. If you take a few weeks off “because you got busy” you’ll never be a good runner and feel discouraged. Try to always run at least four days per week to increase your running economy and make running feel like second nature.

I get emails all the time from runners who don’t understand why they feel like shit. Take this example:

I haven’t felt like myself in a long time. I need help to get over this bump in my training but I don’t know what to do. I have no direction.

Direction is something that Strength Running gives runners who need to know what to do next.

Aerobic Development: Sounds scientific but all this means that you’re consistently increasing your endurance through long runs, a (relatively) high overall volume, and workouts that are more aerobic, like tempo and progression runs.

Continuously focusing on aerobic development requires consistency in your training – these two principles go hand in hand. Without consistency, you won’t be reaching new fitness levels and running will always difficult.

Variety: You can’t expect to get different results by doing the same thing over and over again. As Einstein wisely said, that’s the definition of insanity. Variety is the spice of life and it’s also the key to a good running program. You need diversity with every aspect of your training:

  • shoes
  • effort
  • workouts
  • paces
  • terrain
  • surfaces
  • races

Not only will an assortment of training tools help you continue adapting to your workload, but you’re going to be stressing your body in many different ways. Overuse injuries happen when your body is tired from the repetitive stress of doing the same thing over and over again.

As runners, we have to run a lot. But the way in which we run should include as much variety as possible to promote health and more adaptation.

Accountability: Runners need help in accomplishing their stretch goals – you can’t be an island. When you combine a good training plan with the motivation that comes with real accountability, your results are going to improve to new levels. There are a lot of ways to make yourself more accountable:

  • Determine which workouts you dislike (and usually slack off on), then enlist the help of a friend to run them with you
  • Make a commitment contract with a service like Stickk.com - bet some cash money that you’ll run faster!
  • Join a community of other runners who have similar goals so you can learn from them and support one another
The last item there is really powerful. Motivational guru Jim Rohn said, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” Who are you surrounding yourself with? People who mock your ambitious goals or supportive runners who want you to succeed?

By putting these principles into a system you’ll start running easier. Aches and pains won’t be as common. You’ll just feel better. Plus, you’ll actually be running more and faster! But don’t take my word for it, listen to a few runners like you:

“Thank you so much for helping me heal the right way the past month. My hips have never been this strong. Ever! All the kinks I’ve had for so long do not exist anymore and I am enjoying my runs so much more now.” – Sarah A, MA

“In 2011 I had one running injury, then I started reading Strength Running. I’ve been injury-free since!” – Tim M., Paris

The Road to Impossible

Five years ago my running had plateaued and I wanted to try something new. So I slashed my mileage by almost half and started training to run a sprint triathlon. I felt weird running so little, but I was cycling for five hours a week and learning how to swim more competitively (I sink like a rock).

I bought a few triathlon books and talked with friends who had competed in Olympic distance triathlons. I soaked up as much information as I could about the workouts I should do, how to transition quickly, and what to expect on race day.

As someone who previously rarely cycled and almost never swam, I didn’t know what to expect when I raced. I knew an open water swim with 100 other swimmers was going to be terrifying and my legs would feel like jelly after the bike leg. But I was confident that my preparation would work.

On August 12, 2006 I competed in the Dash and Bash Triathlon in Massachusetts, coming in 35th overall (out of 223) and running the fastest run time of the race. It was only my second triathlon ever and my run leg beat the overall winner’s run time, a semi-professional triathlete, by 25 seconds.

I was ecstatic. My achievement was something I never thought possible – my time over the run leg was something I’d be proud of if I were racing fresh (not after a half-mile swim and 12 mile cycling time trial).

For two months before this triathlon, I used a similar system that I do now to get in the best shape that I could. That’s what I want to help you with – checking off a massive bucket-list-worthy running goal!

To help you with your stretch goals this year, I want to make sure you crush your training, stay consistent, prevent injuries, and dominate your running. Don’t be a lone wolf – there’s more motivation and success when we band together to accomplish big goals.

Getting outside help is one of the reasons that some runners are getting disproportionate results. Look at some of the runners that are crushing it:

Lydia has lost over 80 pounds and taken nearly an hour off her half-marathon time.

Rob has new motivation to train and just ran a 5k PR “without even trying.”

Sam was over-trained and frustrated – now he’s winning his age group in races and couldn’t be happier.

Strength Running has helped hundreds of runners run faster, but more importantly enjoy their running by increasing their confidence and making it easier. Wouldn’t you love that? I’ve heard from a few runners recently who are thrilled:

“I used to have chronic pain in my left Achilles and a really tight right hip, IT Band, and lower back. After using your suggestions, I’m having more fun with my running because I’m feeling fantastic and been able to run multiple 6-7 mile runs with negative splits, which I wouldn’t have been able to do without your advice. I’m running 4-5 days per week and have no pain in my hips, knees, or back. The advice you gave has given me the confidence to increase my mileage and now my legs feel stronger.” – Mike S., GA

“So far I’ve knocked down about half a minute on my pace per mile. I’m so thrilled with that. I’m looking into running my next full on March 22nd at the the New Orleans Rock and Roll Marathon.” – Leo C., Texas

My only goal with Strength Running is to make running a better part of your life – something you look forward to doing because you’re good at it and you love the way the wind feels in your hair as you crush a good workout. Is that you?

Thank you for making this site such a rewarding place to hang out. I learn new things constantly by your comments and the emails I get – you’re the reason I do this! One runner emailed me and told me that “you make it feel like a running family for us all.” I am simply humbled by that – those comments are why I continue working so hard on writing articles here.

Later this week I’m announcing something new, bold, and exciting. It won’t be for everyone but for those who are ready to dominate it’s going to help you achieve the impossible. Stay tuned for the announcement.

Runners on my private list are going to hear about it first. You can sign up below if you want to be one of the first to know.

Now my question to you: What goal do you think is “impossible” but with the right system you might be able to achieve? Leave your answer in the comments – it helps me write better stuff for you!

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