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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Herein Lies the Key to Success as a Runner

So you're probably wondering what the magic secret all the world's best runners keep close to their heart. And rightly so. It's this one secret that has enabled them to be the best they can be. Through ups and downs in their training and racing, this secret is the foundation of any successful runner and can also be seen in nearly all successful educators, business people, CEOs and entrepreneurs.

Is the waiting killing you yet? Do you really want to know how you can be the best runner you can be?

Luckily you too can become the best runner you can be simply by following the following mantra:

In order to be successful, one must never stop doing what was originally done in order to become successful.

I know it may sound a little strange, but it is really that simple.  Before I explain it in more details, let's look at a hypothetical case in which a middle distance runner, Alice, aims to beat her personal bests in her final year of high school track & field.

Alice is the team's #1 1500m runner and last year competed at her Regional Championship. She had a break out year, coming within one position of qualifying for the Provincial Championship.  She finished the season determined to see herself qualify for Provincials next year, in her final year of High School competition. So she sets her sights on next year and decides it's high time she incorporates core strengthening into her preparations. So over the fall and winter months she builds up a strong running base all the while adding in core exercises after each run and workout. 

Spring/Summer arrive and she's ready to start competing, so she decides she's done building her core strength and focuses solely on her running. She puts in the hard work and instantly notices she's stronger and fitter than ever. As the weekly track workouts come and go she's noticing that strength she had is being fine tuned and adjusted for speed. She's loving every minute she gets to spend on the track and she thinks to herself that this will surely be HER year.

At the first local track meet she smashes her personal best over 1500m and sets a new High School record. Her hard work over the fall and winter is clearly paying off and she is on cloud nine. Her season continues to progress well until one day, after 3 consecutive weeks of hard workouts and high volume, she begins to quite literally fall apart at the seams.

Her stride near the end of her races is getting ragged and clunky. She's noticing aches and pains in her IT Band as well as her calves. She continues to race and train hard thinking she just needs to amp things up in order to strengthen herself.

She was wrong. As it turns out, when she stopped doing her core work and continued to run intensity and volume all at once, she started to break down mechanically. It's now 1 week to the Provincial Championships, for which she finally qualified for, but she's sidelined with IT Band Friction Syndrome. Even just a few steps is too painful to bear.

In this VERY hypothetical situation you'll notice that Alice was doing everything right as she prepared for her final track season. But then, as she began to see success she decided that the work she had put in until then had done it's job and she had 'ascended' to the next level.  She quickly forgot what she had been doing. The very things she had done to be successful, she cast aside.

And I see this happen far too often in my life. How many times have I made to-do lists in order to divide and conquer a project, succeed and then completely forget to do the same when I move onto my next project. It's like for some reason I believe that by doing the to-do list I've taught myself what has to happen for me to finish a project, and I feel I am now better than simply making to-do lists. That's not the case folks.

If it worked once, it will likely keep working for you.  I approach everything I repeat with this attitude until I'm proven wrong someway or another, and then it's back to the drawing board.

As you progress as a runner, do not forget the building blocks that were so instrumental in helping you improve, succeed and win your races.  Picture your building blocks as the foundation upon which your success rests. If you neglect the foundation, everything else atop it will eventually crumble. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow...but at some point it will.

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