Running Patient Keeps You In the Sport and WILL Reward You…In Time ;)

Running is wrought with the ‘two steps forward, one step backward’ tests and trials. I’d call it logic, but let’s be honest, most runners lost all logic about 5,000 miles ago. ;)

Progress forward is HARD fought, once you’ve been running for awhile it then come in seconds and tenths rather than minutes. Each new PR ushers you into another realm, and in order to break through and run through to that next level it takes more work than before, and the cycle continues.
deck of runners

Eventually you’re working to improve by 1 or 2%, and by that time it takes more than just running harder and running faster. One must run harder and faster of course, but also SMARTER, be more ATTUNED, and then PATIENT.

All that patience sure does wear on a runner’s mindset. Typically we want those rewards, those PR’s NOW…but failing to be patient and look long term usually winds you up either 1) hurt or 2) limited.

* Hurt: By running harder and faster smartly that means allowing the body to recover between those hard and fast workouts. If you don’t recover on your easy days then you start greying the line between HARD and EASY. You might think that going harder more often will help, but in fact you wind up being too tired to really NAIL those hard workouts. A bunch of grey running just leads to a bunch of grey racing, not sharp, quality races and workouts. Well, that is if you don’t wind up injured first. I’ll include overtrained under the hurt category, because watching your times slip really does hurt too.

* Limited: By limited I mean you’re not looking at the BIG picture. To gain those ‘little’ percentages forward means you need to widen your scope beyond just running miles. It means having an actual PLAN, including core work, drills, strength work, stretching, injury prevention techniques, eating better...all those ‘extras’. Running SMARTER means being curious, and learning about all the other ways you can improve in addition to running harder and faster.
runner by tree
Distance Paradigm

The other thing about training is there needs to be a balance between just running MORE and running FASTER. Volume and consistency is important of course, but so is being able to get QUALITY out of those miles.

If you DO care about getting more PR’s (someone asked me, so I’ll explain that as Personal Record) then you need to have a speed component in all that running. Some runners fail to think about running more quality, and get lost in the competition to just run MORE. That’s okay, but if you want to run faster you’ve got to get used to running faster, make sense?

Looking long term and being PATIENT means you can’t have it all, all the time. Get your mileage up to a decent level, but from there focus on getting more QUALITY out of those miles. Speed workouts will hurt, duh, but it’s the kind of thing that us runners are a little crazy about and sickly enjoy. Well, enjoy after they are done.

Stepping forward and back, parallels the HARD and EASY days…let the paces step back so you can recover and then jump forward again.

Stepping forward and back also parallels this disgusting thing called an injury; they are unavoidable to even the most patient runner. Take them in stride, get through them and be prepared to step forward again.

Running steps forward every time you get a new PR or hit better times in your workouts; on the heels will be the times when you take steps back with bad races, off days, and horrendous blow-ups of workouts. They happen…don’t let them derail you…because if you are running SMARTLY you can’t ‘lose’ your fitness after just a bad race, dispute that mental thought, it’s a lie.

Runners often want those gains NOW. But sadly, those gains have to be earned…earned with hard freaking work and loads of patience.

1) Fill in the blanks: I recently took a step forward _________________ and was prepared to take a step backwards __________________________.

2) Fill in the blank: I really want to run faster NOW, but looking long term I recently incorporated __________________ to get faster, the payoffs may take a little time.

3) When an injury DOES crop up it tests my patience but I get through it and grow as a runner by ___________________________.
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18 thoughts on “Running Patient Keeps You In the Sport and WILL Reward You…In Time ;)

  1. But I want it now!

    Ok – I recently took a step forward in learning to rest, thanks to this cool chick named Cait, and was willing to take a step back in a little fitness (even though it felt crappy).

    I do want to be faster – now! – but I recently incorporated more, smarter strength training, and so my body is a bit sore and sluggish – but it will make me stronger over time.

    When injured, I rage out. It tests my mental strength, so I guess it’s taught me to be patient and resourceful (deep water running, anyone?!).

    • awwww, shucks! thanks, but i can’t take all the credit, you did the HARD part and actually listened to the advice. :)
      hahaha…’raging out’ due to injury…gotta say we’ve all been there!

  2. Oh, my word. It’s like you live in my head. Or my keyboard. Or my email outbox. For the number of times I write this kind of thing to my runners, or around the blog-o-sphere, I should just tattoo it to my forehead or something.

    “Base now, speed later.” “Distance now, speed later.” “Tempo now, intervals later.” “Just because you *could* run your tempo workout faster, doesn’t mean you should have run your tempo workout faster!” “Sure, you ran those 4 intervals faster than prescribed. But then you bombed the last two!”

    [I mostly jest. I'll educate as much as a I can, usually pretty willingly. People just don't know, and that's OK. We can't all know everything. I, for example, have no interest in knowing how to make puff pastry. I'll always buy the frozen kind. Period. But I digress]

    On to the questions!

    1. I recently took a step forward in coaching, and was prepared to take a step backward in science.
    2. Looking long-term, I have recently incorporated intensive foam rolling to get faster (not exactly faster, but to stay healthy and strong and flexible, so I can train to get faster).
    3. When injured, I grow my cross-training. And exercising my patience. :)

    • haha…i love it! well, maybe u and i are just sharing part of a brain…how did u wind up with the better half most of the time though? ;)
      i SOOO fully endorse that step forward to coaching! :)

      • I’m not sure I got the better part…you’re no slouch yourself! ;-)

        *fingers crossed* that it’s the right thing to do! :-)

        Also, when I make a zillion dollars (or at least, enough to pay the bills), I will contract you to draw a really excellent cartoon that illustrates this concept of “runner patience” <– almost an oxymoron. Perhaps people will respond better to a visual, no? ;-)

  3. I tend to think of life as two steps forward one step back, and as I think running is a nice parallel to life, I like your analogy here :) I think most things worth anything are worth effort to get to! Mind you, I could do without the injuries…

  4. Loved that tree picture :)

    I recently took a step forward by consistently cross-training each week and was prepared to take a step backwards as I get sore until I get stronger! :-)

    I really want to run faster NOW, but looking long term I recently incorporated tempo and progression runs to get faster. The payoffs make take awhile (sighhhh).

    When an injury DOES crop up it tests my patience but I get through it and grow as a runner by reading running blogs, running magazines, watching running movies and icing/resting until I can get back out there!!!

  5. I have added in lots of strength training the past several years – it has definitely made me faster (as well as stronger).
    I love reading your blog – I have learned so much in the past few months!!!

  6. Its funny how these things work out…You posted this at the perfect time…my coach made me take a day off today due to tendinitis even though I felt fine….he said he wants to nip it in the butt so I can be ready once the meets start …I was in such a terrible mood today because I didn’t think it was neccessary to take another day off…but this post made me slightly less grumpy…so thanks

  7. Another super awesome post! I recently took a step forward spending my entire pregnancy demolishing running books. I was prepared to take a step backwards taking a very slow build back and being patient with regaining my core strength.

    You know I’m totally on the speed wagon for the next 5 years but I am going to need lots of patience along the way to build back each time. I’ll be relying on the super wise Cait and her great blog to keep me on the straight and narrow and running smart :=)

    • awww, u’re too sweet and thanks! but dang, u are the model runner for bouncing back after baby and kicking butt! :)
      i can’t wait for u to tackle this marathon, u’ll do SOOO awesome, and then burn it up on the shorter distances! but in the spirit of patience, let’s get thru this marathon and make sure to reward u well after that first. ;) hehe

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