Category Archives for Motivation

Are you not built to run?

Do you feel you’re not built to be a runner?

You may think this is absurd, but I feel the same way!

My legs are fairly large and muscular for my size in general. Many people look upon them in admiration and runners often comment about how they wish they would have legs like mine. The ironic thing is that I’d love it if my legs were less musclar! I’d much rather sacrifice having great looking legs to weighing 5+ less pounds and running faster. 

When you look at elites, they typically have quite slender calves and thigh muscles. Muscular strength has much less to do with muscular size than most people think, it’s about muscle fiber recruitment! Kenyans and the skinny mountain climbers in the Tour de France have tiny legs but are able to generate great amounts of power. They’re also carrying less weight up climbs with smaller legs! 

But anyway, I’m going off on a tangent. 

Check out the video below on why I think some people both feel running is hard and why some people believe they’re not meant to be runners!

How Important are Rest Days?

Great question that I was asked about the importance of rest days for runners.

It really depends on how much you're running AND what you're doing while not running? Are you getting 8 hours of sleep nightly or 6?

Are you eating enough protein and calories or not?

How's your daily physical activity? Daily stress? Are you on your feet a lot or sitting?

All of this comes in to play when taking rest days into consideration. People running a lot but also who rest well can get away with fewer rest/off days, but people like the ER nurse I coach absolutely need a few days of no running because when she's on her feet for a 12 hour shift that's still physical activity!

"Rest days? What do you think I'm doing when I'm sleeping?!." - Click to Tweet!

How to Run When You Don’t Want to.

There are two times to run.

  1. ​When you want to.
  2. When you don't.

If you're serious about improving at something and doing what you've never done, you must do what you've never done! Sometimes, this means doing what you don't feel like doing.

"There are two times to run: When you want to & when you don't." - Click to Tweet!

Check out my video below where I talk a bit about my thought processes when I'm really just not feeling like running and how I GET MYSELF to go out and run even on the worst of days.

When is the best time to run?

The answer is more simple than you think!

When I run or recommend running depends on the type of run and the time of the year.

For easy runs:

During the warmer months, doing easy runs in the heat of the day (considering your safety, of course) may stimulate some heat adaptation which could be beneficial. Learn more about heat adaptation here. The pace of these runs is unimportant as long as it’s easy.

For hard / long runs:

During the warmer months I’ll often do these asap in the morning to avoid the heat. During the colder months here in South Dakota I’ll often do harder / longer runs when the temperature is warmer in the afternoon. Running hard in the morning also gives me plenty of time to do an easy afternoon/evening double run.

From Zero to Hero

Everyone loves the underdog stories. The people who seem to “come out of nowhere” and crush it. The ones who defy the norm or expected.

Here are a few of them. Individuals who defy what it means to be an elite runner. These are examples of people who have worked their butts off but also in a way give hope to many who may not have picked up running at an early age but who still hope to be an extra ordinary athlete.

Of course it’s important to realize these people are truly extra ordinary. There are thousands of people who started late and never went on to set a record or win a championship. But it’s also important to know that there are many who started late and while they didn’t set records or win they still may have been able to run elite times – those people just don’t get stories written about them 😉

Lionel Sanders | From Drug Addict to Ironman World Champion | “Sanders’s recovery wasn’t smooth. He’s relapsed three times and considered suicide. But he found purpose and motivation while training.”

Steve WayLosing 80 Pounds En Route to Elite Status“Britain’s fastest over-40 marathoner was 230 pounds and a smoker. Now he’s representing his country in international competition.”

Ariana Hilborn | Final Surge Podcast Interview“Having never run in high school or college, Ariana went from running her first marathon in 4:37 to running an Olympic Qualifying time 6 years later.”

Arthor Lydiard “Lydiard was a late convert to running, commencing only at the age of 27, with a modest initial goal of finding a way to get and stay fit. In short order running became his passion, and through dogged trial and error he became New Zealand’s finest marathoner, winning their national championship in 1953 in his thirty-sixth year.”

Brian Pilcher | A Remarkable Masters Marathon Record“He ran 9:33 for 2 miles while a junior at Beverly Hills High School then opted out of track the following year to focus on surfing with friends. He joined the track team as a freshman at Dartmouth only to get injured tobogganing with his fraternity brothers, and he hung up his spikes for 30 years.”

Kathy Martin | After Late Start, Runner is Speeding Through Records“Life can bestow unexpected gifts, and sometime in her late 40s, Martin, a real estate agent living on Long Island, a busy working mother who had never been in a track meet, discovered a glorious secret hidden away in her body. Not only was she a good runner, she was also an outstanding one. In fact, she was one of the most remarkable female distance runners in the world.”

Matthew Elliot | Unknown Matthew Elliott was 4th in the 1500 at USATF championships. | “Matthew Elliott had never made an NCAA or USATF final and never broken 3:40 for 1500 meters, and you’d never heard of him unless you live in Rock Hill, South Carolina.”

Laura Batternick | No wonder I didn’t know her. | ““I never ran in high school or college,” she told me behind the stage. “I began running for recreation about ten years ago two or three times a week for a half-hour. Then when I moved to Evanston I joined the Evanston Running Club to meet people, and they told me I was pretty fast.””

Heather Turland | A Balanced Life | “After all, she only took up running to get back into shape in between the births of her children.”


How to Safely Run Streak

Run streaking is when you give yourself a goal to do a certain distance daily for a certain duration of days.

Common examples are running 1 mile daily for as long as possible, a 5k distance daily for a month, or ten miles daily for ten days.

When performing such a task, the key consideration is that you must give your body easy days to catch up on regeneration since during a streak the idea is to not take any full rest days. You can do this by properly running at an easy conversational pace.

Another trick is to run two runs close together {such as Monday evening then Tuesday morning) then run the next run during the next day’s evening (Wednesday evening for example) to give your body the longest possible time to recover between runs.

Note: I’ll even do that before hard workouts when not run streaking!

When running very consistently, nutrition is also key since you’ll be not taking full rest days. Aim for adequate daily calories first, secondly be mindful of eating some protein and carbs within 30-60 minutes of your runs.

Run streaks are great tools to help a person get into the habit of running consistently, it just takes a little extra effort to make it work well 🙂

My Favorite Running Books

Here I chat about the few running books I’ve actually kept over the years (I’ve given away 3-4x this many).

Below are Amazon affiliate links to purchase the books. Any purchases made through these links gives a small % back to support this website. Thanks!

Hope for the rest of us

There’s hope for the rest of us.

I’m referring to the people that were not child prodigies or who started their endeavors in childhood.

The hope is in the stories of Steve Way, Heather Turland, Ed Whitlock, Kathy Martin, Laura Batterink, and Matthew Elliot.

You’ve probably never heard of any of any those names, but they’re all important to me. These are people who discovered their love and aptitude for running late in life and have reached elite status.

In my favorite running related book, Lore of Running, Dr. Noakes discusses the common occurrence of the running ability of professionals to drop off quickly, later in life. Most athletes who are the best in the world in their 20’s are not the best in their 30’s and 40’s, or older. An example is one of the fasted US marathoners ever, Bill Rodgers. In his prime he was regularly running sub 2:15 marathons. Now? Between his 50th and 60th birthday his 10km time reportedly slowed by 10 minutes. In his 60’s now, he’s certainly not one of the fastest 60 year old age groupers.

Noakes believes that over time, running will reduce the elasticity of tendons and muscles. This reduces the “elastic recoil” ability of the legs, which is basically free stored energy, like a spring.

On the flip-side from Bill Rodgers, is Kathy Martin. In her 40’s she started running and is a top running in her age group in events ranging from 800m to 31 miles. In her 50’s she set more than a dozen American age group records.

Next up is Patrick Johnson, who grew up on a fishing boat and did not start running until his mid 20’s. In 2003 at the age of 31, he became the first non West-African to go under 10 seconds in the 100m!

Steve Way is perhaps my favorite story however. He is famous for going from being an obese, depressed, alcoholic, and chain smoker to a 2:16 marathoner and representing his country in the Commonwealth Games.

Relatively unknown is Heather Turland, who only started running to get back in shape after pregnancy. However with only four years as a runner she ran 2:35:10 to represent her country internationally in the marathon.

Ed Whitlock is the person here you’re most likely to have heard of. He did not start running until his 40’s and at the age of 82 ran a 3:41 marathon, which is actually a half hour faster than the average men’s marathon finishing time in the US.

With many of the above names being of decades past, Laura Batterink is a newcomer, finishing 9 spots behind Molly Huddle at a recent event. She never ran in high school or college, but 10 years ago she started running for fitness. 10 years of hard work and a bit of talent, and she finished a race right behind names like Molly Huddle, Sara Hall, and Amy Hastings.

Finally comes Matthew Elliot, who was recently on the cover of Runners World. He is the only one on this list who actually ran in his younger years, however he was far from anything special. He was only a 4:42 miler in high school, certainly someone you’d never expect to finish 4th at the 1500m USA Track & Field championships at the age of 27.

These inspirational folks can teach us a number of things.
1) Running age is more important than birth age.
I believe that if you start running later in life (20/30’s vs teens or younger) with the proper training and recovery you can reach 90% of what your true potential would have been.
2) You may have no idea you’re extra-ordinary at something.
Few people are given the opportunity to give an activity 100%. I’m lucky enough that due to my work I can train and recover properly. It does not have to be running though, it could be playing the piano or painting!
3) Time, patience, & hard work can lead to incredible improvements for anyone.
If you spend 5-10 years or 10,000 hours doing something well…you’re going to see drastic improvements. Just give it time and effort.

#1 Tool to become a stronger runner

Screen Shot 2014-07-14 at 9.25.35 AM

Is patience.

Or you could also say, time.

Below is a quote from Tina Muir, with the bolded text what we’re talking about here.

2. How did you get to be such a speedy runner?

It has taken years of consistent training, dedication, and doing “the little things”. I try to share these on my blog through my Secrets of Success posts, but most of it just comes from getting stronger year after year. My freshman year in college, I ran 21:15 in the 5k, but my 5th year, I had run 16:08. That being said, having a coach who knows what they are doing is absolutely critical. I would never be anywhere close to where I am now without 100% trust in my coach. I know how important that is, which is another reason I like to share what knowledge I have with others to give back to the community as best I can.

Now obviously smart training, proper recovery, nutrition, etc all play a role in becoming faster, but running is a long term sport.

Look at Tina’s progression like this. Lets say she ran for 4-6 years before college. maybe she played a bit of soccer in grade/middle school and ran cross country in high school, I’m not sure. The important thing to realize is that let’s say 5 years before her college freshmen year she could have been a 26 minute 5k runner. 5 years later she was a 21 minute 5k athlete, and 5 years after that she was a 16 minute 5k runner!

Now I don’t know her history other than that one quote, but this type of progression is true for almost all runners. No matter if you start running in middle school or in college for the first time, with 10 years of good progression of mileage, intensity, and with some smart training you’re going to improve a lot.

You just have to have the patience and take the time!

For myself, this is a good reminder that the best is yet to come. I was obese during my freshmen year of high school, 4 years later I was 80 pounds lighter and a cyclist. Now I’ve been running for about 7 years and am only now really starting to train well and smartly. I consider my first 6 years of running just simple base building. My aerobic house is built, now the real work and progression begins!


I found another great example that really shows what time does for running. The below quote is from Donnie Cowart, who recently broke the four minute mile barrier after 15 years of running!

“I can trace my thoughts about a sub-4 minute mile all the way back to middle school. Just starting my running career, I had no idea the challenge and work that lay before me, but I was extremely optimistic. From eighth to 10th grade I weighed less than 100 pounds. I was cut from my middle school baseball, and basketball teams with the coaches saying, ‘You need to grow a little taller.’ ‘You need to get stronger.’ … Then I found my home in track and field, a place where size didn’t matter. In eighth grade, I mustered a 5:29 mile, in ninth 4:59, and by 10th grade I got it down to 4:50. I was on my way. I worked hard did everything I was told to do, always telling myself I was going to be good when I was older, stronger, and possibly after that ‘growth spurt.’”