5 Reasons Your Running Isn’t Improving


Just like healthy and sustainable weight loss there’s no secret formula when it comes to running faster or longer. However, there are a handful of simple things you can do to improve your running and they all add up. Luckily, it’s less complicated than you think.

While there are myriad ways to tweak your running for improvement, most of them fit into five categories: supplementary strength work, running volume, consistency, variation and non-running activities. While there is overlap among each of these categories, it’s best to address all five in some capacity to get the most out of your training.

Here are five common mishaps that can keep you from realizing your running potential:


Runners are a frequently injured bunch. Some studies show injury rates for runners as high as 6065% annually. Running consistently is more than half the battle, but to be consistent, you need to prevent injuries by supplementing running with strength and core work

Running is a demanding and repetitive sport, and it can be hard on your body if you don’t take the time to strengthen the muscles that support you. As you progress and start to get faster, there’s a tendency for your aerobic fitness to outpace your structural fitness. That means you’re heart and lungs may be ready for more work than your strength can handle, which can result in injury.

Since many of us are largely sedentary outside of our workouts, our bodies aren’t always prepared to handle the stress of running. Fortunately, even a small amount of regular strength training improves our structural fitness and allows our bones, ligaments, tendons and muscles to support us and stay healthy while running.

Simple Solution: Perform 5 minutes of active warm up before each run.


Runners who tend to get injured the most are the ones who stop and start often, or take frequent weeks or even months off. They are constantly in a cycle of trying to rebuild, which puts them at a greater risk for injury. If there is any magic bullet to running, it’s that running consistently will help you improve.

Simple Solution: Stay consistent with how many days you run each week, even when you’re not training for something specific. It’s all too easy to get off track when you start skipping runs on a regular basis.


Inconsistency will thwart even the best intentions and can be your worst enemy when it comes to improving your running. Consistency, on the other hand, is your best friend. Running is cumulative over months and years of training, and consistency is what allows you to weave together a sustainable running career.

Inconsistency can crop up in several areas — from mileage and number of runs per week to speed workouts. Sometimes it’s due to an unavoidable overload in other areas of your life, but a lot of the time it’s simply a result of losing focus or motivation, or not following a quality training plan.

Stay consistent by focusing on the little things that motivate you to get out on a regular basis, whether it’s a goal race, fundraising and training for a cause, catching up with a friend or just enjoying the energy that comes from starting your day with a run.

Simple Solution: Find a plan that works for you, and stick with it! A coach will provide the most personalized schedules, but there are plenty of great resources and training plans available to keep you on track.


First consistency, now variation? Yes, you need them both. Although this may sound contradictory, the key is knowing when to apply each principle. Here are some areas of running where you want variation:

  • Types of runs: Easy, moderate and hard running all have their place. If you want to keep improving, you don’t want to run the same pace and distance every day. My marathon training plan incorporated each type in just three focused runs per week.
  • Running surface: Many of us spend a lot of time on the road, but the constant pounding can be tough on your body. Vary the surface you run on each week, and include trails and softer surfaces. Your feet and legs will thank you.
  • Shoes: It’s ideal to rotate among 2–3 types of shoes each week. This is yet another way to minimize the repetitive nature of running. You may want to try a lighter, more minimal shoe for speed sessions and a more supportive shoe for longer or recovery runs.

Simple Solution: Make each run have a purpose. When your run is supposed to be easy, don’t be tempted to push hard. And when you have a key workout, give it your all. Avoid constantly staying in that “too-hard-to-be-easy-but-too-easy-to-be-hard” zone that provides minimal benefit.


The life of an elite runner is set up to provide the greatest possibility for improvement and success. They often run twice daily, get 8-plus hours of sleep along with a midday nap, have regular massages and bodywork — and spend hours on core and strength sessions in addition to their running. But that schedule is impossible for 99.9% of us.

We can’t replicate their schedules, but we can certainly incorporate some of their habits into our own training. Here are several things that may be affecting your ability to improve:

  • Get enough sleep: This is your body’s prime time for repair and recovery. If you’re training hard, you aren’t going to recover well if you don’t get enough rest. Sometimes I’ll take some Beachbody Performance Recharge before bed to help me sleep and repair my sore muscles. It really helps!
  • Pay attention to your nutrition: Simply focus on eating more real, whole foods. If you put your energy toward adding more fruits and vegetables into your diet and minimizing sugar and processed foods, you’ll have a fantastic “whole-food” diet. This becomes increasingly important as your mileage builds. You know my go-to resource is 90/10 Nutrition. Learn how to clean up your diet without starving, counting calories or points, or taking some chemical concoction.
  • Limit life stress: Build a schedule that works with your life. Try to plan your training and races in a way that works with your current schedule and reduces stress. When major life events happen, let running be an outlet rather than an added stress. For me, running can be a “mental health break” as well as a great workout.
  • Keep up with body maintenance: Maybe you can’t get a massage every week like the elites do, but you can certainly book one on occasion and keep up with self-maintenance, like foam rolling, at home.

Simple Solution: Don’t try to change too many things at once. Make simple, sustainable changes, like getting to bed 15 minutes earlier each week or adding more vegetables to one meal each day. It’s all about Baby Steps!

Don’t let any of these reasons keep you from running your best. If you’re looking to improve, addressing these options is a great place to start.

Special thanks to Jason Fitzgerald and the mapmyrun blog for doing the heavy lifting on this article.


A Eulogy For Sneakers?


OK, so forever I’ve said that I’m not a shoe person. And I’m really not. I own less than 10 pair of shoes total. Seems silly to me to have so many shoes. No offense to all the shoe hoarders out there.

HOWEVER, I must admit that I had a hard time letting these 3 guys go. Each pair has a story…lots of stories really. And I kinda grew attached to each pair in their own special way.

Is that weird?

Not that you care, but here is the eulogy
for each.
Red Sauconys O how you loved my feet! So many miles we ran together in the summer of 2015 while training for 1/2 Ironman and moving my family across the state. If not for the blowout on the side and toe and the destroyed sock liner, I could wear you forever. You are my favorite shoes of recent history, the bright red color clashed perfectly with everything I wore. I’m saving the Lock Laces though, so you will be remembered by them.
Dear Scott T2 green machines with your Aero Foam sole that was exceedingly light and cushy for a VERY long time. You helped me through my first 1/2 Ironman back in 2014 and have since been my indoor home workout shoes of choice. You feel like slippers on my feet. If not for the rubber out sole being completely worn off, our relationship could have lasted even longer.
Dear black Adidas with Winterizer liner, you are by far the oldest of this group. I remember picking you out at the store when my son was just a tot. You last helped me train for the spring marathon in 2013 as we logged hard miles in the snow during the winter months in MI. Now that this winter is over, and my feet seem to have grown over recent years, you no longer fit comfortably. It’s been a wonderful 8 years.

Did you really read all that? Then you understand the connection we can have with our special shoes! What are your favorite shoes?


Run Faster & Longer with Less Training Time


One of my favorite parts of my healthy living lifestyle is learning and trying new things, whether it’s a nutrition “hack”, a training tip, a mindset/ attitude about food or exercise or rest or whatever. I’m very interested in learning how to maximize the results of training in the shortest possible time. I’m busy like everyone else, so training and exercise needs to fit into the rest of my hectic calendar. Early this year, I adopted a new training philosophy that turned my previous training methods upside down. Thanks to TriDot, Beachbody, and other reliable resources, I’ve been able to train smarter, in less time, be injury free, and achieve great results.

When looking for run specific training programs online, you can find all kinds of generic free plans, or worse, pay for a generic plan. Yikes! These programs don’t know YOU, they rely on self assessment of your ability (which is rarely accurate), and they almost always push too hard too fast leading to frustration, burnout, and injury. I know, because I spent nearly 5 years of triathlon training and endurance running trying many different training programs I could get for free from the ‘experts’. I want to share a few notes with you about run training to help you from having to learn the hard way as I have.

A key concept to understand about any training program is Progressive Overload. The gradual increase of stress placed upon the body during exercise training is progressive overload. The focus must be on the “gradual” and not the “increase.” When starting out, make the first workout easier than you think is necessary. Then keep increasing the workload incrementally over the previous effort. A rule of thumb is to keep your weekly workload to no more than 10% of the previous week and keep your long runs to no more than 25% of your weekly volume.

I like to measure my workouts by time, not distance, as it helps me to focus on how I feel – my form, breathing, heart rate, perceived effort, etc. Simply logging miles because the program says so is a waste of time and increases injury risk. Due to the strain on your body and lengthy recovery time, I recommend making your longest runs no more than 2 hrs. I made the mistake of including 20 mile training runs in my marathon training plan. These 3+ hour runs require many days to recover and do not fit the progressive overload training model. This overtraining of “junk miles” led to a nasty foot injury that nearly derailed my marathon experience. Lesson learned: Don’t get hung up on a mileage milestone like the “20 mile run”. Stick to progressive overload. Strong before long; fast before far. Let me explain.

Another key concept to understand is TriDot’s “Strong before long; fast before far” philosophy of training. Put simply, your ability to sustain effort over a long duration is dependent upon the strength you have built up in training. It’s perfectly logical. Over time in an endurance run, you will naturally slow down as you fatigue. Imagine graph with a vertical a scale of 1-100 of strength (power) and a horizontal scale of time in hours. If you are at a strength of 50 the duration of your effective stamina is far shorter than if your strength was 80. The curve will follow the same basic shape regardless of strength level. See chart below from TriDot.

So how does that translate to a training program? Thanks for asking. It means you need to build strength to be able to run faster and longer. The most effective way to do that is through interval training and functional strength training. Rather than do 5 shorter mileage runs a week and a ‘long’ run on the weekend, you should do only one or two different interval workouts, 1-2 short (30 min) functional strength workouts and maybe one longer easy run a week. Interval workouts come in many good formats, but the idea is to warm up first, then do repeated higher intensity run efforts with working rest between each set.

For example, I recently did a tough sprint interval workout consisting of 3 sets of 7 sprints (all out effort) for 20 seconds, followed by 20 seconds walking rest between each sprint then two minutes rest (light jog) between sets. It seems easy at first, but after four of five sprints you begin to see that the rest is not quite long enough to fully recover. This is a great workout because you teach your body how to go really hard, but then you rest before your body gives out on you. Muscular strength is built, lung capacity (VO2 max) is built, and all those fast twitch muscles are fully engaged. This is the kind of workout that takes 40 minutes and will make you much stronger and faster than simply logging mileage at a static pace.

My favorite functional strength training program comes from Beachbody’s PiYo. It’s a mix is Pilates and yoga that stretches and strengthens your whole body thru a series of dynamic movements using only your body weight. The stretching is amazing for my hamstrings and calves especially, but the core and balance work along with hip strengthening movements are what I believe has really helped my running the most. Whether you do PiYo or not, you need to incorporate some form of regular stretching and functional strength work in your routine. Thirty minutes a couple times a week will go a long way to helping you stay injury free too.

Long runs are still part of any endurance running program. You need to teach your body to run for increasingly longer durations with good relaxed form. The long runs should be run at an easier pace, (not race pace). You are working on efficiency with long runs. Speed will come with the interval sets. Just enjoy the cruise on the long runs. Remember to gradually increase duration week to week. There’s nothing wrong with taking a 1 min walking break during the long runs. It can be a mentally and physically therapeutic break in the monotony of the long workout.

I hope this helps. There’s so much more to cover in a good run training program. I’ve purposely not touched running form, nutrition, periodization in training, rest, or gear this time. Look for future posts on these topics or connect with me for free individual help.