Whenever I share about going from a 4:32 marathon to a 3:22, I get this question.
I wrote a post a while back about how I got faster.
People generally seem disappointed when I tell them the answer. The truth is, there is no magic bullet. There is no one thing I did differently to get faster. It’s a combination:
2. Strength training
3. Following a good training plan
4. Running more miles/having a large base
5. Getting specific with training paces and make every run count
6. Don’t neglect easy days – in fact, most of your miles should be easy
7. Speedwork, including both on the track and off
8. Diet and nutrition to support your running
9. Recovery/mobility – foam rolling, using The Stick, stretching, flossing, yoga, etc.
10. Stop being afraid of failure
11. Believing you can
While these are all important, I think the most important are the last two. If you tell yourself you can’t run X pace, you probably won’t be able to. You have to get your mind right and believe. The key for my first Boston-qualifying marathon was to believe I could. It was a stretch to shave 18 minutes off an already-decent time of 3:49, but I if I didn’t go for it, I obviously wouldn’t have achieved it.
This year in Boston, I knew shooting for my A goal was dangerous. It might have put me in the med tent. (So many people ended up there that hot day.) I decided to go for it. It was intimidating thinking of all the people who were tracking me. What if I fell short? What if I had an embarrassing finish time? Ultimately, I gave it my all, and luckily did not come up short. I couldn’t have been afraid of failure in that moment, or I wouldn’t have went for my A goal.
Everyone is different, but it has taken years for me to run faster, or even to have the desire to run faster! Being a good racer is about being comfortable with being uncomfortable. That’s a hard thing to learn. I’m not a frequent racer compared to others, but when I do race, I thrive on the feeling of being “on the edge” and knowing I can’t push any harder.
Be patient. Work hard. The results will come.