Getting Faster Is Simple. It’s Not Easy.

pole dancer
Having a hot bod might be a one-way ticket to a job as a pole-dancer, but pole-dancing is not a one-way ticket to a hot bod. Image via Wikipedia.

This post was originally published on April 5, 2012. Now that my first race post-baby #3 is in the books and I’m staring down the barrel at months of training to get back to PR shape, I need this one!

Sometimes when I can’t sleep after one of the kids wakes me up I like to turn on the tube. For some reason I prefer infomercials for shake-weights, freaky belts, pole-dancing workouts and humpy ab machines. I think the pitches for these products are so amazingly good and ludicrous at the same time. I mean seriously, losing weight is simple math: calories in < calories out. Yet so many people disregard this simple formula and instead throw money at these strange contraptions, “wonder” drugs or magical sexy workouts to lose weight. Losing weight is simple, but it’s not so easy money can buy it.

The same is true for running.

I love reading about ridiculous spring-filled shoes, magical workout systems, iPhone apps and even pills that supposedly will make us faster. While the zombie iPhone app does sound kind of fun, the truth is that no particular running shoe, diet plan, track workout or fancy watch can make you faster. Getting faster, like weight loss is simple math: a well-balanced training plan + consistency = faster running. Yet so many of us disregard this equation and look for the perfect magical workout, cosmic training philosophy or even shoe style for that quick fix. Running faster is simple. It’s just not easy.

Desiree Davila during marathon race at 12th Wo...
Being wicked fast is a one way ticket to doing one of Desi’s workouts. Doing one of Desi’s workouts is not a one-way ticket to getting wicked fast.

While the math is simple the exact results are out of our control. We see beautiful thin people on TV and want to be them … NOW! We see amazingly fast people in front of us at races and want to beat them … NOW!

The thing is that with weight loss and with running we cannot will our bodies to change. We can’t set a deadline and *voila!* we’re thinner or faster on that date. Both weight loss and running faster require patience and faith and hard work over time. There are no guarantees of the exact result. That’s where most of us run into problems.

We get antsy and think the work we’ve put in for a week, two weeks, 6 months isn’t paying off. We switch plans. We switch shoes. We try more chocolate milk after our workouts or more dynamic warm-ups and cool-downs. We quit stretching. We start stretching. And then when none of that seems to work maybe we even consider pills. We stare at the tree in front of us, forgetting we’re in the forest.

We need to keep our eye on the forest–the big picture. If you knew you’d run a 20 minute marathon PR in three years if you just plugged along with training consistently for that amount of time, how would you feel?ย  Would you sweat it so much if you blew up in a workout or ran a disappointing race or had to miss a week of training due to life stuff? Wouldn’t it be so much easier to ride the ups and downs that arise along the journey if you viewed getting faster as a journey?

Winding road
Have faith that despite all the twists and turns with your good training and consistency you’re heading in the right direction. Image via Wikipedia.

Getting faster is a journey and it can be frustrating when we feel like we cannot see the destination or aren’t sure how long it will take to get there. The key is to enjoy the ride and accept a few bumps along the way, but to always have faith that the journey will take you where you want to go.

The key to getting faster is not a gimmick. The key to getting faster is to have faith in your self, your training and your body that it will take you where you want to go. Well-balanced training + consistency = getting faster. There are no shortcuts on this journey.

So throw away those make-you-faster pills, buckle your seat belt and get comfortable. Getting faster and reaching your potential takes a balanced training plan and a lot of patience. It often takes more than one season to see significant results from training and your progression might not take a linear path. And no amount of springs in your shoes will speed up the process.

Is patience your strong suit or have you ever tried a get fast quick scheme?ย 

Salty Running boss and mother of 3 little ones with PRs of 3:10:15 (26.2), 1:25:59 (13.1) and 18:15 (5k). I love to write about running culture, mental training, and fitting in a serious running habit with the rest of a busy life.

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  1. Good post, should be very linkable from an upcoming post I’m planning on how running builds our patience. Obviously most pursuits require years to achieve great accomplishments – and in most pursuits there always seem to be those who want the shortcut (and those willing to profit from those who want the shortcut). So it’s no surprise that running is not any different.

  2. really awesome post! i think you hit the nail on the head and i hope lots of people read this and understand what you’re saying. when i started training-running more consistently, my goal was to enjoy it so that i could keep going as long as my body will let me. so far, that has meant lots of great quality time running with friends and also some PR’s along the way, running a 50 miler and just feeling better over the long run. and, its a metaphor for life!

  3. I like the title. It’s nice to see you channeling the Gipper:

    “There are simple answers. There just aren’t any easy ones.” –Ronald Reagan


  4. This is such a great post. On of my biggest challenges with running is having patience. I want to be faster and I want to be faster now but that’s not how it works. So I make myself be patient log the time and the miles and focus on the progress I am making instead of how far I have to go

  5. So how DOES a girl get faster? Will you do a post on that? I’m happy to be patient (kind of) but any advice on how to speed up would be welcome.

  6. I run sprints, for which I train on a treadmill (because this country is wintery) and it’s the same principle…increment by a fraction of a kilometre/hr when ready. Over time, it will get one to the tape before most everyone else. How much time? Eight years so far, in my own case, and the rest of my life yet to come.