Mission becoming a strong runner: did I get any faster?

Little stoke parkrun Bristol strong runner faster

Thanks to Tom for taking pictures during yesterday’s parkrun.


In the latest couple of months, I have focused on becoming a strong runner (notice I did not say a faster runner). I needed a break after the Bristol to Bath marathon. I decided to take an “off season”. Saying so really makes people laugh. I know that I am not a professional athlete and it can make me sound a little obnoxious but this is what it has been. It’s been an off-season from running but not from training, and this is the key.

My aim is to be able to run injury-free and comfortably. I’ve identified some of my weaknesses by getting someone to film me running and analysing my running form, and applying all the new knowledge I am learning as part of my training to become a running coach. I have used myself as a guinea pig and the results are exciting.

Before I reveal some of my results, let me tell you very briefly what I based my training on: having a strong foundation. I worked on my ABC and RJT, which in the athletic linguo means Agility, Balance, Coordination, Rowing, Jumping, Throwing. Like for anything in life, you need a good foundation to build upon and running is no exception to the rule.

You can see some example training weeks in my recaps. For me it’s been about building a strong core, improve my coordination to tame my lanky limbs, making sure that I have strong legs and decent flexibility. 


In the past 14 weeks since the last marathon, I have only run 13 times. That’s less than once a week, and it’s barely been more than 5km and always with some sort of intention to it such as focusing on my running work or some sort of tempo (based on my breathing as I still do not run with a watch).

The results – did I become any faster?

I am super excited to say that I have become faster as a result of becoming stronger. Last week I shaved 2 minutes off a route I was running in Weston-Super-Mare and yesterday I got a 5km PB by 1min 10 sec, putting my current 5K time at 23’49min. This was without trying. I am not trying to brag by saying this. Yes I pushed myself a bit but not with the idea to PB, just with the idea of seeing what stage I am at currently in order to compare the results at the end of my next 8 weeks training cycle. Like usual, I did not have a watch to time myself while running. 

Sprint finish faster little stoke parkrun bristol

I did not enjoy trying to sprint finish in the mud.

What’s next?

My legs were not a problem at all. No tiredness during the 5km yesterday, they definitely got stronger. My breathing was another story. It felt a little difficult, especially due to the cold air. My upper back was killing me too. I have spent a lot of time at my desk lately with awful posture probably, and I have not done near enough yoga to compensate. 

My plan for the next 8 weeks is to keep doing what I have been doing! I need to build on the longer distance for the North London Half Marathon in 8 weeks. I will focus less on my legs as I am back in Bristol now and the hills will be a good workout for them anyway. I need to maintain my upper body strength and do lots and lots of yoga. Who is keen to do some yoga with me via Pactster to keep me on track?

All in all, I am finding this very exciting. As you read, I am training to become a running coach. I already believed in less running, hence why I trained for my last marathon with only 3 runs a week, but now I will drill into my runners that it starts with a good foundations and that just getting this right can already improve your running, if becoming faster is your goal. If that sounds good to you, watch this space for summer 2016.

Do you take “off seasons”?

What do you do to become a faster runner?

I get a small commission if you sign up to Pactster via this link. 

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