I had the opportunity to meet some young professional runners and their coach about five years ago. They came to run the USATF 10K road race championships in Mobile and took the opportunity to do a meet and greet at our friendly neighborhood running emporium. There was a shy, dark-haired young woman sitting with the rest of her training group; she quietly answered a few questions during the discussion, but really did not seem to stand out in the crowd. Five years later, she finishes second at the Boston Marathon and runs the best time by an American woman on the Boston course (2:22:38).
Desiree Davila. 'Who'dathunkit?' I bet not even your coaches, Keith and Kevin Hanson, 'woulda.'
I love what she had to say about her progress from "average" runner to finishing second at one of the most prestigious road races in the world (The two most common questions non-runners ask of runners: Have you run a marathon? Have you run Boston?). "Everything has been one step at a time, you don't have to be great tomorrow..." Besides patient progress, Davila benefited from financial support, group training and the training methods of the brothers Hanson.
There are no shortcuts. There are no "silver bullets," "magic potions," or "miracle devices;" no "make you healthier and faster in 90 days or your money back" zippy mind tricks to being a good - or a great - runner. There are no fallbacks, no substitutions.
There is no bar or beverage at the local sports nutrition store which can replace adequate rest and recovery. There is no shoe at the local running emporium which can make up for a runner's refusal to learn good running form and proper cadence. There is no book on-line or on the shelves of the local bookstore which can provide the advice and counsel of a coach. There is no training plan in existence which can safely take us from running 20 minutes a day, three times a week to running a marathon in 16 weeks. None of these things happen without slow, patient progress. We have to crawl before we can walk, walk before we can jog, and jog before we can run.
Mental toughness and physiological change takes time and patience, which is not the stuff we can pay our way through with money, no matter what people who write training books - and coaching blogs, for that matter - have to say.