Train Less, Improve More

“I thought you’d be running me ragged.”

This is the comment one of my athletes posted in her training log last week. She is now in her 7th week of a personalized coaching program . This was eye opening for me.

Whether you are a seasoned athlete already on your fourth marathon, or you’re terrified to even get off the couch and go out for that workout, I bet most of you have this one thing in common: You think that effective training has to be both harder and longer than it should be.

Think how prohibitive this mindset is. It’s no fun to imagine slogging through workouts that are unrealistically challenging. Ready for the best news you’ve heard all day? You don’t have to.  Effective training begins right where you are.

Now don’t get me wrong; that’s not to say that the most intense workout you can imagine isn’t the right workout for somebody, that somebody just isn’t you. If you are already a half-marathoner and want to drop your PR by a minute, you probably start with weeks that include 60 miles of running, minimum. But if you’re trying to get yourself off the couch for your first 5k, you don’t start with 60 miles a week. That’s insane. Endurance junkies don’t spring into being. We aren’t super-human, or born with some weird gene that makes us think running up mountains is fun. We work into our fitness slowly. Endurance is an acquired taste.

Fitness and endurance are built over time, and the best part is, it gets easier as you go.  Going from 0 to 10 miles per week is infinitely harder than going from 10 to 20. And so if you are a beginner, a hacker, or a dreamer (whatever phrase you’d like that says you don’t train much but think you’d like to give it a try) I’m here to help you get through that part. And if you are already an experienced athlete, don’t you wonder how much more you could achieve if you shifted your focus from training harder to training smarter?

I want you to love endurance sports like I love endurance sports. It’s the greatest joy of my life. And there’s no point in “running you ragged.” Regardless of your current level of fitness or how you see yourself as an athlete, there are a few things that are indispensable if you want to be having fun:

  1. Start where you are at! The body can only adapt so quickly…you’ll gain a lot more by being conservative and consistent, versus two months of as-hard-as-you-can-go, followed by burnout or injury
  2. Progress motivates. When you make gains, you want to keep working. (And if you train too hard, you make no gains. Trust me, been there!)
  3. A training schedule that works with your life. Not against it. Forcing yourself to jog around your neighborhood five times in the dark and rain after working all day…The agony of a gym’s fluorescent lights before the sun has even risen…If this was the reality of endurance sports, I wouldn’t like them either.

But you can have all of the above, and you too can be a crazy/psycho/freaky/super-human endurance athlete! Or just a normal person who is fit. (But the former sounds like more fun to me.)

You want a personal coach, not a personal drill sergeant. I’ve had a lot of coaches in my life. They help me gain perspective on where I am at in my athletic career and where I am going. They calm me down when I’m training too hard. And yes, they push me when I need some motivation and/or accountability (because doing too much isn’t always the issue.) Coaches guide me along the sometimes obscure path that leads to my successes. And they help me balance my training with the rest of my life.

If you are interested in some foolproof tricks for doing all of the above, keep your eyes peeled for future blogs (or Join my Email List to have them sent straight to you, along with free training tips) and check out Coaching Options where you can read more about different options for working with me in your endurance journey. You can even fill out a questionnaire about your fitness and goals to receive a free training plan sample.

As for my athlete quoted above, I am so pleased and proud to announce that she followed that statement up by saying, “…but it hasn’t been hard at all to do what you’ve recommended. And this week will be downright lazy…I don’t mind!”

Downright lazy? She was doing her first set of intervals this week!

But it sounds like she’s enjoying the process.


  1. I’m enjoying your blog Carly and have shared on my FB😊Congratulations on your win! I know you trained hard to achieve! Lots of great information and challenges us all to get moving!


  2. […] A majority of workouts should be so easy you’ll hardly feel like it’s a workout. There are specific heart rate and lactate tests that can be done to identify this precise effort level, but those are expensive and not easily accessible to everyone. Thankfully there’s an easier way. I call it the Talk Test. If you are out for an easy workout (anything that’s not intervals or racing) you should be able to hold a conversation comfortably, speaking in complete sentences. You should not have to draw breath every few words. Seriously, go out and try it. You’ll be shocked. […]


  3. As someone who always used to enjoy running, getting back into it has been a tough battle. Building up endurance can be a pain in the butt, but it’s so lovely to hear a calm and positive voice encouraging women (and men) to pursue their goals! I look forward to seeing more from you as I HOPEFULLY gear up towards my first full marathon!


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