QT: Raise Your Floor to Raise Your Ceiling (Best Of-ish)


This post/episode was originally published in November of 2017. The post/show notes are simply copy/pasted from the original post, but the podcast audio is a new take on the same subject.


What are your biggest, most outlandish, running goals?

You probably know my two big running goals, since I talk about them often.

But in case you need a reminder or are new to my corner of the internet, my two big running goals are to run a marathon in each state and to qualify for Boston.

My two goals have different requirements for success. One is all about longevity while the other is centered around performance.

Provided I keep running for the next 30-50 years, which is the plan, in theory running a marathon in every state shouldn’t be that difficult.

But qualifying for Boston? That is a goal that is going to require me to get substantially faster than I am right now of the marathon distance.

And the only way for that to happen is to raise the ceiling of my fitness.

The Ceiling? WTF Diz???

When I talk about the ceiling of my fitness, what I’m talking about is the upper limit of what is possible for me on race day.

Point blank, looking at my fitness today, qualifying for Boston in the next 6 months simply isn’t impossible.

There’s no amount of visualizing or positive thinking that is going to allow me to maintain the sub-7:15 pace required for me to get into Boston at this point.

Can I run a 7:15 mile? No doubt.

But can I run 26 of them consecutively? No chance.

So the training I’m doing now, and for the next several years, is with the goal of improving my fitness “ceiling” to the point where I can realistically improve my marathon performance to the level required to qualify for Boston.

And the best way to do that, I believe, is simple: I need to raise my floor.

Stop Starting From the Same Place Every Cycle

If you want to raise your ceiling, why don’t you focus on raising your floor and let the ceiling take care of itself?

Not following that logic? No worries. I’ll feed you baby birds!

During a training cycle for any single race, there is only so much improvement that you can hope to attain.

So let’s say that when you’re not training for a race, you’re regular running schedule is as such:

  • Three runs during the week: 1 Easy, 1 Speed, 1 Tempo
  • Long run on the weekend: Typically 8-12 miles

When it’s time to start training for a race, maybe you’ll add another day or two of easy running per week to your routine, and also strategically increase the distance of your long runs so that you’ll peak on race day.

Pretty standard stuff, right?

But then what do you do after you finish your race and allow yourself a chance to recover?

You go back to your normal routine of 3 mid-week runs with 8-12 miles on the weekend.

A few months later, you sign up for another race and the process of training for that race starts again from exactly the same place as the race previous.

Guess what?

That’s an awfully hard way to make marked improvements to your finishing time on race day.

Raise the Floor to Raise the Ceiling

What if you tried a little different strategy instead?

What if after a race you worked on setting a slightly higher level for your training between cycles?

So instead of 3 runs per week, you were regularly doing 4? And instead of 8-12 miles per long run, you hit 15 miles most weeks with an occasional week at 16 or 17?

That right there? That’s raising your floor.

And guess what happens when you get to your next training cycle?

You are starting from an advanced position, which can lead to a pretty big improvement on race day.

By raising your floor you are giving yourself a good chance to dramatically raise your ceiling.

It’s honestly not that difficult, but it does take effort and consistency.

You may not think it’s paying off, but remember that progress in our sport takes time.

Work on raising your floor between training cycles, and you might be shocked at what that does to your performance on race day.

Just saying


What is One Thing You Can Do to Raise Your Floor Between Now and Your Next Training Cycle?

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