EP 564: Run Like a Pro (Even if You’re Slow)

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Scott & Don

Runner, coach, certified nutritionist and author Matt Fitzgerald teams up with the coach of the Hoka Northern Arizona Elite team, Ben Rosario, to help us understand how the pros run.  In their new book, they help us understand that we can reach our potential if we include some of these training techniques and strategies.

Matt has been on TRN ten previous times including the episode we referenced, How Bad Do you Want It?

Find out more about Matt and coaching at 

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  • You guys had so much to say about “Recreational Runners” in this episode, so I thought I’d share a term used in German that I’ve come to have lots of conversations about while talking to fellow ultra-trail runners here. As a caveat, I’m a native English speaker living in Austria so I still find it difficult to interpret this term, but my German wife and Austrian friends do too…

    I picked up two young hitchhikers while driving back from a longrun around the Watzmann, one of our local mountains, when one of them asked me if I was a “Leistungssportler”. This is a two-part word made up of “Leistung”, which means “effort” or “performance”, and “Sportler”, which is “sportsman” or “athlete”. It gets used for professional athletes, but it isn’t exclusively used for pros. Essentially the best explanation I’ve gotten so far is that it is anyone who takes their sport seriously. Google translates the term as “Competitive Athlete”, but I like to think of it as an “Effort-ful Athlete”. “Performance Athlete” sounds cooler, but performance sounds a bit too high-stress to me and connotates that someone external is observing that performance.

    I didn’t know quite how to answer the young man in the back seat of my car, but I decided to say “yes”. I put a lot of effort into my running, (usually as much as 5-6 days a week), I usually do the strength training my coach prescribes, and I do my long runs religiously. So yes, I am an Effort-ful Athlete even though I’ll likely never come close to winning the ultras I sign up for.

    Writing this rant also reminded me of another debate you had recently regarding the difference between running and jogging. I was sorry to miss the chance to put in my two cents at that time, but I think we get offended at being called “joggers” for the same reason we take offense at the term “recreational runner”. Both terms diminish the level of intent and commitment we feel and the investments we make in our sport. Like the use of the term “Leistungssportler”, a “runner” (as opposed to a jogger) is someone who takes what they’re doing seriously. Its not actually about the performance, but it is the intent, commitment, and the effort that really matters and differentiates us from the “jogger” or the “recreational runner”.

    The other problem I have with the term “recreational runner” is that it seems to concentrate almost solely on the idea of fun. Of course I’m having fun when I run, but I would argue that in my mind a “recreational runner” lacks a greater passion and drive. There is something much more than just “fun” and “recreation” involved in going out for a marathon-length training run in the snow or pushing through muscle cramps in the middle of the night, collapsing crying at the next aid station, and then getting up and carrying on anyway. I don’t mean that Effort-ful Athletes are all addicts to pain, but rather that there is something self-fulfilling and self-confirming in what they do and that this attracts them even when we’ve gone beyond type-1 fun. The recreational runner and the jogger find that self-fulfillment and affirmation elsewhere (hopefully).

    The lovely thing about this definition, of course, is that it leaves your identity as a runner vs. jogger or Leistungssportler vs. recreational runner completely up to you. No one else gets to decide how seriously you take your sport and how Effort-ful you are!

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Episode 564