One Small Thing that Will Make a BIG Difference in Your Running (and The One Tool You Need To Make Huge Gains)

There is one small hinge that swings a big door in your running performance, and chances are you are neglecting it.

John-Coyle-Coach headshot


By John Coyle


Every runner wants to know “the secret.” The thing that is going to get them to that HUGE PR and make them immune to injury. Many would tell you that there is no secret, and that it is just a lot of hard work. Well . . . it is a lot of hard work, but I disagree.

Enter to win a FREE Customized Training Plan

This includes a running training plan, strength and flexibility plan, and a consultation with your coach

Just click here and enter your email.

I think that secret exists for a lot of runners. I think there is one small thing almost every runner can do that will help them see a huge improvement in performance.

Think about it like this:

Remember when you first started running and every race was a PR, every run was further than the last one, and pounds melted off of you like snow on a 98-degree day? Why did that happen?

It was because you had a lot of room to improve – that’s no secret.

However, after you have been a runner for a while those PRs get harder to come by, the chart depicting your mileage is as flat as a table top, and you only lose weight when you get the flu.

It’s a good thing, really. It means that you are improving as an athlete, and often times through weeks and months of consistent hard work you can achieve your goals, and they are much sweeter because of the work you had to put in.

But, what if there was a way to jumpstart your running like you did when you first started?

Running ability is a simple equation, really. Your ability is a function of your fitness and efficiency.

Your fitness is built through training. That is what you spend all your free time doing right now (right?).

Your efficiency is different. It is also known as your economy. It is the measure of how efficiently you use your energy.

In other words, your fitness is like your bank account. High fitness levels = lots of money. Your efficiency is how much you spend on things.

So, if you improved your efficiency, you could spend less of your “running money” on an 9-minute mile than you do currently. In fact, you could spend just as much “running money” on a 8:30 mile as you currently spend on an 9:00 mile. That means that with the same amount of money in your bank account (the same level of fitness), you can run faster.

Basically, if you can improve your running economy you can run faster than you currently do without having to build more fitness.

The reason I think that there IS a “secret” is because most runners don’t even consider their efficiency. Most runners just spend a lot of time running (building fitness). However, as your fitness improves, improvements get harder and harder to come by.

If you, as a runner, focus on your efficiency, there is a lot of low-hanging fruit. You can make big improvements in efficiency like the fitness improvements you made when you first started running.

So how do you work on efficiency? Well, that is the “secret.” I’ll tell you what it is, and I’ll show you how to do it.

Strength training and flexibility

There are a number of professional distance runners who have noticed a huge improvement when they have started taking strength and flexibility training more seriously, but that is just the anecdotal evidence. There are actual studies that have positively correlated strength training and running performance in distance runners. These studies have shown that strength training can:

  • Improve running efficiency (have a more efficient stride and get faster).
  • Increase time to exhaustion (run further at the same pace before you hit the wall).
  • Decrease likelihood of injury (staying healthy = more running).

Pretty cool right?

So why doesn’t every runner already focus on strength and flexibility?

First of all, if you already implement strength training and flexibility/mobility routines into your training, good for you. Still, keep reading. This article is pretty short and will give you a lot of great ideas to integrate into your current routine.

Really, there are a few primary reasons that every runner doesn’t place a bigger emphasis on strength training and flexibility:

  1. Runners barely have time to get their runs in, let alone go to the gym.
  2. The average runner isn’t sure what exercises are actually good for their running, and they don’t want to build bulky muscle that will slow them down.  
  3. Runners don’t want to sacrifice their running – a strength and flexibility routine might make them more sore or tired and negatively impact their running.

Do any of those sound like your concerns? They were mine too.

So, I needed to find something that would allow me to get my strength and flexibility training in that would meet all the following criteria:

  • Only take 5-25 minutes/day
  • Specifically help with some aspect of running
  • Integrate with a running training plan (Allow me to keep running at a high level).

Related: Enter to win a FREE customized training plan including strength and flexibility training. 

The One Tool You Need to Make Big Improvements in Your Running

With that criteria in mind I did some research and came across Grokker. Grokker has workout videos that you can do at home. There are varying degrees of difficulty (in other words, you can choose workouts that will fit in with your running schedule, and not overwork you).

AND they have workout videos that are as short as 5-minutes long (that is my favorite part.)

All of these videos are lead by very qualified instructors. Here is a quick video that explains Grokker than I ever could:


Or if you want a bit more info/longer video check this one out:

Here is how you get started On Your Strength and Flexibility Journey

  1. Go to and click “Get My 2 Weeks Free.”

Grokker home page screenshot in the strength and flexibility for runners blog post


2. Choose which plan you want if you decide to keep Grokker after the free trial (remember, you won’t get charged until later).

choose a monthly or yearly strength and flexibility plan on Grokker screenshot

3. Enter your contact info and payment info (yes Grokker asks for your payment info – but if you cancel before your trial is up, you never pay.)

edit your contact info on Grokker to try out the 14-day strength and flexibility training plan for runners

edit your payment info on Grokker to try out the 14-day strength and flexibility training plan for runners


4. Grokker will ask if you are interested in strength training, yoga, or food – select whatever you want.

5. Grokker will ask you to choose 3 videos to get started – select the three that look the most interesting to you.

Once You Are On The Inside

Here are some links to a few other useful Grokker tutorial videos. These should help you navigate once you are on the inside.

Watch this one first:

Then this one:

One More Thing

Ultimately it is up to you whether you want to incorporate strength training into your running, but the research doesn’t lie about the benefits.

If you ARE serious about taking your running to the next level (and because you read this whole blog post), I have something for you.

I am giving away a FREE CUSTOMIZED TRAINING PLAN and consultation session with me that INCLUDES a strength training plan (incorporated into your running training).

You can enter to win here.

Comment below and let me if how you plan to incorporate strength training into your running!

2 Comments on "One Small Thing that Will Make a BIG Difference in Your Running (and The One Tool You Need To Make Huge Gains)"

  1. I have to agree with you and have seen my speed improve my adding in strength training this year. If I didn’t know better I would think you wrote this about me after restarting running last year.

    • RunnersOnTheGo | May 25, 2016 at 8:57 pm | Reply

      Thanks for the comment.

      I think a lot of people have had a similar result. I saw huge improvements when I first started taking my strength training seriously.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.