Playing to Your Strengths

A few months ago I bought the book “You Only Faster” by Greg McMillan (among other run-related books) to expand my knowledge base.  The fun thing about training is it’s ever evolving and there is never going to be a “one size fits all” training plan or ideal.  I love taking in different view points, seeing what does or doesn’t work for me, and then learning even more.  It doesn’t matter how many times I read these books, I’ll learn something new each time I pick it up.

StrengthsWhat I loved about this book was it talked about your strengths.  Often times we focus on what makes us weak, thinking that’s the key to becoming better but it isn’t!  Don’t get me wrong, you can’t ignore your weaknesses, but channeling more energy into your strengths will pay off much more than the other way around.

Interestingly enough, I was also recently involved in a seminar at work called Strengths Finder which is based around another book: Strengths Finder 2.0 by Tom Rath.  This book has nothing to do with running, but everything to do with your strengths for similar reasons.  Your strengths give you energy; your weaknesses drain you.  On the work-front, the seminar was cluing us in on the way we handle tasks at our job — how can we take our weak points and turn them into strengths?  Of course, I started thinking about my running in the same way.

Part of the seminar involved reading the book and then taking the quiz.  It’s a lot easier and more accurate to spit out answers on a rating scale than to try to pinpoint what you think your strengths truly are.  So what are my strengths?

  1. Achiever
    • constant need for achievement
    • energized by new challenges and assignments
    • mundane, tedious, or routine tasks are draining
    • intrinsically motivated
  2. Strategic
    • ease with language
    • detects configurations, trends, potential problems others cannot foresee
    • language has fascinated you since childhood
  3. Input
    • enjoyment from instructing others
    • attracted to the printed word
    • the more you read, the more you know and the more you know the more you realize you need to know
  4. Woo
    • driven by your talents, you want to acquire additional knowledge
    • desire to study
    • enjoy being the first to talk to strangers
  5. Ideation
    • invents unusual and innovative ways of doing things
    • frustration when you know there is a better way to do something
    • fascinated with ideas

Did you happen to notice that the first couple paragraphs showcased a few of my strength quirks?  That was totally coincidental, but obviously these results are true — I love to learn, I love to write, I love to read, and I love to find new ways to do things!  Knowing my strengths has helped me immensely so far in training for the Chicago Marathon.

FocusUnlike many runners, I start my weeks on Monday and I like my long runs on Saturdays to give me a full day of recovery sans work, but also a day to play with if I need to switch.  This leaves me to planning out my upcoming week on Sunday.  To me, it’s like a puzzle.  Where am I going to fit my miles?  Where do I plan my recovery?  Do I need to run before or after work?  How can I fuel/hydrate to be successful?  Hello, strategic and ideation.

Due to my schedule this past week, a long run had to happen on Wednesday night.  Thankfully I’m not at a point in my training where long runs approach 2+ hours and fitting it in after work isn’t a huge challenge.  But here’s the thing with long runs — I hate them.  Finding a good route near my apartment for anything longer than 5 miles gets repetitive and I am not a fan of loops.  Instead I mapped a “safe” route out of the city to my Mom’s and it turned out to be the perfect distance — about 9 miles.  “What are you doing Wednesday night, Mom?  Can I run to you and have you feed and hydrate me and then drive me home?” Of course, the answer was yes!  Hello, achiever, strategic, and ideation.

I think arriving to my Mom’s after traveling through the west side of Buffalo, North Buffalo, Kenmore, Amherst, and finally to Williamsville was one of the more proud moments I’ve had lately.  Yes, I ran 13 miles at the end of May but something about running from my apartment to a place that feels so far was a big mental accomplishment.  I actually think I talked about it more than finishing the Buffalo Half Marathon this year.  If that doesn’t make me sound like an achiever, I don’t know what does.

Putting my focus into things that motivate and energize me has been a total game changer.  No longer am I dreading workouts I hate and I’m able to fit everyting in better.  Like I said earlier, this is my puzzle but now I’m finding all the right pieces!  A dash of meal prep, a heaping scoop of recovery, a few sprinkles of interval training, a rounded cup of family and friends, topped off with easy and long runs — everything is falling into place as it should.  It’s amazing how a couple tweaks can bring such positivity to training and life in general.  If you haven’t heard of Strength Finders, I suggest you stop by your local bookstore and pick-up a copy.  It was nice that work paid for mine, but had I heard about it earlier, it’d be something I’d have done on my own in a heartbeat.


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Just a 20-something homegrown Buffalo sports loving, distance running, gin drinking kind of girl.

3 thoughts on “Playing to Your Strengths”

  1. I really like this post. I actually haven’t read that book yet but it’s on my too do list. It’s a constant reminder you do have so many strengths (you being anyone!).


    1. I would say you could borrow mine but it’s really not fun if you can’t take the quiz with the code in the background. It’s true, we always try to focus on things we are bad at – raising grades in school, etc. – but that’s so negative! Everyone is awesome!

      And now I sound like a hippie.


  2. So proud of you for recognizing your strengths- and playing to them. Such an important thing in life and in training. This will make your training cycle for Chicago even more fun, and make it what works best for YOU!


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