Top 10 Keys to My Success: 9 of Which Are Available To You

by Weldon Johnson
Spring 2000

Editor’s note in 2013: This piece which was written in the website’s earliest days.

1) A Great Coach
I’ve got the best coach in the world in John Kellogg and the #1 mistake people make is in not training properly.

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2) A training partner
Granted most training partners will not be as self-sacrificing as my twin brother, Robert, was as he totally rearranged nearly all of his hard runs to help me. But running with a partner or a group of people, can not only help you physically push yourself in your workouts, but it keeps you mentally fresh, by focusing on someone else besides yourself

3) Higher mileage
I have been increasing my mileage over the years, and finally pushed the envelope a bit this year. The key to running higher mileage is to do it intelligent slowly, increasing over the years. Now a days the focus of many people is on getting more out of less mileage. I feel this is just symbolic of our culture today – constantly looking for shortcuts.

4) Recovery between hard runs, and long days.
I run very slow on my recover days to ensure that I recover, after my long runs and between my hard days. Each run has it’s own purpose and when you understand the purpose of your easy days is to recover and start treating them as such, you’ll see better results.

5) Running on softer surfaces. (See the article on trail running)
Go and drop a golf ball on the pavement. Watch it bounce. Now go drop it in the grass. Get the picture. Now imagine that the golf ball is your legs. Running on softer surfaces, not only can improve your ankle dexterity, but it will help you be less injury prone.

6) Eating Carbos After Runs
Now, every time after I run, I eat something with carbohydrates within 30 minutes of finishing. After working out, our muscles are deprived of sugars, and recovery can be enhanced if these carbohydrates are quickly replaced. So treat yourself to an ice cream cone!

7) Stay hydrated-drinking during runs
You’ll rarely see me without a water bottle nearby. It is important not only to stay hydrated during runs (ie using water bottles on your longer runs), but also between runs.

8) Getting more sleep at night
As a society, we all try to cram too much into our days. Just remember more isn’t always better. So start going to bed earlier, and getting at least 8 hours of sleep a night. Personally, I can not run well at all on anything less.

9) Taking care of injuries.
Be aware of your body. If something is bothering you, take care of it. Whether that means icing it after runs or seeing a doctor, do what you have to do. Also, you have to know when something is serious enough that you can’t run on it. Nearly everyday for 7 years, I’d ice a part of my body after running. Now thanks to trail running, that is rarely necessary.

10) High – low training (granted you can’t do this one, but I don’t think it’s the key to my success)
I’m sure people will make a big deal of my high-low training, but I’m not sure how high I’d rate it on the list. I think moving to altitude to train was most important in the fact that I realized I was making a major commitment and started doing more of the things listed in 1-9 above.

Be sure to email me your comments or suggestions.

Weldon Johnson ran 4:28 for 1600 and 9:35 for 3200 in HS. After walking on to the team at Yale University, where he never finished higher than fifth in the Ivy League in the 10,000 and had a 30:13 personal best (pb), Weldon improved dramatically after college under the guidance of John Kellogg. He improved his 10,000 pb to 28:06 and twice finished forth in the country professionally in the 10,000. He represented the United States in competition at both the World Half Marathon championships and Pan-American Games. For a complete bio, click here.

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