Why Train When You Can Maintain?
Updated: Jul 24
Running Life: A Fitness Protection Podcast is available on iTunes, Castbox, and your favorite podcast player.
Inspired by professional Jenga-players (YES THAT EXISTS!), Maintain was created to keep you fit enough year-round so you have #alltheoptions and none of the burnout. Make no mistake - with Maintain you will have ALL the options: you ramp up to run a marathon in 10 weeks, or ramp down when your badassery is needed elsewhere. In this podcast, you will meet 5 runners who are enjoying these ramps as much as their running.
The way we present these programs and talk about participants MATTERS: the transition between Maintain, ReBuild, and Runner, Interrupted is presented AS A LATERAL MOVE, a function of time. You will be in one of these three boxes throughout the course of your life as a runner, so all three products are accessible to all subscribers at all times. Life doesn’t always synch nicely with calendars, we want you to have what you need when you need it.
Did we mention that our marathon training plans are free to subscribers? Because our marathon training plans are free to our subscribers, and you get fresh ones every summer.
There is no one who says it quite like Viola Askey from Oregon in the morning to this podcast: this is MY START LINE. (and by the way, that Olympic-distance duathlon she’s talking about? She started, she finished, and she crushed it - we featured her finish photo in the Coached and Loved newsletter a couple of weeks ago!)
We love what Viola had to say because it represents the great gifts of Fitness Protection so beautifully. The people in Maintain are doing WHAT THEY WANT TO DO...and they are all different people who want to do different things! Anna Sorenson from Wisconsin was once upon a time so injured she couldn’t walk, but she’s slowly and steadily built her fitness back up to the point where she has a rock-solid base and she can pick what she wants to do in any given season and pivot in that direction. This season, she is shoring up her strength in our Slow Burn strength beta, which will be opening to the public in 2020!
Cara Gerard from Quebec is a completely different runner who has similarly found her happy place amidst all the options Maintain presents. All she ever wants to do is be a person who can YOLO half marathons at the drop of a hat, she says, and Maintain gives her that. She runs through the freezing winters (you’ll see her outside down to -25 degrees Celsius!) and she loves being fit enough to do exactly what she wants all the time.
And that is the intent of Maintain - keep you perpetually fit enough that you have CHOICES, without burning you out. And make no mistake - having choices means ALL the choices, and that includes the choice to do less if less is what you need right now. You can choose to listen to your body and decide that Maintain is too much, and that that’s not a reflection on you or your worth or your morality but just where you are right now. Some runners like Alison Melley from Maryland choose to shift into Runner, Interrupted or ReBuild (make sure to listen to our ReBuild podcast) for a time while they focus on other things. Alison knows herself well enough to know that being able to do most of the work on the training plan matters to her, and when she shifted to ReBuild, her TrainingPeaks workout boxes were turning green again and that feeling of checking everything off the list was motivating and empowering to her. Meanwhile, Karen Sutton from Leicester, UK recently shifted from ReBuild to Maintain after recovering from a bout of plantar fasciitis. She has slowly worked up to a point where she can complete all the Maintain workouts, with the help of lots of patience and hard work. Karen runs because it keeps her blood pressure down without the need for medication, and with a family history of heart health problems, that is a HUGE success.
Whatever your definition of success - turning boxes green in TrainingPeaks or eliminating the need for blood pressure medication - it is so important to us that our people feel like they are succeeding as runners. This is everything. And it was particularly important to MK that the transition between Maintain, ReBuild, and Runner, Interrupted be presented AS A LATERAL MOVE. In her original livestream the day the pieces snapped into place in her brain, she drew three boxes. When she finished the livestream, she realized how critical it was for those boxes to remain next to each other, on the x-axis, a function of time. You will be in one of these three boxes throughout the course of your life as a runner, and the three boxes form the base subscription of products, all three accessible to you at all times so you have what you need when you need it since life doesn’t always work with calendars.
From here, MK talks about some professional Jenga players she knows and the way they talk about high-level Jenga strategy. When removing blocks from the tower in order to build it higher, beginners will often start with the blocks on the bottom because they are the easiest to slide out at the beginning of the game, without realizing that they are setting themselves up for a very unstable tower when they neglect their baseline priorities: themselves. In Maintain, we urge our runners to prioritize running as self-care: the habits that make it possible, the real estate on the calendar that gives it space. We want to set you up so that you are able to make the best possible choices for yourself - that is NOT the same as accountability (we are not about that bullshit). We are here to give you validation, a framework for good decision-making, and a safe space in which to make those decisions, especially when they are difficult ones.
Sometimes, the decisions center around a big event, and we know that lots of our runners want to run marathons. That’s why we give marathon training plans to our subscribers FOR FREE - we want to help them be as prepared as they possibly can be without putting an undue amount of pressure on themselves. Pat Brockman from Texas talks about how she trained for her first marathon after battling stress fractures on and off for years every time she tried to build enough volume to do it. Heart-rate-based training like we do in Maintain was the answer for her, and getting to the start line of her marathon was a glorious achievement. Emma Ross from California talks about her excitement to train for her first marathon in December of this year - after years of training by heart rate with Coach MK and encouraging other runners who have built up to their own marathons, Emma is READY for this!
We love seeing our people feeling empowered to run their FIRST MARATHON and choosing to do it for themselves, because they want to and because it will make them feel GOOD, not become a bullshit stick to beat themselves with.
The mindframe of Maintain, no matter what you want to get out of running, is that we are playing a long game. Patience, acceptance of where things are now, that you are where you are now and that it could not be otherwise...that is the first step to finding the comfort and peace that will ground you as you move in the direction you want to do. Karen Schlueter-Morland from Minnesota is the ultimate embodiment of patience, tenacity and grit. MK actually came up with the name, “Tenacious AF” (that’s the name of one of our marathon training plans) thinking of Karen. She doesn’t think of herself as patient, but she hasn’t stopped trying, working or caring. THAT is tenacity- showing up when it hasn’t come together YET. Showing up when the odds aren’t good. Showing up every day, no matter what.
So, the marathon training plans are free- that was always intentional. MK said years ago “just give my plans away, no one can use them without me. You aren’t paying for the plan.” Now, we’re really doing it - our revenue model is contingent upon boring, everyday subscribers, not selling flashy plans or making big promises.
And finally to close things out - Stacy Clark from Connecticut brings it home for us with a lovely reflection on her need for structure between training plans. No one is more diligent and hardworking than Stacy, but even Stacy had a tough time getting the runs in when it was just her out on her own. She has embraced the mindset of Fitness Protection in a big way this past summer, reminding herself to take the pressure off, give herself grace, and keep moving forward with no regrets.
We could not be more proud - of Stacy and of every single runner in Maintain. All of you are coached and loved and winning at life every day.
Coach MK Fleming is the founder of Fitness Protection, LLC where she coaches all kinds of runners for $29 per month and gives marathon plans away for free. Click here to download her most popular training plan, Tenacious AF!