Warrior Spotlight

“Don’t go ‘halfway’ with anything you do. Your ‘whole heart’ always beats your ‘half ass.’” – Martin Rooney


This week’s transformation story is a little different than the usual “20 pounds down!!! Three pounds of muscle gained!” This transformation is about strength. Pure strength. It’s not a singular kind of strength in the perception of this warrior. This warrior has reflected deeply on a connection between TFW and endurance sports. It’s a connection she was able to articulate thoroughly into words in a way I wouldn’t have been able to. Why? She’s the endurance athlete and I’m…not. Well, not yet at least. She and another TFW warrior (also her good friend and coworker) have so kindly volunteered me for next summer’s Ragnar in Minnesota. Now before I start on a rant about how I really don’t want to run the Ragnar but I’m going to do it anyway…let’s get back to her.

Her name is Kate Brown. She’s a physical therapist. She’s damn good at what she does including helping me recover from random acts of stupidity resulting in an injury (not related to TFW). She LOVES to run but a certain condition she’d rather not discuss in detail, forced her to hang her sneakers up. That was until she and her friend Jen (also a super star physical therapist and runner) discovered TFW at the East Metro location in Minnesota. Long story short (because we haven’t even started her side of things) she’s running again. She sent me this as both a testimony and as a PSA to the runners and triathletes in the Madison area.

In her own words, here is why Kate lifts heavy, at TFW.


“Technical thoughts:

Running a marathon requires cardiovascular endurance, endurance strength, speed strength, lower extremity strength, and mental strength. In particular, running itself is of course necessary to get the cardiovascular endurance and the endurance strength for your legs, however, when it comes to a marathon you need more than just cardiovascular and leg endurance.

When we talk about running a marathon, everyone wants to train to make sure they finish and avoid hitting the infamous “marathon wall.”  When a runner hits “the wall”, many things have unfortunately happened. Typically the very first thing that led to the wall was that they petered out in their core and hip muscles. When those muscles fatigue, a runner loses their form, which instantly causes them to be inefficient in their running. The worse your form is, the more energy you unnecessarily burn through, and the sooner you use up all your stores and hit that wall. And trust me, it doesn’t matter how fast you are, in a marathon, you physiologically need every bit of stored energy that you can get, and then some. One of the easiest ways to prevent this running form breakdown from happening is to complete a progressive core, pelvis, and hip strengthening program throughout your marathon training so that the endurance and strength of your core matches the endurance and strength of your cardio and legs. Unfortunately, you can’t work the core and hips enough with just running, the isolated focus on the core/hips is needed for them to keep balanced with the amount of work your legs get from running itself.

Another common thing that leads to “hitting the wall” is when someone does not have enough isolated leg strength/power underneath their leg aerobic endurance. No matter how fast you run, in the marathon distance, everyone’s body at some point along the way transitions from running aerobically to running relying on your anaerobic system (your strength and power). Your marathon running training partly works to expand how long your body can stay in the aerobic system, but our physiology only lasts so long, and we all eventually cross into the anaerobic system. Thus, what distinguishes the person who hits the wall from the person who doesn’t is how much pure strength and power you have in your legs underneath the running endurance. Having a strong anaerobic system helps you break through and run beyond the wall instead smashing into it head first.


A third portion that tends to bring up that pesky wall in the marathon is overall metabolism inefficiency. Again, our bodies were not made to run 26.2 miles, and so when we do complete that feet, our body needs every last bit of energy it can get! Having a combination of aerobic and strength training is shown to help maximize our body’s metabolism efficiency so that when we do something crazy awesome like run a marathon, our body can physically provide the energy we need in the most efficient way possible: no more, no less.

The final portion I’ll comment on that often leads to people hitting “the wall” is mental fatigue. There is a reason the marathon is the feet that it is and a distance to be respected….because running this distance….26.2 miles….takes its toll and leaves its mark on absolutely everyone who runs it. From the recreational runner to the elite runner, the marathon leaves its mark on everyone. Therefore, working your mental stamina, mental strength, and mental endurance is incredibly important to avoiding the wall. One thing I have always felt and believe is that my mind gives out far earlier than my legs and my heart and soul ever will. And therefore, my mental game needs to go through training from all angles just like my body does.


TFW Thoughts:

So….where does TFW come into play with all of this?? I will speak personally that it comes into play with each and every one of those four areas mentioned above. Running the miles is absolutely necessary, of course, for marathon training. But if you really want that marathon experience to be all that it can be in that magical marathon way, then having those four components above in your corner is the only way to go. TFW programming specializes in providing that whole body approach: aerobic, anaerobic, heart, and mind. It’s built directly into their programming with strength days, hurricane days, and speed strength days. An easy way to being as well rounded as you can be going into the marathon is to supplement your running with the core and strength portion of the TFW program. Those build the first three elements: core/hip strength, anaerobic strength, and metabolism efficiency.


As for that 4th element mental endurance and mental strength? Well…that is part of what defines TFW, and what the Madison dojo was built upon. The Madison Dojo is not just about strengthening your muscles; as I said above, it’s about bettering your entire person…body, mind, and heart. The core values of the Madison Dojo speak directly to the heart of the mentality it takes to run a marathon. The marathon is a magical distance; it’s a distance that is owed respect, humbleness, and love. I can say with full confidence that as a marathoner myself, as someone who has had health issues affect my running, and as someone who’s been running for now 20 years (both competitive and recreational), my experience and training with TFW and the Coach Nolan familia has helped make me a much more complete runner today than I have ever been. If you want to bust through that wall and give the marathon everything you’ve got, the training and value support that The TFW Madison Dojo embodies will take you to that finish line.”

Kate Brown, DPT, NCS


There you have it neighbor! Amazing isn’t it? Lift Heavy with TFW. Get your miles in every week. We help you optimize your nutrition to improve your performance goals. Adding the nutrition aspect in, we have five great reasons TFW is the best place to gain everything you need to be a great runner.


“If you want to go fast go alone. If you want to go far go together.”


At TFW Madison we encourage working together in our training sessions because we understand the power of being part of something bigger. By working together on our own health and fitness goals we all get better together. If you can be a student and show up to learn two or three times a week, you’ll be embraced from the start. We welcome all skill levels of fitness and goals with open arms.


Let’s do this!



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