You cannot beat the odds: poker is a game of odds and odds are you won't place 1st, or even final table, even if you are by far the best player in the field. If that were to be the case, Helmuth would've already won the WSOP
ME since he has more bracelets than any other, and most of them come from NLHE (if not all of them, can't recall). Pros also place higher on a regular basis because we recognize them (not to say their skills don't factor in). Several people probably have made deep runs several times in big MTTs but we don't know of them because they are amateurs.
Only advice that can be given is to play smaller tourneys with a better structure (longer blinds, small increases, etc.) since these two factors reduce the luck factor and put emphasis on skill rather than running hot or running cold. And even then, you cannot win a small MTT without very good cards at the right time (while this is very much false for STTs: you can get by in those with average cards).
Playing freerolls (especially the Stars 10k entrants) is NOT good practice, unless you make it 3 hours deep. People have no buy-in to lose and they are there to gamble: not representative of even the donkiest of small MTTs.