Sunday, November 17, 2013

Migration of thought . . .

What is possible?  What's impossible?  What should we do?  What is best for us?  What will hurt us?  What should I eat?  What should I avoid eating?  How far can a human run?  How far should we run?  How much is too much?  What hurts our joints?

As athletes, we all have these questions and we are constantly searching for the perfect answer.  One that allows us to be the best we can be and guide us through our endeavors injury free.  So . . . what do we do?

Simple . . . we look to experts to guide us!

We read scientific studies.  We search for and listen to the PhD experts who have studied and researched our questions!  And we believe them.  Especially if they are saying what we personally think or tend to believe!!

I ran my first marathon in 1982.  And I just plain "blew up" at mile 17.  Nausea struck followed by a mental collapse!!  Devastating!  I wanted a sub 4 hour finish but I struggled in at around 4:35 or so with my tail between my legs!  Oh . . . I was happy and proud to have completed my first marathon for sure!  But there was disappointment too because I knew I had mentally collapsed.  Maybe no one else knew . . . but I did!!!  And I wanted revenge!  I wanted that sub 4 marathon!

So I wanted to run another just as soon as I could!  And what did I do?  I consulted the "experts" on what I should do!  Advice from Runners World was the only source of information I had available plus a few books on running.  Their combined advice?

"The human body takes time to fully recover from the exertion of running 26.2 miles.  So, even though you may feel rested a week or two later, you shouldn't run that far again for a full 26 weeks!" 

That's right!!  The human body can only take running 2 marathons a year!!!  Hahahaha!!!!

I'm sure there were runners out there who realized this was total bullshit!  But I didn't know any of them!  I had my circle of friends and none had ever run past 26.2 miles and none did marathons frequently!  So I believed "the experts!"

I waited 6 months to run my second marathon and I did achieve my goal!!  My personal record of 3:58!

Well . . . over time I've learned this advice was just plain stupid.  I have friends that run a marathon or longer every single weekend!  I have friends that run a marathon almost every day!!!  Only run 2 marathons a year???  Just sooooo wrong!

The experts used to say that the human body just runs out of all stored energy at around the 18-20 mile point of running.  And the last 6-8 miles to finish a marathon simply tear the body down!!  The human body really can't take distances longer than a marathon!!!  Hahaha!!

Tell that to friends I know that run 130 - 150 miles in 24 freakin' hours!!!  Or finishers of Vol State . . . a 314 mile race through Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama and ending in Georgia!!  The fastest time so far?  Joe Fejes finished in 3 days, 8 hours 10 minutes and 17 seconds!!!!

Oh . . . and by the way . . . fat is bad for you!  The best diets avoid all fats . . . especially if you are trying to lose weight!!!  Right!!

Salt is terrible for you!  It causes high blood pressure!  Well . . . if this were true my blood pressure would be through the roof!  If I do get high pressure when I get old (not there yet!!!  LOL!) I might try backing off the salt some.  But until I do . . . stay the fuck away from my salt!!!

How about vegetarian diets to optimize health?  Maybe.  Maybe not.  Lots of studies and opinions both ways!  In my mind avoiding meat due to ethical beliefs about the treatment of animals is valid.  Avoiding meat for health reasons may be right . . . or it may be wrong.  I simply don't know.

To each, their own!  But don't freakin' quote to me what the experts say!  They mean well, but ANYTHING they say is really more of an opinion they hold.  I believe all research is flawed!!  We may not fully understand where the flaws are . . . but they are flaws there none the less!!

Today we have the internet which provides each of us with easy access to unbelievably HUGE amount of information.  Not available in 1982!!!!  Now we can find studies to "prove" anything we want to prove or disprove!!  How convenient!!

But to me . . . the internet provides us with access to other people with differing ideas.  People who have tried the "impossible."  Heck . . . people who do the impossible every single day!!

We can listen!  We can learn.  We can share.  We can break down our own barriers about what is possible and how to achieve the impossible ourselves.  What to try and what we choose to avoid!

And when it comes down to it, we just have to make up our own minds as to what we want to try.  Nothing works for everyone the same way!!

A friend of mine gave me a book called "Fixing Your Feet" by John Vonhof.  I was having tons of trouble with blisters when I would get out around  40 miles or so in a race and I needed to find a solution if I was ever going to be able to finish a 100 mile run.  He gave me this book to "solve my problem" so I excitedly began reading in!  And I was VERY disappointed!

The book NEVER told me what I needed to do to solve my blister problems.  Instead the author had interviewed numerous ultra runners about what they did for their foot problems . . . blister included.  And for each problem, he laid out various solutions and approaches these true experts had for for themselves that worked for them!  And they were all different!!   WTF?

But I started trying the ones that seemed to make to most sense to me given what I thought I knew about myself.  And I have now blundered in a blister prevention approach that usually seems to work for me.

I now believe John Vonhof was BRILLIANT!  There is no single answer for anything!  We just have to search around and keep trying out things until we finds ones that seem to work for us!Listen to everyone.  Believe no one . . . but yourself!

Okay . . . rant over!

1 comment:

  1. Great post. When I first got back into running after a 20 year break due to bad knees, I found Vonhof's book and was struck by the same thing: no single answer. Great book. Great blog.


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Littleton, North Carolina
World's Slowest Runner . . . well, at least in contention for the honor. Just your average "below average" runner.