I should have titled that last post “Meet Pat, the Cause of INEXPLICABLY LINGERING PAIN FROM Running Injuries THAT ACTUALLY HEALED A LONG TIME AGO; but that’s too long and less likely to have hooked you in to reading the post. I wish I could say I wrote that title intentionally, but the truth is it was just lazy writing. When I write a post, I’ll create a title to sort of get me going, then go back and change it to better suit what I wrote. I just forgot to go back and change it. For instance, right now the title of this post is JOIN MY RUNNING CULT AND NEVER GET HURT AGAIN.* Will it stick? Probably. I kind of like it, and it has income-earning potential.
Anyway, this is the post where I’ll tell you, in my great and unattainable wisdom, how to avoid running injuries. Here we go.
So you want to be a writer. What’s the advice? Write EVERY DAY. So you want to be an artist. Art EVERY DAY. So you want to be a tuba player. Tuba EVERY wait, really? Huh, okay, well, tuba EVERY DAY (just find a practice room. Don’t do it in a small two-bedroom apartment in Queens when the landlord lives downstairs and your roommates have ears. Thanks!). So you want to be a runner. Run every once in a while, but not too much, because all that pounding isn’t good for you. In fact, do a bunch of other exercises so you can avoid running as much as possible, and therefore be able to run a little bit without falling apart. If you’re training for a marathon, don’t build a base or anything, just start running twenty-milers once a week and then spend the other six days never fully recovering and just feeling awful. So you want healthy gums. Floss EVERY DAY.
In case you don’t see what I’m getting at, let’s try a mental exercise. So you want to be a fish. What would you do to start this impossible transformation? Even though you’ll never grow gills and scales and eyes on the side of your head, you certainly could take steps (“steps” because you have feet, not fins, you weirdo fish-wannabe) to become more fish-like. For starters, you should swim EVERY DAY. Let’s face it, that’s as far as you’re going to get in your fishy quest. However, swimming every day isn’t impossible, at least for most people. Even if you’re not a very good swimmer, you would start off little by little, some days swimming more, some days swimming less. All you need is access to a lot of water.
If this sounds possible to you, even if like me you have no desire to be a fish, how possible is it do you think it is to become a running ape? Oh wait – THAT’S WHAT YOU ALREADY ARE! If you want to awaken your dormant running apeness, make like a fish and RUN EVERY DAY.
I’m not saying you need to put on your skimpy running shorts, get all garmin’d up, and put forth an effort worthy of a DailyMile post. Run for the reason that fish swim. Why do fish swim? This isn’t a deep question here. Fine I’ll tell you: to get over there.
This fish thing is too much of a stretch, isn’t it? You’re right. Let’s consult a different animal, one that’s more mammal: my running coach, the Sun Beast.
The Sun Beast.
The Sun Beast isn’t trying to run. She isn’t thinking about form. She isn’t doing it for her health. She certainly isn’t concerned about Pat. (Morgan Freeman Voiceover) She is running to get over there, quickly. (/Morgan Freeman Voiceover)
Do you at times need to get over there, quickly? Or simply get over there? Trot on over. Don’t saunter, don’t lolligag. What would the Sun Beast do? Trot. Make running a part of your transportation life, not just fitness. If running is constantly reinforced on a daily basis to be a utilitarian mode of transportation, Pat will learn her/his place and not be an overbearing neurotic killjoy. In fact, a chill Pat is a good teammate, slapping you upside the head when you push it too hard but doesn’t overreact by chopping off your legs like some kind of Stephen King novel.
Okay, that’s easy enough. Now we’re all running around like a wild pack of family dogs,
… what about training for a marathon, because you can’t be a REAL runner if you’re not training for a marathon, right? I say run whatever and however far you want, but here’s the rule for marathons: training doesn’t start until you run six hours a week, every week, for at least six months. WHAT?!? Yup, that’s right. Suck it up, buttercup. Running takes patience, and there’s a whole lot of unlearning for you to unlearn and becoming to become. With our modern life we’ve been a fish out of water for most of our lives, and you know what happens when you throw a fish that’s been out of water for most of it’s life back into the sea: it sinks, because it’s dead. Because it can’t breathe our air. What I’m trying to say is it takes time to make the transition from modern man to ape man, and to run the marathon distance well and minimize the risk of hurting yourself you need to have Pat on board.
Oh, and about that six hours a week: no run should be more than 25% of the total weekly time. Meaning, no run longer than an hour and a half. Also, four of those runs a week should be no more than an hour. Here’s a tip: it’s MUCH easier to get that running time in if you run every day. Of course, if you do the math, you’re running no less than six days a week. Sound like too much work? Then you should reconsider your desire to run marathons, unless feeling destroyed afterwards and risking injury is part of the fun for you.
As far as training goes, let’s be generous: no run longer than 33.3% of your total weekly time. That means if you want to run a twenty-mile long run, you’re looking at no less than sixty-mile week.
By the way, these aren’t my equations. This is classic Arthur Lydiard stuff. You know, the guy who coached during the era when the average marathon time was close to three-hours and runners got injured a fraction of the time as they do now.
In summation, here are the three rules of the Dog Running Cult:
1. Run like a dog: less distance, greater frequency, more spontaneity. This will get Pat used to the idea of running being no big thing, just part of the day and a part of what you are.
2. Do not cross-train. EVER! Sure, go swimming, ride a bike, throw weight around, whatever you want, just don’t call it cross-training. Do it for fun or because you’re shallow and like to look at yourself in the mirror. If you call it cross-training, that tells Pat that running is dangerous.
3. Less shoe, more you. Hey, this is still a barefoot blog. What do you think a “protective” shoe tells Pat? Running is dangerous! Much better to go barefoot, develop a friendly relationship with the ground, and show pat how not-dangerous running is.
For those of you currently dealing with either Pat or a real injury, I’m afraid I have no answers. Maybe my experience with a BRIEF prescription of NSAIDS would work for you, but I’m not one to tell people what to put in (or not to put in) their bodies, especially when it comes to drugs. I mean, I love beer and think it’s a great post-race recovery beverage, but I don’t feel like I’m qualified to recommend one of the most potentially addictive and destructive substances out there to anyone. So that’s on you. All I can say is be gentle with yourself (physically and emotionally), and when you’re feeling better start running like a dog.
*As you see, I’ve changed the title a bit to deflect the responsibility of my advice from me and on to the canine species. I can’t afford any lawsuits.