Archive for lifestyle

A word of running advice: Don’t be a run geek.

Posted in Health/Fitness with tags , , , on May 2, 2008 by webzealot

At 42 years of age, I have now been a runner for most of my adult life. My more-or-less daily run has transcended the level of being a habit. It’s now just part of what I do… No different than brushing my teeth or eating lunch. It’s just a routine. And what’s the best part of my daily run? It’s the part where I DON’T talk about running.

Over the years the folks I have run with have been a good group of guys and gals, and probably the one topic that rarely comes up on the run is running. Ironic? No, not really. Over the years I’ve run across my fare share of “run geeks.” These are the folks who seem to think, live, eat, and drink running 24/7. They wear their running shoes like a badge of honor. Getting dressed up means putting on their nicest pair of wind pants. They count the number of road races they run like a fraternity boy counts co-eds he’s bedded. They talk woefully of missed days, or get excited when the possibility of multiple workouts are discussed. Every mile, every split, ever step is dissected to the nth degree.

And almost without exception, these people don’t stay with it. Five or ten years down the road they have dropped off the map. Injury, fatigue, or just plain burnout has sidetracked them, many times forever. Would I find curious is that it seems the overwhelming majority of runners I encounter these days are like this. Way, way over the top. Welcome to the world of running… Now cool it!

This probably applies to just about any hobby or interest I suppose. But in all my years of running with others, the topic of running only occasionally comes up, usually when we have nothing else to talk about. Mostly topics range from politics to sex to money to more sex and then sometimes sex and money in politics. Running? Eh. Change the subject. Don’t ask me how many miles I ran last year… I don’t know, and it doesn’t much matter. My 5K PR? I gotta think about it.

It is important to keep your running in the context of your overall life. It’s all about balance.

The folks I run with use a run as a social event. It’s not a workout as much as it’s a chance to sit around the water cooler and talk trash. To spend that time talking about running seems redundant and a perfectly good waste of our time together. On days when I run by myself, it’s a good time to get my thoughts in order, brainstorm, and fix the woes of the world.

A search the other day turned up an overwhelming number of running blogs, and most of the writers drone on and on about various do and don’ts, theories, thoughts, feelings, all having to do with running. Thousands upon thousands of words. It is, in my opinion, some of the dullest reading on the web. If you are fretting about how you need to lace your shoes, or how many gels to eat on a distance run, then you are thinking about it too much. And don’t even start to tell me about your playlist… But that’s a whole other topic.

Don’t get me wrong… you SHOULD enjoy running. But just make sure it’s not the end-all be-all of your life. Running should come naturally, without much thought or effort.

I’ve gone through phases with my running, and I’ve had run geek days myself. Counting each and every mile, timing each and every repeat. Spending hours dreaming up the next perfect workout or obsessing over the next race. And virtually every time I have ended up in the same place… Tired. Injured. Over it.

Now, well into my “master” years, I race only a handful of times a year. If I’m tired, I take a day off. There is no longer any such thing as a workout I simply can’t miss. The motivation is second nature now, as comfortable as a well worn pair of bedroom slippers.

Over the years I have heard of people taking golf lessons, tennis lessons, swim lessons. But I have yet to ever hear anyone tell me they are taking running lessons. I would assume this is because running is as fundamental to the human condition as eating or breathing. It just comes naturally for all of us, although a great many end up forgetting all about it. But for something that basic and simple, there is no need to overthink it. Just lace up your shoes and go.

I’m still able to run a pretty fast half marathon when I want to, and usually I’m logging 50 or 60 miles a week. But I enjoy it now as much as I ever have, yet at the same time I probably devote the least amount of thought or planning to my running that I ever have. Running is just a part of me that sits off to the side, requiring little thought or effort, but still after all these years returning big rewards… And hopefully will for many years to come.