As a runner, I'm always seeking as much information as I can to make sure I can be the best runner I can be. A library of books, Runner's World mags, different perspectives from coaches and PT's, medical advice from Orthopedic doctors, internet articles, and other runner's advice is an overload of information for even an experienced athlete. There are so many different opinions on how to deal with injuries, training plans, foot wear, and everything else! Sometimes it's impossible to know which path to take between all of the advice thrown at you.
Pursuing a healthy lifestyle or run training plan is not one size fits all. The reason is because every person, and every body, is different. One person may be able to handle high mileage during a marathon training cycle, where someone else can only handle the bare minimum in order to prevent injury and show up to the start line healthy and strong. Footwear is very personal, as everyone's foot strike is different. Some runners can handle a full breakfast of a bagel and 2 cups of coffee an hour before race time and some may only be able to handle a banana and water. Finding out what sits best with you is key. Running safely and effectively is what you have to keep in mind. As you can see, from training plans to gear, to nutrition, even down to sleep, everyone is different.
I'll be honest, I've definitely fallen victim to following many different opinions and advice. This causes situations that don't make sense, possible injury, and frustration. The worst result is a failed training cycle. The culprit? Information overload.
So, how do you handle this and have a successful training and health improvement journey without being overwhelmed? Find someone you trust. You can't put a price on the perspective of someone you trust, whom you choose to mentor you through your journey.
Here are a few things I've learned along the way in my running and fitness journey.
1. Make a plan at the beginning of your training cycle and stick to it. What is your race goal? Make an A, B and C goal. Select a Coach or trainer you trust, and tune out the noise of everyone else's training plans and advice. Whether you choose a Coach or a specific training plan, choose it and commit to it. I would suggest doing your research when choosing a plan. Know your body and what you can handle before planning. STICK to only ONE training plan or coach for your training cycle!
2. Nutrition is incredibly personal. Know your stomach and what it can handle. Training does allow you to experiment for race day, but if you read a magazine that tells you to have a glass of milk before you run because it's good for you and you're lactose intolerant- DON'T DO IT! If GU energy gels tear your stomach up when you run, then don't decide to take them on your race course because they work really well for your friend.
3. We all love Strava, but let's be honest- we are all scoping out each other's paces and runs! Stop comparing, feeling inadequate, and pressured. Follow your own plan and listen to YOUR body for your training. Trying to outdo friends on Strava will only set you back and possibly cause an injury.
4. The MOST important thing is to listen to your body-always! If you have a scheduled run one day and you aren't feeling well, it's much better to rest and recover so you can continue your training in good health. Learn when to push and when not to push through ailments and injuries. This one can be so hard for athletes! I was sick as a dog one week before a half marathon and decided to rest the whole week- come race day I felt recovered and placed in my age group! On the other hand, when I was training for Boston in 2016, I was pushing through some major hip pain for a whole month (ended up being a femoral neck fracture). That month set me back because I kept pushing through something I knew I shouldn't have been.
Be confident in making your decisions for yourself when training for a race. Don't overload yourself with too much information. Know your body, and make a plan that works for you and your lifestyle. Be educated, but ditch all the outside overwhelming information. Too much can be too much and honestly very detrimental to your training.
Until next time,
"Your body provides you with constant feedback that can help improve your running performance while minimizing biomechanical stress. Learn to differentiate between the discomfort of effort and the pain of injury. When you practice listening, you increase competence in persevering through the former and responding with respect and compassion to the latter."
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