An experiment of one

I’ve learned a lot over my years of running and I still have a long way to go. But one of my biggest lessons so far has been that we really are all individuals. And as such, we have to train in a way that works for us, not for someone else.

For example–I know a guy who on paper should be a walking injury. He goes from one marathon to ultra to Ironman to the next, all while never tapering, never recovering, and not really taking easy days. And he’s in his 40s. On paper, this guy should be perpetually injured. But, his body holds up.

Then there are folks who train conservatively, cross-train, strength train, do all the right things, and yet end up injured. Doesn’t seem fair, does it?

I’ll admit, it gets to me sometimes when people train foolishly and get away with it–I’m jealous. I would love to have a body that doesn’t break down. But clearly mine does, and when it does, it takes eons to heal.

But here’s the thing–we all have a certain gene pool to deal with and we need to lean to work within those limitations. That’s not to say that you can’t get far through dedicated, smart training. I’m not challenging that notion. But I am saying that we need to pay attention to what our bodies can and can’t handle and not try to train like someone else.

So if your buddy can run an ultra one day and a 1/2 marathon the next, great. Don’t assume you can get away with it, though. Learn when to say when and where to draw the line. Yes, some trial and error is in order to learn this, but by paying attention over the span of a few years, you’ll catch on to what does and doesn’t work for you. From there it’s all up to you to keep it in check.

Trust me, it’s a lesson worth learning.

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Comments

  1. J says

    I hate to see people who can just run and run and run and never get injured. I know that I have to take my easy days and rest days otherwise my body gets angry and I get injured. its a tough lesson to learn especially when we just want to get out there and run!

  2. Jason says

    Ahhh….the great MissZ….that is so perfect.

    It drives me mad when people tell me that it's not true that you burn 100 calories per mile walking or running and technically they are right and that is when I have to go into the whole rule of thumb.

    Just like a golf swing there are certain characteristics we all need to swing a golf but truly it depends on you. Look at Jim Furyk's swing. The guy makes a figure 8 at the top of the swing. A pro would tell him his swing sucks and yet the guy is always at the top of the money list.

    We all have our own fingerprints and thus our own bodies and learning to listen to our individual needs is what will take us to the next level.

  3. Jim ... 50after40 says

    You're making me feel bad here … I think I'm the kind of guy you're talking about. But I totally agree with you. I think it works the other way too though – I used to use specific plans that were prescribed in all the marathon training books, but it didn't seem to be enough for my body type. When I changed and increased my workouts, I never felt better or raced faster. It's not all about speed of course, but it seemed to help me accomplish my goals. But again, I TOTALLY agree with you – everyone has to find a plan that fits their time schedule, goals, commitment level, and body limitations. Great post.

  4. Momma K gotzt the runs says

    Amen sister. We can read a million training plans and try to one up everyone and their sister. The truth is that we all have a sweet spot- a place where you are training just right for you. When you find it stay there and compare yourself to no one but yourself. If you are running at all, its a good day. Those of us who have been injured know that. I too wish I could run everyday. But I cant. So I crosstrain so that I can run 3-4 days a week. And now I know enough to know I am blessed. You are so so right and your advice comes from such a real place!

  5. Nelly says

    Great advice! And for a long time I'd say I was likely in the foolish category, until just recently when things caught up to me. Anyways, here's hoping that you and I are back on the road soon.

  6. ShutUpandRun says

    You know my thoughts on this one. I am still learning my limits and how to take care of myself. Coming into running later in life, I haven't made the smartest choices. I have to remember that what works for one person or lots of people might not work for me. We all have strengths and weaknesses and need to be very aware of those.

  7. Marlene says

    SUCH good advice. It's hard not comparing ourselves with others but we are all sooooo different so it's impossible to expect the same results and abilities.

  8. Kate says

    Excellent point! There is no use in comparing ourselves and our training to anyone else. I know some very competetive triathletes that, unfotunately, talk a lot of smack about other people's training. It always bothers me that they think their way is the ONLY way. We all need to do what works best for us. I prefer to err on the side of caution…

  9. Jeff - DangleTheCarrot says

    Same thing with drinking beer! I always try to keep up with the guy that has a belly that alone ways more than me! This usually ends very bad.

  10. Julie says

    SO TRUE! It seems I never hear of ultramarathoners getting too many running injuries. Maybe that's why they are ultramarathoners…their body lets them do it. I have to admit my circle of friends does not include too many ultramarathoners…but a few – and they can run for miles and miles…miles and miles…with few injuries. Lucky ducks!

  11. Rachel says

    It is amazing what will work for one person will not work for another. Even more amazing is how something will work for me one day but not the next!

  12. Jill says

    It's so hard not to compare yourself to others, especially when you're sidelined and those around you are doing everything. I've been reading numerous RR from Leadville over the past few days and I am in awe that one can train for those events.

  13. Johann says

    I really like this! It is so true. I also believe coaches should pay more attention to this. They often let all their pupils do the same and that can't be right. Someone will get injured.

  14. B.o.B. says

    Man, I am so jealous of those people who just run, run, run and never have issues. But then again, the injury does sometimes have benefits. For me, my injury helped me respect my body, learn the bike again, and appreciate the run.

  15. Big Daddy Diesel says

    I agree with this 100%, I have to train on the run conservative, praying I dont hurt something, on the bike, I can hammer and be ok, a little weird how different my worlds are regarding the 2 sports

  16. Caratunk Girl says

    Great advice, and the thing is, so many of those who can "do it all" and not get injured often look at injury prone folks (cough cough..me) like, "what is your problem?" Until you have been injured and taken out, it is hard for people to really understand. I think of you often and hope that things are going in a positive direction for yoU!

  17. Char says

    This is just so true. There's this little voice in my head that tells me if I train harder and more often I'll improve and I've had to learn not to listen to that voice and listen to my body.

  18. Coy Martinez says

    I think as runners and even as bloggers it's easy to read and speak with other people and want to have the perfect season and perfect race as we see it for ourselves. Once I learned to accept who I am in the thick of things was when life and running got so much sweeter.

  19. Joanne says

    Good advice but hard to take. Don't we try to "poo-poo" those little aches and pains when we have friends who race and run all the time, seemingly free of any problems? It's always "why can't I" or "if he/she can, maybe I'm making a big deal out of nothing".

  20. Black Knight says

    Great advice. I agree. I know runners who run 5/6 marathons per year and are pain-free. If I run 2 races in a row (I mean one per week) I risk an injury.

  21. Irene says

    I kind of think some sort of setback (AKA: injury) kind of goes with the territory of just about any sport. That being said, sometimes you just have to know when to day when and not let ego get in the way. Great post.