I just started reading Waterlogged, by Dr. Timothy Noakes, a fascinating look at how the conventional wisdom of endurance sports has for many decades had the hydration concept all wrong. Noakes, whose credentials are longer than my arm, makes a very strong case for dialing back on how much we drink during training and racing, even with our electrolyte replacement drinks. It has my brain spinning thinking about it all…I’ll have to give you a review when I’m finished.
Reading the book got me to thinking about how radically I’ve changed my mind on several aspects of training and racing over the years. I know plenty of people think I’m a bit of a crackpot for trying some of the methods I’ve come across, and that’s usually because these methods challenge conventional wisdom. I don’t stretch any more, for instance. I wholeheartedly embrace the natural running approach. I don’t believe in controlling inflammation with NSAIDs. And I’m currently tweaking my diet to add in more high-quality fats in hopes that it will help my body become a better fat burner and avoid the early bonk I’ve experienced of late in my marathons.
I’m not telling you to go out and make any of these changes. We are all an experiment of one. But what I am suggesting is that you do challenge conventional wisdom from time to time. Just because everyone else is doing something doesn’t make it right. Don’t be afraid to experiment with your training approach, your recovery approach, your diet, and your race-day nutrition. There’s a lot of heavy-duty marketing that goes into many approaches. There are also plenty of doctors–good ones, even–who just don’t have the time and energy to devote to staying on top of the latest developments in sports medicine. And so they continue to preach the ways of old, even when increasing research shows otherwise.
Be your own advocate. When someone, or lots of someones say x, and it just doesn’t feel quite right, consider y. Read, read, read, all that you can get your hands on. I’ve been at this for 15 years and I am amazed at how differently I do things today than when I first started. There’s so much to gain through knowledge, and so much to lose by failing to have an open mind to new ideas and approaches. After all, there was a time when most thought the world was flat, when some believed smoking had health benefits, and when the shoe store down the street had clients put their foot into an x-ray machine for a fitting.
Have you ever gone agains the grain when it comes to your running? Why or why not?