Tuesday, December 4, 2012

A student of the game

I'm starting to realize how little I actually know about running.

Over my few years of running I have started to read more about everything pertaining to running. And aside from the overwhelming amount of contradictory information out there, I've come up with a central theme. "No one knows what's going on." 

I've read everything from, "how to win running 200 mile weeks" to "less is more." From, "Paleo high protein is the best," to "vegan is the healthiest," to "gluten free." And once you have your diet "in check" not all of it matches up with what you should be eating as an athlete. That seems to throw a wrench in the mix! There are arguments on continuing to do what humans have done for thousands of years and new technologies and studies that prove we should change something.  

Debates between eating only gels during a race, and pigging out on pizza at aid stations. And I haven't limited it to books either. I've researched magazines where Runner's World gives you the benefits of running with a 12-14 mm drop super cushioned shoe and reading about the shoes with 40 mm of cushioning, to Running Time's articles exploring the science behind minimalist footwear. Exploring the differences in every kind of cushioning system known! From foam to gel to springs to wave plates to rubber to fluid to air to recycled tires. I've talked to people asking what they use as hydration during a race and have witnessed heated debates over the superiority of hand bottles over packs with a bladder. Every gel pack claims it's the premier choice because of the protein ratio or because it's organic or gluten free or because it uses a special hornet extract...seriously. They extract it from hornets?? Where's Mike Rowe for that dirty job? That one costs about $70 for a pack of 12 or 20. I'd love to try it but there is no way I can afford to fuel my runs with something that costs that much. 

The information out there is dizzying. And I haven't barely scratched the surface on what each one does and how everyone has the "science behind it." (Though the science behind the 35 year China Study on the effects of animal products on your diet are very influential and largely conclusive.) I also have to admit that I'm slightly disturbed by the amount of scientific studies that take into account...well, nothing. They focus on one thing and when they find the answer they publish it and make sweeping generalizations that make no sense at all. Slap some big-name school on it, and all of a sudden, you have a reliable source? 

How is anyone supposed to wade through all of this and pick out the few things that actually work? 

My conclusion after doing all this reading/research throughout the years: 

Think for ourselves and try it all and see what works for us. We're all different, what may be the "magic potion" that works for one person, might be another persons "nature call" during a race. Easy as that I guess.

This year of racing was not quite what I'd hoped for. And quite honestly, since Grindstone in 2011, I don't feel like I've had a race I felt good about. It's easy to say, "well, I've had a lot going on, and I'm still sorting things out." But at a certain point you just have to hold yourself accountable and say, "yep, I didn't put in the work. I just haven't done all I can to run strong for this race." Though, I think now that I've done some homework, I can start over and run like myself.  

Oh yea, and powerline trails rule. Ridgeline to ridgeline.

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