from mile to marathon

The journey of a thousand leagues begins from beneath your feet.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

doing everything wrong

Mid-April I finally bought Marathon for Dummies, and it scared the hell out of me.

I needed to buy gear – cotton was not the right choice. I wasn’t wearing the right kind of shoes. I had to start stretching – otherwise I was running a high risk of injury. I needed to sleep more – I was far beneath the stated requirement of resting 8-10 hours a day. I wasn’t eating the right things, whatever they were, because all those considerations of proteins and carbohydrates and their relative value get automatically blurry in my mind – in the end we need them all. Smoking and drinking weren’t even mentioned anywhere in the over 250 pages, although there was a paragraph entitled “dying for a drink.” It didn’t have anything to do with liquor – it was all about dehydration and electrolytes.

The book was full with obscure terms like split, energy gel, curl, fartlek, or glycemic index. I needed to learn a whole new language. In a casual tone it made frightening mention of plantar fasciitis, stress fractures, shin injuries, and other assorted ills – sheer reading made me squirm.

But most disconcerting where the references to mileage, scheduling, timing, the content addressing training per se. It seemed I was both running too much, while at the same time doing too little to get myself where I wanted to be. It seemed I was doing everything wrong.

I had not touched a book about running before, but right after I bought Marathon for Dummies I went to the library and borrowed a huge pile of books on running. Different authors would have different opinions. It would help my morale, I thought, if I could ascertain that they did not all agree with each other. Then the whole concept of right or wrong would lose some of its impact.

I took time away from everything else, and leafed through my collection for several hours.

I was right. What was sane and correct according to one runner, was urban legend in another’s view. I let them quarrel between themselves. I had to find my own way.


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