Realism and Running

Have you read The Sports Gene by David Epstein? Go read it and then come back to this little blog post.

As we get heavy into marathon season, runners will be scrutinizing their training plans and performances, analyzing the data to explain the outcome of their chosen race. Blame will be placed on Mother Nature, hydration, lack of training, overtraining, injuries, illness, food, and the Man on the Moon.

(Image courtesy of davegranlund.com)

(Image courtesy of davegranlund.com)

Does it matter?

Your performance on any given race day is not necessarily indicative of your ability to perform at a certain level. Even the pros have a bad day when their training has been “perfect”.

Dennis Kimetto at the Boston Marathon in 2014. He dropped out. On Sunday he ran 2:02:57 and broke the Men's World Record in the Marathon. (Via Luke Maher @LWarrenMaher on Twitter)

Dennis Kimetto at the Boston Marathon in 2014. He dropped out. On Sunday he ran 2:02:57 and broke the Men’s World Record in the Marathon.                                                     (Via Luke Maher @LWarrenMaher on Twitter)

But what if it keeps happening race after race? No matter how you adjust your training, your fuel, your gear, your PT, you just can’t seem to get there with your running.

What gives?

Everyone has the capacity to run, it’s part of our mechanics as human beings. BUT everyone’s body also has a speed threshold, even the pros. We all top out at a certain speed, a certain distance. It depends heavily on our genetic make up. Within that genetic component is your body’s ability to respond to training.

Basically, some people have it, some people don’t.

(Read the book)

From a physical therapy standpoint, some people’s body mechanics are perfectly designed for running. From the top to the bottom, their alignment, weight distribution, and gait are perfect. When body mechanics are messy and asymmetrical, that’s where the wheels come off.

Asymmetry and less than perfect body mechanics wastes energy, uses muscles and joints in the wrong way, and put you at greater risk for injury with every step you take. Most important to the majority of runners, it will greatly affect your ability to hit certain paces.

Except Priscah Jeptoo. Her form is crazy but she still smokes the field. 1% anomaly.  (Image courtesy of iaaf.org)

Except Priscah Jeptoo. Her form is crazy but she still smokes the field. 1% anomaly.
(Image courtesy of iaaf.org)

We are not the 1%. The 1% is Dennis Kimetto, Deena Kastor, Meb Keflezighi, Usain Bolt, Shalane Flanagan, Jenny Simpson. These people are genetic anomalies whose bodies operate at a completely different level than 99% of the population.

So should you be really disappointed that you haven’t qualified for Boston? Absolutely not. Should you keep trying, year after year, through injury after injury, training cycle after training cycle? That’s up to you.

If you hate it, stop. Don’t torture yourself trying to achieve some goal you think everyone else in the world has met. Run shorter distances. Stop running. Try swimming. Take up yoga. You might be awesome at boxing, I don’t know.

Point is, there’s nothing wrong with you just because you can’t run a sub-4:00 marathon. Nothing at all. And if you want to keep going, rock on. But if you want to take a break, do it.

Join me at Refine Method!...or the bar :)

Join me at Refine Method!…or the bar 🙂

Now go out and run.

(I received no compensation whatsoever from Penguin Books, David Epstein, or anyone else involved with The Sports Gene. I just really, really liked the book and science in general. You should read it.)

Things I’m Loving Thursday

There are a few things that are blowing my mind these days. Some are running related, some are absolutely not. So, you know, pick and choose.

1. Minions.

Carl.

Carl.

My sister and I joined forces with our husbands and took Peanut and our cousin’s two kids to see Despicable Me 2. It was so much fun seeing a kid movie with kids. Peanut was sitting in my lap, totally zoned out to the movie the entire time. I, of course, was in heaven snuggling with my favorite 2 YEAR OLD!!!!

2. The Sports Gene by David Epstein.

So much information, so little time.

So much information, so little time.

This book looks at about a bajillion studies that search for the true meaning of life: are professional athletes born that way or is it just plain ‘ol hard work? He looks at Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000 rule (well, it’s not really HIS, but popularized by him in his book, Outliers) and its significance across the spectrum.

As a science geek, I am eating up this information. As a runner, I am dying to get to the end. The good news so far: yes, it’s genetics and yes, it’s practice.

3. Naturopathica Lavender Honey Balancing Mist, Jurlique Moisture Replenishing Mask, and Kiehl’s Midnight Recovery Eye.

'Cuz this face doesn't just happen.

‘Cuz this face doesn’t just happen.

I’m a sweaty girl and the more I sweat, the saltier my skin gets. Solution? This trio. The balancing mist after I wash my face, the mask after long runs (such a treat for my super-dry post-long run skin!), and the eye cream every. single. night. Kiehl’s is a life-saver. Trust me.

4. Oiselle Rogas.

Fly birdie!

Fly birdie!

I am forever in search of the perfect non-compression running shorts. I love the waistband on these and the length is comfy. I’m not sold on the liner but we’ll see how they do on a longer run. So far, I like. Bonus? I dig the company.

5. My CSCS Bible book.

Also doubles as a kettle bell.

Also doubles as a kettle bell.

It’s a monster of a book but honestly, it’s not too bad. Lots of words that are saying all that I know already, which is kind of awesome. It’s reassuring to know that the conclusions I’ve come to are not only valid, but scientifically proven. Yee-haw! Just wish I didn’t have a test looming during my summer “off” time. Boooooooo.

6. 2 x 2 mile workouts.

(No photo cuz I’m not that girl who can take a photo during a hard workout. Too busy trying not to boot.)

So. Hard. I discovered that I could do one of the 2 mile “races” on the track but I absolutely could not do a second 8-lap death march on that oval. I transferred to the East River path for my second 2-miler and felt a world of mental difference. Loved the workout!

And those are latest obsessions! What are yours? Any new running shorts you’ve tried lately? Guys-compression or loose? Ladies-share your skin secrets with me! Running or non-running obsessions alike are welcome.

Now go out and run!