Thursday, April 2, 2009

1 From Newbie to Veteran Runner: One Lesson Can Last A Lifetime :)


How many times has it been said that a common mistake of newbie/inexperienced runners is to try to do too much too soon?

Nonetheless, that observation does not make the statement any less true. :)

Even for those of us who've been running for many, many years (myself included in this list), we are not immune from relearning that lesson from time to time. ;-) While there are certainly times when this particular lesson was relearned because it simply was not learned adequately enough the first time around, most of the time we are (hopefully!) not repeating this lesson due to being boneheaded or stubborn, but rather because we are encountering a new set of experiences in which the previous set of experiences & conditions do not apply. ;-)

So how do we know what is "too much too soon"? Of course, we can read about every single challenge we might encounter along the way before it happens to save us some trouble, but there are times when inevitably, experience is just going to be the most immediate & bluntly effective teacher there is. ;-)

And so, sometimes, in our running, we need to cross the line of what is "too much" to find out where the line is drawn. Now I'm certainly NOT suggesting that runners should do any highly dangerous, foolhardy, or illogical things, but rather that testing ourselves & our limits will show us a very accurate picture of where we are, & where we might want to go (or in some cases, not go!).

As I tweeted the other day in Twitter:

"When it comes to running, there's a fine line between dedication & insanity. Exactly where that line is drawn is different for everyone. :)"

"It is often by venturing over the line that we recognize where it's drawn. :) And sometimes we redefine the line in the process."

As a person who's been applying this particular lesson for more than 30 years (of which the exact number of years past 30 will not be divulged -- so don't even bother asking :) ), I can personally attest, not only the importance of this lesson, but also the importance of having to relearn it again upon moving from an experience base of which was largely comprised of short & middle distance training to the much less familiar territory of long-distance training, which, needless to say, has been a much more recent phenomenon (i.e., within about the last 5-6 months or so). ;-)

So, in other words: While I might've been really good at assessing my fueling & hydration needs for short & middle distances for many, many years, I had to completely relearn a whole new way of handling these very same issues when I began regularly running distances of 10+ miles.

Truth be told, the body's increasing demands for fuel & hydration were only a small window into the larger picture of issues that a long-distance runner has to contend with on a regular basis. ;-) In a word, whatever I knew was still useful, but the entirety of the situation soon became a completely different ballgame.

I found that the same also happened with caloric/nutritional intake & weight management issues. It took a period of readjustment to get the balance right. And honestly, I'm still working out some of the kinks as I go along. ;-) But there's really no shame in this; if anything, one thing that I've learned through the sport of running is that a runner, no matter what their experience level, is continually in "learning mode."

True, experienced runners might have a better understanding of their capabilities than a newbie runner, but even the veterans of the sport aren't excluded from the powerful value & implications of this lesson, & its continual reapplication in new circumstances/scenarios.

Learning is truly a lifelong pursuit, & running is great reinforcement of this value.

And, as I increase my mileage past 16 miles, which will be happening several times after April's running clinic finishes, there will inevitably be more lessons & more adjustments. And so it goes.

Experience teaches runners patience, persistence, humility, and a whole host of other great life lessons. And one of the most profound lessons is that the more we know, the more we find out that we have yet to learn. :)

1 comment:

Melissa Hope said...

Very good insight! I think nearly every run is a learning opportunity. Good luck on your 10-miler this weekend!

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