We all possess a Book of Knowledge — the valuable lessons we have learned in life. Many of those lessons may have been from the correct decisions that we’ve made, but often the most important lessons were as a result of mistakes made.
We all possess a Book of Knowledge — the valuable lessons we have learned in life. Many of those lessons may have been from the correct decisions that we’ve made, but often the most important lessons were as a result of mistakes.
I’ve often said that the difference between a novice runner and a veteran is that the veteran can precisely detail the training error that resulted in his latest injury. Apparently, most runners don’t bother reading their own book.
In 35 years of running, I have logged enough miles to circumvent the earth a couple of times. In addition to having enjoyed incredible adventures and making lifelong friends, I’ve incurred just about every pain detailed in the “Complete Compendium of Running Injuries.”
It may be late in my running life, but I’ve cracked open my book of knowledge to see if there is any advice that I could give my grandchildren. Here are a few of the chapters that I am sure I will share:
Born to run
‘Perhaps is’ was Christopher McDougal, who penned a best seller by that name, but the concept is as old as mankind.
Scientific research has clearly demonstrated that we were designed to run and carry that capability throughout our lives.
The Tarahumara Indians of the Copper Canyon in Mexico are the contemporary runners referenced in McDougal’s book, but we should remember his critically important observation: “The Tarahumara Indians aren’t great runners, they are great athletes.”
Man cannot live by running alone
To run like the Tarahumara, we need to train like them.
The Tarahumara Indians live extremely physical lives in an inhospitable climate, and with few of the modern conveniences that make life easier.
For us, to be a great athlete requires artificial intervention. Cross training is critical –– we all know it, but few of us practice it. Why? Because running is simple, convenient, we know how to do it, we’re good at it and we’re tired when we finish. Unfortunately, sooner or later, the imbalances of using the same set of muscles will hobble you.
There are a few rare exceptions, but I see my contemporaries, who have the same number of miles on their odometers. They, too, are suffering from the consequence of not paying attention to developing as a total athlete, rather than simply as a runner.
My idol, Billy Rodgers, describes himself as ‘a little beat up,’ like an old car. Frank Shorter has had a hip replacement.
Get to the YMCA
Learn to swim. Ride your bike. Do plyometrics. Join a strength-training program. Being a skinny runner won’t last, but being a strong runner will.
Forget trendy marketing ploys (do you really believe that Skechers’ shape-ups will make you fit?) and make your health a lifetime project.
Stay away from the middle aisles
If we pay attention to keeping ourselves strong, we need to feed the machine.
Choosing the best quality fuel requires thought. If we trace the history of humanity back to the time when we lived more like our Tarahumara friends, we clearly see why our nature is to seek the easiest food sources, and eat as much as possible.
Unfortunately, in our contemporary world, fast food establishments have taken the place of the hunt.
One simple technique to eat healthier is to spend most of your time in the grocery store on the outside aisles. It is there that most of the fresh produce and unprocessed items may be found. It requires a lot more work in the kitchen, but it’s a lot easier than hunting down an antelope for dinner.
I wish I’d bought the T-shirt I saw that said: “If you’re not living on the edge, you’re taking up too much room.”
Was it racecar driver Tom Petty who said, “If you’re in total control, you’re going too slow?”
OK, I’m not an advocate of looking for a way to get hurt, but we should all try to stretch ourselves so that we can find out what we really can do. You’ll be stunned to see what you can accomplish.
Be kind and smile
If you are blessed with good health and have chosen the path of an athlete, be kind to those who haven’t. Encourage others to begin a lifestyle that will lead them to the joys of good health and fitness.
Choosing a life of fitness may not guarantee a long life, but it increases the odds, and you’ll smile more often.
Tom Licciardello is a founding member of the Merrimack Valley Striders. Licciardello has participated in 86 marathons, including the last 33 Boston Marathons. He has also completed the Hawaii Ironman triathlon. Professionally, he is a Certified Financial Planner and resides in North Andover with his wife, Lyn. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.