DIARY: Passing Time

The Blog will be much more silent than usual over the next 4 months, I'm afraid to say.

Having successfully entered a treatment cycle with the Carysfort Clinic, I'm doing my best to keep busy. I purchased "Weight Training for Runners" by Robert Price, and have thrown myself at his off-season programme of weightlifting, core strengthening and stretching.

It's a whole new slant on weightlifting and working out every day, I'm actually finding it a tolerable replacement for running. My new TrailSkates will, of course, further help keep me busy.

I try to stray a bit more away from training meets and races than before, as I've noticed that the longer you are forced away from running, the more I feel a sense of resentment towards the progress of others. This resentment is, naturally, not aimed at anyone in particular, but is just the psyches way of channeling out the frustrations brought on by all the progress that should have been but is now delayed.

Obviously, there is no point in dwelling on coulds and maybes and while some feeling of restlessness subsides, I feel myself focusing on moving forward. Realistically, I would not have gone far on my present course either way. Every session at the Clinic reveals more muscular weakness, and by addressing it aggressively now, we are perhaps eliminating a deficiency that would have proved crippling for my long-term aspirations.

I remain convinced that I analyzing all data collected to date, I should achieve a 16 min 5k, a 33 min 10k, and sub 2:50 marathon with hard work and smart training, but first I need to be fully healed. Beyond that I dare not even speculate, but having an injury let's you appreciate how easily one or two seemingly small deficiencies can throw a permanent spanner in your works.

An Expert Programme
Going to our Crusader's marathon coach Adriele's talk some months ago was the best thing that could have happened to me. His talk was very interesting, but what was much more important he introduced me to the existence of Tim Noakes' "Lore of Running", easily the most important running publication of all times (and revised since the 80s when it was first published).

Books from Human Kinetics generally have the advantage of being more scientifically reliable and have made an effort to filter out a lot of the urban legends and unverified "truisms" of the running world. Something that can rarely be said for many mainstream running publications who are not scrutinised as thoroughly.

This doesn't make them necessarily the best publications, however, as the experience of coaches can not be underestimated. In the end, coaching is nothing more than a constant empirical study, and in a world of hard competition, things that don't work will be rooted out.

Scientists vs. Coaching
Given the inherent subjecteviness of human experience, however, be careful lending too much credence to the advice of coaches with no proven track record of success. While their methods may seem wise, they may just be copying the thoughts of the mainstream and not necessarily be open-minded to change. A good coach should live by the same dictum as a good scientist: Once a theory is falsified (proven beyond doubt not to be true), you discard it and move on to newer theories.

"But if science changes all the time, how can I be sure my theory is wrong?" Well, that's the method of falsification: Evidence proves beyond doubt that the theory cannot be right. Falsifications in science are always irrevocable. In other words, new theories may right, older falsified theories are definitely wrong. Which one will you stick with? I'm betting on the newer horse.

If anything, what Noakes, being both a runner and a scientist, achieved, was to put together a record of all material on the topic of running and specifically stating when theories presented where still in doubt. As a further bonus, you get a complete overview of all factors influencing running, while at the same time releasing yourself from myths such as the lactate threshold and the need for complete rehydration.

"Wait," you'll probably say if you've been reading this blog for a while, "don't you use the lactate threshold in your training?" Indeed, I have, as it is the core technique of Emma from the PeakCentre. Now, Emma undoubtedly knew that the lactate threshold does not exist but that didn't make her training methodology inherently flawed (though some modifications are needed). How this seeming paradox can exist (an indeed why a lot of time-honed techniques are still effective despite the theories behind them now having been proved false), will be the topic of my next article.

The greatest achievement of the "Lore of Running" was that it inspired people like Matt Fitzgerald, author of "The Cutting-Edge Runner" and "Brain Training for Runners", to use their year's of experience to redesign classical training programmes slightly, taking them one step further towards the elusive (and probably unreachable) end-goal of the "Perfect Training Plan", and, in doing so, applying the latest knowledge to the field. How this will affect my own training program will likewise be the topic for the next article.

Until, then, happy running, and know that I envy you!