Monday, September 28, 2009

Guns don't kill people

Barefoot running doesn't cause injury; indiscriminate dispensation of time-tested, sage advice concerning mileage build-up causes injury.

Broken foot...was my 70 mile barefoot week the culprit? Of course. Does this incident debunk the barefoot running myth - the one that claims barefoot running is easier on your body? Nope. Not a chance. Just as guns don't kill people, barefoot running doesn't break feet. Hapless mileage build-up breaks feet. I went from zero barefoot miles a week to 70 in less than 4 weeks. Bad idea. I refuse to approach life cautiously - this gets me into trouble less often than you would think. More than that, I was so enjoying barefooting that I took every chance I had to get out and tear it up.

Now, I sit, in reality, in the reality of the consequences of fearlessness; of the indestructible complex. Limits, yeah, turns out that, in reality, we are all subject to a set of rules that govern how far we can go. Dispensing with conventional running wisdom from the outset, I have been creating my own terms of the game, erstwhile discovering, the hard way, my personal limits. My body is capable of running 204 miles a week - this I discovered last year. I am capable of maintaining 100+ mile weeks without a day off for over a year. I am capable of running a 6:22 50 miler. It is possible to run a half-marathon in the morning and a 50k in the afternoon - with a full day of work sandwiched in between. The point is, I was able to do those things, and we are all capable of much more than we know, but we cannot know our limits until we have crossed that threshold and suffered the consequences of going too far. Only in hindsight can we see where the edge of the realm of possibility lies - and by then, it is too late, the damage done.

I found my limit with barefooting; at least as far as haphazard mileage build-up goes. Now, I sit, defined by the reality of a fractured foot for the next several months. Rue the run? Nah. No regrets. I am not completely wreckless. We learn from our mistakes. Doubtless, my next training regime, upon full recovery, will be significantly more structured. Ah, the evolution of the runner. We are always learning and evolving based on those limits that we either seek to define or choose to destroy. For now, I take the conservative route. Rest, recovery and a careful build-up to next spring. Game on.


GZ said...

Brian - stupid question ... how would you have ramped up the mileage "typically" in shoes?

Brian Christianson said...

GZ. Truthfully, I have never done an honest to goodness slow, steady build-up of mileage. Here is what I have done in the past; my first big build-up to 100 mile weeks was over a span of four weeks; in five weeks in the fall of 2008 I built up from 50 miles/week to 204 miles/week before tapering for a race (my week leading up to that 50 miler was a 110 mile week); this June, I went from 0 to pacing a marathon (which I made a 50k training run) in 1.5 weeks. All very unconventional, but all without injury and all in shoes. In some ways, the quick and dirty high mileage build-ups suit me well - get in and get out. I have had decent success with these sorts of build-ups. When I get back to training, I am going to go for the long, slow build-up and probably keep the mileage below 100/week and see how performances go. This is all a giant experiment, right? I am looking forward to getting back on the trails.

GZ said...

Thanks - good feedback.