My recent inability to maintain my active lifestyle has led to a lot of soul-searching, not the least of which is to ask the question, “If this is the consequence of running, do I really want to do it?”
This simple question poses a number of further considerations, surrounding alternative approaches, consequences of running, including injury specifically and also reviewing what one might consider to be the far more positive and motivational aspects of the sport.
Indeed, if one looks at the statistics of running injuries on an annual basis, you would hardly think it is a sport that people would be motivated to take up at all. My case is certainly not atypical. Christopher McDougall wrote his famous book ‘Born to Run’ because he simply did not believe, after years of trialling different shoes, orthotics and physiotherapy sessions, that he should be sidelined as much as he was. What he found was that over-cushioned running shoes and bad running form was mainly to blame – not specifically running itself. Hence the current popularity of ‘barefoot’ running and different ‘natural’ running techniques, such as “Pose” and “Chi-running“. How many other sports would we expect to take up with absolutely no training? The simplicity of running is both it’s greatest strength and it’s biggest weakness. To coin a phrase, you can “just do it”, but whether you should without training, is the question.
Despite all this, people do take up running and it is becoming more popular all the time, especially ultra distance running, with the community showing no signs of being abated by the increasing number of events flooding the market.
Perhaps though, I have started running too late in life. Many of my colleagues, Tim, Rob and Greg, for instance, have spent a far longer time with running in their lives, having competed at schools, universities or similar. I, on the other hand, only really started running about 15 years ago, and didn’t start taking part in shorter races for 3-4 years after that. Perhaps age is against me. Every injury takes a little longer to bounce back from, and fitness is a constant struggle to maintain. Perhaps I am too old for this game.