Saturday, August 19, 2017

Never Quit Quitting

Apparently you have not met me. I have very long list of regretful runs I would love to tell you about.


This was written on the shoe laces of my favorite running shoes I bought back in 2009. It turned out to be the worst running advice I ever got. The only place digging deep every got me was at the bottom a very deep hole clutching a pair of ill-fitting socks I got for winning my age group.

“Just do it! Never quit! It’s all mental!”. As runners, we are inundated with this kind of overzealous motivational bullcrap. Maybe some people desire some extra motivation, but I am here to tell you that you can do too much, run too far, push too hard. Sometimes quitting is the smartest thing to do.

You might be wrong Nike.
The man pictured quickly passed out due to lack of oxygen.
I guess that comes from the outside.
And the change that happens is called:

Everyone has an internal “governor” that limits the amount of effort we can put out before we start doing damage to our bodies. Often this governor is dismissed as a “mental limitation” that need to be conquered, but in reality it is essential to successful running. Sure, maybe some people's governors are set too low, and could use some extra motivation to train or race hard enough to achieve their physical potential.

But the most successful runners have their governors set just right. They get just the right amounts of stress and recovery and their bodies respond by getting stronger and faster. Often this is referred to as “listening to your body”.

Good advice if you are running from a fire.
Really stupid for a marathon.
I guess all those people with multiple sclerosis are just making bad choices

Then there are those who tell their body to “just shut up” and always overdo it (like me). They always end up run down and/or injured. In this context, an “overachiever” is not a good thing. I remember finishing the “Run for the Donuts” and collapsing in a heap. A young girl there pointed at me, “Look Daddy! An overachiever!”. It was not a compliment.

It will be the orthopedic surgeon who will tell you
 that you are DONE running... for good.
The quote is attributed to Ray Zahab.
He got an "F" in physics class

I started running races about 14 years ago. I’ve dug deep. I’ve pushed through pain. I ran the extra mile. Now I really wish that I hadn’t. Here is a list of my overachieving souvenirs:

  • A permanent knot in my left calf from when I “didn’t quit” in the Umstead Marathon
  • A scarred right hamstring from “just doing it” in the Salem Lake 30K
  • An achilles tendon that feels like rusty barbed wire from when I “didn’t stop when it hurt”
  • Swollen arthritic knees from “exceeding my mental limitations”
And for what? I’m only 47, yet every morning I awake limping, and clutch the handrail walking down the stairs. It’s a little late, but I have finally realized that staying healthy and feeling good are WAY more important than setting a PR or finishing a race.

With these aches and pains as constant reminders of the costs of overdoing it, I am finding this running culture of “exceeding limits” to be quite obnoxious.

Yes, your body can stand that stress fracture in your foot just fine.
You just have to convince your mind
that finishing that half marathon was worth 8 weeks in a boot.

So I am starting the “Whimpy Running Club”.

For us, DNF stands for “Directly to Next Fun”
DNS stands for:  "Do No Self-harm".

Our motto will be “Never Quit Quitting!”.
Who wants to join?

Don't be stupid. Join the Wimpy Running Club, where: