Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Miserable Runners Group


I'm Bob, and I'm a Miserable Runner.

My goal is to use this Fall and Winter to become Less Miserable, and to run my first-ever half-marathon next Spring.

We all know the saying: "Misery Enjoys Company."  If that's not a great reason to start a running group, I don't know what is!

If you've been reading my blog you already know my story, but here's the short version:  For my entire adult life, running has never been easy for me, especially past the first mile.  I briefly ran 10Ks in my early 30's, but soon quit due to joint and foot pain that didn't go away for days.  Triathlon found me just over 3 years ago, just before I turned 52, and just as my body started falling apart.

My love of triathlon has not permitted me to quit running, and with each new (and old) running problem, I have kept studying the available resources, kept asking questions of doctors, physical therapists, coaches, academic researchers and fellow athletes, and kept learning and trying new techniques to improve my run despite my limitations.

I believe I finally have learned enough to pursue serious distance running with a greatly reduced risk of future injury.  However, I seem to lack some of the discipline needed to consistently apply what I've learned to myself.  I believe I will do much better as part of a group that meets 2-3 times per week.

I'd like this group to focus not on speed, but on comfort over distance.  To be able to eventually run long distances without stopping, and without injury.  Yes, we'll want to go as fast as possible, but speed will always be a minor concern, with comfort and safety always coming first.

I first want to focus on preparing our bodies for running, rather than simply strapping on our running shoes and making the same old mistakes over and over again.  This will involve basic muscle strengthening, improving balance and mobility, and (re)learning the motions and muscle use patterns needed to run comfortably.

In chats with other miserable runners, one common situation I've seen is that many people have no idea what a proper running shoe fit feels like!  While I can't fit a shoe to anyone's foot, I do believe I've learned quite a bit about how you can learn to go shoe shopping and find the best available shoe for your foot.  This is something that must be addressed before doing any serious mileage.

I want our group to be about running, not run-walk or jogging.  I'm talking about non-stop running, where we learn to manage our breath and energy so we don't have to stop due to overexertion.  Where we become able to continuously monitor our running form, and learn to stop running when our form starts to fall apart, long before we cause any injury or pain.  I want each of us to become able to do long distances at a 10 minute per mile pace, and shorter distances at a somewhat quicker pace.

Being allergic to pain (it makes me cry), I plan to do all the above without misery, but with lots of determination.  I think the phrase "No Pain, No Gain" does not and should not apply to age-group athletes.  Let the elites go down that path.  My goal is to find that place where "I Run Because It's Fun".

Also, I'm not a running coach.  I'm just a guy who has been frustrated by some major problems with his own running, and who has studied and tried lots of things to get past them. I still have questions, and I'm still learning, and I'd much rather do it as part of a group.

Most importantly, I'm done with injuries!  I want our group to be all about injury prevention and avoidance.  Safety and comfort must always come first.

So, would you like to join me? Please let me know!