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19260 SW 65th Ave, Suite 285 
Tualatin OR 97062

Telephone: 503 927 1012


                                                              Beaverton, Tualatin Medical Clinics                    

Copyright, © 2013-2015. Run2bwell & Hans Kroese.   All rights reserved.


                                                                                                    The 7 Habits of Highly Unsuccessful Runners

Looking back at my injury log book I am sometimes surprised to still be running. The list of issues I have dealt with over the years is long and reads like a list from the infirmary. Virtually every body part below my waist line has been affected by some form of ailment! Numerous injuries may have forced me to withdraw from a race or two or impose a limitation on my training program, but I have never given up on my dreams. No, I am not a masochist. I don't deliberately seek out pain. It is a by-product of what I enjoy doing most in life. Simply to keep running.

I have gotten smarter about treating my own injuries and have also gotten better at prevention. Running is unique. The older I get the better I run. The races I enter are longer and I will soon be entering my first 100 miler.  Injuries are a mechanism to help us know our limits. Keeping a close tab on my weekly mileage, for example, has really pointed out where I have gone wrong in my training. "Embrace the pain and learn from it" a Buddhist once told me. "It is now your master". Doing too much, too fast, too soon, exposes the weakest link in our bodies. This is when we fall apart. 

I have found ways to continue running in spite of my set-backs. Injuries have given me greater reverence for running and just about everything else in life. If my running suffers everything in my life goes to hell, including how I feel about myself. So I better find ways to train smarter.  In one of his books, Dean Karnazes describes seeking out discomfort in life so he runs these super long distances. Life is turned upside down with this philosophy, especially in our culture of instant gratification and the need for comfort in everything we seek out in life. Having pain with long duration running should not be taken out of context. It definitely does not mean to do damage to our joints. 

The clients I see who have failed in their training are those who keep plugging away in spite of their undiagnosed stress fractures or numerous other problems. One lady even described lacing her shoes too tightly causing compartment syndrome in her leg from the swelling during an ultra-marathon. This is a potentially debilitating condition that can cause nerve damage. She kept running and even entered a second race. A neuropathy later she was forced to stop running for a while. 

How to run and remain inspired in spite of injuries is akin to having a healthy relationship with musculoskeletal discomfort. When I do get injured I try to accept it as a learning opportunity.  Each painful condition has a life of its own. Treat it as a relationship gone bad with no chance to get out. You are forced to deal with it. Some injuries will force you to stop while others are innocuous. Most are temporary and will make you a better runner if treated properly. Learn from your injuries and do not become an unsuccessful runner! Below is a list of the 8 Habits of Unsuccessful Runners. It is by no means complete. By making your own list you find out what works for you and what does not.  Here is the list.

1    According to Einstein the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over again and expecting different results. Unsuccessful runners who are often injured do the same thing over and over. Same form, same speed, same training volume, same distance, same intensity, same footwear, same terrain, without the necessary variety to reduce impact forces when their feet strike the ground. 

2    Unsuccessful runners are happy with their form. In the book "Runner's World Complete Guide to Minimalism and Barefoot Running" Scott Douglas points out that even elite runners spend significant amounts of time working on form. 

3    Blindly following a training schedule without listening to your body and the need for recovery.  These runners may be following the advice of an elite athlete or those who have qualified for Boston. Instead, follow the advice of Kenny Moore, two-time Olympic marathoner, "I may be fast, but I'm not dumb. If I had a friend who was normal and wanted to finish a marathon, I wouldn't coach him or her".

4    Unsuccessful runners have big egos. They either sign up for too many races or their goal is to continually set a new PR (personal record) without regard to proper recovery.  

5    Unsuccessful runners only want to run and do nothing else i.e. no cross training, no supplemental training, no running related strengthening. 

6    Unsuccessful runners don't maintain consistent weekly mileage. They either ramp up too much or run too fast. High volume should precede speed. High frequency (times per week) should precede volume. High volume and frequency should precede your long duration run. Reduce weekly mileage regularly.

7    Physical setbacks will cause unsuccessful runners to stop reflecting and perhaps quit. A quote from Earl Nightingale advises us to do the opposite. "Never give up on a dream just because of the time it will take to accomplish it. The time will pass anyway." Time heals most injuries, be patient, and don't let the 7 Habits of Unsuccessful Runners negatively effect your running experience.