Apathy, Your Body, and Trail Running: A Worse Combination!

A discussion of why trail runners often fail to address supplemental needs such as sleep, stretching, diet, and rehab when it would make their trail running so much more enjoyable.

By on March 15, 2010 | Comments

Last week, I wrote about how apathy on the part of trail runners could spell disaster for our parks and public lands. Well, I’m back to say that many of us are not being vigilant enough or are not working hard enough to maintain our own bodies for trail running. Sure, there are some trail runners out there that eat great, get good sleep, stick to rehab, stretch every day, strengthen weak muscles, and rest when they need it. That ain’t most of us. It’s certainly not me!

The Questions
That begs the question, why don’t we take care of our bodies as well as we should? More specifically, why don’t we take the actions, large and small, that will make us better trail runners? That will have us out on the trails more frequently? That could help keep us as trail runners for additional years? Many of us won’t bat an eye lid at the thought of going out for a 2, 4, or 8 hour run, but then say we “don’t have the time” to stretch was an hour a week or do five minute of Achilles rehab every day!

The Personal
If I’m pointing fingers around here, know that I’m certainly pointing at a mirror. Back in the summer of 2002, I ran through Achilles pain for a month … and eventually needed to take of nearly half a year. If I’d been vigilant in monitoring my body and responsible in taking a few days off, the tendonitis might not have resulted in a chronic injury. As it happens, I ran on that chronic Achilles tendonitis for 6 years without doing a single bit of rehab! Only the thought of running the Marathon des Sables could get me to even consider rehab. It’d been even longer than 6 years since I’d done any thing in the way of consistent core work before I got to work for MdS. Let’s not talk about my diet or the fact that I’d work until the wee hours of every morning if not for caring reminders. I’m also quite inflexible, literally.

Addressing these deficiencies is certainly daunting. However, in the preface to a recent yoga class, the instructor asked folks for guidance in what they wanted to include in the day’s practice. She inquired as to which poses were our favorite and which were our least favorite. We all chuckled at the last bit, simultaneously acknowledging that, perhaps, these least favorite poses were the ones that we should focus on the most. That likely transfers well to most of our self-neglect.

Maybe I can’t correct all these issues at once, but I can make one small change at a time. Once that small change takes hold, once it becomes the new routine, I can go for the next one. Yeah, this will take some prioritizing based on both need, time, and ease of change. I need to find successes if I want to continue down the path to improved healthfulness, to improved trail running.

The Challenge!
Share with us the specific ways you’ve been neglecting your body. If you’re up for it, share what you plan to do about it! Public accountability is a great motivator!

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Bryon Powell

Bryon Powell is the Founding Editor of iRunFar. He’s been writing about trail running, ultrarunning, and running gear for more than 15 years. Aside from iRunFar, he’s authored the books Relentless Forward Progress: A Guide to Running Ultramarathons and Where the Road Ends: A Guide to Trail Running, been a contributing editor at Trail Runner magazine, written for publications including Outside, Sierra, and Running Times, and coached ultrarunners of all abilities. Based in Silverton, Colorado, Bryon is an avid trail runner and ultrarunner who competes in events from the Hardrock 100 Mile just out his front door to races long and short around the world, that is, when he’s not fly fishing or tending to his garden.