Or, more appropriately, “how to get informed about running.”
One thing I get asked all the time (or I wish I got asked, to justify all the time I put into random reading) is how I know so much about running and sports nutrition. Seriously, I’m the running partner who constantly gives unwanted advice about anything, set off by a mere statement about the knees, pace, coffee you had for breakfast, or amount of sleep you got. I can’t help myself. I notice it while I’m doing it, but I get so lost in trying to call up the random spark of knowledge, that I ignore the slowly growing look of disinterest on my partner’s face. This habit is not helped by the fact that I teach English composition. I’ve become bored-face immune.
Oh well. Sometimes, the advice is welcome though, and it’s usually up-to-date with the latest sports medical and psychological developments, even if I’ve never studied either one (could be a second career path though, for sure). How do you get this way, you wonder?
Well, it’s a development. For me, it started with a subscription to Runner’s World when I had my first self-earned money and no vital commodities to buy otherwise. These magazines came in monthly, and I read through them like my textbooks (and as a straight-“A” student, you can imagine that it was everything minus the highlighter and the sticky notes). I absorbed all the knowledge until I finally realized, midway through the second year (it was a two-year special subscription deal) that the information repeated itself. Even if a different workout was highlighted each time, or the type of shoes always changed, at some point, the magazine recycled it’s articles like a bad romance author recycles his/her story-lines (sorry, guys). Runner’s World magazine is great for the beginning runner, looking for a fun magazine to read by the beach. At some point though, it’s time to move on. What it is good for, however, is to get its readers introduced to the breath of running topics: types of workouts, types of attire, types of nutrition, types of terrain, VO2 levels, great races, who’s who in the running world, etc. Yet, the depth of which the authors get into the topics is limited, as I realized later, by the clientele. Most of the world are amateur runners, so therefore Runner’s World smartly caters to those readers (who don’t want or need to know about how lactic acid necessarily works at the blood cell level).
For a while, I was a member of MyFitnessPal. Most of my friends on it were also runners, and we exchanged a lot of notes about workouts and because I could see their food diaries, I also had an idea of how nutrition=workout satisfaction. The good runners really did pay attention to their nutrition (types of fuel)… it’s really not a simple matter of calories in vs. calories out. But from the wise masters in my version of the online community, I learned about other sources to read besides Runner’s World magazine, such as Running Times. Running Times is a sub-publication of Runner’s World, and it caters more to competitive runners (most runners are competitive, but here I mean runners who raced in high school and college, and/or who are hunting down sub-elite times (or like to believe they can, like me ;)).
I don’t subscribe to Running Times, but rely a lot on their website. I’m often brought there by my Runner’s World “quote of the day,” which gives me a daily quote and article to peruse. The quotes are all some variation of motivation (i.e. you’ll feel/be better if you run! It will be hard, but worth it), but the articles are usually the latest news in the running world.
Now, through WordPress, many of my fellow bloggers remind me about key running advice or share their personal tips about how to deal with things like cold- or warm- weather running. Those who post their workouts give me a good idea of ways I can tweak my own plans.
However, nowadays, most of my knowledge comes from google searches about particular concerns of mine on a given day. For example, if I feel a pain on the outside of my knee, I look it up and get a bunch of information about possible causes of my pain, and I continue clicking links until I’ve gotten all the “evidence” and then can pinpoint the “culprit” after eliminating all the duds (hence, my online research has become some kind of detective work, as could be true for everyone). This kind of work means I collect a wide breath of all the options, and in reading in-depth about multiple of these options, I learn about things that don’t affect me at the time, but I save these bits of fluff for annoying my running partners. Unlike Sherlock Holmes, my brain has room for these things (as found at http://45.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_mc0hmeVCDV1ri1n45o4_r4_500.gif)
I read about what the best fuel is for a long run, a tempo run, trail run, how to handle high humidity, low humidity, what to do with little sleep, if you’re having a hard time sleeping, etc.
Of course, all this reading comes with the caveat that I don’t have the academic background or any real training in this field, but I have pretty sharp brain and know when to seek out someone who has the proper background and training (especially in matters related to injury and nutrition). A lot of it is trial and error anyway, since we all are different and have to figure out which set of advice works for us.
Still, I wanted to share some fun sources with you, in case you were looking for ways to fill up your time.