Ask a runner for advice and you constantly hear the same refrain: “It’s really personal. Everybody is different. What works for me might not work for you. You have to use trial and error and figure out what works best for you.”
This is undoubtedly true. I’m constantly shocked at how different human beings are and how vastly physiology, mentality, preferences, etc. change from one meat filled bag of flesh to the next. Whenever I see an elite runner almost literally flying through mile 25 I just can’t believe they are made up of the same parts I am. Whenever I talk to some over-the-top genius who can wax poetic for hours on concepts that barely make sense to me (often times in spite of years of study) I find myself wondering how these things can come so easily to him or her while I’m stuttering like Elmer Fudd.
And yet – D’uh. People are different, that’s true. And you cannot simply follow my running routine and diet to optimize your performance – for example, extra spicy jambalaya and tequila are not an ideal pre-race meal for everybody. But I can’t imagine you thought you could. I’m pretty sure I need to drink and eat less during runs than you do. I also bet that I can run on less sleep and more hung over than you can. On the other hand, my left ankle is made of tissue paper and requires stupid levels of pampering to get through a fast walk, let alone a marathon. So yeah, odds are you and I are different.
But that’s not helpful advice. It’s like the sommelier who tells you “Good wine is the wine you like to drink.” Whenever I hear this (and I hear it frighteningly often) I want to ask for my money back and also, maybe punch somebody. There’s a reason you spent thirty years in wine school and there’s a reason I bothered to ask you, an expert, the question. You have knowledge that I don’t, I respect your opinion and want to hear your thoughts. If, at the end of the day, I don’t like that wine, I’m not going to buy any of it. Also, it smacks of false modesty, but this doesn’t seem the right place for a rant on the wine industry.
The reason we seek advice from friends, mentors, coaches, elite athletes, jerks with loud mouths and louder opinions is that it’s a place to start, a way to find a baseline from which we can then experiment with all that great trial and error. So, this blog will be unabashedly full of advice. Advice about things that work for me, most of which will not be optimal for you, but will likely be a pretty good starting point. At the very least it should be an entertaining read, a lesson in what not to do and an example of how to drive your wife crazy.
Hope it’s helpful.