Chapter 8: Conclusion

This chapter has been all about learning to listen to our bodies.

We runners don’t do ourselves very many favours.  Although we know running does us good, it also mercilessly exposes imbalances or weaknesses in our bodies. As Noakes says, “running injuries are not an Act of God.”[1] They are avoidable, if we take care of ourselves and take simple steps to keep our bodies in good shape and in proper balance.  As we get injured, we need to look beyond the symptoms, and understand the underlying causes.  Whatever your friends and your doctor might tell you, the problem is not that you are doing “too much running”.  If you can establish the true underlying causes of your injury now, you will save weeks, months or even years of pain and frustration in the future.

Understanding our bodies better is also the key to preventing overtraining.  The obstinacy and stubborn determination of runners is so often a great strength of character.  Through our training, we seek to develop in ourselves the mental toughness which we need to get out of bed for a training run on a dark winter morning, or to keep running through the last six miles of a marathon.  But this discipline can also lead us to ignore the messages that our bodies give us when we are at our physical limits. An integral part of maturing as runner is learning to listen to the complex messages that our bodies send us, and being able to recognise when we are trying to do too much.

[1] Tim Noakes, The Lore of Running, 2001.

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