Too Much of a Good Thing

One of the challenges of being an athlete or coach is that science isn’t stagnant. When I was first running, our routine was to stretch and then run. This season, we started every workout with a dynamic warmup, ran and finished with core and stretching. This change stems from what we’ve learned about stretching in the past few years. That is, stretching cold muscles is ineffective at best, injurious at worst.

As a science minded person, I strongly challenge new fads. Articles that include the phrase “best new way” or infer a shortcut raise my suspicions. Much of training is based upon solid physiology. For example, one of the major reasons for slowing down the long run in marathon training is to allow to body to become more adept at using fat storesl, given that we have limited glycogen (the preferred form of fuel) in our bodies.

In that vein, this article starts to piece apart the repercussions of the popularity of yoga. The litany of injuries detailed in the article are scary and go far beyond a sore hamstring.

I share the article not to knock yoga, but to highlight some warnings that we should all heed. Work at your CURRENT level of fitness, not your desired level. Listen to the cues of your body; exercise might be uncomfortable, but not acutely painful. Cross training is an excellent way to avoid the myopia of activity that the case studies in this article highlight.

It’s difficult to avoid this myopia for a couple of reasons. First, running is a sport that rewards specificity. You may be in excellent cardiovascular shape from cycling or skiing, but it only translates so far into running. To run faster, you have to run more. Second, we tend to select activities that we enjoy and avoid those that we don’t. Put a different way, we focus on that which we are good at. For many people, this means becoming “specialists” of a sort in a distance and training pattern. Given this, it’s not surprising that we see the recurrence of injuries among runners.

How do you evaluate emerging science? How do you monitor your level of activity? Do you cross train?

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