Conor Kenny has dusted down his old programmes from the Terenure 5, formerly known as the Dublin 5 Mile Classic. Each year there were articles and features written by some of Sportsworlds finest. Conor has kindly offered to transcribe these articles and give them a second wind! It also ensures that club members contributions are archived and not lost or forgotten
The second piece is by Sandra Gowran and first appeared in the Dublin 5 Mile Classic Race Programme, May 2006.
Report By Sandra Gowran (For her Meet-the-Runner feature: Click here)
Flicking through the training programmes contained in running magazines, it doesn’t take long to work out that discussion revolves frequently between the benefits and risks of high mileage over low mileage intensive training regimes.
What is consistent is that all programmes warn of the dangers of increasing mileage too quickly. Many runners follow this advice. Many don’t and end up injured having to abandon the programme in order to take time out to recover from the injury that it induced.
Hence the axiom ‘Less is more’. The less caution a runner approaches a new training programme with, the more chance they have of getting injured. So, some might say that the less you train the less chance you have of becoming injured and therefore the more chance you have of continuing your training programme.
Sandra Gowran in action
That makes sense but only to a point. What is training all about if not training the human body to do more than it was capable of prior to this? If our bodies could run 4, 5, 6 or 7 minute miles naturally, why would we need to train?
The fact is that training and pushing the body beyond the level of fitness it currently is the reason why competitive runners run. Whether it is about beating your Personal Best over a certain distance, winning a race, winning your age category, beating competitors or simply reaching your full human potential in your chosen sport.
There are a multitude of reasons why we train our bodies to do what they cannot do without consistent and steady training. For each reason there is probably a matching injury capable of putting a stop to your gallop, literally!
Runners are well versed in the Latin names for various muscles, tissues and ligaments that pertain to the human body as they are obscure names for injuries that befall them – plantir facitis, IT bands, tight hamstrings, inflamed Achilles, bruised metatarsals, we are a wordy lot!
It is the whole area of obscure names, for unrelenting injuries, that has brought me to another interpretation of the ‘less is more’ axiom. It is related to the premise of the less you have of something, the more you appreciate it. As with most of the more valuable lessons I’ve learnt in life so far, this one came the hard way – through months of deprivation from one of my greatest passions in life – that is the simple act of lacing up my grubby trainers and heading out the door to run.
The parks, roads, paths, trails, hills, fields, tracks that were my places of worship, all very quickly became memories of days gone by when I’d take them for granted. The memories seem to become more vivid and sharp with my diminishing fitness.
The great outdoors of the world of running was replaced by swimming lanes, aqua joggers, stationary rowers, upright bikes, cross-trainers, weights, whatever, anything to maintain some level of fitness not to mention sanity! But nothing compared to life in a pair of trainers in the open air.
The gift of a road racer bicycle came close though and, for a time, the daylight hours co-operated. The great outdoors was, yet again, on the menu – the feel of speed cutting through the wind against my face whilst my lungs gasped for more oxygen reawakened my senses. But, it also served to remind me of how much I love the simple things pure act of running – placing one foot in front of the other, as fast as you can for as long as you can. Nothing compares.
So, yes, after 8 months when I was told that, at last, I could run but only for a short period, I seized the opportunity with both hands as lovingly and gently as I would a new born baby. From my pre-injury 15 miler on a Sunday morning to a maximum of a 7 minute jog, it was some adjustment – but the long absence had sharpened my desire. Seven minutes was better than zero minutes – ‘less is more’ – sometimes.
Sandra Gowran and Lucy D’arcy warm weather training!
Running is a gift, a treasure, a pure and whole and perfect gem from nature to us. Our bodies are the bearers for this gift, if we abuse them, consciously or not, we will suffer, the purity of the gift will be diminished. As with all of nature, it exists in a state of fine balance. It is up to us to do our best to maintain that balance in order to continue to enjoy the gift.
Runners are well practiced in the habit of forgetting the pain of injury and the agony of not being able to run. It’s part of our condition. But, we can take time out to enjoy our next run to savour it as if it were our last – if we do this frequently enough we’ll never tire or lack motivation because we will be reminded of how precious this gift is that we enjoy.
So, for all of you running today – enjoy it – grab it with both hands and savour it.