Threads on the Let’s Run message boards have a way of garnering my attention with every visit. While most of them pertain to running, other unrelated topics are regularly explored, e.g. taking cabs instead of Uber or Lyft; the special election runoff in Georgia between Republican Karen Handel and Democrat Jon Ossoff; and why wealthy people who spend $100K or more on automobiles don't purchase a Tesla. But running and running related news dominate the boards when all threads are considered as a whole. Questions and answers concerning training appeal to me, and a popular thread I stumbled across recently highlights whether training advice is heeded and applied or downplayed and ignored.
Here's the question. “Name something you have done/tried because you read about it on Let's Run.” As expected, the responses range from the reasonable to the ridiculous. “Taking extra vitamin D.” “Betting big money on Hillary winning.” “Used a pair of compression socks for their intended purpose.” “Buying running shoes from Wal Mart.” “Broke up with my girlfriend using a PowerPoint presentation.”
The response about purchasing running shoes from Wal Mart is intriguing. As an experienced runner who has donned numerous brands and models over the years, I wondered how shoes from a discount retailer such as this would fare. Apparently not well - the poster said they were “good for a week and then felt like having cardboard for soles.” Lesson learned. Of course, this is the essence of advice: learning a lesson, which is the natural outcome of a particular choice, be it wise or foolish.
For most runners, their beginning originates with advice or a question from someone, be it a spouse, child, relative, friend, colleague, doctor, or even a stranger. When I started running some ten years ago, I remember observing others - strangers I had never met - and being struck at the prospect of covering long distances on foot. I wanted to do the same, so I located a pair of shoes at the bottom of my closet and charged around the neighborhood with a mighty confidence that has lingered since.
I've never visited Let's Run enough to extrapolate some training advice and apply it towards my running routine, but I have regularly listened to the sage counsel of more experienced runners over the years. Their advice has been stellar too. Couple this with six years of employment at a specialty running store and you have an aspiring expert whose knowledge base is widening a little more each day. In his 2008 book Outliers, author Malcolm Gladwell suggests that 10,000 hours of practice leads to expertise in a given craft.
Though Gladwell’s assertion has been criticized since it was initially made, it's fair to say that 10,000 hours of practice will certainly contribute towards some sense of expertise. Therefore, what makes a runner more of an expert at running? A robust education might be a start, be it a Bachelor's, Master's or doctorate degree in a field like kinesiology or physical therapy. Running in high school and college under the leadership of a wise coach is valuable too. Finally, acquiring a certification of some kind (e.g. USAFTF Level 1 or higher) lends itself to the title of expert as someone who can be approached with confidence that sound guidance will be dispensed.
I do find it encouraging to see people implement training programs and workouts from Let's Run that have improved upon their finish times. One respondent implemented a “5 Key Marathon Workouts” thread and brought a 2:53 finish time (which is already wicked fast) to a 2:37. Multiple people spoke of “doubles,” which suggests running twice a day, presuming that I understand this term correctly. In summary, advice that's good that leads to performance gains is good advice.
While I don't consider myself an expert on running - at least not yet - it's undoubtedly empowering to be seen as such by those who are new to this sport based on my own experience and working at a specialty running store. That's a difficult perception to own at times, especially when I’m not sure how to answer a question I’m asked, but it’s still wildly satisfying. Maybe I should visit the Let's Run message boards more and dole out what helpful advice I do have to offer. Or maybe I should just drop by for stock tips. One user said that he invested in ISRG (Intuitive Surgical, Inc) when shares were trading around $40. At last check, ISRG closed at $1020.05 per share. As he or she puts it, “Thank you Let's Run for getting me through the recession.”