Recently I wrote a post where I highlighted a few (okay, a lot) of the tips, advice and rules I believe are essential to successful running and racing.
However, I took some slack (mostly and deservedly from my coach) for a massive oversight among the things I mention. And in light of my current situation in which I struggle daily with a stubborn, stiff and sticky hip/groin, I would like to make an important addition to my list and fittingly, provide it with its very own post. This "Golden Rule" being:
You can't run, train or race if you're injured. And you really shouldn't run or race if you're in considerable pain and discomfort. Minor aches and pains are all part of the process but major injuries, chronic pain and and ongoing issues will ultimately derail your training and all but inhibit your ability to improve.
Staying healthy sounds simple but it's actually anything but. It takes a great deal of consideration for everything from what, when and how much you eat, to how well and often you sleep, to what you do every minute and every hour that you're not running and training.
Staying healthy means stretching, massaging, rolling and icing before and after each run.
It means staying well hydrated and eating the right foods at the right time in order to fuel and recover from your training.
It means seeing specialists (physios, chiros, sports docs, etc.) when you don't know what's wrong or need additional help getting back on track.
It means being educated and informed on the basic and not-so-basic aspects of running and training.
It means supplementing your running with cross-training, strengthening or no training at all.
It means developing a support team and learning from the experience of others.
It means taking time to rest and recover and realizing when you're pushing too hard.
It means recognizing and accepting your own individual strengths, weaknesses and limits and not letting your goals, ego or determination get the best of you.
Ultimately, staying healthy takes considerable time and energy, commitment and effort. And that's also why we often ignore it and take it for granted. Yet when we lose it, when it declines, or when we can't run or train as much as we want to, it immediately becomes our greatest and primary concern. It should always be our primary concern.
There is no simple way to stay healthy. There is no one thing we can do. I can't tell you how to stay healthy, but I insist you do everything possible to do it. It will be worth it.