No Silver Bullets

10 Aug

From The Runner’s World Complete Guide to Minimalism and Barefoot Running:

The basic premise of this book is that minimalism and barefoot running are means to an end. That end is running with better form and less injury, both of which should make you faster and help you enjoy your running more.

It’s important to keep this means-to-an-end framework in mind. Minimalism and barefoot running are tools, not magic bullets. As Jay Johnson, who has coached national champions, collegiate runners, and recreational runners, says, “I think most people want the easy fix. There’s no easy answer in running. Ever!”

That’s another way of saying that, in running, there are no secrets — either of modern elites or of supposedly lost tribes. There are, however, best practices worked out through experimentation by ambitious, experienced, open-minded runners. The distinction matters because secrets imply, “Do this one thing and everything will be fixed.” Best practices imply, “Here’s a process that you can implement to improve as a runner.”

“There are no secrets” also means keeping the importance of this or any aspect of running in perspective. There’s no one element of running that deserves obsessive focus while you underemphasize other contributor to successful running. What you have on your feet when you run matters a lot. So do a lot of other things: how much and how far you run, how strong and flexible you are, your diet, your running form, and how you spend your non-running time. Zealotry never works out over the long term in running.

I find this passage quite profound and not only with regard to running. My impression is that most of us do seem to want an easy fix that does not exist. There is no easy answer in any worthwhile endeavor, ever. Excellence is never achieved through silver bullets or magic wands or secret knowledge, only through persistent and intelligent practice, whether the field is running, nutrition, computer programming, investing, scientific research, customer service, overcoming addiction, or simply living one’s life well.

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Posted by on 2013/08/10 in Uncategorized


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