Be an Exercise Whore.. or Philander.. or Whatever Best Descriptor. I dunno. shut up.

**An old post, from a different blog (mine) from a time long long ago. Slightly edited, definitely re-titled, but still apt, I feel...


A buddy of mines wife, whom I'd also consider a buddy, so we will just call her my buddy....


A buddy of mine recently queried me about her foot injury and her rehabilitation/return to long distance running. She'd hurt her foot over time, a stress fracture on the 5th metatarsophalangeal joint, basically due to the relative "drop" of that joint at her foot. She'd also been advised on predominant forefoot running and was doing a lot of trail work over long distances (15+km). Therefore this joint was seeing much more concentration of forces whilst running, particularly with a forefoot strike. She'd developed a fracture/hotspot and now running and even walking was becoming a painful task.


She's a competitive person and like any injured runner was a caged lion when it came to being injured. Any point of time when the foot felt good, it was back on the saddle - run, run, run. Then submit to the inevitable flare-up of pain and literally be back at square one. She would be the first to admit that exercising patience was not a strong suit especially for running, yet who could blame her. Her body was signalling a recovery, no pain and essentially a green-light to return and get back to it.


The stress-fracture is a fickle mistress, giving you enough leeway and go-ahead from the outset to make all your dreams come true.. but take it too far and without warning she will crush you. This was my buddy's predicament. She wasn't sure of the signs and therefore the return was tormenting and frustrating.


Feel good. Run. Injured. Rest. Feel good. Run. Injured. Rest. Frustrated. Feel good. Run. Injured. Pissed off. Rest. Feel good. Run. Injured. Angry. Fuck it. Don't rest. Pain. Run Anyways. Injured. Pain. Despair. A familiar cycle for any chronic injury runners out there? I digress, as usual... As we outlined a basic template of milestones for her rehabilitation to running, i.e. a decent work:rest ratio of running to resting to progress her and gradually build her back into the game of continual long distance work, one of her primary concerns was the lack of activity that can entail. All she wants to do is run and predominantly her only form of physical activity is running. "Is that all? I know I will get impatient with that amount of running". It's a conservative process, she'd been injured enough already and there's no real timeline for return, so conservative build-up is probably the best way. But conservative is low volume running work and she don't like low volume.


This is where I get to the point of my title... finally... Be an exercise whore, or philander... or whatever is the most apt descriptor, I dunno.. whatever...


If you're a weekend warrior, but have an affinity for one specific method of exercise, there's nothing wrong with getting pretty good at varied other methods of training in order to fulfill your requirement to stay active, upkeep your conditioning and give you the outlet you might be missing out on, especially when injured. You don't have to specialize in 8 different things, but be competent in 8 other things to stay rounded in your approach and to give you a multi-faceted attack to staying fit and healthy. My friend, she can't run and forces herself to try other things, but these things don't give her the output she wants, in fact probably makes her more frustrated as to how shitty it feels to "half-train" when all you want it a decent hit-out. That is the price you pay for having such monogamy with running or any sporting/fitness pursuit, especially if you're not a pro.


I suggested that she needs to look at other cross-training methods to keep her body busy and even return it stronger than before whilst on a forced hiatus. This was problematic, due to the aforementioned reasons. If I were to start advising her tomorrow, I'd be outlining the benefits of things like lifting, yoga, swimming, cycling, boxing and then get her engaged, competent and confident at such things so as to literally empower her with many different tools. I understand, she wants to specialize, as all she loves is running. And that's great. But sometimes, we do have to take our shitty tasting medicine when we're down and learning to appreciate, tolerate and even enjoy the taste of it will actually be better for our long-term primary pursuit. This is a fundamental concept of rehabilitation that many people I've encountered fail to understand or want to recognize. For every 2 steps forward, is first a step backward. Not even purely for rehabilitation, but pretty much in all facets of fitness and conditioning for the average trainee as well as many professional athletes. Have you ever been in that scenario when you're on holidays or something and you want to train, but can't really because of no "adequate" gym? This dilemma strikes at the core of what I'm talking about. Anyone who's competent at bodyweight calisthenics, running, swimming, cycling or anything else can still get their work in without feeling like they need the monolift or else it's a wasted session.


I used to think along these ways in a way too.... Then I realised. I'm too shit to think like this. I'm not an elite anything when it comes to physical performance, therefore I will not dwell on missing squat day if it's impossible to access a squat rack. Nor will I gather anxiety to think that "disrupting my plan this one time" will set me back an entire mesocycle. Most people (anybody who's not in the top .001% of people on the planet) can afford this type of flexibility within their training and exercise regime and don't warrant thinking they're elite at one thing when let's face it, you're not. But having said that, even your most elite and specific professional athletes do have the leeway to cross-train when needed and, provided it doesn’t diverge them away from their primary goal too far, they do have other tools up their sleeves in order to do what they do… you know, train. The net loss of doing absolute zero for a certain amount of time for anybody is far worse than doing something for both Average Joe and Jane or your elite ballers.


None of this is to be negatively reflective on my buddy, sometimes we just don't know the benefits or have never had to look to other things to maintain and better ourselves physically. That's naivety. Some choose to not broaden their horizons. That's ignorance. If you're in the boat of aiming to be elite, then by all means specialize. But for the rest of you, whether it be for your own weekend performance, general health and fitness, rehabilitation or avoidance of boredom, then please, be an exercise whore..


or philander.. or promiscuous.. or whatever best descriptor that doesn't get me in trouble. I don't know. Shut up.. Just exercise, k.


Variety is the spice of life


Signing off, xx

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CLINICAL STRENGTH EXERCISE PHYSIOLOGY, 1/27 ASCOT VALE RD FLEMINGTON, VIC, 3031. PH. 0408177834. NICK@CLINICALSTRENGTHEP.COM.AU