Saturday, May 14, 2016

Advice to My Younger Self

I ran my first race on September 6, 1996 - the Fair Lakes 8K. I finished under 50 minutes (49:29) and below a 10 minute/mile pace (9:57). It was exhilarating. And I wish I could go back in time and give myself some advice.

What brought this to mind? Earlier this week I had a meeting with Roy and Adil, colleagues from 20 years ago. It was great to reconnect.

Reconnecting with Roy reminded me of my first 10 mile race, the Seaside 10 Mile run in Ocean City, Maryland (October 19, 1996). We ran the race together, and I completed a 10 mile race at a 9:42 pace!

It may have been 20 years ago, but it's still on the internet! (source)

Not counting a one-mile race I ran a couple of years ago, that is the fastest pace I've ever run for a race of any distance. And if I could go back in time and give myself some advice, maybe I'd still be running fast today.

Don't Overdo It

That's what I would tell myself - don't overdo it. I over-raced, over-trained, and over-extended myself that fall. I didn't know that at the time, of course. 
  • I hadn't heard of the 10% rule, which I thoroughly violated most weeks 
  • I raced a 10K six days before the 10 mile race (both at maximum intensity)
  • I didn't build in any recovery time

I was so excited to be experiencing athletic success, something I had never really experienced before, that I just kept running and striving and reaching. And I overdid it.

I ended up in physical therapy with runner's knee (aka, patellofemoral pain syndrome), caused by overuse. And it had a lasting impact on my body. When I ran the Fair Lakes 8K in 1997, my pace was almost a minute per mile slower (10:49).

And then I repeated the whole cycle again - I overdid it, I got runner's knee again, I went to physical therapy. In 1998, my Fair Lakes 8K pace was 11:49. 

Advice for Everyone

What is the purpose behind this story? I frequently encounter people in my various running groups who seem to be overdoing it. Maybe they are constantly racing, maybe they never take time off between training cycles, maybe they are ignoring pain signals from their body. 

Many people who are overdoing it don't want to be told that. Would my younger self have listened? Maybe not. But I hope someone who reads this stops and asks themselves if they are overdoing it.

Are you overdoing it? Slow down. Your older self will thank you.


  1. Very sound advice Kim. I only started to run when I was 55, and have only been running for 3 years, and am now entering my 4th year as a runner. Year 1 had an injured knee, year 2 had an injured foot. I feel overdoing attributed to both.
    It is something we all learn from our mistakes. I was on a training plan both years and perhaps it was just too much mileage for my age as a new runner. Now instead I do a lot more cross training. It seems to be working.

    And wow Kim, you have been running for a while . I am really impressed. I have a lot to learn, and I do make mistakes. That is the great thing about running blogs. We can read each others experiences! :)

    Thanks for sharing! :)


    1. Cross training is really smart. May you continue to be injury free! And may we continue to learn from each other's blogs :)