Never Crowdsource Running Advice

My father-in-law is a contractor, and he has been remodeling homes for decades. Imagine you want to redesign your kitchen. You could hire someone like him to do the work. You could watch a bunch of instructional videos from experts on the topic. Or you could just watch a season of Property Brothers and attempt to do everything yourself, asking friends for their opinion along the way. Which approach do you think would give you the best results?

When you open Facebook, how often do you see questions like:

        I’m entered in A RACE but I have this INJURY. Should I still run it?   

        I signed up for a marathon! How should I train for it?

        What running shoes are the best?

Obviously, not every do-it-yourself project ends up badly, and other runners can be good sources of advice. But there are a few instances where you’re better off asking a professional. Here are four examples of problems that really require professional input.

#1: When you’re not sure if you’re (really) hurt

There’s a thin line between a niggle (that you can run on) and an injury, and the consequences of misjudging it can be serious.

In 2014, I ran the Chicago Marathon with what I think was a piriformis strain. I managed to finish, but both the training process and actual race was painful. I covered it up with so much Icy Hot that people commented on how I smelled.

I regularly tell the runners I work with to speak to experts about injuries and illnesses. Doctors, physical therapists, and trainers are the only people who can actually evaluate you and offer an informed opinion on what’s wrong including whether you should run. Don’t just ask a stranger who happens to be a nurse on Facebook, or rely on the input of your cousin’s friend who had similar symptoms. Go see an expert.

#2:  When a decision is waaaaay beyond your scope of knowledge

You can’t be an expert in everything.

Since launching my business, I’ve hired a bookkeeper, a designer, a bodyworker, an accountant, a personal trainer, an editor, and several lawyers. Yes, this costs money, but it’s worth it because I’m not an expert in California payroll tax filings, e-commerce, myofascial release, business tax law, weightlifting, grammar, trademarks, contracts and waivers. And guess what? I don’t have to be.

If you’re not sure how many races you should run in a calendar year, what track workouts to do, or what weight routine will get you results, hire a professional. A personal trainer and/or run coach will always be worth the money. (And guess what? I’m here for you.)

#3: When your results suck

The body is amazingly adaptable, but there’s a catch: the same routine or training regimen will stop you from setting new PRs. Asking other runners about what training programs they use can be helpful, but ultimately you’re getting advice from people who are not experts. Even though your online run crew may have great intentions, they still have limited knowledge of physiology, weight training, and what approaches might work best for you as an individual runner. Personally, I started run coaching because I found that what other people used didn’t work for me and I wanted to create something different that does.

#4: When you want to buy shoes

Don’t take advice about shoes from anyone other than a respected source such asRunner’s World or your local running specialty store. There are so many variables to consider when choosing the right running shoes at any specific point in time. Shoes change. Your feet change. Your stride changes. Your weight fluctuates.

As a fitness professional, I don’t give any specific advice about shoes. And neither should you!