June 9, 2011

The Buck Doesn't Stop

It's said that runners are the fittest group of sick an injured people on the planet, and among the general populous (thus excluding all pro and top level amateur athletes), I think that's a fair statement. The question is not if you will get hurt, but when, where, and how. Even success is accompanied with pain, as the most successful races are spent at the threshold of exertion, lungs, joints, and everything else screaming "Stop!"

And yet you ignore those signs, pretending your internal check-engine light is malfunctioning again, hoping that a gasket doesn't blow until after the finish line. 

It is not the frequency or severity of these injuries that's most astonishing, but the extent to which they are embraced. A runner rarely complains of their offending body part, chalking it up to shit happening, as it does. 

If there is blame, is it never placed at the Nike-clad feet of running itself. The runner might blame their shoes, their form, their lack of flexibility or strength. Most of all, they blame their own ambition, doing too much, too soon, too fast, and too hard. 

And they wait, those days, weeks, or months, until they can inflict new damage on their healed-enough body. Some might say this is an abusive relationship, but I see it as something of a model. There is responsibility, and it is taken. Running didn't hurt you; you hurt you. In any case, shit most certainly does happen.

This is a lesson too often forgotten when it comes to coffee, or consumables in general. The consumer is not to blame; the product itself is. Caffeine is indicted in the court of public opinion on a bevy of fraudulent charges, prosecuted by a host who would rather damn the substance itself than learn moderation.

Does a fifth cup make you jittery? Then have less, or space them out. Do light roasts give you an upset stomach? Then go dark. In any case, there is no antagonistic aspect to coffee.

There is a continuum on which every runner will be injured, provided enough running takes place. And there is a similar case with coffee, where anyone can consume a detrimental amount. That's a line worth finding, and respecting.

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