A Shot in the Dark

Earlier in his life, my father was a police officer in a small suburb outside of Chicago. This was in the 1950’s and 60’s and while it wasn’t exactly Mayberry, life was pretty calm. In spite of the peacefullness, my father carried a Colt 44, Single Action Army pistol manufactered in 1879. This was the gun that “Won the West” and one that you’ve seen in every cowboy movie set in the late 1800’s.

He gave the Colt to my son who decided to restore it to an operational level. The only part it needed to be fully functional was the small spring inside the manual ejector. So, being a child of the modern age my son Googled “Colt ejector springs” and come to a website “gunsprings.com” where he was able to buy the necessary spring. GunSprings.com! Are you kidding me.

What the internet has given us is nearly unlimited access to nearly infinite information about hyper-esoteric interest and activities. What it has also given us is unlimited access to information and advice that is misguided, well-meaning but silly, and often simply wrong. No where is that more true than in the information for runners and walkers.

Google “5K Training Programs” and you’ll get 251,000 citations. One quarter of a million citations. For a 5K training program. How is anyone supposed to sort through the information haystack and find the right training program needle? It isn’t easy. And sadly, for many of us, we learn the hard way that the program we’ve chosen doesn’t work for us.

These days it seems like every elite athlete has decided to become a coach and write a training book. The truth is that publishers have decided that putting an elite athlete’s name on a training program will sell books. It may sell books, but it may not help you train well.

Then there are the endless “new” ideas and “innovative” products. More shoe. Less shoe. No shoe. High sugar. Low sugar. High protein. Vegan. Whew!

How can you know what information is accurate and who’s telling the truth?  In my view, that you can’t. You’ve got to find trusted voices, whether that’s online, in magazines, or in person. There are still experts out there. There are still people who really do know more than anyone else. Even if their opinions differ, they still know more.

The key is to avoid being taken in by the latest, greatest, idea. The key is to not let your own insecurities convince you that someone else is always right.

Having access to vast amounts of information is fine. Just remember that the results of a Google search are worth exactly what you paid for them.

Waddle on,
John “the Penguin” Bingham, Competitor Magazine columnist
Author, The Courage to Start, No Need for Speed, Marathoning for Mortals and Running for Mortals.

Have a question for John? Write him.

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