It’s that simple. Really.
A while ago, I read Marathoning by Bill Rodgers. Published in 1980, the year Rodgers achieved the last of his four Boston Marathon victories, the book interweaves autobiography and advice to other runners. Rodgers took an intuitive, non-intellectual approach to the sport, which the book reflects. He believed that running was a simple sport that was best done in a simple way. “Sometimes people tend to make running too complicated,” he writes on page 1.
Running is like diet in this regard. People tend to make nutrition too complicated as well. The nutrition writer Michael Pollan was aware of this problem and famously addressed it by creating a diet philosophy that consisted of seven words: “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”
Inspired by Rodgers and Pollan, I recently sat down to see how few words could be used to say everything a runner needs to know about running. I got it down to 14:
Build step by step. Push yourself, but not too hard. Learn. Keep it fun.
The rest is details. Some of those details are important, but a runner should not get wrapped up in them to the degree that they distract him or her from these four simple princples. That said, let’s unpack the principles a little.