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Ten Commandments

Runner Sets Down Rules

Published December 29, 1997, in The Post-Standard.

By Dr Kamal Jabbour, Contributing Writer

On a recent run with my neighbor, she lamented her recent lack-luster race performances. I listened to her, unable to talk through the fast pace that she had set. I counted the training rules that she had broken on her recent racing spree. When she reached 10 broken rules, it was time to find a keyboard, and type my 10 commandments of running.

1. Running is your sport, you shall not play ball games. You were made for steady forward motion, not for sudden twists or side-to-side moves. Many runners suffer traumatic injuries while chasing balls. Cross-train with non-impact sports such as swimming and cycling. Be cautious when you lift weights, and seek muscle balance.

2. You shall not race in vain. Excessive racing drains you physically and mentally. Race twice each month, not twice every week. The golden rule of recovery dictates one day of easy running for every mile raced. Your body needs an easy week after a 10K race, and an easy month after a marathon.

3. Remember to keep holy the Sabbath. You may run six days each week, but you shall rest on the seventh day. You may walk, bike or swim on your day of rest, but make sure you give your bones and soft tissues a break from pounding. Build rest into your schedule, and when in doubt take more rest.

4. Honor your coach and your training log. Do not cheat in your training. The prescribed workouts are intended as upper limits, not lower limits, for your training. Finish your workouts feeling tired, not exhausted.

5. Do not race a 10K the morning after a bad 5K. Most bad races are caused by overtraining, not undertraining. Take time off after a bad race, and look carefully for the cause of your poor performance.

6. You shall not run sprints when training your body for long slow motion. Race at the distance for which you train. Many distance runners suffer injuries when they sprint without proper stretching and warm-up. Similarly, do not run a marathon unless you have trained adequately for it.

7. You shall not steal. The worst offense is to rob the necessary food, water and sleep. Eat healthy, drink plenty and sleep tight. For every hour of running, you need 100 more calories of nutrition, 3 cups of water for hydration and 30 minutes of additional sleep for recovery.

8. You shall not run extra workouts in the morning to impress your partner at noon. Only trained professionals may run daily double workouts. You lose the joy of running if it becomes a chore. Do not run because you have to run; run because you want to run. If you miss a workout, do not make it up.

9. You shall not covet your neighbor's workouts. Those 15-hill repeats may not be good for your tender Achilles tendons. When training for a race, follow your plan. Do not run two hard workouts back to back. Take an easy day, or a day of rest, between hard runs. Join your neighbor's workouts only if they fit your training goals.

10. You shall not covet your neighbor's shoes. Wear what fits you right, not what looks good. The right shoe fits right at the store. Do not wear running shoes as a fashion statement; that's the role of shirts and shorts. Keep two pairs of shoes, and alternate wearing them. This gives them time to dry, and extends their life.

If these commandments do not explain your disappointing season, consider taking a year off racing. Throw away your stop watch and your training log, and run for fitness and fun. You will return to racing fresh and hungry, and reap the harvest of your patience.

Kamal Jabbour, whose RUNNING Column appears in The Post-Standard on Mondays, takes plenty of rest before races. In between naps, he maintains The Syracuse Running Page and receives email at

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