Theory and Practice

So, like many of you reading this, I am spending a massive amount of time at home due to the COVID-19 outbreak. I can’t say I mind. ( Ask me again if this stretches out a few more weeks ). Good opportunity for a blog post.

Today’s subject has been inspired by a running method I have adopted, The Maffetone Method, which was created by Dr. Phil Maffetone. I have mentioned it in least one previous blog post. I am no expert but, to be brief, it requires running at or below a specific heart rate to improve aerobic function and utilize fat for fuel. You find this heart rate by subtracting your age from 180. It also requires the use of a heart rate monitor.A low carbohydrate, high fat diet is strongly encouraged.There area few minor variations but that’s basically it, in a nut shell.

What this means for me right now is running slow. VERY SLOW. EMBARRASSINGLY SLOW.

This method promises an improvement in cardiovascular function.Theoretically, this should enable a person to run faster at a lower heart rate. Let me just say, I am still waiting to see those faster running times.

So why after almost 2 years, you might ask, do I stay with it? Well it’s not all bad. I can run easier in a fasted state, for one, which in the past was like asking me to scale Mount Everest. I also feel more energized after a run. This method also encourages running without music, and while I don’t always adhere to this, the fact that I can go without it and find enjoyment in silence is truly remarkable. All and all, my runs are less stressful. I am not as hungry and I don’t require as much recovery time. Yeah, those are positives but why, oh why, do I stick it out after all this time? I think because it makes sense to me and I am willing to keep making adjustments and being persistent in the hope of reaping the benefits.

I don’t want to go on and on about this method. There are plenty of resources online that do a better job of explaining it than I can. There is one thing, in particular, that made an impression on me though. Maffetone believes there is a difference between being physically fit, or having athletic prowess, and being healthy. I would imagine they should be one in the same but even in my limited experience as a yoga instructor, I witnessed this contradiction among students. People sometimes strive for a high level of physical performance even if it is at the expense of their general health. The other thing that I observed in my own life was that the ” no pain, no gain ” philosophy doesn’t work in the long term. It works until it doesn’t. Then when you push harder, it only gets worse and not better. Thankfully, I realized this in enough time to avoid serious injury.

So okay, I honestly didn’t want to make this post about running but it does helps to illustrate a point; theories can helpful to guide or explain things but without practice, they are useless.

We all have ideas or ideals. Sometimes, in the case of my running, I have been influenced by someone else’s ideas. You think, ” that’s cool ” and decide give it a whirl.Then something happens. You realize it’s not exactly what you imagined it to be. Let’s face it. It never is.

Wow, talk about ” The Story of My Life “.

I have based most, if not all, of my major life decisions on things that I believe in, regardless of the cost, and let me tell you, they COST me. Here’s the thing though; theories require practice and practice means investing time and energy on a consistent basis.It means being open to making changes. It means being willing to risk failure or ridicule. It involves lacing up your shoes, walking out the door, and getting down to it.

If faith without works is dead, so is theory without practice.

During this COVID-19 Pandemic, there seem to be very few, if any, tried and tested strategies to contain it. Whether it’s world leaders, business owners, or government officials, everyone seems to be making it up as they go along, preparing for the worst, hoping for the best. “Social Distancing” sounds reasonable enough in but will it be effective? I guess we will have to wait and see. We do what we can, being patient until we can return to life as we know it and business as usual.Maybe, we will learn some lessons and gain some insight when it’s all over and done. I pray this virus makes a quick exit without taking anymore lives.

There is simply no way to avoid this messy, uncomfortable process of practical application, trial and error. Knowledge is good, preparation is better, but practice is nuts and bolts, flesh and bone.

The marathon I signed up for has been postponed so I decided to take this opportunity to do a running streak for at least 30 days ( with a little yoga thrown in for good measure ).That means running no less than one mile everyday. Today is Day 6. The good news about putting theories into practice is that there are always unexpected discoveries, benefits, and insights. Running daily is helping to ground me. It’s given me some sense of certainty in very uncertain times.

So here’s to new discoveries, happy accidents, and social experiments we would have never willingly taken part in.

Maybe like with my running, we slow down now so we can be stronger and faster in the future.

Every Mile is Worth My While

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