On I went, out of the wood, passing the man leading without knowing I was going to do so. Flip-flap, flip-flap, jog-trot, jog-trot, curnchslap-crunchslap, across the middle of a broad field again, rhythmically running in my greyhound effortless fashion, knowing I had won the race though it wasn't half over, won it if I wanted it, could go on for ten or fifteen or twenty miles if I had to and drop dead at the finish of it, which would be the same, in the end, as living an honest life like the governor wanted me to. -Alan Sillitoe, "Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner"

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

I'm calling you out.

I'm calling you out.
Well, some of you.
Well, actually probably not any of you who read this.
And I'm not calling you out by name, anyway.

Who am I calling out, then?
I'm calling out bloggers who give training advice.

I'm calling out people who are all "This is what I do, and it worked for me that one time, so this is what you should do, too. Eat this, run that, buy all of this... Trust me."


I can't tell you what to do. I wouldn't tell you what to do. DO NOT TRUST ME. Sure, if you want advice on something I'm actually professionally qualified to speak on, I'll give it (but first you have to tell me what it is that I'm professionally qualified to speak on) (Hint: nothing).

What I can do is give you anecdotes about me, about my training, about what works for me, about what I like. More often than not this falls into the category of "anti-advice." Cautionary tales.

See, if you've read this blog for more than a day, you know a not-very-well-kept secret: I'm not a very good runner. I have enthusiasm and some modicum of perseverance and absolutely no natural talent. Why on earth would you listen to me if I gave advice, anyway? And I'm not alone! Sure, there are blogs out there by talented runners. But even more of them are by crappy runners, like me. (No links there. You know who you are.)

But that's the rub: a BlogHer study has shown that 88% of blog readers trust the advice they read in blogs. Now, let me tell you a little secret: not only am I not qualified to give you running advice, but neither are most other bloggers. And yet they give advice... by the droves.

And this bothers me.

Clue phone, it's for all of you blog readers: even professional athletes have coaches. Even professional runners (well, minus Ryan Hall) don't profess to have all the running answers but instead listen to someone else's advice.

Or, as Running is Funny said in response to why he doesn't give running advice, "1) Everybody gives running tips; and 2) they are mostly full of crap."

So stop giving advice you're not qualified to give. You're mostly full of crap.

And, for the love of god, NO MORE FOOD PICTURES.
From here.


  1. I would count you as qualified to give that advice.

    Because evidently I'm the arbiter of who is and isn't qualified to give advice on running.

    I should really listen to that advice, in fact.

  2. Since I've worked in a running store for 5 years can I advise on shoes? (Though, oddly if you look at my blog, I don't.) Interesting.

    In all seriousness, I agree with you.

  3. Yes, you're qualified. You draw a salary for doing it! You're a professional.

  4. I don't remember everything I've ever written, but I must have at some point given advice or suggestion and for sure I have taken food pictures as well.

    And you know what? I'll probably won't stop. I'm very opinionated after all. And my fruits were too interesting looking NOT to take pictures. I'm not sorry! :)

  5. I listen to your advice :) Your tone is never preachy.

    That's what I have the problem with - not the "I tried this and it worked" style, but the "I tried this, and it worked for me, and therefore it is the ONLY way to do things so listen to me because I know what I'm talking about."

    ...and I've posted pictures of food, too. Hypocrisy much? ;)

  6. Yeah, I thought you had as well, but didn't want to point it out or anything!

  7. Ha. Your Ryan Hall comment cracks me up.

    I like looking to my blogger friends to see what they think about certain things (say gels, or shoes, or even clothes, etc.) but there are definitely people who tell you what to do, and who do it anecdotally, like you said. Most of the runners I read seem to be the crappy ones who are just out there having fun and trying to figure it out.

    And pictures of everything someone eats drives me NUTS!

  8. Does this mean I can spout bullshit and you'll believe it? And if not, what the hell am I supposed to write about?

  9. I hope so, Sarah, because your post on drills has been sitting, starred, in my google reader for going on a year! I keep meaning to do them. Um, yeah. Soon.

    This one: http://washingtonranhere.wordpress.com/2010/08/12/drill-baby-drill/

  10. So I am confused, should I take your advice about not giving advice???

  11. Whoa, Tess... my mind is blown! Comment of the day! Two stars!

  12. Amen! I just found your blog through someone elses and I totally agree!

  13. Because... only an expert can deal with the problem?:



    "Getting paid" is a ridiculous criterion for being able to give good advice.

  14. I AM qualified but don't give advice unless specifically asked, and not in blog form. I see so many new runners overwhelmed by everything that people are telling them to do that they can barely remember to just run. You're exactly right.

  15. THIS THIS THIS!! What cracks me up is when they give advice on the most mundane aspects of running, like what to wear (expensive moisture-wicking tech fabrics and camlebaks) and how run in a race (get there early! hydrate!). Also, when they write a post about taking their advice from a previous post: "I was reading back over my (linked here) tips for how to do trail running..."
    But what I try to remind myself is that it's all relative: the people who take advice from bloggers are even more clueless than they are; to someone who's done zero races, a person who's done 30 would seem like an expert. Just like I might seem like a genius to a roomful of retarded kids. Oh, but I'm not calling anyone retarded. Nope.