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I am no good at any distance

So what am I? What type of runner am I? I asked you the question yesterday, based on Ayurveda (Indian medicine), but what about me? The runner who is no good at any distance.

I can tell you precisely what I am. I am a Vata. I’ve been tested by 7 different Indian doctors and they all concluded I am mainly Vata. Maybe you’ve met me in real life, maybe you’ve seen my pictures on this blog. I am a tall, skinny guy, with long limbs.


All Vata disorders are my disorders. My digestion is slow, I sleep poorly, my muscles are tight, I have dry skin, dry hands, dry lips. If I don’t put moisturizer on my face, my beard burns when I don’t shave. My frozen shoulder is a typical Vata problem and on top of it all, I have a monkey mind.

As a runner, I’m afraid I am no good at any distance. I am definitely not a sprinter. When I played football, I was one of the slowest in my team. Luckily I played as either defending midfielder or goalkeeper. Speed is handy, but not the most important thing in those positions.

Middle distance runner

If I look at it from the positive side, I would say I am a middle distance runner. When I was 14 years old, I was selected to represent my school at 800 meters. During the qualifications I outran everybody in my class. Well, everybody except Daniel. He stayed with me for 750 meters, then said; ‘Thank you John’, and sprinted to the finish line. No matter what I tried, I couldn’t keep up.

At the school championships I gave it all. No success. Those 800 meter runners were just too fast for me. The only thing I noticed is that they all fell down after the finish, being totally exhausted, while I still had energy left. It’s just that my legs couldn’t go faster.

Cooper test

The cooper test (running as many meters in 12 minutes as you can) was more my thing. I remember outrunning my whole class easily. Most struggled to run 2.5 kilometers, I easily ran 3.6 kilometers, and was happy that the cooper test didn’t involve any sprinting.

Later, when my (step)father got me into running, I ran a couple of local 5 and 10 kilometer races. Most of the time I would finish among the fastest 10 percent of the field. However, as soon as the distance increased, I would start to fall back. The 10 English Miles? I would finish among the fastest 15 percent. Half a marathon? Among the fastest 25 percent. Marathon? Among the slowest 40 percent of the field.

Ultra run

Half of March I ran the Sussex ultra; 53 kilometers. I finished among the last runners in the race. The organisation was already cleaning up the event village, when I came in. Okay, this was my first ultra, I am not used to running on hills, I am over 50 years old, and I recently started running again, after 25 years of injury, but still, I was one of the slowest.

For me this proves what Ayurveda is telling us. Vatas, like me, are good middle distance runners, but they lack the stamina to excel at long distance races and they lack the muscle mass to excel at sprinting. They fall somewhere in the middle.

Now if you’re a Vata-Pitta, you will probably excel at the 800 meters and 1.500 meters. Maybe even the 5.000 meters. If you’re a Kapha-Vata you are probably good at ultra runs and marathons. But if you’re a purely Vata like me, you’re probably not good at any distance. Luckily, you can still have fun running.

So, keep on running.

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