A long time ago, in a strange (Lack)land called Texas, a young man (who had not learned to coach or teach yet) was taught many valuable lessons on life by way of a very cranky man who wore an olive drab set of clothes with several dark blue stripes and stars, as well as a blue Smokey the Bear hat with a silver eagle pinned on the front.
While growing up, the young man had learned there were two ways to complete a task; the right way and the wrong way. However, this very cranky man - who never seemed to stop yelling - taught the youngster there three possible ways to approach a task:
The right way. The wrong way. The military way.
As the young man grew in wisdom he found there were many parallels between the military life and the running life; discipline, blended with pragmatism, would most often win the day. Especially when, on deeper review, the battle was found to be one not worth sacrificing one's self over.
It's often funny, and a little bit sad, when a runner begins to have injury or performance issues; for most situations are rarely if ever resolved by one single corrective measure. That's because in many cases the problem is the end result of more than one root cause. And you run into, much like the young man thrust into the military environment, at least three different ways to correct the problem.
There is the poor way.
There is the good way.
There is the best way.
The poor way, in most cases, consists of doing nothing at all. Well, I guess nothing at all doesn't necessarily mean assuming that rest alone will fix the problem. Or, worse yet, that a couple of (or many) non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs will work to fix the situation. From personal experience, I'm going to say this is the course of action which leads to much pain, suffering and frustration...down the road.
More often than not, the good way is really a short-term fix. Please note that I did not necessarily call it a "bad' way. It usually entails the use of modalities - knee straps, "special" shoes, and such...the things which fill half of the magazines whose covers are filled with "ten weeks to a ten-mile personal best...gadgets which, not unlike a neutron bomb, deal with the symptom and leave the body relatively unchanged. It's not the best way, when you look at the cost-to-benefit calculation. The runner still fails to look closer at the less-sexy, slower-to-the-goal, long-term genuine correction to what really is the problem.
The best way.
So many times we learn that we've taken the exceedingly-quick George Lucas-like "dark side" approach to injury fixation. We fail to find our weakness and work to strengthen it. We decide the few excess pounds are an acceptable price to pay in return for sore joints and slower run times.
And, on many occasions, the very reasons we began to be runners become the reasons we stop chasing after our better selves.