By Jamie Kempton
Marc Bloom, a nationally recognized running author and journalist, probed the mind-body relationship and its effect on runners during a thought-provoking talk before more than 50 attendees at the Rockland Road Runners club meeting on Tuesday, May 14 at the Nanuet Restaurant.
Bloom, a 66-year-old resident of Princeton, N.J., told the assembled group that pain from most common running injuries is emotionally induced rather than physically triggered. The artificial barriers that runners and other exercisers place on themselves when dealing with injury pain or workout discomfort can be overcome by reaching a “higher mental consciousness,” he said.
“The mental aspect is the key to everything,” said Bloom, a lifelong runner who cross-trains with swimming and other fitness activities. “Most of us would rather have physical pain than emotional pain. Pain exists on fear, and obsessing over it leads to perpetual dysfunction as a distraction. I have recognized the power of the mind over the years to improve my running and enjoy it to the fullest.”
Bloom said he has been greatly influenced by the works of Dr. John Sarno, whose most recent book, “The Divided Mind,” examines the psychological underpinnings of mind-body disorders and the lack of attention paid by the medical profession to treating those illnesses, which Sarno asserts are at the root of many common maladies today such as back and joint pain. Bloom said he uses Sarno’s book as his “physician’s desk reference” to self-treat ailments and has not sustained an injury since he adopted a “more aggressive’ approach to his running seven years ago, before turning 60. He trains vigorously with a high school girls’ cross country team in New Jersey and strongly endorses the value of a support system that includes fellow runners (of any age) who provide a communal spirit, motivation and comradeship, and a coach in whom one can trust.
Bloom has authored several influential books, including “The Runner’s Bible,” “God on the Starting Line,” “The Marathon,” Olympic Gold,” “The Miler,” “Run with the Champions,” “Cross Country Running,” and most recently, “Young Runners: The Complete Guide to Healthy Running for Kids From 5 to 18.” He served as editor in chief of The Runner magazine from 1978 to 1987 and has been a contributing writer and editor at Runner’s World since 1988, covering events worldwide and writing articles on health, fitness and training. For many years Bloom published The Harrier, an authoritative newsletter on high school cross country, and he has coached scholastic girls’ and boys’ cross country teams, both in New Jersey. He has received the Track & Field Writers of America Jesse Abramson Award for excellence in track-and-field journalism three times.