Tuesday, December 22, 2009

More of the Same Please

My one resolution for 2009 was to see at least one live music performance per month. After all, inhabiting the self proclaimed 'Live Music Capital of the World' requires one to show some support of some kind at least once a month. Last week's performance by the The Eggmen at the Armadillo Christmas Bazaar completed the year's resolution. Ditto for 2010.

Fitness still plays into the resolution matrix somehow. Each year it's becoming more like brushing my teeth and washing the car than a mid-life crisis response. The whole racing and training aspect is overly hyped and as I'm not competitive in this area of my nature, I'd rather just let it go. That's not to say I won't enjoy running down the street with 15,000 people at the Austin Marathon and 13-miler. Having a race on the calendar creates just enough motivation to get out of bed each day and go for a run and do a couple extra pushups. All training schedules will be purged from the harddrives, with the printed ones meeting their maker in the shredder.

My bro does want to do a half-iron with me in October so that'll take some motivation. More than I have now. I have just enough to get through a morning strength workout of 30 minutes and some sort of run in the afternoon. Sometimes one and not the other. Half-iron means two or three times per day every day or almost every day with the nutrition factor thrown in. Less beer, less sweets, less food overall. Of course I could indulge and just suffer for six or seven hours in the heat come October. Ugh....

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Ice Skating Outdoors is Much Better

The outdoor Wollman Ice-skating Rink in Central Park did not disappoint. Perfect mild-for-NYC winter temperatures with Christmas carols playing out of the speakers hidden among the rocks and trees made for a great experience. Even though the ice was rough and the rink crowded Kayla dazzled the kids with effortless turns and spins. She slowed down enough to skate backwards, holding my hands and pulling me along.

Afterwards it was time to find a hot dog cart. The dog wasn't as good as I remember but it tasted just good enough. After skating and walking what seemed like ten miles, I would have eaten cardboard with a dab of mustard.

With ten seconds to spare before the curtain was opened to start the show, we sat down for the best 90 minutes of entertainment I've had in a long, long time. It was well worth the price. The Rockettes are amazing. The singing waitstaff at Ellen's Stardust Diner where we ate prior to the show were equally amazing. Broadway wannabes who are just a few months short of making it big sang on the tabletops and as they walked through the restaurant.

Monday, December 14, 2009

New York, New York Christmas 2009

New York was one of the last places I thought I would miss. The last time I was here in 1997 I was sick and had a so-so time. The guy playing non-stop drums in Times Square, just below our hotel room may have had something to do with it. Fast forward to 2009 and 20 blocks north, next to Central Park and needless to say the drummer is gone, even though we're next to Lincoln Center with the Philharmonic and The Julliard School. They have really good drummers. So if I lack sleep this trip, at least the percussion will be in tune.

Not having a fever or a pounding headache has seemed to make a difference. The cab ride from the airport was scary and could have given 90% of people a migraine. Are they never scary? The cabby did cut in front of all kind of cars, pedestrians and cyclists to get us to the hotel fast. Key work on fast. I did notice the one person he stopped for was a NYPD officer in a neon-yellow jacket. Smart move.

The first order of business, outside of dropping off the luggage, was a slice of sicilian pizza. In the rain without an umbrella we found Francesco Pizzeria on the NYC Upper Westside. Sicilian pizza, calzone and about 100 other dishes I wanted to consume on the spot. No lie, the best pizzeria I found in the rain.

After filling my gut with pizza I found the Apple store on my way back to the hotel. I had Facebooked 24 hours ago that I would soon be listening to a jazz band next to Central Park with a glass of wine. The comment came to life sort of. The jazz band turned out to be a jazz ensemble from The Julliard School and I had already consumed the wine at the pizzeria. By the way the Apple store NYC is split over two levels. Otherwise, it's about the same as the Austin store, except it doesn't have a jazz ensemble playing from The Julliard School. Yeah.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Running Again

I think the vacation from running is over. I felt like running today and packed a bag of stuff for a run later this afternoon. This time around I let my urge to run again tell me when it was time to start back up. By the time the San Antonio Rock-n-Roll half was over, I was sick of running. I think my feet were too. The blisters have healed up. The plantar fasciitis is all but a memory and the knees are good.

I'm also wanting to get back in the pool. Runner's World Magazine had a feature called Wet Equity in the January 2010 issue available now that really gets into detail about pool running. I felt so weird running in the pool last summer with swimming a couple laps freestyle and then run a couple of laps but wouldn't you know it, the article advises doing that very thing.

Here's more on greenhouse gases and the trouble they cause. Luckily in the winter the air is tolerable during the noon hour or afternoon if there's an updraft to carry the pollutants away. That way I don't have to wake up before the sunrise to get my run in.

A side note. Three of the last four cars I rode in didn't have the air conditioner setting to recirculate the inside air. I didn't make it a point to check when I first got in the car. It was only when I smelled something bad like exhaust that I would then look for the inside air button.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


In order to run a marathon or even 10 or 13 miles you have to at least plan a few weeks, if not months ahead. I mean, sure, you could wake up one morning at 4:00 a.m. and think you could drive down to the race of the week and sign up at that moment. It's been done many times and the people who did this probably survived.

But to do it the "right way" or the idea that you have to start to prepare so far in advance and that you will get to the race in the shape that you envisioned or that everything that needs to line up does so is a crap shoot. So many things can go wrong between the time you need to register for the race, make reservations and the time you line up at the starting line.

Such was the case with the San Antonio Rock-n-Roll Half Marathon. Sickness got me two months out and on race day my body decided to flush fluids just prior to the race. My stomach didn't settle for six miles which was a first. I did have three good miles before the blisters started to appear, even though I was wearing the same socks I always do. Blown calf two months out, etc.

So there's a Catch-22 every race. You plan and train but come race day, the odds are against you having the run of your life. Out of 20-some-odd races I've experienced a great race twice. One half marathon and one 5K. Both were fantastic weather and training and without sickness but that's less than 10%. Most of the time it's too cold or too windy or too rainy or too hot. Too hot happens a lot. Must be the global warming thing.

I finished the run. Met some good people. Had a great time in San Antonio. Now disillusioned about signing up for races. I'm in a training rut that I need to figure out. Since the race the gym visit was bleh, the run was bleh, the home training has been bleh. Rut. Rut. Rut.

The rut will give way. But to what I have no idea. Maybe others just keep at it knowing that most runs are hit-and-miss. Every once in awhile a run or race comes along that blows your socks off and that makes the others fade from memory.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Link Friday

I really just have one link this week due to me looking for reasons why my leg hurts and what to do about my leg hurting.

Ask the Experts: Prevent Injuries

Looking at anatomy diagrams it's apparent that my injury isn't the Achilles, but more like Flexor Hallucis Longus or the Peroneneus Brevis. I also remembered in my workout the day before the injury that I placed my feet underneath a weight machine in the gym to do some crunches on a Swiss Ball. The feet underneath the machine pinned them in such a way to cause irritation in the feet and shin area. Right where I now have pain.

I was reading the above linked article and it has some great information about my injury as did the Competitor article titled Running Past 40 in the Sept. '09 issue. Bottom line. Stay off it for three days and then half my long run. So it looks like Saturday's run will only be six to seven miles which should make the legs feel good.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Wheel Fell Off

As luck would have it that after I confirmed hotel reservations for the San Antonio Rock-n-Roll Marathon and Half something would happen within minutes, like a leg falling off or a foot. It wasn't minutes but it was hours. This morning's run looked promising at the start. Cool weather, the rain had stopped, my inflammation from the cold I had over a month ago had stopped (more on this in a minute). Yes, the run looked pretty promising. I started warming up like I do every Monday and Wednesday and I could tell the warm up was going to take longer than normal. I was about two miles into the warm up when I decided to start the workout and accelerate. That's when the wheel came off.

Below my calf and to the side a little which may be part of the Achilles tendon I felt a sharp pain. Not like one of the dull pains that now crop up daily but are never in the same place, two days in a row. This pain was new. As I walked back to the house the only thing I could think of that was different was the removal of the orthotic. I had thought since all of the PF pain was gone I could go back to just using insoles. Wrong. I might be able to, as I did a long stretch of the calf muscle and tendon half way through the warm up. But I think it was the missing orthotic. Running with it for the last nine months has caused my running form to adapt to it and when it was gone, it was like the ball bearings were removed.

But looking to the bright side I get to try out some rehab products. I went to Sports Authority and picked up a pool running belt. As I tend to run in the shallow end, which will strain the Achilles, I need to move to the deep end and thus the need for the belt to keep me afloat. I also picked up a calf/shin support to wear during the day and when I get to run, which may be Friday or Saturday at the earliest. I also picked up some KT Tape or Kinesiology Therapeutic Tape. You may have seen several athletes wearing the tape that looks like a foot-wide spider is on their shoulder. I saw Olympic Gold Medalist Kerri Walsh wearing it while playing volleyball. I've heard good things about it. I'll try it out and see.

So about the inflammation. I quit Diet Cokes and all other sodas, except for plain soda water, about two months ago. The reason for quitting had to do with the aspartame. Besides the loss of caffeine, I noticed my inflammation didn't clear as fast after I had a cold as it did when I drank Diet Coke. The only thing I can attribute this to is that I've heard Coke is able to take off the acid crust on a battery, so it had no problem clearing up some inflammation. Once I had a Diet Coke, I had no problem with inflammation. Interesting.

Want to read something interesting? See how coffee and tea are decaffeinated.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

90% ankle is back to 100%

The ankle I turned yesterday has returned to 100%. No discoloration, the swelling went down with ice. It's all good.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

ACL Plan B in Place

After my normal run this morning, I ventured across the freeway to do a little trail exploring. I need to find a 2-hour run that's as far away as possible from the cluster that will be the Austin City Limits Music Festival this weekend. I found enough trails and a way to get there without having to cross the freeway. There are some trails that run to some tunnels under the freeway. They're dark, long and a little creepy but it's better than sucking all the exhaust from above.

It's hard to believe I haven't used this trail more often as it's super close to the house and is hardly used.

Just as I was finishing I stepped in a hole and I felt my ankle go sideways as I braced my fall crashing down on my hands. I think it'll be ok as there's hardly any swelling.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Back to the Drawing Board

The orthotic experiment didn't exactly workout great. One of the cuts in the orthotic caused a blister during my last 13-mile run on Saturday. As Murphy's Law would have it, I was as far from my car as possible, crossing the Longhorn Dam (6.5 mile mark) when I felt a pinch on the arch of my foot. I knew immediately what was about to happen, but short of running barefoot on the gravel trail, there was little to do but suck it up and finish the run. It turned out to be a silver-dollar-sized blister.

If that wasn't enough, I still have the remnants of an upper respiratory infection and my Achilles tendons are still injured from thinking the Stairmaster was a good idea last week. Needless to say, I've scheduled a needed rest day for today.

It could've been worse. As my run took longer on Saturday, I was forced to ice down the legs on the outside of the Barton Springs Pool, in the unofficial dog park. As a couple of cold fronts have come through recently there was nobody except one golden retriever catching a stick int he water. With the lack of splashing and wading, more nature ventures into the area. Make that two water snakes, at least three-feet long, one alligator-snapping turtle, two red eared turtles and 15-20 baby blue gill that swam around my ankles.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Autumn Has Finally Arrived

A note to summer, don't let the door hit you in the ass on your way out. Jeeeeeeeeez, second hottest summer on record for Austin. There were 68 days over 100 degrees. The record in 1925 was 69.

And how things have changed. Particulate matter at 2.8 this morning, cool and humidity at 67%. It was the perfect way to glide into an El Nino fall. Some have predicted El Nino will bring a wet fall and winter to Central Texas.

After checking the air quality and weather readings I dressed and opened the front door in my new shoes, anticipating a wonderful run only to be greeted with the smell of skunk. I paused at the front step in the dark to try and see if it was still around but couldn't tell. It took running to the next house and the smell was gone.

The first run of fall was just as I had dreamed it would be as I ran that afternoon in July with 100-plus-degrees beating down on my forehead. I haven't worn a shirt while running in months. Today, it was just chilly enough to wear one.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

UPDATE - Learning More About Feet

Well the Dr. Scholl's advice was thrown out the window. Not entirely, but the part that stated my feet were identical was false. The arches are definitely different. They looked the same on the scanner but when I looked at them side-by-side, they are different height-wise.

Last night I sat in front of the TV watching Monday Night Football with a box full of various orthotic products, a pair of scissors and a roll of green duct tape. I vowed not to get up, except for running out the door to try the latest orthotic experiment, until I had found the perfect combination of orthotic footsy mix-mash that left my dogs feeling like they were resting in pillows.

I used this same thought as I shopped for a new pair of running shoes the other night. I said I was not leaving the store until I found the pair of shoes that made my feet feel like they were resting in pillows. It took an hour and a half and I'm sure the shoe clerks were really ticked with me stacking pair after pair next to the try-on-chair but hey, it's my money and it's my feet. I tried $39.00 shoes and $139 shoes. I tried Asics, Nike and New Balance. I tried trail, rode and trainers. I tried full running and minimalist running. I ended up with a pair of New Balance 431 ($39.00), which is similar to the pair of 413 I bought nine months ago.

I'll save you a step-by-step details of my trial and error and summarize. The left foot needed a gel arch support and extra heel padding. The right foot didn't need anything except for the gel insole. On the left foot I ended up taping the arch support in place as it has a tendency to move. I then cut the left gel insole so I wouldn't double layer, tucked it inside and then placed the heel support orthotic and took them for a spin.

Felt. Like. Running. On. Pillows.

My feet look ok but they are definitely different. But hey, I'm gellin!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Learning More About Feet

There's no escaping computer technology if you're a runner. Most notable of pervasive technologies is the iPod where you'll see people listening to their favorite tunes as they run their miles at the Lady Bird Lake Trail. GPS technology, Nike chips inserted into shoes, Times watches that track distance and heart rate monitors that monitor the effort being placed on the body all help the runner perform a little better.

Dr. Scholl's has now brought computer technology for walkers and runners to the neighborhood pharmacy or grocery store with a foot-scanning kiosk. In the past, a person needed someone knowledgeable about feet or running shoes to take a look at how they walked or ran. Even with video analysis and so-called experts, the shoe recommendation was many times inaccurate.

It's very rare that a person's body is perfectly symmetrical. If one foot is a little longer than the other it can change the way a person runs, and thus cause a problem somewhere else in the body, usually the knees or the hips. As one gets older, past injuries, muscle imbalances and plain old aging of the body make selecting proper footwear more difficult.

Nike, Asics, New Balance and other show manufacturers create various types of shoes to account for differences in stride mechanics and type of running surface. You will also see various orthotics, arch supports, heel supports, etc. that'll make your feet feel good or correct foot abnormalities. But up until now it was mostly trial and error with the selection of running shoes and the additional products. For many people it wasn't until after a visit with their podiatrist that they were educated about the nature of their feet and what shoe products they should purchase.

Dr. Scholl's is placing a mobile point-of-purchase foot scanner kiosks at thousands of locations around the country. You remove your shoes and stand on the scanner and allow 2,000 pressure sensors to identify where you place the most weight. There are several scans made and you'll be required to hold the provided handles while you lift the right and left foot individually off the scanner. It also measures foot length and arch type and then recommends a custom fit orthotic. The price of the custom orthotic was $49.99, which is a little steep for my budget, but 1/10th the price of true custom orthotics which can easily cost upwards of $400.

I had always thought I had high arches. I don't recall where I received that analysis nor can I recollect an expert or shoe salesman telling me I had high arches. The Dr. Scholl's scanner indicated I had low arches with high pressure put on the heels, as well as equal pressure between the feet. Given my plantar fasciitis last year and seeing the scan of the feet, I would say this was an accurate read. I'm not sure if I'll purchase a pair of the custom orthotics but I will log the information it gave me in order to make more informed running shoe and shoe product purchases in the future.

By the way, the scanner I used was in the pharmacy section of my neighborhood HEB.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Pandora Carolyn Wonderland

Just created a Pandora radio station on Carolyn Wonderland and it's the best so far. So many talents like Saving Jane, now to see live and Carolyn at Stubbs, Oct. 18.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Can Run With Head Cold

I tried to run again yesterday in the rain with a head cold and managed to get eight miles in before calling it a day. It was like I had the Lady Bird Lake trail to myself. I saw another runner every half mile or so. My sinuses cleared and I felt great. This morning I worked out with my training group doing some intervals and then added a couple recovery miles to the end and have to say, my head cold is no worse and may be improving, just as it did for Dean Karnazes when he ran his 50 marathons in 50 states in 50 days.

Of course, running loosens up phlegm as well. Do I run when I have a cold? Yes, I do. Okay, go ahead and scold me--shame, shame--but I think the notion that you should avoid running when you're sick (unless a high fever is present) is an old wives' tale that's been perpetuated throughout the years without much validity.--Dean Karnazes

From Runner's World Magazine
Runners don't like to skip workouts--even when they're ill. Here's how to decide when you should take a sick day from training.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

A Great Day to Run

Central Texas is FINALLY experiencing a low pressure updraft weather event which is sucking the pollution right out of the ground-level environment. Current particulate matter pollution is 5.7 with Ozone at a level 10. Outstanding air for those outdoors.

I had the crud the last couple of days that's going around. Yesterday, my head was so clogged but I remembered Dean Karnazes mentioned in his book that he ran a couple of his early marathons with a head cold. That was 50 marathons in 50 days in 50 states. I figured if he could run a marathon I could get through six miles. It was incredible how I felt during the run. It was the best I felt during the day. I was able to release the sinus pressure easily. Plus, it was raining out so it felt great and kept me cool. So what they advise that runners can still run with head colds but not chest colds has proven true in this case.

Looks Like a Day of Obstacles

I went to the neighborhood pharmacy this morning to buy a package of Ricola throat drops. I went up and down scanning the section where cough and cold remedies are kept. Nada. Not a single throat drop to be found. Remember, guys don't ask directions. They will drive or walk for hours before they'll ask, but I had to get to work so I decided to cut the chase short. After asking the clerk, he walked me over to the candy section. Yes, right next to the Life Savers candy. That's just where I would have put them too! Pure genius. I wouldn't put any next to the cough syrup either, nor any at all in the cough/cold area. Who would look there? ;)

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Runner's Knees

I came across this post today with Hal Higdon as the author. I'm a fan of his and used some of his program when I trained for my first marathon. I'm curious to find out where 55 miles came from and also why Hal, who ran more than 100 miles per week many years ago has now downsized his recommended weekly mileage? It may be that at his age that's all he feels like doing or he's not training for a marathon and doesn't need the additional mileage.

Are runners' knees worse off than non-runners'?
"The stress of impact causes the joint to adapt positively, thereby improving its overall health," writes Barker. "There is, however, a threshold that if surpassed exceeds the normal wear and tear a joint can endure."

Determining a level of safe exercise, however, puzzles researchers. One study quoted by Barker suggests 55 weekly miles as the point where joint breakdown begins, but only a small percentage of runners train that much, even when getting ready for a marathon.

Hal Higdon
For Active.com

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

More From The Age of Irony

The other day, The New York Times published an article titled, Wiggling Their Toes at the Shoe Giants. The two paragraphs from the article below really nail the controversy brewing about barefoot running and point to the irony. How ironic, the same company that created heel running, then created a shoe to get away from it, based on how elite college athletes were training.

Things changed in the early 1970s, when Bill Bowerman, a track coach turned entrepreneur, created a cushioned running shoe that allowed runners to take longer strides and land on their heels, rather than a more natural mid- or forefoot strike. Mr. Bowerman and his business partner, Phil Knight, marketed the new shoes under the Nike brand, and the rest is history.

The big shoe companies are clearly paying attention to the trend. Nike was first to market with the Nike Free, a flexible shoe for “barefootlike running” with less padding than the company’s typical offerings. It was introduced in 2005 after Nike representatives discovered that a prominent track coach to whom they supplied shoes had his team train barefoot.

My take. I have a pair of Nike Free, a pair of Vibram FiveFinger and a pair of New Balance running shoes. They each have their place in my training. I'm not about to go on my ten-mile run or longer with the Vibram or the Free. When I did try even five miles in the Free it put too much force on my Achilles tendon. I've been adding more distance with the barefoot shoes but actually like them more for my speed workouts and pool workouts. Then I use the New Balance for my long run. The best of both worlds.

The Short Bus

Hail to the busdriver, busdriver, busdriver
Hail to the busdriver, busdriver woman.
She drinks and she cusses,
And smokes on the busses,
All hail the busdriver, busdriver, busdriver
All hail the busdriver, busdriver woman.

She parks 10 feet from my swimming,
which gets my head spinning,
All hail the busdriver, busdriver woman.

She keeps the bus running,
while makeup she's applying,
All hail the busdriver, busdriver woman.

So yes, on this level orange forecasted ozone day in the age of irony, the busdriver of the short bus of the organization concerned with pollution and encouraging more people to ride the bus on days such as this, clearly had no clue how she was negatively impacting my workout and health, the environment and how it made her organization look. She definitely belongs on the short bus.

We had this news item on our site yesterday, Harm Begins With a Few Cigarettes, a Little Smog. Levels of toxins in air don't have to be high to be hazardous. http://budurl.com/nr6p

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Pool Running Mentioned

Wow! From horses to high school track athletes to the rest of us.
Swimming provides the ideal medium to achieve, or maintain, a high level of fitness and conditioning without the dangers and potential injury that are inherent in track and ground workouts.

Here at Meadowview, our full size 10 feet deep indoor equine swimming pool provides both rehabilitation and conditioning to our client's horses. Before entering the pool the horses are rinsed and then lead down an extended entry ramp with a gradual descent.
From Runner's World comes 27 Ways to Run Better Every Day. They actually mention pool running as a cross-training option.

8. Join the "X" revolution. Despite the many proven benefits of cross-training, we still know too many runners who only run. C'mon, folks. We love running, too. We know all about the "specificity-of-training" rule, but we still skip the occasional running workout to get in some cross-training. Mainly strength training, bicycling, elliptical training, yoga, stairclimbing, pool running, rowing, and walking. Why? Not because we think these routines will make us faster in our next half-marathon, but because they make us fitter and less prone to injury.

Polluted Days...Do it early or do it on the treadmill

from the TCEQ email...


The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) has issued a Level Orange Air Pollution Watch for the Austin area for Wednesday, September 2, 2009.

Atmospheric conditions are expected to be favorable for producing high levels of ozone air pollution in the Austin area on Wednesday. Ozone levels could reach the Level Orange "Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups" category.Orange "Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups" category.

Elevated concentrations of ozone can act as a lung irritant. Individuals with chronic lung disease, such as asthma and emphysema, as well as the elderly and young children, are particularly sensitive to ozone and should attempt to avoid exposure. To avoid exposure, minimize exertion outdoors during the mid-day to early evening hours or stay indoors in an air-conditioned room during this time.

For more information on ozone:

Air Quality Index (AQI) Report
Air Quality Warnings Status
Map of Current ozone levels
Current hourly ozone data by site
Ozone Animations
Ozone forecast information
Monitoring site locations
American Lung Association
Environmental Protection Agency, Air Now

CLEAN AIR Force of Central Texas

Sunday, August 30, 2009

It Worked!

The little pickle juice experiment was a success. So much so I now realize how much nutrition plays into the whole exercise equation. I took Da Fish's advice and stayed away from eating pickles while exercising.

Pre-Run Nutrition

Friday Night 7:00 pm
Mt. Olive pickle spears with Garlic
325 mg sodium x 5 spears = 1625 mg sodium

handful of pretzels
320 mg sodium x 1 = 320 mg sodium

Total = roughly 2 G of sodium or two tablespoons of salt.

Saturday Morning 5:00 am

Emergen-C Electro-Mix
Calcium 100 mg
Magnesium 120 mg
Manganese 2 mg
Chromium 20 mcg
Potassium 408 mg
Stevia 10 mg

Emergen-C Tangerine Multi-vitamin and multi-mineral
Sodium 60 mg
other minerals and vitamins

Nutrition on the Run
Accelerade Gels (2): sodium 200 mg, potassium 80 mg, carb 40g, protein 10g
water on the 10-mile course

Post Run Nutrition
Immediately after run and while soaking in the 68-degree Barton Springs
Kashi Chewy Ganola Bars (2): sodium 210 mg, 40 g carbs, 12 g protein
Accelerade powder (24 oz.): sodium 380 mg, potassium 130 mg, carbs 42 g, protein 10 g

Thirty minutes later at home.
Mt. Olive pickle spear (1): sodium 320 mg
Spaghetti sauce (100 g): 590 mg sodium carbs 9g, protein 1.2g + handful of crushed broccoli.
Spaghetti noodles: 1mg sodium, 43g carbs, 8g protein
V-8 8 oz.: 480 mg sodium, carbs 10g, 2g protein

I started to get somewhat of a pre-headache after eating the pasta and drinking the second glass of V-8. I get sodium headaches after eating heavily salted French fries that include too much salt. At that point I backed off eating and just drank water until the pre-headache went away which wasn't over 15 minutes. I felt great the rest of the day and the only indication I had ran was felt in my feet and a little in the knees. This was the best recovery ever. Using pee color for over or under hydration and the sodium headache as an indicator of too much sodium I should now be able to determine how much sodium I need on the long runs and what my sweat rate is and more importantly, how much and often I need to replace electrolytes. This is huge for me.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

I Underestimated

"Normal sweat rates can range from 0.75 to 2 Liters/hour, depending on conditions such as temperature, humidity, pace, clothing, and the degree of heat acclimation the rider has."

"2) Not consuming enough sodium. You're using Endurolytes, which only contain 40 mg of sodium / capsule. A liter of sweat contains 1000 mg. So you'd need to take 25 Endurolytes / liter of water.


The two Accelerade gels I took last week amounted to 200 mg of sodium over the one hour, thirty-eight minute run.
There's no way I can pop 25 Endurolytes over the course of that run every weekend.
Golden Pickle has even created a sports drink, appropriately named “Pickle Juice Sport.” Golden Pickle claims that Pickle Juice Sport has “approximately 30 times more electrolytes than Powerade and 15 times more than Gatorade.” (http://www.goldenpicklejuice.com/). It is even endorsed by Dallas Cowboy Jason Witten.
So maybe what's for dinner Friday night before the run is pickle juice and pretzels. At least while we still have the 100-degree+ days.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Switching To Gels

One of the TO-DO items on any runner's list prior to an endurance race is to see what their stomach can tolerate and digest. This isn't too important for a 5K and I'd say if anyone ate A N Y T H A N G before a 5K they'd be asking for it. I've eaten pretzels, Twizzlers and drank most of the major sports drinks, along with chicken soup and even a couple of beers at mile 25 of the Austin Marathon. Most of the drinks upset my stomach upon contact. One or two more than others. Accelerade didn't upset my stomach and also had the magical 4:1 ratio of carbs to protein. As I have a high sweat rate I've found I really need to take in more than just water.

Last week I ran with two NUUN vials filled full of Accelerade powder. It got me through the run better than water alone and recovery went from eight hours with just water, after a 10-mile run, to six hours of recovery using Accelerade powder. The weather conditions were the same at 6:30 am; a temperature of 80 degrees F, with 84% humidity and little to no wind. We've been in the same weather pattern all summer it seems like. So improvement with the powder.

Last weekend I ran with two Accelerade gels. I wanted to see if I could tolerate the gels as it would be easier to run with water and carry a couple of gels, rather than mixing powder on the road while running. I took one after 45 minutes and another 30 minutes later. While soaking in the 68-degree Barton Springs, I drank a little of the powder. After I got home I drank more water and ate about 15 salty potato chips and a bowl of plain red-sauce spaghetti to replace the salt. The result was a three-hour recovery. Dang! And this was after having three tequila shots the night before so I was feeling less than normal to start with. And P.S., I added a four-mile run the day before so that made the Sat. long run a little longer.

I had heard Desiree Ficker talk about dialing in her nutrition before events and I can see what she was talking about, although she has it tougher than I doing longer distance events, combined with being gluten intolerant. "I have often the thought if I could just change one thing physically about myself it would be my celiac disease or gluten intolerance and overly sensitive stomach. It has caused me much strife, said Desiree from her Web site.

I don't have celiac disease but do have a high sweat rate that causes me to lose to much of my electrolytes and a sensitive stomach for salty drinks. For the past two marathons it's been a huge problem when trying to press on past mile 20. Even for the weekend 10-mile runs it causes quite a long recovery. I think my nutrition is finally getting dialed in.

Good recovery video on YouTube. Olympian athletes ran a tempo run and then went to the stream with 60-degree water. Olympic Marathon Trials Training Camp in Mammoth Lakes, CA. 2004 Olympic Silver medalist Meb Keflezighi, Olympian Dan Browne and marathoner Josh Cox.

Paraffin Candles in the News

The amounts of misinformation on the Internet are growing as large as The Great Pacific Garbage Patch. I've become almost numb to the article that swims in the face of common sense and decades worth of research, such as exercise will not make you thin by TIME Magazine. It didn't take long before 10 Reasons Why Exercise Makes You Thin (Or Why TIME Magazine Got It Wrong) .

Today, was one of the first instances where I've seen the common sense finding refuted in the same article. CNN reported that paraffin-based candles emiited toxic chemicals toluene and benzene.

They found that paraffin-based candles -- the most popular kind -- emitted toxic chemicals like toluene and benzene. Soybean candles did not, according to the study, which was presented this week at the American Chemical Society meeting in Washington, D.C. Candles made of beeswax or soybean tend to make mention of that ingredient on their label; paraffin candles may not.

At the bottom of the article CNN reports, Barbara Miller, a spokesperson for the National Candle Association, says "no candle wax has ever been shown to be dangerous or harmful to human health....that none of the candle waxes tested -- including paraffin, soy wax, and beeswax -- produced benzene."

Which is it? It does or it doesn't? IN 2007 they didn't but in 2009 they do? This is clearly an industry-killer (paraffin candles) finding and that may be why we see such a strong, desperate denial of research findings and common sense.

My personal unscientific take. I can smell the strike of a sulfur match anywhere in the house and get an instant headache from it. I can see the black smoke rising from the flame of a paraffin candle. This is one article I'm sure Ms. Miller hopes would go up in smoke.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Link Friday

Here's one that goes counter to common sense. BTW, it seems there are a lot of articles like this these days. New research? Thinking out of the box? But running can be good for you? Can be good for your knees?

Phys Ed: Can Running Actually Help Your Knees?

Bolt lives in a cloud of suspicion

Make Your Own Messenger Bag Out Of Old Plastic Bags

Phys Ed: Does Exercise Reduce Your Cancer Risk?

Orwell versus Huxley

Friday, August 14, 2009

Link Friday

Again this Friday I have just one link. The TED conference does an amazing job of bringing the bleeding-edge thinkers to speak and then shares the videos of the lectures. One such lecture was "crocheting a coral reef." Amazing stuff.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Can't Smell A Thing

There was an interesting piece on page 18 of the September 2009 Runner's World Magazine. In the Ask Miles section, Tammy L. from Charlotte, NC posed the question, "Do elite athletes inhale the fumes from the lead caravan of motorcycles and cars?" Miles posed the question to elite runner Ryan Hall, who said," I can't remember ever smelling the exhaust." So Ryan wasn't aware of any problem and Miles didn't see fit to research if there is exhaust, if it's a problem or not so I don't think they answered the question.

It's a valid question. One that the riders of the Tour de France riders must deal with. Recently, Tour de France winner Laurent Fignon was diagnosed with cancer. Immediately everyone thought of drugs. I haven't seen anyone mention that he followed cars many a day riding on the bumper of a pacer car motor pacing, smelling God knows how many chemicals and carcinogens.

I go back to my assertion that if I run in the morning during the time of day the air is at it's cleanest and come across the recent exhaust of one car I can smell it. If I run on the hike and bike trail right next a thoroughfare of cars, maybe thousands that have gone by in the last hour, I can't smell a thing. What is that about?

"The average cancer risk from air pollution nationally is 36 in 1 million, according to the National Air Toxics Assessment, an analysis of health risks posed by toxic air. A neighborhood in Los Angeles County had the greatest cancer risk due to toxic air pollution — 1,200 in 1 million." So take the folks who spend the most time outdoors breathing hard who just may be endurance athletes. You put a few cars right in front of them for those hours and badda bing, badda boom.

Link Friday

I'm including below only one link for this Friday. One, because I just got off of vacation and have been driving more than I've been reading and, two, it's something we should should spend some time reading.

For some time now I've been disagreeing with some of the NYTimes Magazine articles being published. They are contrary to common exercise thought. Now, Time Magazine is following the same premise, namely Can Exercise Be Bad For Us? and in this specific case,
Why Exercise Won't Make You Thin. I have always believed and experienced the belief exercise and proper nutrition both are needed for the common person to succeed with weight loss and make physical improvement. Someone like Michael Phelps or Lance Armstrong who each spend six hours in the pool each day or six hours on a bike can eat every meal at IHop or Denny's if they wish, downing plates of pancakes drenched in syrup.

The article makes some good points. I just wish they would have emphasized exercise a little more with the thought that one must resist the temptation to power down bags of Cheetos washed down with a Starbuck's Frap after a workout.

And then there are those that didn't exercise after Jim Fixx died during a run, stating exercise was bad for one's health. It seems we finally got away from that and now a woman just died while on her daily jog and people are going to say, "See, that's why I don't run. You run, you die."

Great, that means more room for me on the Lady Bird Lake Hike and Bike Trail. Hopefully, the people that take heed are the ones jogging with double strollers, two friends a two large dogs. Yeah, hopefully they stay home.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Saline Versus Chlorine

I swam in my first pool treated with saline instead of chlorine. I must say that I liked it much better. Where I usually needed goggles with a chlorinated pool, I didn't with the saline pool. A secondary benefit would be clear sinus passages if you swim under water.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Pinot Noir

I've been pretty lucky so far with the Pinot Noir choies so far. Yesterday, while at Trader Joe's in Cupertino, I thought I'd died and gone to Heaven. The pinots were plentiful and well priced. I picked up a 2007 California Red Truck pinot from Sonoma. Loved it. Tonight, I'm sampling the 2006 Mission Point Pinot Noir from Santa Maria. Another winner. Austin needs a Trader Joe's.

Thursday, July 30, 2009


I interrupt this vacation to make a point about wayfinding. Over the last five days I've been able to find my way throughout Central California by feel, or probably more accurately, by way of very well designed wayfinding measures that are unknown to me. I've driven, criss-crossing well over 1,000 square vacation miles without getting lost. I found Sausalito, Haight-Ashbury, Fisherman's Wharf and Apple's HQ without a map. Haight-Ashbury was easy. You find a psychedelic store front or mural with people wearing tie-dye and then try to determine in which direction it becomes more concentrated. You have to keep in mind that smoke shops and images of Bob Marley count as well.

Wayfinding and good design is like that. It doesn't get in the way but feels right, looks right, gets the job done. San Francisco is north, Santa Cruz is south and all the other Sans and Santas are in between. Almost. Santa Cruz is my mental southern boundary. Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, etc. don't exist at least on this trip.
Wayfinding encompasses all of the ways in which people and animals orient themselves in physical space and navigate from place to place.

Wayfinding is often used to refer to traditional navigation methods used by indigenous peoples. In more modern times, wayfinding is used in the context of architecture to refer to the user experience of orientation and choosing a path within the built environment, and it also refers to the set of architectural and/or design elements that aid orientation.
My first encounter with problematic wayfinding techniques happened on the second day here when I entered the ice rink for the first time.  Kayla was to get some ice time to rehearse her routine for the competition the following morning. Kayla said she was on the yellow rink. Looking to my right, the rafters overhead were painted yellow and the trim at the top of the barrier was yellow as were the baseboards. No brainer I thought. The YELLOW rink was right in front of us. Wrong. That was the red rink. The yellow rink was in the back.

Stopping one of the San Jose Sharks hockey players I asked where the yellow rink was. "Yellow rink," he said. "All I know are the north, south, east and west rinks. No colors." Even directional navigation only works if you know which way is one direction, in relation to north. I'm sure the person that came up with the color coded method of navigation was confused with the NSEW method and decided to substitute their own for the figure skating competition. Yeah, the colors fixed e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g. Over the course of the next day I heard a lot of, "You're over there! Or is it over there?" I also noticed there are a lot of skaters and coaches screaming, cussing and running through the hallways. By the way, all of the rinks had yellow rafters and yellow trim.

I encountered the second wayfinding example this morning. A simple hotel map or so it should have been. Locate the gym on the map (see below & click on the map to enlarge) and see if you think it's on the second floor or the Lobby floor, which I suppose is the first floor. Hint, the gym is on the right of the rectangular shape in the upper center of the map. The image you see there rotates with two ads for restaurants in the hotel. So if you were looking at the actual map, you would have 10 seconds to find where you are before a photo of a big steak took it's place. Good Luck!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Bye to Los Gatos and Hello San Jose

There weren't this many people on the Los Gatos track this morning but it started to feel like it was getting close. I started on the track with only three men doing 400-meter repeats. By the time I finished running some sprints on the football field there were at least three boot camps set up around the field.

Do barefoot sprints on the manicured grass was a treat. In Austin, there are usually signs stating to keep off the grass. Not so in Los Gatos and the grass was in much, much better shape. You almost felt like you had to go through a workout with such great grass and conditions. The dew and cold made the feet go numb rather quickly. I'm going to miss that track for the remainder of the trip as we change hotels to San Jose this afternoon. Given my quads are now thoroughly trashed and sore from yesterday's hill run and today's sprints, I may stay in the hotel gym tomorrow.

I tasted the best Mahi Mahi 've ever had down at Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco yesterday. Fantastic food. A little too crowded in the city for my taste. Maybe I've been in the burbs too long. Too much congestion gets my anxiety going.

I'm a big lover of Tex-Mex so it was interesting eating in a Cal-Mex restaurant today. The Aqui Restaurant treated us to some fantastic organic Cal-Mex which was similar to organic, up-scale Tex Mex. The salmon taco was exceptional, dressed with some cabbage and nuts and a variety of salsas. The margarita swirled with sangria quenched my thirst, although it's difficult to build up a thirst when the temperature varies from 57 degrees to a high of 77.

Kayla beat out six other ice skaters in her first solo competition this morning, winning second place. This was the last time she skated to the theme song from the Titanic. She'll select a new routine and outfit for next year.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Missed It By _______ Much!

In search of fish tacos yesterday, I missed them by ____ much. they were just next door to the Whale City Bakery, Bar & Grill. I discounted the dive next door to the Bar & Grill. It's ok as the food at Whale City was good, the Corona Lights were cold and the view of the Pacific Ocean was spectacular.

The day was spent winding our way to San Francisco by way of Route 1. Lots of beach stops. Lots of fog banks. Lots of fun.

Driving through San Francisco was interesting. We went over the Golden Gate Bridge twice. Once, to get to Muir Woods and it was clear and sunny. Going back it was foggy. It was amazing to see people on July 27 wearing coats. I couldn't believe it was that cool. In fact, watching the Weather Channel last night it looked like San Francisco was the coolest spot in the nation, except for maybe Alaska.

Muir Woods was an amazing experience. I don't know if I was more fascinated with the size of the giant redwoods or how clean the air was. It definitely had it's own unique scent. The winding drive up the mountain almost had Kayla blowing dumplings in the back seat.

I decided for this morning's run I'd play it by ear and not go back to the track. My gut said to do a neighborhood run easy for an hour. The easy neighborhood run turned into a tough hill workout as I climbed to 1200 feet at the top of 16448 Eugenia Way. I started at 500 feet so a net gain of 700 feet of running uphill made for a great workout. So although I missed the fish tacos, I found just the right running trail for the day. Off to San Francisco for more exploring.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Los Gatos

This was the first time in as long as I can remember that I didn't get sick after getting off the plane. Maybe it was the extra water I drank, the extra helping of Emergen-C powders. Who knows. No lie. As soon as I turned on the radio in the rental SUV Jeep they were playing Hotel California by the Eagles. Maybe it was a sign of things to come and that I won't be able to leave. Want to hear something even more strange? The next song played was the theme song from Titanic, which is what Kayla is skating to in two days.

I hadn't found a trail for my running workouts. Everything looked too urban or too far to get to by foot so I left that part of the trip planning alone until I got to Los Gatos. Los Gatos is a small community of 24,000 outside of San Jose. Once I got to the lodge the workouts were already taken care of. Next to the lodge was the high school track and enormous baseball field next to the track.

I got in some speedwork this morning and finished up on the track as the local bootcampers made their way onto the field. I then went over to the baseball field and did some sprints on the cool grass barefoot. My feet were numb, as it was that cold on the ground. The temperature was in the low 60s and the humidity was around 81%.  

When I first got to the track, there was heavy fog in the hills nearby. It reminded me of Hawaii. All that was missing was the rich smells of Kauai.

In terms of wine tasting, I tried the Bogle chardonay while at Opa's Greek restaurant and it was good. Later I bought a bottle of Castoro Cellars 2006, Pinot Noir from Whole Foods Market and it was sensational.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Atmospheric Dishwasher Has Arrived

Good rain coming down right now in Austin. I'd go run in it but there is quite a bit of lightning associated with the storm. The pollution levels are dropping so everything should be scrubbed clean for a morning run. I have scheduled a stationary bike tomorrow evening but I have to get out in the clean air. It's all about being a reed in the wind. Right? Even the pool will be cooler with the rainwater. Loving it.

This is as Far as I Can Bend

My friend Fish says often that he's bending like a reed in the wind. While various translations can be found including Lao Tzu's Tao Te Ching, Fish uses the quote from the movie Dune.
"I will bend like a reed in the wind"
- Paul Atreides (Dune)
This is usually when things aren't going his way and there's no way to have it go any other way. My theory is everyone can listen and watch and get hints of the rest of the day that will go south from the very beginning of the morning. This morning I heard repeated sirens in the neighborhood an hour before I was to get up and then looked at the pollution readings before my 5:30 am run. As Austin hasn't had rain for 21 days but has had plenty of high pressure, it was already fixed for the pollution tarot cards to be dim. Sure enough, the pollution was at high enough levels so I needed to go to the gym across town and get on the treadmill to run in some clean air. I felt I was bending a little at that point to get a workout in.

I got to the gym and soon met my archnemesis's sidekick; ADD Boy. Unlike Golf Channel Watching Recumbent-Bike Dude who only wants one of the TVs on and it tuned to the Golf Channel or Fox News, ADD Boy wanted them all on and tuned to the three channels of his choosing. His workout routine was equally inept. He went from free weights to machines to cables to cardio, really not knowing which muscle group he wanted to work for the day. Maybe it had been so long since his last workout, he wanted to hit them all with one set. ADD Boy had to look at the weather forecast for Austin at least four times before it found it's way past his ears and settled in his noodle, as each time he shot the bird at the weatherman, as it was his fault rain was not falling.

Most of the time you hear talk about the "night people." Well, at the gym it's the early morning people that scare the hell out of me.

I'm having illusions of a home gym with a treadmill and a stationary bike and three flat screens of my own, none of which will be able to be tuned to the Golf Channel or Fox Noise. I just saw rain on the radar within the city limits. Hold that thought.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Link Friday

I haven't accumulated too many links this week. Here's one that's good though.

To Run Better, Start by Ditching Your Nikes - A WIRED Magazine article that continues the controversy. Barefoot running anyone?

Thursday, July 16, 2009


My summer reading is going strong on the iPod Touch with the Amazon Kindle software. As I mentioned the other day I downloaded and started 50/50: Secrets I Learned Running 50 Marathons in 50 Days -- and How You Too Can Achieve Super Endurance! by Dean Karnazes. It's been slow going at first, much like Born to Run was. I am the point of Dean's eighth marathon in eight days. I thought I would have learned more juicy tips by now but most of what has been said in countless runner-oriented articles in magazines. Dean doesn't have the time for ice baths after each marathon and has no room on the bus for massages. It sounds like he regularly prescribes himself an ice bath and massage, it just didn't happen for the 50-marathon event. One juicy tip Dean shared was for the blister that formed on his foot fairly quickly into the grueling schedule. His asstistant used duck tape and sterile gauze to patch Dean up.

The second tip I found interesting was Dean's approach to training. "I train by feel. I run as fast as my body tells me to each day, though I do try to do at least two very long runs per week. Those base-building long runs are critically important to me."

My reading of Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace is not progressing as well. After seeing how it takes most folks three tries to get the jest of the story I've not stuck to the suggested number of pages per week.

Dr. Andrew Weil's book, Healthy Aging is being read when I'm sick of reading about running and when I don't want to make my brain hurt with the heavy reading of Infinite Jest. I would suggest everyone read as much of Dr. Weil and Dr. Oz as they can get their eyes on.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009


I may be overreacting about the knees but quite a few good runners I know are having knee problems and have just had surgery or are putting it off while they run like 13 miles on Saturdays uphill. Go figure. Or maybe it's because I read this.
Being overweight or obese can cause rapid deterioration of the cartilage in the knee, leading to osteoarthritis, researchers report.


I'm trying to wrap my head around the concept of plateauing. Not two weeks into the marathon plan and I'm tearing up the plan. Training plans don't take into account the multiple variables in each person's life or the rate that people adapt to the level of intensity, duration or frequency. When you look at a marathon plan it doesn't state, "For people age 18 - 24." It doesn't state, "For people who have exercised intensely in the last five years or for that matter sat in front of a computer screen playing World of Warcraft for 18 hours a day." Continuing the thought for... diagnosed diabetic, overweight by X pounds, for Y pounds, obese by X and Y, asthmatic, ad infinitum of possible variables. In most cases there's JUST ONE training schedule published for all wishing to aspire to the marathon/half marathon, insert distance here. On chance occasssions there may be a trainer who publishes three plans; a beginner plan, intermediate plan and an advanced plan. Basically, the same plan but with more mileage as it advances. Mileage plans are incomplete. Number of week plans are incomplete. Amount of time plans are incomplete. Too many variables period.

This morning the pollution in Austin was a little less as was the temp and the humidity. I've been adding intensity and duration for the last three weeks, based on one of "The Plans", and found a point where Star Trek's Scotty would say, "It's becoming critical, Captain. We can't handle it." As there are quite a few variables when attempting a rigorous exercise program, one of which is weight, I decided this morning to pause or plateau for awhile. If I drop another ten pounds what will the knees feel like at this load? What about staying the same weight but keeping the same intensity, duration and frequency until the tissues have adapted? Maybe the answer is a little of both.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Keep Calm and Carry On

At 5:30 am this morning I grabbed the iPod Touch as I do every morning and saw most of Texas, east of IH35 was experiencing moderate levels of 2.5 particulate matter pollution (27). I really wanted to run this morning as my Achille's tendon finally released after Saturday's long run. I think it was so tense after a long ride on Friday night and a long run on Saturday morning. It was just too much at this point in my training so I'll have to separate the two days with some low impact recovery pool running.

The Tour de France had an off day so I spent 45 minutes on the recumbent bike watching HLN and reading Runner's World Magazine, while playing tug of war with Travis. I'll get my 10K worth of running on the treadmill tonight. While it looks like the 2.5 pollution is dropping, the ozone pollution is rising and so is the heat. Treadmill time.

I just ordered and downloaded 50/50: Secrets I Learned Running 50 Marathons in 50 Days -- and How You Too Can Achieve Super Endurance! by Dean Karnazes. I need to order a couple more books for the Touch before I get to San Jose for a much needed vacation. If this book is as good as Born to Run, I'll have much more to share here in the next couple of weeks.

I don't know if it's the meatless diet or the added mileage or both but the winter weight is starting to come off fairly fast. Last year I never really lost the other ten pounds I should have to have good races. This year, I'm losing the 10 pounds or just not racing until I do.

One last note. It appears Governor Perry vetoed a bill that would've given more protection for cyclists. From the Austin American Statesman article.

"Anger in the bicycle-riding community does not appear to have evaporated much since Gov. Rick Perry vetoed Senate Bill 488, legislation that would have created a safe-passing distance of at least three feet for vehicles trying to pass cyclists and other so-called vulnerable road users."
I can understand the veto if a car is passing two cyclists riding side-by-side in a thin bike lane as I saw quite a few times this past weekend. This law would've put me in the other lane to pass and risked everyone, cars and bikes alike. For a single cyclist or peloton of cyclists this bill, if passed, would've added greater needed protection. It may be better to establish a mandatory bike lane width along with a law that states two or three cyclists can't ride side-by-side.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Link Friday

Ultramarathoner Jenn Shelton - Jenn was featured in the book I just finished, Born to Run. She's one crazy chic!

Changing Speeds to Go the Distance - Sara Hall demonstrates some of the drills she performs to change her form plus, she talks about the difference between a warm bath and a cold one and when to use each. She's trying to land farther back and not on her toes while I'm trying to land more forward, after being on my heels. Her mileage is 85-90 while her husband Ryan is 140+ miles run per week. She also advocates ice baths for faster recovery. Barton Springs works great for my long runs. I need to find a way to cool the legs on other days when away from the springs.

How to Fix Bad Ankles - this article has some great info about strengthening the ankle with balance exercises.

Can You Get Fit in Six Minutes a Week? - this NYTimes article touches on a point of debate for the last few years in the running community. Namely, can one get fit running intervals (faster) for a shorter amount of time compared to the long runs.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Indoors Today

The moderate levels of particulate matter pollution in Austin and throughout Texas had me indoors for today's workout. At 6:00 am, the MP 2.5 level was 27. I was irritated, but it was for the better. It got me to the gym where the treadmill and elliptical were probably better as a recovery day anyway.

Waking up to bad news just started the day off wrong. And the day became so wrong in just a couple of hours. I then found the lost four-foot snake T and the neighbors were looking at the other day. Sure enough, four feet! It wasn't a Boa as previously thought. It was a harmless rat snake. Harmless, that is unless you're a frog or mouse. That's three snakes in one week. Anyway, the big one is now in the neighbor's tree.

I then forgot to lock the doors to the house. This is why I shouldn't be a pilot folks. "Landing gear, what landing gear?" And then there's the part about walking around all morning with unzipped pants. It's a wonder I even made it to work. But, as T and K often say, I have a bevy of guardian angels watching out for me. The gym workout was great, the snake non-poisonous, the house ok and I wore an untucked shirt which covered the zipper.

To change the open fly subject, I found out this morning my boss saw Food, Inc., the movie and is now buying all of her beef as grass-fed and the chickens as free-range. So far so good with my lacto-ovo-pescatarian lifestyle. I haven't had any cravings for meat or chicken yet. I need to check into what one of my coworkers is doing. She gets a box of vegetables from the Johnson Backyard Garden, a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program, located in Austin, Texas.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Metronome Running

I came across an article on using a metronome during a run to set your foot strike cadence. The article is by Dr.Romanov, the creator of the Pose Method, which is similar to Chi Running and the Evolution Running method. Each try to get your feet underneath your hips and cadence up, thus creating less force on the bones and using more of the body's natural rubber bands.

The Evolution Method was mentioned in the book I just finished, Born to Run which describes how we've removed ourselves from a natural form of running and allowed the cushioning of the running shoe to absorb the weight-bearing stress which has resulted in 60 - 80% of runners being injured each year.

I downloaded three free iPhone metronomes and each were able to change the number of beats to 180 or 182. I strapped on the iPhone and earphones and it was relatively easy to set the pace according to the metronome.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Connection Between the Two?

Last week, NPR published two stories within days of each other. One story, Air Toxics Raise Cancer Risk In U.S. Neighborhoods points to several communities in the US that are so polluted, the risk of cancer goes up. A week after that story ran, another story dealing with cancer ran on NPR, Non-Smokers Suffer Lung Cancer Stigma. In the audio you can hear the disgust in the women's voices of how they're often seen by their peers as having lung cancer but are "never smokers." One of the women is a marathon runner and the other is a rower at UC/Berkeley which means they spend long intervals of time outdoors training, breathing air deep into their lungs.

"But breathing very polluted air long-term can raise the risk of lung cancer as much as breathing second-hand smoke," said study co-author C. Arden Pope III, PhD, at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah.." The study, Air Pollution Linked to Deaths From Lung Cancer clearly points out, "The risk comes when gases from auto exhaust and smokestacks combine with oxygen in the air to form very small particles that are breathed in."

"By the late 1980s and 1990s studies were showing that even at very low levels, air pollution was causing damage to health, the authors noted."

I'm still amazed at the number of convertibles I see sitting in bumper-to-bumper traffic on the freeway. I wonder how many of the non-convertibles have the ventilation pulling air from the outside, rather than recirculating the air within the car's cabin? I remember always having to change my Mom's ventilation setting in her car. I still wonder if this contributed to her getting cancer or whether it was one of the many other lifestyle aspects?

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Along Those Same Lines From Yesterday

From the NYTimes article on June 24, 2009, That Little Voice Inside Your Twinge.

"Everyone tells you to listen to your body, but what are you supposed to listen to?"

Turns out it’s not so obvious.

Deena Kastor, the American record holder for the marathon, interprets the advice selectively.

“Running isn’t always comfortable,” she said. “I remember running through a lot of discomfort and pain.”

And, Ms. Kastor added, she also runs when she does not feel like it.

“So many times the alarm goes off in the morning and you tell yourself you are too tired,” she said. “There are times when you are unmotivated, you don’t feel your best and most accomplished.”

But if you ignore those messages from your body and just go out and run or do your sport, she said, “those are the days when we have the most pride.”

“The trick in listening to your body is to know what you can run through,” she said. “If you have a sharp pain you should take care of it.”

So does listening to your body mean learning to understand the difference between a pain that signals a serious injury and one that can be ignored? And if it does, why do athletes like Ms. Kastor become seriously injured, anyway?

Last year she broke her foot three miles into the marathon at the Beijing Olympics. In that same race, Paula Radcliffe, who holds the world record in the women’s marathon, ran less than her best because her training was interrupted by a stress fracture that had set her back for months.

These are America's best runners getting injured. The best runners I know personally are getting injured. Maybe for them, there's more on the line. For 66% of Americancs this is definitely not a problem as they don't exercise. Maybe this is a problem for less than 1% of the population that exercise too much.

Have you been injured in the last year from running?

Monday, June 29, 2009

More Born to Run

"...he's convinced that the next great advance in fitness will come not from training or technology, but technique--the athlete who avoids injury will be the one who leaves the competition behind."--Eric Orton, former fitness director for the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center.
from the book by Christopher Mcdougall, Born to Run

I think this is accurate, but I'd change it from leaving the competition behind to being able to run injury free all year and for years to come without being limited by age. With proper form comes freedom from injury and it doesn't matter what surface you run on and what shoe you're wearing.