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.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Link Friday

Food Inc. The Movie starts today in Austin. I'm going to try and see it tonight if possible.

Inc.com: The Way I Work: Matt Mullenweg

The New York Times: Is Your Ab Workout Hurting Your Back?

The New York Times: In Some Swimming Pools, a Nasty Intestinal Parasite

The New York Times: The Limits of Willpower

The Seafood Eater’s Latest Conundrum

Bill Rodgers and the Perfect Running Shoe

Vibram Five and Yoga

It's a good thing it's yoga day on my training schedule as the air in Austin today is going to suck. We're supposed to reach the orange level of alert for Ozone later today. The orange alert means being outside for certain groups is unhealthy. I don't see myself fitting in one of the designated groups but I know how it affects me and that means inside workouts for today.

Shana led the group of 11 in more of a stretching yoga routine this morning. This proved great for my hip flexors, calf muscles and hamstrings. I wore my new Vibram FiveFingers which provided a little more traction. And despite what others may say, that yoga is all about stretching and toning and flexibility, it's really about traction. The more the better. I'm surpised a company like Vibram was able to get a stronghold on this market. I would've thought Goodyear or Pirelli would've locked up the market on yoga shoes, mats and clothing years ago. In fact Goodyear plainly states, "Traction is everything on their site. Look at the image above. You should take a look below how their ad for shoes would've looked.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Bass Dude

The band was a rockin' and we were sitting at the first table next to the stage so it was loud, but not too loud. A tall guy, maybe 6' 4" and appearing sober walks right in front of me and asked,"Did I just hear you say you caught a big bass?" Uh,hmm. No. "I said he had a big ass!" Weird. No I didn't say that or anything like it but the big stranger did ask that question. And the guy interrupted one of the most heartfelt renditions of Amazing Grace, I think I have ever heard. I'm Googling this bass phrase to see if it's a secret code for something like, "If you and your friends don't vacate that prime table, me and my boys are going to kick your bass!" See how it could be misinterpreted? It was extremely hot outside (102 degrees) so it may have just been a case of a lack of fluids making it's way to his brain.

The Gourds concert, labeled the Summer Sunday Social at the Nutty Brown Cafe, was the piece de resistance to a wonderful Father's Day. I started the day with a plate full of delectable migas, washed down with a full glass of Bloody Mary, made with Tito's vodka. My daughter surprised me with a pair of Vibram FiveFingers KSO to continue my adventure with barefoot running. This just happened to coincide with my reading of chapter 25 of Born to Run which ripped the shoe industry. In all fairness though, if you happen to stumble upon (<-- running joke) chapter 25, take it with a grain of salt as neither side is 100 percent correct. The body, by nature is imbalanced and somewhat asymmetrical. Feet are not identical size or strength and the same goes with the rest of the parts of the legs, especially after age 40. There are times when orthotics are needed in maybe one shoe, contrary to what the book may say. A lot more massage is needed. More rest is needed. It's also true what surface material we choose to run on influences greatly whether we get hurt or not.

Popular Mechanics, The Running Shoe Debate: How Barefoot Runners are Shaping the Shoe Industry

The problem modern-day runners face, according to Hugh Herr, Popular Mechanics 2005 Breakthrough Award winner and head of the biomechatronic group at MIT, isn't presented by our bodies but by the evolution of running surfaces. Humans that ran to scavenge or hunt for their food weren't pounding concrete. ... "Bare feet just aren't meant to support running on modern day hard-top surfaces, Herr says."

From what I know now, I would've have come off the couch differently many years ago. I would have cycled, swam and aqua jogged until I reduced my weight sufficiently, relieving my knees from bearing too great a load, while also strengthening sedentary muscles and tendons. I would have run on grass and worked on drills to drive home to the muscle memory what proper running form felt like (off the heels and landing mid-sole). I would have engaged in more yoga, stretching and massage. Once the legs had sufficient strength I'd test them to find imbalances and then correct those imbalances with weight training.

How does the saying go? A bad day fishing (for bass I suppose) is better than the best day at the office or in my case, the worst day running is still better than the best day in the office.

I'm still learning.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

MCL and Pool Running

The left Medial
Collateral Ligament MCL is still a little tender. After looking over my running logs, this is the same MCL that has given me fits at various times over the last four years. I think it was what was torn when I was young and has never been 100 percent. Now that I know that extreme pushing of heavy objects and sudden bursts running uphill are the activities that strain it, I'll know what to look out for.

The pateller strap will work great to stabilize the knee until the ligament fully recovers.

As I won't be increasing my miles until the MCL is back to normal, I decided to try pool running to add some running mileage. This morning after my swim, and after everyone had left, I put on my new Body Glove aqua shoes and waded down to the 5.6-foot end of the pool. It took about five minutes to find the correct form and balance but after that, it was a great alternative to the pounding of the asphalt. I'm hooked. I've now added three of these workouts per week. Not only will it be a great cool down after my speedwork (5K), it'll also allow me to increase my weekly mileage safely.

From a Runner's World 2001 article on Water Workouts.

From Virginia to California, more and more high school teams are diving into water workouts-running in a swimming pool as a break from the track. Pool running offers a great workout without the leg-pounding of running on hard surfaces, so it helps cut down on injuries and keeps your legs fresh.

I'm not going to lie that pool running didn't feel a little weird. That's why I only attempted it after everyone had left. I'll get used to it. There's no doubt that it'll help quite a bit. Time to let go of my ego for the sake of stronger legs.

Thursday, June 11, 2009


I knew as soon as I discussed injuries that Murphy's Law would kick in and something would stretch where it wasn't supposed to, bend like it never has before, or snap like a summer butter bean. It was especially going to happen since I worked on my running form, reducing an estimated 50 percent of the stress to my knees (50 % of est. 9x body weight) with the newly-learned technique. It's not exactly new, I take that back. The Chi running folks proposed the same thing as did the Pose Method runners and I had watched that video over a year ago but just recently was reintroduced to it with the Newton running shoe videos and McDougal readings (see last post).

The problem came when I lent a hand in moving some industrial restaurant equipment to a friend's backyard. And the lending of hands turned into lending of the back, legs, shoulders and whatever else could help budge the bulky and weighty metal cooler. This stress was greater than 20x body weight, which is just the stress for jumping. Pushing the equivelant of an NFL nose tackle over gravel had to be greater than that. So doing the math means I get to wear a knee support today and do some light spinning.

I Found My Lost Twin

Have you ever seen someone who you thought was just like you? Maybe not 100% identical but enough that it made you think twice? I chanced upon a book called Born to Run by Christopher McDougall. Chistopher initiated an interesting journey based on the question, "Why does my foot hurt?" As I've asked the same question for over the last year, my interest grew as I read more and more and watched video after video. After reading about Christopher and his journey for an hour I happened upon one his blog posts where he was glueing leather as an insole into his Vibram Five Finger shoes. Aha! That's when I knew this guy was my twin. He had a hurt foot, I had a hurt foot, he has no hair, I'm hair challenged, he wears Vibram Five, I long for a pair of Vibram five, he blogs, I blog, he glues leather insoles into his shoes, I velcro. Oops. Well, see? Almost identical except for the glue/velcro point.

Seriously, I downloaded Chistopher's book to my iPod and reading everything realated to the argument he and others are proposing about running shoes, orthotics and whether they're doing more harm than good. I'll be posting many of the links to the related articles and videos tomorrow for Link Friday. In a nutshell the articles are asking if modern athletic shoe design is contributing to poor running form, and as a result to more injuries.

I've had similar questions over the last year.
  1. Why does my foot hurt?
  2. Why do people drop out of the corporate fitness programs?
  3. What is too much of endurance sports? Does running a marathon, if done right, create more bad than good for the body?
While they may seem like different questions, I'm thinking that the second question plays a lot into the first. And the third question also plays into the other two as correct form, incorrect form and just plain over use can mean the difference if someone becomes injured or not.

Two statistics to leave you with.
  1. It's said that 95% of people starting an exercise program will leave it within the first six months.
  2. Dr. Noakes. "I think the Pose (method of running) is advantageous in preventing injuries, which is important since about 60 percent of runners get injured each year." Christopher says it's 80 percent.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

So Much For Spring

On a day when the legs felt great and the lung capacity started to return, the temperature and humidity arrived. Temperature = 77, humidity = 78% for a total value of 155. Cotton was not the best choice of running shirt this morning.

A runner whose blog I followed for some time mentioned she didn't run after the temp and humidity combined for a value of 125. That's almost every day in Houston. It happens quite often in Austin too and leaves just a small window of opportunity for runs. And when you're judging when to run based on other variables like work schedule and pollution rates, the window is even smaller.

So this morning I chose the heat and humidity even though the combined heat and humidity were 20 points over 125. I knew I was going to sweat and sweat is good if you're prepared for it. It's not good while dressed in a tux, standing in front of hundreds of people singing old Dean Martin songs on stage but that's another story. Whew, just the thought is making tiny droplets form beads on top of my forehead.

The rest of the week is forecasted for good air quality but higher than normal temps (97-98 degrees). It's a good thing I don't run everyday anymore. Swims, indoor cycling and weight workouts don't depend on the weather and that's the remaining workouts for the week until Saturday morning.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Kindle for iPod Touch

The Kindle software for iPod Touch simply works. It's simple, easy to install and has quite a volume of books to choose from. Currently, I'm reading Dr. Weil's Healthy Aging
: A Lifelong Guide to Your Well-Being
and Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace. Curl up with a good book. Nope. Not any more. I'll be curling up with my Touch, thank you very much.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Saturday Mornings On Lady Bird Lake

I just got back from Lady Bird Lake. For the last couple of weeks I had the ice skaters drop me off on their way to a powerskate session. It gave me a good 90 minutes to run around the lake.

I saw Ray Mechler down at the water stop at Mopac and he was finishing a 13-mile run with two more miles to go so we ran together. He told me of his last Boston Marathon. Ray's the director of the Austin Marathon Seton Family of Hospitals medical tent each February.

The pollution was a little elevated today. The legs and lungs felt good today. It felt like I could have gone for longer for the first time in a looooong while.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Link Friday

Forbes: Health Lists & Rankings, America's Fittest Cities

The New York Times: Fitness & Nutrition section: Personal Best: The Road to Success, Paved With Bad Advice

iPhone Development Course - FREE

5 iPhone Development Books You Should Read

Read Infinite Jest over the summer of 2009, June 21st to September 22nd. A thousand pages1 ÷ 92 days = 75 pages a week. No sweat.

The New York Times: End the University as We Know It

Respro City anti-pollution mask

Portable Car Air Purifiers for Auto, Truck, RV or Boat: Always have Clean Air

The New Yorker: The Cost Conundrum, What a Texas town can teach us about health care.