Ruminations on an addiction

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ad·dic·tion –noun

the state of being enslaved to a habit or practice or to something that is psychologically or physically habit-forming, as narcotics, to such an extent that its cessation causes severe trauma.  (Dictionary.com Unabridged, Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2011.)

Let’s see how that applies to a certain activity: cycling. Continue reading “Ruminations on an addiction”

Being safe outdoors

Good idea, not always possible. For active people on two wheels or four, on snow or water, hiking, hunting or whatever — something or somebody can whack you. I have been lucky in around a quarter-million miles on a motorcycle and now closing in on 1000 miles on a bicycle (plus skiing, hiking, kayaking) — often alone — to not have been hurt along the way.

My friend John Chalmers was wearing a RoadID  the other day when we rode together — an item about which I had thought before — and that spurred me to get one. Not expensive and it makes medical and contact info immediately available to first responders. I plan to wear mine 24/7 as soon as it comes in the mail. If you are active, think about it. Click the logo for more info.

What do ya want me to do? Die of old age?

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— Hub, Robert Duvall‘s character in Secondhand Lions.  And thus on New Year’s Eve, 2010, a tale begins, not in a galaxy far, far away, but on a mountain top near you.  Well, actually on a bunch of mountain tops.  My cycling buddy (and high school classmate from eons ago), Don Bynum, and I had talked of several possible “geezer rides of epic proportion” — let that idea soak in and make of it as you will. Continue reading “What do ya want me to do? Die of old age?”

Using SportTracks program for exercise analysis

SportTracks by Zonefive software is a very interesting program. I use it with my Garmin Forerunner 305 (FR) sport watch and my Garmin Oregon 400t handheld GPS (as a backup). The FR comes with a nice program for downloading exercise/training logs (Garmin Training Center) but SportTracks (ST) is far more detailed and flexible. Does it help you in your exercise regimen? I think so. Whether you are exercising to lose weight, to just tone up a bit, or to get ready to run competitive races it gives you useful data. Continue reading “Using SportTracks program for exercise analysis”

My 100 mile run

At last! The Couch-to-5k program was the beginning. I got off the couch and completed the 9-week program at which point I could run the 3 miles.  Wanting additional guidance and inspiration, I designed an additional running schedule for 16 weeks of training using the Runner’s World Smart Coach. But that was too slow and I happened to be reading Born to Run(1) which is about ultrarunners who run 100+ mile races, which I found to be quite inspirational (while clearly demonstrating the ability of the human to run like that); therefore, being convinced that I could run like that, I set out to do so.

After all, I had basically taught myself to ride enduro bikes and later to snow ski by visualizing and mentally rehearsing the activity. So after reading Born to Run and visualizing every step, I knew I was ready. So away I went.

Well, visualizing worked for four miles and that was fine because I had to be in court by 8:30  🙂

But I did the four miles at the same pace that last Friday I had done three miles (11:45 min./mile) and only had to pause to walk very briefly three times. Total of 6.04 miles with the warmup and return home later, with 789 calories burned. Fastest pace was 10 min/mile and the heartrate was avg/max of 145/170 for the 3-mile segment.

(1) Christopher McDougall, Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen (Knopf, 2009. ISBN 0307266303)

Let’s all go run barefoot

While reading “Born to run …” I am mindful that the author, McDougall, is also a leading proponent of barefoot running, which the Tarahumara do quite successfully. When I started running again with my Couch-to-5k program everyone chimed in with “be sure you get a good (read: expensive) running shoe.” As I am prone to do I then researched shoes a lot, talking to several runners whom I respected, and found a shoe that did just what I thought I required: good cushioning. The following statement in “Born to run …” places that notion in grave doubt:

Before the invention of a cushioned shoe, runners through the ages had identical form: Jesse Owens, Roger Bannister, Frank Shorter, and even Emil Zatopek all ran with backs straight, knees bent, feet scratching back under their hips. They had no choice: the only shock absorption came from the compression of their legs and their thick pad of midfoot fat. Fred Wilt verified as much in 1959 in his classic track text, How They Train, which detailed the techniques of more than eighty of the world’s top runners. “The forward foot moves toward the track in a downward, backward, ‘stroking’ motion (not punching or pounding) and the outer edge of the ball of the foot makes first contact with the track,” Wilt writes. “Running progression results from these forces pushing behind the center of gravity of the body. …

From Christopher McDougall, Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen (Knopf, 2009. ISBN 0307266303). In chapter 25 of the book McDougall makes a strong case for getting out of cushiony, structured shoes. The quoted material above has names of famous runners who’ve been familiar to me all my life. The barefoot idea seems so simple, and now so obvious.

I think I see a pair of FiveFingers KSO Trek “non-shoes” in my future.

The FiveFingers KSO Trek

Descriptive writing

Descriptive writing is wonderful. For example:

You didn’t even have to hear Barefoot Ted to appreciate his cocktail shaker of a mind; just seeing him was enough. His outfit was a combination of Tibetan Warrior Monk and skateboard chic: denim kickboxing pants with a drawstring waist, a skintight white tank top, Japanese bathhouse slippers, a brass skeleton amulet dangling to the middle of his chest, and a red bandanna knotted around his neck. With his shaved head, cinder-block build, and dark eyes that danced around seeking attention as much as his voice, he looked like Uncle Fester in good fighting trim.

From Christopher McDougall, Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen (Knopf, 2009. ISBN 0307266303), describing an ultrarunner whom some might call simply “eccentric.” That is but one sampling of McDougall’s vivid style while telling the amazing story of not only the Tarahumara indians of Mexico’s Copper Canyon, but of “ultrarunners” who think a marathon is a warmup run. It’s available from Amazon, including an eReader version. You don’t have to be a runner to enjoy the story. The tale is much more one of humanity than of simply running.

Yes, You Were Born to Run

Millions of years of genetic mutation and adaptation have produced a singular animal whose body, mind, and spirit are primed to sprint as if life depended on it. That animal is you. So why are you just standing there?

via Yes, You Were Born to Run : Run For Weight Loss : MensHealth.com.  I love this notion, and this article, because I’ve wondered why I’ve had this persistent (many years worth) desire to run although I’ve never managed before to run seriously except for one stint in my 30’s. Why have I kept coming back to it?

A few more snippets that will whet your appetite to read the full article, which you need to do.

Why do 11 percent of Americans and tens of millions of people around the world tie on running shoes and clock their weekly miles? The three most recent presidents of the United States have put in time as runners (and earlier this year, one candidate, Mike Huckabee, trained for the Boston Marathon while campaigning for the U.S. presidency).

Early humans didn’t have fire to cook meat and release its nutrients until 250,000 years ago. They didn’t have the bow and arrow until 20,000 years ago. “But we know that people have been hunting for 2 million years. The best weapon they had available to them was a sharpened wooden stick. I’m not exaggerating. How the hell are you going to kill an animal with a sharp wooden stick? It’s incredibly dangerous. You have to move close to the animal, which means the animal can kick you or gore you.”

And the alternative? Simply run the animal for 5 or 10 miles until it’s dying of heatstroke, and then knock it over with a feather. “That’s it. It’s amazing. It’s so easy.”

And thus, after finishing the couch-to-5k program I created another plan using the Runner’s World Smart Coach. It’s another 5k training program but 16 weeks long and culminating in 10 mile runs on the 3rd day of the weekly training cycle. Here it is: Smart Coach 16 wk 5k plan.