Apr 25

Get outside and run!

We all need to get outside and run! 🙂

On average, Americans spend 91 percent of their time indoors or in a vehicle. Just 7 to 8 percent of their time is spent outside. These were the findings of The National Human Activity Pattern Survey (NHAPS) which measures variation in human exposure to pollutants.

The findings do not bode well for Americans’ health because levels of pollution indoors are a lot higher than those outside and can cause serious health issues. They also are notable because researchers believe being outside has positive health effects:

“Research published in the Journal of Aging Health shows that getting outside on a daily basis may help older people stay healthy and functioning longer. Participants in the study who spent time outdoors every day at age 70 showed fewer complaints of aching bones or sleep problems, among other health-related problems, at age 77 than those who did not head outside each day.”

Being outside is thought to have benefits for people of all ages. These may include:

Greater optimism
Enhanced mental health
Improved attention spans
Stronger immune systems

getoutandrun

Jan 19

4 Steps to Running thru Adversity (and Life)

It was just above freezing, the rain was coming down and the wind was whipping the few remaining tree leaves through the streets. Despite this less-than-ideal weather, for nearly an hour I was out running in my shorts and t-shirt. An acquaintance who drove by me that day later asked, “Aren’t you cold?”

Honestly, I was. Or I had been. Until I decided I wasn’t going to focus on the cold anymore. It got me thinking about what happened on that run and how it was a template for adversity I may face in my life. Pretty simply, it was four steps I had gone through in those cold, rainy miles.

  1. Acknowledge it. Yes I’m cold. There’s no point in lying to myself about it. But what if tomorrow I’m too hot? What if in Mile 19 of the marathon my stomach hurts? Or I get a blister? Or I just want to quit? What if I’m not able to maintain the pace I had trained so hard and long for? There are countless things that can go wrong over 26.2 miles. And there are just as many things that can (and probably will) hurt. Perhaps some will try to block everything out, grit their teeth, let out a primal scream and continue on. Fine. But there are other ways to deal with adversity.
  2. Embrace it. Rather than pout or shrink, embrace this obstacle and recognize it as a learning, growing or strengthening experience. Yes, it’s cold. And I’m cold. But is it hurting me? (No). Am I still running? (Yes). Can I continue? (Yes). If this is the case, then why not turn what was initially thought of as adversity into motivation. Heck yeah it’s cold– but I’m out here anyway, putting in the miles, putting in the time, putting in the effort, working towards my goal. And nothing will get in my way of that. Certainly not being wet and cold for a bit.
  3. Push through it. At some point, I no longer felt the cold or the rain or the wind. I had already acknowledged it and decided it wasn’t going to affect me and now it was time to move forward. Emboldened, my pace quickened. I laughed as a semi-truck passed me (going the opposite direction) and a wall of wind and water spray barrelled into me as I ran on the sidewalk. I was not going to be beaten or slowed by the elements.
  4. Be better for it. I finished my run and I felt great. It was just one run and only a few miles in a long process, but a lesson was learned. Limits were pushed back just a bit more. Confidence increased.

These lessons are no different for trials or obstacles in our lives. We can choose to lie to ourselves and try to bury our feelings of disappointment, struggle, and pain. Or we can acknowledge that there is adversity of some kind in front of us — whether it has been self-imposed or not it makes no difference — and begin the process of overcoming it.

By embracing what we are going through we stop looking to the past and begin looking to the future. We can’t change the past but we can choose to become better and stronger because of it. Is it keeping us down or are we choosing to let it keep us down?  What are we going to do to get up off the mat, put one foot in front of the other and start moving again?

Ultimately, as we push forward we begin to learn things about ourselves that can and should convince us that we are strong and that we can choose how we will respond to adversity. Bolstered by this blossoming confidence and with continued effort we will, at some point, be able to look back at the person we were and the trials we faced. It is then that we will see how far we’ve come and that we know how to handle future obstacles on our journey.

Jan 13

Post 100 miler Thoughts – Running Without a Goal

I haven’t blogged since I completed my first 100 mile ultramarathon in October. I found myself in an interesting position. I had accomplished something I had set my sights on a long time ago. It took me years and lots of work to achieve it. Now I’m left wondering what’s next. I don’t have a running goal. I feel like I’ve always had a goal in running.

I still want to run forever.

“I’ll be happy if running and I can grow old together.”

― Haruki Murakami, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running

I’ve had some great runs since the 100 miler. I’ve attached a few pics from my runs. I had fun exploring and taking photos.

Leaping Through a Slot Canyon Sunrise at Lone Mountain Calico Hills at Red Rock Canyon

More of my photos can be found on my Instagram.

I did the Ragnar Relay in Las Vegas with some friends. I had some great paces on those runs. This was a good event at the time because, as a non-competitive team, there’s no pressure for a time goal. Just do your best and have fun as a team. This was a good sign because I was still uncertain how my recovery from the 100 miler was going.

Start of RagnarSunrise at Leg FinishRace in Progress

Later that month, I ran the 30k at Desert Dash’s Trails of Glory. I considered the marathon. I’ve run the marathon before and wrote about it in a previous race report. I wanted to run the marathon. But, I just didn’t think my body was recovered enough for it. So, I ran the 30k. AND, I ended up winning the 30k!! That was a great experience and a lot of fun to podium. My friends teased me a bit because I had voiced my concerns about lack of recovery from the 100 miler before the race. Still, when I finished the 30k, I had nothing left. I knew I made the right choice in not doing the marathon that particular day. Desert Dash’s race experience was top notch, as usual.

PodiumAwardDucky

A little over a month later, I ran a 50k, which I’ll go into more detail in another post (with less delay between posts).

Surprisingly, I’m enjoying running without having any particular goal I’m driving towards. I’m enjoying some nice runs and races.

Scott Jurek put it well:

“The longer and farther I ran, the more I realized that what I was often chasing was a state of mind–a place where worries that seemed monumental melted away, where the beauty and timelessness of the universe, of the present moment, came into sharp focus.”

― Scott Jurek, Eat and Run: My Unlikely Journey to Ultramarathon Greatness

May 29

Book Review: Natural Born Heroes by Christopher McDougall

Natural Born Heroes

 

My Review of “Natural Born Heroes: How a Daring Band of Misfits Mastered the Lost Secrets of Strength and Endurance” by Christopher McDougall

I really enjoyed Christopher McDougall’s “Born to Run.” Although I didn’t eschew my shoes and take up barefoot running, I appreciated the story telling and anecdotes. It was a page-turner that pulled me in and kept my attention in the world of running and ultra-running.

I was excited for his newest book, “Natural Born Heroes.” The title intrigued me and I purchased the book right away. Unfortunately, the book didn’t live up to my expectations. Perhaps my expectations were too high. Still, it wasn’t quite the page-turner that “Born to Run” was to me. Don’t get me wrong. “Natural Born Heroes” has some great stories and is still worth reading.

The issue I have with “Natural Born Heroes” is that it didn’t quite gel together. The author has interesting pieces on the nature of Greek heroes. I particularly liked the discussion on the emphasis of all around skills and being a protector. Everyday people can become heroes by being physically and mentally prepared when the situation arises. There is a particular touching story about Norina Bentzel, a teacher, protecting the children at her school.

There is some brief discussion on the usage of fascia. I’m skeptical about his claims regarding fascia. I never felt like this was fully explored in the book. I’m a bit skeptical on the author’s discussion of which martial art is the most effective. There will be so many different opinions depending on who you ask.

There are interesting pieces on the Natural Method and parkour. The origin of the Natural Method is fascinating. I particularly enjoyed the mantra of training to “be useful.” I found the connection to modern day obstacle course racing (OCR) to be intriguing. The discussion of the business of gyms being built on people ‘not going’ is something I whole-heartedly agree with along with the transition into the modern day “work outs” focused on physique versus usefulness. He also touches on CrossFit.

The story of the ‘daring band of misfits’ from WW2 on Crete is also fantastic. This was a story I hadn’t heard before. It was so daring and fascinating. It was such an amazing feat in the face of great danger. It would make a great movie. I really don’t want to go into too many details at the risk of sharing spoilers.

In addition to these topics, Christopher McDougall discusses the Maffetone Method of fat-as-fuel. He also goes into the overconsumption of carbohydrates and the paleo diet. I predict a large number of endurance athletes will begin toying with the Maffetone Method because of this book.

The author goes about tying this all together. They seem to be connected but it just doesn’t feel complete and is a bit forced. Perhaps this book tries to combine too much. Throughout the book, it felt like there was this big secret the author was going to share. It felt like this secret was teased and strung the reader along. In the end, it didn’t feel like a big reveal.

The author wasn’t overly technical when discussing some of the various ideas. I believe this was for the more casual reader. I would have preferred a more technical approach. I suppose those looking for more will delve into these various topics on their own.

In the afterword, Christopher McDougall says he was working on two separate books and felt like they were connected. However, as I read, I felt like the book kept bouncing around to all these different ideas and they never seem to come together throughout the book in a satisfying way. In the end, the author does go about bringing them together and I’m a bit skeptical about how they coalesced in the end.