Monday, April 30, 2018

Team Tortoise Part I: Born to Run


"Slow but steady wins the race." 
The Hare and the Tortoise

This mini-blog series on running, diet and music may be more of interest to someone 40 years and older, but for those a bit younger, take note as the years do seem to fly by.

Looking Back
In 1973, I graduated from High School and then attended Alan Hancock Jr. College in the Fall of that year. I can't remember if it was either the Fall or Spring semester, but my good buddy Paul Hobbs and I registered for a cross-country running PE class. The class was great, Coach Kring took roll while we stretched and then we hit the streets and ran for about an hour. I was 18 years old and immediately liked the routine, so much so, that I have basically been doing variations of that hour running routine ever since.

When I say, "running" well that's an action word that I'm going to examine today and categorize "speeds" akin to the gears on a bike. In the 45 years since I started running as an activity, I'm NOT what you'd call, "a natural born runner." If we were talking horses, I'm a Scottish Clydesdale, kind of with a square block farm body but with a "born to run" attitude. I was never going to be that lean, long-legged runner with a kick and over the years, I kind of identified with the Aesop Fable, The Hare and the Tortoise.  The fable heralds the slow and steady pace of the tortoise who eventually wins the race against the overconfident hare who takes a nap during the contest.


In the late 90's, I came up with the concept of "Team Tortoise" and eventually created a web site www.teamtortoise.org and some graphics for t-shirts to share with others in the spirit of being the slow and steady runners at public running events or solitary runs on a country road. When I was a younger tortoise/turtle I probably averaged a 10 minute mile pace at my very best. I mostly ran by myself but had several regular running partners over the years (Paul Hobbs, Bill DeVoe, Mark Hunter, Bob Morris, and my daughter Katie). I've run in 10K's, a dozen or so half-marathon's and one marathon.

Over the years, that pace gradually slowed to a 15-16 minute mile and last November my weight hit a new high and a very low point for me at 215 pounds. I was still running or should say, "sloooow joooogging," but my weight in combination with my diet and exercise was summed up in a term that came to me during one of those 16+ minute mile runs, "a slog." On one memorable slog, I actually had a guy pass me on the sidewalk, he was walking faster.

In looking back, my college roommate (health science major) and life-long friend, Mark Hunter often said in our conversations, "Health is a lifestyle." I still hear those words today in my head, and I still want to live those words.

Moving Forward - Setting Goals
So last November, I decided to set some new goals for myself. One goal being that I would write this mini-blog series (along with some "running themed" music) not only to help myself, but maybe to also motivate anyone on the on-going journey to being healthy and fit. So please take this series as simply some "tips and tricks" in my own journey that may help you on yours. At 63, I'm still learning new things to help with my diet and running lifestyle, and it's a good time to share some things that I have learned on the way.

My 3 BIG GOALS  (with no timeline restraints attached)
  1. To slowly loose 30 pounds (from 215 to 185), and keep it steady at 185 for the foreseeable future
  2. To run a 12 minute mile for 5 miles (12x5= 60 minutes), and keep that as my new pace and distance for the foreseeable future 
  3. To listen to new and old music while running to inspire my writing for Monday Monday Music blogs
One of my sub-goals is that when I averaged a 13 minute mile for 5 miles for at least a month, I would right this first blog as motivation to myself. I'm writing this first draft on Saturday, April 28th as today I ran and averaged a 12:36 mile pace for 5 miles. Today was a big day as I also weighed in at 199.4 and hit my halfway weight goal on the same day!

The Team Tortoise "Born to Slun" Chart
My professional life as an educator often involved my passion to organize stuff. So when I started my new running goals, I wanted to develop a "no judgement" continuum from walking to running that could be applied to most ambulatory people. As I get older, my lifetime goal will be to always walk until I die. 

Walking
In humans and other bipeds, walking is generally distinguished from running in that only one foot at a time leaves contact with the ground and there is a period of double-support. In contrast, running begins when both feet are off the ground with each step. Wikipedia

Independent walking speed of course depends on your height, weight and gait but is commonly clocked for most humans at around 3 miles per hour (mph). Here is a little continuum that moves from right to left as we age or have an injury or medical condition. The continuum here reflects the typical aging process, but it can move both ways depending on your situation. Not that it needs to be said but, walking as an activity is one of the most important things in maintaining an independent life.

Walking with a walker << Walking with a cane << Slow Walking (below 3.0 mph)
<< Walking (3.0 mph) << Walking Faster

Slogging 
Slogging is my blended term that means "slow jogging" and shouldn't be taken as a derogatory term.  For me, it starts around 3.1 mph and moves up several tenths of a mile. The distinction between "walking faster" and slogging can be minimal as I noted above with the walking guy passing me. Here, I'm emphasizing that one does not just want to walk faster but wants to begin to run again by getting both feet off the ground.

Slogging = somewhere between 3.1 mph - 3.5 mph for us Team Tortoise types.

from Running Speed Pace Chart Conversion
Jogging
Jogging is defined in Wikipedia as running at a "slow or leisurely pace" under 6 mph. From the Team Tortoise perspective, I'm going to redefine that at under the 5 mph and a wonderful lifestyle pace of exercise.

Slunning
Slunning is my blended term that means "slow running" starting at the 5 mph pace and peaking at the 6 mph pace. If you identify as Team Tortoise, this is your holy grail, your little engine that could in PR (personal record) territory. My personal goal is to be a slunner (again),  to "get back to where [I] you once belonged" or, "Ah, but I was so much older then I'm younger than that now.

The Team Tortoise motto - Slunning is running!

Running 
Running is traditionally defined at starting at the 6 mph pace. And yes if this is you, well good for you, you are officially a Hare. Being a Hare, this article is not necessary for you, but I'm happy for you. Please continue reading and I apologize for my jealousy (as you are probably lean and can just eat carbs all day long, you're whole life, that's... awesome).

The Chart - moving in either direction (no judgement, just get out there and get moving)

Slow Walking | Walking | Walking Faster | Slogging | Jogging | Slunning | Running

Goal #1 - Pick where you're currently at on the chart and make your first aerobic exercise goal - to move to the right at least one step. For me, sometime in November, 2017 on my bathroom scale, I said to self, "I'm going to go from slogging to jogging to slunning."

This week's playlist is only one song and the theme for this series (even if it's a car metaphor), and purposely chosen as "the slow version."

Next week in Team Tortoise Part II: Getting in Tune, I'll suggest some walking and running ideas for turning on your humming engine and just getting out there, everyday.


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