Monday, May 7, 2018

Team Tortoise Part II: Getting in Tune

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I'm singing this song
Cos it fits in well with the way I'm feeling
There's a symphony that I hear in your heart
Sets my head a reeling
I'm in tune
Right in tune
I'm in tune

This is the second article in a mini-blog series about running, diet and music. If you haven't read the first piece, Team Tortoise Part I: Born to Run start there and then return here.

The Who is one of my favorite bands of all time and their Getting in Tune was a perfect title that fits in well with the blog I'm writing. This week I want to continue my jogging journey by providing some tips and tricks that got me right in tune with an exercise routine that is currently changing my life in such a positive way.

For me, "Getting in Tune" is eating smart and running with a positive mindset coupled with a strategy to meet or exceed my goals over a period of time. (I'll write about eating smart as opposed to "dieting" in my third installment, Team Tortoise Part III: Carry That Weight, next week.)

Last week, I presented "The Chart" continuum from walking to running.

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

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

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 - I said I'm going from slogging (slow jogging) to jogging to slunning (slow running).

Now for some suggestions on running.

Suggestion #1 - Where to run?
  1. Ideally, pick a place that you can walk (warm up) from your front door. Why? Because who has the time in this busy world? Convenience and Routine in exercise is your 1-2 punch for NO EXCUSES not to exercise.

    If the following suggestions don't work for your home location, then get in you car and go to that place or places that meet some of the criteria below.

  2. If you are are 40 years +, find places to run with either dirt and/or grass as the majority surfaces for your runs. Your feet, ankles, knees, hip, back and neck need as much natural shock absorption as possible. Take it from a guy with meniscus knee surgery, plantar fasciitis surgery and torn tendons from his left ankle to knee (from a wedding dancing accident). Running only on concrete and asphalt will eventually end your running life before you want to it to end. Here's my 2016 blog on the subject, Running Surfaces and the Road Less Traveled.

  3. If possible, find a running location that includes hill work. Better yet, a steady progressive incline for at least a quarter mile to half mile. I don't recommend a long steep hill especially on the downside because of the pounding to your joints. From my experience, almost all of my muscle pulls have occurred while running down a steep hill or decline.

    A variety of up and down provides the spice of life to your running routine. Your body and mind need to be challenged- to use your body's gears to go up, down and flat out.
Suggestion #2 - How long and far to run?
  1. Run no more than 60 minutes every other day. There is a body of research to back this up, but more than anything, it's just common sense in diminishing returns with age, muscle tissue micro tears, tears, and recovery time. Personally, I'm not an IronMan, nor want to be. I almost killed my body and spirit running a marathon and then discovered half-marathons were causing me injury and setback. Less is more grasshopper.

  2. Run no more than 5 miles. If you are training for a 10K (6.2 miles) then bump it up to 6 miles at the most for a short period of time. for the average person, less running = running for the long run of life. Remember, you're a tortoise that typically lives a long life. Also, refer back to the Running Speed and Pace Chart Conversion in Part I (I cut the original off at 5 miles). And in the wisdom of Dirty Harry, "A man's got to know his limitations." –Harry Callahan

  3. Injury Prevention with Compression Socks/Pants and Stretching. As mentioned above, I have a body disposition for muscle strain and tear. Someone in my travels suggested compression socks for running. I first started with the leg sleeves from the knee down to the ankle and then purchased compression shorts for hotter days and long compression pants for colder days. Compression pants combined with good hydration and eating a banana (for potassium) a half-hour or hour before I run, has helped me tremendously from my calf and thigh muscle pulls.

    Speaking of gear, I wear my compression pants as underwear and a pair of running shorts on top of that. Make sure you buy some running shorts with at least one zipper pocket for your car license and/or car key or house key. I'm a freak worrying if my house key is going to fall out of my pocket while running, so the zipper is a little piece of mind. And speaking of staying calm, I read in Runner Magazine many years ago, that peppermint, calms the body while running. I always bring 3-4 Altoids® in one of my pockets on a run and find more than anything that an Altoid keeps my mouth moist and I don't get a dry mouth while running.

    STRETCH no matter what your age, before you walk and/or run for at least 10 minutes - DO IT and make it a top priority. In my stretching routine, I also use two pair of 10 pound bar bells and incorporate that in my daily morning stretching in the house. I do the free weights everyday probably for a total of 2 minutes but it's amazing how this helps with your upper body and strengthens the lower back.
Suggestion #3 - Walk everyday as an exercise activity
  1. Even if you are on a running day, try to walk at least a quarter mile to help stretch and warm your legs, but more importantly, get your mind primed to begin to free itself. Mary Kit and I walk everyday together for at least 30 minutes. It moves our conversations outdoors and we appreciate each other and the world around us a little more. For walking, mixing up your locations is a wonderful thing, discover your city and region.

  2. Counting steps at work or around the house with a counter strapped to you is just gathering artificial data that doesn't change your life. Get OUTSIDE and walk as an activity unto itself. Life is better outside. Okay with that said, I live in San Diego and someone in a colder wetter climate might be saying FU (forget you) right now. Okay for bad weather days, get a treadmill, with a view. 
Suggestion #4 - Run outside with your smartphone
  1.  Rule one is always safety. A smartphone either on the street or the trail may save your life or someone you encounter out there. Stuff happens. I once saw a runner get hit by a car in a cross walk on a busy street and ten people instantly were on their cell phones calling 911. (Yes, several others were also attending to the individual on the ground.)

  2. Experiment and find out if you want to carry your phone in a running hip pack or side armband. I like a side armband and it opened up my world for using my phone as an active part of my running.

  3. I'm going to talk about music, but before I do, I would highly suggest you NOT wear earbuds while running either on a trail, backroad or the streets. On the streets, you need to HEAR THE CARS at all times. On the trail or off road, you need to hear other people or dogs coming from behind. Be smart, be safe. Now if you are running at a park with lots of people around you, I could understand the use of earbuds, but even still, I would use only one side. I've been hit by a car in a crosswalk on my bike at 12, and bitten by a dog at a park while running (a couple of years ago).

  4. For audio while running, I put my phone upside down in the armband sleeve so that the phone's speaker is pointing up and about 12 inches from my right ear. I can hear the music perfectly, and I can also pause my music app if others are approaching me to give them their space. More importantly, I can hear and be in tune to all the other activity happening in my surroundings.

  5.  I also started using a walking/running tracker app to monitor my pace and distance. I use an app called Run Tracker. Here it is for Android and iPhone. Run Tracker is free (with a pro version available). I use it to monitor my time, distance and average pace per mile. It has a number of simple and easy to use settings. I get audio feedback that I set a every quarter mile and get my split times for every mile. It will save your run history and you can look back to see you're progress. This app has simply been a game changer for me, it gently kicks my ass or rewards me every quarter mile and it has made a difference in helping me reach one of my big goals - 5 miles at a 12 minute pace for one hour. Hope to drop the mic on that goal by summer!
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If you read the first blog in this series, I started it by talking about my experience in signing up for a jogging class in Community College with my friend, Paul Hobbs. This past Saturday, I was in Santa Maria, met Paul and we drove up a little north for a run on the beach at Oceano, CA. After Forty-five years, we're still pickin' them up and putting them down together-
"slow and steady for the long run." Life is good with friends like Paul.

Okay, next week in Team Tortoise Part III: Carry That Weight, I'll cover the most important area, one's (my) eating habits and a plan (lifestyle) to NEVER DIET AGAIN.

In the meantime, this is a music blog after all, so here is my Born to Run playlist to inspire you while...running of course. Yes, download the YouTube app (iPhone or Android) on your phone and subscribe to my playlists starting with this one. Send me any suggestions for running or eating-themed songs and I will add to this list for next week. Happy walking or running my friends!

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