Showing posts with label Born to Run. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Born to Run. Show all posts

Monday, March 09, 2020

Team Tortoise Part IV: Running Iterations

Team Tortoise -  Part I | Part II | Part III | Part IV

Source: Altra Running Shoes












This is the fourth article in a mini-blog series about walking, running, diet and of course, music. Like a streaming TV show, you may want to go back and quickly recap the series from the menu at the top, before proceeding with this latest installment.

In April 2018, I started this team tortoise blog series to motivate myself to achieve three goals.

My 3 BIG GOALS (with no timeline restraints attached)
  1. To slowly lose 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. 
I knew Goal #1 would be the hardest for me as 185 was setting a high mark to get down to. As of this writing- having gotten down to 199, back up to 210, I'm currently settled at 205. My current short term goal is 200. Losing weight and keeping it off is just a damn hard thing to achieve. These last sentences are hard to write, but I stay persistent to accomplish this goal and (mostly) practice what I have written.

Goal #3 is basically a ringer as I knew it would be a no-fail proposition for myself. I do listen to music on most every run where I can simply lose myself and move into a meditation-like state that is active, thoughtful and peaceful. I truly believe music has saved my life and is an important part of my well-being. Music and running, individually or together are free therapy sessions in themselves.

Goal #2 is why this #IV blog is written, because I promised myself to write this article when I achieved- 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.
My greenbelt up and down trail run- elevation starting at 394 ft. up to 509 ft. during Mile 2



Goal #2 actually evolved into two distinct objectives using the greenbelt trail run by my house.

From my RunKeeper App,
I'll explain further down...
1. Run 5 miles in 60 minutes. I accomplished this a couple of months ago after finally getting through a number of calf pulling injury setbacks (originally sustained from a severe knee to ankle calf muscle tear injury ten years ago). Two things have sustained my success in this area - Compression Socks (Amazon), and a deep tissue massage by a professional masseuse at least once a month to prevent future muscle pulls and tears.

2. Run each of the five miles at a 12 minute mile or faster split time pace. This was the much harder objective, just accomplished by me this past week after almost two friggin' years!

 Okay Tortoise Yoda, how did you make your miracle breakthrough in just... TWO short years?- like you're now going to be some social media influencer or something...

An Old Dog with Some New Tricks Through Running Iterations

Iteration is the act of repeating a process, either to generate an unbounded sequence of outcomes, or with the aim of approaching a desired goal, target or result. Each repetition of the process is also called an "iteration", and the results of one iteration are used as the starting point for the next iterationWikipedia

Iterations are not about repeating the same patterns and expecting to get different results. It's about planning-implementing-and evaluating your progress, and then getting back out there to make it better the next time. If I was going to improve my running as I approached my 65th birthday, I would need some reflection and research, specifically on my body mechanics. I would need to go way back to the beginning and think about when I started running regularly at 18 years of age.

We all grew up wearing Converse sneakers. I had the black high tops and also the white/beige low tops which I preferred for running during early adolescence. The model shown here is a Nike remake of the Chuck Taylor All Star shoe of the 1970's. This shoe is commonly referred as a "flat shoe" with a flat insole cushion and flat bottom sole.

The 1972 Nike Cortez
In 1972, Bill Bowerman created "The Cortez" and Nike was born. At some point in 1973-1974 I got a pair and loved them straight out. Again, look at the flat bottom design. A flat bottom shoe is designed as- Most runners should land close to midfoot with their foot parallel to the ground. From Altra Website

Striking at the midfoot is essential, it's where the heel is naturally cushioned from the blunt strike force to the ground, and is closer to how humans run without shoes.

Hoka One One Stinson Running Shoe
Think of running shoes prior to the 1980's as vinyl records, more of an authentic feel.

Most running shoes manufactured today have a widened cushioned curved heel designed to basically force the runner to strike heel first and then roll the foot forward. Sometime in 2018 or early 2019, I purchased my first pair of Hoka Stinson running shoes and thought my feet had landed in the clouds.


In actuality, the extensive cushioning and forced heel strike were creating a strong and painful case of plantar fasciitis in my right heel. By tricking my brain to not feel the ground, my heels were being driven straight into the ground absorbing the force of all my weight.

After relaying this latest injury to my ol' pal Paul Hobbs, he handed me a book that started a series of iterations to change my running technique back to the days of my youth. That book was, Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen by Christopher McDougall. Thank you Paul!

Born to Run blew my mind and fixed perceptions! Chris McDougall basically opened my eyes as my body started to break down age-wise in my 40's through a long succession of buying expensive hi-tech heel striking running shoes. One might could call it, The Low Spark of the High Heeled Boys...

On the left side of my body: I've had constant lower back pain, meniscus knee surgery, and left foot plantar fasciitis surgery, not to mention my 2010 severe calf tear while... wait for it... dancing to Lady Gaga at my step daughter Abby's wedding party. As a musical side note- This past Monday, I took a treadmill heart stress test for my cardiologist (heart attack 2/17/02). When I told the three nurses administering the test how I injured my left calf, they all burst out in gut-belly laughter, and I think I made their day.

Altra Timp 1.5 - My favorite running shoe in memory,
not to mention the cool Seattle Seahawk color scheme
After reading Born to Run, I started researching running technique and finding shoes with a 'zero drop' design that promote a mid-foot strike while running. I found a shoe manufacturer, Altra that makes a wide (Birkenstock) type toe box for my 4EEEE wide feet. In the last 6 months of running, my right heel plantar fasciitis is slowly going away, I have no back pain, and have had only one minor left calf strain.

The following chart is from Altra again, hey maybe I am an influencer... without the pay.

Source, Altra: Improve Your Form

This chart is me in my back-to-the-future running form from the left- 1980's to my current right- striving to recapture the form of that 18 year old running at Waller Park in Santa Maria, CA. In blog Part I of this series, I called myself a Scottish Clydesdale. Now I think of myself as an old thoroughbred (maybe not quite put out to pasture)- a bit worn for wear but still ready to go at a slower pace with a balanced forward posture.

A Couple of Technology Tips

In this past couple of years, I've found a couple of cool product for runners that I highly recommend.

  • The free Smartphone Asics Runner's App - RunKeeper. (I originally used an app call RunTracker, but found the GPS to be rather inconsistent on the same 5 mile course and switched to RunKeeper.

    In the RunKeeper settings, I get audio feedback every 1/4 mile for: Distance, Average Pace, Average Speed, and most important, Split Speed. The Split Speed reading every 1/4 mile keeps me sharp and kicks my ass in gear. I hate to admit it, but this app works like a musical metronome to keep me in time. Here is the download page for iPhone and Android.

  • Bone Collection (Run Tie) Running Armband Phone Holder, Lightweight Sports Cell Phone Armband for iPhone and Android. I've tried a couple of brands that keep slipping down my arm once I start sweating, but this product has the best armband on the market and simply does not slip. It's $25 but well worth it!


Two More Books from Christopher McDougall


I highly recommend you read Born to Run as mentioned above, then proceed to his second book, Natural Born Heroes: Mastering the Lost Secrets of Strength and Endurance. If you love World War II stories, this is a real page turner mixed with Chris' runner spirit DNA for great storytelling.

Then read, Running with Sherman: the donkey with the heart of a hero, an absolutely heartwarming story of a rescue donkey to complete this runner's trilogy.

Christopher McDougall in addition to being a fantastic storyteller is also a wonderful person. I got a chance to see, listen and meet him at an October, 2019 book reading and overview backstory of Running with Sherman in San Diego.

me with Christopher McDougall at his
Running with Sherman book signing in San Diego.
He signed my copy - "To Doug and Team Tortoise, Run Wild!"

Now for the Playlist this week

Over the past couple of years, I've added a bunch of videos to my Born to Run Playlist created with mostly upbeat songs to keep you rocking on that walk or run. Enjoy my friends!



Monday, April 30, 2018

Team Tortoise Part I: Born to Run

Team Tortoise -  Part I | Part II | Part III | Part IV


"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 lose 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.