Showing posts with label Team Tortoise. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Team Tortoise. Show all posts

Monday, March 22, 2021

#BestSongIHeardToday • Volume III

 Volume I • II • III • IV  • V • VI • VII • VIII • Team Tortoise Blogs

The #BestSongIHeardToday series is often centered around hearing great songs while exercising. These posts will tend to drift into health related topics but will always come back to the music that brought you here. This particular series is probably more about a self journal to help me stay on the path of healthy living that includes, listening to old and new tunes. If you're looking for a great mix playlist of 25-30 songs, just click on one of my Volumes above.

Man's Got To Know His Limitations. –Dirty Harry



2nd Edition @ Amazon Books
Pain is a signal that something is wrong. If it is mild and disappears quickly it's probably nothing to worry about. However, if the pain is severe, or persists for over a week, your body is trying to tell you something. Take it seriously! Catching an injury early always makes it easier to take care of. There are many people who fail to listen to their body's early warning signals, and as a result they have compounded their injuries, crippling themselves with unnecessary pain for months and even years. –Dr. Ben E. Benjamin, Ph.D 

My good friend Mark Hunter turned me on to the book, Listen to Your Pain many years ago during its first edition back in the 80's. It's a great reference book for every household. 

Mark has in fact given me two life-long mantra's to work with. First, as roommates in college with his enduring, "Health is a lifestyle." Living with Mark in the mid-1970's, I felt that I had earned a minor in Health Science in our countless conversations in the dorm and then living together in a couple of different apartments. The second, is right here in the book title and is my runner's manta, "Listen to Your Pain." Now I haven't always been a good listener, but I think I'm finally getting this running thing down since I started a 'running the streets' PE class in what used to be called, "Junior College" back in the fall of 1973 (with friend Paul Hobbs).

That PE class in fact provided a blueprint for maintaining a healthy life-long habit as Paul and I have both been consistently running now for 48 years. We've both had our share of injuries over the years, but nothing to stop us permanently, yet. 

Now for me, I've always set some personal goal in relation to distance and speed, that upon recent reflection, has me uttering Dirty Harry's line. You see, the mortal process of degeneration has taken me from a runner to now a slogger (slow jogger)

So many parts, so much gravity. Source - Web MD

My goal for the past three years or so, was to run 5 miles and average 5.0 miles per hour for one hour (a 12 minute mile). Starting last year, this goal has in fact resulted in typically a calf or knee injury for me every three to four months. Man's got to know...

Recently, I felt a slight pain in my right knee, that wasn't going away. I listened to my body, stopped running and only walked. It took FIVE weeks for the total discomfort to go away. After the first three weeks, I finally woke up to my slow brain saying, "Why aren't you icing your knee dumb ass!" So, I began icing twice a day, and like Trump off Twitter, that nagging pain simply disappeared after a couple of weeks. 

I then started slogging again, but this time at 4.0 mph for 4 miles. This past couple of weeks I'm averaging between 4.2 - 4.5 mph for 5 miles. I've found that my sixty-five year old body is now humming at a natural rhythm at 4.33 mph and I'm feeling great with no mental stress to push my body beyond the reach of my reality. In fact my new goal is NOT to run faster than 4.5 mph for 5 miles. The hare is dead, long live Team Tortoise!

A lot of people don't understand why runners run. I don't have a pat answer. For me, I do some of my best thinking while running alone on the trail. I hear terrific new and old songs. It helps me battle the weekly fight against weight gain since my late 30's. Probably the best answer is Mark in my head, "Health is a lifestyle, dumb ass!"

Here's several suggestions for walking or running with your life's pair of wheels.

Cloth Ice Pack Wrap with Velcro Strap

I ice my knees at least once a day for a half hour in my recliner.
There is no silver bullet, but there is ice.
Meanwhile, enjoying the Bob Dylan doc, No Direction Home

Glucosamine Chondroitin Msm + Hyaluronic Acid

This is the kitchen sink of the four main joint support supplements on the market, all in one capsule. I take two of these twice a day with a meal, everyday. It takes about two-three weeks to start working in you system and quietly works in the background. If I stop taking my joint support supplement for a week or two, my knees mysteriously start to bark at me!

Enjoy my friends, stay well,
ice if you need to, and mask-up out there!

Oh and speaking of masks, if you wear glasses of any kind, I have ditched the anti-fog spray as my daughter Shawna has turned me on to reusable dry anti-fog cloth. Here is my current suggestion.


Now on to the music
Here's a selection of 25 #BestSongsiHeardToday that took longer to assemble this go around, but now I'm back bouncing to these beats and have started a Volume IV.

Monday, May 11, 2020

Outdoor Exercise In The Time Of Coronavirus: Who was that masked man?

Holy Bat-Distancing Catwoman
Four weeks ago,
Mary Kit and I started wearing masks. Oh no not that kind... maybe you thought the former Kindergarten and Pre-School teachers had finally lost it at our #StayatHome... maybe a little too much dramatic play?

No, I'm actually talking about the handmade cloth pandemic face masks people have been crafting at home. We started wearing them while at the grocery store and noticed that several young people avoided making eye contact in the aisles and several older people looked at us with a visible look of distain.

This past week everybody had an assortment of face masks on in the store.

My favorite is the, "Ma'am I'm not robbing a bank bandana, I'm just here for the Noosa yogurt."

Three weeks ago,
Mary Kit and I started wearing our masks on our morning walk together, and me on my run in our urban neighborhood. Only the older people were wearing masks, and no runners or bicyclists had a mask on.

On May 1st,
All San Diego County residents are now required to wear a cloth face mask while out in public. On our walk now we see about 1/2 of the public are following this new requirement. Again, older folks are leading by example, not to mention the fact that many in this age group may have a compromised immune system. We have also observed more women wearing masks at about a 2:1 ratio over men.

Most annoying, is my own running and biking brother and sisters continuing NOT to mask up!
I bruise you
You bruise me
We both bruise too easily
Too easily to let it show
I love you and that's all I know

The lyrics above are from the Jimmy Webb song, All I Know (video link), a big hit for Art Garfunkel in 1973. The song came on my phone music app while on a run last week. On that run, I made a parody of that song in my head while passing mostly people without masks.
I mask for you
will you mask for me
we all mask so individually
so individually please let it show
I run on with my sweaty glow

Kit's Crafts "Go Hawks"
You don't need a TV shrink or pundit telling you to get outdoors these days. Its simple common sense, we all need to get outdoors, breathe fresh air and exercise for our mental and physical well-being, all the while social distancing.

Wearing a mask is such a drag, and that's something 100% of us can probably agree on. Now if you are a runner or bicyclist, it's beyond a drag, it's a hyperventilation mini sweatbox!

My mask in 'ready position'
If you are walking outdoors, here is what most people are practicing while wearing their mask. You wear the mask down at your chin in 'ready position.' When someone approaches you from about 25 feet away, you get your mask up and keep it up for 25 feet past you, then pull it back down to your chin. We try to stay 10-25 ft. away from everyone while walking, and will go into the street if needed to avoid people completely. People do the same with us, and we appreciate that so much. 

Now more than ever, it is important to have our social skills, and say, "Good morning" and a wave is always good, especially to the adults and kids not wearing masks.

If you're out walking or running and encounter a runner or bicyclist, you need to mask up 25 yards before they pass you and keep it on 50 yards after they have passed you . If a runner or bicyclist passes you from behind, you need to get out of their direct 'vapor trail' path and stay 50 yards behind. 

I have no statistical data to back these distances up, it's just my common sense telling me to be cautious in a pandemic and insure the 'aerosol effect' has evaporatedPublic health experts like to refer to bigger particles that are heavy and thus fall fast as “droplets,” and tiny particles that evaporate faster than they can fall as “aerosols.” When a virus is transmissible as aerosols, they say it’s “airborne”(Vox). Also, the 25 yards before guideline seems to be a good visual cue for both parties to mask up (if they have one). This has just been my personal experience.

Also, mask up when coming to a blind corner on a street of bend on the trail. People sometimes just appear out of nowhere.

I've discovered that the coronavirus is no time to attempt your PR (personal record) time on your course. Sometimes, I have to go way around people and into the street bike lane, or wait for a mom and her two little kids on the narrowest part of the trail to pass (always happens there). Memo to self- "Relax."

I would like to note that wearing a cloth mask is a little bit like the guys I see wearing those high altitude simulation training masks, you know the ones that make them look like they're in the cast of Mad Max: Fury Road. Since I've started wearing my cloth mask, it's in mask up mode longer and longer every week, and I'm slowly getting a bit faster in my up hill split times. (Update 5/18- I now wear a mask on for my entire run.) I also recommend having Altoids® with you on your run. The peppermint will cool your mouth with the mask on and I swear it has a calming effect while running.

If you are wearing glasses or sunglasses and they fog up in combo with wearing a mask, try Fog Gone, I love it!

Wearing a cloth mask while running is a bit like finding the right pair of running shoes, you have to go through a couple different models before you find the one that works for you.

Now is the mask meant to protect you, or the stranger? 

The mask is actually for the stranger. By wearing a mask you are protecting a stranger from catching this crazy virus because you don't know if you have the virus. Most all of us assume we don't. We feel fine, fine enough to get some exercise, so you may ask, "why do I need to wearing a f*#%ing mask, nobody else is?"

So a 'lil shoutout here to the exercising mask wearers! You're simply doing the right thing in trying to protect yourself and the strangers around you! What did your parents tell you, "All you can do is try." 

But please, DO NOT pull a Larry David-like scene with the people around you not wearing a mask. People don't like to be told what to do, and your little scolding is only going to backfire and cause that person to go deeper in their resistance to ever wearing a mask- for a stranger.

As a regular runner for some forty-seven years now (Mary Kit editing this, says,"nobody cares"), I thought runner's were kind of a cool breed of human. We smile and wave at each other, give each other the transcendental "good mornin" "howdy," or even a thumbs up as we pass each other.

However in recent weeks, I'm just starting to get an unspoken vibe by all the exercising walkers and dog walkers around me that maybe are thinking these joggers are just a bunch of perspiring pariahs. Here's some observations.
  • When I'm running mask up and approaching a non-masked person, there is often an uneasy look in their eye or body language.  I'm not the harmless old fart on the trail anymore. So if I'm now some aerosol can of sweat, why in Gotham City don't you have a mask on to protect yourself... especially on a popular and often narrow trail for runners?
  • A new walking woman on my regular trail route has turned her back to me while I approach her. In our previous two encounters, she was the one without the mask, so who is protecting me in this situation? Since the May 1st mask requirement, she now has a mask on which is a safer situation, for me. She still turns her back away from me, well okay. (5/18 update - She's back to not wearing a mask, turning her back and pulling up her tank top to cover her mouth.)
  • On three occasions in the past couple of weeks I've encountered a young couple walking without masks on the trail. When I get close, the guy always pulls up his t-shirt to cover his face when I go by, to I guess protect himself from the old masked running man. Am I hideous? Quasimodo? This is actually hilarious. The young woman does nothing, but I'm praying for the day she pulls her top up too! 
  • Now I've also started seeing people carry their mask in their hand on their walk, never even attempting to put it on as other walkers or runners approach them... posers. (update 5/8-Now I see a lot of people with their mask in 'ready position' but never attempt to mask up in a mask up situation.) This reminds me of the old Seinfeld skit where Jerry has a car reservation at a car rental. ("You have a mask, you just don't know how to use the mask.") Play the clip below and you'll see my point.


Below is  Seth Meyers to continue, and hit my points right on the head.



Symbol Charades
So why the weird vibe about wearing face masks while on a walk or run? On our walk there's this particular old guy without a mask, who just glares at us when we walk by, no "good morning" here.

In the past several weeks, the masks themselves have seemed to morph into a larger political game.

It's no secret that leaders model the behavior they want others to follow. Again, your parents may have told you, "Talk is cheap, it's what you do that matters."

Now unless you're living under a rock, you've seen the President or Vice President on TV make numerous public appearances at hospitals, factories or large facilities that I personally think would require face masks all around.

Leading by example? @ The Mayo Clinic w/ COVID-19 patient
So why are Trump and Pence overtly modeling to every man, women and child in America that wearing a face mask at close quarters public events is not important, in fact if you do, you're kind of a pussy. (Maybe a correlation with my 2:1 woman to man mask ratio observation earlier?)

"The decision to wear a mask in public is becoming a political statement — a moment to pick sides in a brewing culture war over containing the coronavirus. While not yet as loaded as a “Make America Great Again” hat, the mask is increasingly a visual shorthand for a debate pitting those willing to follow health officials’ guidance and cover their faces against those who feel it violates their freedom or buys into a threat they think is overblown." (NBC)

I also think it's coupled with "The Donald's" narcissism and old world political machismo bullshit where both Trump and Pence need to be SEEN as 'tough leaders' - nothing to worry about little sheep, this soon shall pass.

As ESPN would say, "C'mon man."

It's time for these two to man up! Wear the damn mask in public social distancing situations so that millions of Americans will follow your lead, and save some lives.
Mask up motherf*#%ers.

So what if I wear this mask, will that work for everyone? 

Of all the stuff I've heard about masks in this pandemic, an elderly woman being interviewed on the news said it best, "Is wearing a mask around town more uncomfortable than being on a ventilator in an ICU at the hospital?"

My Born To Run - Runner's Playlist
I've presented this before in my Team Tortoise blogs, but I've updated it again this week and think it might spark that bounce in your steps. Stay well my friends!

and, Rest in Peace Little Richard.




References
"Who was that masked man?"
The allusion to the masked man refers to the question often asked at the end of an episode of The Lone Ranger, a radio and television program featuring a vigilante cowboy, popular from the 1930s to the 1950s. 
–Library of Congress




Face Mask Resources

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, November 19, 2018

My Thanksgiving (Playlist)

South County Turkey Trot 2014 (Pismo Beach, California)

I hope this holiday Thanksgiving week provides you with a little time to spend with family and friends. Mary Kit and I are off to Santa Maria this week to do both while visiting my childhood home with my mom. 

On Thanksgiving morning, my sisters and I will be bringing back our "Team Tortoise" group to do the annual 10K Turkey Trot in Pismo Beach to benefit the San Luis Obispo Food Bank. Here is an updated link to the Santa Maria Times Article of the event.

I have a lot to be thankful for and want to wish all my family and friends the best as we are all blessed to live together in this great country. A couple of songs came up this past week on my Amazon Music stream while jogging that are the inspiration for this play list. Don Henley songs seem to always have a timeless relevance (to me) and when I heard his My Thanksgiving on the trail, well it just captured my feeling in these current times and leads this eclectic selection of 31 "thankful" videos.

Enjoy my friends, Happy Thanksgiving.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Team Tortoise Part III: Carry That Weight

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

Image Source
Boy, you gonna carry that weight
Carry that weight a long time
from Carry That Weight | Lennon and McCartney

This is the third article in a mini-blog series about running, diet and music. If you haven't read the other two pieces, Team Tortoise Part I: Born to Run and, Team Tortoise: Part II: Getting in Tune, start there and then return here.

I don't care how healthy the above picture looks, for me, bread is "crack carbs." I could eat bread at every meal and then have toast late at night, for dessert. This is a family thing, built into my McDNA. Of all things possible in my recent quest for eating better, my aunt gives Mary Kit and I an electric bread maker this past week, and now I think of her as a drug dealer. 

Like most Americans, I'm addicted to carbs. It doesn't matter if I run everyday the rest of my life, there is no amount of exercise that's going to control my weight. We've all known the science for many years- reducing the level of carbohydrates one puts into their body is the first and most important ingredient to weight loss and management.   

But finally, after trying to lose weight since my 40's, I learned something. DIETING is actually the enemy of "health is a lifestyle." Dieting is a counterproductive activity, a "bait and switch" that tricks your body for a short-term weight-loss outcome. 

The Seven Day Cycle of Eating
I'm learning that I don't need to diet, but rather, just monitor the food I choose to eat on a seven day cycle. This cycle, combined with running every other day, is my 1-2 punch to lose and eventually maintain a healthy weight to carry.

If you want to lose (or maintain) your weight, there is only ONE RULE that you have to follow for the rest of your life-
  1. Cut out, cut back and replace carbohydrate foods that you consumed in your past "crack carb life." If you actively identify and target specific high carb (and sugar) foods, you will begin to reprogram yourself with healthy eating habits of mind and body that require the most important element, consistency.  
Change here is really just a series of small behavioral steps. Over the past several years, I have made a progressive effort to either CUT OUT 100% or CUT BACK a significant percentage of my "carry that weight" hit list of crack carbs, on a consistent basis. 

Shout
Shout
Let it all out
These are the things I can do without
Come on
I'm talking to you
Come on
From Shout | Tears for Fears
  • breakfast cereal and oatmeal (100%)
  • dairy milk (100%)
  • pancakes and waffles (95%)
  • bagels (98%)
  • all soft drinks, including sugar drinks like lemonade (100%)
  • fruit juice, and fruit smoothies (95%)
  • dried fruit (100%)
  • chips (80%)
  • crackers (appropriate name - 90%)
  • flour tortillas (90%)
  • quesadillas (100%)
  • deli sandwiches, I love deli! (90%)
  • regular pasta noodles (95%)
  • rice (90%)
  • potatoes, fries (90%)
  • jam (100%)
  • cookies, I love cookies! (95%)
  • pie (95%)
  • ice cream (90%)
  • pastries/donuts (95%)
  • bread, pizza and beer (0%) "A man's got to know his limitations."
But, I just couldn't go "cold carb." I needed to REPLACE my high carb intake with lower carb alternatives throughout the week. Here's some of my replacement behaviors. (Hey I should add a song to the playlist by the band, The Replacements.)

One thing Mary Kit and I learned several years back (on a WeightWatchers® diet) but did not practice again until recently, was to buy only low carb bread. Now you're probably saying, "but I don't want to eat bread that tastes like cardboard." Actually, there are some great low carb sliced breads out there. Here's a little simple math you need to do in your search for any lower carb food.
  1. Look at the "Nutrition Facts" on the back label on most any food product.
  2. Look for "Total Carbohydrate" (example - 12g, from Dave's Killer Bread 60 Calories Thin-Sliced, not to mention Dave playing electric guitar on the front label)
  3. Under Total Carbohydrate look for "Dietary Fiber" (Dave's 3g) and subtract that number from the Total Carbohydrate number. So, for Dave's 60 calorie bread the total carbs = 9 grams per slice.
  4. As a "carb standard" Mary Kit and I try to buy food with under 10 grams per serving. For sliced bread, our current favorites are the "Dave's 60 Calories" just mentioned and Eureka! Sweet Baby Grains (homage to James Taylor!) at 10 total grams of carbohydrate (Both breads found at Vons/Safeway). Once you start reading labels, you'll find that most sliced breads start in the 20+ Total Carbohydrate range.
Some "new habits" for NOT carrying that weight
  • I have a body weight scale (to the 1/10th pound) and weigh myself in the morning after I have gone to the bathroom. I don't weigh everyday, because like most people, my weight is always fluctuating a couple pounds, but I do weigh several times a week to get a feel and monitor for the (ding, ding)... Sunday morning weigh-in. Hint- If I know I'm having a carb carnival on Saturday night, I do my weigh-in on Saturday morning, remember don't punish yourself.

  • My strategic plan is to lose 1 pound a week for however long it takes me to get to 185. I use Google Calendar for all my scheduling and on the upcoming Sunday I have my current weight listed as an "all day event." For example, this week's goal is 201. It's been my goal for two weeks now. If I go under 201.0, my next week's goal is 200.0, if not, it remains at 201 and I slide that 201 calendar event down to next Sunday. If I weigh 199 this Sunday, my goal for next week is still 200.0. and I put up a new calendar event for 200 for next Sunday. I try to remain "slow and steady" and most importantly, not to create a weight system that punishes myself or causes me to feel I have to be on a DIET.

  • Eat the majority of your your carbs in the morning. I often have two pieces of toast as part of my breakfast, but got to watch it for lunch and dinner, not everyday but maybe 5 days out of 7. Give yourself the whole day to burn those carbs off as they turn to glucose, and then from sugar to fat. Also, have a little real butter on your toast, and no margarine as it is part of the artificial diet machine.
  • Eat a banana (or two) one hour before you run. It is high in carbohydrate and you'll burn the glucose for your running fuel. Bananas are also high in potassium and for me help prevent muscle pulls while running. For many runners, a banana also settles the stomach before a run.
  • You must always hydrate everyday, but one hour before a run I also drink a 20 oz. Vitamin Water Zero (Lemonade or Orange) because it has electrolytes and helps with the muscle pull thing I tend to get. (Note - A 12-ounce serving of Gatorade's Thirst Quencher contains 21 grams of sugar.)
  • You probably noticed I never stopped eating bread or pizza. Behaviorally, I made a choice. If I was going to continue those two habits, I was going to need to cut out, cut back or replace other carbs I was consuming.

  • Channel your Jim Gaffigan (Bacon!) and have a couple of cheat meals a week. Your body metabolically actually needs the food change ups if you want to lose weight, and after all, "variety is the spice of life." (If you're a Seinfeld fan, kind of analogous to, "sex to save the friendship" to my take, "pancakes to save the stomach.")

  • Protein is your friend. Find foods you like with higher levels of protein and increase that percentage from your old eating habits. Eat your protein after a workout because protein helps repair muscle and tissue.

  • Start drinking protein shakes at least 3-4 times a week. My current favorite is Muscle Milk 100% Whey Vanilla Concentrate Blend (from Costco) at 27grams of protein per serving (no after taste). My simple protein shake recipe includes:
        -2 cups of Almond Milk
        -1 scope of the above whey vanilla concentrate power
        -1 frozen banana
        -a spoonful of peanut butter (helps the medicine go down) and let it all blend in the blender. This is my new smoothie as the frozen banana is the key to the smooth!

  • I now literally go "cold turkey" with my "new sandwich" - a cold cut slice (or two) of turkey or ham between two pieces of cheese.

  • I haven't eaten red met (99%) for many years now, but if you are a meat eater and like fish, increase your intake and you will feel the difference. If you hate fish, go with turkey, ham and chicken. For example, make a chicken salad sandwich and just leave out the bread. I make chicken salad with boiled eggs, pickles, mustard and some mayonnaise and just stir it up and eat it from the same bowl.

  • If you are a burger nut, switch to lean turkey pre-made patties in the meat isle. (Making patties from ground turkey takes too much time and they are just too dry.) I'm a cheese burger guy from way back so include the DELICIOUS melted cheese but eliminate the bun and keep the lettuce, tomatoes and pickles.
  • Avoid packaged foods with the leading label "Non Fat." That is a bait and switch for your mind but your body just breaks downs the excess carbs to sugar and stores as fat.
  • If you are a vegetarian of any kind, you still have to reduce your carbs and get more protein, otherwise you will never lose weight and keep it off.

  • Replace chips and crackers with (dry roasted) nuts as a snack. Costco has a good selection, but don't blow it and buy the trail mix (doh)!

  • Replace pasta noodles with low carb Dreamfields Pasta noodles. Believe me, you won't even know the difference between regular pasta and Dreamfields.

  • Sugar is the enemy. Choose sugar treats few and far between because the body is just going to convert it and store it as fat.

  • If I need a sweet treat, I buy a variety of low carb Atkins Protein Bars, they are delicious. I make sure to buy the bars WITHOUT artificial sweeteners. But use your common sense, you shouldn't eat 3 bars a day (I have, several times).
  • Fiber is your friend. It helps bring down your carb count and keep you regular in the digestive department. I also take a Philipps "Fiber Gummy" with every meal at home. I don't have any hard data (other than my scale) to support its helping me lose weight, but it's helping in the digestive department.

  • Buy most of your fresh fruits and vegetables in bulk from Costco. It's just Mary Kit and I in the house, but it forces us to eat these foods more often before they spoil. Nobody wants to throw away food, so it's just another built-in motivator. Also, we have a pantry we used to call the "carb cabinet." As your behavior changes, your pantry should reflect that change. Your refrigerator becomes the new snack machine with things like dill pickles, olives, apples, cheese and berries.

  • If you're a big time snacker like me, Become a big time berry eater. I eat a fair amount of blackberries, blueberries and strawberries from Costco. If you reach for the carb cabinet, take a few nuts and get back to the The Americans.
  • Lastly, if you are living by yourself, it's up to you to create these new eating and exercise habits. If you live with a partner, your task is a bit harder because with most relationships, you often eat together. I'm not going to get into couple behavior here, other than to say you and your partner need to be on the "same page" when changing up your eating habits. My weight drops over the years have always been tied directly to Mary Kit. Relationships are an on-going process and hopefully the concept of "team" comes together for the both of you during your eating/exercise transformation. 

Boy, I carried that weight for a long time, this time for the last five years. One day, I just got sick and tired of the feeling that I had lost my former self in image and flexibility at 215 pounds. As I mentioned earlier, I wrote this Team Tortoise blog series to continue to motivate myself and maybe motivate you in some small way. I know as a Clydesdale or tortoise, I will need to continue to monitor my weight the rest of my life. I continue to strike the DIET word from my behavior and enjoy the "slow and steady" mantra of Team Tortoise in my running and lower carb healthy lifestyle.

As a lifestyle, Team Tortoise is also about stress relief. Music soothes the soul and is as important to me today as when I was a young 175 pound lean running machine. I hope this blog helps you a little more to connect to music on a weekly basis so that the current burdens you carry don't weigh you down too much. And, if you're looking for a Frank Costanza, "Serenity now" moment, you'll find it in your music. 


Here's a running start playlist that I've been adding to over the last three weeks to get us moving and smiling.

Notes on videos chosen- The Dave Wottle 1972 Olympic race really inspired me to start running | My first running shoes were the Nike "Cortez" | The movie clip from, The Black Stallion is about freedom and the freedom running can bring. It also reminds me of running at the beach in 1978 when I moved to Mission Beach | The "mans got to know his limitations" clip is just knowing who I am and listening to my body | The Nike commercial with the boy running on the road is about us all being on that lonesome road all by ourself, and that we will prevail on our journey.

Monday, May 07, 2018

Team Tortoise Part II: Getting in Tune

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

Image Source
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!
Image Source
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!