Soapbox Tuesday

Last week, we in Sycamore suffered a tragedy.  A local man was riding his bike to work in the morning, was hit by a pickup truck and killed.  To avoid disseminating information  I have only second-hand knowledge of I won’t repeat any details or opinions of the specifics, but this incident reinforced some of my currently held beliefs.

State laws regarding bicyclist‘s rights notwithstanding, bikes and cars don’t mix.  I don’t mean I don’t ride on the street.  I DO. I DO follow the rules of the roadI DO signal turns. I DO stop at stoplights, take my turn at stop signs, and get in line (off to the right) in traffic.  I DO make eye contact with drivers. I also claim my lane by riding away from the right edge.  The danger of getting hit comes from not being seen.  Riding in traffic is VERY dangerous, and the outcome of any disagreement between vehicles is predictable.  If you are on a bike, you lose! And you lose in a big way.  Helmet or not, it makes no difference. My in-traffic attitude is whomever is driving the car has the right of way.  When I’m driving a car I give cyclists a wide berth and make liberal use of the pedal in the middle. And do any of you see the people riding on the wrong side of the street? What are they thinking?

All of this vigilance is not conducive to endurance training. So my training rides are different.  I do most of my bike training on the weekend in the morning, out on country roads that basically just wind through corn fields.  I have set routes that I know are not well traveled.  Saturday morning and last night I took a circuitous route around the great “twin cities” of Sycamore and DeKalb that concentrated on bike paths instead of highways.

Quite scenic, but hard to get any real speed on.  Then there are the pedestrians, children, geriatrics, et al that have every bit as much right to be on the bike path as you do getting in the way.  Sheesh! What’s a guy supposed to do? I use an app on the PC called gmap-pedometer.com.  Great for measuring distances and elevation changes and mapping out routes etc.  Maybe someday I can get computer-savvy enough to insert one of my maps in my blog.

Spin classes at our local YMCA start this week, so I’ll go spin.  Strong quads really help with running also, and I can use the time off my feet to heal my foot.

Miles Wound All Heels

My experimental “caveman” run is complete and the results are in!.  I wanted to see if I could heal my heel by abandoning my uber-comfy Nikes and went Paleo by running barefoot.  The actual barefoot running only lasted about 3/10 of a mile. I found a very new, smooth asphalt path to run on.  At first I tried running to the side in the grass but after so many years of being cradled in comfort my skin was too tender to handle the weeds. As predicted by the barefoot running crowd, my form changed dramatically to avoid the teeth-jarring crashing of my heel into the ground and I practically danced along on the balls of my feet.  Well, not exactly danced.  More like clumsy stumbling. When I was done, the soles of my feet were ON FIRE!

Before

After

What was needed was a little protection for the soles of my feet without the over-cushioning of my over-priced heel-bangers.

A quick search of the internet provided unexpected hilarity.  Countless “Minimalist” running shoes are abundant and plentiful….and more expensive! I had to laugh.  Here was a modern-day version of The Emperor’s New Clothes!  Less shoe for more money! On to Wal-Mart!

There, I found these little delights.

Shoes like these used to be called “Red Ball Jets”…Except they were red.

Nike would crow about the  “zero drop” design.  New Balance would tout the “lightweight fabric”, but only Wal-Mart says “Hey! These shoes are CHEAP!” 14 bucks later I was out on the Great Western Trail with the K9 running team.  I don’t know if it was the cooler weather, the recent bi-daily running, or the minimalist experience giving me that heady Caveman feel, but I went almost 5 miles!  First time I’ve run that far since before January, according to my running log.  I had to take a couple of walking breaks, but my head (50% of the battle, remember?) wanted to go that far.

That afternoon my heel hurt like hell and my calves felt like they had barbed wire running through them. I expected some stiffness, but maybe I overdid it.  The next day (Monday) I wore the most comfortable shoes I own to work (Chippewa steel-toed engineer boots…heavy, but I love them) and that evening I walked 1/2 mile in flip-flops at the Y with a friend before swimming laps. My heel felt great. Tuesday was a moderate pace bike-ride for about 45 minutes, and by Wednesday I was ready for more running.  I cut back the miles to 2.7 and my pace was pretty slow.  Being 40 lbs overweight has drawbacks other than tight clothes.

Thursday was a no-workout day, and I’m doing another 2.7 miles tonight.  My right calf is a lot sorer than my left because the heel pain made me change my gait.  Now that I have a healthier and more normal stride it will take time for the muscles to accustom themselves.  I’m doing all of the usual therapies for plantar fasciitis: stretches, golf balls, night splints.  I hoped for a quick fix, but time is needed to see if  changing my foot strike will heal my heel and keep me running!

If You Run More, You Run More.

Newton’s first law of motion would be more concise: When no force is applied, a body in motion will stay in motion and a body at rest will stay at rest.

APPLY SOME FORCE: Keep a running log.

I use little 2-year calendars.  A note each day about your workout or non-workout. I started running in 1994, but didn’t keep a log until 2002. The act of making a mark on a calendar solidifies your run into a thing.  And you own things. Now you own your run.

I went further than just putting an “x” on a calendar.  I tracked distance ran, times, pace, weather. I was so anal about it for a number of years I added up my weekly, monthly, and yearly mileage apparently just to amaze myself.  In 2002 I ran 711 miles. In 2003: 814. There are other notes in there as well that amuse and bemuse me.  I had some kind of secret code with myself that has long since evaporated from my mind. August 28, 2004: “ZM9” What was that? I even highlighted it with a marker.  I did it again on September 25, so it must have been a good time! I noted other events, too.  Buying a new stove and dying my hair purple both were significant enough to make it into my log.  Other information to be gleaned is what my state of mind was and how that affected my running.  When my father died, I didn’t run for weeks and that initiated a ramp-up and a branch-out to triathlons.

The inescapable conclusion after an examination of 10 years of running logs is this: I ran more when I ran more.

Proof that you’re a runner!

You don’t get what you pay for.

” A word to the wise ain’t necessary…It’s the stupid ones that need advice.”  Bill Cosby

My college-age daughter expressed an interest in running the Sycamore Pumpkinfest 10K this year, and I proceeded to give her some advice on getting to that level quickly.

What is real value of advice?  Last winter I told my doctor (a marathon runner) of my goal to reclaim my athletic lifestyle.  He warned me about taking on too much too quickly.  He said starting running at my weight could incur injury, and the last thing I wanted was to frustrate myself by becoming injured so I couldn’t run.  What he didn’t know was that I was Kenny King: CYBORG. My legs were so strong after many years of biking and running that they would quickly adapt and actually become stronger than ever before.  I had 15+ years of experience as a runner and triathlete to back up my efforts. I know how to “listen to my body”. So I ran.  240 lbs on a 5’8″ frame takes a lot of energy to move down the path.  What was required to improve my endurance?  More running.  I don’t know how many times I hobbled/limped across the family room in the evening, suffering the jeers and sarcasm of my children about my age/weight/abdominal protrusion before I finally “listened to my body”.  It took me weeks to realize that the plantar fasciitis I have been plagued with qualifies as an injury. I mean it really hurts.

So I paid a very educated man a lot of money that I  chose because of his special knowledge of my individual goals for his best professional advice and promptly ignored it with the predicted result.

So to Jessica: Go running every day, listen to your body, read all you can about running, get some good shoes and a stick of Body-Glide.  But I don’t think you need my advice.

A Brave New World

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

Blah, blah, blah.

So here’s my running cred.

Just before the birth of our second child I began running.  At first to control my weight. Then I allowed myself to be goaded into the Sycamore Pumpkinfest 10K. I beat the guy that double-dog-dared me.  I’ll never forget the look on his face as I cruised by him just before mile 5. “Hi, Rocky!”  I said.  I didn’t understand the implications of his excuse-making the next week at work. “I’m just a little older than you.”  and “I didn’t execute my strategy correctly.” I had just gone out and ran as fast as I could for as long as I could. It was the first time I had ever beaten any one at any athletic endeavor in my life.  I was hooked.

I mean, I didn’t win the 10K, I just beat the guy I knew.  A few years later another fellow runner at work challenged me to my first 5K.  I beat him, too.  Since I don’t remember my 100 yd. dash times from grade school, I can’t say I NEVER ran that fast, but it was the hardest I remember ever pushing myself. I ran 7:20 that day, a personal best I have yet to beat.

In the next 10 years I ran 2-3 10Ks per year, but running was always just a lifestyle thing, not a competition thing. Usually about 2 miles per day, but I ramped it up if I was expecting to run in a race.

I moved on from 10Ks to a few 1/2 marathons and 30Ks, and then my first Chicago marathon in 2003 at the ripe old age of 44.  Then the Triathlon bug bit.