Life is like music; it must be composed by ear, feeling, and instinct, not by rule.

Monday, November 30, 2009

My Epiphany

I've been readying Dr. George Sheehan's articles for many months. I was turned on to him through a book by Jim Fixx. I won't go much into Dr. Sheehan's background as I'm sure some of you know of him. If not, you may want to look him up.

Long story short, he was a cardiologist who was an avid runner. He ran in high school, then stopped and didn't pick it up again until his mid 40's, then, five years later ran a 4:47 mile, which was the world's first sub five minute time by a 50 yr. old. He was not a fan of doctors or the entire profession as it related to runners and thought the profession did a major disservice to runners as it failed to understand how to deal and treat runners . . . this is probably why I like him. He professed that runner's know their bodies better than any doctor.

In any event, he has some of the most thoughtful writings and analysis of running and runners. Here is his website: for those that may be interested . . . click of "essays" and read a few . . . he also has several books including a New York Times best seller.

A few of his slogans/sayings are great including the following:

"Listen to your body"

"We (runners) are each an experiment of one"

"Soon after I started running and began having injuries, I made an important discovery: Running does not cause injuries. Some people run a lifetime without injury. Every one of my injuries had its roots in a structural weakness I was born with, a postural weakness I developed through training, or other stresses due to shoes and terrain. Once the problem was corrected, I was assured of pain free running." He was not comparing shod vs. unshod in his references to "shoes" but went on to say you must find "your" perfect shoe which may be "no shoe."

When doing research on the impacts and correlation of intensity, frequency and duration of running, he said, "These researchers established that frequency had the least effect on running performance. Duration became a factor only after it was reduced by two-thirds. This is not to say that frequency and duration are unimportant, but it points out the high intensity training, such as interval training and races, is the key to getting the most out of your ability."

Lastly, and what hit me the most was his article on "Each of us is an expert in the self." When talking about the advice provided by folks, he said, "Advice pours out of the radio. It fills the newspapers. It is the best selling staple of every bookstore. And to what avail? How much of this good advice is good for the individual? If good, how much is followed? If followed, how much does it change a person's life? The answer to all three questions is very little. Virtual cannot be taught. Experience must be experienced. Not one can be quite sure whose life is a success and whose is not. There comes a time when you must be your own teacher, your own coach, your own clergyman."

In closing, I'm going to follow something he went on say when posting on my site and as I speak to others about running and my experiences:

"Do not tell me what to do, tell me what you do. Do not tell me what is good for me, but tell me what is good for you. If, at the same time, you reveal the you in me, if you become a mirror of my inner self, then you have made a listener and a friend."

I'll continue to share what is good for me, what works for me, and what is good for me. But I'll stop there. I running basically injury free and I want everyone to run injury free but all of us should be careful in suggesting what works for us individually, will work for others . . . it might or it might not. The receiver of the information will be the ultimate decider.

On my long run yesterday, this popped into my mind, "The more I learn about me and my running, the less I know about you and your running."


Shoe Search is Over

It was my final test for my Mizuno racing flats. I tackled the historical Spanish Peaks and Cuchara mountain range at 8,500 ft. - 9,000 ft., over rocky and tough terrain (sharp rocks, etc.). The setting was perfect . . . 28F degrees, foggy, early morning, all dirt roads, and killer hills. One of those spiritual and awe inspiring runs. To give you a sense of where I was running, check these pics:

I've tried my VFFs on this terrain a few months ago and the Treks did pretty well although they can't hold up in the colder weather. This is why I had to find something else, which lead me to the 3.6 oz. Mizuno racing flats. The Mizuno's did awesome as I could feel all the rocks (even the ones that hurt a bit), terrain and ground (a very similar ground feel to the Treks).

I headed out on a 14 mile run and tackled all the most difficult mountain hills. Not only did my racing flats hold up great but I completed my easy long run at a PR pace for this terrain and elevation. These are definitely my footwear of choice and will replace my VFFs. I never thought I'd say that as I really like my VFFs but I get the same ground feel and the ability to use the racing flats in cold weather (I also don't have to switch back and forth between footwear, which I hate). This definitely was validation for me that you can run injury free in shods (at least some racing flats) and maintain the same form, technique, and cadence.

It seems like things are coming together as I enter my 3rd year of consistent daily/weekly/yearly running as my injuries have gone away (I was told by an elite runner that this would be the case but I didn't believe it initially). It makes me think about a quote from Jim Fixx:

"During my first two or three years of running, I suffered a lot of injuries. Then, mysteriously, the pain went away. Today, nearly a decade later, it is only infrequently that I feel even the faintest twinge of discomfort, and then a good run cures it. A beginning runner has to remodel his/her whole body. It can't be done overnight."


Wednesday, November 25, 2009

I'm Addicted

I must eat, sleep and run. I'm addicted to running.


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Diggin' the New Running Schedule

I have a new weekly running schedule that incorporates intervals, tempo and long runs with a series of easy runs. One interval, tempo and long run per week plus 3 easy runs for 6 days of running each week.

The interval and tempo and hard runs but it's learning to make sure the easy runs are "easy" that is the challenge and the major benefit. The easy runs are essentially recovery runs and allow the body to recover while also maintaining good fitness and saving the energy needed for the 3 meaningful runs: interval, tempo and long run.

It's the speed work with the intervals and tempo runs that enable you to increase your pace for races and longer runs. Without speed work your fast twitch muscles go to sleep and you will not be able to effectively call upon them when you want to pick up the pace. Speed work also helps with your breathing and oxygen intake.

The new schedule is hard but I'm already seeing the benefits as my pace, stride and form are all improving as a result.


Thursday, November 19, 2009

Your Arms are Weapons

After a training session with my running coach, I've learned a valuable lesson. Your arms are weapons and can be used to control your pace and maintain balance. I was not using my arms efficiently which also caused issues on downhill running. The first time I concentrated on my arms, the experience was amazing. I'm breathing better and I can control my pace much better, especially downhill. It is also enabling me to maintain a high cadence whether I'm warming up, at a comfortable pace or sprinting.

I now understand better how the elite runners utilize their arms. It may sound like a small tweak but it's a major improvement. Find a runner of similar height to you and study their arm positioning and movement. Then, experiment and find where you can improve.


Friday, November 13, 2009

Hill Tempos Kicked My Butt

Finished a tempo session this morning, all on hills and it kicked my butt. I'm still sore hours later. It included a 20 minute warm-up, four 5 minute sprints, and 20 min. warm down. The sprints were brutal as my goal was to average about a 6:00 min. pace and I ended up more in the 6:30 minute pace but given that I don't do a lot of hill training, I was happy. Plus, 1 yr. ago it was rare for me to consistently run below a 7 min. pace and now I commonly run in the 6:00 min. pace range and every now and then, dip into the 5:0o min. range.

With my new training schedule, I'm getting stronger and faster. This is the best I've felt in my running career (albeit, only 2.5 years). I'm diggin' it.


Thursday, November 12, 2009

Getting Stronger

Since I'm focusing on middle distance running through 2010, I've had to incorporate more speed work and weight lifting. As expected, I'm getting stronger and gaining weight and, getting much faster. This is a great change of pace from the endurance running I was doing. Reducing my miles from 60-70 to 30-40 was been great and my body is responding very positively.

Who knows, I may stay with this.


Friday, November 6, 2009


How does your light shine in the halls of Shambala?

I think I was running, as fast as I can this morning, straight for Shambala. Not sure if I got there, and if I did, whether they would let me in, but I was in the right direction. I was flying (for me) running one of my fastest paces and I felt like I was floating on air at times. A hard tempo run . . . just awesome.

It's just amazing how you can run all the pressures, problems and pains right out of your body.


Thursday, November 5, 2009

Figure it out on your Own

We lack adequate data on both sides of the fence . . . shoe and unshod. The shoe companies probably have the most data and, of course, they won't share that with anyone without editing and adding a spin to it for their own personal gain/benefit.

The problem is there are so many factors if we look back in time (from indigenous peoples to pre-cushioned sneakers, etc.) that it's very hard to draw broad conclusions, in my opinion. Besides cushioned sneakers and barefoot running, how often did people run? how long did they run? what surfaces did they run on? were some endurance runners and others sprinters? what were their body composition (height/weight)? did they have injuries that we can't validate or confirm? This is why I love McDougall's book, "Born to Run," as he at least tried to discuss other factors but, essentially, it's a micro study in the big picture.

Like everyone, I've read books that pre-date the modern cushioned shoe and they talk about many of the injuries we talk about today and these books discuss barefoot and shod runners, of course, in very minimal racing type flats (I don't know the % of reported injuries back then vs. today's reported numbers (anywhere from 55% - 80%) but who knows.

I hear about all the injuries folks report having tried barefoot running and it doesn't sound too different from the shod world (yes, I know, it's because they did too much; started too fast, etc., etc., etc., which I believe, but that's not the only factors). Now, I'm a huge proponent of barefoot running but I'm just calling out some holes that need to be addressed.

As this point, for me, I believe there are truths and inaccuracies on both sides. I really hope there are more unbiased reports that at least account for all the other factors that could lead to injury besides just shod vs. unshod . . . that's a great starting point but that just scratches the surface.


Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Running Sparks Creativity

I don't know how the creative process works, but it always seems, as I'm running, that thoughts start coming in; sentences start coming in; solutions start coming in; new approaches start coming in, and I appreciate life more . . .


Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Great Interval Run

Since I changed my weekly running routines to add more purpose and focus to each run, my pace is improving. I'm consistently running in the 06:30 per mile range without a major effort. This is a result of the speed work sessions I've incorporated each week (twice per week). It really does work, otherwise your fast twitch muscles go to sleep. The other thing is my form continues to improve which is a direct result of the summer month's that I ran barefoot and I've been able to incorporate the barefoot running form and technique to my racing flats.


Monday, November 2, 2009

Another Racing Flat Week

I completed another week in the worlds lightest racing flats and I feel good . . . no pain or injuries. Over the weekend I really tested the Mizuno's with a 7 mile hard tempo run with .5 mile sprints on Saturday followed by a 13 mile long easy run with 1 min. sprints on Sunday. They felt great and I can still feel the ground as they have tremendous ground feel for a racing shoe.

One thing I've noticed is my foot seems to go through an adaption phase each time I change my running approach whether it's barefoot, VFF, racing flats, Moccs, etc. For me, it's pretty clear my feet require consistency so I'm not going to be able to make many changes to my running gear. I've decided to continue with only VFFs and my racing flats (Mizuno Universe 3's) with Mizuno's replacing VFFs as my primary running gear and using VFFs for additional strengthening. This decision is largely based on the winter forcing me to replace the VFFs and my desire to not switch shoes regularly based on weather (this may change if VFFs decide to develop a VFF for the winter/snow).

We'll see how it goes and I'll keep reporting back.


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