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

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Finding the Right Formula

Ok, I stole this post title "Finding the Right Formula" from Matt Fitzgerald's book "Running by Feel," but it's right on point to answer a question I've been asked recently which is "How have I been able to run 5 yrs. without injury?"  Well, it's because I found the "Right Formula."  On my way to finding the right formula, I had to answer a key question why is "Why do I run?"  The answer was pretty easy, "I run to stay healthy.  I run because of the way it makes me feel.  I run to talk to myself.  I run because it level sets my entire being."

My first answer takes a bit more analysis.  I run to "stay healthy" so that eliminated the types of running done by most runners.  I don't run to race.  I don't run for a specific time or pace.  Maybe because I'm a former Division I collegiate athlete, I've competed my whole life for big prizes and the idea of killing myself for a cheap medal doesn't interest me.  I know, I know, the response is people do it for the accomplishment but I can reach the same accomplishment on my own, on my own terms and in my own way.  This also allows me to stay injury free because I don't run according to some crazy plan or schedule.  This also eliminates ultra-type running.  Yes, I've run one (1) 50k but I soon realized, the ultra distance isn't about staying healthy or in shape.  That's about something else and in fact, it can enter a zone that is counter productive to staying healthy.  I see no reason to run those types of distances.  One can stay extremely healthy running anything from a 5k to half marathon distance.  It's more about consistency and repetition at that point.  I'm healthier today averaging 40 miles per week than I was back when I was in the 60+ mile per week range.  The reduced mileage allows me to run 7 days per week (there's the consistency and repetition) yet stay injury free without putting unnecessary load on my body.  I do one (1) hard workout per week in the 8-10 mile range with half of it in the 6:30 pace range but otherwise I do 90% of my running in the 9-10:00 pace range.

The second part of the answer, is if I run to feel good, then I don't need gadgets like Garmin watches.  I don't need to monitor everything related to my running.  Some of the data available is absolutely ridiculous.  Now, I do need my body and since my body is my gadget, it took many years to understand what it was telling me.  Once I understood what it was telling me, it took years to understand how to respond.  The only way to understand what it was telling me was to remove anything blocking communication paths and that started with the modern shoe.  The modern shoe blocks the messages from my feet to my brain and that's very dangerous.  Garmin-like watches also block the ability to hear the body because the brain focuses on stupid things like distance, pace and/or some pre-determined running plan or schedule.  The funny thing about running plans is your body will customize its own running schedule if you let it.  As I've run injury for 5 years, I compared this current year to the first year I ran injury free because the enjoyment I felt from 1 year of injury free running was so awesome and it's how I feel right now.  Low and behold, my running schedule, as set by my body, is almost the same.  I run 7 days per week.  I average about 40 minutes per run Monday through Friday and two (2) of those days, I run closer to 30 minutes and I refer to those runs as "rest day runs" and they are essentially physical and mental recovery days.  Then, I do one hard workout, generally on Saturday, averaging 60-80 minutes, half of which is at tempo to race pace (anything in the 5:55 - 6:55 pace range).  Sunday is generally 45-60 min. run, at an easy pace, usually on trails (I do 75% of all my running on trails).  As for the expensive and worthless Garmin, I know what pace I'm running by feel.  Based on effort, turn over and feel, I'm within :10 sec. per mile of what any watch would tell me.

Now for the part no one really likes to discuss because we are culture of gullible idiots when it comes to believing marketing hype.  The modern running shoe is one of the most destructive inventions of the modern times . . . the basic running shoe of the 1960's and early 1970's is all we really needed but we love to take it too far, then so far we lose control and perspective . . . welcome to the modern running shoe.  If you believe the natural design of the human body is flawed and broken then stop now and read no further otherwise you cannot, under any circumstances defend or support the design of the modern running shoe.  An elevated heel to put the body off balance . . . down right stupid and makes no sense.  Excessive cushioning to eliminate proprioception . . . incredibly dangerous as you have no control over your body and ultimately your stride.  Inflexibility with motion control and other designs to create stiff shoes . . . oh yea, the natural foot is flexible so if you want to run with braces on your feet, enjoy developing very weak feet which ultimately will result in injury and burning money on all types of gadgets to make your feet even weaker.  Lastly, our bare feet . . . my god, our bare feet are ingenious but we love to dumb it down.  Remember the sheer joy of running barefoot as a kid . . . well, how did we do it?  Because we were young?  Crap!!! It's because that's exactly how we were designed.  Now, I'm not saying the foot doesn't need minimal protection from the modern elements in the world but that's all it needs.  Of course, shoe companies can't allow this to become status quo because the revenue impact would be tremendous.  Imagine someone like me who pays $45 for a pair of running shoes that last 18-24 months . . . I'm a shoe companies nightmare.


Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Next Shoe Purchase, 2026-2030

Just hit me this morning during my run.  When will I buy another pair of running shoes?  I basically run 100% in the Puma H-Street and I have 11 new pair in the basement.  Each pair lasts over 1 yr. and in many cases I push toward 18 months per pair.  Then, add the fact that my body has all but fully adjusted to a barefoot-like style after 8 years of running combined with a neutral foot strike, my current pair is coming up on 18 months and could last 2 years . . . with a forefoot strike and landing lightly, I have very little wear & tear on the soles of my shoes (sole or upper).  I'm definitely a major shoe manufacturer's worse nightmare.  The average price per pair of Puma H-Streets was $45.

On the other hand, thank god for having 11 new pair as it's clear the major shoe companies have won the war (the minimalist movement put up a good fight albeit brief) and, as an industry, they are reverting back to overly designed, cushioned and support ridden shoe designs.  That will guarantee one trend . . . a high percentage of injured runners on a yearly basis.  At this point, it's not about the poorly designed shoes . . . it's about the running public that won't contest what is so obvious . . . just a basic level of common sense would lead one to question the design of running shoes when compared to the natural human foot.  Couple that with the fact that the vast majority of runners do not want to make the sacrifice required to correct all the bad habits . . . bad form, weak muscle, weak tendons, misalignment, imbalance, etc.  It's a long process, at least it was for me . . . about 8 years of blood, sweat and tears but oh my god was it worth it . . . I've learned it's one of those things where I just need to be thankful and humbled that I was able to figure it out . . . it doesn't require one to be a rocket scientist but it requires avoiding the easy road and traveling the hard road to find the answer . . . . what is the saying?  need to go through hell to get to heaven :)


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