Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Rules For Running, and a Few for Life

Just like the law of gravity, there are some rules for running that will produce similar health benefits if you don't fight them.

Don't run in the house. You should have learned this as a kid!

Get running shoes fitted at a running store. Wear them even if they are not cute.

Prevent injuries by strength training. Nearly half of all runners are injured in any given year. This does not include poking yourself in the eye with the mic at karaoke.

Prevent injuries by warming up and cooling down. RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation) is the most common treatment for soft tissue injuries.

Casts are the most common treatment for broken bones and some times face-palms.

Prevent injuries by stretching. 82 percent of runners will experience a running-related injury in their lifetime.

Have a training plan. What is the goal of your training? To run far? To run fast? To run a 5K? To get to the bar on time?

Have a flexible plan.

Celebrate your victories!

Don't increase mileage or intensity too much each week.

The best run is the one you don't skip.

Don't just run, strength train and cross-train. Fitness keeps injuries low.

Eat some carbs and protein within 30 minutes after a run. (Lots of geeky scientific reasons, just do it!)

Run facing traffic. You'd hate to miss your last second on earth without knowing what hit you.

Don't run right after eating Thanksgiving dinner.

Remember, you are not on a bike. If you try to coast, as soon as your legs stop, you'll fall flat on your face.

If your muscles are sore after a run, that's good.

Get enough sleep. It's best if it is not while you're running.

Replace your shoes every 300-500 miles, or if they stink so bad they could knock over a skunk.

Learn to run long slow runs and fast short ones. It depends on how long you have until the cops find out what you did.

If you run at night, make yourself visible. Most drivers are not using night-vision goggles.

If you have any sharp pains during/after running, that's probably a sign to take a few days off.

You should be able to talk in complete sentences while running. That is to say, if you can talk in complete sentences when not running.
A headwind always slows you down more than a tailwind speeds you up. It's hearsay, but it feels that way.

Running uphill slows you down more than running downhill speeds you up. Also hearsay.

Don't run with scissors. If you are reading this, you probably still have eyes.
(Dr. Finch: Where would we be without our painful childhoods?)

Take rest days! At least one a week. If you are new, start with 4 rest days, and work up slowly. (Have a training plan!)

Have fun!

Did I miss any?

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Batman Smells, Robin Laid an Egg

When I was in 2nd grade, one of the most popular shows on TV was Batman. Bruce Wayne, billionaire by day, and crime fighting superhero by night, ran crooks out of Gotham City with his sidekick Robin. 

They were so popular, their names were added to the lyrics of Jingle Bells!

Robin had a pretty extensive vocabulary, but he was sort of religious. All of his expressions were proceeded with "holy." For example, "Holy Hoodwink" was the expression he used when the crooks tricked them. HERE is a site with the audio for just about every holy expression that was used in the original series (as far as I know). They have been collected by someone who can't spell, but I didn't notice.

It got me to thinking, Robin may have been a runner or health and fitness nerd like me? These are some of his actual lines.
Holy Almost (missing a PR by seconds)
Holy Apparition (speaking of someone who looks like Hal Higdon)
Holy Backfire (speaking of fartleks)
Holy Ball And Chain (DOMS)
Holy Blank Cartridge (when your water bottle is empty)
Holy Bunions
Holy Caffeine
Holy Catastrophe
Holy Cinderella (speaking of the Disney Princess 1/2 Marathon)
Holy Clockwork (when you had a good race time)
Holy Costume Party (speaking of the Halloween 10K)
Holy Flight Plan (when your race buddy beats you))
Holy Fork In The Road (when you see a sleeping race marshal)
Holy Fruit Salad (post race bananas)
Holy Hamstrings
Holy Heart Failure (speaking of me)
Holy Heartbreak (reference to big hill at the end of the Boston Marathon)
Holy Hole In A Donut (reference to a hole in a donut)
Holy Hoof Beats (speaking of an approaching runner)
Holy Interplanetary Yardstick (there is no good time to say this)
Holy Jelly Molds (post workout legs)
Holy Love Birds (couples crossing the finish line holding hands)
Holy Marathon
Holy Mashed Potatoes
Holy Miracles
Holy Nick Of Time (speaking of a race ending in something and :59 seconds)
Holy Nightmare (speaking of lost toenails)
Holy Non-Sequiturs (you need to know what a sequitur is to use this)
Holy One Track Bat Computer Mind
Holy Oxygen
Holy Rats In A Trap (people stopping to walk in the middle of a race)
Holy Relief
Holy Return From Oblivion (speaking of a marathon finish)
Holy Roadblocks
Holy Sarcophagus (running shoes with a small toe box)
Holy Skull Tap (this is just cool)
Holy Slipped Disc
Holy Split Seconds (tenths and hundredths of a second)
Holy Stampede (a race start with thousands of runners)
Holy Ten Toes
Holy Uncanny Photographic Mental Processes (what goes on in my head every day)

As always, thanks for reading along!
And the photo is from the BBC website and taken by AP.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Running for a Cause - My Own

Race for a Cure 5K
Saturday I woke up and went for a 6 mile run. I cut my 12-mile long run short so that I could run a 5K Race for a Cure on Sunday. It was nice to just run without training; 2 miles of it was on the 5K course.

I got back home about 9 and took a shower, because, well, if I don't, it's not pretty.

When I came downstairs a friend of the family was there. She brought coffee and muffins to celebrate packing day #5. Moving sucks! After 3 moves in 10 years, we have stuff that we don't even know where it came from. I think the IRS has targeted us, putting stuff in the house when we are not looking.

After a couple of hours of work, I went and donated a car full of fat clothes at the Salvation Army. Size XXXL and XXL shirts, 36" through 42" waist-ed pants and belts.

It felt good, really good!

In my bedroom I was packing some boxes and my chest felt tight. I thought my heart was racing but my pulse was only 62, which is not an unusual pulse rate at all. Once you've had a heart trauma, you don't play around. I went to my office and took my blood pressure, and it was 170/106. For just sitting around the house, it was not a good sign.

I drove to the ER which is so close, I easily beat 911.

They took me in and hooked me up to the EKG. It's one of those times when men wish they didn't have chest hair. Actually, except for photos, there is no time we wish we had it. EKG = normal. Hmm... that's reassuring. I remember one time when the EKG put everyone into a frenzy. It was like chimpanzees having a poop fight.

Now that they thought I would live, it was time to check in. The folks working there kept spelling my last name wrong and had no medical records. Finally, they got it right. The triage nurse turned to me and said, "So what do you do for fun when you're not having surgery?"

"That's me," I said.

I got my own bay and johnny and then I underwent blood tests, x-rays and was hooked up to a heart monitor. My blood pressure was still high, 150/96. They gave me aspirin after which I spoke to 2 doctors and 2 cardiologists. The doctors had lots of questions for me: What have you eaten? What is your pain level? Your pulse seems a little low at 52 bpm, do you run? I got a little excited about that question. When I was fat my resting pulse rate was 72. What's going on in your life? We are moving. The room was silent.

Do you think that might be a reason that you have elevated blood pressure? I thought about it - well duh, yes, or course. All I know is my normal is 126/82. I guess I need to take it easy?

Well, your heart seems normal. It's not A-fib (huge relief!), and your enzymes (the ones that show heart damage) are normal. Let's keep you overnight for observation.

Overnight, can I have a different doctor!?!

I spoke to the second cardiologist at length. We talked about my recovery from nearly dead to running a 125 miles per month. We talked about diet, training, weight loss, rest days and faith.

"Even though you are a poster child for turning it around, I am concerned about letting you go home to the chaos of moving." he said.

"I just want to be with my wife tonight," I replied.

"Is that good for you?" he asked.

"She's the best thing that ever happened to me." I said with a smile.

"You are going to take it easy and relax as much as possible?"

"Yes sir, I will."

"As long as your enzymes come back 'normal,' you can go home today."

"Thank you, doctor. And one more thing, can I run tomorrow?"

"I don't see why you can't run 2 or 3 miles - but easy. You'll stop immediately if you have any pain, right?"

I went home and had dinner with my wife and went to bed early.

When I woke up on Sunday, I had a cup of coffee and took my blood pressure. 128/84. Caffeine is good. :) I got dressed for my 5K race and pulled on my Cancer Sucks/ICU 2 26.2 T-shirt. I drank some water, ate a mini bagel, put on sun screen, said a prayer for my health, and kissed my family goodbye.

This is my favorite race of the year. I run it in memory of my mother who died in 2001 from pancreatic cancer. (READ MORE HERE) After I picked up my number and T-shirt, jogged a mile or so to warm up, I stood at the starting line checking my messages with the names of your loved ones. There were so many, and truthfully, it made me cry. Sorry, not very macho.

Then I ran for them. I ran as fast as I could go. And when my body said "give up," I thought to myself, my mother didn't stop having pain for months, I can run 10 more minutes. I passed the dog, the lady with the double stroller, and a guy who said he had run the Boston Marathon the day of the bombing. 7:55 for my first mile, 16:05 at mile two and I was hurting. I pressed on up the hill and onto the flat.

The Boston guy and I were neck and neck and I turned it on for the last 400 yards.

Although it wasn't a PR, it was still under 26 minutes. It was 4:04 faster than last year, and my second fastest 5K ever. I think I was slower simply because I was carrying a bigger load.

I love you and I miss you, mom.

Thanks for all your support and for your comments; it makes the journey a little lighter.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

A Fitness Nerd' View of Winning the Weight Loss Battle

There are lots of claims out there regarding weight loss methods, diets and health and fitness products. If you skip church or stay up late enough, you can watch hour long infomercials about them!

There is not a weight loss method on earth that doesn't require some effort from you!

Now that all the "I thought there was a magic pill" readers have reported me to the PC Police for abuse, we can carry on. The truth is this: one study (WebMD) showed that as much as 15 % of gastric bypass patients do not lose a successful amount of weight; some due to metabolic make up.

That sucks!

Another study showed that subjects regained an average of 73.4% of their weight loss during the first three years.

The really sucks! That means out of my 1000 friends 734 of you are going to fail.
I have finished 2 years of my journey and allow me to make some observations.

- Some of the people that fail can be found in the cookie aisle.

- My friends who have succeeded in really getting their weight under control are active, very active!

- I don't think any of my friends are really on a cheat meal regimen. It's more like life that has parties and holidays and you roll with it.

- Cleansing is counting poop as weight loss.

- The ones who disappear are usually defending their right to eat anything they want as long as it's within their calories for the day.

- The ones that win seem to understand ditching the junk food, the soda and the oceans of processed food, are part of the lifestyle change.

- Losing weight is only one part of being fit. It might have gotten you started, but it won't keep you going.

- There are lots of so called "answers" about what to eat, when to eat, who to eat, how much to eat, and dying if you eat less than 1200 calories in a day. What matters most is what works for you. The question is can you sustain this for the rest of your life?

- Reading the label can save your life. And not just if you are allergic to nuts. You can avoid too much sugar, sodium and other chemicals you can't even pronounce.

- Checking menus for restaurants BEFORE you go out to eat is what successful people do.

- Biking is for runners who like to coast. ;)

- Eating salad is healthy, but not with high calorie dressing. There are a host of supposedly healthy choices that are not. Many yogurts, snack bars and lots of whole and natural food offerings are loaded with sugars.

- Most canned food is loaded with sodium and so are frozen diet meals and even some "all natural" foods.

- Not paying attention can end you up in the cookie aisle.

I want to be in the percentage that is successful, and I want you to be there too!
Thanks for the shares and comments.

If you like this blog, be sure to stay connected for the release of my new book, ICU 2 Marathon - Diaries of a Nearly Dead Man!