Saturday, June 18, 2011

Short seems so long...

Into my third week of the "Return to running" schedule. (Thanks to Pete Pfitzinger) Coming back from the knee scope and last years broken ankle has been a bear...
I'm up to 30 minutes of continuous running now and this weekend, consecutive days. Yeah! It seems long sometimes going out for a half hour run and at other times it feels short. Four more weeks till the schedule runs it's course and I can get back to serious running.
My doctor has said "Full speed ahead" and expects me to be 100% by mid July.
Chomping at the bit to run something looooong, I have to be a good boy and take my time. I'm not 40 anymore. (I'm 56) Recovery times are slower and I would love to race short and get back some of the speed I lost after years of doing triathlon. There comes a special feeling, though, from being out on the road for a long time. A feeling you just don't get from a short fast race.
Have been getting my fill of longer stuff on the bike. 3 and 4 hour rides although yesterdays ride came apart at the seams!
Long ride on the canal, expecting 4 hours and went about 2:35. Muddy, buggy with Park Service guys mowing and then a hidden pot hole and my 12 year old Cannondale Fatty Head Shok front fork bites the dust. Dead. Took it apart (when I got home) and it's all bent up. The bike was given to me by a friend who needed to dump some old boy friend memories...
Broke the chain and had to whip out the chain tool...took the hint and just went home, fingers crossed the chain wouldn't snap again, bones being rattled since fork was no longer a shock absorber and sorta pulled to the left...
Workout hours are building and now that summer is here, and I'm off, they should climb quite a bit!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Everything I know about endurance sports I learned from Les Paul

I love this picture of Les Paul. In his 90's and still kicking it.
If you don't know Les, you should. He has been called the father of the solid body guitar. He invented new and exciting ways of recording. He played the guitar well into his 90's and was playing well just a few days before his death. If you've never heard him, download some of his tunes and listen to clear, sharp virtuoso playing by someone of your parents (or grandparents) generation.
I'm not a guitar player, although I gave it a shot once. I used to play the bass and can still roll off a few licks if I find one in my hands.
Endurance sports like running an cycling and triathlon, at their core, involve the kinds of things Les used to talk about all the time. As I get older even more of his wisdom applies because it deals with longevity.
"Don't touch it if it gets complicated."
Running, and cycling and doing tri's shouldn't be weighted down by the tyranny of technology.
The more you let yourself be sucked into things like a GPS watch and computer programs to track your fitness, power meters and all sorts of other technology, the farther you get from the core of the sports: Being fit, having fun and becoming a better person. They may have their place for you, but they aren't necessary. Often they get in the way.
"Be patient. Learn one thing at a time. Don't worry about being fast. That comes with practice."
We live in a culture of "Gotta have it now!" I meet so many athletes who are new and have a bucket list and have no real sense of their sports history or what it means to do something for years upon years. They simply have to have that marathon NOW. That Ironman NOW! They simply have run Boston NOW! Be patient. Truly learn your sport. Know it's history. Become a part of it, if you love it, let it become part of you. Learn to swim well. Learn to bike well. Learn to run well. Learn how to handle races and how do deal with things when it all goes bad (and it will). Stay healthy and don't get injured. In time your speed will come and you'll find all your patience will pay off. Bear in mind "fast" is a relative term and different for everyone. Be your fast, not someone else's.
"It's what you do with what you have that counts."
I beat my head against the "Boston" wall for years and just never managed to get there. I'm just not that fast. I have managed to pull down some Age Group awards over the years, but to be honest, most of those were before the current triathlon and running boom so my age group was kind of light. Being able to go long was my strength. I can run all day. Literally. I can bike all day and all night. Literally. I can stay upright and keep moving for hours upon hours. Literally. It's what I do, with what I got that counts. Do your best with what you have.
When Les was 33 he was in a car accident and had his right elbow broken. Once set, it would be immovable for life. He had it set at just less than 90 degrees so he could still play the guitar...something he did for the next 61 years. With a fused elbow! It was what he did with what he had that counted.
"It's not technique, it's what you have to say."
Many folks who are involved in endurance sports look like they have no business being there. Their arms are all akimbo when they run. Their swim technique is more dog paddle than anything and don't even ask them to hold a line on a bike!
They are all heart though. Despite how they may look, they love what they do and are successful at it. So many who strive for perfection suffer on the altar of that perfection. They don't stay around long. Sports for them is full of pain and angst, most of it mental and self inflicted. Those other folks? The ones who just get out and go? You see them year after year. There is more to endurance sports than medals and finishing. What are you saying? What example are you setting? What are you saying about the quality of your life? Are you mentoring other athletes? Are you making a difference in your sport?
"There are times when you want to go where you used to go and you can't go there."
We all get slower. Can't ride as far. Running times slow and distances shorten. There is a time when the PR's just stop coming. That's life. It's doesn't mean you're less of a person. It doesn't mean you have failed. It's not an indication it's time to quit, it's just that time is leading you down a different path.
Les never quit. He never stopped playing. He loved doing what he did. He inspired others to do the same.
Be like Les. Never quit. Never stop playing. Love what you do, even when it all goes bad. Inspire others to get off the couch and move.

TUESDAY, JUNE 29, 2010

A 'New Wave"?

I read a piece by someone the other day where they said they just LOVED the "New wave" of minimalist running. The trend that less is more and you should be running bare foot or in Vibram five fingers...
"New Wave" my ass!
Pictured above are my first real pairs of running shoes. Look at the soles on these things!
The left is the Onitsuka Marathon (Onitsuka later became Asics) And the right is the Boston '73. I went through three pairs of those and several pairs of Marathons before trying Addias, Etonic Street Fighters and then on to Nike Waffle trainers....
The first great running wave, that I was part of in the early 70's were bolstered by shoes like the ones could wear them till they fell apart the soles almost never wore out and you could run 100 mile weeks in them, and I often did when I lived in Colorado. If the bottoms got funky you slapped on some Shoe Goo and went back out on the road.
Talk about strong feet!
Now were into the third (some say fourth) running boom since running really took off in this country. During every up tick in running in this country, at some point someone runs out the less is more thing, the Tarahumara indians, and running barefoot. It's here for awhile and then fades.
Oh, to be sure...there are people that run barefoot all the time and have for years and that works for them. There are folks that never stopped running in minimalist shoes all the time, but they call them running or racing flats which is what the shoes above were called, even though you ran in them ALL the time.
Running this way ISN'T for everyone...just like running marathons or even 5k's isn't for everyone. Many folks would have you believe it is. Don't be a sheeple. Try it and if it causes problems switch to what WILL work for you.
Vibram Five Fingers look really interesting and couldn't have existed years ago because the technology wasn't there to make them.
I've talked with many runners who have tried running barefoot or with VFF's or even minimalist shoes...they they talk about about their injuries and how much they still love the VFF's and happy to say they still get out "once in awhile" barefoot.
Now, tomorrow, I hope to get off the injured reserve list and get back out on the road. (read some previous post to find out what's been shaking with me, if you don't already know).
I am going to return to running the way I started, in "minimalist shoes" Nike Frees and racing flats and see if I can re-build the kind of foot strength I had 30 years ago. I believe that running in super cushioned shoes have made my running more sloppy and have caused more injuries than they prevented. I can say that...I have a frame of reference.
Recently had a chat with a lass who waxed on quite well about how people were meant to go about barefoot. "Why, they have always done it." she said.
I pointed out the the "Iceman" from an Italian glacier was found in leather shoes with moss stuffed in them. The Roman legionaries walking across the globe in leather hob nailed boots with foot clothes in winter. Felt shoes in ancient China, leather shoes on European mummies, rope sandals on the dead found in the High Dry of South America.
Yeah, sure people walk about barefoot, but given have a chance they'll put shoes on and with good reason. Going around barefoot will mess up your feet.