THE HAMMIE WHAMMY!

A world of pain!

According to a statistic stated by Dr. Nicholas Romanov (world renown running coach) 2 out of 3 people who run get injured. There are several reasons for this, ranging from poor technique to over training or simple freak accidents.  The likelihood of getting injured is a reality that all runners must face at some point. Many of these injuries CAN be avoided if you follow accepted training practices and techniques, as well as following good health and fitness advice. A strong, healthy body will resist injury or illness more readily than a sickly and unhealthy one. If you are not actively making yourself stronger, then you are actively making yourself weaker. It is imperative to maintain proper health and nutrition. The power that made the body has the power to heal the body, but that only works when you give it the proper building blocks it needs to maintain peak-level fitness. Your health is a form of personal wealth, treat it as such.

One of the most common injuries that runners face is the pulled or torn hamstring.

The hamstrings are three muscle-tendons on the back of each thigh that run from your hip to just below your knee.  Their names are the Semitendinosus,  Semimembranosus, and the Biceps femoris.

They function together to control the swing, extension, and retraction of hip and knee while running. A sudden jarring impact or weird twisting motion between landing and launching yourself while in motion can cause the hamstrings to strain beyond normal tolerances causing tears in the muscle fibers.  This is often caused by over-extending  one’s stride and landing heel first. Heavier runners, a.k.a  Clydesdales , have the added stress of a greater body weight increasing stress and strain on muscles and joints, making them more susceptible to injury.

Accidents happen!

Perhaps you got caught up in the moment during a heated race with a rival, or you simply weren’t paying attention because you were distracted and lost focus. WHAM! You suddenly felt a sharp pain in your leg, and or felt a popping sound. You overdid it. Accidents are never intentional, and so you injured your hamstring.  Now what?

When the point of breaking strain has been reached by the hamstrings, there are three degrees (or grades) of injury. Pray for the first two degrees.

1st degree– Mild strain causing sudden pain and tenderness at the back of your knee and thigh. Painful, but you can still limp and walk slowly. Go home and rest.

2nd degree– Partial tearing of the hamstrings, VERY painful and tender with some swelling and a loss of strength in your leg.  If you see bruising, you may want to see a doctor to have him check it.

3rd degree– Severe tearing or full detachment of the hamstring. Immediately go to the hospital! Your leg will be tender, swollen and very bruised, and you will have heard and felt the popping at the moment of injury. You will not be able to stand or walk, and hamstring re-attachment surgery will be required.  This is often a career ending injury.  Months of physical therapy will be required, and your leg will never regain its former strength. This is the worst possible hamstring injury.   

 The road to recovery

In the case of a 1st degree hamstring injury, recovery can occur within 3 weeks, a 2nd degree injury will take longer.  Self-care and rest is recommended, no hospitalization is required. IF you have a specific question as to the severity of your injury, you MAY choose to consult a doctor, but homecare is often the treatment for the 1st and 2nd degree injury. (If you had a 3rd degree injury, you probably left the race in an ambulance. )   

 As you recover,  it is important to take it easy. Avoid excessive physical activities that involve putting stress and strain on your leg. Favor your injured leg, especially when ascending or descending stairs. NO RUNNING!

Use the R.I.C.E therapy method. (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation)


 Light stretching exercises and foam roller therapy  will aid in the recovery process.

Avoid pain killers such as NSAIDs like ibuprofen. Painkillers mask the pain, pain is your friend. It tells you to STOP DOING THAT. If you can’t feel the pain you’ll keep hurting the injury without knowing it, making things worse. Use topical pain-relieving gels or ointments like ICY HOT, TIGER BALM, BIOFREEZE, or BLUE EMU. Pro-tip, always spring for the MAXIMUM or ULTRA strengths, and don’t waste your money on the dollar-store knock-offs.

The key take-away is rest up, slow down, take time to heal , and live to race another day!

You can find me at these upcoming races:

AUGUST 2021

Third Thirsty Thursday   5K Race Series – Race 5/7 August 19th @7:00 pm Reading PA

Be sure to check back  on August 8th for another article.

As always, I wish you success and happiness!

SLOW AND STEADY!

80/20 wins the race!

At the 1952 Summer Olympics in Helsinki, runner Emil Zátopek of Czechoslovakia won 3 gold medals. He took running’s highest honor at the games  in both the 5,000 (24 July 1952)and 10,000 (20 July 1952)  meter runs, and then decided AT THE LAST MINUTE to run the marathon (27 July 1952) FOR THE FIRST TIME!  Zátopek is the ONLY runner to win all three gold medals at the same Olympic games.  Runner’s World Magazine declared him to be the greatest runner of all time in 2013. He pioneered the use of High Intensity Interval Training (H.I.I.T) known to most runners today just as intervals or speed-work.

Zátopek was a beast! A force of nature. His grueling training regiment topped out at 175 miles (281.63 kilometers) per week! Protégés who attempted to mimic his training methods burned out after a few years, or seriously injured themselves.

Speed-work is the most widely embraced method to improve running performance, BUT it is NOT the ONLY way. It is possible to get fast by going SLOW!

An unlikely coincidence

When Emil Zátopek first hit upon the idea of H.I.I.T (pun intended) he was working in a shoe factory in Zlin, Czechoslovakia. A couple of years later on the other side of the world, Arthur Lydiard was working in a shoe factory in Auckland, New Zealand.  He came up with the notion that the key way to maximize running fitness was by tacking on distance running at a slow pace. A quantity over quality approach designed to build up stamina and endurance.  Lydiard fancied himself to be in fantastic shape. He played rugby! One fateful day, his friend Jack Dolan (a central figure in the Auckland running community) goaded Arthur into running against him in a 5 mile race. Needless to say, rugby training doesn’t carry over well into short distance running. Lydiard got his ass kicked by Dolan. The race nearly killed him. His humiliation at the hands of his friend was what lead him to the idea of adding distance and decreasing the pace. 

Lydiard realized that no runner, regardless of training or ability, can sustain their top speed for more than  half a mile. After that, their pace would decrease incrementally over distance as fatigue set in. Any runner who has run middle to long distance races is familiar with the concept that it’s not the distance that kills you, it’s the pace. Runners who shoot out like jackrabbits at the start of the race sometimes find themselves being passed by runners who slowly crept back up by running at a much slower race.

Arthur Lydiard spent many months perfecting his slow training method. At the height of his training, he was running 250 miles (402.3 kilometers) a week!  This proved to be too much.  Lydiard soon realized that he felt best when running 100 to 120 miles per week, and that he could always run again after a day of training if he kept the pace slow. He also played with the pace, alternating distances, etc.

Once he had it all figured out, his typical training week was:

  • Monday 10 miles
  • Tuesday  15 miles
  • Wednesday  12 miles
  • Thursday 18 miles
  • Friday 10 miles
  • Saturday 15 miles
  • Sunday 24 miles

Arthur Lydiard never personally won a Gold medal at the Olympics, but he did coach protégés who took 2 gold medals at the 1960 games in Rome. His training methods evolved into what is known as 80/20 running. the 80/20 rule of running training states that 80% of your weekly training time should be done at an easy effort level, with 20% consisting of harder running. Getting the miles is more important than speed-work. This flies in the face of logic for many, but the idea is about maintaining your heart rate in certain zones, while training your mind that this running thing ‘isn’t so bad’.  Your pace should be below the ventilatory threshold, meaning that you can carry on a conversation while running,  and you are not winded and gasping for air.

If I only had a brain…

Running is more of a mental discipline than it is physical. As your body grows fatigued, your brain begins to say STOP. You start thinking to yourself ‘I can’t do this anymore’. Here’s the thing, our bodies are capable of going further even though our minds are telling us that we can’t do this anymore. It’s like a fail-safe. We ‘think’ we are at our limit, so our mind tells us to stop, but in reality we can push ourselves much further than we thought possible. By focusing on distance rather than time, we train the body and the mind at the same time. By keeping our heart rate in a lower zone by running at a slower pace, we can run further without setting off the mental alarm bells telling us to STOP! It really is all in your head.

The week of SLOW

The biggest mind challenge for the runner is to keep a slow pace while knowing that you can run much faster.  This is about distance, NOT time. When we race, we want the best time. 80/20 training is all about keeping it slow and steady. Training should never be at your race pace! 80% of your runs should be done at low intensity. You should feel like you can just keep running all day if you had to.  You were born to run! Running is as natural as breathing. You wouldn’t stop breathing because  you were too tired, would you? The remaining 20% of your training is done at moderate to high intensity, but also just shy of race pace.

AGAIN training is NOT racing. Save that burst of incredible speed for the big race, but don’t run so fast that you burnout 20% short of the finish line. Smile and wave as you pass the jackrabbits who shot ahead at the start.

80/20 vs the Clydesdale

Clydesdales are a race horse of a different color, and 80/20 training is a trickier proposition. A Clydesdale is a term for an larger, overweight runner. We are a separate racing division , pursing our own path to fitness. Depending on what source you site, the pace between running and walking transitions between 12mph and 15mph. Clydesdales usually run at a much slower pace than the average runner, so there is much less wiggle room to run slow. I am a Clydesdale, and the struggle is real. No Clydesdale is ever going to burn up the track and take 1st place overall in a race unless that horse is on fire!

My fastest pace mile to date is 10min 1sec. My average pace is between 12min and 13min per mile. I can sustain a 12 minute per mile pace for up to one hour, after that my pace drops like a rock. This is why I am studying 80/20 running vs. High Intensity Interval Training. This body was not built for speed.

A skinny runner who can manage a 6-minute mile can effortlessly transition to a 12-minute mile. A Clydesdale who already runs at a 12-minute mile is hardly running much slower at a 15-minute pace by comparison.

If a ‘skinny’ runs 5 miles at a 6min pace, they are done in 30 minutes. A Clydesdale running a 12min pace takes ONE HOUR to cover the same distance. Our race takes longer, and the mental fatigue telling us to give up is that much more intense at the finish. The ONLY way to overcome this is to condition our mind and body toward increased stamina and endurance via 80/20 training.

For more information on 80/20 running, I highly recommend the book 80/20 RUNNING by Matt Fitzgerald. The book also contains dozens of pages of training plans for 5K to full marathon, and was used as the source material for this article.

You can find me at these upcoming races:

JULY 2021

Third Thirsty Thursday   5K Race Series – Race 4/7 July 15 @7:00 pm Reading PA

Be sure to check back  on July 25th for another article.

As always, I wish you success and happiness!

OUCH!

It’s NOT supposed to hurt!

Chances are even if you are a new or novice runner, you’ve come across one or more of the following slogans:

No pain, no gain!

Pain is weakness leaving the body.

Seven days without running makes one weak.

Push past the pain.

Embrace the suck!

Whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.

Motivational mottos such as these are a double-edged sword. Pain is your body’s way of informing you that something is wrong, and ignoring that warning can lead to a worse injury. Always listen to your body.  Now when I say pain, I am not referring to the good pain that comes after a workout where you may have sore achy muscles and mild fatigue, I am talking about that bad pain where standing is an effort and every step hurts. The former is normal, the latter is not.

Running is normal and natural. It should NEVER be painful. If it is, you’re not doing it right, or there’s something physically wrong with you.

 According to statistics cited by Yale Medicine, each year more than 50% of regular runners experience an injury.  Sometimes it is associated with an accidental trip and fall, but more often than not the cause is poor diet, overuse injuries, and over training.

Common injuries include stress fractures, broken bones, torn ligaments or tendons, and knee pain. The good news is that most of these injuries can be avoided through proper diet and training. Running is NOT bad for you, it is in fact very good. You were born to run.

You are what you eat.

The power that made the body is the same power that can heal and restore the body, but that only works if you give your body the building blocks it needs to repair itself.

The typical American diet is high in fat and processed sugar, and lacking in protein and essential nutrients. As a result, two out of every three Americans is overweight and in poor health.

The human body requires calcium for strong bones, and protein and amino acids for strong muscles. As a runner, the first step towards insuring a strong and injury-resistant body is a proper balanced diet that supplies the essential nutrients you require. If you feed your body junk, you will have a junk body. Junk breaks easily and doesn’t last. You are NOT junk, you are a runner! If you are not actively working to make your body stronger, then you are actively working to make your body weaker! Now cut the crap, get rid of the junk food, and start eating healthy!       

 Switch it up!

You can avoid overuse injuries by alternating hard training with easy training Every run does not have to be done at your top pace, slow it down and save top-speed for race day . Don’t go for many long runs during the week, keep it short and save the long run for the weekend, either Saturday or Sunday, BUT NOT BOTH! Also, the day after the long run should be a rest day. Limit your mileage to 45 miles per week. (Yes, I know this is going to rub ultra-runners the wrong way but you guys are atypical, and awe-inspiring. )

SAY NO TO DRUGS!

NSAIDS (non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs) are bad for you! Avoid painkillers like Ibuprofen, aspirin, and acetaminophen at all costs! All drugs have side-effects and they just mask the pain, they don’t cure the problem. If you can’t feel the injury, you also can’t feel how much worse it’s becoming as you keep running on it.   

DON’T OVER TRAIN!

There are many training programs for runners of all levels, many  available online and free. Stick to the program. It should keep you on track, but make sure the training program is suitable to your ability. If you are a NEW or novice runner, use a training program designed for new and novice runners.  When I trained for my first marathon, I used the Hal Higdon plan. I assure you it does work, and there is a plan for the new runner.  If your training program ramps up too quickly for your physical ability, you may need to modify it by repeating the earlier weeks until you can step up to the next level. BE AWARE HOWEVER, that if you are following a 20 week training program, you may miss your goal by adding extra weeks. That was why I started my 20 week program 26 weeks before my marathon was slated to allow time in case I was not ready. Always plan ahead and allow yourself extra time. Also, an essential component of training is the rest and recovery period between exercises. By following a training program, you will have set rest days listed on the grid to keep you from overdoing it.

KNOW WHEN TO STOP!

Okay, this next one’s a biggie, and I’m guilty of it! Sometimes, despite all the training and preparation, we get swept up in the moment. Maybe the excitement of the race or the spirit of competition was the spark that ignited our fire, but we chose to let it burn out of control. Sometimes it’s running beyond our normal pace and burning out before the end of the race. I’ve done that. Ran out too fast at the beginning and by the end of the race the runners I blew past are now passing me and I’m struggling to keep up. The worst however was my ‘accidental’ marathon on November 22nd 2020. I was running a 10-hour endurance race at French Creek State Park. My goal that day was to run the 4-mile course six times for a total of 24 miles, a personal distance record. (They also had milestone partial laps to gain certain distances like marathon, 50K, or even 50 miles.)  I did the 24 miles in eight hours, with two hours remaining on the clock. I had achieved my goal.  Suddenly I got a wild hair and decided to attempt another full lap, and a partial to complete a 50K! I would have been fine at 24 miles, but I didn’t know when to stop. I was tired, but I felt ok so I took off at break-neck speed. 1.23 miles into my 7th lap, I tripped on a rock and slammed into the ground full-force at top-speed. I had just past the marathon turnaround sign. The force of the impact triggered the emergence alert beacon on my Garmin informing my emergency contacts that I was hurt.

I bruised my IT band, and a few painful steps made it clear that I was incapable of finishing lap 7 and doing a partial lap 8 for a 50K distance. Since I was just 50 yards past the marathon sign, I turned back and limped in pain towards the finish line. It took me an hour to limp back that last mile. My knees and hip were bruised. I could barely stand and for the next three days I was hardly able to walk.  Again, had I quit when I was ahead, I would never have gotten hurt. I was VERY lucky the injuries were not more severe.   All because I wanted a 50K, but at least I got a marathon, albeit a painful one.

BUT MY FRIEND CAN!

Comparison is the enemy of contentment. I have running friends who can run six-minute miles, or can run distances of fifty miles or more. I also have non-running friends who are barely able to get off the couch. Last year I was training hard and I was able to run a half-marathon in under three hours. This year I’m struggling and my times are sucking. I’m envious of my faster running friends and my ultra-running friends. Someday I’d like to run a 50K or a 100K. My friends can do it now. I can’t. Likewise I have non-running friends who couldn’t run a mile to save their lives. It’s all a matter of perspective. Three years ago, I couldn’t run a 5K, now I’m capable of running up to 26.2 miles in a single day. You have to start somewhere, but the key is TO START! Nothing happens overnight or by itself. I am better, stronger, faster, and thinner than I was three years ago. I was inspired by a running friend then and decided to do something about it. Along the way  I met and was encouraged by new running friends. Now I inspire and encourage other runners who are new or struggling.  The bottom line is that your success or failure rests solely upon your shoulders. You are the ONLY one who can make yourself strong and healthy. You can do it, I believe in you!

You can find me at these upcoming races:

JULY 2021

Third Thirsty Thursday   5K Race Series – Race 4/7 July 15 @7:00 pm Reading PA

Be sure to check back  on July 10th for another article.

As always, I wish you success and happiness!

TRAIL MIX!

The benefits of running off road.

Every runner has one of ‘those friends’. The non-running ones who are completely confused about this whole ‘running thing’ that we do. They just don’t get it. Some mistakenly believe that all races are marathons and ask you questions like “how many miles is this marathon?” or “Are 10Ks harder than 5Ks?”. It’s frustrating having to always explain to  friends and family that all marathons are 26.2 miles, and can be held ANYWHERE, not just Boston or New York City, and that K in races stands for KILOMETERS, so a 10K is twice as LONG as a 5K, not necessarily twice as hard (but it can be). If you live in the USA, you usually have to then explain how many miles a kilometer is.

Yet perhaps the most baffling concept for the non-runner to wrap their heads around is trail-running. Why would someone willingly run off road on rough terrain, up and down hills or mountains, through wilderness and possibly even across a creek or shallow river? It’s all about the benefits!

The Great Outdoors!

The SECOND real race I ever ran when I first started running was the Chobot Challenge 15K Trail run on July 7th, 2019. Back then, it was quite the experience, and I finished.  Today, I run about half of my races on roads, and half on trails. My favorite trail run in the April Foolish at French Creek State Park. My least favorite, NEVER DOING THAT AGAIN was the Halfwit Half Marathon up and down Mt Penn. That race literally brought tears to my eyes, and almost made me give up running altogether. It was the hardest race I ever ran. I prefer to run on road, but I’m a runner and a runner runs! I’m not going to back away from the occasional trail run, I just wouldn’t want to ONLY run trails.

The benefits of trail running are two-fold, both  mental and physical.

There is a beauty to being out in nature that has a soothing effect on the mind. Urbanites trapped in their concrete jungles miss out on the spacious skies, the verdant forest trails, and the sounds of water flowing over the rocks of a nearby river.

The further away from the city you get, the less noise pollution from cars and blasting stereos. The music in the air is birdsong .

There is something to be said about a beautiful mountain lake unspoiled by man because there’s no road to drive there.  You have to get there by foot because it’s miles from the nearest road.

There is something very satisfying in running up a snow-covered mountain and seeing a serene winter landscape of undisturbed snow.

And there is something very satisfying to the spirit in knowing  that wondrous sights like these belong to you and the small percentage of the population that understands that life is meant to be lived firsthand, and that the real world is the one outside your window.  

 A leg to stand on!

Running is good for you! The same non-runner friends who don’t understand why you run will also tell you that it’s bad for your knees, bad for your heart,  bad for your feet, etc! Poppycock! There are literally hundreds of books on the benefits of running and thousands of scientific studies proving those naysayers wrong.  We were born to run!

There are many muscles, tendons, ligaments,  and nerves in the human leg.

The muscles  are:

 Gluteus minimus and medius, gluteus maximus, Iliac crest, adductor magnus, , semitendinosus, biceps femoris, gracilis, semimembranosus, plantaris, sartoruis, gastrocnemius, soleus.

The tendons  are:

Iliotibial tract (IT BAND), plantaris, fleor digitorm longus, medial malleolus, fibularis longus , flexor hallucis longus, fiblaris longus, fibularis brevis.

The ligaments are:

Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), posterior cruciate ligament (PCL), medial collateral ligament (MCL), lateral collateral ligament (LCL).

The nerves are:

Tibial, and the common fibular.

Don’t even get me started on the foot.

Running on a flat paved surface such as a track or street works different muscle groups and tendons differently than running on a trail. So the physical benefits of trail running is that you are working leg muscles more, and improving balance by running on uneven surfaces.

When running the gluteus maximus, the gluteus minimus and medius  form what is known as the posterior chain, which allows hip extention. Now running uphill will work those glutes  harder, and make them stronger in the process. Would you rather have buns of steel to run up mountains , or a lead bottom  anchoring you to the couch so that you can become a mountain?

Hilly terrain works your calves, and strong calves mean faster propulsion. 

When you run trails, you straighten your tendons and ligaments because the constant need to stabilize your ankles, knees and hip joints works your connective tissues with every uneven step you take. The more you work these, these stronger they become and the less prone to injury. Proof that running is GOOD for maintaining knee health! Always remember that if you are not actively strengthening  your body, you are actively weakening your body. No get out there and hit the trail!    

You can find me at these upcoming races:

June 2021

Third Thirsty Thursday   5K Race Series – Race 3/7 June 17 @7:00 pm Reading PA

Lebanon Root Beer Half Marathon June 20 @ 7:00 am Lebanon PA

Be sure to check back  on June 27th for another article.

As always, I wish you success and happiness!

FOR THE RECORD!

How far, how fast? Who’s first, who’s next?

The first modern Olympic games were held in Athens Greece from April 6th to 15th, 1896. 280 male athletes  from 12 different countries competed in 43 events. There were twelve track-and-field events held at the ancient Panathinaiko Stadium which was built around 300 B.C and is the ONLY stadium in the world constructed entirely of marble.    

One world record (WR) was set, a few Olympic Records (OR) were established, and nine of the 12 events were won by Americans. The events and winners were:

Track

100 m USA Thomas Burke 12.0

400 m  USA Thomas Burke  54.2

800 m AUS  Edwin Flack 2:11.0   

1500 m  AUS Edwin Flack 4:33.2

110 m hurdles USA Thomas Curtis 17.6 OR

Road

Marathon GREECE Spyidon Louis 2:58:50 OR (finish line at stadium)

Field

Long jump USA Ellery Harding Clark 6.35 OR        

Triple jump USA James Brendan Connolly 13.71 OR

High jump USA Ellery Clark 1.81 OR         

Pole vault USA William Hoyt 3.30 (height)

Shot put USA Robert Garrett 11.22 OR  

Discus throw USA Robert Garrett 29.15 WR

The most notable of these twelve events for the modern runner is the 100m dash and the marathon.

In 2009, the world’s fastest man Usain Bolt set the current world record for the 100 meter in an incredible 9.58 seconds.

When Spyidon Louis ran that first modern marathon on April 10th , 1896 he entered the record books to great fanfare. On the last lap he was joined in the run by the crown prince of Greece, and their entrance into the Panathinaiko to cross the finish line interrupted the pole vault event already in progress. Spyidon became a national hero, and retired from racing.

For the rest of the 20th century, marathon runners chipped away at his 2 hours 58 minutes and 50 seconds.  In 1925 Albert Michelsen (USA) got it under 2:30 when he ran 2:29:01.8 on October 12th. By 1963, the record was whittled to under 2:15 when Leonard Edelen (USA) ran 2:14:28 on June 15th. The record time remained above two hours for the remainder of the 20th Century and was down to 2:05:42 set by Khalid Khannouchi (Morocco) on October 24th 1999 at the Chicago Marathon. The current world record holder of the marathon is Eliud Kipchoge of Kenya. He ran 2:01:39 on September 16, 2018 at the Berlin Marathon. He is ALSO the first man in history to run a marathon in less than 2 hours, an feet he accomplished in Vienna in 1:59:40 on October 12th, 2019.

(This is NOT considered an official world record because it was not run in open marathon conditions, and was set on a course cherry-picked for speed. Kipchoge was accompanied by a dense rotation of pacesetters, and the event is considered to be a symbolic record.) 

Sadly, the mile is NOT an Olympic event although the mile is a standard for all modern professional middle distance runners.

Roger Bannister was the first man to run the mile in under 4 minutes, on May 6, 1954. His time was 3:59.4 and John Landy followed 46 days later with a time of 3:57.9 .  To date, over 1,400 athletes have broken a  four-minute mile. The current record holder is Hicham El Guerrouj of Morocco who ran 3:43.13 on  July 7th 1999.

The point is this, the two most important record holders as far as the world is concerned are the person who established the first record, because there is ONLY one first time, and the current record holder because that is the mark to beat! Only elite runners will ever hold world records and compete in the Olympics, and that’s OK! The level of training and dedication needed to reach that tier of competition far exceeds the commitment times of the average runner. A lot of sacrifices need to be made, and even if you do manage to set a new world record, it’s only a matter of time before a younger. faster athlete claims the title. No matter how fast you are, there is always someone faster.

This is why the PERSONAL RECORD or PR is vital for the average athlete or weekend warrior. Seeing one’s progress is an essential tool for continued encouragement and self-esteem. I will never be an Olympic runner, nor will I ever be considered elite. Last year I set PR after PR, so I have my own times to beat. I managed to break into the top-five in my division TWICE last year, claiming 5th place each time.

Last week, I had my most unusual 5K race ever. I was pacing myself differently, concentrating on my cadence and my breathing in a attempt to improve my time which has taken a nose-dive this year.  You tend to know who you are competing against in your division, and the final leg of the race I was neck and neck with fellow Clydesdale Joe Marano.  It’s great to have someone of a similar pace to run against. Iron sharpens iron! I HONESTLY BELIEVED there was one spot left in the top 5 for Clydesdales, and I was eager to reclaim that honor. I let Joe know in no uncertain terms that I was not giving up, and like Rocky and Apollo Creed we were going to the 9th round! I had the EYE OF THE TIGER! With 100 yards to the finish line Joe cried “LET’S DO THIS!” and we both broke into a mad dash for the finish line. I have never had to race against a competitor in the final seconds of a race, and I gave it everything I had. Joe beat me by ONE SECOND.  38:40 vs 38:41.

seconds after crossing the finish line.

As dumb luck would have it, the 5th place spot had already been claimed ten minutes earlier, we actually placed 7th and 8th respectively. Joe was better than me that day, he beat me fair and square.  I still have another five races in this series to attempt to break back into the top 5 once again. It may NOT happen this year. 28 minutes is 5 minutes faster than my PR for a 5K. Every race is different, and the runners in the starting line-up changes constantly.  Best I can do is to try and chip away at my time each race.

I’m content with being in the top five, and taking 4th place is my NEXT GOAL. I may NEVER achieve a first place victory, but I’m a million times better than the couch-potatoes who choose not to run. Becoming a runner back in 2019 changed my life for the better!     

You can find me at these upcoming races:

JUNE 2021

Dumb Dutchman Half Marathon June 13 @ 8:30 am Reading PA

Third Thirsty Thursday   5K Race Series – Race 3/7 June 17 @7:00 pm Reading PA (race day sign up only! $13)

Lebanon Root Beer Half Marathon June 20 @ 7:00 am Lebanon PA

Be sure to check back  on June 13th for another article.

As always, I wish you success and happiness!

RUN THE YEAR!

HITTING 2021 RUNNING!

2021 is a whole new  year and now that we’re done putting a bow on 2020, it’s time to dust off the ashes of the old year and do what needs to be done to make 2021 a better year than the dumpster fire we all just survived. I don’t think that there’s a person alive today that will look back on 2020 with fond memories.

So here we are in this new year with another chance to start over once again. As I stated in my previous blog post, this year I’m changing the format of InstantCoffeeWisdom.com a bit.  New content will still be uploaded on Sundays, but only once or twice a month instead of weekly, and I’m shifting the focus away from finance and politics towards running and fitness. You may be asking yourself why. The answers are simple. Over the last three years, I have provided you all the tools and advice you need to get your financial house in order.  I’ve proven by my example to you that just as I am having a comfortable life free from the self-imposed monetary burdens that enslave many people, you too can free yourself from these chains. I have written over 100 articles on budgeting, saving, planning, and investing. I’ve provided you the keys, now you must open the locks and free yourself. You must do it yourself, I cannot do it for you.

As for the lack of discussions of politics, let’s just say that I’m done with politics for the foreseeable future. The results of the 2020 presidential election broke my heart, and I see dark days ahead for my country. Donald J. Trump was the president America needed. May God have mercy on our fallen nation.

As I have said many times in the past, your health is your wealth. Staying strong and healthy will shift the odds in your favor of a long and happy life.

I started 2021 by hitting the ground running. I mean this both figuratively and literally. The phrase ‘hit the ground running’ means to start something and proceed at a fast pace with enthusiasm. On New Year’s Day, January 1st, 2021 I did something again which I did last year. I got up early and went out for a run. Unlike last year though, this time it was a solo run, as well as a virtual race.

Last year when many of my official races were cancelled, I discovered ‘virtual races’. If you are unfamiliar with the term a virtual race is one when you sign up online and pay your entry fee.  Then you pick your own course and distance, and time yourself with your GPS runner’s watch, or phone. You upload the results and you get your medal in the mail.

Now I had signed up for not just one but TWO virtual different virtual races. One for just that day, and one that lasts the entire year.  For New Year’s Day, I selected a virtual race called ‘Run out of the 2020 Zone into the 2021 Zone’ because the finisher’s medal had a Twilight Zone theme to it. This race was sponsored by Goneforarun.com  I was only intending to run a 5K, but I got caught up in my enthusiasm and kept on running. I don’t know what I was thinking when I passed the 10K turnabout point and kept going. It was below freezing and I was not prepared for a long run. For some odd reason, the thought of running a half-marathon popped in my head, but by the time I had run 4.7 miles (7.6K) down the trail,  I knew I had bitten off more than I could chew and had to turn back.  The final 2 miles were a struggle, but another  runner who had passed me earlier was now heading back as well, and she was able to provide encouragement and conversation as we matched pace and ran back to the start.  It was a good thing Kris happened by when she did because I was discouraged and just walking at that point because I was cold and tired. I ended up finishing with a 15K (9.3 miles) that took 2 hours 38 minutes 46 seconds to complete.  The temperate was 24°F (-4°C)

What prompted me to press on beyond my initial intention of just running 5K (3.1 miles) was the OTHER virtual race I had signed up for. For 2021, I had opted to join the RUN THE YEAR CHALLENGE. This is a yearlong virtual race offered by runtheedge.com where you run 2,021 miles in 2021. It has a beautiful finishers medal that anyone would be proud to display.

Now how you run this seemingly impossible distance is entirely up to you. The key is to have a plan, and this is where the 6P Rule comes into play. Simply stated  the 6P Rule is: ‘Prior Proper Planning Prevents Poor Performance‘.  Memorize that phrase, learn it and live it. If you are going to be successful, you MUST plan. If you fail to plan then you plan to fail. There are no ifs, ands, or buts about it. Without a proper plan firmly in place at the onset, failure is inevitable.

When you divide 2,021 miles by 365 days you get 5.53 miles per day. That’s not a bad exercise goal to stick to for the year. I do not own a treadmill, there is no space in my apartment.  Running outside is far better, and it’s free. The problem lies with the weather. There are days when running outside is a miserable option, or even out of the question. As I said, right now it’s bloody cold outside, but I am managing to run about  20 miles a week despite the cold weather and the 60+hour work weeks I face at my day job. I’m trying to run distances of at least 7.5 miles at a clip. Sundays are my long runs, so anything up to a half-marathon is possible , weather permitting.  Last Sunday Jan 17th 2021, I ran a winter half-marathon for the 1st time ever. Temperature was 36°F. I chose the 2020 Dumpster Fire Half-Marathon from virtualstrides.com

Just like 2020 was a Dumpster Fire of a year, so was this run. To my credit, I did not give up despite the cold, but this was my worst time ever for completing a race of this distance. 4hours 26Minutes 55seconds. Normally I can run this distance in about 3 hours or less, but I have NEVER run this far in temperatures this frigid, so there is no sense beating myself up over this.

Last night I ran 7.5 miles, and it was a much faster pace.  So far this month I have run 50 miles. Today is Sunday Jan 24th 2021 and I’m going for a long run, probably a 15K again. As I RUN THE YEAR, I will continue to post progress updates as well as upcoming races where I can be found.

NEXT 2 UPCOMING LIVE RACES:

HumBug Bustle 5K Saturday Jan 30th 2021 Reading PA

Shiver by the River 10K Sunday Feb 14 2021 Muhlenberg PA

When the weather gets warmer, I should be able to run further distances and more frequently.  I only have 1,971 more miles to run, and I have the strength and motivation to accomplish it. Perhaps my fitness journey will encourage you to pursue one of your own.  The year is still young. As always I wish you success and happiness!

THE CHALLENGE OF WINTERTIME!

You got this!

THE CHALLENGE OF WINTERTIME

Money invested in your health is money well-spent.

Peloton is the ‘Rolls Royce’ of exercise equipment. If you’re willing to spend thousands of dollars on a single exercise bike or treadmill for your home gym, you want the best quality possible. Peloton’s gimmick is that once you buy their machine, you also must pay a monthly membership fee of $39.99 to access their EXCLUSIVE, on-demand live streaming exercise classes.   

In a widely mocked 2019 Peloton Christmas commercial, a husband surprises his thin attractive wife (played by actor Monica Ruiz) with a Peloton Bike for Christmas. The wife then spends an entire year documenting her use of the bike for her social media accounts, ultimately watching a compilation highlight video with her husband where she thanks him for the gift that ‘changed her’. The ad has been labeled as sexist, alarming and cringe-worthy.     

Actor Ryan Reynolds who is also the owner of Aviation American Gin immediately hired  Monica Ruiz to ‘reprise’ the Peloton wife role for his gin commercial.  In the follow-up Aviation Gin ad  (which spoofs the original ad),  she is now divorced, staring blank-faced and sitting in a bar with concerned girlfriends. They give her multiple martinis to guzzle as they tell her she’s ‘safe now’ and she ‘really looks great’.  I don’t know which of the two ads is worse, but I am leaning towards the second.

Over the course of a person’s life, they will earn millions of dollars IF they work hard, and invest their money wisely. In that same period, they will only have ONE body, so staying fit and healthy is of the utmost importance. No one wants to spend their life feeling weak and sickly.

Physical fitness is a personal decision. The ONLY one who understands the trans-formative journey towards better health is the person on that path. I began running at the beginning of 2019, and this past year has been a year of personal transformation. I am in my best physical condition in years as a result of my personal commitment to my physical improvement.

Are you in, or are you out?

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Winter’s chill adds a new challenge to a person who has taken stock in their own health and well-being.  Frigid temperatures tend to keep the fail indoors huddled around a heat source. IF and only IF you are truly committed towards improving your physical health, you only have two exercise options. Indoors or outdoors.

I do NOT own personal home gym machines. It is my opinion that unless a person has a very good reason for buying home gym equipment, their money could be better invested elsewhere. Gym equipment depreciates in value faster than automobiles.  In addition to the expense, these exercise machines take up space.  There are many gyms chains nationwide (such as Planet Fitness) that have the latest machines,  local branches open 24 hrs, and some offer memberships as low as $10.00 per month. Plus if the equipment breaks, it’s not your problem!

I train indoors, but I run outdoors for competitive races which are offered almost every weekend including WINTER. As each of these  races have entry fees, I limit myself to not more than three a month. Usually it’s once a month, sometimes twice. Running is a lifestyle choice understood only by fellow runners. The running community is a great source of encouragement and motivation. When you run with the pack, you run with the pack. When you join a local running club, you will make new friends and see familiar faces  at local events.  The key takeaway to remember is that athletes must always be in training for their next event.   

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Baby it’s cold outside.

Winter weather is highly unpredictable. When running outside you MUST dress appropriately for the conditions.  There are days in December in the area of South-Central Pennsylvania with temperatures of 50° F (10° C) or higher, and days with temperatures below freezing  (32° F, or 0° C). Wind gusts can cause temperatures to suddenly plummet.  Exposed skin can become damaged from repeated and prolonged exposure to cold temperatures, so it may be necessary to wear protective gear such as a balaclava and gloves if you are spending long periods of time outdoors. After returning indoors, be sure to treat your hands and face with a nourishing skin cream to help skin heal.

Investing in proper exercise garments is always highly recommended. Clothing designed for outdoor exercising should be thin enough to exercise in, while being thick enough to retain enough body heat to keep you warm. You should dress in layers to be able to remove some clothing if you  become too warm. I have personally worked up a sweat running 10K in subfreezing temperatures.  The ‘track suits’ of today are much more advanced than your father’s gray jogging-suit.   Wonders have been wrought due  to the creations of both Thinsulate  and Polar Fleece in 1979. If trapped body heat is still not enough to keep you warm outdoors, it’s even possible to purchase electric heated garments.  I have seen people run outdoors in winter wearing shorts, while others looked like they were dressing for an expedition to the North Pole. During themed winter races like The Santa Run, The Jingle Bell Run, or the Kris Kringle Run, people have dressed like Santa Clause while running.   Only you know what clothing is comfortable for you to wear, so dress accordingly.

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It’s cold and DARK out there.

As the daylight hours tend to be much shorter in winter, outdoor runners need to be visible to passing cars. I am always amazed by the number of people who ware black clothing at night and cross the street in the middle of the block.  Add icy streets and tragedy is all but assured. If running, jogging, or speed-walking outdoors is not possible for you during daylight hours, keep these safety tips in mind:

  • Cross at crosswalks, with the light.
  • Always look for cars which might not stop.
  • Carry a runner’s flashlight which can be worn on sneakers, belt, wrist or headband.
  • Wear a reflective safety vest, or harness.
  • Run on well maintained trails or streets.
  • Run with a buddy, or in a group if possible to insure safety.
  • Always pay close attention to your surroundings.
  • DO NOT run in bad sections of town, or in public parks after sunset.
  • Always carry your mobile cell phone so that you can call for help if something  happens.

Just because it’s wintertime doesn’t mean you can’t maintain your active healthy lifestyle. Obsessed is a word lazy people use to describe dedicated individuals. Your health is in your hands! You got this! As always, I wish you success and happiness!  

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IT’S ALL IN THE TIMING!

Unleash your full potential!

ITS ALL IN THE TIMING

(This is part two of a two part series on nutrition and exercise. for part one read FOR YOUR OWN GOOD!)

The human body is a complex biological machine.  Your brain is the most incredible computer in existence, but many of our biological functions operate automatically with an innate intelligence. We do not need to tell our heart to beat, our lungs to breath air, etc.  Like any machine, there is a natural rhythm and flow of operation, and an energy source must be maintained to provide power.  When we disrupt our normal rhythm of operation, or our source of energy by altering our diet, we throw our body into chaos. The innate intelligence of the body will take counter measures to assure survival.

Whenever we do not drink or eat at regular intervals the body will automatically enter starvation mode. A person can be starving and dehydrated while being overweight because the body has slowed down, or even shut down key metabolic functions because the flow of nutrition was disrupted.

In order to reach your full health potential, a conscious effort must be made to maintain a regular schedule of nutrition and exercise.  When you enact a strictly regimented diet and exercise plan you unlock your bodies full potential. It can recover quicker for illness or injury,  fight infection better, and last longer. You have the potential of adding years to your life, and that worth more than any amount of money. Your HEALTH is your WEALTH!

Let’s call it a day!

A day is 24hrs, and most active people break these up into three equal sections more or less. Although the can vary slightly from person to person, for argument’s sake let’s assume we sleep 8hrs, work 8hrs, and play 8hrs. (Play meaning anything that is not work) The body’s innate intelligence uses these established sections as a basis for setting our biological timing. Our body is most ‘happy’ when everything is ‘normal’ and regularly occurring. We maintain  an normal sleep cycle, eat proper nutritional meals and snacks at regular intervals, and exercise at about the same point.  When these conditions are met, we USUALLY have a healthy, functional metabolism. (Sometime years of neglect, prescribed medications, or advancing age will mess with our metabolism, in which case it might be wise to seek the advice of a qualified medical professional.)

BREAKFAST TIME!

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The English word we use for the first meal of the day is a combination of two words BREAK and FAST.  During our 8 hour sleep cycle, our intake of nutrition was cut off. We expended energy maintaining our life functions, and we expelled water vapor in a breath. Some of us may have awakened during the night for a bathroom break. As such, our body has been experiencing a period of fasting, and we BREAK that FAST with our first meal. All of your meals should be a balanced combination of the seven major nutrient classes : Carbohydrates (carbs ,or glucose), Lipids (fats), Proteins, Dietary Fiber, Vitamins, Minerals, and Water.  ESPECIALLY water! You should have water with EVERY meal, and at regular intervals throughout the day, such as right after waking, after exercising, while being exposed to extremes of heat, and before bed.    

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Avoid fad diets that restrict or totally eliminate any of the vital nutrients for life, and instead focus on BALANCED meals. Totally eliminating fats is not good for you, nor is cutting out carbs. Not getting enough protein is also very bad. If you aren’t getting enough vitamins or minerals in your diet, you may have to take some supplements, but healthy nutritious foods SHOULD supply many if not all of your recommended daily allotments.  Vitamins and their connection to our health  were discovered over a hundred years ago. Originally ‘vitamine’, the term was coined in 1912 by Casimir Funk. Multivitamins have been around for decades,  but every vitamin company out in existence will claim their ‘wonder pill’ will meet all your needs and is better than their competitor’s product.  Some vitamins can even build up in our bodies if you take them too often, reaching toxic levels. Some our body can’t store at all, so we need a regular supply.  There are OVER forty major vitamins and minerals, and the amounts needed vary by individual.

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KEEP IN MIND: The nutritional needs of the professional athlete in training for competition are VERY different   than the average ‘couch potato’. The Standard American Diet (SAD) is about 2000 to 2500 calories per day, 30% each from fats and protein,  with the remaining 40% from carbs.  Athletes require a higher amount of protein in their diet, and a higher caloric intake. For example, a runner racing in a half-marathon will burn approximately 2000 calories during the race. This is why food is provided after sports.

Also after a period of prolonged exercise, or a sporting event your muscles require vital nutrients immediately! You have a 45 minute window to replenish expended energy stores to feed and repair damaged muscle fibers. Proteins and amino acids are vital to restore and build muscles after strenuous workouts.   This is part of the natural timing of a healthy metabolism.

Your muscles operate in three phases

The Energy Phase This is when your muscles are burning stores of glycogen to produce the levels of energy needed for the activity.  Taking in carbs during the activity can extend endurance and delay fatigue by maintaining blood glucose levels.

The Anabolic Phase– This is that vital 45 minute period after your workout when your muscles need  protein, amino acids, carbs, minerals  and vitamins, as well as water to repair damaged muscle fibers.

The Growth Phase–  After the Anabolic Phase, your muscles use the provided nutrients to repair and grow muscles. During this recovery and ‘rest’ period, your muscles become insulin resistant, so eating at this point isn’t helping your muscles recover at all, and any unneeded nutrition you ingest is stored as fat.

This is why eating late at night, or right before bed is a major health mistake.  Your body naturally and automatically stores unneeded calories as FAT. Carbs (SUGAR) are stored as FAT, Fat is stored as FAT,  EVEN excess protein is stored as FAT!            

If you want to be healthy for the rest of your life, maintain a notorious balanced diet with the recommended  amount of vitamins and minerals, exercise regularly, and follow the natural rhythms of your body by maintaining a regular eating, sleeping, working, and playing schedule. Remember, timing is everything! As always, I wish you success and happiness!    

FOR YOUR OWN GOOD!

Your health is up to you!

for your own good

(Part one of a two part series on nutrition and exercise)

Life is what you make of it. If you’re fortunate enough to live in the USA, you get to enjoy enormous personal freedoms and rights to pursue your personal happiness. You can have anything you want in this country IF you’re willing to put in the time and work for it. This applies to both your personal wealth, and your person health. These are two sides of the same coin, and the wealthier you become, the better your ability to eat healthier nutritious foods. Your health IS your wealth, and your wealth is your health! You are the ONLY person in charge of YOU. You are responsible for your own life, and this also applies to diet and exercise. There is no shortage of food in this nation, but not everything you can eat is good for you. High quality foods, organic fruits and vegetables, vitamins and supplements can be pricey. Junk food such as soda and candy have nearly no nutritional value and is bad for your health. You should be asking yourself two questions:

1) If cheap ‘JUNK’ food is ‘BAD’ for me, shouldn’t I be investing my money in buying higher quality foodstuffs and nutritional supplements?

 2) If I only get ONE body, shouldn’t I be investing my money in keeping it as healthy as possible?  

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Helps build strong bodies 12 ways!    

Nutrients are substances that provides nourishment essential for growth and the maintenance of life. There are seven major nutrient classes : Carbohydrates (carbs ,or glucose), Lipids (fats), Proteins, Dietary Fiber, Vitamins, Minerals, and Water. Some of these classes can be further subdivided into a list of about 40 essential items, and then assigned specified amounts thereof for each item based upon an individual’s size, age, and gender.  You cannot entirely eliminate ANY of these seven classes and survive for long. Going without eating anything, AKA starvation will kill you in about a month. Likewise going just a week without water will do you in. Eliminating various vitamins and minerals will cause all sorts of health complications  which if left unchecked will shorten your lifespan.

Your body uses carbs and fats for energy. Protein is needed for building lean muscle. The entirety of our daily caloric intake comes from a combination of these essential three nutrients. The other four have virtually zero caloric impact but the body needs these substances to function properly. Your body will store fats as a ‘back-up’ fuel source, while burning carbs (glucose) first, and will store any unused carbs as fat. When glucose and fat stores are depleted, your body will turn to muscle to break it into individual amino acids for energy. Unlike carbohydrates and fat, your body does not store amino acids, which is why muscle breakdown is the only way to release amino acids for fuel. If you’re at the point where your body is breaking down your muscles for fuel, you hit the point where you are in starvation mode. You DO NOT want your muscles breaking down.  Your heart is a muscle.

If you’re uncertain what a carb, or carbohydrate is, the very simple answer is sugar aka glucose. An apple or a piece of broccoli is a carb. So is a candy bar. Obviously one is better than the other for your body, while the tempting JUNK food is sickeningly sweet. Processed, refined sugar is the worst possible carb to put into your body.     

Water, water everywhere, and not a drop to drink.

About two thirds of the Earth is covered in water.  Coincidentally the human body is a similar composition, made up of about 60% water. We lose water from our bodies three ways by : urination, sweating, and breathing. Under extreme circumstances, it’s possible for a person to lose more than  a liter of water per hour when exerting themselves in high heat.  Under such conditions it is imperative to replenish that lost liquid and stay hydrated. Failure to do so can result in heat exhaustion, or worse, heat stroke and possible death.  

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Water has ZERO calories and our body needs it to maintain proper functions of our internal organs.  Water is needed to metabolize fats and flush toxins from our system. When we begin to lose water from our body without replenishing it during long periods of exertion and exposure to high temperatures, our body will use its innate intelligence to retain this vital nutrient because it believes we are in STARVATION mode and will do everything to retain water to prevent dehydration. You’ll show sighs of heat exhaustion. So you’ll urinate less and your urine will darken as toxins begin to build in your liver and kidneys.  At a certain point your body will shut down your ability to sweat, and then the your are in serious risk of heat stroke. Sweating is your body’s natural way of cooling.  As you experience heat exhaustion, there will be several signs.

  • Confusion.
  • Dark-colored urine (a sign of dehydration).
  • Dizziness.
  • Fainting.
  • Fatigue.
  • Headache.
  • Muscle or abdominal cramps.
  • Nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea.

When you reach the point when your skin gets clammy and you stop sweating, you need to STOP what you are doing immediately and cool down and get hydrated FAST. Heatstroke KILLS.

Pure, clean, cool water is the best thing you can ever drink. Yes, our body can filter out the water from other things we drink like soda, but nothing is better for us than water. Water was good enough for Jesus and it should be good enough for you as well. Water is your body’s best friend, and you can’t make coffee without it! Check back next week for part two IT’S ALL IN THE TIMING  and as always, I wish you success and happiness!