Saturday, September 13, 2008

Hold Steady and Stay Positive

I have lots of cool things happening and a lot to digest and put together. The last two days have been very busy. Today I had my first resistance stretching session with a trainer. Yesterday the new DVD on resistance stretching arrived in my mailbox as well as another running DVD, so there is a lot to be excited about and loads of new information.

I received the DVD from Innovative Body Solutions. I haven't watched the whole thing yet but I started watching it yesterday and got through the first bit and I am very impressed. The founders of Innovative Body Solutions, Steven Sierra and Anne Tierney (who visited this blog and offered some good advice), are very good teachers and I was learning a lot more than the little I had already found on resistance stretching. I will fully review the DVD later when I have viewed and watched it a bit, but the biggest thing I learned was how to not only stretch but to strengthen the muscles using resistance stretching. I know this was in Bob Cooley's Book, but seeing and being shown how this works made it very easy to understand and implement. I also liked how the training taught first how to strengthen a muscle, then to stretch it, and finally to put the two together and do both stretches continuously. I only got up the the calf stretch on the DVD. I mentioned before that I hadn't found a resistance stretch for the calf and here was one right on the DVD. I also liked how they reference the names of the muscles being stretched. As an athlete I like to know the names of the muscles (my wife says I just like to say the big fancy names) but I know runners talk about certain muscles and we expect a stretching program to talk our language. I look forward to viewing and using the rest of the DVD. I enjoyed the Bob Cooley "Genius of Flexibility" DVD and found it well worth the price paid. This is the same price and already it is quite the bargain. I know how much other DVDs are sold for from other programs I have tried and this is well worth the cost.

Having seen a bit of this DVD yesterday, today I went down to Massachusetts to meet a stretcher named Janet and to be stretched out and learn more about how this all works. Janet did a lot of stretches with me and just like on the DVD there were both the strength and stretch portions. I learned I was doing it too hard on my own. She evaluated and worked on different meridian groups (I have got a lot of work to do to figure this out!) to find out which needed the most work. She was explaining the stretches as she went along, which I really like as I am very curious and want to know what is happening. She pegged the muscles groups that were really tight or weak. She moved my muscles through the stretches as I resisted and they did not hurt or really stress anything, but I could feel the right places stretch that needed to be stretched in some very new and different ways and directions. Things (fascia or scar tissue?) were giving way and making little pops as the stretching continued. I had much more mobility after each leg was stretched. She was packing a lot in, and at the end did some stretches on my lats and shoulders. She really noticed that they needed the stretching. She gave me lots of notes and it was a really positive experience. I do think that that this resistance stretching is on to something. It is very different from tradional static stretching and seems to have an immediate impact. I like it!

Last night I watched an pre-release of an update of the Building a Better Runner: Building from the Ground Up. The first edition and this was put out together by Jay Johnson, who is the middle distance coach at the University of Colorado, and Mike Smith, who is the head cross country coach and middle distance coach at Kansas State University. Jay sent a pre-release copy of the DVD and I thought it was very fascinating. I watched the whole thing last night, taking all sorts of notes. What I found interesting is that most of what is on this DVD is covered in many of the pages on this blog. I have been searching out all kinds of routines and therapies and here they were in a completely different form on one DVD and it is put together for runners. I saw how many of the drills were similar to the joint mobility work I have been playing around with. Some of the sand drills and other drills reminded me of Z-Health. Other information like implementing movement through all 3 different planes of motion reminded me of Scott Sonnon's DVDs like "Ageless Mobility", "Intu-Flow", and "Flow-Fit". A lot of the drills reminded me of Eric Cressey's "Magnificent Mobility" and even the dynamic flexibility drills in Matt Fitzgerald's book "Brain Training for Runners". I even saw some resistance stretching particularly of the lower legs for runners. As Jay and Mike say in the DVD they didn't invent all this stuff but they put things together in a unique way. I am not saying they even got their ideas from the other DVDs and books I mentioned. In fact they do things in very different ways. I just noticed the connection to so many of the things I have been finding and trying and it looks like they are arriving at a similar solution even if they went a different direction to get there. What I like is that these drills are particularly directed at runners. I just wish I had found this DVD earlier as I think their emphasis on preventive work and routines is so important. We didn't do these things when I was running in high school and college. This is a treasure trove of knowledge and exercises that should be a welcome addition to the collection of any serious runner, injured or healthy.

All the drills, however, are not for all runners and this is mentioned. There are over 100 drills and many would not be good for someone starting out or probably with an older body. But there are so many very useful drills and routines that would benefit the smart runner. I can't wait to try some of them. The athletes doing the drills are young, strong, athletic, and elite runners. Yes, that is Christian Smith doing many of the exercises. He finished third in the 800 meters in the 2008 Olympic Trials and earned a trip to Beijing with his last second and truly exciting dive to the finish line. I wonder if he practiced a diving drill. The 800 meters was the most exciting race of the Olympic Trials this summer as the first three finishers raced for Oregon teams and the trials were in Eugene. The stadium was rocking at the dramatic finish!'

Here is a video of the race from a fan inside the stadium. Listen to the noise!

Here is the televised video (very inspiring!):

So there is a lot of exciting things going on. As I was riding to my stretching session today I plopped a new Cd I had heard about into the the Cd player. I enjoyed listening to "The Hold Steacy- Stay Positive" on the trip down and back and now I will equate those songs with resistance stretching. This is not a music blog (maybe I need to start one) but I have to like a group that plays with the sonic blast of Bruce Springsteen and with his storytelling power as well as reminding me of the spirit of Mike Peters and The Alarm as well as the Alarmish "Whoahs" throughout the title song. You have to like lyrics that look into all sorts of dark corners and then hint at some redemption...

..."there's gonna come a time when the true scene leaders
forget where they differ and get the big picture
cause the kids at their shows, they'll have kids of their own
the sing-a-long songs'll be our scriptures,
we gotta stay positive ..."

or in another song,

..."we gonna build something this summer
we're getting back together
raise up a giant ladder
with love & trust and friends that hammer...
...Let this be my annual reminder
That we can all be something bigger""

Anyhow good music from a singer that looks like Elvis Costello. I also listened on my mp3 player as I had a very loose and enjoyable run this afternoon after today's stretching. Things had really loosened up in my hips quite a bit and I had a rare bouncy feeling as I ran. I felt like things were lined up so much better and my run was so fun I extended it a couple of miles to do 10 miles. If resistance stretching can leave me feeling this loose as I run I will be very happy.

One last thing for Chris B. when he reads this- that was a really good track workout on Wednesday. Thanks for pushing me throughout the set of intervals. It was tough and enjoyable Most of the guys were not running due to the Reach the Beach Relay this weekend. The workout was 5 X 1 mile with a lap rest between each. It was supposed to be at 1/2 marathon pace. We decided 6:30 pace would be our goal. I like being a front running "Kenyan" when I run. Some runners like following such as the "Ethiopian" runners and finishing strong at the end. Chris and I worked well together as Kenyan and Ethiopian. He ran off my shoulder and that kept me on an ever increasing pace. We did the first mile in 6:27, then progressed to a 6:21, a 6:17. the 6:11, and finally on the last one the Ethiopian runner took off. I told Chris not to worry about staying with me if he wanted to go faster. Chris broke 6 minutes and I did 6:02. It was a really good workout and with only each other running a similar pace we ran the workout to perfection.

Here you go, "Stay Positive"!

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