Sunday, August 30, 2009

New York Times article on Minimalistic Running Shoes

Today's New York Times had another article (in the business section) on minimalistic running shoes called "Wiggling Their Toes at the Shoe Giants" by Amy Cortese. It gives mention to the Vibram Five Finger Shoes (the picture above is of their new model called the Moc, below is thier new trail shoe called the Trek), the Vivo (or Terra Plana) Barefoot shoes (I have to get another pair for school as I wear mine all the time because they feel so good) and of course it mentions the wonderful book "Born to Run" by Chris McDougall.

As a business article it mentions the impact the minimalistic trend is having and could have on the fortunes of the companies making such shoes as well as the major running shoe companies. I was intrigued to find out that Vivo Barefoot is coming out with a performance model at the end of the year called the "Evo". I was also cracking up at the mention of a decidedly non-minimalistic running shoe from Adidas that retails for up to $500. It is called the Porsche Design Sport Bounce:S running shoe and it has metallic springs inspired by a car’s suspension system. Here is a picture of this futuristic shoe:

I thought the Nike Shox was a terrible shoe and this thing looks even worse for messing up your running.

I am always trying to find good minimalistic running shoes as I enjoy and feel better running in them as I have done so for a few years now. I have a new favorite. The Puma K street I bought last week have the fit and performance that I have been looking for in a running shoe.

I first used my new pair during track intervals Wednesday night. They fit quite different than the Puma H Street. They were a bit more roomy (I do like breathing space inside a shoe and buy them a bit big)because they have a toe box rather than the tight upper of the H Street. The sole of the shoe has some small waffle like nubs on the bottom that give it a bit more solid ride than the H Street. I wasn't sure if I would wear them off the track, but the Asics Hyper Speeds that I have been using were getting old and the little bit of cushioning in the midsole was getting getting depressed and I had the feeling it was throwing off my stride a bit so I wore the K Streets for an 8 miler on Thursday and then again Friday. They felt great on the roads. Today I took them for a 16 mile run and they were just fine. I never ran more than a 1/2 marathon in the H Streets and never used them as a daily running shoe. I think the K Street will be just fine for daily runs. I have to go back to the store and buy the rest of them in my size as they were on sale at less than $40.

Today's 16 mile run was wonderful. I am slowly learning to run differently as I learn proper movement patterns through Feldenkrais Method lessons. The past few days I have been going over a lesson before each run that I ordered from Jae Gruenke from The Balanced Runner. It is called "Loosening up to Run" and is a 30 minute audio lesson that is simple and subtle (which is what Feldenkrais Method lessons are). You don't strain like in stretching, but make small movements and explore how your body works and teach your brain the movement patterns. Here is the blurb from the website:
A brief introduction to the most fundamental coordination pattern for healthy, efficient running. This lesson is designed to give you the foundation for recovering from injury or just regular aches and pains, while teaching the mechanical principles of more economical running. Do it once to start learning the material, do it again the night before your next race or any time you start feeling somehow "off." A valuable tool for runners of any level. Safe for injured runners.

I was at first disappointed when I got the cd as it was similar to other movements and I expected to "do" more, but as I use the cd, I am finding the movements relax me and I get more range of motion, and then I have good runs as I concentrate on just using this lesson and it movements. This lesson is similar to a lesson in the "Run with the Whole Body" program and other lessons I have found online. It takes you through movement patterns until you get to the point where you work on the small twist that your torso makes as you run (the hip goes forward and the shoulders go back). This is where your power from running comes from. I am so used to muscling myself through runs by only using my legs that today's run was very enlightening. My brain and body is getting the concepts. The run today felt effortless. I did less work with my arms and shoulders on this run (not forcing things), but noticed I was starting to get that small movement in my torso. My legs were not straining at all, in fact they felt like they were floating and I felt no muscle soreness or tightness at all as I ran. I let my torso drive the running stride and when I got things right (my ribs are still not balanced correctly so I still am shifting around) I felt like a new runner. It was a great run on a perfect running day. I brought some money to buy a drink halfway through, but skipped that as I wasn't too thirsty. I did end up a tad thirsty by the end and started slowing a bit because of that as I was out there for a little over 2 hours without drinking anything. Other than that it was one of my better feeling runs in a long time. My feet were not beat up at all from running in the Puma K Streets. If only every run could be this easy!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Dathan Ritzenhein Runs an American Record 5000m

I came home early from setting up my classroom today to watch the Golden League track meet in Zurich live online. I was rewarded by watching a great track meet and a stupendous race by Dathan Ritzenhien. Ritz had finished sixth in the 10000 meters at the World Championships in Berlin after a couple of years of marathoning. It was to be a fast race and sure enough Dathan was at the back of the paceline looking like he was barely hanging on. He remained at the back of the pack of African runners as they set a torrid pace for Kenenisia Bekele. I just hoped that Dathan could hold on and maybe break 13:10.

A strange thing happened in the last few laps. In the distance you could see Dathan picking off runners one at time. Pretty soon he was in fifth, then fourth, then third with a lap remaining and then into second place 20 or so yards behind Bekele and it looked like he was closing in on him. And for a brief moment there was a belief that the American might just run the world's greatest runner down and strip him of his chance to win one million dollars. The moment might have been brief but you could actually believe that it could happen. When was the last time an American runner had done something so electric. Dathan fell to third at the end, but not before breaking the American record with an unexpected 12:56:27! What a thrilling race.

If you didn't see the race you can see the last couple laps on Ethionet at this link:

Or watch the whole race at Universal Sports here (start is at 2:05 right after the pole vault world record).

Here is a Flotrack interview of Dathan Ritzenhein after the race

Track and Field Videos on Flotrack

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Being Thankful for Health and Running

I know it is not Thanksgiving time yet, but two tragic circumstances has just made me feel a tiny bit thankful that I have good health and can enjoy running, but very sad for these two fine gentlemen. A friend of my son's and the camp director of the camp Andy worked at this summer was on a missions trip to Haiti at the beginning of the summer and was involved with a motorcycle crash. He suffered some brain damage (no helmet) and is still in a hospital in Boston. Last week a friend of mine was in a horrific car crash. He was just married this July and had just bought a new house up in Bedford. He crashed his car head on into a tree. He has multiple fractures in his leg, 5 ribs, face and worst of all in his back. Most likely he will be paralyzed from the chest down. He had to be revived three times and had to have a pacemaker inserted to keep him alive. My thoughts and prayers are with Dan and Sean for the long recoveries they face. It makes it very silly to worry about miles, seconds, and minutes in my running, but gives me pause to be very thankful for the health I do have. You never know what can happen to change the things we often take for granted.

Speaking of thanks. A big thanks to Mike Wade and the Gate City Striders for the Mine Falls Trail races that ended on Monday night. There are many Strider volunteers who show up week after week and help put on this race series and they deserve thanks too. It is a fun part of the week to be able to show up and put in a decent workout testing your legs on the trails of Mine Falls. This year I graduated away from the 5K races that I have always done and for the second half of the series participated in the 5 mile races. I won two nice aluminum water bottles for winning my age group in each half of the series. They will be great for school if my kids don't steal them from me (which I think they have already done!).

Tonight's track workout was my best so far this year. It was a killer: 2 miles, 1 mile, 3/4 mile, 1/2 mile, 400, and 400. I was feeling good. I did the two mile in 12:17, but I had no warm up. All the other intervals were under 6 minute mile pace as I tried to keep pace with Mike Wade and Steve Wolfe. I felt more balanced in my running then I have all year on the track. I was able to run relaxed and concentrate on trying to have good form. I attribute this to the Feldenkrais lessons I have been doing each day. I am working on my own to see how much I can figure out. The Feldenkrais teacher says my ribs and torso are very tight. He suggests that to get fixed I would need to take 6 months off of running. I am not sure I am ready to do that just yet.

I remember a massage therapist who used to tell me that the left side of my ribs were dropped 2 inches below my right side and then would attempt to push them back into place. On reflection, I always pay attention to my hips, but I do notice how my rib cage is tilted and rotated. Just because it didn't hurt, I didn't pay it too much attention. That is something that I am working on with the Feldenkrais movements.

I found an interesting article the other day that exactly describes my running form and posture, explains why it works that way, and offers a solution. If the article is correct, it will be the first time that someone has relayed to me (well in this case relayed in an article) exactly what is going on in my body. I have lightly tried the stretches the past two days and my runs have gone better and the hip misalignment and weaknesses I had Sunday and Monday in the races have cleared up.

The article is called "Corrective Methods For Common Postural Deviations: The Anterior Pelvic Tilt" written by Marc McDougal. I am just working on the anterior pelvic tilt in my left hip and leaving alone the other hip. First off the article gets right to something I have always overlooked and what Feldenkrais is teaching me. The article says:

"Your chest position effects your pelvic position. The Thoracic Cage is roughly the area from your shoulders to the bottom of your ribs, and movement here causes a muscular chain reaction all the way down to your pelvis."

Just what I am working on. Which leads to:

"Tightness or instability of any of these (muscles around the rib cage)can cause shifting of the Cage, which can then translate to a shift at the pelvis.
A pelvic tilt will most certainly cause the muscles of the lower limb to compensate. It’s not always easy to tell what caused what, but usually one will find an internally rotated femur accompanying a forward pelvic tilt. Simply put, this is when the knee starts to turn inward during standing, walking, squatting, etc."

That has been my complaint for many years. My left femur rotates in and makes the knee knock-kneed. Finally this is the first article I have ever seen (or doctor or therapist) that explains why my knee rotates in and my foot rotates out.

"When your knee turns inward, your lower leg compensates by turning the foot outward to maintain balance and keep you from walking like you’re on a boat. This outward foot rotation then causes another host of problems, including a pattern change in the hamstring recruitment.

Specifically, because of the mechanical advantage, this results in an over-reliance of the medial hamstring muscles (semitendinosus and semimembranosus), and an under-recruitment of the biceps femoris group of the hamstrings; which can lead to eventual atrophy and further knee problems."

I really don't have knee problems, for some strange reason, however it always feels tight under my left kneecap when I am out of alignment. But my hamstrings and tight adductor muscles on my left side are always part of my problem. This is also addressed in the article.

There is a lot more in the article, including a very good presentation of remedial stretching and strengthening exercises. The directions for the stretching are a bit more precise than just "stretch your hip flexors." It tells you exactly how to target the muscles at the proper angle to affect change. Because the article precisely describes my postural conditions, I am going to keep working on these stretches while I loosen up my movement patterns with the Feldenkrias exercises.

That is something else to be thankful for, a means to fix problems within my own body and relearn good movement patterns for a healthier life. You just don't have to give up.

I ran with a new pair of shoes that I bought last weekend on the track tonight called the Puma K Street. I always liked running in the Puma H Street shoe, a very minimalistic shoe that is now hard to find. I went through about 5 pairs. The K Street doesn't have the fancy colors of the H Street and although minimalistic, it didn't seem to be built the same as the H Street. That being said, I absolutely enjoyed running the workout on the track in them. They are lightweight and have a wider toe box than the H Street. That is good for me. The sole was flexible, but not the same as the H Street. However on the soft spongy track, I actually like the nubs and feel of running in them better than the H Street. They will certainly make a great track shoe, I am not sure if I will take them on the roads.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Hot, Hot, Hot at the Moose on the Loose 10 Miler

Today I ran the Moose Milers 10 mile trail race (results) in Mine Falls Park. It was hot (in the low 90's) and humid and was not a good day for racing. I spent the last two days getting Andrew situated for his first year at Gordon College and so I didn't run or think about running for those days. I woke up this morning not sure what I could do.

I have been feeling pretty good and experiencing a lot of changes from doing plenty of Feldenkrais exercises. I am running better most days, but some days my body is a bit confused such as on Wednesday during the track workout. It was hot and humid and we were to do 5 X mile. For the first mile I realised I didn't have a group. I ran with a new guy named Juan with limited English skills. I took him through the 1/2 in under 3:00 but then he passed me and moved away. That was the only one I ran under 6 minutes. I ran the second with him, but he moved away even quicker. His fifth mile was done solo in 5:00 flat as he got faster each interval. I tried to find another group to run with as my hip was bothering me and my running had no flow. I joined a group but they kept starting without me. I did two intervals sort of with them, as again I was on my own. My hip was sore and I was limping, so I stopped. I worked on stretching and relaxing for over 20 minutes before doing the final mile on my own. I wore the Vibram Five-finger shoes for this one. My stride was a little better and I liked running on the track with those funky shoes.

Unfortunately I had the same hip imbalance again today, but you can't stop and fix it during a race. Because of this I started much slower than normal and couldn't get comfortable. There are four 2 1/2 mile loops in this race. I only caught my 5 mile split. It was 34:21. It was hot and ugly out there and things still weren't improving, but I remembered putting in the extra mile on Wednesday when I wasn't feeling good and had at first ended the workout prematurely. I told myself that this would be when that extra effort would pay off. I was able to keep up the same awkward pace as other runners kept dying off around and in front of me. I passed quite a few runners the last two laps and was never passed once. I finished in 1:08:44 so I had pretty much even splits. If I didn't stop at the cones instead of running to the clock it would probably have been even splits exactly.

The race was hot! Many runners were slowed by the excessive heat. I was soaked with sweat that wouldn't dry off by the end. My hip was real sore and I was limping around for a couple of hours. I felt good that I didn't fall apart in the heat. I accept the fact that my time was slower than I was capable of, but that was more to do with an awkward stride. I do have some ideas of what movement exercises I should do to rebalance things again.

The Gate City Striders cleaned up with points in the New Hampshire Grand Prix. I ended up 5th in my age group, well really 6th if you count Cathy Merra's amazing run. Another great run was put in by Rich Stockdale. The guy is 58, lost 10 pounds this week on a funky diet that I don't understand and I did not pass him until the 180 degree turn on the last lap.

Photos of the race by Ethan Platt.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

A tribute to Berlino: the Mascot of the 2009 World Championships

I was watching the World Championships from Berlin today and that Bear Mascot, Berlino, keeps getting funnier and funnier. He is all over the track. So today a bit of a tribute.

Here is the funniest clip shown. Melanie Walker of Jamaica rode the bear after winning the 400 meter hurdles. Things did not go well for the bear or Melanie but everyone was OK.

Here is a clip of the last laps of the men's 10,000 meter race won by Kenesia Bekele. Start watching at about 4 minutes. That bear is a pretty good runner!

Celebrating with Kenensia Bekele

Track and Field: 12th IAAF World Championships in Athletics

Unfortunately the Jamaican women's 100 meter runners do not seem to want to spend time with Berlino after their finals.

Berlino seems to be the only "person" that can keep up with Usain Bolt!

12th IAAF World Athletics Championships - Day Six

12th IAAF World Athletics Championships - Day Six

12th IAAF World Athletics Championships - Day Six

And even amuses him as he does his own sprint!

Robert Harting of host nation Germany celebrating his discuss gold medal.

12th IAAF World Athletics Championships - Day Five

12th IAAF World Athletics Championships - Day Five

Video here: Watch 1:20 in for Berlino's ride! or here:

Hugs for everyone. Jessica Ennis of Great Britain and Northern Ireland celebrating the gold in the women's heptathlon.

12th IAAF World Athletics Championships - Day Two

Anna Rogowski of Poland celebrating the pole vault gold medal.

12th IAAF World Athletics Championships - Day Three

Berlino even celebrates with last place finishers. Here is Japan's Yukari Sahaku with hugs after finishing last in the woman's 10,000 meter race.

12th IAAF World Athletics Championships - Day One

Go Berlino!

DKB-ISTAF - IAAF Golden League

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Ethiopian Form Drills

Here is an interesting video showing some of the warm-up drills that the Ethiopian runners practice. If you have seen the movie "Endurance" about the great Haile Gebresalasie than maybe you too wondered about the drills you saw depicted in the movie. Looking at this video clip which features Kenenisa Bekele, I see rotational, lengthening, and mobility work being done in a very loose and quick manner. Some of the looking behind drills remind me of Feldenkrais practice but in a more hyper way. Obviously, through much practice and talent the Ethiopian runners can do these drills with the same amount of perfection that they bring to their running form and racing dynamics. I would like to learn more about the Ethiopian system. It must be a system with much tradition. I recall watching videos of two-time Olympic Marathon champion Abebe Bekila doing calisthenics after his wins.

Here is a video of Bikila's barefoot win in the 1960 Rome Olympiad.

Here us a New York Times article comparing the success of Usain Bolt with Kenenisa Bekele: Matching Bolt’s Success, Stride for Elegant Stride.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Working on Improving Running Form and Efficiency

Track and Field: 12th IAAF World Championships in Athletics

No that is not me, but wouldn't it be nice to have form like Kenenisa Bekele? For the past couple of weeks I have been learning about and playing around with the Feldenkrais Method to try to restore proper movement patterns to my body and to relearn how to run properly. I am very intrigued with the system having tried just about everything else out there to rebalance my body with only limited success.

On one hand I find the Feldenkrais routines easy to do and learn and on the other I have experienced some pretty positive results and an almost instant reawakening of more proper movements patterns. I have only had one visit so far with a Feldenkrais teacher, but there are a lot of ways to learn the movements patterns that you can do on your own. While the Feldenkrais Method is not a running technique (think POSE or Chi Running) it is a way to rethink or replay movement patterns that will positively effect your running. It is not stretching, but I feel much looser. It is not a strength training strategy either. As best I understand it, it seems to help repattern movement in your body. It also helps the brain take in the new patterns so that you can use them in your movements and running. Basically we get stuck in patterns that we think are correct, but may not be the most correct or efficient way to move. We get stuck in routines of movement and "forget" how we used to move. For years I knew I had bad movement patterns, but I didn't know how to change them because they feel "natural" to me.

Ir you are an efficient well balanced runner, than Feldenkrais may not be for you. However if your running form is impossible to fix, like mine than this may be a solution to relearning how to move. Here is what one Feldenkrais website suggests how Feldenkrais can help runners:

The connection of the shoulder and pelvis in rotation;
The ability of the lower back to lengthen as the leg comes forward, but also how all your back can share the work as the leg goes back (and so avoid back pain)
The connection of the foot pushing the ground away through the extension in the hip joint and the back (esp upper back) to the propulsion of the chest forward. Extension of the upper back also frees the lower back from doing all the work.
The mobility, alignment and passage of weight through the foot, ankle and hip for the safety of the knee, shock absorbency and propulsion
The ability to rotate freely and quickly in the spine
Differentiation, loosening and freeing of the chest and shoulder girdle.
Freer, easier breathing.
Greater awareness of running as a movement of the whole self and accompanying ease and power.

Here is what I have found to help me better understand using the technique. First you may want to get the book Running with the Whole Body: A 30-Day Program to Running Faster with Less Effort. I have had a copy of the book for over 10 years. When I first used it, I did not understand the concepts or how to do the routines. I did them in typical "runner" fashion, quickly going through the movements to hit the "payoff" last movements. I also pushed very hard to try to make them work better. While I had a great year of running the summer I used the book, I only now realize I really did not tap the potential of the routines. I learned so much more about how to do the movements when I bought the audio version of the book. You can get it on CD from Amazon or get an audio download of "Running With the Whole Body" like I did already in mp3 format.

I have gone through all of the audio lessons once, and will do so again. Some are in a different presentation than the book. The book includes additional lessons that are not on the audio version. However, in following the audio, you learn the pacing and simple efforts needed to do the lessons. It is hard to read a book and do the lessons. But it is much simpler doing the book lessons having practiced the audio lessons first.

There is also a website that has free audio Feldenkrais lessons, The Open ATM Project Feldenkrais® Awareness Through Movement® Lessons. Sharon Moyano, a runner and Feldenkrais teacher, has over 50 lessons there including 6 lessons from a runner's workshop. I tried the "freeing the hip joints" lesson from the runner's workshop last night and I found it simply amazing for helping my body and mind "see" new ways of moving from my hips. Whenever I do a lesson I feel extremely loose and free, a much different feeling than what I would get from a stretching routine, but strangely it is exactly how you would want to feel after stretching. I find that I walk and move different after a lesson. I feel it also is helping to change my running, but my running form is so messed up that I can only hold onto a proper movement pattern for a short time before losing it. I expect that my form will keep improving, but that it may take quite awhile to get every lesson to hold as my muscles have to adapt.

After a good week of running and dieting, I couldn't wait to see what would happen at tonight 5 mile trail race. For the first time all year I felt like I was racing when the gun went off. I had a great first mile (in the lead) until Mike Wade realised I was not doing the 5K. He passed at about 1.5 miles and I stayed close. Greg Indruk caught up at about 3 miles and Mike was still in view. He had to stop to deal with a loose dog and at about 4 miles I was only about 5 seconds behind Mike and Greg. Then it was the rough trails of the last mile. I took it easier in here not wanting to trip again and the other two guys raced ahead until they were out of sight. Despite the heat and humidity I only ran 5 seconds slower than my best time of the year on the course. I liked that I felt loose for a change. The terrain and twisting nature of the course is not the greatest course for someone trying to learn how to run smoothly again. The hills, roots, twists, and turns kept throwing off my stride pattern, it will be interesting to race on a smoother surface.

On a dieting note, I had to pig out a bit yesterday as I was losing too much weight too quickly. I had dropped about 5 pounds in three days and that was not good.

I hope to continue learning movement patterns through Feldenkrais lessons and when my rib is fully healed I hope to go visit Charlie, the Feldenkrais teacher again. Charlie also teaches a version of Feldenkrais called the Anat Baniel Method. So I have been reading her book called Move into Life: The Nine Essentials for Lifelong Vitality. It is very interesting and although not necessarily a book for athletes, the lessons can be applied throughout your life, including sports. I am also interested in the brain learning in the book as well as the Feldenkrais movement lessons that go with each chapter.

I am having a great time following and watching the World Championships in Berlin, both on the Internet and on TV. It is so much fun not having track and field conflicting with other sports on TV like during the Olympics! Kenensila Bekele won another championship medal with his 10,000 meter win today.

Friday, August 14, 2009

The Warrior-Paleo-Primal Diets

I have been learning to eat well! I have been a junk food eater my entire life. I ran so I could eat and I thought I could eat whatever I liked. Ice cream, cookies, cereals, and anything else I liked I dumped in my mouth. I counted on running it all off. I realized a few years back that this was not going to work as I got older. I tried a few types of diets, had some success a few years back, but kept returning to the junk food. I learned a few healthy things along the way, but nothing really stuck. During the winter I read The Warrior Diet and had some success eating less throughout the day and more at night and following the health guidelines, but I soon returned to my bad habits. Then I started reading more about the The Paleo Diet which is also similar to The Primal Blueprint . I am still learning how to eat correctly and am enjoying healthy foods in new ways.

Basically I am eating fruits, nuts, and vegetables during the day. I am also learning to make awesome salads. For dinner I am learning to eat good meats and salmon along with another big salad full of all sorts of fruits and veggies. I am steering clear of processed foods, dairy, and grains (as well as breads). For the past three weeks I have noticed the lack of desire to eat junk foods. I have indulged a little here or there but it does not satisfy me as it did before. I do not feel hungry during the day (cravings are gone) and I feel ready to run at a moments notice. I don't get that heavy sleepy feeling after eating.

I have also noticed that I am losing weight. I have lost about 10 pounds in about three weeks. Today I weighed in a at just a few pounds more then I was a couple of years ago (my lightest weight in years) when I started to have some good races.

I have a lot to learn still about good nutrition and what works best for me, but I feel real good about the type of eating I am doing now. I will still like ice cream and cookies, but a bowl a week and a cookie or two a week is so much less that what I used to eat in one day alone!

I don't seem to be at a loss of energy for running either. I ran 8 miles on Wednesday (fastest time since last fall), and on the same loop the next day ran less than a minute slower. Today I went out in the heat and did 11 miles. I am putting the Feldenkrais lessons to work and feeling looser and stronger as I run. I can't get that full body balance for more that a few strides, but I think it will take a long time to undue the multiple imbalances that are so ingrained in my muscle memories.

I have a lot of work to do, but things are going in the right direction for a change.

And then I was looking at the Cigna 5K results and fellow 50 year old Mike Merra pops an 18:05 time and Cathy Merra blasts an 18:49. That's two people in the same family and the same age as me that are way ahead of where I am. Those are great results. Heck, I am no longer even the fastest person on my street, Karen Long ran an 18:55 at the same race. There were quite a few other fast times from teammates and friends. It is good to see people running so well.

My ribs are still sore when turning and getting up or lying down, however I stopped taking pain medicine and I only get an occasional jolt in the rib when running and that is a lot better than what I was told would happen just last week.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

2009 Falmouth Road Race

Thursday the doctor told me I probably had a cracked rib. I was given some pain relief pills (50 heavy duty pills that I never used) and 50 other pills to also conquer the pain (that's a lot of pain medication!). Things did not look good for me. But Friday morning it only took a minute to maneuver out of bed, after taking about an hour the previous morning. Things were getting better. I went down Friday night to Falmouth so I could watch the Falmouth Mile and then the Road Race.

Saturday I started thinking, "What if I could run the road race?" I had not tried running since Wednesday night but I could walk around fine. I asked a therapist at the road race exhibition on Saturday about my rib. I was wondering if a lot of the pain had been muscular. I had broken a couple of ribs at the same spot a few years ago and was thinking that the intercostal muscles might have been acting up and protecting my rib when I was doing the intervals on Wednesday. He said it could be that or the oblique muscles. When talking to some former high school teammates at the Falmouth Mile, one was with a friend who was a radiologist and he also said it could be part muscular and noted that there is a sensitive nerve running underneath the ribs where I was hurt. He also said if I ran, nothing bad would really happen. The weather seemed perfect for the road race on Sunday and I really didn't want to miss it. I decided to pin my number on and head down to the start and see what would happen. If I couldn't run, I could always walk the course or walk back to my parent's house.

I heading down to the Mullen-Hall School (where I attended 2nd -5th grade) to park my car and walked to get a bus to the start. Once at Woods Hole I headed towards the "elite" corral (I know it is fun to say that) away from the mass of 10,000 other runners. Runners with numbers 1-500 (I was 260) get to warm up and start at the front of the barricades keeping all the other runners away. We get our own porta-johns and plenty of space to stretch out and warm-up. I bumped into my former high school teammate Duncan Warden and talked with him quite a bit. He is also doing the Paleo diet, and is still into Triathlons (he is a trainer- the first two triathlons I did in 1983 where races that Duncan also did, then my third race that year was an Ironman distance race, Duncan did not do an Ironman until he did Lake Placid last year. It is funny that we have had similar interests. He also used to play my dad a lot in tennis leagues). He had swum from Martha's Vinyard to Woods Hole a couple of days earlier (something he did last year too) which is something I have always wanted to do.

I tried some strides to see if I could run and my ribs did not hurt. So far so good! I bumped into a bunch of elite athletes, watched the wheelchair racers start and then got ready for the start of the Falmouth road race. I decided I was not going to race the course, but try to enjoy it this year and look around. Usually when I finish, I recall nothing of looking at the ocean or Nobska Lighthouse. I decided this was a good year to sightsee.

I started slower than I would like, passed Bill Rodgers at 1/4 mile into the race and ran tentatively. My ribs felt tight but there was no pain. I hit the first mile in about 6:38 the slowest I have ever gone in this race that I have done about 25 times. I noticed it was hard to breathe, I could not expand my ribs to breathe hard, so I kept the pace at a easy tempo. I worked a bit on my form and every once in a while I felt like I was improving and locking in a better stride based on using the Feldenkrais running tips I had been using.

By about 4 miles I started passing people who went out too hard. I still couldn't get a good breath in, so my running was not strained at all. I kept it right at the level of not having to breathe deeply. I slowly kept reeling in runners one by one. Finally I approached the crowds at the finish. I saw the clock ticking in the 46 minute range and although it was downhill to the finish I could not sprint like I wanted and finished a few ticks over 47 minutes for the 7 mile course. I was thrilled that I had finished without pain and my ribs did not start acting up after stopping. My legs felt good and loose. I went over to the massage table, and told Sean Gallagher, the chiropractor I usually get an adjustment from after the race that I had finished (the night before I saw him and said that I might run with my rib hurting). I also said I didn't need a massage or adjustment because my legs and back were feeling a lot better than usual.

According to the results I came in 316th overall (out of over 10,000). I was the 278th male to finish and 17th overall in the 50-60 year old age group. I was the 16th male in the age group as Joan Benoit-Samuelson beat all but three males in the 50 and over group. I will take those results and the nice run, particularly when I was not supposed to run. My wife was a bit upset that I ran when she joined me later in the day at the Cape. I also realized that I never looked at the scenery once while I was running. I couldn't even tell you what hue of blue the ocean was during the race. Duncan Warden finished in 50:32.

The race was won by a nineteen year old Ethiopian named Tilahun Regassa and an Ethiopian woman, Mamitu Daska, won the woman's race.

Check out the awesome race by Tilahun Regassa. He was having a great time out there!

I spent the next two days at Old Silver Beach in Falmouth and on Martha's Vinyard. While my family swam I read an interesting book on the Olympics: "Rome 1960: The Summer Olympics That Stirred the World" by David Maraniss I was only one year old at the time so I don't remember much about these Olympic games. I didn't start watching the Olympics until Mexico City in 1968. I have seen the footage of Abebe Bikila running the marathon barefoot. I know about Rafer Johnson and Wilma Rudulph, but this book put these people in historical context. It was a fascinating time. Tension in a split Germany, the Cold War heating up, athletes beginning to use drugs (a cyclist died), amateurism and companies and athletes realizing the commercial appeal of the Games, television (Jim McKay made his first sports broadcasts), rascism in America, an obnoxious and loquacious boxer named Cassius Clay, even the "softening" of America. I enjoyed reading the many undertones that circulated around these Olympic Games. Although many of the great athletes and events are covered the purpose was not to give us the training and history of athletes like Bikila except at a very superficial and historical level.

I did not run Monday or Tuesday. Today I did my normal 8 mile route. I am concentrating on not fighting my body, but trying to make the parts: shoulders,hips, and feet to work together. I can't hold the form, but I get an improvement every once in a while and it feels so much more loose and free to run this way. I ran the loop a little over a minute faster than my best time since last fall. True, I am losing weight and feeling better due to the Paleo diet, but I still could not breathe hard so my faster running can also be attributed to an improving running efficiency.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

2009 Falmouth Mile Men's Race

Saturday night, after the Falmouth Women's mile, I watched the Men's mile. There was no wind and the temperature seemed great for a fast time. I stood next to Falmouth chiropractor, Sean Gallagher. He has volunteered for years at the road race and I have also seen him at the Cape Cod Marathon doing adjustments and massages after the races. Every year I say hello and visit the massage tent as soon as I finish the road race. He was hosting one of the milers, Darren Brown, at his house.

After the race I saw former Falmouth High School cross-country and track standouts Duncan Warden and Ed Nemeth. When I first ran cross-country as a freshman in high school I was the worst guy on the team. Duncan was a senior captain and Ed was a super sophomore. I have seen Duncan at races throughout the years, and saw Ed and a couple former Falmouth runners a couple of years ago at Falmouth for the first time since I was in ninth grade (I went to a private school on Long Island for the rest of my high school years). When I first ran for Falmouth the new high school had just been built. Now it has been undergoing extreme renovations. The track was renovated years ago. It is nice to see such a stellar running field each year on my hometown track.

Here is the video I shot of the start, each lap, and the finish. Darren Brown dropped out at 1000 meters. Will Leer from Eugene, OR won the mile in 3:57.2. Stephen Pifer, also of Eugene, ran 3:58.58, Tommy Schmitz, of Mineral Pt., WI ran 4:00.80, Sean Brosnan, of Eugene, OR ran 4:06.15, and Josephat Keino, from Kenya ran 4:11.17.

2009 Falmouth Mile Women's Race

Saturday night I watched the Falmouth Mile races at Falmouth High School. The women's mile was first. There were only four competitors but it was a very good field. The weather was perfect and there was no breeze as usual. Erin Donohue led from the start and took the win in 4:27.91 . Nicole Edwards from Canada took second in 4:29.33. Morgan Uceny from Ithaca, NY 4:31.70 was third and Sara Hall, wife of Ryan Hall and from Mammoth Lakes, CA finished last in 4:32.24. Those were personal bests for all runners except the winner who recently ran faster in Europe.

Here is video I took of the start, each lap, and the finish.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

I ran so hard... I cracked a rib!

The Gate City Striders track workout went well last night, or so I thought. I was happy to get back and do a track workout, even though my ribs have been sore for a week. It has been more just a soreness when turning over or sitting up when lying down. The only day they got a bit worse was doing the 5 mile Trail race on Monday. I figured with all the ups and downs along with the twists and turns on that course that I would be a bit more sore after that race and I was. Tuesday I had a Feldenkrais appointment. That went well. I think the gentle movements are teaching me the proper way to move. I find it very interesting and am also learning many things from the "Running with the Whole Body' audio.

My legs felt good and loose Wednesday. I ran a warm up and did some strides on the grass. The workout was to be 6 X 800m at 5k pace. I completed the workout with times between 2:47 and 2:55. Unfortunately on the last 3 or so it was very hard to get running. My ribs on the right side would seize up as I started and for about 10 steps it would feel like I had been shot or stabbed in the ribs. I was automatically making some groaning noises too. But then as I got up to speed the pain would go away and I could run relatively free. My legs and hips felt decent and when I got it right my stride felt better although it was hard to breathe fully.

After the workout I started a warm down and had to stop after about 50 yards as it hurt so much. I walked back to the track where I could not even pick up my keys, shoes, and shirt from the ground. I tried twice but my ribs were jolting me. Fortunately the Gate City Striders club president walked by and I had to ask her to do a very presidential thing and pick up my stuff for me. Driving home it hurt to even take a corner in the car. Then I couldn't move at all. Getting into bed took 1/2 an hour and I had to sleep on my back. It took about an hour to figure out how to get out of bed this morning with the least amount of pain.

I went to the doctor and he said that I probably cracked my rib. It may have started last week when I fell on Monday night during a race or when my daughter gave me a little knee to the ribs when she was saying good night, but something about running last night (breathing hard?) may have finished the job! I am hoping it is more just the muscles between the ribs having spasms as the x-rays don't show much. I do have a nice supply of heavy-duty pain medicine now (and more than enough pills to make "Gregory House" jealous), and hopefully I can figure out how to sleep better.

I guess I won't be running the Falmouth Road Race on Sunday or much of anything for awhile, but will probably still go down and watch the Falmouth Mile and the Road Race.

One thing I have learned from the Feldenkrais Method is to make slow and gentle movements as you retrain your brain. Believe me I am making slow and gentle movements all the time right now!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Crawling Like a Lizard

This morning I finished the fourth lesson on the Feldenkrais based audio of "Running With the Whole Body". I was expecting the lesson to go along with my earlier edition of the book with work on the hips. However, something completely different than my edition of the book was introduced (I don't know if the rest of the lessons in the newer edition match the audio lessons). Anyhow, I was told I was going to learn how to crawl like a lizard. The next two lessons are about moving like an animal and then moving like a human. Well, seeing I am trying to follow a Primal-Paleo diet (lost 5-7 pounds in two weeks- which means I am losing too much and have to eat more)I guess I can learn to move in a more primal sort of manner (actually it is how we all started to move when we started crawling as a baby). Watch how the hips and spine of this baby moves as he creeps across the floor.

I guess Feldenkrais reawakens some of these movement patterns from our past. Interestingly in cultures like Bali where babies are not allowed to crawl they develop movements pattern problems when they mature: they cannot hop from one leg to the other.

Of course—no Balinese baby is allowed to touch the ground for the first ‘rice year’ (seven months), so they never have the opportunity to creep. Creeping (how you motivate when lying on your belly) is substantially different from crawling (how you get about on all fours) and involves—try it—that very shifting from hip to hip which is a precursor for hopping. Because they miss that stage, the Balinese—able dancers and sportsmen—are unable to organize a simple foot-to-foot hop.

According to "the World's Fittest Man" Erwan Le Corre quadrupedal movement is one of the 12 key movements of Movnat (Move Naturally). By the end of the lesson I was indeed feeling like I was moving like a lizard. It was fun as well as revealing as the lessons help me perceive how I move and how movements connects throughout my body as it works as a unit.

I just love the audio version of "Running with the Whole Body". I was ready to call it quits knowing that it was movement patterns, that I could not seem to fix, that was hindering my stride and this is what the program is all about. The lessons awaken an awareness of how we move and more importantly how I should be moving. My running is changing, slowly. Last week I could hardly move. Yesterday I went for a 7 mile run and then kept increasing what I was doing because it felt so good for a change. Eventually I hit 13 miles. I notice a definite change in how my body, hips, and shoulders move and find that more power and balance is coming from my torso and not just my feet and legs (like what I used to concentrate on). Hopefully things will keep improving and I will not have to give up the sport of running.

I find the the audio lessons, although not hard, leave me feeling refreshed, aware, loose, and moving in a new manner that I can't wait to try out when running. The funny things is I am doing them despite a rib injury; I got kneed by mistake on Wednesday by my daughter in my right lower rib. The muscle down there is sore when I lay down and it hurts to roll over in bed and get comfortable. I have had to limit some of the movement exercise and I hope that by Tuesday when I go to see a Feldenkrais practitioner that it won't be so sore anymore.