Friday, December 19, 2014

Ron Hill's Amazing 50 Year Running Streak

Ron Hill winning the 1970 Boston Marathon
Former Boston Marathon champion (1970) and the second man to break 2:10 in the marathon, Ron Hill, is about to master another long distance and long running achievement. On December 21, 2015 he will have completed his 50th year of his running streak of running at least one mile per day. Here is an article by Jason Henderson at Athletics Weekly that explains Why Ron Hill is Running Royalty.

Boston Marathon victory
I didn't start running until 1973, however I knew a tiny bit about Ron Hill already. I knew he was one of the favorites at the 1972 Munich Olympics in the marathon and I knew about his string fishnet singlet that he wore at races like his Boston Marathon victory. I must have been aware of photos of him and the "science" behind his choice of clothing. Once I started running, I wanted to look like a runner, so I went to the local Bradlees store and found a fishnet jersey, probably in the underwear section, and bought it. It was my first ever running related purchase (even before getting "real" running shoes) and my inspiration was Ron Hill. Fifty years is an incredible running streak.

I continued wearing my "Ron Hill" inspired jersey for a few
years, including during my first Falmouth Road Race in 1975.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

The "Inventing to Nowhere" documentary featuring the ElliptiGO

Bryan Pate and I at the End of Summer Classic
Last night was the premiere around the country for the Inventing to Nowhere documentary. I missed the local showing at an Imax theater, so I am glad they posted the video online today. The documentary highlights the dangers of patent reform in our country. One company highlighted throughout the video is ElliptiGO. There are three key sections on the ElliptiGO in the film. It explains the design and history of the product and bringing it to a proof of concept, protecting property rights, and even a call to a shop in China that is selling a knock-off through Alibaba (here is one example). ElliptiGO inventors Bryan Pate and Brent Teal are featured throughout. I had the privilege of meeting Brian at the first End of Summer Classic ElliptiGO race and Brent is the guy who holds the fastest American time for riding an ElliptiGO 100 miles. I am gunning for his record. As far as I can tell, I have the third fastest (2nd fastest American) century ever ridden on an ElliptiGO.

It is an interesting documentary and fans of the show Shark Tank will appreciate a lot of the background information in order to better appreciate the the challenges of being an inventor.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

2014 Foot Locker Cross Country National Champion Race

Two great races at the Foot Locker High School Cross Country National Championship Race.

I watched both races in the early afternoon and finished the afternoon watching  4 Minute Mile while riding my ElliptiGO indoors for 25 miles. The recently released movie is currently playing on Netflix.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Is the Bionic Runner competition for the ElliptiGO?

The Bionic Runner looks like an interesting redesign of the ElliptiGO. It is on Kickstarter now and it seems if you are one of the first to order, it would be easily under $1000 shipped. Otherwise it seems priced at around $1250 which is one-half of what an 8-speed ElliptiGO would cost. It looks lighter, yet not as sturdy and it folds up for easy transportation. It also does not seem as speedy as an ElliptiGO as this page says that riders are going up to 20 km/hour on it which is about 12.4 mph. They are marketing it as "The only running fitness trainer to replicate the natural motion of running." and I believe this is based on their, "Patent pending 60:40 swing/stance phase timing." So in my thinking and in watching the video, it seems to have a shorter stride with a higher kick back. I am wondering if using their formula, it means that a person using an ElliptiGO has a longer stance phase. This article seems to report their feelings on how it is differentiated from an ElliptiGO.

When first seeing the Bionic Runner, many people may think that it's more or less the same thing as the ElliptiGO – which is essentially a two-wheeled elliptical trainer. According to Run4 co-founder Dr. Henry Thomas, however, there's a key difference between the two. 
"We discovered that running was a four stage process of leap, recovery, impact and drive," he says. "The existing cross trainers were all elliptical in nature or step machines. None captured the motion a runner's leg makes when they move." 
As a result, the Bionic Runner was designed to guide users through a mid-foot running gait, allowing them to engage the same muscles that they would when running on the ground – while also protecting their joints from over-exertion. Additionally, it provides a bit of lift at the "toe-off" of every stride, plus users are able to increase or decrease resistance by shifting it into higher or lower gears.

It looks promising as an alternative to running and the price is right, but I love my ElliptiGO, which looks sturdier, seems much faster, and has a company behind it that is top-notch.  I only have less than 200 miles to GO in order to hit the 6,000 mile mark for the year 2014!

Sunday, November 23, 2014

1976 Olympic Marathon Trials video with Frank Shorter, Bill Rodgers, and Don Kardong

Here is a video of the 1976 Olympic Trials Marathon. It is not the best quality, but seeing videos of these great runners of the 1970s is fun to watch.

This reunion flashback video is of a special movie made by Martin Darrah on the US men's Olympic Marathon trials in Eugene, Oregon. There is great footage and wonderful commentary by the leading runners in this race. The WVTC had 5 members who competed in this race. They were Don Kardong, Tony Sandoval, Chris Berka, Ron Zarate and Chuck Smead. Kardong would place third and make the team heading to Montreal. There is some fantastic slow motion video of Frank Shorter and Bill Rodgers(1st and 2nd in this race) as well as Kardong and Tony Sandoval(who finished behind Kardong in 4th). Additional commentary can be heard from running author Joe Henderson.

Sat May 22, 1976 Eugene, OR 

Qualifiers: 87
Starters: 77
Finishers: 49
Frank Shorter and Bill Rodgers ran virtually step for step at in what seemed to be a sub-2:10 pace until two or three miles from the finish Rodgers was affected by a leg injury and had to drop back. Shorter would become the first, and as of this writing only, man to win back to back Olympic Trials Marathons. Don Kardong would finish third in 2:13:54.

At the 1976 Olympics, Shorter would go on to win silver behind East German Wlademar Cierpinski who - in recent years - has been suspected of using performance enhancing drugs. Bill Rodgers led the Olympic Marathon in the early miles but fell back with the same leg injury that affected his Trials performance - he would however, rebound to handily win the 1976 New York City Marathon. Don Kardong in fourth place at the Olympics, missing the bronze medal by just three seconds.

1. Shorter, Frank ( FL) 2:11:51   
2. Rodgers, Bill ( MA) 2:11:58   
3. Kardong, Don ( WA) 2:13:54   
4. Sandoval, Tony ( CA) 2:14:58   
5. Fleming, Tom ( NJ) 2:15:48   
6. Varsha, Bob ( GA) 2:15:50   
7. Bramley, John ( CT) 2:17:16   
8. Pfeffer, Kirk ( CA) 2:17:58   
9. Galloway, Jeff ( GA) 2:18:29   
10. Burfoot, Amby ( CT) 2:18:56   
11. Busby, Bob ( MO) 2:19:05   
12. Hatfield, Carl ( WV) 2:19:18   
13. Sudzina, Marty ( PA) 2:19:55   
14. Forrester, Perry ( CA) 2:20:01   
15. Kurrle, Ron ( CA) 2:20:18   

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Which body part suffers the most in ultra endurance challenges?

Think about it. Which body part suffers the most in an ultra endurance challenge. If you can't think of the answer, maybe it's because you just recently did an ultra race of some type.

In an article on the limits of the aging body, David Robson on the Human body: The ‘ultra-athletes’ aged 60+ answers this question with a surprising result. It is not the cardio-vascular system nor the stress on the joints (although my body would beg to differ). Strangely, according to Robson, the brain may be the body part that suffers the most.
"Strangely, the brain perhaps suffers the most. One fMRI study, which scanned the brains of athletes (young and old) taking part in a 4,500-kilometre (2,800-mile) ultra-marathon found that the brain’s volume of grey matter fell by 6% across the course of the race. “It’s a very profound loss,” says Wolfgang Freund at Ulm University Hospital in Germany, who followed the athletes with a 50-tonne truck full of brain imaging equipment. However, it returns to its usual size during the following months. For this reason, Freund suspects the cells themselves weren’t dying, but shrinking as their nutrients were drained to feed the rest of the body. “The body is sucking everything it has to burn on the road.”"
 In regards to the aging question, the author says athletes over 60 still do well in these events, despite slower speeds and longer recoveries, although he doesn't acknowledge the fact that there are athletes who can no longer participate in these events due to the excessive mileage and deterioration on of joints and muscles that can no longer perform. Those over 60 still competing are the survivors or newer converts with less body mileage. In fact the author thinks that the older athlete may even do better in these events because of their stronger mental abilities.

The article is a great read whether you are over 60 or not and even if you have no desire to be an ultra endurance athlete. The takeaway is that you shouldn't be thinking about tapering your activities as you get older like we are sometimes told. Keep pushing those boundaries! I wish I had books like this years ago, before destroying my body doing marathons and triathlons: Build Your Running Body: A Total-Body Fitness Plan for All Distance Runners, from Milers to Ultramarathoners - Run Farther, Faster, and Injury-Free Maybe I would be still be looking forward to hitting and competing at age 60 in a few years.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Hot off the Press Reading Recommendations for Movement and Mobility Work

I am still in the hopeful mode of being able to run some day. Except for the other days when it gets so frustrating and I believe it will never happen. There is some secret somewhere, but I just can't find it. I got a new health plan this summer and with this one I can schedule my own PT or chiropractic appointments. I decided to try a PT with whom I had heard many good things from back in August. I went to him about 10 times with no improvements, well I did get better at doing clam-shells and other exercises that he assigned to me that never helped in the past and didn't help this time either. The ART he did on my muscles did not seem to help either. In the end, he and I both decided he wasn't helping me and I heard the same things I have heard in the past from therapists about how complicated my body is!

I gave up on running again by that point, but decided to give it another shot. I started with one minute runs, but the next day I was as sore as if I had run for a mile or two. I tried some longer runs up to two miles, and the running feels fine, but the next day of two all sorts of muscles are thrown and pulled out of whack.

I thought I found some new and unique movement pattern exercises that worked amazingly in a new way for me and for a week I felt great, but then they stopped working. Last week I did a 3 mile run on the treadmill and it felt easy, but the next day and still through to today, everything around my hip keeps firing up and causing all sort of tightness that migrates around my hips, back, and legs. I was hoping to be able to get in shape to to a 5k Thanksgiving day race and eventually another winter of snowshoe racing, but I don't like how I feel the days after running. It is so uncomfortable.

In the past few months, I have been checking out a few books that I hope could help me, but I haven't found the correct therapy (if there is one for me yet). Anyhow, here are some quick observations of a few of those books, but first I will start with two videos.

I wish there was a book or website for this. I discovered this movement and a few others from Susan McLaughlin (her blog) on YouTube. It is based on work by Gary Ward (website). Doing these exercises for a week had me feeling great and is the type of movement pattern I need. Unfortunately, there is not much on the web about this and it seems you have to learn to be a trainer to learn the movements. These felt very "right" for me when I did them, but I realize it is only a small part of a whole movement program.

I always check out newly published books to see what I can glean that might be helpful.

Ready to Run: Unlocking Your Potential to Run Naturally is the newest book by Kelly Starrett of Crossfit MWwod fame. He advocates all sorts of strategies to improve mobility and movement. A lot of his suggestions have been too drastic for my problems, but if you want to go into the "pain cave" then he is your guy. This book is geared towards runners, moreso than his previous book Becoming a Supple Leopard: The Ultimate Guide to Resolving Pain, Preventing Injury, and Optimizing Athletic Performance. He also has a framework based on 12 performance standards to build his book around. I was reading a bit of his chapter on hydration last night and was convinced to move away from drinking diet sodas and plain water and start trying some Nuun All Day Hydration tablets to add to some tap water.

Build Your Running Body: A Total-Body Fitness Plan for All Distance Runners, from Milers to Ultramarathoners - Run Farther, Faster, and Injury-Free is a book I had higher hopes for. I think it is a great book, but I need to figure out how to run before this book would help me. If I was up and running, I think this would be a great book for building fitness and strength in a smart way.

I have the original POSE running book and met Dr. Romanov when he first published it at the Boston Marathon years ago. He has a new book out The Running Revolution Deluxe: How to Run Faster, Farther, and Injury-Free--for Life I got the audio/video Kindle version. Again, if my hip mechanics were not bothering me, I think some of his exercises and theories would be helpful, but I realized I have a hard time diving deeply into a book like this when I have to first be able to run without the problems I get hours later. It is like a chicken-horse thing. I have to figure out what is wrong with the chicken before I can ride the horse. No one has written the book on how I can fix my chicken! And I can't put the horse before the chicken!

Move Your DNA: Restore Your Health Through Natural Movement by Katy Bowman is an interesting book on human movement. She does some deep thinking, but writes in a practical and easy to understand way. Katy is also very down to earth, however sometimes it seems that she is writing more for a female audience.

Sean Schniederdjan writes lots of short ebooks with interesting takes on movement practices. I tried out two more of his books this summer. He comes up with different exercises to try. Sometimes they pop something back into place for me and sometimes later the exercise stops working, but as the doctors say, my body is too complicated. He does try to simplify and find unusual things to try: Cure Tight Hips Anywhere: Open Locked Up Hips and Pelvis Anytime, Anywhere (Simple Strength Book 1) and Move Like Humans: Feel Better, Move Better, Discover How Your Body Moves The first book is not as comprehensive as the second. You can find many of his movements at Sean's Youtube channel.

Finally The Roll Model: A Step-by-Step Guide to Erase Pain, Improve Mobility, and Live Better in Your Body was just published this week and I received my copy today. This one impresses me greatly upon first view. It is full and comprehensive. Jill Miller puts out her own DVDs and has her own therapy balls and tools under the Yoga TuneUp brand. She also has been working with Kelly Starrett a lot recently. There are photos galore with tons of ways to use balls, blocks, and other tools to work on muscles. I see many things I want to try. From the looks of it, I will spend lots of time with this book. The photos of muscles and bones are helpful and I see so many new ways to use massage balls on muscles throughout the body.

These are all good book recommendations if you are interested in movement therapy and ways to deal with muscular or joint tightness. That said, what works for you may not work for me. These are intriguing reads and guides, but I am still looking for that magic something that gets me running pain-free. My worry is that I have some residual post surgery thing that can't be fixed. I don't quite yet understand why I can ride 100 miles in a day on my ElliptiGO, but can't run 100 yards without dealing with discomfort that next day.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

2014 New York City Marathon Slow Motion Video of leaders

Balanced Runner shares this video of some of the elite runners at the 25th mile in the 2014 New York City Marathon. Jae Gruenke also gives a running form analysis of the elite runners on her blog post here.

Here is some more slow motion post NYC Marathon movements!

Here is a short video of the actual competition and race winners.

Friday, October 24, 2014

The Complete Atlanta 1996 Olympic Film

The official Olympic film of the Atlanta 1996 Olympic Games has been uploaded to the  official Olympic YouTube channel.

This official Olympic film features some of the most inspiring and courageous stories from the Atlanta Games including those of Michael Johnson, Josia Thugwane, Naim Süleymanoğlu, Ghada Shouaa and Jackie Joyner-Kersee.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

October ElliptiGO rides: fast versus scenic

There are two ways to ride an ElliptiGO. Usually, I go for the "all-out" approach and that means riding as hard as I can, being aware of my surroundings, but not really seeing the beauty of where I ride. I did a ride like this on Friday. If I am not riding the Nashua Rail Trail, I usually head out to Pepperell, MA and then back up to Hollis, NH where I ride traces of the roads I used to ride with the Nashua Velo Club 20 years ago on the Tuesday night time trials or Wednesday night club rides. I also cover the Applefest 1/2 Marathon course in Hollis as well as the Fast 5K downhill course.Many good memories fuel my rides through these wonderful and scenic roads.

Friday, I tried out an aerodynamic crouched down position on my EllipitGO. I had always been told to ride standing tall and in good posture on my ElliptiGO, so that even when facing a very strong headwind during the 2014 Seacoast Century, I never even thought of attempting to bend down and go Aerodynamic. That is until I saw a photo of last weeks ElliptiGO World Championships time trial race of winner Rick Bienias going Aero on his ElliptiGO.

Well, that photo intrigued me and I couldn't wait to go against conventional ElliptiGO wisdom and try out this aero position. So the next day I gave it a shot. It is very doable and I did go faster. Your forearms really feel the burn as you stay crouched down. I don't think it will ever be a daily riding position, but when racing, facing a headwind, or just when I want to go fast I will certainly keep working on it (I am quite positive I wasn't as low and as fast looking as Rick either). Here is my Strava ride while aero.

Today was a beautiful New England fall day, so I decided to ride the ElliptiGO the other way: to just enjoy a ride and take in the scenery. Sadly, I usually don't ride this way at all. Last week I hit the 5000 mile mark for ElliptiGO miles in 2014. It is safe to say that far fewer than 100 miles were just to get out there and look around. I also brought my camera and took some photos, but I got far less than 1% of the beauty on the my Pepperell-Hollis course. I basically did the same ride as Friday, except for a couple of extra side trips, and here are a few photos of the scenery in my neck of the woods on a sunny October day.

Here is my Strava activity for the ride, much slower than Friday, but just as rewarding.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

2014 Granite State Grind and Roll Century on an ElliptiGO

Another week, another Century. Last week's Seacoast Century was an all out effort to go as fast as I could go on an ElliptiGO. I loved the challenge, except for the wind, and am very satisfied with the result. This weekend, I wanted to do something different and decided a few days beforehand and 5 minutes before online registration ended to ride the first year Granite State Grind and Roll which started in Franconia, NH. I have always wanted to do a fall ride in the White Mountains and another  ElliptiGO rider, Andrew Warby, was also going to do the event. It was an early morning getting up for the ride up to Franconia, but it was looking to be a gorgeous and perfect day to be outdoors. Andrew and I planned to meet at 8 am for the ride and I rolled up with two minutes to spare.

All the other full century riders (actually it was only 92 miles) had already left long before we did. It was a bit chilly at first with a morning fog, but that soon burned away and by the first aid station, we had pulled off the extra clothing. I had decided to ride this one for the fun, the scenery, to ride with a friend, and for the challenge, too! It was a completely different mindset than last week's century, but I thoroughly enjoyed the day.

The course, of course, was beautiful and the trees were in color. The roads and views were awesome and the ride was fun. There were some steep downhills that I was cautious on, but I still hit 40 mph. Andrew was a better downhill rider and hit 45 mph. At 29 miles we hit I steep (average grade of 7%) downhill over incredibly bumpy roads that we had been warned about. Near the top of the descent, as I was being jostled over the bumps and uneven roads, I heard a tinny sound underneath my ElliptiGO, I didn't notice anything falling off my bike and couldn't see any missing parts, but stopped just the same as it was an aluminum type sound and I didn't want to lose a bike part. I walked about 50 yards up the hill to discover that my car keys had bounced out of the not fully zippered pocket of my front handlebar bag. Whew! The ElliptiGO key ring saved my day. That would have been a real long ride home (I have had problems with losing keys and taking long roads home in the past).

Andrew set a great pace and I let him do a lot of the leading. We stopped at all four of the aid stations since the volunteers were so friendly and curious about our ElliptiGOs and also because they had waited for us as we were the last riders. We never do encounter an century cyclist. We did pass a few doing the shorter ride. The sun was out and I never saw a cloud in the sky all day. The variety of the course was great, many of the roads were free from automobiles, and everything was marked very well. It did get a little hot between 60-70 miles or so with the sun beating down, a bit of a headwind, and some big uphills. The last aid station was a welcome relief as we both needed some water. Eventually the course went of the roads and onto the shaded bike path starting at The Flume, going down to Profile Lake, where you used to be able to see The Old Man of the Mountain, around Cannon Moutain and Echo Lake. That was refreshing! At which point it was just a few miles of downhill to the finish back in Franconia.

Here is a short video I took while trying to use my Polaroid XS100 camera for the first time, I posted it low on my handlebar stem so I had to bend down a bit to turn it off and on, and I didn't secure it well enough so the camera kept rotating, but otherwise it took decent video.

At the end of the event, we joined the wonderful barbecue complete with music, and the two best hamburgers I have had in a while. It was fantastic to ride with Andrew, enjoy a long ride just for the fun of it, and to experience a beautiful day surrounded by the mountains, lakes, rivers, and fall foliage of the White Mountains. Andrew and I both agree that this would be a perfect event for an EllitiGO gathering next year.