Monday, April 30, 2012

Transitioning into a Minimalist Shoe

Chuck asked me about transitioning into a more minimalist shoe last week.  As you know, I'm all over barefoot running and/or running in the least amount of shoe you need, so I told him:
  • Go to your local running store and try on EVERYTHING they have.
  • Most important is fit--make sure whatever shoe you get is comfortable from the get-go, no tight spots.
  • Transition slooooowly--start out a couple miles a week and gradually increase the amount of time in them, alternating with your old shoes, until you are wearing them full time.
  • Everyone is different, so whether you can even go more minimalist just depends on your past.  It might take just a couple weeks...  or much longer, so just let it be whatever it is.
I found this video on the differences between a regular running shoe and the more minimalist from a running store out west--short and straight-forward:

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Shawn Achor's "The Happy Secret to Better Work" on TED

I received a comment on my "squirrel determination" post from Stephanie with a link to a TED video, Shawn Achor's The happy secret to better work.  I'm posting it here because this is a MUST WATCH!!


Friday, April 27, 2012

Mark Remy's "Rules to Run By"

I found this list of "rules to run by" at Runner's World.  It's very funny and so right on, you HAVE to read it!  I've posted it here for you, but here's the link to the Runner's World page where it's posted.
A Few Rules to Run By
What you need to know about short shorts, Porta-Potty lines and other unspoken principles of the runners' code.
By Mark Remy, Runner's World

Running is simple.
You don't need a room full of pricey equipment or to phone in advance for a tee time.  Running doesn't even require much skill--nothing could be easier.  Naturally, there are tons of rules.  Not for the act of running itself, but about the code, largely unspoken, that governs behavior and informs decisions in situations that every runner encounters sooner or later:  Did that driver really just cut me off, and am I within my rights to flip him the bird?  What do I tell a marathoner lurching along at mile 20 like a zombie in search of brains?  Here are some answers to such quandaries.  None of these is a rule in the USA Track & Field Competition Rules Book, because you won't find rules there on passing gas during a group run.  Instead, these are guidelines to make running a little bit happier, healthier, and more fun for everyone.  Because the first rule of running is just that:  Have fun.

Have fun
No other fact is so fundamental to running:  Done properly, running is fun.  Even when you do it improperly, running is still inherently, liberatingly fun.  If you doubt this, just spend a few minutes watching a child or a dog in any wide-open space.  Their glee is instinctual and undeniable.  I believe it was Aristotle who said, "Tramps like us, baby, we were born to run."  Enjoy it.  After all, there aren't many animal impulses that we can act on in public without getting arrested.

Expand your sense of fun
As a runner, your definition of fun--which might once have included water parks, screwball comedies on DVD, and scrapbooking--must be, well, let's just say broadened and might include:
  • Waking up at 5:30 a.m. to run 10 miles
  • Running in blistering heat
  • Running in the rain
  • Running in 400-meter circles
  • Feeling as if your lungs are about to explode
  • Paying good money for the privilege of turning your toenails black
  • Any combination of the above
Black toenails are badges of honor
Run long enough and you'll wind up ruining a toenail or two.  Whether it's because your shoes are too big or too small or because you've run a race with punishing downhills or the toenail gods happen to be in a foul mood, someday you will peel off your socks and black where once there was pink.  Congratulations!  These bruised nails are tiny trophies conferred upon you for toughing it out.  Just don't flash them in public.

Run like a dog
My dog, a shepherd mix named Cooper, doesn't care where we are or what time of day it is, or even what the weather is like.  He doesn't know what his resting heart rate is and rarely bothers to wear a watch.  He just loves to run.  And every time he does, his face and his body telegraph one simple message:  This. Is. Awesome.  I'm runningrunningrunning!

The "Run Like a Dog" workout (including warmup and cooldown):
  • Walk 8 seconds.
  • Trot 4 seconds.
  • Stop.
  • Sniff.
  • Sprint 7 seconds.
  • Freeze.
  • Walk 5 seconds in any direction but forward.
  • Stare 9 seconds.
  • Lunge at rabbit.
  • Double back, walk 3 seconds.
  • Urinate.
  • Repeat six times.
  • Collapse on rug.
Let angry motorists go
I understand the impulse when a driver has just pulled out in front of you or turned directly in your path or otherwise behaved like a jerk.  I know how much you'd love to slap the trunk of that driver's car, or shout at the person behind the wheel, helpfully suggesting that he or she "learn to drive."  Or extend a certain digit in a certain direction.  Do yourself--and all runners--a favor and fight that impulse.  Smile.  Your lashing out isn't likely to change the driver's behavior, and may, in fact, worsen it.  For all you know, the still-seething guy may drive extra close to the next runner he sees, just to make a point.  Let him go.

The open-ended question is your friend
Running with someone who's faster than you?  Is this person oblivious to your gasping?  If so, it's time to deploy that surefire weapon of struggling runners everywhere:  Ask the offending speedster a question so broad, he or she could spend 10 minutes answering it.  And just might!  This is particularly useful on long hills.
  • "Say, how's the job?"
  • "Any vacation plans this year?"
  • "Popular culture:  How about it, huh?"
For Pete's sake, stand still at a red light
Sharks die when they stop moving.  Runners do not.  Keep this in mind the next time you encounter a "Don't Walk" sign at a busy intersection.  There's no need to jog in place or dance from foot to foot like you have to pee.  Just chill.  Wait a few moments.  Note:  If a nonrunner waiting with you at the crosswalk is dancing from foot to foot, he or she may indeed have to pee.  Give this person wide berth.

Learn and love the farmer's blow
Mastering the farmer's blow (or snot rocket) is a must for any runner.  Here's how to do it right:
  • Breathe in through your mouth, like you're gasping.
  • Lay a forefinger against one nostril and compress firmly.
  • Purse your lips.
  • Cock your head slightly in the direction of the open nostril and exhale forcefully through your nose.
  • Repeat with opposite nostril, if needed.
"Lookin' good"... and other runners' lies
Lying is not something we normally endorse.  But it's perfectly acceptable to tell a runner that he is looking good at mile 19 of a marathon when, in fact, he looks like an insomniac who's trying to sneeze, and is confused because someone has switched his running shoes with replicas made of concrete.  The go-to lie is "lookin' good!"  Or you could say, "If I weren't so awed by the apparent ease with which you're navigating this course, I might be angry with you for nearly knocking me unconscious with your very awesomeness!"  The key is to say something.  Even a zombie appreciates encouragement.

Running rules of thumb
  1. If you see a Porta-Potty with no line, use it.  Even if you don't need to.
  2. If you have to ask yourself, "Does this driver see me?" the answer is no.
  3. If you have to ask yourself, "Are these shorts too short?" the answer is yes.
  4. One glazed donut = two miles.
  5. You rarely regret the runs you do; you almost always regret the runs you skip.
  6. Not everyone who looks fast really is, and not everyone who looks slow really is.
  7. Nobody has ever watched Chariots of Fire from beginning to end.  Not even the people who made it.
  8. You can never have too many safety pins on your gym bag.
  9. Running any given route in the rain makes you feel 50 percent more hard-core than covering the same route on a sunny day.
  10. If you care even a little bit about being called a jogger versus a runner, you're a runner.   
Pass gas, not judgment
Runners ingest a fair amount of healthy foods, which produce gas in the GI tract, where it cannot stay forever.  Especially when that GI tract is bounced and jostled.  Passing gas while running is excusable and inevitable, but...  you may not mock another runner for having passed gas, unless he has previously mocked you for the same or unless he mocks himself.  If a runner has taken pains to mask flatulence, pretend nothing happened.  It's fun to pretend that the gas you expelled is propelling you forward, like a little booster rocket.  That isn't really a guideline, though, is it?

Never leave a man behind...  unless he insists he's OK with it
It's fine to ask once or twice if a straggler is OK or if he wants you to slow down for him.  Asking three or more times, however, is more likely to annoy than to help.  Take the straggler at his word and run accordingly.

Smile at your critics
A few people will never miss a chance to tear running down, or jab its adherents in the chest with a rhetorical finger.  Oddly enough, the most vocal of such critics are often in terrible health themselves.
  • "Bad for your joints," they'll jab.
  • "You'll get arthritis," they'll jab.
  • "Running marathons?" they'll ask, jabbingly between sips of their Big Gulp.  "That'll kill ya."
The best response is to continue running and loving it.  Meantime, try inviting these critics to join you for a short run.  Who knows?  Maybe someday they'll accept your invitation.
Runners do not shave their legs
Exceptions include most North American women; runners about to undergo some sort of leg surgery; runners who are competitive swimmers, cyclists, or triathletes; and runners who don't care what anyone thinks because they just like the way smooth legs feel, especially against  cotton sheets, and anyway, what's the big deal?

A PR is a PR forever, but...
You may advertise a personal record (PR) time, or otherwise claim it as your own with no further explanation for two years after setting it.  After two years, however, it becomes uncool to tell people "My marathon PR is 3:12" without providing a disclaimer--e.g. "My marathon PR is 3:12, but I ran that 63 years ago."

Remove your hat for the national anthem
Manners and common courtesy apply, even during a race and even if your hat is made of technical sweat-wicking fabrics.

When elastic is gone, man, it is gone
Men, this is one for you.  You paid good money for those shorts.  You love those shorts.  You've race in those shorts.  But sooner or later you will pull them on and feel roomy gaping where once there was a snug liner.  This means that the elastic down there has gone slack.  You will be tempted to wear them anyway.  Don't.

Never miss a chance to thank a volunteer
Even if you're running the race of your life, you can still manage a bit of eye contact and a nod as you grab a cup of water from an outstretched hand.  Even if it feels like your quads are quite literally on fire, you can manage to sputter a short "thanks" to the course marshal standing in the intersection.  It will make the volunteer feel good.  And you too.

Five topics guaranteed to get a runner's dander up
  1. Walking in Marathons:  Good or Bad?
  2. Running with Headphones:  Good or Bad?
  3. Dean Karnazes:  Good or Bad?
  4. Barefoot Running:  Good or Bad?
  5. Charity Runners:  Good or Bad?
Before you remove your new running shoes from the box, you must smell them
  • Open the box.
  • Peel back the tissue paper.
  • Behold those pristine shoes.
  • Lift the box to your face and breathe deeply.
  • Mmmm.  Smells like potential.  And possibly toxins.  But mostly potential. 

Adapted from The Runner's Rule Book, by Mark Remy (Rodale).
Provided by Runner's World

Get a copy of Remy's book at

Thursday, April 26, 2012

A Little Inspiration

I am in Wisconsin, after my road trip with daughter Stephanie.  When I travel I leave my dog Clicquot with my parents in Florida.  They have a nice big yard for her--she loves it and they love having her.  One of her and my dad's favorite things to do (from what my mother says, this is a riot to watch) is to chase the squirrels away from the bird feeder out back.  So this made me laugh...

Monday, April 23, 2012

101-Year-Old Fauja Singh Breaks His Own Record Marathon Time

I posted here last October about Fauja Singh, the India-born Brit who broke the marathon record for over-100-year-olds in the Toronto Marathon.  Singh ran in yesterday's London Marathon an incredible 7:49:21, smashing his own previous record of 8:11:05.  He is retiring from running marathons but states that he will continue running shorter distance races, 5k to half marathon, and wants "to be remembered as the person who ran till the end."
101-Year-Old Marathon Champ Fauja Singh

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Kenyans Win in London

There were fast times in this morning's London Marathon, with Kenyans Mary Keitany and Wilson Kipsang winning women's and men's races in 2:18:36 and 2:04:44, respectively. For a REALLY indepth analysis of the races read this excellent post over at the blog The Science of Sport, written by Ross Tucker and Jonathan Dugas.  For a completely different view of the London Marathon, read this BBC report.

London Marathon Men's Winner Wilson Kipsang

Friday, April 20, 2012

London Marathon on Sunday

A brief post here... I am in the car with my daughter Stephanie on our way to Louisville KY. She is finishing up her doctorate in counseling psychology with an internship in Louisville, which
begins in June, and needs to find a place to live, so she asked her mama to go with her. But I wanted to post a couple videos here from Briton David Bedford on upcoming London Marathon this Sunday.

A little about David Bedford..  The current race director for the London Marathon, Bedford held the world record at 10,000m (27:30.80) in 1973, and the British record for 3,000m steeplechase and 5,000m.

David Bedford on the elite women running London...

and elite men..

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Heat - The Story of This Year's Boston

With high temps well into the 80's, winning times at this year's Boston were more than nine minutes slower than last year.  Kenyans Wesley Korir and Sharon Cherop won with times of 2:12:40 and 2:31:50, respectively.  The top three spots in both men's and women's races went to the Kenyans:
1.  Wesley Korir                       2:12:40     Kenya
2.  Levy Matebo                       2:13:06     Kenya
3.  Bernard Kipyego                 2:13:13     Kenya

1.  Sharon Cherop                    2:31:50     Kenya
2.  Jemima Jelagat Sumgong   2:31:52     Kenya
3.  Georgina Rono                   2:33:09      Kenya
Kenyan Geoffrey Mutai, the man who has run the fastest marathon ever in 2:03:02, last year in Boston, dropped out of the race this year due to what was reported as cramping at around 18-19 miles.  Congratulations to US elite runner Jason Hartmann from Colorado who ran an even-paced race to come in fourth in a time of 2:14:31!

I was tracking Sara (BAA texts you your runner's 5k, 10k, half, 30k splits and finish time), knowing that the heat was going to slow her considerably.  Through the halfway point, she was doing okay, then the pace went way down after that.  I figured she just decided to let it go and run for fun.  And as soon as I heard from her after the race, that's what she said.  In fact, she said it was really weird...   the BAA had put up huge screens urging runners to "slow the pace," all fire hydrants were open, medical carts and motorbikes were everywhere helping people, EMT stationed every two miles, people sitting in medical tents...

All is not lost..  Sara has already qualified for Boston 2013 with her 3:11 in Jacksonville last December, her Boston training has made her stronger, and now she knows the Boston course!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Mutai and Kilel Will Defend Their Titles in Boston

The Olympics later this summer are playing an extensive role in upcoming Boston Marathon.  Our US Olympic Marathon team was determined at the Trials in Houston on January 14 of this year (see my posts here).  Those on the team will be sitting out any marathon competiton (including Boston), along with those elite athletes who ran the Olympic Marathon Trials who are planning to try for a spot at a different distance event at trials in June.

But this week and next will decide the Olympic team for the Kenyans, with top Kenyan runners in Rotterdam this Sunday, Boston on Monday, and London next Sunday.  Last year's Boston winners were Kenyans Geoffrey Mutai and Caroline Kilel, and both are back to not only win again but earn their places on the Olympic team.  They will have much competition (a good thing IMHO, as it makes everyone better!) with a field including 2010 Boston winner Robert Cheruiyot, 2010 NYC winner Gebre Bebremariam, 2011 Amsterdam and Rotterdam winner Wilson Chebet, Chicago 2nd place finisher Wesley Korir, and Chicago 3rd place finisher Bernard Kipyego, on the men's side; and on the women's side 2011 Boston 3rd place finisher Sharon Cherop, 2011 Boston 4th place finisher Caroline Rotich, 2011 NYC winner Firehiwot Dado, and 2011 NYC 2nd place finisher Buzunesh Deba.

A note here about Geoffrey Mutai...   his win in Boston last year in a time of 2:03:02, though the fastest marathon time in history, is not recognized as a world record by the IAAF.  From Wikipedia:
In order for a performance to be ratified as a world record by the IAAF, the marathon course on which the performance occurred must be 42.195 kilometers and measured in a defined manner using the calibrated bicycle method and meet other criteria that rule-out "artificially fast times" produced on courses aided by downhill slope or tailwind. The criteria include:
  • "The start and finish points of a course, measured along a theoretical straight line between them, shall not be further apart than 50% of the race distance."
  • "The decrease in elevation between the start and finish shall not exceed an average of one in a thousand, i.e. 1m per km."
The Boston Marathon course is a point-to-point race, meaning it can be wind-aided (which it was last year), and it has a slight overall downhill slope.

Mutai not only won Boston in record time last year, he also broke New York's record time in last November's NYC Marathon (2:05:55), making him the only person ever to win both Boston and New York in one year.

Following are videos of Mutai and Kilel's wins in last year's Boston Marathon:

Monday, April 9, 2012

Continuing Countdown to Boston

We're a week out from the Boston Marathon now--wish I was running!!  Remembering the times I ran...   it was a noon start then, it's now 10 am.  I remember that it would get cooler toward the end, whereas here in SoFL, it just gets warmer during your long runs, that is, if you do them in the morning.

I found this video from last year's Boston, some "sights and sounds."  Enjoy!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Kathrine Switzer - Marathon Woman

We think nothing of women running these days, but it hasn't always been this way. In fact, it's only been in fairly recent history that women have been "allowed" to enter races longer than a half mile, and you would never ever see a woman out jogging for exercise just 45 years ago. We have Kathrine Switzer to thank for bringing us out of the dark ages, for her courage in entering the 1967 all-male Boston Marathon. As women were forbidden to run the race, Switzer entered under the name "K. Switzer" of Syracuse. She ran the race with several men including her coach and her boyfriend. At one point, race director Jock Semple noticed her in "his" race, ran onto the road, and tried to pull her out of the race. The men around Switzer blocked him, kept him away and she went on to finish the race.                      
1967 Boston Marathon - Race officials trying to pull Kathrine Switzer out of the race

This race was just the beginning for Switzer.  She went on to organize running events that brought about worldwide social change for women, and helped to establish a women's marathon in the 1984 Olympics.  Her own running included a 1974 win at the New York City Marathon in a time of 3:07 and a lifetime personal best of 2:51.  I read her book, Marathon Woman, when it came out several years ago (have it here on my "recommended books" list).  Here is an interview with her a few years back:

You can get her book here from

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