10. January 2014
Hello, 2014. I write this from Local Coffee, in San Antonio, Texas. A group of NJNYTC athletes are here to get away from the cold, and get in a solid block of training. (Though, as we found out this week, sometimes THERE IS NO ESCAPE!!).
I stopped posting updates in December, which kind of corresponded with hitting my stride on training. (Boring to write about the feel-good stuff). So, I come to TX on a roll from the end of the year, and after a great 10 days at home in Park City.
Workout-wise, it will be a while before I’m posting any killer sets, but I love the feeling of getting in a groove, getting in base, and working to chip away at the distance between goal and reality. (Following in the footsteps of my training partners, Ashley Higginson, Lauren Penney, and Amanda Winslow). I’ll keep the blog/interwebs updated on our time in Texas. Aside from consistency, we’re always on the hunt for a good run, sight, and/or bite (and open to suggestions!).
We’ll be sending out pic/video evidence of shenanigans in the Lone Star. We want to see your spring training equivalents.
For now, run time. The girls are waiting…
Monday, 30 - 12 - 2013
TRX experimentations are so much fun. This move is the ultimate runner stretch/functional therapy/strength exercise
Start it with a lunge to stretch hip flexors.
Initiate the upward motion by driving your hands down. I’m bouncing too much off my toe. You should feel it in your shoulder/back. Keep those locked in, don’t let your ribs/core jut out.
As you lift your leg, you should feel your core engage to stabilize.
Finally, go up your toe for calf/foot balance.
Whew. So much in one motion!! Thanks mom. ;)
09. December 2013
A good friend of mine was working as a reporter in DC, and did a piece on the trail of clothing left behind at major marathons. It’s a cool cycle, in concept. Marathoners discard their warmups a few miles into the race; local charities pick them up; and the clothing is donated to homeless shelters in the city. It keeps things local, and fulfills a basic need. But what works in theory doesn’t always come through in practice. In this case, the supply of clothing isn’t well matched to the demand of the homeless population (a majority of female runners transferring to a large population of young males).
A solution/idea for a research project/idea for a startup:
compile some demographic research, and create ideal outfits for the local homeless population. These could be all-weather, suited to the climate of the city, unisex, or even male-oriented. Dark colors to hid any stains from the first day, cool design elements that would make them something that would feel good to own. Then sell that to the runners to discard along the way. Essentially allow runners the chance to donate needed items to the local population.
I’m thinking of this in terms of shoes as well. I have all these shoes to give away. As with many used running shoes, they are very wearable, just not ideal for tons of miles. But I wonder who actually uses them. Could there be a way to engineer a shoe for this exact transition? Perhaps with a sole that slowly changes color to indicate 200-300 miles. It could then be removed, revealing a new sole and a repurposed shoe that would look better than a dirty old trainer?
Or maybe I’m focusing too much on aesthetics. It would be reassuring to hear examples from a group that repurposes used running trainers, of the process actually working. I’d have a bunch of shoes to send their way.
08. December 2013
Where did we leave off?
Most people (me) take this and stop everything completely. So we go back to the first graph. Each individual day of “recovering” must add up to enough to bump your body back on it’s normal track. But now, we have to actually recover from a major issue, not just fix daily wear and tear. That means, a lot more time waiting.
Is there a way to get that same (or more) recovery, in a shorter time frame? You would have to increase the rate of recovery, and decrease the breakdown, thereby increasing the area between the two.
And that’s where PT comes in. Exercises increase blood flow and mobility, and ART/graston/deep massage breaks up the kinks in tissue, allowing those exercises to take effect in all areas. That’s the increase in recovery rate, in theory. And the other one? Decoupling breakdown rate from training rate? That’s where the small specific strength exercises come in. As tissues/muscles/tendons/joints are made more resilient, their breakdown per unit of training decreases.
What do I like the most about this way of thinking? Agency. The idea that I have the ability to change those lines is so much nicer than just sitting around waiting. And what else? It would allow for increasing training along with the healing process.
Which takes us back to that earlier graph. The same recovery progress (total purple area) could be achieved with increased training, if you were able to increase recovery rate and decrease breakdown accordingly.
(purple area in graph a = purple area in graph b, but graph b has a higher training level).
And the happy ending. The status quo of training is raised, not only by increasing recovery rate, but by allowing more training for the same level of breakdown.
Which is all to say. I should be doing my PT exercises instead of writing this.
07. December 2013
Thinking of injury and recovery in terms of rates and risks, not static states. (Disclaimer: This is in no way official/scientific/etc. Just a way to put pictures to a thought experiment).
Let’s say this is you - a normal, minimally active person - in a graph. You have constant, low level activity and breakdown (i’m assuming training rate=body breakdown rate). And your body is recovering normally. As long as that stays the same, for any given day, you build up more than you breakdown, and you live an injury-free existence.
Now, let’s take you from normal person to athlete person. That means: increase training, which increases rate of breakdown. At the same time, the more time/energy spent on activity, the less your body is able to recover, so that rate goes down.
We see the lines flip. Does this mean injury? No. It means every day you break down more than you build up. This is nothing to stop you from running, but there is an imbalance. The small issues accumulate. You don’t do anything.
When the rate of breakdown continues to be greater than the rate of recovery, there is increased risk that any small thing can become a bigger thing. And every day in that scenario, the total risk grows. So, maybe there isn’t an injury right away, but over time, the probability of injury goes to 1.
Something breaks down enough to tip you over the edge.
06. December 2013
Today was my first practice with NJNYTC. I was nervous, to say the least. It was another step in getting past the fear that my body will not carry me back to normal workouts. It wasn’t glorious, but it passed, and is one check I could put on the calendar. Which is a good feeling. (kind of. i still have this anxious anticipation of all hell breaking loose. but i’ll ignore that).
One stop on my path to feeling healthy and confident has been reading Jay Dicharry’s Anatomy for Runners. (Also learning from the man himself, but that is a bit less scalable). The book is full of knowledge and tips on how to understand and take care of yourself. But the biggest frameshift for me came in the first few pages.
It’s the concept of the body as always in motion. Rather than understand it as two static states: injured and healthy, zoom in a bit, and see the dynamic physical processes involved. Daily activity constantly breaks down cells, tissues, muscles. And daily recovery constantly builds those back up.
It was his image of a bridge that drove this point home. I forget the specifics, but here’s the outline:
Imagine a bridge. The bridge is worn down over years. The bridge breaks. Engineers have to come repair the bridge.
You are not the bridge.
You can literally fix yourself. Let the cars run all day, then block it off at night, and watch the magic happen. If that happened in real bridges, we would be in complete awe.
Did I already know this? I guess. But, it’s still nice to be reminded of this internal power. And it helped me reframe the way I visualized my recovery. It’s not about stopping everything and waiting for the engineers (except in extreme cases). It’s about playing with those breakdown and build-up rates, Putting yourself in the position in which that active process of recovery is happening all the time. Giving your body the tools to build you up stronger than before.
Anyway, as soon as I start thinking in terms of rates, I want to make graphs. So watch out for two posts to explain this theory with some visuals. Fun with charts!
My running book shipment from Amazon. It’s time to take this student of the sport thing seriously. Which to read first!
Next are the running movies. List (from reddit):
Spirit of the Marathon
Chariots of Fire
Town of Runners
03. December 2013
We are a group of runners that believe that gyms are a waste of energy. There are many neglected tasks and people in our communities that need that energy. We want to bring these things together.
Something we’ve been working on a lot is loneliness and isolation amongst older people: 13% of people over 65 in the UK say that they always or often feel lonely, and 17% of those living alone see family and friends less than once a week.”
Minus the negative vibes towards gyms (maybe a waste of energy, but so is going to a movie, or surfing facebook), I love the idea of doing good through running. Basically, GoodGym pairs runners with “coaches” - elderly people in their community. The athlete pays a visit to their coach a certain number of times per week. It is supposed to reduce the isolation or loneliness in an older population, while giving the runner motivation to get out the door. Pretty cool. But, right now, only in London. Sadface. I wonder if there are groups like this in the US.