Thursday, June 30, 2011
What, if anything, do you drink after your runs? Do you make your own smoothies? If so, what do you use? Are they fruit based? Include dairy (just for Joel, I guess)? This RW smoothie article includes an interesting carrot juice recipe here that sounds like it's worth exploring.
Wednesday, June 29, 2011
I don't feel good about tonight's game because:
- Lackey's pitching. Ugh.
- Gonzo's playing Right Field! WTF? If Tito was going to play him in RF, wouldn't you think he'd do so on a night where the pitcher typically gets lots of ground balls, rather than "all these runs aren't my fault" Lackey? As Pedroia says: "It will be good for us offensively, but damn, I’m going to have to play second, first and right."
Tuesday, June 28, 2011
A few thoughts about the "Silent Running" article, since we've talked a lot about form recently. I don't disagree with anything the author Dianiel Duane writes, but I do disagree with what the article implies, which is that someone can start running barefoot tomorrow with no ill effects. That's the impression I got from phrasings such as this:
there's a wonderful self-limiting quality when you're barefoot. Almost instantly, you find ways to run softly and smoothly. I liked that feeling so much that I bought a pair of shoes called Vibram FiveFingers, which have articulated toes. They're like an artificial callus for people who like the idea of running barefoot but didn't grow up doing so and therefore don't have tough soles.He does talk about going to see a gait specialist and "doing some drills" but it almost seems perfunctury - as we've talked about, training your muscles to run this way is hard work!
I'm also intregued by this statement:
...[I] soon discovered that a natural gait on a dirt trail reduces impact even further. That's because every stride is different; your feet dance from rock to stick to soil. On flat pavement, you bang away at precisely the same physical imperfections over and over, until you get hurt. On a wandering footpath, impact varies from step to step and thus gets distributed throughout your body.I haven't done much trail running, but when I have I found all of the different striding to be distracting. I couldn't get into a groove and lost the meditative quality I so enjoy on my longer runs. I should try it again, I suppose, but I'm curious to know what you think?
Monday, June 27, 2011
- 1 mile warmup, conversational pace
- 6 x400 at race pace, followed by a 400 at conversational pace
- 1/2 mile cooldown
By mutual consent, this workout was actually easier than the suggested speedwork workout from RW, which called for 800 sprints. Neither Eric nor I are there yet, but hopefully it will happen soon. I was reading the suggested beginner marathon running plan in RW last night and they had speedwork in there as well, mainly because (paraphrasing) it builds power in your legs and also helps your form (since most people tend to get lazy with their form on long runs).
I'm recovering somewhat nicely, although my calves and frontal hips are sore today. I'm hoping to get in a nice slow 3 miles at lunch today to loosen them back up.
Sunday, June 26, 2011
The 185-mile long canal was built in the early 19th century as a means of transporting goods (especially coal) along the route from Washington, DC to Western Pennsylvania. Its various bridges, locks, dams, aqueducts and tunnels are impressive and beautiful. The canal is no longer in use, but the whole route has been taken into custody by the Parks Service, and the towpath that runs alongside is very popular with runners and bikers.
Since I'm not yet in shape to run 370 miles, I decided to run out for five miles, and then back in. Ten miles is my favorite running distance these days - long enough to get a good workout and enjoy some time to myself, but short enough that I don't have to worry about hydration, joint pain, or other issues. Just strap on the watch and go!
And go, I did. The path was shady and running by the water seemed to cool the air. The city was left behind quickly, and although I slowed down at a few places to observe geese and butterflies, I still managed to turn in a 9:13 pace, much faster than my record in December of 9:37. This was my only run this week, and the days of rest seem to have done me some good.
This may be my new favorite route in DC - especially since after the run was done, I was able to head over to the outdoor cafe at Dean & DeLuca and enjoy the Sunday paper!
Friday, June 24, 2011
Wednesday, June 22, 2011
unlike that book, i came unto this one knowing nothing about it, with no expectation that it was the next big thing, little expectation what-so-ever. like that book, it's an American tale, this one based in the south (and it certainly has that southern feel). also like that book, the plot grabs you, pulls you in quickly, and revolves around a murder (of sorts).
Tom Franklin does something i very nearly forget about, with all the "lenses" i read books through these days; he writes a phenomenal story. the characters are rich and vibrant, alive on the page:
French, a former game warden and a Vietnam vet, laughed and showed his small sharp teeth. He was late fifties, tall and think, pale green eyes behind his sunglasses and close-cropped red hair and matching mustache. He had a blade for a chin and ears that stuck out and could move individually. Said his nickname in Nam had been Doe. He wore blue jeans and a tuckedin camo T-shirt that shoed a Glock 9 mm in a beefy hand, aimed at the viewer. YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO REMAIN SILENT, his chest said, FOREVER.every part of this story feels interesting, the characters, the side plots, it's just plain very well thought out and executed. and the writing isn't bad either!! quite good in fact. deadpan kitsch used to prove a point works well when you've been able to establish a certain level of trust with a reader:
He passed a clothing store that had gone so long without customers it'd briefly become a vintage clothing store without changing stock.corny, but descriptive, and that trust allows us to forgive him because it all works.
one of the things that differentiates a novel that i read and like from one that i'll remember is how much i care about the characters. that doesn't mean like, dislike or whatever... but simply that the characters evoke emotion. where Meyer fell short, Franklin does not... maybe by not trying to achieve so much. his characters don't exist off the page, i don't care to recreate them or hear about them in, say, a follow up book. but in the lifespan of the story, they live and i live with them, breathing, sweating, worrying and wondering.
it's the real nature of this story and it's characters that Franklin uses to establish that trust. and he knows it... and even makes a point of telling us he knows it:
It was nothing like movies or television where they dug moths out of the victim's mouth with tweezers.we can reliably call bullshite on that statement without offending him. we know he means "it's nothing like THOSE movies". and it isn't.
i'm not going to tout this book as a work of literary art, but i liked it. enough to recommend it. probably not enough to remember it.
Tuesday, June 21, 2011
Monday, June 20, 2011
i wanted to write "tread lightly", but that's too obvious to get more than a groan.
i was swayed by McDougall's book Born to Run, towards a more natural running stride, more natural foot-strike. i started barefoot running 6 months ago, but my experience has been more an experience with a more natural foot-strike than one of barefoot running. from what i've read, shod running in any form, even with vibram five-fingers. allegedly, it's the sensory input you get from your bare foot on the ground that really gives you the beneifts so highly touted by the barefoot running movement.
still, there is much to be gained by adopting a more natural foot-strike. since i was a child i have been diagnosed as a severe overpronator. this has caused me to continually have to wear very structured, motion-controlling shoes. the positive side of this was that i got to the point where i was running quite fast and relatively pain-free for a while. the down-side was one of degrading returns in my non-running athletic performance. my muscles had grown accustomed to the forward-only, rigidly controlled foot-strike, and so my lateral motion was impaired.
very few of us are starting with a blank slate, and, in my personal situation, i was way behind the curve in this regard. i knew there would be a long breaking-in period, where my leg muscles would hage to adjust to the more natural foot-strike. i wasn't quite prepared for how hard it would be. here are some details:
- feet: my arches had become somewhat weak from the motion-controlling shoes. but the arch pain is nothing compared to the pain i feel on the tops of my feet, above my arches. when i've been idle for a bit, especially getting up in the morning, i can barely walk. i've read this is all part of strengthening your feet, which is one of the hardest parts of re-tooling your footstrike. this is by far the most painful part, and, 6-months on, i am no where near stable.
- ankles: overpronation is real. i am an overpronator and that does cause an issue for me because my muscles have been been properly built up to handle it. think of the difference in stabalizer muscles you obtain in a workout on dry sand vs. solid surfaces. you need to build that stability to support your leg's natural motion. again, i'm not there. second to the pain in my feet is the pain on the insides of my ankles, similiarly debilitated in the A.M. and after being seated for periods of time.
neither of the conditions above affect my running. when i run, it's a non-issue, no foot or ankle pain. it's only when i'm NOT running that it comes into play.
- calves: get ready for this. what a difference. i always thought i was using my calves quite a bit, but i've never experienced them screaming and yelling to me like they have throughout this 6-month period. this is a mostly "while running" thing, not much of a problem when i'm not running (the soreness went away after a couple months). i just noticed my calves feeling overly pumped, used up much more quickly than the rest of my legs muscles, a lot more fatigue than other muscle groups. since incorporating speed-work, this has significantly been reduce and i expect soon my calves will no longer be an issue.
- knees: i've had knee problems my whole life. probably a by-product of too much jumping (volleyball) with hard landings. when i started this whole experiment, i thought my knees would be my undoing. i haven't had knee pain like that in years. in my mind, i thought, while there may be merit to a more natural foot-strike, i’ve missed the boat. if i’m already running pain-free, why not just let it be what it is? if only i could live by that kind of logic... my life might be simpler, but i certainly wouldn’t have had some of the great experiences i’ve had, nor the lessons learned from them. i’m happy to report, i am basically through the painful period with my knees. they feel quite good these days actually.
- lower back: this was a big problem at first, but, like with my knees, this went away. the lower back issues didn't take long to go away either, maybe even just a month.
some other notes about the switch:
- slow!! two years ago, training runs (which where few and far between, i admit) where up to a minute faster per mile pace. i don’t know if it’s because i’m focusing on form so much more, or if it’s the pain, or what... but i often just want to strap on the ‘ol motion control shoes and see what kind of time i could get. but i threw them away, so it’s not going to happen. as previously reported, times are starting to get faster and faster now, especially with the addition to speed work. i imagine towards the end of this year, or early in the season next year, i’ll be back where i was.
- endurance: this is a strange one. it’s not about running endurance, which actually has increased with a more natural stride. it’s about other athletic endurance. i played a few volleyball tournaments this year and was fine through a few hours, but, once i hit a certain point, my legs just plain wouldn’t work. i’ve never experienced that before. i had energy, just the legs seemed dead, i couldn’t get them to respond or warm up. maybe a by product of the pain noted above, or the causes of that pain... who knows, but i really hope this changes.
these are pretty much all the NEGATIVE notes, the gotchas, things to look out for. the important thing to note is that i’m STILL doing this experiment... so, clearly, the positives out-weigh the above.
i guess i’ll have to find some time soon to write about those!!
- Easy to do going up hills, very awkward going downhill.
- Feels strange but okay on the flats, but was difficult for me to do as my legs got tired at the end of the run.
- At times, it felt like my heels weren’t touching the ground at all. I know they weren’t, but that’s what it felt like.
- Feel great afterwards, but know why everyone says to ease into it – I could really feel my shin muscles working. If I attepted to run like that everyday at my usual pace, I’m sure I would really feel bad before too long unless I adapted my shin muscles to the new workload.
In short, I was encouraged by my experiment. Overall, it did feel better than I had thought it would. Next up, i'm going to research of minimalist shoes and see if that's worth using (although probably not the five-finger ones).
Sunday, June 19, 2011
Friday, June 17, 2011
Fiction doesn’t present the unreal; it presents the possibly real, something balancing precariously between the real and the non. (This holds, it should be said, for fantasy, science fiction, and other “genres” as well as in realistic or literary fiction; they just go about it, as is the case in variation between individual works, in different ways.) We empathize with fictional beings not despite their unreality, but because of their possible reality.I've always been curious why some people become more attached to the characters that they read about (or watch on TV) than they do the people in their everyday lives. My intuition tells me that because they're interacting with these idealized figures in a controlled environment (i.e., they can't actually talk to them, and thus the spell that the writer is casting is never broken), these characters speak more to a person's ideal than real people, with whom you have to deal with the inevitable dissapointments of reality (making small talk, noticing skin blemishes and annoying personality traits, etc.)
What do you think?
Thursday, June 16, 2011
Hope Beckett can repeat on this performance! I was surprised to learn that "the fewest hits he had ever allowed previously in a complete game was three and he had done that just once." Given how dominant he can be - in '07 in particular - I had expected him to come closer to a perfect game, but there are just so many variables involved. I mean, Pedro Martinez never had a complete game and he's the best pitcher i've ever seen.
Wednesday, June 15, 2011
Monday, June 13, 2011
Posted on the wall of Vigil’s office was a magic formula for fast running that, as far as Deena could tell, had absolutely nothing to do with running: it was stuff like “Practice abundance by giving back,” and “Improve personal relationships,” and “Show integrity to your value system." p.119or
Over the previous two years, Vigil had become convinced that the next leap forward in human endurance would come from a dimension he dreaded getting itno: Character. … Vigil wasn’t talking about “grit” or “hunger” or “the size of the fight in the dog.” In fact, he meant the exact opposite. Vigil’s notion of character wasn’t toughness. It was compassion. Kindness. Love. p.92I’m looking forward to where this all leads, but from a book that I expected to hear more about form than psychology, this angle was a pleasant surprise.
For every nine innings that Lester pitches, the Red Sox score 9.77 runs. Insane. Among qualified pitchers, that's the second best run support in the major leagues.*
Here are the run support stats for the entire rotation. 2011 numbers are first, followed by full-season 2010 numbers in parentheses:Lester -9.77 (6.88)
Lackey - 8.12 (7.07)
Buchholz - 6.37 (6.79)
Wakefield - 5.77 (5.45)
Beckett - 5.75 (7.67)
While Lester's run support is up, Beckett's run support is down. A lot. (Though even so it is only just slightly below the median figure --5.77 -- for all qualified big league pitchers.) Perhaps he is just so dominant that our hitters figure they can take things easy when he's on the mound.
On the other hand, the Sox have never given Wakefield that much support, which makes his accomplishments that much more impressive.
* "Qualified pitchers" are those that have pitched an average of at least one inning for every game their team has played, i.e., the "qualified pitchers" on the Red Sox staff are those that have pitched at least 65 innings. The run support leader among all qualified pitchers in the big leagues is Jake Arrieta of the Baltimore Orioles, whose run support is at 9.79, just the tiniest sliver above Lester's. Despite Jake's 4.48 ERA, he is already an 8-game winner.
Saturday, June 11, 2011
For days, I'd been searching Mexico's Sierra Madre for the phantom known as Caballo Blanco--the White Horse. I'd finally arrived at the end of the trail, in the last place I expected to find him--not deep in the wilderness he was said to haunt, but in the dim lobby of an old hotel on the edge of a dusty desert town.- Christopher McDougall, Born to Run
Reading and Running collide! I finally broke down and bought this book - the paperback, not on the Kindle - and am eagerly anticipating getting deep into it. I'll let you know what I think!
Friday, June 10, 2011
Thursday, June 9, 2011
Has anyone else noticed that most Kindle e-books are now being priced at $11.99? And I'm not talking about new releases. I'm talking about books that have been out in the marketplace for years.
What really annoys me is that this price point is higher than the price of buying a new paperback. To take just a few examples:
Norwegian Wood, by Haruki Murakami: $11.99 (Kindle); $8.62 (paperback)
Cloud Atlas, by David Mitchell: $11.99 (Kindle); $10.20 (paperback)
Oscar and Lucinda, by Peter Carey: $11.99 (Kindle); $10.85 (paperback)
The Remains of the Day, by Kazuo Ishiguro: $11.99 (Kindle); $8.64 (paperback)
I suppose to deflect criticism, Amazon has been including a note next to the Kindle pricing, stating that the price was set by the publisher. But I don't particularly care where the responsibility lies, I still find it irksome, and I plan to begin reading paper books again.
Petey's knee is bothering him, which explains his uncharacteristic troubles at the plate. It sounds like this is just a precautionary measure, but I wouldn't be suprised to see him on the DL soon. With Lowrie's shoulder hurting, I'm not sure who would be taking his place at 2B - would the Sox have to call someone up? Iglesias up to play SS, with Scutaro moving to 2B?
Wednesday, June 8, 2011
todd and i are running the Sharon Timlin Memorial 5K in a week and a half, and, while i want to be realistic with my expectations, i also push myself. my last 5K was over 3 years ago, and i've spent the better part of the last 2 years injured and not consistently running. the past 3 months i have started to seriously try to get back into shape, and over the past couple weeks, i'm started to feel my legs coming in under me. i ran a "test race" this weekend, to see where i'd fall. i really pushed it and saw 24:30 on the clock when i was done. not particularly fast for me, but a minute faster than anything i've run in the past 6 months for 3.1 miles. i figure that on race day, i will have that adrenaline i always get at races that'll push me harder, trimming that extra 30 seconds.
i don't think i should have any problem doing it... and, i know i'll be absolutely crushed if i don't. it's not about being fast; 23:59 is *not* fast, not even by my own standards. it's about measuring up... about setting a goal and achieving it.
Tuesday, June 7, 2011
Monday, June 6, 2011
- Haruki Murakami, Norwegian Wood, page 39
Friday, June 3, 2011
First of all, Eric mentioned that he first tried to “cure his running woes with technology.” I’d be curious to hear what technology that he used, but from my perspective, it seems to me that running involves two types of technology:1
. Shoes. Not to be discounted! Personally, I need a stable shoe because I pronate and thus need something to prevent my feet from rolling and fucking up my knees. I’m sure there are other ways that shoes could help your form, but that’s the main point I think of.Any other technologies that I’m missing?
This could be expanded to include things like the computer chips included in some of the newer shoes out there – Eric could speak more to the Nike technology in particular – but again I’m not sure how this could help form analysis.
2. Watch/timer. Not sure how this would help out form even if we expand it to GPS devices.
What may be the answer is missing from this list because it's not a technology. I think that the best way to work on form is to work with another person. In the examples from my original post, the commonality was a coach who not only identified my form issues but also helped me work on and improve them. Having someone work with you to correct imperfections is probably the answer to Eric’s valid question: “what do i do if i've been running WRONG for all these years? just deciding to run with "proper form" (who defines that) isn't going to work, as the legs and leg muscles aren't accustomed to it.” I think it’s an incremental process, and finding a coach/running partner who can guide and experiment with you to find form fixes that work for the runner is a huge factor.
To expand on who defines correct form, I don’t think there’s any single form that will work for everyone. Joel pointed out that Born to Run does “NOT advocate paying attention to particular rules about form. It advocates running joyfully, and listening to your body to determine what is right and wrong.” I agree with this to an extent, but I also think that almost everyone could benefit from tweaks - as long as it works for them. To go back to the story about my arm swing, while my original swing was natural and felt right, and I never would have changed it if someone else hadn’t called me out on it. Changing my running form eventually was the best thing for my body – and enabled me to run faster. Now it wasn’t easy! I needed to start strength training and practice, practice, practice before the new movement came naturally and stuck. But what originally was my natural form was definitely not the best thing for me.
I’m curious to hear more about what you think! As for Born to Run, I’ve heard so much about it, I’m really going to need to pick up a copy. May head over to amazon now...
Thursday, June 2, 2011
While I’m sure that barefoot running is helping people's form, I'll offer a rebuttal about the lack of form focus in the past in the form of a personal anecdote about my softmore days at Essex Junction High School (the good ‘ol days of 1987). Before that, I was run as a social thing, not really training or preparing for races in favor of jogging around town while laughing with my friends. That all changed when my Cross Country (XC) coach, an excellent man named Steve Dowd, called me and my friends out on our lackadaisical ways. He insisted that we could unleash our talent if only we were more focused, and the way he challenged us resonated with me, and I started working harder during training.
I slowly became a much better runner, but I didn’t really take the next step until one Saturday when our coaches videotaped us running across a field. Watched the tape later that week, we looked at my form and the coaches pointed out what was good and what was flawed. They were mainly upper body related: my right arm was not only situated significantly lower than my left, but it was also swinging down and out much more that the other arm. This was a big deal for me because I had had no idea that I was doing anything incorrectly, so simply staying more conscious of my arms during my runs enabled me to become faster and more efficient.
Another big benefit of having coaches work with us on form came when they pointed out that the slapping sound of feet hitting pavement was the sound of wasted energy, and that the trick to avoid this was to roll your foot so that you didn’t lose any energy in the transfer of foot to ground. All this contributed to me being much more mindful of my form and thus significantly reducing the amount of energy I was wasting with each stride.
I write all of this to say that I’m surprised that RW considers the focus on form to be a new thing, since my experience is much different, and that I find form focus to be a significant factor in not only the success I’ve had running races but also in keeping relatively healthy. What do you think? Do you pay attention to your form? When did you start doing so and was it worth it?
i snatched up this book after catching a Steinbeck comparison. Steinbeck is one of my carefully calculated "TOP 5 BEST" authors; so the comparison alone puts the book on auto-purchase.
it usually takes me 50-100 pages to settle into a book, form an opinion. American Rust was a quick read, i think 3 nights, and i wasn't aware of how much i read in a particular sitting... the book really was engaging. the NATURE of the engagement was somewhat strange, however...
let me provide some background. the book tells the story of a few residents of a past-its-prime mill town in Pennsylvania. unemployment, lack of jobs, lack of hope leading to more crime, drugs, depression... a story we, as Americans, have heard before and know quite well. the key event of this book is a murder, after one of two twenty-something boys, both of whom have not lived up to their post-high school potential, find themselves in a tricky situation with some vagrants (due to some bad decisions they made) and end up killing one of them. the ripple effect of this event is told to us from the unique and personal experiences of the mother of one of the boys, that mother's love interest and local police chief, the father and sister of the other boy and the two boys themselves.
i found the unique perspectives to be quite enlightening in terms of how they related to the overall plot. a certain level of honesty was built into the motivations for actions we might otherwise read about and dismiss as "yeah, i figured that". an example:
"A guilty thought came to him: it would have been better if the boy had died -- she'd be able to move on, believe what she wanted. Now the boy both existed and didn't exist, he was there but being kept from her, she would never be able to stop thinking about him. The only torch she could carry."
these are the thoughts of a local police chief, interested in a boys mother after that boy has had a life-threatening situation, while being held on murder charges. the thought itself isn't riveting, but it is this kind of writing that makes the book all the more real. the man's feelings for the mother clearly motivate him more than his feelings about her son, both of whom he is intimately involved with in very specific ways.
too, the writing style is very stream-of-consciousness:
"This wind, he thought. Should have hung on to the coat and hat. Maybe I'm not really that cold, just hungry and tired. But you ate last night, that's enough calories. One day is nothing. Figure out your bearings. I am having trouble thinking. That is my problem. Should have stopped to eat but I didn't feel safe."
this kind of writing works well, in my opinion, when you're engaged in a book... as if the thoughts where occurring in your own mind.
like i said, i really was engaged in the book, i could barely put it down. but i didn't necessarily care about the words on the page, rather, i just wanted to know what happened. like reading a newspaper.
i think Philipp Meyer's writing is good... but despite the painstaking detail built into this story using the many perspectives, i didn't find it to be all that deep. i didn't particularly like or dislike any of the characters, although i will say Poe (one of the boys) certainly steals the show in terms of who matters most (to me anyway). the book WAS very American in it's feel... but it lacks wisdom, lacks the well worn feel of American Literary standouts. but hey, this is his first published book... so i'm definitely keen to read what he comes up with next.
overall, i liked the book. i would recommend it to others. but it's not a "Great American Novel" as some have touted. it's a good, american read.