27 Reasons I Love to Go Running [Don’t miss #12, 13, 27]

Boy getting out the door to start exercising, no matter what

Boy Running Fast

27 Reasons I love to Go Running…

1. It’s a reward for sitting in the house at the computer for 8-10 hours or doing other things I don’t really want to do. Yes, I said REWARD! If you run just enough to make it fun and don’t run when it’s not fun – then it’s always fun – yes?

2. See wildlife! Over the years I’ve seen (Hawaii, Thailand, Florida, Pennsylvania):

  • Snakes! Thailand has a lot of snakes.
  • Big red, white and blue woodpeckers!
  • Centipedes and millipedes and all manners of crawling insects, some of which go “crunch” under my feet – accidentally.
  • Lizards that change color, and flying lizards, water monitors (7+ feet), Tokay Geckos squawking.
  • Flying insects – some of which get sucked into my mouth and chest if I’m not paying attention to keep my mouth 80% closed!
  • There are these cicada type things in Thailand that make the whole park scream at 6 p.m. every night in the Summer.
  • A large eastern diamondback rattlesnake crossing the road  – it was as thick around as my 15-16 inch neck!
  • Deer, hippos, bear, leopards, peacocks, and vultures (I ran through a small zoo regularly in Thailand that was connected to the park!)

3. I saw 38 guys in dresses running through downtown Honolulu once… It was a run sponsored by the Honolulu Hash House Harriers Hawaii (H5). I can’t remember if I had one on too, but if I did it was something dashing and sophisticated, yet slutty and with a drastically plunging neckline!

4. Speaking of the Hash House Harriers, once on a run at the top of Tantalus mountain on Oahu I was off the trail and on what I figured to be the correct trail… I was running down a small stream full of rocks… turns out I didn’t have much time to catch myself before flying (literally) over a 1,700 feet cliff off the edge of the mountain! Talk about a RUSH!

Petzl – NAO+ Headlamp with BlueTooth

5. I know I’m in the top 1% of the general population by running 3-5 times every week. I like doing as many things as possible to be a 1 percenter!

6. I’m 48 and I can still run. When I was 20, I thought 40 would bring death, or at least no more exercise. I didn’t know anyone that was running at 40 yrs. old. I run because I can still do it – and it makes me think that “The Body” hasn’t changed much. I feel like I’m in my teens when I run, especially during one of those “flow runs” where it’s effortless and fast.

Vern running in Thailand

7. It gives me a rush when I run. Not only as I’m doing it, but afterward too. I have this light-headed feeling that lasts for an hour or sometimes more after I’ve finished. I joke that I’m a worthless endorphin addicted junkie for the period of time following my runs. I cannot talk to anyone and make sense. Nor do I feel like talking. I can’t rationalize at all, nor do math of any kind. I’m not creative in the least, and writing after I run is a horror show. I’m on some kind of mind-chemical high, and it’s legal and it’s OK!

8. It’s the only time I can have sopping wet pants in public and it’s socially alright. People are OK with that, even in a mall. At least they don’t say anything.

9. I can practice “no-mind” or a mind without thought while I run. It’s one of the few physical activities I can do it with. (See my other site Jhana8.com).

10. I have time to myself. Nobody on the phone. Nobody on chat. No computer to check email, to read blogs, or to get frustrated at! It’s one activity that I do alone. I don’t understand running with someone except the Hasher group, which isn’t serious running at all. They call it, “A drinking club with a running problem.”

11. I can be completely alone out in public if I want to. I can run through the woods, up a mountain, or on an old country road. There is such a peace about running where nobody else is.

12. Unexpected experience. I was running around a golf course around midnight, as I like to do occasionally, and I heard the most BLOOD-CURDLING scream. It froze me right there like ice. I could not move. I was questioning whether it really happened as it made no sense at all to suddenly hear this piercing scream right in front of me – and there was nothing there. I stood rock solid for more than just a couple minutes. I was looking with my eyes, but I was too afraid to move my head. It was a scream as if a banshee had just escaped from hell right in front of my face. As I had scanned the entire area in front of me and found no reason for it, and was about to doubt my sanity, I started to look upwards a bit. Then a bit more. I saw what must have been the noisemakers, but to this day I don’t know if they can make this noise. There were two very large owls on the high-power lines about 30 feet above. Does anyone know, can an OWL make a scream like a demon possessed? I might have to Wiki that.

13. More unexpected ‘adult’ experience. More than once I’ve had women come out on the porch or second-floor balcony without a top on, when I ran in the early morning before 7 a.m.! GOOD MORNING TAMPA! (happened a lot there)

14. Running through the rain when it’s warm reminds me of being a little kid and going out specifically because it IS raining outside, just to play.

15. Running through the rain when it’s cold reminds me of Air Force basic training, which wasn’t all THAT bad an experience. I think that is probably another 1 percenter experience.

16. I love to sweat. In my mind it means I’ve done something positive. I think growing up I heard many adults say – “Go sweat a little bit, it’s good for you!” I feel good when I start sweating because I’m doing something physical too. Like I’m pushing myself to do something that the body wouldn’t do on its own. I’m showing the body that the mind is in control. If it says “RUN!”, the body runs. I like how that works.

17. I can wear my comfy Nike socks and running shoes. This might not seem like a big deal to you, but living in Florida, Thailand, and Hawaii flip-flops (slippahs, Hawaiians say) are the standard. But, when I run, I can wear the most comfortable shoes I have!

18. I can FARTLEK to my heart’s content. Huh? Yes, you read that right. Fartlek running is a bit like well, running however you want. There are no expectations before you go – except varying the speed of your typical run. You might do some slow running on the street and then move to a track for some sprints, then head out into the woods and back to the track for some steps at the stadium. You might do some short 50 yard sprints in the middle of your run through the woods. You might do some pushes to 95% and see how long you can stand it. You might skip or run backward sometimes. It’s a German word for “have fun” or something. Ok, I won’t be lazy, I’ll Wiki it for you. Ok, it means, ‘speed play’ in Swedish, not German. And it can be any exercise that, while doing it puts stress mainly on the aerobic system. The intensity of the exercise varies – and is basically up to you. It’s a bouncing between the aerobic and anaerobic systems. I don’t know why it’s called fartlek, but I do enjoy fartlekking all over the place when I run, I’ll tell you that.

19. When I’m in a running program it gives me energy all the time. When I’m not running for a few weeks I feel lazy and tired much of the time. Running keeps the energy levels up.

20. It puts me in a good mood. I’m consistently more positive than I already am. I might think that I’m my same old self when I’m not in steady running mode. Then, I’ll go out and run and I realize – wow, I was missing something. There’s a definite difference when I compare “Vern not running” vs. “Vern in running mode going every other day”. A substantial difference.

21. I love to push myself. Though I run mostly by myself, I love to push myself during the run if I’m feeling good. I might crank up the pace and challenge myself to hold that pace until I get to a certain landmark. That might be 200 yards ahead if I’m flying, or it might be 2 miles away if I’m running 80-85%+ of maximum rate. I am my own best motivator. There is little that motivates me externally. I’m ruthless with myself at times, pushing myself to run when I don’t want to run. Pushing myself to run faster up hills, never slower. Pushing myself to hold a 2/2 breathing pattern until I need to slow down to make up the oxygen deficit that is being created from the sustained push. It’s fulfilling to do little challenges throughout each run!

Petzl – NAO+ Headlamp with BlueTooth

22. I run so I can eat a little more of what I like to eat. I love pizza and other bread and pasta products. Because I run, I can eat more of these things than maybe the average person with my same metabolism. I will do nearly anything to be able to eat more pizza. In Thailand when I stayed in a small village in the countryside I would drive an hour each way on the motorcycle to go to the next biggest town to get some pizza! It was a must, not an “extra”.

Running path at a park

23. I run because if others see me running, some will also realize that they can do it too. I wish more people would run. When I go to the main park in any town, especially in Honolulu and I see less than 200 people running around the park at night and maybe another 200 running through the streets of Honolulu, I don’t feel so good about mankind. Here we are, probably 70% of us have the physical capability to run and 90% have the capability to walk – and yet less than 1% run and less than 5% walk as exercise on a recurring basis. WHY? I want the world to run because then people will be happier, more secure about themselves. They’ll be more confident and happier and I’ll get to interact with a happier and more well-adjusted populace. Put on your running shoes people!

24. It’s a part of my life and who “Vern” is. When I stop for any length of time, I don’t feel like me anymore. I’ve run my whole life, so when I stop – it’s like I’m just not “being me”. It’s like I must do it to keep being me.

25. It erases all stress for the time I’m running. It’s impossible to feel stressed as I’m running. I don’t know why, the endorphins I guess?

26. I run because I can play fantasy games of passing my competition. I visualize passing successful people. I pass them one by one and yet I always leave some of the top people ahead of me so I can get them next time or next time. I like to have someone that I’m trying to beat ahead of me and I just can’t get to them for a while. Eventually, I pass them all and I’m the winner. I’m always the winner in my mind.

27. The number one reason for why I run is that it makes me feel powerful and in control of my body and my mind. It gives me confidence, strength and energy, and sense of balance. I feel like I’m a much better business person and friendly person. I feel like I’m being proactive and a go-getter by running when others are sitting on the couch watching television. I feel like I have more patience to deal with others and also with myself. I have a lot of frustration at things that don’t go smoothly. Computers for instance. After I run it gives me a better perspective on life and things aren’t as serious anymore.

Best of Life!

Vern

PS: When I’m in Hawaii the most amazing run is along the Ala Wai canal at about 9 pm. with the moon rising over Diamond Head Volcano. Wow.

Why do you run?

Post your reasons in the comments section below!

[Boy running image from Woodleywonderworks at Flickr]

What is Your Resting Heart Rate? 34?

Invariably when I go to the doctor and a nurse takes my blood pressure and pulse, they start looking at me like I'm in a medical emergency. SIR, ARE YOU DIZZY, SIT BACK IN YOUR SEAT! It happens all the time. My heart rate is low, but my blood pressure makes them wonder if I'm alive. Yep, STILL CRANKING!
Invariably when I go to the doctor and a nurse takes my blood pressure and pulse, they start looking at me like I’m in a medical emergency. SIR, ARE YOU DIZZY, SIT BACK IN YOUR SEAT! It happens all the time. My heart rate is low, but my blood pressure makes them wonder if I’m alive. Yep, STILL CRANKING!

I am a fan of low heart rates. I know it’s weird – right?

Miguel Indurain before the Tour de France started some years ago, had a resting heart rate of 36 beats per minute I think it was.

My lowest ever was 38 bpm, but once I was measuring it and I was in the low 30’s. I got excited and it jumped up. Go figure, right?

Today I’m 48 years old and my usual resting (sitting) pulse during the day as I work, writing on the computer, is around 46 beats per minute.

My lowest recently has been about 42. Recently I got this 43 and that was pretty cool. It was just before 6 a.m. and I was still laying down.

I use pulse to assess in part whether I’m rested and how much I’m able to push myself that day as I run, climb, bike, or whatever exercise it is I have planned.

You’ve probably heard of Kilian Jornet, if you’re a runner. Especially a trail runner. Kilian is at the top of his game, and top of the world for running up mountains. His resting heart rate is 34 bpm.

Outrageous – right!?

1″= Endless Possibility

Moving 1 inch might set you free to travel an eternity...
Moving 1 inch might set you free to travel an eternity…

I was reading something from a runner I followed online for a year or so, Tom at Mindhacks.com. He was talking about an experience he has while rock-climbing. I thought about it, and it actually relates well to other areas of life too.

Tom was saying that he frequently has an experience while rock-climbing in which he finds himself stuck in a situation that doesn’t offer any good hand holds to help him move forward. Nor backward even. In his mind – he’s stuck, there’s no real option that exists at that moment in time because his mind is limited to not seeing any options. Everything that he wants to advance toward is just out of reach by only a little bit. Enough that he knows if he tries to go for a big stretch he’s going to fall.

I’m no expert, but I climb some simple routes. Climbing rocks is strange because you really don’t have all that long to find your next hold and get there before you run out of strength. It’s always a matter of time… superman would run out of strength at some point if he was stuck.

As the mind searches – confidently at first and then frantically before the body runs out of energy to hold him where he is… something must happen.

What happens is he realizes he has feet. He stops looking for handholds – which might be two or three feet away and starts looking for a new foothold to support him. A new foothold means he can move just a little bit. Maybe it’s only an inch or so. That might be ALL IT TAKES to enable him to see new hand holds from that new vantage point.

One inch in any direction might the the key to getting the whole way up the mountain, ridge, whatever he’s climbing.

You too.

One inch in any direction starts the ball rolling and it brings to the surface new possibilities.

If you are truly stuck where you are – and you probably aren’t, you’re just blind to the possibilities that exist, you might need to move an inch in some direction. Doesn’t matter what direction – go backwards if you can’t go forward or parallel to where you are.

I was sitting here at my notebook computer thinking about how I should post something to Aim for Awesome because it’s been a few days. I have been smashed between some big SEO projects and I really want to give my clients the best I can so I’ve been consumed by them for the last week.

I didn’t have the slightest idea what to write about ten minutes ago. I was stuck. I stepped an inch by telling my friend what my problem was. Not expecting any answer, just wanting to share with her the strangeness of not being able to switch gears from SEO mode and optimizing websites for Google and being creative enough to write an article about something interesting for all of you.

She said immediately, “Don’t you have a stock of article’s you’ve already written that you could use?”

Initially I tried to play it off… “Yes, but I just don’t feel like editing one and making it live.”

Then I realized – wow, she gave me the answer… let me take the ball and run (or jog at least).

I said, “OK, let me open up the folder and see if anything jumps out at me.”

This article did. It reminded me of climbing, which I’m really starting to love… that was just enough to get me interested in reading Tom’s article again and then writing up this one for you.

Go an inch – any direction and see what happens.

If you’re ever stuck in any situation try it. Move an inch.

Moving an inch might equate to:

  • Making one phone call.
  • Talking to a friend about it.
  • Taking one less sip of your bottle of scotch tonight.
  • Trying a different style ad on your web site.
  • Cutting your hair off.
  • Picking up the next phone call instead of ignoring it.
  • Giving a pregnant woman begging for money $10.00.
  • Going outside to exercise instead of on your stationary bike.

It could mean anything, depending on the situation you find your self “stuck in”.

Frequently I think we’re not really stuck – we’re blinded to possibility. Possibility exists in every situation. Sometimes we’re just blind to it.

Open up your eyes by moving an inch any direction and see what happens…

Best of Life!

Vern

Running 21 Miles for the First Time Ever

Runner - Ao Nang Beach, Thailand

Just about a month ago I talked about running fifteen miles for the first time ever. Then, ten days ago I did another fifteen-mile run. Felt better the second time. Yesterday, I was close to not running at all. I wasn’t looking forward to running in the rain and cold (74°F). That is very cold for where I am in Thailand.

I couldn’t even decide that I was definitely going to run yesterday. I had planned a long run. I was hoping to get over to the mountain trail for an attempt at three times up and down, something I’ve never done. The couple days of solid rain put me off though because as it turned out my wife had the car and I was stuck with the motorbike in the rain.

That meant I had to go to the park to run. That meant, since a hard day was planned, I had to do at least 12 miles. Or so. If I got 12 miles done, I’d be happy. Thing was, it was so damn cold that I wasn’t looking forward to it at all. Anyway, long story short, because the video shows most of what went into my decision to go work out, I went to the park in the pouring rain to see what happened.

I walked around a couple laps of the 1.25 km loop to loosen up. I was in no real mood to run until that point. The decision to run was a rather, ahhh, WTH, might as well run if I’m walking sort of thing. Once running I slowly got my entire body soaking wet. There were puddles completely across the path. The grassy areas I thought were  drier than the puddles turned out to be worse, with mud – sucking me deeper and making the effort three times as hard as if I’d just stayed on the wet path.

The first ten miles went by like nothing. I had one small Gatorade up to that point. Usually I’d have had two, but as I said, it was cold and wet and I really wasn’t sweating much – only when I put on the rain poncho in the very hard downpours and I was chilled to the bone did I sweat like mad because the plastic trapped the heat.

Splashing in Puddle

[Photo copyright Jesse Millan at Flickr]

I grabbed my other Gatorade and stretched my hamstrings a bit, my calves a bit, hoping to avoid the tightness behind my knees which stopped me from going further on my first fifteen mile run, and kept going.

If you’ve never run long distances before, I hope my description of it helps you to do the same. It’s daunting to think about running twenty miles when previously you’ve only run under fifteen miles. I may have run up to fifteen when I was seventeen years old, but I honestly don’t remember. I didn’t keep track of my one really long run as a teen, but maybe I came close to fifteen that day.

A month ago was my first fifteen mile run since then. Then, ten days ago I did another fifteen mile run. Yesterday, doing twenty, I thought I could have done the full marathon distance. Problem was I ran out of time, and I hadn’t been eating anything to fuel me the next six miles. I just didn’t think I had it in me before I started, so I didn’t consider bringing food and salt with me to the park. This is the third time this has happened, so I’ll be bringing salt and food in preparation for all long runs in the future!

There is something that happens as you run beyond ten miles, if you’re properly hydrated and have put in some base runs of six miles most days of the week. You can run beyond ten. Maybe well beyond.

My base mileage has been low – averaging around 3-4 miles per day when looked at over the month. I tend to do six to ten miles when I can, and that’s usually a few times a week. I have been ill over the past couple weeks and wasn’t sure I was ready to do a real long run, but that’s the thing about long distance, slow running – you don’t know what you’re capable of until you’re out there and doing it.

Running slow is so much easier than running near max effort. When you run enough miles in preparation, running slow over twenty miles is almost like sleepwalking. I mean, it isn’t, I’m exaggerating, but, it isn’t much different from walking. Once you’re at the point where you can have 3-3 breathing as you run long distance, you can maintain that for a long time until something starts hurting and you have to fix it.

So, that’s the state I was in after fifteen miles. I was just sort of mindlessly bumbling along the flat loop and getting rained on by inches of rain. I gave up trying to avoid the puddles after the second lap and just smashed through them.

Smashing through the puddles is great for a few reasons:

1. There is a floating feeling for a brief instant if you hit flat footed in at least 3 inches of water. That is a nice change for the feet that have been pounding asphalt for a couple hours already.

2. It cools the feet down a bit.

3. You no longer have to waste energy trying to figure out how to dance around them, you just run straight through and save some energy.

4. It feels carefree and fun, like it did when you were a little kid.

For three hours there wasn’t even one person at the park exercising. That’s strange because usually there are a couple to a few hundred others. Then a guy came with an umbrella and did two laps. Running in the rain gives you absolute solitude!

So here is a bit about what it feels like running from 15-21 miles.

Breathing is 3 steps in during an in-breath, and 3 steps for the outbreath. If it gets into 2-3 or 3-2 or 2-2 then I’m going too fast and I slow it down. Breathing is easy and smooth, and the least of my worries. Strength to run is also, the least of my worries because at such slow speeds it near enough to walking that it isn’t an issue at all.

The issue as you’re running long distance is monitoring the pain. That’s what I do the entire time. I make myself aware of any pain and I see if it changes – getting worse or better. That’s it. That’s long distance running. If the pain gets worse, I try to make it less. If it gets better, I try to continue whatever I was doing.

At various times during the long run yesterday I had pain:

  • in outer band of R knee
  • on top of L knee
  • in L quad
  • in L adductor
  • in head – slight headache appeared to be coming on during part of the run
  • in R bicep – from a pull that happened doing something non-running related
  • in both calves as they threatened to cramp
  • in arches of both feet as they too threatened to cramp

One thing you’re going to face, no matter what shoes you wear, is foot pain. For me, besides the occasional cramp in the arch, it’s just a dull pain that builds up very gradually over the miles. At twenty miles I wish I had another pair of shoes. I don’t know why I haven’t gone in search of another pair of shoes that are better suited to running on the hard asphalt, but I haven’t. I have suffered three times now, and not looking forward to suffering much past twenty miles without some decent shoes.

At the moment, and for the past couple years, I’ve run on the roads in the Nike Free 7.0 v3 I think they are. Maybe v2. They are minimalist, very flexible, very light, and have a 7 mm drop. During my long runs I’ve worn Nike Free’s and had no problem with blisters at all, even during heavy rain.

Nike Free 7.0 v2 Blue Shoes

Apparently what I need to help foot pain, if all the hype is to be believed, are Hoka One One’s. If you’ve never watched David Bowie in moonboots, you probably have never seen anything like Hoka shoes before. They have a massive foam pad that soaks up the energy of your feet slapping the road tens of thousands of times during a long run. Apparently their extra foam costs heaps of extra dollars. I just found them priced around $150 USD. I paid half that for my Nike Free’s.

Michael Arnstein highly recommends Hoka One One for ultra runs on the street AND the trails here. He says ‘running down hills in them is like running on wet sponges.’ He ran the Leadville 100 mile race in them.

Hoka One One Blue yellow Shoes

Still, there is no way in hell I’m paying $150 because the shoe has extra foam. Foam costs about 3c a pound. What are we – stupid?

I’ll have to research today to find an alternative. As Adidas, Nike, New Balance, Saucony, Asics and some other companies see Hoka’s success, they’ll also start making something similar. Price will be much less and again I’ll be able to pay just $75 to $100 for 3¢ of foam, 20¢ of rubber, and a nickel of nylon cloth.

Funny, we’ve come full circle with minimalism vs. maximalism. On the technical mountain trail I run in New Balance Minimus with a 4mm drop. They are excellent for that trail, but little else. I’ve noticed my foot strength has improved considerably and I no longer roll my ankles like I used to be plagued with.

So you can see, long distance running is basically pain management. If all the above came at the same time – I’d either stop for a while or stop the run entirely. Thing is, they come on one at a time, or in groups of 2-3 sometimes. When pain comes like that, it’s manageable. You can get through it.

There’s something about running long distances that’s great to realize. You need not run the entire thing. You can walk. People in marathons and ultra-distance runs – walk sometimes. It’s OK. It’s necessary sometimes. Don’t feel bad about it. You’re not cheating. Just walk if you need to. A short walk can do wonders, rejuvenating the body and giving you a boost that allows you to go further.

Something else to think about… nutrition. Besides fueling up with Gatorade or your carb drink of choice, eat something if you’re planning to run over an hour. Dates are great, and my favorite food for eating while I run over a couple hours. They are packed with calories and they digest pretty easily if you have some liquid with them.

Coke or some other soda will crank you up like nothing else when you need a kick in the pants. I had a red Fanta with ice from a vendor at the side of the road as I ran. Then, an hour later, a coke with ice. Both times, just ten minutes after drinking them, I felt great. I had energy, and after stopping to buy the drinks my body had a slight rest, so I got the benefit of that too.

I’ve read countless stories from some of the great ultra-runners grabbing a coke during a race and it’s like having a shot of adrenaline for them. The effect is astounding, especially when you don’t typically drink the stuff. I don’t.

Michael Arnstein, one of the world’s premier ultra-runners, told his wife to begin eating within twenty minutes of beginning a long run. Apparently it’s that important to keep a steady stream of calories coming in.

Some people run listening to music. I haven’t tried that yet. I think that would take me away from monitoring the pain too much and I might miss something that is gradually getting worse. Then, when it’s too late, it knocks me out of the run. That wouldn’t be ideal.

Some people think and solve life’s problems while running big mileage. I cannot think unless I’m walking. Not sure, but there is a brain-short somewhere in my head that stops all ability to think about life while I’m running. I can only do a few things… 1) meditate. 2) manage pain 3) think about food.

What about you? Can you think when you run? What about after 15-20 miles – can you still think?

If you have anything to share about running long distances for the first time – tips, or whatever you want to share – comment!

Surfing Tropical Rainforest Trails

Trail Surfing
Here’s something you don’t hear about every day. Well, I don’t think you’ve ever heard of it before now.

If you haven’t already read a lot of articles I’ve written at this site, you might not know, but I have this thing about creating mindgames that make ultra-running, and other endurance exercises like long stair climbs up the side of a mountain, easier.

Since I’ve recently been running longer distances – my mind has been churning out these new running techniques that help athletes push harder and faster. Today, I don’t know how it came about really, but I came up with a new way to look at trail running that makes it even more fun than it was before.

Trail Surfing!

I write about surfing the trail below, or you can just scroll down to the bottom of this page and see the video I did about it right after it happened. The video is probably easier to understand.

I was running up my favorite mountain here in Krabi, Thailand… well, wait, truthfully? It’s my only mountain around here to run up unless I want to run up a paved road in a remote park where I was accosted by a Thai guy grabbing my genitals as he rode by on a motorbike. But, that’s a different story. I will tell that one, but let me get back to this.

I wasn’t feeling well for the first five minutes. It’s a slow climb over the first part and still, I just wasn’t into it. I’ve been ill for the past couple weeks, so I figured OK, no problem, I just won’t run as much today. I definitely didn’t feel like pushing up the 500 meter high climb, but I didn’t feel horrible yet.

Then I got dizzy. Bummer. So, I slowed down even more and guessed I’d hit the peak in about 50 minutes. I figured no worries, I’d just aim for that time because there was no way I’d be running anything like my usual 36 minutes.

Though my head wasn’t right, my legs were not weak and my breathing wasn’t bad, I was just dizzy and felt out of it mentally a bit. I decided to do what ultra-runner recluse Micah True suggested in the “Born to Run” book I read a couple years ago. Here’s the quote…

“Don’t fight the trail. Take what it gives you … Think easy, light, smooth and fast. You start with easy because if that’s all you get, that’s not so bad. Then work on light. Make it effortless, like you don’t give a sh*t how high the hill is or how far you’ve got to go. When you’ve practiced that so long that you forget you’re practicing, you work on making it smooooooth. You won’t have to worry about the last one — you get those three, and you’ll be fast.”

It’s brilliant. I’ve used this technique many times over the years and I have had some great results. Micah was obviously someone who was in his head quite a bit. He lived alone in some remote part of Mexico for years before anyone found him. I sometimes wonder what other mindgames he used to help himself go further and faster. Unfortunately, we’ll never know because he passed away in April of 2012.

 

So this morning as I ran, I began focusing on running easy, light and smooth. As I do, I notice the usual, just like he claimed – I get faster without feeling like I’m expending more energy or effort to do so. In this case I wasn’t well and yet I was still able to go much faster than I had hoped to. What happened was, the dizziness abated and I was able to really focus on easy, light, and smooth (ELS).

After just a few minutes of this, my breathing became even better. My legs had strength and power in reserve. Finally, my dizziness went away and my mind cleared up. I was excited about the positive changes, and yet I was just enjoying a nice climb up the trail and decided not to push it.

Then, after maybe ten minutes, this idea popped into my head as I was running ELS that was odd, but I let it germinate there until it grew into a full blown mindgame. I began to imagine that I was surfing up the mountain on a surfboard. I didn’t have an actual board, but the feeling was the same as when I surfed in Hawaii. I surfed and bodyboarded for a couple of thousand hours in the amazing waves around the Hawaiian Islands years ago. It’s my favorite physical thing to do.

Anyway, maybe I was missing my wave-riding days and my mind just churned this up. I began looking at the dirt trail as a liquid wave. I picked my line and ran as ESL as possible, which made me feel like climbing the mountain wasn’t even difficult. The mind is such an amazing thing. When focused on some game that takes it away from monitoring the pain of the body during a hard effort, the effort becomes considerably less difficult. Sometimes it goes away entirely.

So I was surfing UP the mountain. I know, it sounds odd, right? I think better to watch the video below so you can understand more clearly how I went about it. I probably explained it better there than I could explain it in words here now, ten hours after the fact.

If you’re still reading, I’ll tell you one more twist on the whole thing. After I ran like I was surfing for a while, and about one kilometer from the top of the hill, I added another element to the game. I pictured that I was riding a virtual surfboard about eight feet long.

The result was that it made me run even more smoothly. Why? Because I had to think more and plan my footsteps to move me in a smoother line. You know an eight foot surfboard cannot turn sharply, so I could only curve long turns. That meant I had to plan it out more so I could carve a smoother line.

The whole experience of surfing up the rainforest trail was pretty phenomenal. I love when these ideas just pop into my head.

At the top of the trail I shot that video that I put below. Then I was eager to try surfing down the mountain! I figured it would be so smooth and really feel even better than it did surfing up.

Though I felt good, I still didn’t want to push hard on the way down. I just wanted to go ESL and surf the trail gently, enjoying the experience more than anything. So as I started out I imagined I was on a board carving my way down the technical path.

I didn’t really go over how technical this trail is. It’s very technical. On a scale of 10, I’d give it an 8. It’s ridiculously full of roots and rocks. So, while coming down I found it harder to get into a good rhythm, but I did notice that I was going smoother than I ever had before. I pushed a little bit. I cranked it up another notch even. I was going as fast as I could and still maintaining my smooth flow as I surfed down the trail.

As a result of using this really efficient style of running, at the bottom I wasn’t all that surprised to find out I had crushed my previous fastest known time (FKT) on the descent by over a minute. As I considered that, it became more astonishing because I honestly wasn’t really running very fast. I wasn’t pushing that hard. I was going about 80% of maximum effort.

Try trail surfing and let me know what you think. I know this is the third time I’ve said it, but, watch the video below to get a better idea what exactly the technique I used was. Feel free to change it as you like, the way I did it might not be the way you do it. Experiment with it. I think it’s a powerful technique. At least it’s a good starting point you can use to create some game of your own that works for you.

I’d love to hear from you if you try it – feel free to share positive or negative experiences.

Best of Life to You!

Vern

 

Trail Surfing Technique Video:

[Cool trail surfing photo at top by Justin Jensen at Flickr]

Leading Cause of Running Injuries?

Runner’s World recently surveyed ninety-five runners with an average of 5.5 years of running experience and 35 kilometers (22 miles) of running per week. Survey respondents were asked what they thought the most frequent cause of injuries were among runners.

Here are their results, and I weigh in below.

  • not stretching (31 people)
  • excessive training (28)
  • wearing the wrong shoes for foot type (22)
  • inadequate/unbalanced diet (20)
  • not warming up (20)
  • lack of strength (19)
  • not respecting the body’s limits (18)
  • no professional supervision (17)

See full article here.

I think I have a pretty good handle on what the cause of my own injuries are, and I have a decent guess at what causes most other runner’s injuries. I’ve been a runner since I was six years old. I’ve had scores of injuries over the years. Most commonly I’ve had calf and groin muscle pulls followed closely by twisted, torqued, sprained ankles.

My own muscle injuries are almost always the result of pushing far too hard, too soon. My joint, ligament and tendon injuries are usually the result of hard trail running and not paying attention enough to the technical terrain.

I stretch very little, and guess what? I had many more injuries when I was young and stretching often, than I do now in my late forties. I push quite hard still, and I think not stretching has actually helped me considerably in avoiding injuries. I’m pretty sure of it. Sure enough that I don’t do any stretching except touching my toes sometimes just to see if I can. I can’t!

I think most other people that injure themselves while running do so also because the body is not ready for the effort they’re forcing on it. Slowly ramping up the miles is important to new runners, and I consider someone running for five years rather new. Mileage cannot be added in chunks. Adding it very slowly is the best way to go about it. I have to tell myself that often when I feel great on a run and I want to add another five miles or so, when I know I’m not ready for it.

What do YOU THINK? What are most of your running injuries the result of?

Best of Luck and Life,

Vern

Rob Krar, Ultra-Runner, Talks About His Depression

Rob Krar - Depression
Depression is something that people from all areas of life succumb to. It is caused often times by a chemical imbalance in the brain, or it could be caused by environment or some nasty combination of both.

Any way you look at it, chronic depression is a devastating affliction to have. I mean, life is hard enough – isn’t it? Could you imagine dealing with negative thoughts and mindset throughout your day? Your week? Your life?

Though I haven’t had any sort of depression over the course of my life, as I get into my late forties, I am noticing that I am not getting as much fun out of life as I have in the past. Something about it being time to really get cranking and make enough money for my family and their lives after I pass that is making this a very serious time in my life. I feel like I have to make a lot of correct decisions that will affect things down the road.

Maybe you’re going through the same thing?

As a result of this time of life I’ve had to re-evaluate my focus again and again lately. I want to be sure I’m going down the right path. These last couple of days have finally given me the answer I needed. I’ve rededicated my focus to this website and positive articles and books. I find nothing else as pleasurable, as satisfying, as helping people get through life a little bit easier.

Here’s Rob Krar talking about depression. I enjoyed this on a number of levels. Rob is one of the top ultra-runners in the entire world. At the moment he is unbeaten at the 100 mile distance on the trails. That is mind-blowing! To think that he’s battling major depression makes what he is doing on the trails all the more amazing.

depressions – a few moments from 30 miles in the canyon. from Joel Wolpert on Vimeo.

Depressions in landscape & emotion.
An unstaged, mid-run, terrestrial-based short with Rob Krar.

Krar, new to ultra running, holds the speed record for the Grand Canyon rim-to-rim-to-rim and has quickly become a dominant force in American races.

Shot entirely with the Freefly Movi M5 and Canon 5d mk3.

http://www.thewolpertinger.com

Happiness Life Tip: 1 Way to Instantly Get Optimistic

Life is all about being as optimistic as possible. Being optimistic leads to success.

If you’re not happy 90 mornings out of 100 when you wake up, you are missing out on so much. I know that’s the reason a good portion of you are reading personal development blogs – for tips on making yourself happier and more optimistic when you’re down or not feeling quite up to par. Though I am almost always in a good mood, I notice that sometimes – for just a half-hour, or maybe for a few hours – I catch myself in a mood that’s “less than great”.

Happiness can be defined in terms of financial success, emotional well-being, spiritual connectivity, physical energy and wellness, success of projects you’re doing, both personal and work-related, family happiness and cohesiveness… or all of those together.

Optimism, which is about your future state of happiness and about the control you might have over events in the future, flows from happiness.

There are many areas of success and happiness that lead to optimism. If you are successful in one area of life, that can carry over into other areas or it may have nothing to do with your happiness in other areas of your life. It can go either way.

So, during the moments I catch myself in a mood that is too pessimistic and not positive, I might do this exercise I’ve outlined below. I find myself doing it about one time each week, but it’s good for every night before you go to sleep if you need it! I think you’ll find it easy enough.

Step 1:
Take out a clean piece of paper or a large notecard. Start writing everything you can think of that is a “positive” that is going on in your life since the last time you did this exercise. Write anything that has the power to make you happy – even if it’s just a little bit.

Step 2:
No step 2, that was it!

When you write – don’t write straight down the page or on every line. Turn that paper or notecard every which way and write large, write small, just write, write, write. It’s like braindumping all your happy moments onto that card.

When you’re really thinking about it – there are so many things that go well that we tend to gloss over. Write the smallest things that you can think of… something like, “I saw a sign for gasoline that was 2 cents lower today and filled up, saving me 26 cents.” Or, “I almost tipped backward on my chair and fell over, but I caught myself in time.” Or, “I had pizza yesterday, WOW that was so mind-blowingly delicious!”

There are so many things you could write down if you give yourself some time. I usually don’t need more than ten minutes before I find myself in a great mood remembering all things I’d already forgotten from the same day and the days past.

Write it all! EVERYTHING COUNTS. Don’t eliminate something because you think it wasn’t positive ENOUGH. If it was on the right side of the negative – positive balance beam then it was positive and write it down.

See how many you can come up with in ten minutes. If you don’t have twenty examples, no matter how small or large, keep going! EVERYONE has ten. Probably you can think of more. A positive might be that you didn’t come down with a cold or have an accident in the last five days – right? These are things we don’t normally think about when we’re depressed, but these are definitely positive things in our lives. Or, think about the fact that you didn’t lose your job, your wife, your kids, your wallet, your car keys, your mind! Or maybe you remember helping someone with some good advice. Anything you choose counts just so you can jot it down and remember the good feeling you had as you experienced this positive thing in your life.

BONUS
Now, here’s something I did only a couple times – when I was in a really bummy mood that came and went for a few weeks (after a break-up). I saved all of my notecards and put them up on one wall where I could see them constantly every time I sat down to my computer on the desk. Invariably, I’d be thinking about something and glance up at the notecards and something would catch my attention -and I’d remember some of those positive things again. It really has the power to pick me up and help keep me in a consistently happy state of mind. That’s a priceless tool you should duplicate if you think it will help.

My Example
As I sit here really frustrated because my hosting account dashboard at Godaddy.com is loading each page over the course of about 17 minutes and I’ve even turned off images so all it needs to load is text – This might be a good time to write my own notecard.

Optimistic Notecard: Write as many things that make you happy as you can fit. When viewed together these have the power to make you feel more optimistic, happier, and in control of your life instead of pessimistic and in a bad mood.

For me – this was all it took to get me feeling good again. It’s really difficult to be pessimistic or angry or sad about life when you have a notecard full of things in your life that recently happened that were positive. It works for me everytime. Try it!

Send photos or photoshop creations of your paper or notecard / index cards and I’ll edit this post and put them in here along with your name, email or whatever you wish. Or, let me know you’d rather keep them private and I won’t publish them.

Best of Life!

Vern