Ultra Running Info for Noobs

Anton Krupicka, trail running god, climbing Tetons. Filmed by Kilian Jornet. Not my copyright, I pulled this screenshot from the video below.
Anton Krupicka, trail running god, climbing Tetons. Filmed by Kilian Jornet. Not my copyright, I pulled this screenshot from the video below.

Here is some info I put together for a fellow runner, that I thought I’d just drop in here and make an article about too. When I first got the ultra-running bug I combed the internet for things that interested me about the sport. The first thing I found was an ebook at Amazon called, “Born to Run” by  Christopher McDougall. (I don’t make anything from that link)

After reading the book, I knew a couple key players in the sport, and looked them up on Youtube videos. I found a lot of amazing videos and then found a guy that put together a great information site for ultrarunners called – IRUNFAR.com. Bryon Powell put that site together and it’s the ultimate ultra site as far as I’m concerned. If you know another that is also good – do let me know so I can check it out and possibly mention it here. I just bought Bryon’s book, “Relentless Forward Progress” on Amazon about ultra-running, and I think it can be considered the Bible on the sport. Excellently written and very interesting.

My all-time favorite video was posted by Anton Krupicka at his little known akcipurk user name at Youtube (Krupicka backwards). It is an amazing video, the absolute ultimate ultra-running video in my book. It was done by Kilian Jornet hand-holding a video camera (GoPro?) as he and Anton ran up the Grand Tetons mountain on a sunny day. It’s amazing to watch them passing people with all their climbing gear – just amazed that these two ultra-running gods are able to scale the mountain that fast and get down without gear or even water!

So, I RUN FAR  is the go-to site for all info about the top ultra runners. Brian Powell has done amazing, insightful interviews both pre- and post-race with the best guys / gals in the world.

Some of the coolest and most interesting guys I’ve found to follow:

Kilian Jornet – from Spain and with a French last name. He’s breaking all sorts of mountain running race records. Excellent climber and technical runner. Hates roads. Incredible descender over technical trail. The best. Sponsored by Salomon gear / shoes. His personality will pull you to him, you’ll love him too after watching some of his interviews. He’s like a boy that gets to play in the mountains. He’s unassuming, friendly, and living in the moment every time I see him in a new video. An excellent role-model for kids and adults.

Anton Krupicka (kroo pich ka) – lives in Boulder, CO. Looks like Christ incarnate. Also despises roads. Sponsored by a number of companies. Typically runs and trains without shirt, and it looks like no socks either. From the midwest originally. Also has a personality that you’ll gravitate toward. He is laid back and just seems like a real quality person. Anton’s blog.

Sage Canaday – young guy from Canada, he is now living in Colorado. Road racing background. Loves roads, not a great descender but getting better all the time. Ascents are getting very good. Sponsored by about 5 corporations including a brewery and HOKA shoes. Sage has a lot of energy, passion, and seems to also be quite a good guy. His videos on YouTube are great! Sage’s blog.

Rob Krar – just won the UROC race mentioned above. He was just sponsored by North Face. Road running background. Originally Canadian (Ontario).

Dakota Jones – Young guy – about 23? Dakota has written some awesome articles on the IRUNFAR.com site. He has a way with words, as does Anton Krupicka – just different ways. Love them both. Dakota just got 2nd in this UROC championship race. Amazing! That Dakota Jones blog.

Scott Jurek – This guy has won many ultra-distance running races and is just getting back into it again after a hiatus. Scott was the considered the best ultra-runner for a long period of time. Scott’s Eat and Run blog.

Bryon Powell – ex-ultra runner, or maybe he still does some. He created, along with his girlfriend, Meghan Hicks, the IRUNFAR.com site. Many top ultra runners do guest posts there too. Great reading. He lives in Moab, Utah and is traveling the ultra circuit most times. He wrote the must-read book for all noob ultra-runners – Relentless Forward Progress. Get it at Amazon in digital or paperback formats.

Ok that’s about it – just want to bring you up to speed on some of the top resources and people in the sport. I’m a noob myself, so there are plenty of people I don’t yet know in the sport. There are plenty of resources I haven’t found. If you have something to share – do let me know in the comments and I’ll consider adding it here.

Definitely read the Born To Run book when you have the time! Micah True, now deceased, is a great character as is Barefoot Ted, Scott Jurek, and some others are also in the book.

Here’s my favorite video of all time, set to some great music. I’m sure the band is going to complain and remove the video from Youtube if Anton didn’t get express permission for it, so if you can, download it and save it on your phone and computer for future use.

Expand the video to the largest size, so it fills your screen for the best experience!

Belly Breathing – Running Technique to Push Harder

Belly breathing can help road running, trail running, stair climbing, bicycling, and many other activiites. Try it!
Belly breathing can help road running, trail running, stair climbing, bicycling, and many other activiites. Try it!

Here is a technique that will crank up your running performance considerably with one simple change.

I was in the middle of reading about six triathlon books by Dave Scott, Scott Tinley, Dave Molina… the gods of triathlon, and particularly the Hawaii Ironman. It was here I learned about belly breathing as a technique to improve my running. What’s amazing is that it is an instant improvement, and easy for anyone to implement.

Recently, the Centre for Sports Medicine and Human Performance at Brunel University in England examined fatigue levels of marathon runners respiratory and leg muscles. What they found was a direct link. Runners with strained breathing (chest breathing), showed the most weakness in leg muscles. Researchers concluded the more inefficiently the respiratory muscles (diaphragm and intercostals) had to work, the more the muscles of the legs would find it difficult to push harder.

When you breath at rest, like sitting in a chair at home typing on the computer like I am now, you are probably belly breathing. Your stomach goes out with each inhalation of breath. Your stomach is totally relaxed and your breath flows evenly in and out.

When you’re running, your breathing changes. There’s tightness in your stomach and chest. This is brought on by a number of things, physical and mental. You need to counteract your natural instinct to tighten your abdomen. You need to relax it.

Belly breathing means your belly, your intestine area really, expands as you take every in-breath. It cannot expand if your muscles make the area tight. Practice running with total looseness in the stomach. What you’ll notice when you start to accomplish it is:

1. Breathing is Deeper. You’re able to inhale more air into your lungs because your stomach muscles aren’t tight and restricting airflow.

2. Breathing Rate is Slower. If you choose, you can breathe more slowly as you implement this. You’re breathing in more air, so you need not breathe as fast. This is up to you, I usually don’t slow my breathing down, I just keep on at the same rate and slightly increase my rate of speed as I run to take advantage of the extra oxygen my muscles are getting as a result of breathing with my belly.

3. Body Relaxes More. You feel considerably more relaxed as you run. Tightness in the abdominal area makes you feel ‘you’ more. It makes you feel like a separate entity from what is around you. It makes you feel your body and you more. When you are relaxed and breathing easily, you’ll feel less separate and more in the flow of the run. It’s a great feeling.

4. You Revert Back to Old Breathing Style. You’ll revert back to non-belly breathing often. This is something that doesn’t come naturally to most of us. We can change for part of the run, and then as we get relaxed, our body goes right back to the way it is used to breathing. I find this constantly happening to me as I run, climb steps, bicycle, whatever it is that I’m doing for my workout. Check yourself every couple of minutes and strive to make belly-breathing a natural part of every workout. Eventually it gets to a point where you don’t have to think about it at all, it just happens.

I think belly breathing gives an immediate 10% increase in performance, and about a 20% better feeling of flow than running without it.

What do you think? Do you use this technique? Does it help mentally? Physically?


[Image credit – Robin McConnell at Flickr]

How BAD Do You Want To Win?

I’ve been watching quite a bit of Kilian Jornet, the young trail runner – ultrarunner from Spain. His talent is ridiculous. He has set records for climbing many of the top mountain peaks in the world. He is 25 years old. Today I was watching a race up and down the Dolomites in Italy. Kilian was neck and neck with this guy for most of the race. I’ve never seen mountain race this close. It came down to the final sprint.

The entire race up the Dolomites video below is inspiring, but if you just want to see the guts of it – fast forward to 2:49 and watch until the end of the race. Amazing. Kilian puts on the afterburners and Usain Bolt couldn’t have beat him in that sprint.

He wanted it THAT BAD.

How Bad Do You Want To Win?

Check out my review of Kilian’s book – RUN OR DIE – here.

Some of Kilian’s race results over the past few years (Source – Wikipedia):

2005 (at 17 years old):
1st, and 2. in the combined ranking at the “Cuita al Sol” race (in Catalonia)
1st, and course record, Dôme de Neige des Écrins (in France)
2nd, “Cross Vertical”, in Andorra
2nd, Prueba de Copa de España“ race, Buff-Salomon Vallnord

2006 (at 18 years old):
1st International Championship team race, SkyGames (FSA)
1st, French Championships of Mountainrunning, “junior” class race, FFA
6th, World Championship of Skyrunning

Champion of the year and four times 1st, Skyrunner World Series
1st, Mount Ontake Skyrace (in Japan)
2nd, Orobie Skyrace team race (in Italy) together with Jordi Martin Pascual and Xavier Zapater Bargue

Champion of the year and three times 1st, Skyrunner World Series
1st, Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc 166 km and 9400m of positive height gain across France, Italy and Switzerland

Champion, Skyrunner World Series
1st, 23rd Mt. Kinabalu Climbathon (in Borneo – Malaysia)
1st, Ultra Trail Andorra
1st, Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc

3rd, Western States Endurance Run
1st, Sierre-Zinal “La course des cinq 4000” 31 km (in Switzerland)
World Record, Mount Kilimanjaro Ascent and combined Ascent/Descent (5:23:50, 7:14:00)
1st, Grand Raid de la Réunion

1st, The North Face 100, Blue Mountains, Australia. Course Record
1st, Western States Endurance Run
1st, Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc 166 km and 9400m of positive height gain across France, Italy and Switzerland

1st, 26th Mt. Kinabalu Climbathon (in Borneo – Malaysia)(2:11:45)
1st, Pikes Peak Marathon, Colorado, USA.
1st, Grand Raid de la Réunion

1st, Transvulcania, Spain

Running Styles – Gazelles vs. Gliders

I found these videos where a guy takes a look at the Ironman Kona Triathlon competitors and analyzes their running style, putting them into one of two groups:

1. Gazelles.
2. Gliders.

Gazelles have a lot of travel through the air as they run because at push off with the rear foot, they push up and get a little more air than Gliders do. They don’t have as fast a turnover as gliders.

Gliders have less travel through the air – nearly a foot less in some cases, and yet it looks like they are using less energy to move forward. Hard to say because the Gazelles are getting more air.

There are amazing Ironman marathon runners of both styles, among the women and men, so, basically it comes down to which style fits you. However, for shorter races, 5K, 15K where you want to go under 6 minute miles, Todd Kenyon says you must run like a Gazelle because your stride turnover cannot get you moving that fast without the extra foot of air travel you get, versus the Gliding style.

Have a look at the videos, they’re remarkably well done. Thanks Todd. Cheers!

1st Video – Gazelle Runners vs. Gliders, a comparison of running styles

2nd Video – Gazelle Runners vs. Gliders

Women Ultra Runners – Victoria Arnstein

This video blew me away. I’d been watching Michael Arnstein, that’s Vicky’s husband, run ultra running races for a few months and really getting into the whole idea of eating more fruit than I did, and I was eating a lot already. Some days I eat just fruit now and it’s quite a nice way to go through the day. Anyway, Michael’s site is: TheFruitarian.com, and I highly recommend it, and all of his Youtube videos:

I found this video of his wife running her first ultra-marathon. Fifty MILES of ultra running. I was absolutely blown away. I didn’t really know that she was a runner, so that’s what really got me. But still, they have three young kids and I had just never thought of her as someone that would be into attempting ultra long runs. So, with that in mind, watch the video below. She is so inspiring…

Here’s what she wrote in the description at Youtube:

Here’s my experience running 50 miles in a new personal best.Victoria Arnstein here, and I want to say how nice it was for my husband Michael Arnstein aka, The Fruitarian to put this whole video together for me. He spent a lot of time on it and it shows. He also gave me lots of support after he came he finished the race in 3rd. I was happy to have him there. I was also running on a couple of stress fractures and didn’t even know it in my left pelvis and my right ankle with tendinitis in my paraneal.. I would have to say my Vermont 100k was exciting, but this 50 miler was tougher in a way bc I ran faster against great ultra veterans. It was some race..Tussey Mt Back was so beautiful as well. Run like a Mother..Mothers are tough when we have to be!

Need Motivation? This 71 Year Old is Super Fit

A friend, Alfred, fast climbing 1,237 steps in 17 minutes. Not even his fastest time, we stopped a few times to arrange the video shooting.

Is this motivation enough for you to get out and exercise?

A Nice Way to Go Through Life…

A good friend emailed me from out of the blue with this… I thought I’d share it.

“The 4 Agreements” by don Miguel Ruiz.

1. Be Impeccable With Your Word
Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love.

2. Don’t Take Anything Personally
Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.

3. Don’t Make Assumptions
Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness and drama. With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life.

4. Always Do Your Best
Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse and regret.

When I started meditation and got into it pretty well, I noticed that I became incapable of gossiping. I don’t know what happened, but meditation knocked it out of me. If I’m with someone that is gossiping I listen and change the subject. I don’t speak badly of someone except with them. I have a bad habit of telling the truth when someone asks. I figure – if they didn’t want to know they wouldn’t have asked. I don’t play the game where I sugar-coat things and make them feel ok about whatever it is I disagree with or that I see in them.

At times I drop bombs. I had a site called, “Mindbombs.com” for a while – I’ve since let it go… but the idea was that I liked dropping mindbombs (truths that hurt) at times when someone least expects it… The best time is when someone thinks they’re getting along with me well and we’re really having a meaningful experience – whatever that might be… and they ask me something and I truthfully respond. Jaws drop and it shakes them for a few days… Sometimes it rings them out and they don’t come back for anymore.

I have this idea that being truthful with someone about nearly all situations is what I can offer them that is something that few others will offer them. I can give them a gift by cracking their cranium just a little bit… enough to hurt but hopefully enough to give them a perspective that they haven’t heard about themselves.

I really liked number 2. “When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering. I like this one so much because this is the thing taht set me free in my mind at about age 16. I was talking to my Uncle John and he was telling me some life advice… he said something about me looking out for myself and that nobody is looking out for me more than me. Nobody. Nobody’s opinion matters more than mine because nobody else has my best interests at heart. Nobody. Just me. When I really realized the profundity of that idea it freed me of a lot of mental chains that were holding me back.

I don’t follow tradition. I don’t do things others do just because they’ve been done in the past. I question nearly everything about my life and what I’m doing so I’m not acting on tradition or according to what someone else believes I “should”. I really enjoy life in this way!

Number 3 is talking about what I like to call peoples “private logic”. In your own mind you make this reality that you think the rest of the world shares. You base actions, decisions, everything on this reality. Problems arise when your reality doesn’t match someone else’s reality. If you assume it does – you’ll find out – nobody on the planet shares your reality about everything. Definitely not about most things. Possibly not about anything.

Number 4 I have been thinking about a lot lately… doing my best at whatever I’m doing. Giving my best effort to whatever I’m doing. Slowing down and concentrating on whatever it is that I’m doing in every moment so I can put forth my best work. Its given me a great feeling lately to practice day to day life according to this idea.

What do you think of these four ideas to guide your morality… your day to day life?

Best of Life!

Find me at Twitter HERE >

Mind Games that Keep Me Running [When I Feel Like Stopping]

This article is about the techniques (mind games) I use with myself to stop the Emotional Mind (e-mind) from whining too loudly and affecting the Logical Mind (L-mind) enough that the L-mind actually makes the body stop running.

Hawaii Loa Ridge Trail in Honolulu,<br /> Hawaii.Sometimes when I’m running I get this urge to stop running and start walking.

There’s no logical reason for it. The body is ready. The mind is just turning lame for some reason. Usually, I can pinpoint one of two reasons the mind is giving me these signals to stop and walk or quit altogether.

I know there’s no fact behind the mind’s protests… I run just about exactly the same amount every day. I vary by only a half mile or so sometimes. The e-mind is lazy sometimes and needs to be controlled. Athletes at the top of their game must face this all the time. I can’t figure out if amateurs like me face it more or less than the top athletes in the world. Any ideas? Maybe only when they’re really pushing… I’m not sure… anyone want to venture a guess in the comment section?

Here are the two ways I see the e-mind trying to influence the run and turn it into a “no-run”. Compare yourself to see if you have one of these two experiences or if yours is different. If you have a different experience please leave a comment about it – and let me know. I’m very interested in mind games that go on in my own head – and everyone’s head as they’re running.

Two Scenarios in which the Emotional Mind wants to Stop my Run

1st Way

This one happens when I’ve been running about 15 – 25 minutes or so… I’m not having a “flow” experience but the run isn’t that bad. I’m probably thinking a lot or paying too much attention to the body and every feeling in my feet, toes, thighs, shoulders, arms, breathing, state of tension, etc. I’m kind of overworking my brain to pay attention to everything – like the biofeedback computer (my brain) is supposed to do. Problem is – the brain isn’t ready for it for some reason. Maybe the stress of the day is also churning heavy thoughts around and throwing the brain off its game.

This one usually first manifests by my realizing that my breathing is not perfect. Other things are then noticed…my body is not that limber – I’m a bit stiff… a little pain in my toe… it’s hot… The emotional mind starts to create this idea that maybe it can convince the logical mind to call a halt to the run and we’ll do some walking for a while. Now, sometimes this is OK, but not in the first couple of miles for me – it’s not a good reason to walk and relax some. I need to be strong and do something before the whiny e-Mind (emotional mind) wins and makes the L-mind (logical mind) stop and walk for a bit.

2nd Way

This one happens when I get this overwhelming feeling of having NO energy… It may exist upon starting the run or it may start to come over me as the run progresses. This one is a real problem because it’s the one that the e-mind can actually WIN with and make me walk sometimes.

When the logical mind realizes the e-mind is whining about having a very low energy threshold during the run and not wanting to continue it starts to assess…

Did the body drink enough water in the past 24 hours? How many coffees?

Did the body eat anything with sugar or fat in the last few days?

Typically the answer is no to this one – so the L-mind must be careful to realize that. I’m not a sugar or fat eater and I need to consciously find some and eat it – usually in the form of ice-cream to get some occasionally.

Did the body eat enough carbs in the last 24 hours or so? What about breakfast? Lunch?

Did you eat something before the run that might have taken the blood into the stomach away from the running muscles?

The L-mind evaluates because it’s the judger. It needs to make a ruling. Sometimes the L-mind just makes a ruling and makes the run continue regardless of the whining e-mind and how loud it gets. Other times the L-mind agrees – something is really weird, should stop and walk the rest of the way, fix it for next run.

So, usually, the L-mind can get through the whining. Occasionally it cannot. I’d say the L-mind prevails about 80% of the time lately.

I’m saying that 80% of the time the L-mind makes a ruling to continue the run and everything goes OK. The L-mind feels stronger for having made the body and e-mind do something it didn’t want to do – and the runs for me are short enough that there’s not that much suffering really. I don’t force speed on days I don’t feel right. So the e-mind and body endure some discomfort.

But here’s the thing…

I only stop and walk during a run about 3% of the time. 97% of the time I run. How does that add up you’re wondering?

Here’s what happens… the mind games kick-in on auto-pilot sometimes so the L-mind doesn’t need to make a ruling…

Huh? Yeah, exactly. I’ve never written about this before but as I ran today and went through a run that I felt weak on and had breathing that wasn’t smooth or easy and then the mind games auto-kicked in. It was really cool to realize what had been happening many times in the past.

The Automatic Mind games!

Auto-Mindgame Kicks in…
So this happens when I’m running and feeling like I’m scoring about a “2” out of a “10” run. The e-mind is whining – something about the run sucking so hard that light is bending toward us. I’m ignoring it for a while but then the L-mind kicks in and starts some logical assessments. It turns out that things look good. Water intake, calories, fat, sugar, sleep, are all good, so I should be operating at peak. This mind game kicked in where I started to count my breaths out and in which I hadn’t done for the previous 20 minutes of running. The mind game then changed to counting paces. I just started counting every pace that I took. Then it switched to every other step and counting by 2’s which was less stressful. The fingers on the left hand were keeping track of the hundreds and the mind was keeping track of the number of times the left hand got to 500.

Turns out the mind just did this ON ITS OWN. I never consciously said, hey, let’s count how many steps around the park. I found out though as I got to 1,000 steps the L-mind (logical mind) realized – wow, you just counted 1,000 steps. But the greater realization was that there was no suffering of any sort during the run as I counted. The focus on the numbers was so great and required so much constant focus that the e-mind (emotional mind) couldn’t think about anything to whine about! So – the body just ran. The breathing evened out and the run was going well at that point of realization.

Well, the mind kept focused and counting. 2,657 steps around the park on the track I usually take when i do a big loop.

The run went from being a 2/10 to a 8/10 JUST BECAUSE of this game my mind started playing!

I felt great, my breathing was good and my pace had picked up a lot… my stride got longer and the body was much looser than it was for the first 20 minutes. I continued running and when I finished I was thinking – “Wow, the mind game just stepped in and made everything go smoothly!” How cool is that?

Then as I was walking around the parking lot of the park and trying to get rid of the lactic acid a little bit… I realized – I have many little mind games that kick in and take the focus of the mind somewhere else and “save” the run. The run goes from a low rating, maybe a “2” out of “10” up to a 6/10 or higher. These mind games are great tools and I’ll try to explain some of the other ones below…

Other Mindgames:

Sometimes these come automatically and others I initiate…

Squinting eyes. I squint my eyes so that they’re nearly closed. Vision gets very dark and I feel like if I don’t see the elements that are in front of me – the concrete usually, then the run becomes less like a run. This works especially well with dark glasses on. When I first did this it was late at night, as I used to run around midnight. I noticed that – it’s much less mental stress to be running when I can’t see the road and understand that I’m moving my (then) 180 lb body over it. It was a feeling as if I was almost “sleep running.” I create no expectations and just run – as slow as or as fast as the body goes. No matter. No worries. This one is really almost like sleeping – I just let myself feel as relaxed as possible, like I’m in my bed… and the run goes much more smoothly that it was before I initiated this mind game.

Passing imaginary competitors. First I might imagine that I see my mom in front of me. My mom doesn’t run. She could a little bit, but she doesn’t. I imagine that my run is so bad that even she is in front of me. I pass her and then I see my uncle with a knob on his neck that smokes a lot. He’s further ahead. I pass him. Then I see some enemies from the past – high school usually as I can’t find anyone to hate much in the last 20 years. I pass them all. I start to feel a little better. Then comes another level in the next group… peers at school that I wanted to get better grades than in undergrad and in graduate school. I pass them. I pass co-workers. I see far ahead, some superstars in the blogging world. I catch and pass them. I see superstars in sci-fi action movies…. Tony Robbins and Darren Rowse, even Steve Pavlina come into view as the last ones I need to pass… Sometimes I pass them, but usually, I save them for another day. I keep them out ahead of me to motivate me to keep going and chasing them.

Not thinking. I just kind of blank the mind of thought and run “in the moment” or “in the present”. I wrote about this before, in another article. Here is an article where I talk about “flow” and creating flow – during a run that otherwise wouldn’t have it. Flow is that state where everything is effortless and there is a fluidity of motion, a natural economy of motion that is efficient, smooth, powerful, effortless, and without suffering…

Read about Flow in Running here > The part about “Pseudo Flow” is where I talk about blanking the mind but, the whole article is probably a bit different from things you’ve read in the past.

Focus on breathing. Sometimes this one works, and sometimes not. The other mind games all seem to work consistently with me. For this one I just focus on the number of strides I’m taking as I run compared with the breaths I’m taking. If I’m relaxed and running very easily I’m usually at 4 strides as I breathe in for 1 breath, and 4 strides for each out-breath. I call this 4/4 breathing. If I’m going fast I’m at a 2/2 breathing rate. I find that if I concentrate on watching my feet hit in front of me as I’m aware of the in-breath and then again for the out-breath I notice much less any discomfort or whining from the e-mind about the body not feeling quite energized or ready enough to continue running.

Breathing in extra hard. I notice that if i start to inhale extra hard as I’m running – and expanding the lungs – it seems to have an effect after about 6-10 breaths. The extra oxygen makes me feel better and it’s a noticeable change. I try it every few minutes if it seems to work the first time. I’m usually in a 2/2 breathing pattern if I try this as it’s easy to forcefully inhale when breathing hard and fast. Belly Breathing is also an awesome technique that I think brings 10% improvement immediately, to any run you’re not using it. Read about it by clicking that link.

How much you’re suffering can be controlled by the eyes. Yeah, believe it or not! I noticed today that as I wasn’t feeling that great during the run my eyes were focused very close to my feet. I was looking almost at my feet. Then, when I looked up further ahead to where my usual gaze is while running and feeling good – about 5- 6 paces in front of me, my mood changed. I felt better. I felt less pain because the focus of the eyes was out away from the body. Strange huh? Try it yourself. Then I tried to focus far off in the distance – 50 yards or as far as I could see down the path. You know what? I didn’t even feel the body at all. It was like I was floating through the air. I couldn’t feel my feet hit the pavement.

Try to be conscious of where your eyes are looking as you run – and you can control how much attention your mind pays to the suffering based on where your eyes are looking!

Hanauma Bay Ridge, Oahu, Hawaii.Any of these mind games can be initiated by you consciously. But, it’s really cool to realize that your brain did it on its own to get rid of the whining emotional mind and to get rid of having to experience suffering a run that isn’t going as smoothly as they usually do.

Sometimes I realize that it happened 20 minutes after it was going on! That’s a cool moment when I say to myself, “Hey, the mind was up to something – it took over subconsciously!”

Best of Life!

Find me at Twitter HERE >

Does your mind play any mind games to get over the pain of running on days when you don’t feel quite up to it?

What are they?

Do they ever happen on their own or do you initiate them consciously every time?

Other running articles I’ve written:

27 Reasons I love to go Running!”>27 Reasons I love to go Running!

Flow, Pseudo Flow, and Mind-Tweaking During Exercise

Want to Start Running? (A plan, complete with mental gymnastics)

When I Bicycle, I’m a Superhero. I’m SuperVern.

Bicycle pedaling, cool perspective.I’ll give up my bike again, only when I lose both my legs NEVER.

What in the world was I thinking to go without a bicycle for 4 years?

Sure I was dirt poor during that time – but, no matter – the bike should have always been priority number one. After riding passionately for 17 years recently I stopped for four long years.

Never again.

Bicycling is the ultimate sport and way of life. Many people feel that way, not just me. My own cycling frenzy began when, in Hawaii at Hickam Air Force Base in 1985 I rode a friend’s bike, a Fuji 10 speed or 12 speed, can’t remember which. It was the first real bicycle I’ve ever ridden in my life. Sure I had the Raleigh motocross beater for $129 in 1978 which was an amazing bike of it’s own, but this was an amazingly FAST bike. This Fuji was like greased lightening. I couldn’t believe I was going so fast on a bike. When I got on it I didn’t want to get off.

I told my roommate I just wanted to give it a go and that I’d be back in 10 minutes. I returned an hour and 20 minutes later, exhausted and in a state of mind that I hadn’t known before after riding almost 20 miles around base on that shiny silver Fuji.

Mentally I was hooked from that point on, but didn’t purchase a bike until I moved to New York City a couple years later. My first bike was a white Cannondale aluminum frame 12 speed I think it was. I became addicted to cycling in a bad way from that point on.

In New York I commuted almost daily from Astoria Blvd and Steinway Street to Central Park and to my job as a color reproduction specialist at Lamont Custom Color photo lab. Not joking… I rode through the streets of New York City almost everyday.

Bicycling became my passion. My outlet for stress and my key to molding my body for endurance exercise, and eventually leading me to do bike races and triathlons.

There are so many things about biking that makes it such an awesome activity…

Freedom – When I’m on the bike I’m free from any responsibility and nobody can reach me on phone, email, beeper or GPS. I’m off the grid and I’m nowhere anybody would find me if they did go looking. I rarely ride the same place over and over.

SuperVern – I’m a superhero on my bicycle. I feel like nothing can touch me – I’m invincible. I can beat cars, motorbikes and any other bicyclist on the road. I’m flying through reality’s 3 dimensions like I’m carving up a 30 footer at Waimea. I’m Jet Li working my way effortlessly through 16 bad guys to get where I’m going. I’m SuperVern on the bike. I don’t get the superhuman feeling while running, swimming, playing soccer or during any other activity – just cycling.

Health Benefits – I’m out for an hour minimum everytime I cycle. In one hour I’m burning a minimum of 500 calories. I don’t crawl around when I go out – I’m going 15 mph minimum all the time, even up small grades. I hate to slow down. If I’m only going out for one hour I’ll probably burn 700 or more calories because that’s a short ride. If I go out for 3 hours I’m burning 500 calories an hour – 1,500 calories and that’s going relatively slow.

All Vern Can Eat – If I’m cycling just 3 times per week for an average of 6 hours total then that means I burnt over 3,000 calories that I wouldn’t have if I didn’t exercise. That means I can eat pizza, spaghetti, Ice-cream or whatever I want to eat without fear of gaining weight. Bicycling is a free meal ticket to eat whatever you choose. If you over-do it with Pizza 3-days in a row, like I’ve been known to do – just add another couple hours on the bike that week and you’re right as rain.

Kind to the Mind – Bicycling long distance at an easy pace is like meditation for me. I am usually thinking of nothing at all, just watching the road in front of me, maybe my wheel spinning. Sometimes I focus on making each rotation of the pedals perfectly efficient and circular. Often times I focus on my breathing. I think this may have something to do with my easy time of advancing through meditative states. I was quite used to watching my breath. I was quite used to being aware of my body and all that was going on with it.

I think the coolest thing about bicycling for the masses is that it’s such a low intensity workout almost anyone can ride for 2 hours easy. Even if you’re riding easy you’re likely burning 300 calories per hour. About same as walking, except you’re seeing and experiencing a different world on the bike.

Once you build up your stamina you can be doing 4 hours on a bike pedaling easily. That’s 1,200 calories gone in one day!

If you get serious about it – or really want to have fun with it and challenge yourself you’ll be doing 2-3 hours at a good effort and burn 1,200-2,000 calories.

Cycling is, to me – the greatest activity for my health, freedom, and mental well-being. It’s something that I’ll never again be without. I’ve made that promise to myself today. Cycling is THE ULTIMATE form of exercise because it’s just such a blast, on top of all the other benefits.

Are you a superhero when you’re running on the treadmill? Are you a superhero when you’re doing bench press? Nah.

Cycling is IT. Cycling is GREAT. Cycling is LIFE. Cycling is unmistakably the most fun you could have today.

Unless of course you live on one of the Hawaiian Islands near perpetually breaking three to five foot surf. Or, trail running in Thailand… Or, uhm…

Photo: Flickr user LeeBrimelow