Monday, December 28, 2009


Long, rambling personal post about my running ahead. If you don't care, just skip it. I won't be mad.

For Christmas, my wife got me a pretty interesting book about running called Born to Run, A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Ever Seen. Book titles seem to get longer and longer it seems.

The book is about a lot of things.
  • The science of running
  • How we run
  • Why we run
  • Where we came from in regard to running
  • Ultramarathoners (50 miles or more at one crack and sometimes 100)
  • A lost tribe of runners found in the sticks of Mexico

This book was very interesting to a relatively novice runner like myself. There was a lot of great information in it and the story was compelling to boot. I don't want to spoil a lot of it for you but if you are interested in running, I highly recommend it. It is only 300 pages or so and will provide a runner with a lot of interesting insights. The book also got me to thinking about my own running. Below is a video I took just a few days ago of me after I am warmed up. This is about an 8 minute mile pace, which is pretty standard for me anymore when I run distances of 5 miles or greater.

The main reason I took the video is because I want to analyze my stride. While I gleaned some useful info from the video, I will have to take another one, from lower down. What I am trying to do is to see how much wasted energy I have in my stride from "paddling" or moving my legs side to side, instead of from front to back.

From the video a couple of things stuck out at me right away. It is very apparent that my ankle and shin are not straight when they hit the ground. I am not sure if this is good or bad, but it is something I noticed. The other thing that I was totally shocked at was the condition of my calves. My god they are absolutely ripped. I guess I don't look at my backside too much, but I assume my thighs are the same way - it is hard to tell from the video. I guess a benefit from running so much.

I gleaned a few other things from the video, but frankly don't know what to do with the information. Last week I did five miles on the dreadmill in just under 38 minutes, a new personal best for me. I can probably squeeze a few more seconds out of my times if I quit bodybuilding so much with strength circuits but I don't really want to stop that. And I really don't want to quit MT.

I actually thought about quitting MT for a while because I wanted to take my body to places that I never thought it could go. I wanted to start getting competitive with my running and biking. At the level I am at, I will always be a good runner and biker, but not competitive - to me, competitive is to finish in the top 10% of my age group. If I quit MT and the strength circuits and gave all that time to biking and running, I know I could be an elite runner, biker, and duathlete. But that won't do. I like the strength circuits and MT too much. Plus, doing all of this different activity does not allow your body to atrophy into a certain shape - it never knows which workout is next so you stay a better all around athlete. Jack of all trades, master of none.

BUT, I can improve my running and biking, of this I am positive. I have decided to make an appointment with my masseuse, who is also an elite triathlete. She also coaches triathletes and has her own team. I think that with just a few lessons from her I can shave a good half minute off of my per mile time and certainly a good chunk off of my biking times. On top of this I just got a new bike that will be at least 35% lighter than my old one, so that will help immensely.

Last year I ran more miles than I ever thought I could and this year I plan on doing the same, only in a different way. The half marathons I ran were fun and interesting, but I think my favorite distance is 10k. I can blast that distance very easily (only 6.2 miles) and I think I can get to within the top 25% of my age group with my current training schedule. The anearobic training I receive from MT helps in this regard.

I still haven't sat down and chosen my events for next year, except for the New Years Day Dash (5 miles) and the Shamrock Shuffle (10k). As an aside, I was on the side of town where the New Years Day Dash is and the roads and trails there are a miserable mess. I am not expecting a lot out of my time in that one.

I think this next long weekend I need to sit down with the calendar and pick and choose my spots. I did a LOT of events last year and need to pare that down a bit. Carl has also mentioned he still wants to do a "destination" run in the spring when we are all sick of the cold so I need to keep that in mind.

Good things to have to sort out if I don't say so myself.


Mark said...

Barefoot running (barefoot walking for that matter) has always intrigued me - but I'm not much of a distance runner, so I haven't taken the opportunity to give it a try. I would LOVE to try a pair of Vibrams or something similar for daily use, but of course everyone would probably look at me funny.

Dan from Madison said...

Mark - in the book I mention they talk about barefoot running a LOT, and one guy does use the Vibrams. They also say not to do it immediately after using shoes or you may get a stress fracture. If you are interested in the subject, buy that book or better yet email me and I will send you mine.

Dan from Madison said...

Ugh, I just looked at the forecast for that New Years Day Dash, a balmy 10 degrees by race time. God I hope that is wrong.

Jonathan said...

There's a website somewhere devoted to the Mexican barefoot running tribe. I think it's done by the author of that book. I thought about trying barefoot running, then I decided to lie down until the feeling went away. Who am I kidding (myself). It is good that you are doing all of this intense athletic stuff. We are going to have to assign you a new nickname. I've got it: Tonto.

Yes, Mr. Tonto Pantalones Callientes.

I think your name was mentioned in the Mexican running book.

Dan from Madison said...

They actually have some science to back up their assertions in the book that barefoot running is more healthy, interesting stuff to be sure - I am not ready to make that leap, but I will make sure that any new pair of running shoes has a smaller sole.