Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Don't give up, don't ever give up.

These are the words of the late Jimmy Valvano.  If you've watched ESPN this week you know that it is Jimmy V week.  Jimmy Valvano was the coach of the North Carolina State basketball team in the 80's and early 90's.  He died from cancer.  He left a legacy that includes his Wolfpack team that had one of the greatest runs in NCAA tournament history and the V Foundation, which has donated more than $90 million to cancer research.

I will always remember his speech at the 1993 ESPY's.  It was very touching and inspirational.  I've included a link.

Pronation Explained

Pronation is a difficult concept to understand.  It basically refers to how much your heel and foot roll in when your foot hits the ground.  Pronation is normal.  Some people, however, are "over-pronators" and some people are "under-pronators."  I want to emphasize that there is a very wide range of what should be considered normal.

Runner's World has some nice videos to help illustrate these concepts.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Got Arthritis? Get Moving!

People with arthritis should try to get 20 minutes of moderate exercise daily.  Lower impact activities like swimming and cycling are probably best.

Read about the benefits of exercise for arthritis here:

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Weekend Update

I just got in from an easy 7 mile jog.  As if the turkey, stuffing, and pumpkin pie didn't make me feel sluggish enough, I was forced to contend with wind gusts of up to 45 mph!  We've been really lucky in Lincoln that this fall has been just about perfect.  The colors were vibrant, the days relatively warm, and the winds calm.  Among the many things I'm grateful for this Thanksgiving is the mild fall that we've enjoyed.

I've run in all conditions, from extreme heat to extreme cold and everything in between.  Without a doubt, though, the thing I hate the most is wind.  I'd like to know what conditions you dislike the most.  Vote on the blog.

Fourteen miles tomorrow.  Gearing up for a fast 2012!

Friday, November 25, 2011

#11--Chamber Country Classic

Maryville, MO
June 10, 2006

Once I got to 10 marathons, I started to feel like a "real" runner.  I was able to join the 50 States & DC club.  I've included a link to the club on this blog.

I was still in residency so I didn't have that much time to train.  I learned that I could train for a marathon by doing two or three short runs during the week (3-5 miles each) and a long run on the weekends (start at 6 miles, build to 20 during an 18 wk plan).  I found this schedule very manageable.  By now my wife realized that marathons weren't just a phase, and that I would be gone for a few hours each weekend.  Her understanding has been instrumental.

Missouri was the next border state on my list.  Maryville, MO is a short drive from Omaha.  I remember we stayed at the vacant dorms on the campus of Northwest Missouri State.  $10 for a dorm room the night before the race!  Ah, sleeping (or trying to sleep) in those small, plastic covered mattresses brought back some memories.

This was a small race, with two loops around the town.  There were some very long hills that were a challenge.  The thing I remember most about this race was the fact that it was the first one during which I listened to my iPod.  The distraction was nice, particularly on this small, mostly rural marathon.  Unfortunately, I got so distracted that I missed a turn at one point.  The volunteers tried to correct me, but I couldn't hear them!  One nice man got in a car and drove to track me down and set me straight.  I didn't get that far off, thanks to his help.

This marathon definitely wasn't Chicago or Boston, but it was a small, friendly race that was easy for me to get to, and very economical.  As a resident short on time and money, it was perfect.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Turkey Trot

I started Thanksgiving Day today with a nice 5-K race.  The Annual Turkey Trot is sponsored by the Cooper Branch YMCA and benefits the Strong Kids Campaign.  I coasted to a 25 minute finish time.  Read about the race here.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Marathon Deaths, cont.

I found this article from the Runner's World archives.  A nice review of the history and controversy surrounding the safety of marathon running.,7120,s6-238-244-255-12968-0,00.html

Is Marathon Running Dangerous?

The Philadelphia Marathon was yesterday and the headlines today aren't about another course record falling, but about two runners who died of apparent heart attacks at the finish line.  Tragedies like this get attention because it is assumed that marathon runners are in excellent physical condition (generally true) and should be immune to heart disease (not true).

Marathon running and other intense physical activity does carry some small risk.  Most studies put the risk of death during a marathon at 1 in 100,000 or so runners.  Most of these deaths in very young individuals (20s) are the result of structural heart defects.  Coronary artery disease is the cause in most middle aged individuals.

Heart Disease is the #1 cause of mortality in the USA, with more than 200 deaths per 100,000 people annually.  Exercise is known to decrease the risk of heart disease, and most marathon runners have been able to optimize this part of the risk profile.  However, there are many other factors such as family history, high cholesterol, diabetes, and hypertension that play an important role.

More people than ever are running marathons, so at times it may seem routine and common.  We must remember that training for and completing a marathon is an intensely physically demanding endeavor, one that places great stress on the cardiovascular system.  Get an annual check up from your primary care provider, and make sure you are doing everything you can to minimize your risk.

The late Jim Fixx once said, "I don't know if running adds years to your life, but it definitely adds life to your years."

Read the article about the Philadelphia Marathon here.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Carry these on every run

I've done long training runs in every imaginable climate and setting.  In previous posts I've talked about proper dress, nutrition and hydration among other things for long runs.  In addition to these basic things that most of us remember without thinking, there are some other less obvious things that the well equipped runner should carry.

1. Identification.  You should always carry some form of ID along with an easy to find emergency contact.
2. Phone.  Increasingly small and powerful.  I've used mine to call home for a ride in 100 degree heat when I couldn't make it home.  I can also use my iPhone to keep in touch with my office, find a route w/ GPS, listen to music, and many other things.
3. Money.  You should think about carrying $10 or $20.  I can't tell you how many times I've finished a run and been told to get milk on my way home.
4. Tissue paper.  I found out this one the hard way with a very embarrassing incident in the pre-dawn hours in downtown Chicago involving an alley, the police, and a smelly but thankfully empty elevator ride back to my hotel room.
5. Protection.  This is very important for women.  Try not to run alone in dark or desolate places.  If you do, carry some form of protection.  You just never know.  Small personal canisters of pepper spray are highly portable and can be added to your key chain.

Let me know if you can think of other essentials to share with others.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Holiday Run 2011

The Country Club Neighborhood Association is sponsoring a non-competitive, adults only fun run/walk to be held on Thursday, December 22, 2011.  The race will begin and end at the Country Club of Lincoln.  The open course will wind through the historic Country Club neighborhood.  The race will start at 7:30 p.m.  Proceeds from the race will benefit the future lighting needs of the old Rock Island Trail between South and Calvert Streets.   Click on the link below to link to an official flyer and entry form.  Entries are due by December 9th.

Doping for Runners

Losing weight is the cheapest form of doping there is”--Dr. Mike Joyner, Mayo Clinic

Readers of Runner's World may recognize this quote from one of Peter Sagal's recent articles.  Peter was trying to see if he could stop or turn back the clock and continue to run PRs despite his advancing age.  He spoke with Dr. Joyner, a noted anesthesiologist and researcher at the Mayo Clinic.  I actually met Dr. Joyner when I was a medical student doing research at UNMC.  He is a sub 3 hour marathoner, so he has plenty of "street-cred," too.

When Peter asked Dr. Joyner how he could improve his running times, Dr. Joyner asked about his body stats and replied, "Lose some weight.  Losing weight is the cheapest form of doping there is."

The reason is VO2max.  Without going into too many boring details, VO2 max represents an individual's maximum oxygen uptake, and is considered the best indicator of cardiovascular fitness.  The units of measurement are ml/kg/min.  So as you see, for the same level of fitness, there is an inverse relationship between VO2max and body weight.

Obviously, there are many factors to consider, but in general, an easy rule of thumb is that losing 1 lb can shave 1 minute off the marathon time, 5 lbs=5 minutes, and so on.  Looking at my own marathon times over the years, along with my advancing waist line, I have found that the rule of thumb works pretty well in the other direction, too.  Like Peter Sagal though, I intend to take Dr. Joyner's advice and start doping and break 4 hours in 2012.

Monday, November 14, 2011

A short break

I've pretty much recovered from the NYC Marathon.  I was very sore Monday.  Each day got better until Thursday when I was basically pain free.  I had intended to take a whole week off, but the blue skies, fall colors, and crisp fall days were too much to resist.  I've eased back into training with an easy 3 mile run Friday, 6 Saturday, and 9 Sunday.  I ran at a slow, steady pace.  My legs feel a little tired, but strong enough to resume training for the next Marathon in mid January.   NYC was my fifth and final marathon in 2011.  I've signed up for 3 in the winter and spring of 2012.  I am hoping to run 6 or 7 in 2012.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Why do marathon records keep falling?

New York City marked the last of the Marathon Majors this year.  Course records were smashed in London, Boston, Berlin, Chicago, and NYC.  I've talked before about the astonishing pace with which records seem to be falling.

Sports Illustrated has a great article looking at the reasons behind this trend.  One of the factors driving this seems to be the allure of the marathon as the premier event in running, with lucrative sponsorships and prize money, all of which are attracting the most gifted runners at an early age.

Read the article here:

Monday, November 7, 2011

#30--NYC Marathon

New York, NY
November 6, 2011

The NYC Marathon was the fourth of the so-called "marathon majors" that I have done.  A record 47,000 runners started the tour through the five boroughs.  It was an incredible experience.  I trained hard for the race and hoped to break four hours.  For much of the race I was on track to do so.  My half marathon split was just under 1:58.  I lost my pace on the 59th Street Bridge, but quickly regained my momentum when we entered Manhattan and ran down 1st Avenue.  I still had a chance in the Bronx, but I bonked at mile 20.  That, along with my recurrent IT band issues, slowed my pace the last 6 miles.  I finished in 4:16, but the energy from the crowd dampened my disappointment.

Conditions for the race were perfect.  The sky was clear, winds calm, with temperatures in the 50s.  Kenyan Geoffrey Mutai shaved nearly 3 minutes off the previous course record, clocking an NYC record time of 2:05:06.

I'll never run on the field at Memorial Stadium or stand on stage at a rock concert, but I doubt either experience can match the energy and intensity of 2.5 million spectators cheering you on while you run through arguably the greatest city in the world.

Sunday, November 6, 2011


I just completed the ING New York City Marathon today. 30th marathon total, 28th state.   I had hoped to come in under 4 hours, but it wasn't meant to be.  I'll have a full report this week on this spectacular race.