Facing your fears is never easy. It doesn’t get easier with age.
My wife and I were talking about facing our fears recently with our daughter Sadie. She runs on the track team but it makes her nervous, as any track athlete well knows. We complimented her for running, which is a painful event at the speeds track runs.
Quick backstory: Sadie finished second in the state of Utah while running the mile in grade school. Nevertheless, she was so scared she’d finish last in her first high school meet, that she didn’t even register for the mile. She chose sprints instead and got blown away. That’s what happens when distance runners run sprints.
Anyways, her mother and I encouraged her to run the mile, 400, and 800 next time. She accepted the challenge (we didn’t force her), and she registered for all three events at her next meet. She was visibly nervous for the full week leading up to the big day. Continue reading…
The world is full of qualitative statements. Exaggerations. Subjectiveness that cannot be measured. The people that make such statements are easily forgotten.
Quantitative statements, on the other hand, leave an impression. They measure your place in life. My father taught me this at an early age.
When I was nine years old, I ran a fast 400 meter dash, which is no easy feat. The thing about the 400 is not a lot of people run it. It’s difficult, because it’s not quite a sprint and not quite a distance race. As such, few amateurs compete in it. At least that was the case when I ran it.
So my father encouraged me to run the 400. I did. All the way to the ’88 state finals. Here’s how it happened: Continue reading…
Yours truly surfing Lake Powell
Someone recently asked me what I’m excited about. “Oh, I don’t know,” I lied. Not because I didn’t have an answer. I just hadn’t articulated it yet.
After further deliberation, here is my answer: Continue reading…
In 2009, I started running in the ugliest shoes ever. The first time I did it, my calves and feet ached in places they hadn’t before. The second time I did it, I knew I’d never run in cushioned shoes again.
With the exception to select frozen days of winter, in which I run in Nike Free 3.0s to stave off frost bite, I’ve run in Five Finger Classics (pictured) or KSOs ever since. Here’s why: Continue reading…
I’m not crazy about their using corn sweeteners. And they won’t make you jump higher or run faster. But sports drinks (read: bottled sugar water) such as Gatorade and Powerade actually work when it comes to endurance boosts. Marathoners know this, as does this new study by the University of Edinburgh.
Scientists discovered that 12 to 14-year-olds could play for almost a quarter longer during team games when they drank an isotonic sports drink before and during games. The sports drink helped the adolescents continue exercising for up to 24% longer than those who were given a non-carbohydrate placebo drink.
To be clear, you can make homemade sports drinks that are nearly as effective. Just mix water with a little sugar, some flavoring, and a dash of salt. (Most isotonic drinks are a 6% carbohydrate-electrolyte solution.)
They key is to know when to reach for sports drinks over good old water. And all the research I’ve read suggests water is more than suitable for workouts under an hour. Anything longer than that and your body will benefit from the extra dose of electrolytes, carbs, sugar, and salt.
I know mine does during long distance runs.
See also: Top 5 Powerade flavors
I like running.
With exception to an injury hiatus, I ran several times a week over the past two years. And since reading Born To Run, I do so enthusiastically (not begrudgingly like I once did).
I normally run continuously for 45 minutes to an hour. On occasion, two hours—whatever I feel like really. I don’t time myself or track miles—an act that makes running feel like work—I just run.
Two weeks ago, I was feeling especially light on my feet. When I left the house on an empty stomach that Saturday, I didn’t plan on running for three plus hours, but I did. I also didn’t take water or food with me, and nearly put myself in the hospital as a result.
From Born to Run, p. 92:
How do you make anyone actually want to run? How do you flip the switch that changes us all back into the Natural Born Runners we once were? Not just in history, but in our own lifetimes. Remember? Back when you were a kid and you had to be yelled at to slow down? Every game you played, you played at top speed, sprinting like crazy… Half the fun of doing anything was doing it at record pace, making it probably the last time in your life you’d ever be hassled for going too fast. That was the real secret of the Tarahumara: they’d never forgotten what it felt like to love running.
In other words, “If it feels like work, you’re working too hard.”
Although the inventor of modern running shoes, Nike doesn’t have a reputation among distance runners these days. Said athletes usually wear one of five brands: Asics (which Nike first sold as a distributor in the ’60s), Mizuno, Brooks, Saucony or New Balance. You just can’t “do it” in Nikes anymore, at least without looking like a corporate shill.
I had a bit of a senior moment this morning. While crossing over a contoured section of the sidewalk, I tripped over my toes, lunged forward, and overturned the jogging stroller. I landed in someone’s flower bed. The girls landed in the gutter—on their heads!
Moments before, a lady in her forties was approaching us. Being the gentleman that I am, I crossed onto the street to let her pass. I don’t know about other runners, but it takes my legs a good five minutes to warm in the morning. So at the time of the accident, I was dragging my feet a little. Hence, the stumble when crossing back over to the sidewalk.
Outside of insecurity and one hurt ego, everybody was fine. But I’ll be using that wrist strap religiously froim now on, so as not to send the girls rolling into the road the next time I trip.
For the first time in my life, I’ve become a sports drink junkie. I still guzzle water. But I like how the lightly flavored drink displaces the “workout” taste better than water. So I drink fluorescent colored super juice after heavy training.
Since Powerade (not Gatorade) was on sale last month, I stocked up on all eight flavors. And being the gentlemen that I am, I decided to review them for you. So the next time you reach for a 32 oz. bottle, remember the top 5 most refreshing Powerade flavors, expertly named by yours truly: Continue reading…
No matter how frequent you train, running is a constant challenge. Last week, during one particularly sluggish run, I found inspiration to keep pushing myself from an unlikely comrade: an unfamiliar long-boarder approaching me from the opposite direction. Continue reading…
Some runners are automatic. Day in, day out, they hop on treadmills, negotiate cross-country trails, or sidestep pedestrians and cars in the city. It’s as if “Just do it” was baked into their DNA.
I am not one of them. Despite my efforts, I still get discouraged and have to continually assure myself while running that “I can do it.”
To be fair, I haven’t run that much. I ran the 400m in grade school, taking the coveted, second-to-last-place finish at state finals. I ran religiously for four months in 2005, after making a fleeting new year’s resolution, which resulted in my quitting. And I ran intensively for another four months last year in preparation for a half-marathon, an event I had to postpone due to a ruptured disc in my lower back, which also put my running on hold until earlier this month.
I admit that my limited running accomplishments get me through my runs better than I would without, but I feel almost as discouraged now as I did while training for my first long-distance race. Is it unrealistic to hope to become a robot runner — one that doesn’t have to play mind games during every workout — say after running three times weekly for an entire year? I’ll keep on trucking regardless, but it sure would be nice.
This is an oldie but goodie entitled The Perfect Human, courtesy of Wired.
Dean Karnazes ran 50 marathons in 50 days. He does 200 miles just for fun. He’ll race in 120-degree heat. Here are 12 secrets to his success.
Reading this article back in January 2007 was one of the reasons I took an interest in running.
I ruptured a disc in my lower back on July 4. I successfully ran a 10K that day, but the spine cushion (as it is called) blew due to genetics, not physical exertion, I’m told. The demanding event and requisite training only aggravated an already degenerative disc.
On Friday, I had a discectomy to cure the problem, which slices through my back, drills a hole in my vertebrae, and traverses the sacred spinal canal to remove the loose fragment that was pinning my sciatic nerve against my bone, causing pain throughout my entire right leg.
After four weeks of inexplicable pain in my right leg, I was diagnosed with a herniated (possibly ruptured) disc in my lower back yesterday. Said injury partially blocks my sciatic nerve, making my right leg mad at me.
In all seriousness, it’s rather disabling — causing limping, an inability to sit or stand for long periods of time, and loss of feeling in my foot. Unbeknownst to me, it seems I sustained the injury during my 10K run on July 4.
If only I had maintained my previous life of idleness and extreme atrophy, none of this would have happened. 😉
(I should be fine, by the way, with at least a shot, physical therapy, and time. If not, routine surgery should take care of it. UPDATE: I had surgery in late August. It was a success and I’m on my way back to 100%.)
Lindsey, my father-in-law, and I ran our first 10k at the Provo Freedom Festival on Saturday. Although I ran (ahem, slow-jogged) the entire 6.2 miles, my right leg now feels like jell-o. Nevertheless, I think I’m falling in love with this running business. Regarding the “medal,” I felt silly wearing it because the promoters gave one to all 1125 runners (unique, just like everyone else).
Lindsey and I have been training for a long distance run this fall. It’s one of the toughest physical goals I’ve ever set, at least in terms of endurance, which often leaves me discouraged. In short, while my body is not fatiguing, my mind is. It makes me feel mentally soft.
So I ask you, dear Smooth Harold readers. What do you do to obtain, maintain, and demonstrate mental toughness when the going get tough? What do you do to get “in the zone” and find the courage to keep pressing on physically when the finish line seems so far off?
I started running again in March and have so far been consistent with my efforts. It marks the first time that I’ve done so in three years.
Last week, I had quite the experience towards extending my determination: I got high while running — a natural/adrenaline high, that is. But it wasn’t the kind that enthuses for a passing moment. It was one of the strongest, most euphoric natural highs I’ve ever had. So much in fact that it encouraged me to run farther and longer than I ever have.
This unshapely body isn’t dead yet!