Do you ever stay in one place for a long period of time? Do you ever just stand in one spot for over an hour…or even 10 minutes? Do you ever just allow yourself to glare at one point on a wall for any more than a few seconds? Then why is there such a love with and passion for a type of running that just makes me cringe…treadmills!
This multi-million dollar industry (exercise equipment that is) gives us (the consumer) an opportunity to pack our homes or offices or hotels or gyms with huge pieces of electronic machines that make you sweat! Sounds great…in the short term, but let’s dive a little deeper into this groove of the running community.
First, this is not about the elliptical…or stationary bikes…or any other piece of cardio equipment that might get invented in the next few years. This is a running blog…so it’s focused on one piece of these belted movers…the treadmill. This thing is really a monster if you break its components down. There is a huge rubber belt attached to gigantic wheels on each end that spin at revolutions only a car could handle…and then runner’s jump on there…speed it up to paces not seen by a common person and…well…go! It just sounds…scary! (oh yeah…throw in there electronic programs that only computer science majors could understand…I just want to run)
Runners belong outside. They belong in an environment where they can experience the thrill of finding and exploring and intervening with nature at its highest. This just doesn’t happen on the inside of a hotel gym (which are usually 10×10 rooms packed with sweat filled, humid air) and a tiny LCD screen projecting either FOX News or ESPN. It just doesn’t happen on the inside of your local fitness monstrosity packed with guys who are larger than they should be, and girls who go to the gym…well…to be “seen” at the gym.
Look to be honest…treadmills injure some runners. No lie! A runner’s natural gait is to run with their feet at a certain distance in front of them at a width…and that’s the key thing here…a comfortable width respective to each person. What does a treadmill do? It constricts! Remember those big ol sidebars that are on the left and right side? Whether consciencesly or not, they provide a narrowing of this natural width, which forces the runner to bend their legs slightly un-naturally. And any “slight” un-natural move gets amplified extensively over a long treadmill workout or series of them.
Just get off the machine. Really…is there any other way to put it? Yes…there are certain instances when there are no other options…but if you’re a serious runner…get outside. Get away from the TV and the gym “sights” and explore. The oxygen outside is much better than the sweaty, humid, gross smell of the indoors. But please…if you do have to get on that motorized monstrosity…be very…very…very careful. In fact…as always…take a second…look for loose parts…look for weird electronic components that aren’t supposed to be there…and please…look down at your feet…and lace up!
EPIC MOVIE! BATTLE SCENE! “FREEDOM!!!” Are you pumped up yet? What do all of these things have in common? Yeah…ok…they pretty much emulate Braveheart…but that’s not what I’m looking for. What was William Wallace? Who were the men who fought with him? What did they endure? Where am I going with this?!? WARRIORS!
So the new trend that is gripping the country and sparking events in just about every state, city, college town, etc. is this thing called the “Warrior Dash.” If you haven’t heard about it, just narrow your mind down to a few key points: teamwork…a little running…mud pits…FIRE…jumping…leaping…you get the point? These “events”…because really…that’s what they are…events…are just about good ol dirty fun. In the end…every participant looks like they just battled through the mud pits of a battlefield and braved the brown clay that encompasses most of the USA…because…in actuality…that’s what they all did!
So what are the so-called obstacles? Look…that’s about as difficult to answer as what is quantum physics! They are all different! Sure there are some similar ones in each of the locations, but each has its own little tweak. Here are the ones in one southern town. Start out with a nice little trot from a starting line with fire blowing out the top, to so – termed “slithering swamp.” Let’s move onto something a little more intriguing…the “road-rage”…then the “barricade breakdown.” No…I am not going to give details on each one…use your imagination! Moving from there it’s a nice walk in the woods into the “great warrior wall”…then the “tire tread”…and slowly moving over to the “cargo climb” and “chaotic crossover.” From here it’s heaven on earth! Just finish up with “arachnophobia,” “blackout,” “petrifying plunge,” a nice trip through “muddy mayhem” and wrapping things up…”menacing minefield” and “warrior roast.” (I’m exhausted already!)
Look…every single piece of this event is going to tell you that it is an absolute physical race…and yes…it is! Their motto is quite simple… come on out…no matter the “skill” level. It’s more mental than anything, and the obstacles are meant to be overtaken!
So do you want a break from that little 500 person 5K race (when you’ve been doing 6-10 milers for years now)…do you need something to spark your cardio one of these weekends? Grab some buds (and some friends too)…put on your goofy clothing…find your inner growl…and become a warrior. Would we have ever known that William Wallace was 10 feet tall and consumed the English with fireballs from his eyes and bolts of lightning from his ass…if he wasn’t a warrior? No! So get out there! But please…before you leap that fire pit…or jump through the mud pool…look down…or just wear slip ons…cause you might lose em anyway…and lace up!
It’s all about what? They even have an entire day devoted to it! Heck…if you don’t have this…you’re pretty much screwed. That’s right…it’s your heart! So to make sure that runners use it appropriately (don’t over exert…don’t underperform) folks are using pretty high tech tools. Heck, pregnant ladies are using them to monitor their everyday activities! Babies can’t over exert either. Break out those sweat bands…strap that plastic thing under your boobs…throw on that watch looking thingy…it’s a heart rate monitor!
First let’s break down the components. Start out with the plastic strap looking thingy. This is probably the most important piece. In fact, if you really break if down…this is the monitor! There are sensors attached to it that measure your heart rate via the connectivity of body goo. Literally…the signals transmit through the “gunk” that is in your body…whether its sweat or liquid fat, or whatever. Some sensors won’t work unless you get them wet first! How does this stay on? Well, you have an elastic neoprene type stretch band that wraps around your back and stinks to all hell if you don’t wash it consistently. Think about some of your more sweatier areas….underarms…groins…back of legs…chest areas…yeah that’s where this thing is attaching…please wash it when you’re done.
The last piece to the monitor contraption is how we monitor the entire system. In most cases, it’s a normal watch looking device that reads the heart rate…sometimes the pulse…sometimes even the actual EKG!!! And to be honest…if you understand all the spikes and dips…can be quite useful and interesting. Heck…if you’re having issues with your ticker…imagine walking in with the stats for the last 3 months of your EKGs from your computer to the doctor. “Ah yes Mr/Mrs. Cardiologist. I have those readings for your right here.” I’d love to see the look on their face. Oh to be right sometimes in front of someone who went to school for 8+years.
Now don’t freak out if you don’t have one. If you really think about it…this type of technology has really only be viable the last few years as the readings have been able to get very compact. Could you imagine carrying an entire EKG machine with you on a run? Talk about excess weight! But…as we all get older…technology advances…it gets better…it allows us to see into our future and perform just a little better.
No…we are not all trying to win the NYC marathon with a resting pulse of 40bpm (beats per minute), but we can still use this information. Longer time at our higher performance rates = more calories burned = more weight loss = smaller waste lines. I think we all get the point now. If you want to spend $300 go for it…if you want to spend $40 you’ll find something you like. Use these wonderful beat measurers to their fullest extent. They are there to help you! But please…before you go and strap on that belt like thing on your rib cage…take a moment…and look down…so you don’t break said rib…and lace up!
Its August…it’s hot…we’ve gotta give you some songs this month to make you think and power you through this muggy obtrusive weather. Let’s call this one…time freak…snow-capped…disco pop…and some good ol tractor chicken!
Dave Matthews and his band of cohorts are known for getting a little funky and weird on some basic music principles, but they totally out did themselves here on their latest album Big Whiskey and the Groo Grux King. The song Seven…for those musically inclined takes the basic time signature of 4/4 (your basic song structure) or even 3/4 (your basic waltz structure) to a weird Alice in Wonderland place. The entire song is written in 7/4 time frame. This is just up surd!!! Having some form of music background will cause you to sit there this entire song and try and figure out what the heck is going on and how the heck does he do that?!? It’s actually quite a catchy song too, so it’ll additionally push you through till the end!
Let’s break you down into a cool setting now…bring yourself to the top of the mountain…whether on your snowboard…skis….or mountain bike…and just hit play! Jane’s Addiction’s “Mountain Song” is an absolute blast and a half off the edge of a cliff! Being the starting song for every long run for every snowboarding freak out there…this will push you to your limits moving those legs! Just get ready for the lyrical spark right from the start of “Coming down the mountain!!!!!!”
Now let’s get into the era of pop-disco-alternative rock!!! It’s the Killers! Probably their most famous step into the limelight was with a good ol driving themed energetic tune centered on a guy’s love for some girl…”Mr. Brightside.” Starts out with a nice little guitar riff that moves through the higher octave strings giving us some echoes of U2 or something like it. It does seem like a positive song throughout…and sure enough…he is Mr. Brightside! This thing doesn’t stop helping you on a run until the last note rings out…just enjoy!
Look…the last one here is just an all-time classic running song that, if it doesn’t give you goose bumps…then you’re a corpse! There really is no getting around it. If you have seen the movie, then you know the exact seen…you know exactly how it plays into the entire movie, and even how it gets “played” in the movie! Bring on Footloose…Bring on Bonnie Tyler (also famous for Total Eclipse of the Heart)…and yes…bring on “Holding out for a Hero!” From the first riffs…to the end of this 5 minutes plus song! Rock…….it…….out! Bring on those eighties style beats….those tractor chicken races…and get it going!
Look…its hot…sticky…and sure enough going to give each of you difficulty getting through, but hopefully these tunes will help out. Start out with some thought provoking time frames, pump out some cooled down mountain music, liven it up with euro-American pop, and wrap it up with eighties inspiration! That’s what August needs…and that’s what was on the shuffle this month…but please…before you get yourself into a tractor chicken race with some wacko…look down at those running boots and please….lace up!
Getting really really excited…start jumping around…throw your legs up in the air…do some splits, hurdles, and all kinds of jumping and dancing…mind you without stretching…and what do you have? Probably one of the more cumbersome and annoying injuries that a runner can get…the ever so wonderful Hammy Pull!!!
Let’s break down this medical wonder. First off, you of course have your leg…then inside your leg you have muscles…and then in your upper leg, you have your hamstring, which is actually a set of three muscles in the posterior section of the leg (that’s the back!). They are the muscles that are in the support area of the femur…femur = major leg bone…break femur? = very bad!!! Hamstring muscles for all the runners out there are very, very, very important.
In fact…remember way back when in elementary school and middle school, when we were all asked to do the Presidential fitness tests? Well one of those major tests was the sit and reach test. Your hamstring played a vital role in seeing how flexible we all are. On a side note…this guy absolutely hated the mile run in that thing…now…not so much…would love to go back and show those fast kids what it’s all about!!!
So where does the “pull” come into this? Well…pretty simply…over-exert…and you’ll pull the muscle! There really isn’t much to this one, but as runners have such a competitive nature already built into our systems, we tend to “over-exert” every once in a while. Especially for those of us who tend to not stretch very often…or ever…oh well. Literally…spend some time with your muscles and stay within where you should be performing (10 minute mile folks…don’t try and go out and run a 5 minute mile right off the bat), you should be good to go!
As with all pulls…if you hear a pop…stop…please…that’s just gross and weird if you keep going. Get it checked out for major injuries and internal issues. Overcompensation could be very bad if you let it go for long. That’s what doctors are for anyway…right? The sports medicine industry is unbelievably advanced to this point, that the ever so common hamstring pull (you see it every night on Sportscenter) is pretty commonly taken care of…no matter the degree…yes…there are degrees of hammy pulls.
Check yourself! Know your limits. Know where you are in your training up to that point and don’t be a moron. Sometimes all of us need a second to step back and relax on our runs. This might be the time…because if you don’t…you’ll end up with one of the most common running injuries out there…the piglet yank…or otherwise known as the hammy pull. But please…before you get out there and start messing around with your leg muscles…do us all a favor…begin the stretch…bend your body down…feel the slight strain…and as you do…look down at those things that protect your feet…and lace up!
So what’s a pedigree? No not the dog food that our big pooch gobbles up and drools over every 6am and 6pm. Am I talking about the temperature change measurement in this wonderful USA? No…that’s DE-gree. Well what about that girl who had her own TV show in the 90’s with curly hair…oh wait…that’s Feli-city…alright, alright….I could do this all day. Pedigree is your background. It’s your history…it’s what you are, or where you’ve been, or what your family has been, etc. So how does that effect running?
I’ve got a little peddy if that’s what you want to call it. Dad played soccer…mom a track athlete…both ran a few marathons…still do halfs every once in a while…actually had the chance to run a full while they ran the half in the same race. It was quite a sentimental moment actually. They were all their at the finish waiting for me…and I almost shed a tear…actually that might have been due to the lack of stamina I had at the end of the race with the finish line in sight. It was quite brutal actually.
So what makes you…well…you? It’s your genes…hello! No not your Levi’s! You’re DNA! When you’re born, everyone looks a little different. Some of us were born with the ability to grow luscious locks on top of their head until ripe old ages. Others (myself included) were born to lose all of those luscious locks before they turn 30! A-W-E-S-O-M-E! Look at it this way…some people were born with short twitch muscles…and others…long twitch. Sprinters vs. Long distance runners. Hurdlers vs. Long Jumpers. Who knows what your “Levi’s” are telling you…just listen.
As runners…we’re all a different breed anyway, so figure out where you fall in. Trust me, it’s not gonna take you long to know if you love the distance or the sprint. Do you love the mantra of breathing or the push of strength through the 100 meter dash? Do you love gu-gels…or no extra energy at all? It’s all about personal preference…and who knows?…maybe that came from your parents! Heck…maybe you came from two long distance runners and you’re going to turn out to be a sprinting champene! Or maybe two sprinters produced the next Everest hiking giant!
Whatever may come from the two people that made you, embrace it! You never know where it may take you. But please…even if your genes didn’t “button their fly”…you…please…look down…and for crying out loud…lace up!
So what does a nice long soak in the tub feel like after a nice long run? Well…pretty good! Now…what does a nice long…soak in sweat feel like? Pretty gross…right?!? Heck no! Do you revel in your sweat? Do you see it as a trophy? Do you feel like maximum achievement has been made when soaked to your bones? Simply put…yep!
As runners what does this salt laced liquid that only comes at our peak performance time mean? To some…nothing, to others…gross byproduct…and to most…achievement! We all want to feel that every time we go out for a short, long, or any distance, that we “did something.”
Gotta be honest here…most of the time I measure this “something” by the amount of sweat on my clothes! It’s actually a quite simple gauge. Have you produced a nice short circle around your neck line, with minimum color change around the “pit” area? That equals an ok production. Have you maxed out your circular neck area? Are your pit stains coming down your arm sleeve? Is there now a semi-circle forming at the base of your back on your shorts/skirts/whatevers? Now that’s a workout! Give it up for that guy/girl!
Now is all sweat great? Well…no, but you’ve gotta be a glass is half full kind of person to get by in this world. So…if your nips are bleeding because of excess chafing and moisture…just think…”I’m sweating my tail off leading to blood, sweat, and soon tears!” If your dripping all over your house floor as your wife yells at you to go back outside until you’re dried off…just go with…”Honey…I do this for you!…and…I’ll clean it up when I’m done dripping.” Lastly…if you can’t see because there is so much flow into your eyes and it stings like all get out…think…”Maybe I should wear a hat next time.”
Look…you have to revel in your sweat! Think of it as your daily trophy for achieving your gold medal in burning calories. Think of it as your source of luscious fluid retraction that brings about the fountain of youth (that was a pretty good sentence huh?). No matter what you think of it as…make sure if you do flow that wonderful salt filled luxury…you do re-hydrate. Don’t be an idiot and make it a one way valve…sweating out, and not replacing. That’s how people end up in bad places and in bad situations (see any article on dehydration). But as idiots would go…don’t be a double moron here…and please…as your beginning to sweat your tail off…look down…and please…for the love of Aquarius…lace up!
Trotting along…early in the summer months in the south…or really wherever to be blunt…there is a silent army that flexes its strength to the fullest! This grouping of intricately constructed…what’s the right word here…PESTS!…are so unbelievably annoying…they probably don’t deserve this little topic, but here it goes. BUGS!
Have you ever been running along on a wonderful path…possibly along a river or stream or creek…and all of a sudden you get it once. Then again…and then yet again! Dive bombing flying objects attacking your head as if it were a piece of dead rotting meat and they were the vultures. Bugs are flat out annoying, and add in there the sweet nectar of sweat, and it’s a match made in…gotta be honest here….was going to say heaven…but thinking more like hell!
So what draws these aeronautical exoskeletal beings to your personal space? Well, flies literally are feeding on you! They use the molecules we give off during our ecstasy of running to basically keep on living. Kind of ironic actually…us doing something we love to be healthier and live…providing something to a fly that…well…allows them to live! Personally, I would rather they stay away from my pheromone laden sweat molecules. (FYI…they eat the fatty portion that gets excreted in our sweat…just in case you wanted to be grossed out even a little more to this point)
Now there are absolutely ways to get around being attacked by flying bugger boos. First off, go for a run with a lot of people. Sheer numbers will be in your favor. It’s quite amazing actually seeing a bug thriving on the sweet nectar of someone else as a group passes by unscathed. Quite entertaining…and sadistic.
Second…just run when it’s so darn hot outside…that not even the bugs want to be there. Late in the afternoon especially if it’s dry and unbearable for almost any human to be out there…is a great time to get away from bugs that especially don’t want to be out there! I mean…running in the dead of the desert will probably produce less bug attacks than right next to a humid, steam laden pond/creek/lake/river bed!
Everything on earth needs a chance to survive. We use our two legs to push forward and get that heart beat moving to a pace that allows us to get a “runners high!” Bugs, the pests of this world…the annoying little pieces of “you-know-what” that they are…still need to survive. Unfortunately, they use our byproducts as their food source. So the next time you’re out there being dive-bombed by large insects, just be happy that you can be their food source…or…as I do…take your hand and bat the hell out of em (always quite refreshing once you nail one of them suckers!). But please…before you smash guts into your palm…use that hand and look down…so you don’t trip into another bug…and lace up!