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Archive for March 30th, 2010

Sunday, 28 March, I turned 55.
Saturday, 27 March, I finished jogging 55 miles for the week. This is the most I’ve ever jogged in one seven day time span. A little while back, I read a book titled: “The Last Pick” (see blog Another Book, Another Jog from 24 Jan. 2010). In it, the author said he did this every year (run his age), but lately, he’d changed from a daily goal to a weekly goal and he was thinking of making it a two weekly goal. At the time, I thought it was a bit silly, but I guess it kicked around in the back of my mind enough that I thought I’d try it myself.
Anyway, I did it.
It’s a bit funny. At first it seemed like a tremendous goal / achievement. I wasn’t sure I’d complete it because it meant I would have to average eight miles a day for seven days. I’ve rarely run any distances for seven days, so that, in itself, would be an achievement.
By the Wednesday, I had also done a few extra minutes here and there to add up to over an hour cushion. I did 4 hrs 40 min (16 miles) on Thursday and was another full day ahead of schedule. I took Friday off and on Saturday I wrapped it up with the final two hours and twenty minutes. I believe I did an extra hour and a half (about 5 miles) for the week, but I was just happy to reach the goal comfortably.
For some reason, I thought it would “mean” more to me to finish it. When I still had about an hour to go on my last day, it occurred to me this was a personal goal and the “meaning” if there ever was one, was in the doing it, not in the finishing it. Don’t misunderstand, it felt good to complete it – to meet the objective – but the value was in each individual step, not in the last one.
A couple of weeks ago (around 12 March) I completed reading “Running & Being” by Dr. George Sheehan. Dr. Sheehan is widely considered one of the philosopher kings of running in the US (if not the world). The book was extremely philosophical and very well written. It also was full of quotes – another thing I love to read. It was also – at times – extremely boring. A good portion of the book was devoted to excusing his personal idiosyncrasies as characteristics of ALL runners. He was anti-social, so all distance runners must be anti-social. He was slender / slight, so all runners must be slender / slight. He was a thinker and a reader, so all runners must be thinkers and readers. ETC…
Having said all this, there was still much in the book that I found worth considering. For example, there are six simple exercises for stretching. I’m not a big fan of stretching, particularly pre-run, but I do think flexibility has merit and his comments were interesting. Even here though, I found myself in some disagreement. His main point is that you are not stretching for flexibility, but to counter the over-development of the body caused by the running you do.
Another example of an interesting idea is his firm conviction that you can over-train. I really waiver over this myself. On the one hand, I believe that most things are best in moderation. On the other hand, if you love something, are you really “training”. I think if you are running in “training / race” mode, that is, trying to better your time or distance, then yes, you can over-train. But if you are running for the love of running and going below your race levels, you are probably not able to over-train. I strongly agree with him that a day off doesn’t hurt anything but your ego.
All in all, the book is worth reading and thinking about, but if I had it to do over, I’d check the book out of the library, not buy it.
Another book I just finished (Sunday, 28 March 2010) is titled: “Born To Run” and written by Christopher McDougall. The book is mainly a story about a race between some elite ultra-distance runners from the US who run against / with some Mexican-Indians. The Indians are from the tribe of the Tarahumara located in the Copper Canyons of Mexico. The Tarahumara are also called the Rarámuri Indians. On two subtler levels it is about the evolution of man as a hunting species and the mass-marketing of a product which seems to do little help the buyer and everything to increase bottom-line of the companies making the product – namely, running shoes.
The fundamental question the author starts with is why does it hurt to run? The answer is because he wears running shoes. The clues lead from doctors (who want to operate and who advise to stop running), to insight (why can some runners run forever and why is the injury rate among runners so high – despite all our best technology over the last 40 years), to science (there is NO proof running shoes improve time or prevent injuries – AT ALL), to a tribe of Indians in Mexico living a simple life style and who love to run.
The story interweaves interesting characters and biology / anthropology to explain how we, as a species, came to dominate the world. The characters (the racers and the scientists) all jump off the page and capture the reader’s imagination. The science is as unprovable as almost all of evolutionary thought, but it still rings true.
The bottom-line is while I still do not consider myself to be a runner, I’m beginning to think that maybe I could be…  If I am (or turn out to be), it’ll be the McDougall runner not the Sheehan runner.
Several weeks ago I had one of those “pure” running experiences. A few days later, I was describing it to the lady who runs our gym at work and she asked me if it made me feel like a wild animal just running free. I said it did, but as I thought about my answer over the next few weeks, I thought: “No. It made me feel like a predator.” While reading this book, I had an epiphany: this is why I felt like a predator, because I have two million years of genes which say I am.
On to other topics… Health care reform passed in Congress and has been signed into law by the President! It’s nowhere near what was needed (single payer, single source), but it is a first step in the right direction.
Now President Obama needs to quickly move on to jobs and the economy. There are only seven months until the mid-term elections and the Democrats need to show progress on the economy to have a chance of holding back the tide of Independent voters swinging back to the Republican party. I feel fairly confident we’ll retain both houses because I think the real danger is the loss of the House and we need to lose over 25 seats to give it back. I believe we could lose 20, but I don’t expect it to go that badly that we lose 25 to 28 seats.
On the Senate side, who cares since we don’t have the super-majority (60 votes) to over-ride the filibuster, there’s not much difference between 51 and 59 votes.
On the family side, Sarah has returned from her band trip to Disneyland and Rebecca has gone back to UCLA after her spring break (she came home for a week’s visit). James was out jogging with me several times last week and I really enjoyed that. It made the time go a lot faster.
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