Monday, November 22, 2010

Playing Hard with Luck

Sometimes I wonder if this blog is just an external medical journal. I seem to have more physical ailments to discuss than training profile. Today while crossing an crosswalk I was hit by a car. The car was doing a California stop and it me at less than five miles per hour. Just to keep this straight in my head, this is what happen. 

A small black SUV was at a stoplight. A pedestrian was waiting for the walk signal and I was about 40 yards from the intersection when the light changed in our favor. I jogged to the crosswalk and watched the walker and the driver do a little dance to see who would pass first. The driver after a few seconds let the pedestrian cross first, which was the legal thing to do. As a runner, I have come to this same intersection maneuver thousands of times and much prefer to run behind a vehicle than in front. So I began waving the SUV through and he started to crawl into the turn. I slowed to let him pass in front of me and he stopped a few feet into the crosswalk long enough for me to question if he was letting me go first. Also having been in this situation thousands of times before, a runner should never try to cut directly in front of a car, moving or not, so I tracked a yard in front of the SUV towards the far side of the crosswalk and kept my eyes on the driver. Thats when he decided to drive through me. I always expect this to happen but it is a .001% reality. So when his bumper struck my quad, I was already performing a ballistic lateral jump away and my hands out ready to push off his hood. Which they hit quite hard. He was young, wearing a white ball cap and large squarish sunglassses. His hands came up, one from the wheel the other holding his female passengers hand. She screamed out in shock. I screamed out as well, a colorful explicative laced paragraph describing his driving skill, what I imagine he does to farm animals and what he could do with himself. I was pretty keyed up at this point so I kept moving. I'd been hit harder. 

So the question that I mulled over on the way back to the hotel was, "Am I a lightening rod for injury or do I somehow have the luck to not get the worst of something that normally is quite bad?"  It is not phrased very well but we all know well stories of people in the same situation described above and they suffer horrible knee or leg injury. The fracture in my foot last month could have been tremendously more severe and yet I was off crutches in ten days. A fractured tibia a few years ago should have kept me in a cast for six weeks and light duty for another six but was running in four. It goes without saying that doctors do not consider lighty telling a family their loved one will not live to see the morning and yet my wife was given that diagnosis and here I am. 

I somehow eek out the low percentage shot when the chips are against me physically. So again I wonder, is it a problem that I am in that situation more often than most or is it Favor or blessing or luck or preparedness or proper mindset and determination that allow me to overcome these injurious obstacles. After tonight I tend to want to believe I am luckier than I deserve but don't dwell on the negative. 

Being positive and lucky work together. For a long time now, I have used a sign off that says, "It is not enough to exist, I am going to live."  I don't create any particular blog post or personal position with this statement in mind but realize afterwards that its fitting as I just keep trying to move forward. To get past a hardship and continue my legacy. 

This is one of those philosophical debates that can never truly be answered. Every persons answer is based on their own perception of their luck and injury, hardship and belief of it being ordained or ordinary. While it is now somewhat self serving to end with the usual salutation mentioned above, I will simply say...

...I thankful for my health and ability to overcome adversity. 

Monday, November 8, 2010

Want to lose weight? Use Ink.

When I think back to the thousands of people that I have helped lose weight or my own accomplishments in this area; it is easy to acknowledge the greatest tool in this endeavor is not sets, reps, compound exercises, functional training, late night infomercials or one of the ten thousand diets out there. It is so old school that it is completely overlooked..  It's a pen. 

Yes, that's correct. You can punish your body for five hours a day but you will lose more weight by simply writing down the calories you take in and the calories you burn.  

The act of writing down with pen or paper, or if you're tech savvy a digital substitute, what you put in your mouth will give you an immediate pause to if you really, really need to put something in your mouth. Especially later in the day when our mental energy's are low, our willpower siphoned off from dozens of interactions at work and circular nonsensical conversations with kids or the adult equivalent. Based on unconscious habit, we often don't even realize we are eating or overeating. The process of being accountable to those eating actions will eventually cause you reconsider your habits. You ask yourself, "Do I really need to eat all that,"  "Do I really need to this candy/ice cream/bar/drink."

Conversely if you have the ability to track the calories you expend either in daily metabolic rationing or through exercise using a heart rate monitor or pedometer, you can list those expenditures as an asset and subtract them from your daily intake. Thankfully technology creates a multitude of gadgets to do this in your daily life at an affordable price. When you write down the exercise(s) you perform your more apt to stick to a plan. It may be more comfortable to sit on the couch for thirty minutes but in that amount of time, the viewing of a sitcom, you could run two miles or more and done far more good for yourself. 

Furthermore, you can be as high tech or low tech as you see fit. Portability is the key.  For twenty years I have used food journals either bought or self made, paper and digital based, with all kinds of line items and boxes for plugging in specific information for portion size, calories, and percentages of protein, carbohydrate or fat. None have really kept me as engaged as a small notepad that I can write what I want and how I want it. I couldn't tell you how many times at the end of the day I pulled scraps of paper from my pocket to enter into a spreadsheet or larger binder and it just felt tedious. 

So I keep it easy; energy in, energy out. What is my Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) for the day, or calories burned if I basically schlep through the day and don't gain or lose any weight. This is a constant. Then I start adding the calories that I eat and if I exercise I subtract the calories I burn. The goal is to be at or under my BMR at the end of the day. To lose weight a person would factor a number of calories to be less than at the end of the day. For example to lose one pound per week you would want to be deficit 500 calories each day for seven days which equals 3,500 calories or 1 pound. 

If you are truly interested in losing weight, pick up a pen before a dumbbell. It is the most consistently productive way to lose weight quickly. 

Saturday, November 6, 2010


Our mind is powerful tool. It becomes easily fixated on one thing and although we go through thousands of calculations and thoughts per day, it drifts back to that want, or need, or think we need.  Even, dare I say especially, when we try to block those thoughts from our mind knowing that to give in to that desire is only a momentary satisfaction. A self serving action of greed that gives way to equal desire once we overtake that conquest.

Like a perfect key our mind convinces us to give in, like that key going into a well oiled lock. It slides right in. It never sticks or snags. It turns smoothly and unlocks that door in our head that when opened, out cascades a spark that became a raging, burning desire. 

The same is not true when we attempt to eliminate desire from our life. Desire is not only a positive gesture affirming life. It is also filled with death, perhaps the father of the Seven Sins themselves. To much desire, too much demand on something leads to all sorts of misbehavior that thwarts our proper vision of our life. 

When we eliminate something, even something as simple as a single food item like ice cream or our favorite foodie vice, before we go to bed, the perfect key no longer wants to fit smoothly. It is a old key going into an old lock that is not set right. We learn that there is a pattern of moving the key or applying pressure in a certain direction that finally budges the lock shut. 

Try to take a comfort away from your life and see how this rings true. Wake up an hour early each morning to exercise your mind, body or soul. For your Prime time channel surfing snack, eat only the apples you bought the day before and not the left over Halloween candy you still have out of sight though not of mind.

It takes quite a lot of mental energy to finally flip that switch in your mind to make the right choice. We fail far more than we succeed in the beginning of new habits. Stay the course and consistent mental behavior of positive affirmation will oil the rusty, old lock and the key will turn it open. Inside is who you want to be.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Fractured Foot Update

Two weeks ago I fractured the top of my right foot. I don't know if it was from Tough Mudder and just lingered as some fractures do or if it came from trail or pavement running I have done since. 

Repeative use injury's are the nature of the game in endurance pursuits. I try to find the positive in all things so I am grateful that this is not a knee injury or other truly lifestyle debilitating injury. 

I used crutches for a week as any pressure was very difficult.  That numb, pain in the bone feeling, the sometimes cold sensation at the end of an extremity all persisted that first week. By the end my legs were a wreck of poor bio mechanics and tightness. After a full weekend on by back using RICE strategy's, I walked or should say limped into the of this week of work without the crutches. 

This week has been mostly free of pain, though I admittedly over stretched my toes and my foot one night and paid a step price on the pain threshold. 

To loosen my legs up I started doing some very easy bike work on my trainer, staying in the same gear for 30-40 minutes. Mistress asked why I didn't just ride on the street as the weather is so nice, but I felt that the extra twisting of the cleats and pulling up on even slight inclines would cause discomfort or delay healing. It has worked well. 

Tonight is a party a Mighty Mo's elementary school. Mistress and Mo are going to at the start to run a booth for the 1st grade class and I decided I am going to walk there with Mae in her stroller. Its one mile away. I am hoping that this goes well, I've not walked so far at once since the fracture. I will lay low on Saturday and if things go well, I will try some treadmill or short run Sunday.