I’ve been scarred of the cold and running in it, mostly because I didn’t have the right gear for the last several weeks. Now that I do though, it’s on. No more excuses like this comic.
Posts Tagged ‘Running’
Only, I’m not in a musical.
Running has changed from being a chore to being a thing to look forward to. I used to dread the notion of strapping on shoes and being in pain for an hour. I couldn’t even picture running one mile, now I flirt with the idea of running a half-marathon. How did this change happen? How did I get rid of my fear of running?
I was motivated to begin changing myself after I saw a rather embarrassing photo of me at Disney World. I looked like Peter Griffin from Family Guy. Since High School I’ve ballooned about 60 pounds. The sudden freedom and endless buffet of grease, cheese and processed goodness that was my college meal plan didn’t help me ease into the weight gain. I ate like there was no tomorrow. Thinking to myself “I’m still a growing 18 year old boy.” How I wish I had known.
Yes, it does come down in part to personal choice. I wasn’t into running. I didn’t know how good it felt. Pain and suffering were all I was told would come from working out. Not that I wasn’t suffering in my own skin because I couldn’t lace my shoes without losing my breath. But I can’t help but realize the utter lack of anyone helping to guide my eating habits or warn me that plate after plate of fried chicken product wouldn’t make me mister wonderful. The only guide at the buffet was a little sign that read: “Take all you want, eat all you take.” Which to an 18 year old being herded through a line meant: Grab it now! All you can fit on the plate. Look! Everyone else is!
The college buffet was my gateway drug for overeating in adulthood. From there it was cheap fast food. Checkers Burgers and Fries, Moons over My Hammy at Denny’s, “bottomless” short stacks at IHOP, and Doritos (millions and millions of Doritos). That and I was an emotional eater, if I got depressed, I ate. If I felt good, I ate. If i felt nothing, I’d eat to feel something. It’s a great thing that we have so much cheap food in this country, it’s just too bad that most of it’s really bad in mass quantities. Two for one bags of cookies and chips at the local supermarket and a love for soda didn’t help much either. I was a mess and I never realized what it was doing to my mood, my body and my mind. My mental image wasn’t what I was becoming. It was a one-man landslide into morbid obesity-ville…and I didn’t even notice when I arrived.
Until this April. And that t-shirt. Oh my. The motivation. It helped to have a new job where others were big into running and eating healthy. My wife, Kristin, has always been a big encouragement to me about eating healthy and I never really paid attention until the late springtime.
Now, I’m finding that the slow hard work of gaining full fitness is much more rewarding than the slow expansion of my wobbly bits. Sure, I don’t feel like it everyday and sometimes my heart isn’t into finding a rhythm when I hit a trail or pathway; but those moments and days don’t last long.
Once the new year hits I will be doing an experiment for 12 months that I am hoping becomes a life-long thing: I will go 100% Vegan for a year and run the length of a marathon on my own at least once. If any of you are worried about my health, just check out October’s Men’s Health for an article (I kid you not) called the “Rise of the Power Vegan.” Did you know the world record holder for most miles run in a 24 hour period is a vegan? Yup. I think I’ll be just fine. We’ll see as the year goes on. I’m sure there will be several comics and updates as I travel the humus-filled hills and valleys.
I may sound crazy when I talk about running, but try it out. Start slow and stick with it. The first mile down is a big step and it really helped to change my attitude toward the activity.
I’m trying to live less for the weekends and more for the everyday. Weekends sometimes feel just like days of the work week with all the errands, chores and events that get plugged into them. Therefore, it’s easy to complain about everything. I’m a complainer by nature, so I’m desperately struggling to find some place of contentment in my daily life. Running is just one of several activities that help to ground me. This journal comic is another.
I’ve been running in Vibram Five Fingers now for about four months and have been enjoying the nearly barefooted running experience. There is a lot of science out there and common sense that suggests that our running form has been changed to a more unnatural heel strike thanks to modern shoes and technique. Before the advent of our modern running shoe, almost everyone ran “correctly” landing on the forefoot rather than the heel. It forces us to run straight up and down and have our feet landing at our center of gravity, not out in front and slouched. Also, many of the problems modern shoes try to fix (like over pronation) are partially caused by the way we have begun to run in those shoes. A bit of common sense about the arch of the foot convinced me to try the minimal/barefoot running thing: The best way to weaken an arch is to support it from underneath.
Now, it’s not an easy transition to running this way since many of our muscles and tendons need to be awakened to the task (but not for everyone, some folks have always run on the forefeet and only need to work on posture and cadence). Work in a half mile in barefeet to your weekly long run (if you do run) or try walking around in the summer like you did as a kid more. The feet are one of the most sensitive parts of the body and we realize so much more about our world when we turn them back on. A plus to running barefoot (or nearly so) is that you feel how hard you are hitting the ground. That pain is good, it indicates the force of your body and you have to land softer and more quickly (i.e. put less stress on your joints).
I am a minimal shoe enthusiast. Before I started running seriously this summer, I could never get into the whole idea of running. My knees, hips and back hurt like crazy (I was 275lbs when I started) and I thought I needed to lose a TON of weight before I could start running or buy shoes that amounted to pillowy casts (actually increasing the force of my foot falls because I couldn’t feel the ground all that well). When I started to run in the Five Fingers though, I noticed that those pains went away. My tendons were sore and my calves had to adjust, but the knees, hips and back are just fine.
I know that not everyone will be wanting to run barefoot, or try Vibram Five Fingers, but I DO think that more people should wear shoes that have LESS support and cushioning which allow for our feet to grow, strengthen and function naturally. Minimal footwear is the way to go in my book.
That’s not to say that those who love the newest cushion/shoe aren’t better runners than me. They often are. But take a listen next time you run with other people (especially in a race) and you can tell how hard even the lightest person is hitting the ground with their heels. I often surprise people I pass, not because of my speed, but due to my relatively quiet footfalls.
Like I said, there is science out there for you to look at. I’ll try linking some to this article tomorrow. In the meantime, I hope you liked this comic and my off-beat ideas about running.
When I went to college, the term “worldview” got thrown around often. So much so, that it became almost meaningless and the butt of several off color jokes among my circle of friends. Since college, I only hear it on NPR. That being said, when it comes to exercise, my “worldview” has had a lot to do with my lack of enthusiasm for the work needed to burn off the fat. While I prefer the term paradigm to worldview (mostly because my friend, David Stewart, used to jokingly pronounce it a “para-dig-em”), I also realized that my preference for exercise was a component of my worldview/paradigm shift.
Humans are runners. We are meant to be active. Our health can’t come packaged to us through program after program of stuff marketed to us. Today I listened to Pearl Jam’s Vitalogy for the first time in years, and one of Eddie’s lyrics has been flying around my head: “I can’t buy what I want because it’s free.”
Sure, I needed to buy the right gear, clothing and footwear (New England is rocky and true barefooting should be done with caution), but I don’t need a gym membership or to follow the diet of the month club. I needed to get out on the open road. To get over my old notions of work being bad and realizing that I was killing myself.
My diet isn’t full of fast food or abundant amounts of animal products anymore, but the fat on my bones was put there by those foods. It took me 15 years to put this on, it’ll take some work to take it off. Yet, my new view on the matter has me seeing it NOT as a thing I might not overcome, NOR as a goal for the sake of vanity. It’s an injury I’m recovering from. Just like addicts must first call themselves a recovering ______, I am a recovering foodaholic/fatso. This is on me and it can only change if I want it to and if I do the work fighting the mountain and reaching the top.