Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Benefits Of Letter Writing

There is a palpable pleasure when I let it go.  The crisp edge promise something meaningful within and with a light flick of the wrist it is gone into the blue.  There is a moment of hesitation when trust must take the place of any doubts that my words may or may not have contained.  The sliding sound coming to an end is permanence and I am stuck with my opinion.  Once the letter is in the mail I am committed to the content as its creator and the intended recipient is trusted not only to understand but also to hopefully appreciate it.

Hermes Rocket
The art of the letter, in my opinion, is trust and commitment in paper form.  The sender cannot rely on interpretation or body language to know how their words came across.  Was it offensive?  Did I say something mean or will my words get twisted into falsity?  And, will the recipient understand.

I get genuine pleasure from writing letters to friends and family.  I attended a boarding school for my first three years of High School.  In the late nineties the internet was still dominated by AOL and dial-up.  During this time any message I wanted to send to my girlfriend was over the phone or via letter.  Sixty young men vying for 1.5 hours of authorized phone time meant we all became avid letter writers.  I'd spend hours thinking of how to best compose the letter so it expressed the precise message I wanted to convey.

The process of letter writing has not only benefited my impersonal written communication but helped me organize my thoughts.  In regular high schools deliberate speech and clarity were uncommon.  Individuals I interacted with were just “too busy” to consider what they said and how they said it.  This overall sense saw the rise to the “politically correct” movement of the late 90s which made every statement subject to scrutiny.  We had to make sure our opinions were neutral, unoffensive and peaceful.  Naturally the response to this movement was the extremist view that dominates several groups and media outlets to this day.  

Smith-Corona Silent Super
Somewhere along the line we forgot to think of why we choose particular words.  Every person is entitled to their opinion and “freedom of speech,” but that freedom now assumes that individuals can run their lips without considering the words that rush out.  We forgot that our speech may be questioned and we should probably have a reason why we say what we say.  Those reasons should be articulated so as to be understood.  Maybe if we at a minimum make a mental note the benefits of letter writing could still shine through and make us more intelligible, respectful and honest in our interactions with others. 

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Thank You Achilles Tendonitis

I cannot remember the last time my feet touched the floor in the morning without feeling pain.  Every morning the stretch of the Achilles tendon would serve to either keep in bed a few minutes longer or jolt me awake without the need for coffee.  My training in 2012-2013 became sporadic and inconsistent.  I convinced myself to head for the hills or take it “easy” on a trail when in reality I needed an easy track workout or a rest day.

I ran because it made me feel good and allowed me to return to the desk with vigor and enthusiasm.  My training because my coping mechanism for stress.  The more stress, the more I ran.  I even listened to lectures on the run, thus serving both masters…studying and working out.  But, the balance shifted when I choose new benefits to running without taking stock of all the ones already in my possession.

Mid-October I went on a run after a particularly difficult day and had to limp home the last 2 miles.  It was a sobering reminder that skipping steps in the healing process is always a bad idea.  The doctor let me know it was just more of the same; my achilles tendon was inflamed and the only solution is stopping and letting it heal.

Now, I am reaching the depths of the “athlete depression.”  I have difficulty accepting any decision made for me.  Having some input and say in what happens in my own life is a really big deal to me.  Thus, this injury forcing me to stop regardless of my will to go is a huge punch to the ego.  I have gained a few pounds and don’t feel the strength and vitality I usually have.  Also I am jealous (in a good way) of all of my friends logging miles without me.  But, rather than sinking into my own head and ego I will thank this injury.

Thank you achilles tendonitis for allowing me more time to study for finals.  Thank you for reminding me that feeling something even if it's painful is better than feeling nothing at all.  Thank you for helping me re-connect with my mindfulness.  Thank you for forcing me to accept conditions I cannot control and deal with them in a positive way.  Thank you for giving me a warning before something really serious happened.  Thank you for not happening during Headlands 50, that would have ruined my proposal so definitely a fist bump on that one. 

Thank you for reminding me the goals I seek are not limited to the trails but also include the kitchen.  I am now starting to manage my caloric intake, i.e. dieting.  Admittedly, my excitement for dieting is at an all time low and particularly so near the end of the year.  Also not looking forward to getting back on the road or into the gym when everyone else plans their “New Years Resolutions.”  But, thank you for reminding me that running is a part of my life, not my whole life.  Running gives me pleasure, but so do other things (like cookies).

Thanks for reminding me of my running goals and the work I need to put in to get there.  Thanks for not letting me skip steps and reminding me that a runner is just as much body as he is heart.  I promise I will do my best to come back, healthier, happier and even if we never meet again...thank you from the bottom of my sole.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Achilles Tendonitis and the forced slow down

There is a time in every runner's career when you have to decide whether running now is more important or running later.  For most of us the answer is simple because we want what we want when we want it so now, but when it comes to injury its not that easy.

Since moving to Los Angeles for law school I have increased my elevation gains/loss, but decreased overall mileage.  At first I could excuse the changes making myself believe that the quality was worth the decrease in quantity.  As the months rolled by I find it harder to get out of bed in the morning.

Every morning I awoke with the dread of knowing my Achilles tendon, ankle and calf were going to hurt when my toes touched the ground.  After a few months I got used to "warming up" just to get my day started.  The pain never went away completely no matter how many home remedies and runners tricks I tried.  So I went to the classic and most time tested solution...stop.

It has not been pleasant to stop running at all and even worse to force myself off the trails.  I have stuck to slow flat roads for about a month and taken more rest and cross training days.  I sometimes feel lethargic and angry...angry at the awesome pairs of shoes sitting in the closet taunting me to take em out for a spin.  But, my body is feeling stronger and I am now enjoying cross training more which is something that never would have happened.

I do not know how long the recovery and build up will take, but I am confident that I needed the break and my body did too.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Gear Review - The Running Shoe Rotation

I am taking a break from racing and focusing on building miles and this is the gear I will be using.  Here is post on the shoes in the rotation.

Altra Paradigm
The Paradigm has taken the place of my old Hoka Mafate as my road recovery shoe.  It feels light enough and comfortable enough but I do feel like I loose some energy to the ground because of its cushion.  That being said my splits are still fast whenever I wear it so its definitely a “feel” thing.  
The shoe has an odd pattern on the top which I don’t really understand but it seems to give the shoe structure but without adding more weight.  (obviously the guys at Altra know things).  The shoe allows me to shuffle if I need to and sprint when I want to.  I have had to re-do the laces and wear this shoe loose because its so cushioned whenever i tighten it it feels like a racing flat and I push way too hard and my form goes to trash…thus self regulation but thats a me thing rather than a shoe thing.

Altra Olympus
The olympus is my long trail run shoe, exploratory trail run shoe and whenever I am unsure my road shoe.  Altra Running hit it out of the park with this shoe because it can fill so many roles in a runners arsenal.  The shoe itself has a great tread pattern that feels secure on the trails, not the best for technical trails but it will not let you down.  It is also cushioned and zero drop so you can maintain form while checking out new areas or going long.  I think of it like the running back or running shoes…you can use them for their stated purpose but with some vision you can use them in a lot of different scenarios.

Newton Gravity (4 lug)
The first time I saw a pair of newtons I thought that a 3 year old holding crayons had been given cart blanche.  They colors are loud, but since they have grown on me.  I saw Craig Alexander wearing them during an ironman championship as he ran down elite athletes one after another.  I thought to myself…I want that.  He swan over 2 miles, rode over 100 and choose that shoe; so there must be a reason.  There is…speed.  These shoes promote a forefoot strike and proper form…if you don’t get it right the shoe will correct you.  The 4 lug version will roll out slightly if you are not careful so i generally use these shoes for longer tempo or fartlek runs where I want to have some protection against the pavement but still want to push the speed.  Definitely they stay parked when my calves are tight because going uphill they will make you run right and not cheat.

Skora Phase
Skora Core
Skora Form
I am really excited about this company and even asked if I could be an ambassador for them.  The shoes feel like putting on your first pair of nice dress shoes but you can throw down marathon in said shoes.  I first wore the phase for a night run because they are bright green and have plenty of reflective surfaces..so I figured it would be a good minimal shoe for night runs.  They would force me to run with good form and raise the probability of being seen by drivers.
The first thing I noticed was that my ankle felt supported and snug.  The lacing system (slide slant) allows the shoe to tighten but not restrict the mid and forefoot.  My toes can fully splay and the tread, though not “aggressive”, has plenty of grip on the roads and after 30 miles the shoes still look new.  Doing some research I found that many Skora runners were putting 1000 plus miles on a pair and loving every minute of it while reducing their propensity for injury.
My goal is to run an ultra marathon and marathon in SKORA and hopefully become an ambassador for the brand because I feel that their focus on quality and user feedback is second to none.  I am going to work up my miles in these shoes and hopefully make my body bulletproof come AR50 next year.

New Balance MT1010 (discontinued model) 
I am so glad I stocked up on this shoe when it went on sale and if I had known that it was no longer going to be made I would have probably purchased a few more pairs.  NB seems to be going to HOKA maximalist route an offering more cushioned shoes.  They are going for a broader market and I understand that but this is the shoe that Anton built and I Iove it.
The MT1010 have a “plastic-ish” exterior that despite its construction material breaths well and drains well.  I have never had a concern running in this shoe in the rain or in the heat.  For a fast trail run (13.1 or less…maybe up to a 50km) this is what I grab.  The tread pattern is aggressive so this shoe stays on the trails, but whenever I wear it the tread, which feels awkward on pavement, disappears and I can run as hard as I want while maintaining form since they have a 4mm drop and are very light.  Really hope NB brings back this pattern…if not this maybe the last NB shoe I buy.