Category Archives: running

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Why running may help your brain

Based on this older study (For Your Brain’s Sake, Keep Moving – The New York Times), it seems like running helps the brain grow better. It’s a good read. It may also explain, at least in part, why people’s brains are not doing so great lately with the lockdown due to the pandemic.

We rightly attribute running to helping our muscles and our cardiovascular system. It seems to help our nervous system as well. Try to get out and move if you can.

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You are tired of being inside. And baking bread. Here’s how to start running outdoors even if you never have

Chances are your exercise routine has declined or even stopped with being inside for the pandemic. If you are thinking about running, but have never run before, then I highly recognize this: How to Start Running Outside If You’ve Never Run Before | Chatelaine

The audience for that article is women, but it can apply to men too (well, other than the sports bra part). I like that piece because it really makes running something low key that anyone can do. Which is good, because almost anyone can! (There are exceptions, but I am willing to guess you aren’t exceptional here.)

The weather is getting more conducive to running outdoors. Read the article, strap on your shoes, and go. Good luck!

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Even weekend exercisers get to live longer

Image of person running

Hard to believe, but according to this:

Working out only on the weekends or otherwise compressing your total physical activity into one or two prolonged runs or a single vigorous basketball or soccer game each week could lessen your risks of dying prematurely almost as effectively as more frequent, shorter workouts spread throughout the week, according to an interesting new study of the so-called weekend warrior phenomenon.

So you had a bad week and never hit the gym once. Don’t despair: sneak a weekend workout in and do yourself a favour.

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The World’s Fastest Senior


This is a remarkable story of literally The World’s Fastest (Old) Man, via The New York Times.

It’s almost inconceivable someone in their 70s can be that fast, let alone setting records. Well worth reading for inspiration.

(Photo link: CreditKristian Thacker for The New York Times)

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A marathon for food lovers: Marathon du Médoc

Not your average marathon, this. For example:

Marathons and footraces are a world of granola bars, blister care, and sugary packages of energy-giving goo. This classic French race through wine country has all that, as well as a party atmosphere and 23 stations that offer wine, cheese, oysters, and foie gras, often set out like a tasting at a picturesque winery. The tone is set the night before, when participants tend to complement the traditional carb-loading pasta dinner with healthy helpings of local wines. Each year’s race has a theme (think “Amusement Park” or “Tales and Legends”), so don’t be surprised to see a runner dressed as Robin Hood vomiting at mile five.

If this sounds like you kind of marathon, get more information here:  Marathon du Médoc – Gastro Obscura

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Joan Benoit Samuelson at age 60 and what that means

This piece is a must read for anyone trying to maintain their fitness later in life. It’s not easy, even for legends like JBS. Take solace in seeing how even the greats adjust as they get older, and read this:  How a great marathoner — Joan Benoit Samuelson — keeps going at age 60 – The Washington Post

 

A great piece on a great athlete/runner: Emil Zátopek

Emil Zatopek

Highly recommended: Emil Zátopek: The greatest Olympian vanished from public life after he defied Russian tanks in 1968 | The Independent.

As a kid I saw a documentary on Zatopek and was in awe of how dominant a runner he was. Anyone looking for inspiration in athletics can find that in many places: I found mine watching Zatopek and Abibi Bikila (running barefoot in Rome) excel at the Olympics.

The legendary runner Ed Whitlock Dies at 86 

Ed Whitlock running
The legendary Canadian runner Ed Whitlock has died. (Source: Masters Marathon Legend Ed Whitlock Dies at 86 | Runner’s World). There are so many things to say about Ed, but the article in Runner’s World gives you a sense of just how amazing he was. From his simple running routine to the records he broke, he was a great and unique individual. R.I.P., Ed.

(Photo: linked to in article, by K.C. Armstrong)

Looking to run a marathon or half-marathon? Then you need my race schedule spreadsheets to plan out your training runs

If you are planning to run a marathon or half-marathon this year, then one of the first questions you will ask yourself is: do I have enough time to train for it? Two things that can help you answer this question are here: blm849/Bernie-s-Race-Scheduling-Spreadsheets: My Race Schedule Spreadsheets to plan out my training runs.

With my spreadsheets, you enter a date, and it will give you a 16-20 week schedule you need to follow to get ready for a marathon or a half-marathon (or a 21K, as I like to call it).

Since they are spreadsheets, you can adjust them in any way you see fit. Add weeks, change the mileage, etc. If you have any other changes you would like to see, let me know.

Is it possible to run a sub two hour marathon?

Nike seems to think so, based on this: Nike Wants Athletes to Run a Marathon in Under Two Hours, So It’s Rebuilding the Race. And the Runners | WIRED

While it’s a bad idea to say it can’t happen, Runner’s World has a long list of reasons why it will be a difficult thing to accomplish: What Will It Take to Run A 2-Hour Marathon

Perhaps the two hour marathon will be like the four minute mile: once insurmountable, then broken, then broken often.  If and when that happens, I think it will not be a near term event.

In the meantime, read the articles, especially the one from Runner’s World: it’s a fascinating study into biomechanics and running, as well as some fine infographics.

In praise of the 5K and other (non-marathon) races

The marathon is great race, and if you are aiming to run your first in the new year, it is a great thing to accomplish.

That said, you can also get a great sense of accomplishment out of running races less than 42.2 kilometers. To see what I mean, I highly recommend these two articles that praise the 5K:

  1. The 5K, Not The Marathon, Is The Ideal Race | FiveThirtyEight
  2. 10 Reasons the 5K is Freaking Awesome | Runner’s World

After reading them, I had a much greater appreciation of that race. (I think the same argument could be made for the 10K.)

As for me, I am a fan of the half-marathon. The only thing I don’t like about it is the name: it implies you haven’t done something great, when you have. Perhaps it needs to get rebranded as a 20K: not half a marathon, but twice a 10K!

Regardless of the distance you run, and how often you run it, enjoy your athleticism and take pride in it.

(Chart is a link to the image from the FiveThirtyEight article)

The Globe and Mail on the plan to defeat Usain Bolt is sports writing at its best

Usain Bolt and Andre De Grasse running in the Olympics

Here’s the story behind the photo, above.  Andre De Grasse, the up and coming runner from Canada, was going against the legend from Jamaica, Usain Bolt, in the 200 meter race at the Olympics. Rather than just concede to Bolt, De Grasse and team came up with a plan to beat him. It’s was a smart plan, and the story of it is equally good. Read it here: De Grasse’s plan was to beat Bolt by making him run faster. It almost worked. Here’s why – The Globe and Mail

While it didn’t work, it was likely the best way to beat Bolt (assuming he was beatable).  And the confidence to think he could beat the Jamaican legend is one of the reasons we’ll be reading about the success of Andre De Grasse for some time to come.

What is Rule 40  and how did athlete Emma Coburn get around it

This piece, During Rule 40 Blackout, Emma Coburn Showcases New Balance on Olympic Stage, FloTrack, has a good run down of Rule 40 and how Emma Coburn cleverly circumvented it. In short, Rule 40 prevents all but official brands and whom they sponsor from promoting them during an blackout period of time surrounding the time of the Olympics. For example, US athletes using Nike can promote the Nike brand, but US athletes using other brands like New Balance cannot.

How did Coburn circumvent this? According to that article,

After crossing the finish line in third behind Ruth Jebet and Hyvin Jepkemoi, respectively, Coburn immediately removed her New Balance spikes and draped them over her shoulder before carrying the American flag. As a result of the bold move, thousands of photos snapped during her victory lap included her sponsor, New Balance, which otherwise would not have been featured. It’s more than likely that Coburn, who is vocal about sponsorship rights, did this intentionally to spotlight New Balance in the middle of the Rule 40 “blackout period” and circumvent Nike’s exclusive sponsorship rights with USATF.

One thing to note is that there are different rules for different athletic federations, it seems. The US swim team has more latitude than the track and field athletes.

As always, this is about money. Whatever else the Olympics are about — and obviously they are about many good things — money is one of the big aspects of these games.

Are you in terrible shape? Not so terrible but bad enough shape? Do you need help? Here you go

Like most people — for instance, me — , you may need to get in better shape. In doing some research on it, I came across the following links that I found interesting, inspiring, and useful. I hope you do too:

Trying to get started running? Here’s four links that can help

If you want to get started running, first see your doctor and make sure you can without any risk to your health. Assuming you are cleared, then check out these worthwhile links and get ready to hit the road:

  1. How to Go From Sedentary to Running in Five Steps : zen habits
  2. Start Running Now: Our Get-Going Guide – Beginners – Runner’s World
  3. Overweight? That’s ok, you too can start running! | RunAddicts
  4. How I Got Over the Jogging Beginner’s Hump

Forget Barefoot; New Trendsetter in Running Shoes Is Cushioning – NYTimes.com

Oy. First we had the minimalist running shoe. Now comes this: Forget Barefoot; New Trendsetter in Running Shoes Is Cushioning in the NYTimes.com. Yep, we are swinging from minimalist shoes to maximalist shoes. Should you get them? I agree with Lauren here:

Lauren Fleshman, a national champion in the 5,000 meters, likened the maximalist upswing to past footwear phenomena, now rejected as passé.

“To me, maximalist shoes fall right in the line of every other shoe trend,” she said. “There’s some good reasoning, but we don’t know enough about how it affects the body longer term, and we won’t know until everyone has been using it a while and all the other research comes out about how it destroys your body or whatever, and then there’s a lawsuit, and then there’s a campaign about how to use the technology properly, and then in the midst of all this confusion the next trend takes off. There is no shoe savior coming for us.”

If you are running outside, you need to warm up in more ways than one

If you are going to be running in cold weather, having a warm up to get you started will help. Here’s a good one to try: Winter Prep Workout from Runner’s World.

It typically takes 5-10 minutes to warm up when you go running. (Some people can take much longer). During those few minutes, I found I am cold and sometimes miserable. This warm up can help reduce the misery of winter running and also help you from getting injured.

Anything that makes winter running easier is worthwhile.

If you want a very simple method to track and improve your running speed over your training period…

…then try the One Magic Mile approach, featured in this Runner’s World article. As Jeff Galloway shows:

Running a timed mile provides a reality check on your current goals, helps you determine a safe long-run pace, and gives you a tangible way to track your progress during the season.

Some runners enjoy complex training approaches. Me, I prefer simple ones. If you do too, then I recommend the One Magic Mile approach.

Do a good deed: cheer at a marathon

If you want to make a lot of people feel better, here’s a very easy way to do it. All you need is a nearby marathon.

Go down to where the race is. Get yourself a coffee or tea. Then as the runners come by, cheer them on.Tell them they’re looking good, they’re doing great, hang in there, tell them about upcoming downhills, cheer, clap, yell woohoo. Whatever works for you. The best runners will appreciate you just being there. The rest will be rejuvenated by your encouagement.

I went down today to the Toronto marathon yesterday and in a short time made a few dozen people smile. Having run a few myself, I know how great it is for people to turn out and do that.

Everyone in a marathon is struggling to do their best in the face of great difficulty. Even the best of runners. Your encouragment is greatly appreciated. You can make a dozen people feel better in the time it takes you to finish your tea.

Running makes you smart

..but you likely already knew that. I am sure it is the same for walking, swimming, biking, &c. See:
Exercise Grows New Brain Cells | LiveScience

Get running!

The Zen habits blog is full of great advice. For those of you who might want to start running, or used to run but haven’t run in awhile, I strongly recommend you look at this: Beginner’s Guide to Running | zen habits

There’s lots of great tips there.

One site they didn’t mention is Hal Higdon‘s web site. It is PACKED with good advice. You can buy lots of magazines and books on running. Or you can save your money for better shoes and use these sites instead.