Monday, November 28, 2011

Apologies to you truckers

It’s official. The posts about me shaving went down a treat. I wish I had more of that type of content to please my perverted audience. I’ll have to think about that.

I have been in Ohio with my in-law’s for the holiday. Happy Thanksgiving to those of you who are in the United States. On Thanksgiving morning, I decided not to do the Cleveland Turkey Trot alone. It just didn't seem right. So, instead of being out-performed by a man wearing a turkey costume, I ran some intervals on the Rocky River High School track. Out of respect, I stayed in lane 4. It’s a fairly new track and it was hard to believe that it was my very first time running on a real all-weather track. 

It was unseasonably warm, the sun shone and I was really happy to be running strong as I watched some dudes preparing for a football game in the center. My son Charlie (5) even managed a mile walk/run and said “I didn’t know that when you run far, it feels like you are playing.” Well said Charlie. I feel the same way. After I had finished my workout and sat there on the track, I reflected on what I am thankful for in relation to running in 2011:
  • I’m thankful for the role running has played in helping me to lose 40 lbs. It’s probably more than that when you factor in leg muscle development. My body has transformed.
  • I am thankful for not being on asthma medication for the first time in my adult life. I’m not sure why I was finally able to run without exercise induced asthma but I’ll take the gift willingly. Diet played a role but as soon as I was able to run, it has done amazing things for my lung capacity.
  • I am thankful that in one year, I have transformed myself from an easy pace in the 11 minute miles to the 8’s and I’m still improving. Not bad for a 43 year old first timer.
  • I am thankful for the added confidence that running has given me. It’s a mix of feeling better, looking better and achieving things I never thought my body could do.
  • I am thankful to love running. It’s a great place for me to clear my mind, de-stress and feel like a part of something bigger. I pray while I run. I like to pass on that positive energy to others who may need it and give thanks in the moment.

And what do I hope to be thankful for next year? Well, it’s a bit early for resolutions but I am thinking it may look something like this:
  • Thankful to finally run a half marathon without pulling-out due to injury.
  • Thankful to start trail running and maybe thankful to run a trail race. I so want the ultra experience in future. I have to move toward that.
  • Thankful that New Balance recognized the role I could play in inspiring real people to love running. Yes NB running team, we will do something together in 2012.

OK, I’ll leave you with a funny Thanksgiving travel story. We pulled into a grimy rest stop on the highway for a bathroom break. There was a sign on the men’s toilet that said “Closed for cleaning. Use the trucker’s showers at the back of the building”. I read the sign to Charlie (5) and we went through the building, through the “trucker lounge” and found the trucker showers. As soon as we got in, I lost Charlie. Suddenly, he came out from behind a shower curtain. I asked him why he was in there and he said “I peed in the truckers shower”. I said “Charlie! That just meant to use the toilets in this room (pointing to a urinal), not the shower”! A man who was washing his hands laughed his ass off. Charlie just shrugged. My apologies to you truckers. A-pee-Thanksgiving.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

A shaving confession

Warning. If body hair and the discussion of shaving body hair disgusts you, please move along. Nothing to see here people.

Tom Selleck as Magnum
OK, I am just going to come clean on this subject. No pun intended. Let's get down to it. There was a time when body hair was cool. Facial hair has come back in fashion but body hair isn't so hot. I know, there are fetish folks out there that are going to disagree with me but I am talking mainstream here. You don't see the Magnum PI's with their bronzed and hairy chests on magazine covers. Top athletes, models and actors all keep their sculpted bodies shaven or well tended for the most part. Even models who are meant to portray the rugged nature of man (like REI models) have shaven bodies. Society has given men permission to take care of their manscaping business if they so desire. I didn't have a strong desire to shave, I just kinda stumbled into it. I'll explain...

The Genesis
I had dropped 20 of the 40 lbs I eventually lost. My upper legs must have been a bit chubby because I noticed that on long runs, I developed a nasty rash on my inner thighs. I tried different products to avoid it but it didn't work. Treating it was not ideal. Rubbing cream into skin through hair is messy and gross.

Phase 1
I decided to shave my inner thighs, so that I could better treat my rash and I thought that the clean surface may help the "glide" products to work and avoid further rashes. It seemed simple enough. I shaved a half oval shape on the inside of each thigh. I was pleased with the result until later when I decided to go for a run. I tend to go minimal with running clothing in hot weather, so I put on some split shorts (short shorts). I went to the bathroom and was horrified to see that the shaved areas were visible below my shorts. This was a critical tipping point. I should have worn longer shorts and grown the hair back but I went the other direction...

Phase 2
I decided to shave my legs. I told myself that it would be fine. My legs would look good. Lots of athletes do it. So what if I am lucky to run an 8 minute mile? There are no rules that say that mediocre runners can't have the same privileges as elite runners. It took me a long time to get the job done. I couldn't see the backs of my legs, so I went over the same areas about 50 times to make sure. I felt lucky that I was not very hairy. I remember talking to my friend Andres about how manscaping was impossible for him because he was so hairy. There are no "natural stopping points" for hairy guys. When I was satisfied that I had done the best I could do, I jumped out of the shower and began to dry-off. Suddenly, I realized that my feet were hairy. It was like I was wearing furry slippers. I don't think I had ever noticed the hair on my feet before that moment. Since it was sandal weather, I needed to clean it up. I climbed back into the shower...

Phase 3
I shaved my feet. It was quick enough to do. I nicked one of my ankles but not badly. I jumped out of the shower, started to dry again but then I looked in the mirror. I was standing with my arms down to my sides and noticed that it looked completely odd to have cleanly shaven legs but hairy arms. I tried my best to tell myself it was OK but I just wasn't happy with what I was seeing. I ran out of the bathroom, checked out REI website and confirmed that the models had shaved arms too. Maybe it would be OK. For some reason, shaving my arms felt like I was crossing into completely new territory. I went back into the bathroom and jumped back into the shower...

Phase 4
I shaved my arms. It wasn't that difficult. I didn't get caught out like I did with my legs because I instantly noticed the hair on the back of my hands. I shaved that too. I can't say I liked the way shaved arms looked on me but at least it was matching luggage with the rest of me. I got out of the shower and started to dry again. When I looked in the mirror, I noticed that my chest hair seemed really out of place. Since there is hardly any, I thought it wouldn't be a big deal to take care of it.  If I was going to the beach, I didn't want this one area to stand out. I jumped back into the shower...

Phase 5
The chest was easy to shave but I didn't realize how perilous nipples can be. This was a lot trickier than any of the other body parts. I jumped out of the shower but just as I had dried-off again, I realized that I had forgotten to shave my head. My head was actually the primary body part I had intended to shave. In the frenzy, I had forgotten it. I jumped back in the shower...

Topping it all off
I shaved my head, decided to do my face too. Why not? I don't know how long I had been in there but it felt like a 3 hour shower.

The aftermath
I have to admit that I felt a little sleazy for some reason. Standing there like a slick otter made me feel a little ashamed. I told myself that I was being silly. I told myself that young men must do this all the time. This and more! They shave and sculpt their eyebrows for crying out loud. I did feel the need to confess the whole story to my wife. I knew that she would ask lots of questions if I didn't address it proactively. She thought I was insane. She laughed at me when I changed for bed that night.

What I learned from my shaving experience...

  • You need to plan it. You have to think through what you are going to shave before you do it. If you are super hairy, you have to think about where you are going to stop.
  • Limbs look better shaved. There is no doubt about it, my legs looked like sculpted machine-like objects. 
  • You treat your body differently when you shave. There is something intimate about shaving. You take time with each limb. You caress it to feel the hair as you shave. It's like you are giving your limbs special attention. I felt like I was treating my legs with more reverence.
  • People notice. Don't fool yourself, people can see that you shave - even if they don't say anything. My training partner asked me "do you shave your arms"? This was day one of us running together. I had to tell her the whole sordid tale.
  • People probably judge you. Maybe people will think you are self absorbed. Who cares? As a runner, being judged is not new. People already think you are insane for putting all the effort you do into running.
  • You can't grow hair back without going through an awkward stage. When hair grows-in, it is all symmetrical and spiky. It looks weird.
  • You get used to it. As alien as it all seemed to me at first, like all things, you get used to it in a very short amount of time. I did not feel like a sexual deviant after a few shaves.
  • You notice other men who shave. I was much more tuned in to other people's manscaping.
  • Clean shaven legs inside running tights or compression socks are so much better. You don't get that horrible mashing and pulling of the hair.
  • Treating rashes or cuts is easier. This is the main reason given by cyclists.
  • Other people lie to excuse shaving. If someone you know tells you that they shave so that they don't have as much wind resistance, they are full of shit. Unless they are a millisecond off a World record, that is a complete fabrication to hide the fact that they like the way their legs look clean shaven or some other reason.
  • It feels weird. When you shave your legs for the first time and touch them, it's like touching a strangers legs. I can't fully describe the feeling and it's a little perverted, so I'll drop the subject.
  • Shaved on shaved feels weird too. When your legs rub against your wife's (or partner's) shaved legs in bed, it's freaky for both of you. I can't actually go into how it really made me feel.
  • Shaving is a pain in the backside - even if you don't shave that part of your body! It's a lot of work and needs to be done way too frequently.
As of right now, I let the hair grow back but wearing winter running tights has made me think it's time for a little manscaping. Maybe I won't get carried away this time.

Post Update:
My son (5) looked at the picture of Tom Selleck and said "Dad. Is that a picture of you when you were young"? Classic.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

My first sponsorship rejection

This isn't what you think. It's not related to New Balance and it wasn't a negative experience. In fact, I now feel like a person who is making progress with one solid rejection under my belt. It seems like you should have many rejections on the path to anything. Bring them on I say. This one was a practice run of sorts.

You may remember my post about bandanas. If you didn't catch it, you can check it out here. I had been looking for the ultimate technical bandana and discovered Buff. I was so taken with the potential of the product that I emailed them to tell them. I also got a little carried away and suggested that they may want to sponsor me.

I got an automated email back from Buff immediately telling me that a proper proposal needed to be sent for sponsorship applications. Since, I didn't really have a proposal other than me being me, there wasn't a whole lot I could do about it. I then got a really lovely email from Erin from the Buff Marketing Team in the US. She said that she thought my blog was entertaining and gave me some sponsorship advice. It was quite honestly, the softest let-down I have ever had. My hat is off to the nice folks at Buff. Just because some person asks to be sponsored, has no proposal and has a site all geared-up to pursue New Balance doesn't mean you can't be nice.

This outcome was no surprise of course. I didn't have a proposal. Also, Buff doesn't have the resources of a brand like New Balance and their sponsorship dollars need to be spent wisely. They are going to put their money behind an initiative that is going to get them publicity and reach as many people as possible. I can't give them that yet. Maybe one day.

Last night, I dropped-off my two older kids at kung-fu class and took the little one with me to REI to return a jacket. I noticed Buff is there now. They seem to be pushing onward in their US marketing efforts. This US website has a fun way of demonstrating the many ways you can wear a Buff. Check it out.

When I try their product, I will post my honest experience with it. On paper, it sounds like a perfect fit for me.

Friday, November 11, 2011

In defense of Ann Trason (Born to Run)

There is something that has been bothering me for a while. I felt it at the time and did nothing about it. It has stuck with me and I now find myself posting about it. Clearly it’s an issue for me:) It’s the way Ann Trason is depicted in Born to Run. I never thought about it in-depth at the time and maybe it's why I didn't act but, I did walk away from the book with a sense of injustice. After writing this post, I have fully realized what my gut was telling me at the time and it has been pretty cathartic.

Ann Trason. Photo by Patitucci Photo.

Let me be clear. I love Born To Run as much as the next person. I think Chris McDougall did an extraordinary job of pulling together many fascinating running related facts and stories into a really inspiring book. A book that can be enjoyed by runners and non-runners alike. I enjoyed it so much, I am reading it again. I am also very impressed with Chris as a person. He is an exceptionally passionate man who is an inspiring speaker, as well as a writer. Check out this TED conference video. It’s also important to point out that even though he is criticized by people like Jenn Shelton for glossing over facts about the poverty of the Raramuri (Tarahumara), a Mexican running tribe central to Born to Run, he did bring Worldwide attention to them. Jenn herself may never have become involved with them if it hadn’t have been for Chris. He can also be thanked for the barefoot/minimalist running craze we are seeing right now. He was not the first to push that agenda but certainly one of the most successful. Whether you like barefoot/minimalist running or not, it’s great to see shoe companies pushing their research further and creating more innovative and interesting running shoes. We all benefit from that. It's also great to see Chris' book encouraging thousands of people to try running for the first time. I was a beginner when I read it and it really fueled me. Chris seems genuinely passionate about running and interested in injury avoidance through natural form. It’s the basis for the journey he took on Born to Run. My friend Tony shared a link of Chris demonstrating an exercise by Walter George, a famous British runner who was in his prime in the 1870's and 1880's. The more I see content like this, the more I believe that Chris' motivations are honest and I have a deeper appreciation for the spirit behind Born to Run. On a more critical note, there is no doubt that Chris can seem a little too self-promoting, over-confident and a little too black and white with his point of view but I can live with that. My main issue with Born to Run was that he sometimes seemed to use real people as vehicles to carry the overall story, regardless of how harsh or unfair it was to those people. Maybe that happens in all books in order to serve the main story thread but I don't have to like it. He wasn't writing about fictional characters. These are people who have lives and feelings. Born to Run has become so mainstream that the way people are depicted in the book will be a powerful lasting impression of who they are. All the more reason to be fair in representing them. The poster child (in my mind) of unfair treatment in the book for me was Ann Trason.

You have to read Born to Run to understand the full context of what I am talking about. To be fair, Chris gives Ann a glorious build-up. He talks about how raw and pure her talent was. He talks about her thirst for distance. I remember the part of the story where he talks about Ann completing two marathon equivalent runs in the morning followed by another 15 miler in the evening as a self reward for fixing the plumbing. He then talks about how she started competing, winning and how she became stronger, beating men and winning ultra races outright. A real impressive woman. He described her as a runner with no weaknesses. Where things start to go downhill for Ann in Born to Run is where the Raramuri come into play in the famous Leadville 100 mile race. It’s a culminating point in the book and very intense. Chris talks about Ann being so aggressive in her competitiveness that she was mean to the Raramuri tribesmen. They refer to her in the book as "La Bruja" (the witch).

A Raramuri runner. Note the smile on his face.

Like I said, I had no real reason to believe that Ann Trason was unfairly treated in Born to Run other than my gut feeling. For all I knew, she was just a real downer. But, I didn’t want to believe that she was. So, when I started thinking about writing this post, I asked myself... You don't know Ann Trason, so why do you believe her to be a better person than Born to Run depicts her? It was a fair position and this is what I came up with:
  1. Ann seemed super passionate about running. Chris made it sound as if she would do it if races didn't exist. So, how could someone like that feel anything other than adoration for a Mexican tribe who run hundreds of miles just for the joy of it? They embody her passion.
  2. If Ann wanted to win at all costs to obtain fame and glory, why wouldn’t she have become a marathoner and an Olympian? Ultrarunning wasn’t mainstream. There was no significant fame or money in it for her.
  3. Ann is the most dominant female ultrarunner in history. She broke 20 World records. Could her self esteem have been so low that she would try to intimidate some Mexican tribesmen who were in a foreign place?
  4. Ann had been beaten by men in races many times in the past. Why would she suddenly become obsessed with beating these men? These natural athletes that didn’t even have the same competitive motivations?
  5. Ultrarunning is a lonely sport but it’s also about community. You can’t do it without a crew, friends, pacers, competitors to tag along with and volunteers at aid stations, etc. Ultrarunning is about the experience – not just the win. I'm sure there are people in it to win but I think it would be rare to find one that didn't respect the experience of it.
So, with my hypothesis in hand, I turned to the trusty Interwebs for some answers. I wasn't necessarily looking for absolutes. I just needed to find enough to make me comfortable having some heart for Ann. First of all, I checked out Caballo Blanco’s web page. He was a central character in Born to Run and he was there. He may be a tad odd by mainstream standards but he seems like a good human being. Caballo said that some American runners were complaining about the Raramuri showing up for the Leadville race. He didn't go into the reason why. He also claims to have had this interaction with Ann Trason:
Ann (as she was overtaking the Raramuri): "Ask them how it feels to be passed by a woman!"
Caballo: "Learn Spanish and ask them yourself"
Ann: "I hate them"
Caballo doesn't claim to have heard the last statement. He says that other people heard her say it. Caballo also says that the reason they called her "La Bruja" was because he himself had used that word to try to describe a woman with great powers. His Spanish is limited. He never intended the name to be used it in a critical way. Being viewed as a powerful woman is not the same as being a mean old witch. Caballo can probably also be blamed for some of the weird interaction between Ann and the Raramuri. He advised them to stalk her and not pass her until the end. Apparently, when Ann stopped to take a pee during the race, Juan (one of the Raramuri) stopped and waited for her. She was understandably weirded out by this because she thought he was taunting her. Caballo said that he and the Raramuri were very impressed with Ann's performance at Leadville. She didn't win, so it must have been the way she ran. In fact, the Raramuri were so impressed, they presented her with a special gift of hand-made sandals at the awards ceremony. That doesn't sound like bad blood to me. Why would they do that for someone who had been mean spirited?

Caballo Blanco

Sarah Lavender Smith, a runner, a blogger and an old neighbor of Ann's said:
Like the terrain she runs in, Trason’s personality can seem remote, tough and demanding. Beneath that exterior, however, I found someone who’s warm, supportive and humble. If you run by her while she’s volunteering at an aid station, she’ll call out, “You can do it—you’re just gonna love that hill!” Or if you tell her she’s been called the greatest female ultrarunner ever, she’ll shake her head, look down and say, “Nah, I wouldn’t say that. There are so many good runners these days.”

Sarah says that Ann does not like to give interviews and does not like to have her picture taken. So, I think it's safe to say that she isn't a show-boater. After seeing Ann fly by her house so many times to hit the trail, Sarah said that she finally got the chance to run with her. She likened it to being given a soccer ball and being told that Mia Hamm was coming over. Sarah makes a point about Ann referencing her husband Carl breaking a course record in the Dick Collins Firetrails 50 but was too humble to mention that when she ran it in 87, she created a record that still stands today. Ann and Carl took over co-directing the event because they were really fond of Dick and after his death, they wanted to make sure that the event retained the same positive spirit. Ann said that it is the type of race that you “kind of run and have a picnic at the end”. This sounds like a confident but pretty humble woman to me. A woman who was in ultrarunning for all the right reasons.

I ran across some notes about Ann on It was to do with an award they call Every Runner’s Friend. They actually talk about how she is unfairly portrayed in Born to Run. They talk about her encouragement and inspiration of thousands of runners and sight her smile and spirit at aid stations. When Ann was injured, she would volunteer at aid stations and it's awesome to know that she still does that as a co-director since her injuries have forced her into retirement. It sounds like she still has plenty to bring to the sport.

Ann Trason (far left) helps at an aid station. Courtesy of

Maybe Chris McDougall wanted to play with the concept of a highly trained and uptight American versus the natural and serene Tarahumara from the Copper Canyons. Maybe it made for good storytelling. Maybe Ann had an off day and did do and say some things that were off character. I don't know for sure. I wasn't there. What I do know is that there is plenty of evidence out there to support the idea that Ann Trason is a good human being who believes in the positive spirit of unltrarunning and has gone out of her way to support and mentor. I feel justified that my gut was correct. Apparently Ann herself has been vocal about her disappointment in the way she was portrayed. Regardless, the book can still be a great book. You can't keep everyone happy in a book like this. Let's not forget that this book is Chris McDougall's perspective or interpretation. As such, it is capable of being unfair and harsh. Is Rick Fisher as big an asshole as the book makes out? I don't know.

As far as I am concerned, if anyone who has read Born to Run had a slightly negative impression of Ann Trason but now questioning that viewpoint based on this post, I have paid humble homage to a very inspiring woman who deserves all the respect the running community can give. That's just my opinion. I'll leave you with an awesome quote from Sarah Lavender Smith's interview. Her new blog is TheRunnersTrip.comShe writes beautifully. She is not an untrained hack like myself :) 

“It’s a journey. … It’s experiencing something different, and exploring. I always say it’s a life in a day” – Ann Trason

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Insurance Policy on my wrist

I know some of you will laugh at this but who cares. The nice thing about positioning yourself like a fool is that you don't have to care about seeming cool or smart :)

I have never been particularly safety concious. I do wear a luminous Pearl Izumi cycling jacket when I run at night but that is just common sense. What I mean is that I have never really over-thought safety. It's unusual for me because as you know from this blog, I tend to over-think lots of things. Inevitably, I started thinking about safety and I had this vision of me getting hit by a car and being unconscious. My family would not be informed because I have no identification when I run. The docs at the emergency room would not know that I have a history of asthma and that I am allergic to penicillin. It's true that Penicillin isn't the go-to drug for a head injury but you know what I am saying. So, having had this creepy vision, I decided to look for some sort of medical bracelet. I was pretty sure that I didn't want one of those old-schol tacky jewelry options dangling around my neck or on my wrist.

American Medical ID's marketing strategy. Scare the crap out of you. Nice!

I looked for the most simple and minimal wrist band I could find and came up with Road ID The elite model is like a Liverstrong rubber bracelet but has a no-nonsense customizable metal area where you can display contact information, medical information or whatever you want. You can pay more and have no personal information displayed but first responders can call a special number with a code to identify you. I'm not that secretive, so I went with the basic option.
Obviously, they have different styles and colors. You can even get ankle or shoe versions if you don't want to wear something on your wrist. They also sell a product called Firefly which is a flashing light that can be worn. There are other reflective belts and bands too. I like Road ID"s copy. They aren't beating around the bush. Example: "Yeah, we know Neon Yellow isn't exactly high-fashion, but who cares - if it keeps you from being run over by a bus".

Clearly, the purchase of this Road ID was a smart move on my part because Edward Wimmer, the co-owner of Road ID emailed me about my order and told me "it is quite obvious that you are a highly intelligent individual." I don't think I have ever been buttered up this much by an order confirmation email. I like it. More please.

If anyone wants to buy one, the first 20 people can get $1 off by using this coupon number: ThanksSimon9390013. Come on! All the paranoid kids are getting them. Even Dean Karnazes is wearing one. If you want a fun time, check out the Team Road ID video to hear a bunch of athletes talk about their near death experiences. They all add the fact that Road ID would have given them much needed peace of mind in these situations.

Old Deano's section of the site says "For me it’s like the best and the cheapest insurance policy I’ve ever owned". He reminded me of another cool thing about buying this product from Road ID. They donate a portion of ever purchase to a charity. They allow you to choose from the following: Arthritis Foundation, Lance Armstrong Foundation, Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, National MS Society, Susan G. Komen Race For The Cure, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), the Wounded Warrior Project or the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF).

My friend Paul was also trying to turn me on to a lightweight running headlamp that has a reverse flasher (not unlike the Firefly idea). A great thing for running safely in the dark. A couple of issues with this.... I run mostly on city streets with lights. It would also be the fastest way to get my ass beaten by a gang in my neighborhood. My luminous jacket gets me enough unwanted attention as it is. I think I am all good with safety for the moment until the next near death vision.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Shin Frickin Splints

Hello friends. I took some time off. I was out of town visiting friends in Georgia. It was a humbling experience to see what happens to the stats of this blog with no content. I was so amazed by how quickly it nose dived that it inspired me to write a note to Pete Larson the RunBlogger himself ( I told him that I had been learning how much work it is to keep-up a blog. I also told him that I am a fan of his and that he is my go-to person when I want a shoe review. I find him to be thoughtful and fair. Pete was kind enough to email me back and give me a little blogging advice. He seems like a super nice guy.

Anyhow, people have been asking me how my recovery from stress fractures has been coming along. I had been in an air cast for 3 weeks and then had a carbon fiber insole for 4 weeks to stop me bending my foot. A few weeks ago, I got the go-ahead from an orthopedic guy at Rush. I told him that I felt great except for a feeling like I had a lump under my metatarsals where the stress fractures were (2nd & 3rd). He told me that it wasn't my imagination. He showed me my digital x-ray and pointed out where my fractures had been and where there was new bone. The healing process made the metatarsals add another layer of bone to make the necessary repairs. The good news is that these are less likely to fracture again unless I have particularly weak bones or terrible running form. The bad news is that the extra bone feels like a lump under my foot and it will take my brain a while to stop registering it as something to be aware of.

So, with a go-ahead from the doc, I went into a 7 week recovery routine. I wanted to take it slow and found the perfect plan. I found it on Pete Pfitzinger's site Pete was an elite athlete, an MBA and also studied University of Massachusetts Department of Exercise Science which led him into coaching. 2 things I like about Pete. He is from New Zealand and Jack Daniels is one of his mentors. I figured he could be trusted to put together a recovery plan. Here's the link to the full article that was originally printed in Running Times magazine but I'll include the plan itself for your convenience.

Pete Pfitzinger's 7 Week Recovery Plan

It's basically a walk/run/walk that steadily gets you back to 100% running. It is also time based - not mileage based which is a smart way to stay injury free during this period. Next week is week 4 for me. As the mileage goes up, I am going to take another piece of advice from the doc. He said that he would like to see me wear shoes with a little more padding at higher mileage, at least until my body is back to full fitness. I am turning to Saucony for a solution. The Kinvara stack height is 21 heal and 17 forefoot. It's the same 4mm drop that my current New Balance Minimus Road (MR10's) are but with more padding. It has been a while since I ran in a shoe with this much distance between me and the ground but Pete Larson likes them and I trust his opinion. Pete said that the Kinvara 2 is very similar to the old model, so when I noticed that the Saucony store was selling the old one's off for $55, it was a no-brainer. I suspect the Kinvara may be a bit narrow in the toe box and if it doesn't work for me, I am going to turn to the Hattori's. I tried them on at Fleet Feet Chicago and liked them. They are a 13/13 stack height just like the New Balance MR00's. I'll let you know how it goes.

Saucony Kinvara 1
There has only been one major hitch to my recovery so far. It's shin splints! I have never had them before (at least not to this degree) and I am just blown away by how debilitating they are. I ran today and after 2 miles of hobbling a 10:30 pace, I was forced to stop. I walked for a bit, sat down and massaged my shins. Eventually, I managed to run another 2.3 miles home which saved a great deal of embarrassment. There is nothing more pathetic looking than a man in tights, a bandana and a luminous jacket limping down the street. I was later getting home than I had planned, so the sun had well and truly come up. My luminous yellow jacket caught someone's attention. He shouted from a third floor deck "Hey you in the yellow. You can stop running now. It's daylight"! So, how to tackle these shin splints. My friend Jim told me I should be drinking plenty of water and I'd say that is good advice. I am bad about drinking water in general. I even downloaded a little iPhone app to help remind me to down a glass from time to time. My Zensah compression sleeves have helped (I have tried running with and without them) but there is only so much a sleeve can do. I am going to tackle this affliction with a combo of things. I am going to cross train and rest it for a couple of days to let it recover. I am going to stay well hydrated and I'm going to stretch out my calves before running. A discrepancy between calf and shin muscles is meant to be a big factor. The extra padding of the Kinvara's should help too because the impact of hard surfaces can aggravate the shins too. I think I'll try to scale back my pace and therefore distance because I know that I was pushing some of my earlier runs harder than my body was ready for. 

I need to be smart about it. Why is it so hard to be smart? I can't wait to be back in the swing of things fully. I had one euphoric and out-of-body run already and I crave more of that. I have planned out a training program with the use of Jack Daniel's book. More on that later. I was thinking that I'd like to do some track work but I'm not sure how I can get access to a track without being a student or joining a running club. Baby steps! Let's get past the shin splints.

Update Nov 7: My friend Jim also suggested I try the Wharton Active Isolated Stretching Program. I am going to give it a go.
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