Category Archives: Health and Fitness

Down, but not Out

Last week I had a bit of a setback. I was on my usual after work jog around the park. It was nothing out of the ordinary, just a quick couple of barefoot miles. I finished the run and drove home. When I stepped out of the car I noticed a pain in my left foot. I bent down and pressed on the spot that hurt, and that made it really hurt. As you can imagine, my mind was flooded with the worst “Oh Shit” thoughts it could conjure up.

The next morning, it still hurt, and I made the not so smart decision to go to work anyway. Spending eight hours standing and walking around did not help matters. I was considerably worse by the end of the day. I came home almost limping to the door. I was hoping that after a good nights sleep, it may be better. It wasn’t. At that point, I wasn’t taking any more chances. I called into work and told them I wasn’t coming in.

Later that night I am sitting in the exam room of an orthopedic clinic. The Dr. checked my foot out. I almost jumped out of the chair when she found the spot. A few x-rays later, I had a diagnosis. Peroneal Tendonitis.

The good news was nothing was broken or torn. It was just an inflamed tendon. It was very uncomfortable, but would ultimately heal up.

During my barefoot running journey, I have had a number of what I call, growing pains. When I first started the soles of my feet hurt. As they adapted, that went away. Then the outer edges hurt, and that went away. Then for a while, my calves were very sore. That went away. Later on, my knees were hurting. This worried me, but it also went away. There have been times that I hit a big rock and literally had to limp home. After a day or two of rest, I was fine. This injury really had me concerned though. It just felt different than all the others.

For a few days, I was almost depressed. I was afraid that I may have to give up running, at least temporarily. I have found that I love it. I did feel quite a bit better when I learned that it was just a temporary injury, and I would ultimately make a full recovery.

I think one of the drivers behind the injury may be my recent obsession with improving my speed. I had gotten into the habit of always trying to beat my time from the last run. I think this contributed to me losing focus on my form, and overstriding. This is a no, no. I have decided to not worry about speed at all. For the foreseeable future, I am only going to worry about keeping my form correct. After all, I’m not training for a race or seeking to best anyone. I simply like to run, and that is more than enough for me.

I did get out Friday for a lap around the park, which is one mile. I took it slow and gentle. My foot did great. It feels almost 100%. Even still, I’m not going to push it. I will slowly build back the distance.

Screenshot_20170904-112404During this whole ordeal, I found some new friends. I got some really good advice from the great folks at The Barefoot Runners Society. For those of you who have an interest in barefoot running, or running in general, they have a lot of resources on their website. You can find the forums here. Check them out.

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Trotting through the mud

The rain was heavy yesterday, and the trail was showing it. It was still a little misty when I set out this morning. I knew it was going to be a dirty run the first time my Vibrams disappeared into ankle deep mud. It was awesome!

I ran across my reptilian friend above in mile three, at the bottom of a steep hill. He was slowly making his way across the trail when I surprised him. As I bent down to get the photo, he retracted his limbs and head into a beautifully painted shell. A friend’s daughter asked if, “I kept him.” I said, “No, that would be trutlenapping.”

20170812_200548I did a total of four miles today on the trails of IC King Park. It is the most I have ever run in my life… until next week. I plan on adding a mile a week. Next Saturday I am going to attempt a run to Abram’s Falls, in the Great Smokey Mountains National Park. The round trip will be almost exactly five miles. The hills are much steeper and longer though. It will be a challenge.

I feel pretty good. My feet are sore, but not as sore as they were last week. My recovery time is getting a little shorter after each run. The runs are getting easier, and more natural too. I feel like I’m discovering a hidden power, that has been lying dormant inside me my entire life.

I don’t know where all this is going to lead me. All I know is that it feels right. It feels good to run.

Running in Five Fingers is “Foolish?”

Good morning, mammals! I just got in from my trail run. I did two miles on the lakeside trial at IC King park. I know most of my fit friends out there will not be very impressed with such a feat, but for me, it is quite a milestone. It is the longest that I have run non-stop off road, and that isn’t even what has me excited. The amazing thing is how damn easy it was. If it wasn’t for a little pain in my feet (which are still bruised from hitting a patch of rocks a couple of days ago), I would almost call this run… effortless.

I remember back when I was in my twenties and going through a running phase. I was actually lighter back then, at around 200 pounds even. I took up running on a rubber coated track at a local high school. I was also using conventional padding “running shoes.” It was absolute torture. I could barely crank out one mile, and that nearly put me on the ground. Needless to say, the phase didn’t last long. It was too painful.

Up until a few months ago, I had been suffering from foot pain, mostly in my left heel. It had been that way for years, mostly I thought, from having a job where I stand on my feet for eight to ten hours a day. I was getting worse, so like most people, I take my concerns to a doctor, a podiatrist to be exact. She gave my feet a quick look, and then basically told me that my feet were defective. “Supination,” they roll to the outside. She told me that I would have to have custom-made orthotics to correct the problem. I had just discovered the world of barefoot and minimalist running literally a few days before, so I asked her if doing these activities would help my condition. The look on her face instantly changed to one of, “Oh boy, here we go. I’m going to have to set this poor uneducated fellow straight.” I specifically told her that I would like to try walking and running in Vibram Five Fingers. She said that doing so would not help my condition, but only make it worse, and possibly cause a severe injury. “Face it, kid, you’re broken. You weren’t born to run, you were born fucked up.” (my paraphrase)

I was pretty downcast after the doctors visit. I followed her advice and got fitted for some high-tech orthotics to straighten my birth defected feet out. I worked a few weeks in them. There was some reduction in pain, but it didn’t really “fix” me. Little did she know that I still had plans to experiment on the dark side.

20170726_080939Not long after that fateful day with the podiatrist, I got my first pair of Vibram Five Fingers. I had to order them off Amazon since none of the stores around here carried them anymore. I was quite surprised by this. A few years ago they were all the rage, now they were nowhere to be found. I asked why and was told that there had been a lawsuit against the company. The lawsuit was apparently due to Vibram claiming that the Five Fingers would help strengthen your feet and decrease injuries from running. I don’t know all the details of the suit, but the outcome was not favorable for Vibram. This caused a lot of stores to pull the Five Fingers. This worried me a little, but I was still determined to find out for myself if they could or could not help me.

The shoes finally arrived, but they didn’t fit. I gave it my best guess but was off. They were too big. No problem. I returned the shoes and reordered the next size down. A few days later I had my KSO’s. They fit like a foot glove. By this time I had seen every video of Christopher McDougall and Barefoot Ted that was available on Youtube, and I had just started reading Born to Run. I was very happy to get my Vibrams, but I had already advanced a little in my thinking. Doc had told me that running in Five Fingers would be foolish, but now I was ready to go one better. I was ready to try walking and running in nothing but my bare, broken, feet. Total madness!

I am now a few weeks into it. I have been running almost every morning, barefoot, and now running on the trails with my Vibrams. I haven’t been stupid though. My feet and legs are not conditioned to do this yet, so I am taking it slow, listening to my body. The first mile I did barefoot, left both feet bruised and hurting, so I took a day off. The next time I ran I took it very slow. After today’s run, my feet are sore again, so I am taking tomorrow off to let them rest.

At work, I have noticed that, besides the bruises, I have no more heel pain. I think my feet are changing, getting stronger. I am very impressed with the results of my barefoot experiment so far, but I need to cautiously continue, to see it through, and then make a conclusion.

Monday morning I am going to add a little more distance to my morning run. I am going to slowly, maybe very slowly, add distance. My weight is dropping, and I hope that as it goes down and my feet stronger, I will eventually be able to handle long distances without the need to recover after every run. We’ll see.

 

 

The road that remains

I reached forty years of age this past weekend. I’m now in the half-time intermission of my life. The plays have been pretty conservative up until now, and the score shows it. I think it’s time for a new game plan.

Denice and I just got back from a really great time, on vacation in Colorado, her home state. We spent most of the week camping in the Rocky Mountains. I witnessed in these past few days some of the most beautiful places I have ever seen. It helped me realize just how little I have seen of this world.

We traveled across the vast openness of the Colorado plains, over windy mountain passes that were clothed with green Pines and whispering Aspen trees, on into the high desert mesas. Wild. That’s what Colorado is. It is a wild place. I feel a pull inside me to explore wild places. This trip has left me hungry for more of the wild.

At night it was so dark that I could scarcely see my hand in front of my face, but the sky above was a dazzling ocean of stars. For the first time that I remember I was able to clearly see the Great Rift of the Milky Way.

In the down time of our trip, I had been reading the book, Born to Run, by Christopher McDougall. The book is awesome, by the way. It is mostly about ultra-running. I felt inspired one morning and decided to go for an early morning run. I awoke just as the sun was coming up. I put on my Vibram Five Fingers and set off into the wild. I have been doing barefoot walking for a while, with a little bit of running here and there. This particular morning I ran about a quarter of a mile to the lake, and then a half-mile up into the rocky hills. On the initial ascent, I spooked a deer that was feeding on the grass around camp. I made it almost to the top of the ridge and was pretty tired, so I decided to head back to camp.

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The day after my run, my calves were very sore, and my feet were a little bruised from the rocks. It felt good though. It felt good glide across this unforgiving terrain with nothing but the equipment I was born with (and the aid of a thin strip of rubber). It also felt good to feel the pain afterward. I know that I can handle this stuff now, and I think it’s time to stop holding myself back, afraid of breaking something. I’m going to start running a little every day and hitting the trails on the weekends. I think my weight issue will take care of itself if I just pursue the joy of moving under my own power.

So, my new game plan for the second half: Number one… stop playing it so damn safe. Life is a short and fast adventure, not a game of chess. If you play it too safe, you will miss the whole point. Number two… I can do way more than I think I can, so I’m going to test myself in the wild, and not hold back. And, number three… People are what this is all about. I am going to stop neglecting the relationships of my family and friends and make it a point to seek out and forge new friendships.

Till next time.

Back in the Saddle

Hello, friends! I know, I know… it’s been a while. Sorry for the hiatus. I hope all has been going well for you monkeys. I hate that I go through these cycles of interest and disinterest in writing. It is a regularly occurring pattern, and I can’t promise it won’t happen again in the future. For now, though, I think I’m ready to get down to some blogging.

Let’s begin with a few updates. I haven’t had much progress in the weight loss department. for the past couple of months, I have been stalled in the upper two-fifties. Last week was a pretty good week. I was solid with the intermittent fasting, and not so bad with the food choices either. I was keeping my caloric intake down to under a thousand calories a day, and it paid off. I am down nine pounds from last Saturday. I’m confident that I will do well next week also, and I expect to be in the two-forties by next Saturday. However, Denice and I are going to be on vacation the following week. Historically, being on vacation is a deathblow to my eating plan. When I’m at work all day I don’t even think about food, and there is no social pressure to eat at certain times. That all goes out the window when I’m on vacation. My plan is to get as much progress as I can before the vacation, and then do the best I can to minimize the damage during it. It is a vacation, so I am going to have fun, and that will involve social eating with family and friends. I think if I put my mind to it I can keep the food choices a little on the healthier side, and possibly reduce the eating frequency here and there. We’ll see.

For our upcoming vacation, we are going camping in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. Denice’s mom, dad, and some other family members are renting RV’s, and taking them up to Gunnison for a few days. Camping and outdoor stuff is my thing, so I think we are going to have a great time. I’ll post some photos when we get back.

One new thing that I have taken an interest in is barefoot walking and running. I discovered a person out there in the Internet Realm by the name of Christopher McDougall, who is the author of a book called, Born to Run. The book proposes that running long distances, without the aid of cushioned running shoes, is one of our species greatest’s, but mostly forgotten powers. The general idea is that most injuries people experience while running is the result of running in shoes or at least shoes that drastically change and inhibit the way our feet and legs are evolved to work. There’s a lot of information to explain so I would recommend watching his TED Talk on Youtube if you are interested. I have started experimenting with this idea. For the past few weeks, I have been walking the dogs around the neighborhood with no shoes and doing some very lite treadmill running with no shoes. My feet have definitely changed. The soles are a little tougher, and my feet feel a little stronger overall. Not counting the one time that I stepped in dog poo, it’s been a very rewarding experience.

20170710_170154I have also purchased a pair of Vibram Fivefingers, which are shoes that are designed to give the closest approximation to going barefoot while wearing shoes. I’ll probably write up a review of these once I’ve more time to play around with them. They are way too clean. I’m going to have to fix that.

Denice and I are also at the beginning of a very big, life changing big, new chapter in our lives. I really want to share it with you all, but the timing is not right. I did want to mention it only because I am very excited about it. Let’s just say it is something that we have waited a long time for, and now it looks like we are finally ready to move forward on.

That’s all for now. More to come.

The Fat Beast within

It’s Employee Appreciation week at work. This is something that my workplace does every year to show their heartfelt gratitude for the feeble efforts of us little guys. I say that in jest. My company does put a lot of effort into keeping us happy, and that’s a hell of a lot more than I can say for most places. Sure, like all top-down, hierarchial organizations, it has its faults, but there are far worse places out there. I’ve worked at a few. There are places out there that don’t give two shits about their rank and file employees, places that view their people, the lifeblood of their organizations, as just another resource to be exploited. I have much to be thankful for in this department.

So, this week my work is catering meals every day and has a continually filled popcorn machine on the grounds. The old me would revel in these facts, and not give a second thought to stuffing his fat face with reckless abandon. The me of today is locked in an internal struggle, a battle of wills. On the one side is my rational mind, which has helped me lose seventy pounds, and does not want to see me lose ground. However, on the other side, is a thoughtless and hungry animal, that doesn’t give a rat’s ass about getting and staying in shape. This beast only cares about its next burrito or cupcake. This creature knows no self-control. So far, the beast has had its way.

I am going to have to get a grip soon, or I will lose all the progress that I have made. I know I can do this. I have proven that I can do this. And most importantly, I really, really want to do this. With that said, tomorrow is lasagna day, and the beast is hungry.

That’s all for tonight, friends. Thanks for reading!

The Friendly Skys, and my Funk

Hello, friends. It’s been a while since my last post. I’ve been in a little bit of a funk lately. I’m trying to pull myself out of it and reestablish my good habits. Like with most things in life, it’s a continual struggle. Writing is definitely one of my good habits. Aside from this public blog, I also have private journals, which I have also been neglecting. The funk, like the rain, comes periodically, but it always gives way to the sun again.

Our trip to Colorado happened. It was good to spend time with our family there. We didn’t do a lot besides hang out at the house, play cards, and generally catch up with everyone. This trip was really more of a test run to see how flying standby was going to work. One of our close friends is an employee of United airlines and has graciously added us to his travel pass program. This allows us to fly at cost (under $40 a leg), as long as there are empty seats on the flight. For the most part, everything worked fine. Our first flight was canceled due to mechanical problems, but we were able to get out the next day. The only problem we had was me getting motion sickness.

I have never experienced motion sickness before. In fact, my stomach is usually ironclad. I can fall asleep on most roller coasters, so having this happen on an airplane was really unexpected. I think it had something to do with the bizarre combination of food that I had eaten that morning. I started the day out with a bag of Combos and a Coke. On the flight, the attendant offered us a snack box, since we had to endure sitting on their plane for so long the previous day. Oh, forgot to mention that we boarded and deplaned twice on the ill-fated flight. Back to the infamous snack box. The box contained an assortment of meats, cheeses, crackers, and M&M’s. I ate some of all the items. So, I had this devil’s brew churning in my stomach, and the flight was a bumpy one. Nausea wasted no time seizing me. It was horrible. I spent most of the flight teetering on the verge of blowing chunks. It took every ounce of focus and energy that I had to prevent this from happening on the plane. When we landed, I made a b-line for the bathroom, where I remained, violently barfing, for about half an hour.

I suppose I can’t let this post go without saying something about the United controversy. I’ve flown with United a few times, even before the whole standby thing, and I have never had a problem. Their people have always been super nice and helpful. The video of Dr. Dao getting wrenched out of his seat and drug away like an animal was pretty hard to watch. Obviously, I condemn the violence that was used to force him off the plane. It shouldn’t have happened, but in a way, I’m glad it did. Large corporations seldom change their policy unless they are forced to. This viral video footage and the ensuing national outrage against United will ensure that the airlines take a hard look out how they treat passengers. Last I heard United is even talking about doing away with their practice of overbooking flights altogether. So there is a lot of positive change in the works now, thanks to Dr. Dao’s stubbornness. With all that said, my thoughts are that the dude should have got off the plane before being manhandled off. This is basically my personal policy with people who are “in authority.” If it were me, just like if I were being treated unfairly by the police, I would calmly state that I believe they are in the wrong to demand that I do something against my will, and then I would shut my trap and comply. Why? Because the police and security personnel are human beings. They do not like having their supposed authority challenged. As we seen in the video, things can get ugly when you cross that line. I would begrudgingly comply with their demands, and complain and possibly sue the shit out of them later. However, that wouldn’t make for a good game-changing viral video though, so thanks, Dr. Dao for taking one for the team.

We must remember that everyone we deal with in our day to day lives are also human beings. I have found that the simple act of being nice to the people who serve us goes a long, long way. Sure, you can be an asshole if you want. It’s a free country after all. Just remember that when they need someone to get off their plane, it’s probably not going to be the guy who smiled at them and asks them how their day is going. Treat people well, and life will get a lot easier for you, I guarantee it.

Back to my funk. For the past few weeks, I have been losing ground with my weight loss. I am still doing the intermittent fasting, and only eating once a day. However, I haven’t been doing well on my food choices. Last week, due to poor planning, we had fast food every day. Thanks to the fasting I haven’t ballooned up to 300 pounds, but I have gotten back up into the 250’s. I’ve been gaining about 1.5 pounds a week. This has got to stop. I’m going to make sure that we get to the store and stock up on healthy food for next week, and with any luck, I will be back on track by next Saturday.

That’s all I have for now. Till next time.