Tuesday, March 22, 2011


In the great 1984 film Terminator Arnold famously said "I'll be back", and proceeded to make very good on that promise. In 1942 General Douglas MacArthur, ordered by President Roosevelt to leave the Philippines to avoid capture by the Japanese, famously issued a similar line, "I shall return."  He too made good on that commitment.
Similarly, after my prior 10k and subsequent highly disconcerting back-spasms I committed to give myself time to fully recover.  Having done so over the past nine days, and being confident that it was finally time to return I was a bit trepidatious while stepping out of the car to begin my three mile run around Memorial Park.  Running very slowly initially initially my goal was not to look at my pace, but solely to feel the joy of movement over scenic ground.  Doing so was a relief, allowing me to watch the ongoing construction of a much-needed new running trail, while being vigilant for the first sign of any back pain or discomfort.  Fortunately, there was absolutely no signs of trouble, and as a result I cautiously ramped-up my speed somewhat, happily enjoying the wind and the sunshine during the run.
Lesson learned.  If not 100% don't run.  And especially don't race!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Bayou Classic 10K Race Report

Ouch!  That's all I can say after a disastrous 10K this morning in downtown Houston.

In doing cross-training on Tuesday I over-extended my back in one strengthening exercise, so owing to that injury and a very badly bruised toe I took the rest of the week off.  Doing so was a good decision.  Unfortunately, I proceeded to make a very bad decision by running the Bayou Classic 10K this morning despite my back muscles' continued sensitivity.  Nothing against the course, the organizers or my fellow runners, all of which were excellent.

After pushing hard with a 6:38 average pace the first two miles the muscles of my back were unable to hold my posture correctly, which resulted in a significant fall-off in my pace through the finish. After filming the final art car piece and walking gingerly towards my car my back muscles began spasming, which shook me up as I'd never experienced such a thing before. Fortunately I was safely able to drive home, where I was rescued by my wonderful and sympathetic wife who has since been nursing me back to a small semblance of normalcy.  A major lesson (re-)learned: Don't race unless you're absolutely positively 100%, and if you do violate that rule then make it into an easy and slow training run, being ready to walk to the finish on the first signs of trouble.

Incidentally, the above video represents my initial attempt to piece together two videos that I captured initially using my iPod Nano then copied to my iPad 2 for video editing using iMovie.  I've clearly got a lot to learn to better use this great new technology.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Fun with my new iPad 2

It took a couple hours of waiting, but it was worth it for a sleek new black iPad 2! My next step is to download Apple's iMovie App, following which I'll edit the videos that I captured during last weekend's Texas Independence Relay, add some snapshots and overlay a sound track. 

A humorous "banned" iPad video worth sharing:

Monday, March 7, 2011

Texas Independence Relay Race Report

This weekend I had the pleasure of running the Texas Independence Relay, where as part of a 12-person team we had an absolutely fantastic experience collectively running non-stop for 203 miles under 27 hours from the relay start in Gonzales, Texas to the San Jacinto Monument. Click here to view the photos, or see below for the video.

We were overjoyed and inspired to have our fellow team member and recent cancer survivor friend Rick join us.  He demonstrated incredible determination, courage and strength to overcome his daunting health challenges and to demonstrably bounce back by running amazingly strongly each of his legs. Collectively, our team shattered our prior record by knocking an hour off our prior best cumulative time (the team had run the TIR on three prior occasions)!

A special shout-out of appreciation to Colin Hayes whose musical talents in creating his running-oriented song collections were much appreciated by the entire team. In preparing for the race I burned to audio CD both of his excellent running parody song collections, which were a huge hit during the frequent waiting around for the next runner that's an essential part of the road relay experience. Learn more about Colin and his entirely self-created collections via his entertaining blog at: http://resurrectedrunner.blogspot.com/.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Core Strengthening Videos and Tips from Others

One of the great things about being a runner is consistently finding helpful, knowledgeable and supportive fellow runners.

To set the stage for future running form improvements I'm in the midst of strengthening my weak core, especially my abs, glutes and hip abductors. BuckeyeOutdoors.com provides a great means to seek-out other runners' advice while simultaneously receiving - and providing - motivation. This is easily done through the numerous challenge groups. Through this venue I recently received an excellent collection of applicable advice and video links, which I decided to post.

"Build a strong core and rest more regularly. Power hike uphill to develop strong core muscles, since proper technique is to use the glutes to push uphill in liu of most peoples' tendency to pull themselves up which puts extra stress on the quads and hips. Exercises such as bridges on a stability ball or squats help with this glutes focus."

"An workout tip for core work and other exercises is to keep your knees behind your toes. For example, when doing squats, bend backwards when squatting, like you're sitting down on a chair and keep the knees behind or above the toes. If the knees move ahead of the toes, too much stress can be put on the knees and the hips won't be able to support the upper body properly."

"Once you have developed good core strength, your running will change to where the work is done in the core and allowing gravity to work for you more effectively. As you become tired - or if your core is weak, you'll have the tendency to "sit back" on your hips. This puts them too far back for ideal alignment requiring significantly more use of your glutes, hamstrings and lower back muscles to compensate. This posture tends to increase the amount of impact your joints are taking as your muscles can not assist to dissipate the impact like a spring. It is rare to see a person who runs with their hips "too far forward", but when you do, you'll know it. They look like a stiff board and appear to be leaning backward as their hips will be in front of their shoulders. A good reality check for everyone is have a friend video you running after you are warmed up then to have someone competent at assessing proper running form review it. It doesn't lie! You'll probably be surprised how different you actually look when running as opposed to how you THINK you're running!"

Hamstring stretches:
Lie on the floor on your back with legs up against the wall and butt against the wall also. Engage the core and you should feel the stretch in the lower back, hamstrings and calves. The stretch can be intensified by pulling the toes back towards the shins. Alternatively crouch in a skier's tuck position - legs wider than the shoulders, knees behind the toes, hands about a foot in front of the feet gently clasped together, and head up looking forward. The stretch is intensified by gently lifting the butt upwards. Hold the stretch for 10-15 seconds, then release; repeat as needed.

Finally, a simple stretch but always effective stretch is to bend over and hang your hands towards the floor with the legs having only a slight bend. Control the stretch by reaching for the floor, then easing. Stretches should always be done gently, no ballistic movements, and remember to breathe. After taking a deep breath, try to extend a bit further on the exhale.

IT Band Stretches:

Use Gliding discs:

Runners World's Videos

From Core Values:

Other Runners World Video Links:

LoLo Jones' Abs Workout:

Mammoth Workout:

Building Core Strength, Part 2:

I was also pointed to Matt Hart's site, and his Core 600 Workouts:

Finally, as my blog friend Chris just posted a couple of good related video links I'm pasting same below.

Total Body Workout:

Abs/Core Workout: