9/16 Monday

I'm a little hung over from all the running over the weekend. I overslept to 3:40. This unusual, specially for a week day.  My focus is good, though. I think my playlist music helps, maybe the coffee. I've picked up two techniques from my Iwakuni days that are really paying off again. I'm alternating supinated and pronated grips during my five sets of chin.  This both increases my time between sets of identical movements and gives me a fuller, more satifying stress to my lats. I've also gone back to stretching between sets. It helps keep me focused on my work out and has the added benefit of getting me back into doing some flexibility work. I realize that there is no science suggesting a relationship between lower injury rates from running and stretching. But, for me, as my weekly miles drift above 40, I get impossibly achy without the stretching. It really feels like I'm on the edge of injury. After a couple of weeks' stretching, the aches during my runs have greatly decreased.

 

Today's the Solstice. Always a time that gives me pause. A big part of my mind needs the light. I love finishing my morning runs bathed in the dawn. I watch the brilliant moon and all her entourage fade before the flood of the dawn. Bats, chasing their evening dinners, yield to the birds at their breakfasts. My day begins at this pinnacle and starts its journey through the hours. I never end at the height where I begin. Likewise, this year has been one progression upwards, out of the winter. This week is my best week of running in two years, possibly ever. Now, the light will begin to withdraw. The shortened day after the Solstice is the first harbinger of Fall. Fall, Winter, Darkness, and Cold are always there to test. This year, I stand up to the Marathon again. It will be an accounting. Fifteen years after my first MCM, eight years after my last. I deluded myself in the years when I told myself that training at or near marathon level was enough. That is like saying "I could have stood" as a substitute for standing. Either you stand and measure yourself or you no longer are. The Darkness comes inevitably. As long as you stand, you are.

Short on time tonight. Going to do 2 sets full body compound barbells with one minute rests. The second set goes to failure. Roughly 2 minutes between exercises. This is a significant increase in tempo. I accomplish substantially less reps in the second set, for upper body movements. My legs seem more immune to the short rest.

My usual routine is 5 sets with 3 minutes rests. I takes rougly 75 minutes. This drops it to less than 30. Total volume today: 12923 lb vice my last complete workout at 26472 lb.

Internet social media has been a series of steps shortening the creation process to post thoughts online. A website is an n-dimensional model of a set of thoughts or abstract concepts. Each page is a static whole and a part of

 

I don't like Facebook. You get a brief thought, which you can share with a select audience with minimal effort. You can easily attached some underscoring media, such as a photograph or a brief video. You come away with a false sense that you have communicated something to an audience that is actually listening. You gain a feeling of accomplishment, of authorship. Then your communication becomes part of an unsearchable stream of other trivial thoughts that follow in time sequence into near oblivion. Or worse, as a demagogue, you conjure up some half truth or lie, create some slick media with it, and publish it to a focused group of followers who take your post as truth because it is on the Internet, despite the complete lack of any standard of proof, and contribute to the increasing polarization and shallowness of American politics.

But Facebook is just part of the trend. Twitter has reduced communication to 140 characters. We have a president who fits the times. He struggles to be coherent in 140 characters. There can be no complete thoughts in Twitter, only impressions and memes. It is the deconstruction of thought.

Facing the Collegiate Range, we came across this diner. Amazingly, the interior is done in a Caribbean style. It's just a burger and breakfast but it all tasted great in that high altitude mountain air.

 

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Mesa east of Durango, facing north. It's just outside Pagosa Springs.

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The Gunnison etched a vast, deep canyon into the Mesa over millions of years. It is called the Black Canyon because, at best, sunlight reaches its bottom for only 32 minutes a day. The local Native Americans avoided it out of superstition.

BlackCanyonAtTheGunnison1900

 

 

The Collegiate Range, the second range just west of Colorado's Front Range. While the latter contains Pike's Peak and is home to four 14'ers, the Collegiate Peaks rises off the valley between them with a line of 9 14'ers, another six 13'ers, and is home to the Continental Divide. It is an incredible sight of one massif after another, a wall of massive peaks. Coming upon them going east after Monarch Pass takes the breath away.

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When I lift, my mind sets itself against the gray weight in a Sisyphean contest. With each repetition, my Will dominates the weight as I lift it through multiple repetitions and sets. I am not the weight; I control it. Yet, I grow weaker with each lift. The effort is ultimately futile. Each lift is pyrrhic. Gravity and steel ultimately crush Will and flesh. I arrive at the point where another repetition is impossible. My flesh is crushed, but not my Will. I am not the weight. I am the Will that demands that I will return to that lift, stronger than the last time. I am not gravity and weight; I am flesh and Will.

The deadlift is brutally simple in concept. It is a matter of squatting down, gripping a heavy weight, and standing with it. In execution, the deadlift requires fitness, skill, and knowledge to derive maximum benefit from it while minimizing the risk for injury. But nothing tests and grows brute strength like the deadlift. Feet, calfs, quads, glutes, hamstrings, abs, spinal erectors, deltoids, lats, traps, forearm, hands.....and lungs...and mind are all recruited for maximal effort to lift the weight. Nothing tests elan vital like the deadlift.

“Steel is not strong, boy. Flesh is stronger. What is steel compared to the hand that wields it?”

When I run, I float across the earth a homeless interloper. Tiny in the landscape, I become part of the landscape. The wind does not blow against me, it blows through me, it blows with me. I become part of the wind all the while it buffets. My mind ceases to be separate. There is no Will in the endless repetition of steps forward. Mind and Will and body cease to exist separately from Nature. I blend with it. I cease to exist as I float across the landscape, a homeless interloper.

 

I've said it before. I don't like Facebook....on academic grounds (you can't use a search mechanism to cite what you've said before), on political grounds (it was used to throw an election), on cognitive grounds (it degrades discourse to aphoristic-sized texts that require no thought to produce), on didactic grounds (degraded discourse leads to degraded thinking...which makes you stupid), and on social grounds (it give too big a bullhorn to stupid people). To this, I add another: It is another soulless corporation which will get in bed with the devil to protects profits: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/11/15/technology/facebook-definers-opposition-research.html

Jack Daniels calls time off from running due to injury a "setback". He identifies their cause as an error in judgement in training. Seeing the positive side of setbacks, he notes that they have a positive effect on the runner's attitude. While a runner often become depressed while experiencing the setback, he/she usually returns to running with heightened motivation. This enthusiasm can lead the runner to become injured again by returning to previous running mileage and intensity.

My setback was the first in three years, an unusual healthy period of time for a recreational runner. I attribute this to a holistic approach to exercise. In my previous setback, I discovered the split squat. This movement provides a strong stimulus to peripheral muscles in the leg and along the kinetic chain to provide greater stability while running. I ran without issue until my experimentation with zero-drop and minimal shoes. However, I do not think that running in shoes made with this design philosophy caused my current setback. Rather, the particular model I chose is extremely light and, I believe, unstable for my needs.

As with previous setbacks, the extra time and energy I have from not running gives me opportunity to increase my strength training. My knowledge of this form of exercise was mostly gained in the 1980's. I have learned a lot from re-focusing on strength in the era of the Internet and YouTube. My technique in the dead lift has improved dramatically. I learned about the split squat. I have also become convinced of the advantages of combining strength and cardiovascular training to create a more holistic approach to training for health.

Honestly, the setback experience has not been completely positive. I've manage to put on roughly five pounds over the many months. This has a strongly negative impact on my self-image and sense of well-being.

When thinking about the conflicting emotional currents that I've experienced in this Setback of 2018, one moment stands out. An older non-runner remarked at one point during my long down time: "Well, you are getting older...", expressed with emphasis on the verb. Yet, I have watched my non-running peers, often while predicting my eminent demise from running by injury, get knee and hip replacements, pacemakers, or succumb to the universal expanding waist line. I've found the remark to be somewhat taunting and exceptionally motivating. My non-runner friend completely misses the point of all the physical activity. Getting older mandates the activity, it does not provide an excuse to quit it. In our society, the remark becomes an invitation and a challenge: "Give up what you're doing and come get old like us. It's easier. Come be mediocre with us." I train because the alternative is too terrible to contemplate.

 I have said it before: what we associate with getting older is nothing but the accumulated effects of lives spent poisoning ourselves with poor nutrition and completely inadequate amounts of exercise. Miraculously, these effects are reversible, but are best avoided altogether.

A set of links to follow up.....stream of consciousness thoughts....

New York Times article suggesting that bariatric surgery is the only truly successful way to lose obesity. She contradicts herself when, after noting that the obesity rate in America has gone from 15% to nearly 40% since 1976, she notes studies suggesting that obesity is strongly inherited. Among other things, it cites food cravings as a reason people who lose weight put it back on.

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/11/19/health/obesity-genetics-surgery-diet.html

 

Yet, with bariatric surgery, patients begin slowly putting on the weight again. Given the relative novelty of the procedures and their rare use, definitive data does not yet exist. But it appears that weight begins to return after as little as two years. By year 5, they have regained 44% of initial weight loss.

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/benefits-of-weight-loss-surgery-diminish-after-5-years/

Likewise with food cravings, there is evidence that they are modifiable.

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/12/181211190021.htm

Anecdotally speaking, I remember clearly in my youth that the smell or sight of a hot hamburger or warm Cinnabon used exert a huge attraction. In 1997, I returned to vegetarianism and also gave up all foods that had added sugar for taste. By 2007, I found the smell of cooking beef to be revolting and no sweets had any effect on me at all. Interestingly, when I subsequently started eating limited amounts of ethically raised meat, the appeal smell of cooking flesh returned almost immediately. Yet, no cake, cookie, or candy has any effect on me.

We wonder what is the solution to the obesity epidemic and focus on the high the failure rate, but we rarely those who are successful. The National Weight Control Registry, http://www.nwcr.ws/Research/default.htm, tracks individuals who have lost 30 or more pounds and kept them off at least 1 year.  Of these successful individuals, 78% eat breakfast every day, 75% weigh themselves at least once a week, 62% watch less than 10 hours of TV per week, 90% exercise, on average, about 1 hour per day. I suggest we study those who are successful to see what they are doing right.

 As for diet, once again anecdotally, I see it almost every day. In the grocery stores, observe the carts of the obese and those of people who are not. Likewise, my work place has a cafeteria with several venues for food. There is a noticeable difference between people at the grill, which only offers fried food and grilled red meat, and at the Subway or salad bar. Maybe the failure rate of dieting is so high because the advisors are wrong. I have noticed how addictive foods can be: there is no moderation in candies, sweetened baked goods, and sugary beverages. It is all addictive poison. This appears to apply to fatty foods also. Nothing fried is ever in moderation. At one time, I measured 26% body fat, obese for men. I have kept it off since 2005, in part, with the conviction that sugar is the enemy, frying renders everything poisonous, and all red meat demands exceptional respect.

Maybe the solution to the obesity epidemic is so far out of the conception of our advertising-shaped culture that we can no longer envision it. The "you deserve a break today" world paradigm is hedonism and materialism. It makes us obese in mind and body. Marcus Aurelius understood this when he listed the advice from people for which he was grateful: "Not to waste time on nonsense. Not to be taken in by conjurors and hoodoo artists [advertisers, motivational speakers] with their talk about incantations and exorcisms [anything that can be sold]...Not to be obsessed with quail-fighting [football] or other crazes like that. To hear unwelcome truths....To write dialogs as a student [study and write upon those studies]. To choose the Greek lifestyle--the camp-bed and the cloak." This last item is pivotal: simplicity and rigor in life, studies, and exercise.

 

Intuition tells us what we want to hear; pursuit of real knowledge leads us to the limits of what can be expressed mathematically. Beyond that lies the unknowable.

[The Dresden firebombing] changed my life. Afterwards my studies were over, my house was destroyed....War is war. The only crime is starting a war in the first place. Once it gets started, no one pays any attention to rules and regulations - it's a question of survival. That's how war is." Helga Sievers, Dresden survivor, a 20-year-old Red Cross nurse at the time of the attack.
The natural condition of man is "continual fear, and danger of violent death; and the life of man, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short." Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan

 

 

 

 


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Just move your legs. Because if you don't think you were born to run, you're not only denying history; you're denying who you are. Dr. Dennis Bramble
I was intimate with the muscle-searing pain of hills, the lung-rasping panic of track repeats, the gut-twisting ache of a 5K. Those efforts, however, feel self-imposed: an exercise in mind over matter. This particular brand of exhaustion [the marathon wall] feels like it comes from without, a punishment from the gods. Jonathan Beverly
Knowlegde is only a rumor until it lives in the muscle. Indonesian proverb
There's no such thing as bad weather, just soft people. Bill Bowerman
My philosophy on running is: I don't dwell on it; I do it. Joan Benoit Samuleson, Gold Medal, first women's Olympic Marathon, 1984

After you run, there's a sense of accomplishment; you feel like your life is meaningful. It's a moment of clarity.

We all need movement and a way to connect with the earth and sky and with each other. What better way to do that than go out for a run?

Sakyong Mipham
Processed foods are engineered to be addictive. unknown reference
There is nothing quite so gentle, deep, and irrational as our running–and nothing quite so savage, and so wild. Bernd Heinrich
So you go through that sorta mental struggle, a physical struggle, and you say jeez....this is really, really, hard.... Bill Rogers, winner New York Marathon: 76, 77, 78, 79, Boston Marathon: 75, 78, 79, 80, Fukuoka 77
I don't like the word 'pain' to describe running. Pain is a completely different thing from being out of your comfort level, which most top runners relish and distinguishes them from less competitive people. I spend more time carefully planning what I would do to combat self-sabotage than I ever did planning a strategy against a rival. Ultimately, the only rival is oneself. Lorraine Moller

Once the mind accepts anything, the body will respond.

As an African, I see the daily struggles by the majority of our people to survive. Running pain is not the most painful: hunger, diseases, torture, etc., are...

Hendrick Ramala
Being a distance runner is about handling pain. If you can't manage pain, you probably won't end up as a distance runner. Kara Goucher
You don't stop running when you get old, you get old when you stop running. Kenneth Cooper, MD, founder of the aerobics movement
Pain is inevitable; suffering is optional. The Dalai Lama; Haruki Murakami, What I Talk about When I Talk about Running
If one can stick to the training throughout the many long years, then willpower is no longer a problem. It's raining? That doesn't matter. I am tired? That's besides the point. It's simply that I just have to. Emil Zatopek
We will run the first 10 miles with our heads, the second 10 miles with our legs, and the last 6.2 with our hearts. Star, Clif Bar Marathon Pace Team member
Anyone can run twenty miles, but only a few can run the marathon. Percy Cerruty
The pain of discipline is less than the pain of regret. Anonymous
I run each day so that I do not lose the me I was yesterday and the me I might be tomorrow. George Sheehan
Mind is everything. Muscle - pieces of rubber. All that I am, I am because of my mind. Paavo Nurmi, Olympic Runner, 9 gold and 3 silver medals.
Running is the classical road to self-consciousness, self-awareness, and self-reliance. Independence is the outstanding characteristic of the runner. Noel Carroll
It is horrible, and yet fascinating, this struggle between a set purpose and an utterly exhausted frame. Arthur Conan Doyle, after attending the inaugural 1908 Olympic Marathon, including Dorando Pietri's repeated collapses just before the finish line.
Implicit in my daily duties has been the opportunity to explore and define the human potential--not only the length of life but also its quality, its extent, and its content....A fit person of age 70 is biologically similar to an unfit person of 40--this having nothing to do with genes or medical care but due solely to physical conditioning.....An annual marathon...which I now use as my annual physical exam. Who needs an annual physical if you can run a marathon?....The imperative message that all of this hold for the geriatrician, indeed for all doctors, is that as we age, the most important part in our boyd is not our heart or our lungs or our kidneys or even our brains--but our legs. As we keep them moving, the rest of the body pretty well takes care of itself. Dr. Walter Bortz, clinical associate professor of medicine at Stanford University School of Medicine, in Marathon and Beyond, Sep/Oct 2009.
From The Complete Runner's Day-by -Day Log and Calendar 2006. (2006). Marty Jerome. Random House: New York

The obsession with running is really an obsession with the potential for more and more life.

George Sheehan

I started running last year because I'd done bicycling, I'd done Pilates, I'd done Yoga, but my backside still looked like a bag of ferrets fighting.

Sarah Ferguson, the Duchess of York

The only way you can hurt your body is if you don't use it.

Jack La Lanne, on turning 90

Nothing that I have ever done in my life that is easy has been worth it.

Pam Reed, 2-time winner of the 135-mile Badwater UltraMarathon

The only real failure is the failure to try.

Joan Benoit, winner Boston Marathon, '79, '83, winner of the first Women's Olympic Marathon '84

You have to forget your last marathon before you try another. Your mind can't know what's coming.

Frank Shorter, winner Fukuoka Marathon '71-'74, Olympic Marathon 72

Denise and I often speak of the fork in the road we took in 2004, shunning the slow glide into morbidity so often followed and embracing activity, growth, and life instead. As I recover from these many months of no running due to plantar fasciitis,