Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Lapping the USDA

Besides being ruled by special interests that won't allow that asinine food pyramid be be toppled, the USDA also sets nutrition goals that are about as unambitious as you can get.

Five a day? That doesn't even begin to cut it.

I run circles around their recommendations.

According to nutridiary.com , yesterday I ate (by USDA recommendations):

109% of my protein requirements
1434% of my Vitamin A requirements
2306% of my Vitamin C requirements.
153% of my calcium requirements
410% of my fiber requirements
153 percent of my Iron requirements.

What did I eat?
12 bananas with 3 pieces of celery in the morning
2 persimmons for a afternoon snack
12 navel organges for dinner followed by 156 calories (a huge, huge bowl) of spinach with a ton of tomatoes and basil on top.

Total calories were 2,418 calories, which was about as low as I go. When I'm running 20 miles I sometimes consume 6,000 calories, and so get many times this amount of food.

The sad thing is that for most people 5 servings of fruits and vegetables is probably a stretch.

Eat your veggies.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The Crazy Miracle Fruit

This is a crazy world with some crazy fruit. Read about the miracle fruit, which can change your taste buds.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

No Fruit For The Prude

I've been on something of an exotic fruit research binge after Miami, and I made up this page for my site about coco de mer, the forbidden fruit. Check it out.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Fruit Of The Day - Durian


I just got back from a trip to Miami, where I feasted on all kinds of fruit. I think I had 48 that I had never had before, which is pretty astounding when you think about it.

Southern Florida is obviously a place that's ideal for raw foodism and health. Plenty of sun, plenty of organic fruits and vegetables, plenty of beach....

Anyway, one of my favorite viands was the Durian, an asian fruit that wreaks of onions and last week's garbage.

It tastes like ambrosia, though, and I'm already missing it. It's like the sweetest custard you could ever imagine.

They're armored like a tank, and heavy enough so they've been known to kill people when they fall from tress.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Same Route, Less Footwear

I tried the same route from the other day, only in my five fingers.

Sure enough, all those bodily complaints disappeared. The only issue was the cut on the top of my foot got ripped open, but the run in general was really smooth.

At 5-odd miles it was also the longest I've gone with no shoes.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Transitioning To A Raw Diet

I've gotten a few emails lately from people who want to know how to go about transitioning to a raw diet. It can seem daunting, I know. I wrote up this guide to help.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Shoes - Nope, Still Not Good.

I managed to gash the top of my foot the other day, and because the tight-fitting mesh of the five fingers would have ripped open the wound again, I decided to put on my old running shoes and see how the experiences differs with almost barefooting.

The difference is pretty astronomical.

No wonder I injured myself before. As I ran on W. Main after just 5.5 miles, I was aching all over.

I was trying to maintain my new stride in shoes, and successfully landed forefoot first, but it felt odd.

After a few miles my knees and shoulders were aching, just like they always have in shoes.

When I was over at OMNI Physical therapy they were amazed at how jammed up my feet and ankles got when running. I think I may have found the answer. After hauling off my shoes my feet weren't moving too well, though they had been fine in my five fingers.

Remember when I OMNI told me about my right leg not moving right? I worked on stretching out the muscle and got it under control after a month or so, but I hadn't realized that the issue had healed. I haven't had to stretch after each barefoot run, but running in my shoes I felt a distinct painful pull in the area.

In short, no more motion-control running shoes for me. I should avoid these things like the plague.





Monday, November 10, 2008

Illustrating The Stride Difference

I've gotten some emails from people asking me about the physical aspect of my new stride, and I found this online to demonstrate what I'm talking about. It's a flash animation that you can slow down to see the stress a heel strike puts on your body. Notice the difference on how far out the leg goes


Animation

Also, you might want to check out this interesting article. Skip the history part if you're only interested in the injury aspect.


On running injury reduction

Also, because people are continuously mystified by the fact that I have over 100 pounds of fruit in my house at any given time, I wrote up a guide on managing fruit

My Recent Runs

I've been trying to take it easy with my recent barefoot runs. Here's one I've done a few times. It's a nice jaunt through Walnut Grove Cemetery, but also includes varied terrain like broken sidewalk slabs, etc.

Newspaper Update

This ran in the Record-Journal Friday:

It's kind of like streaking, only with your feet. This was my off-the-cuff explanation to a friend when he found me jogging barefoot on a rare stretch of goose feces-free grass at Hubbard Park the other day.

I wasn't exaggerating too much. You feel every part of the earth that you traverse, and your feet conform to the terrain instead of staying static, locked in a solid running shoe. Stabilizing muscles that haven't been used much in years groan and strain to pick up the slack.

It's a completely different tactile experience than running shod. It's enjoyable, and is kind of freeing, but it also teaches a good lesson - how not to run.

After hurting a bone in both feet training for the Hartford Marathon in September, I had two months to ponder what I'd done wrong.

Just about anyone that knows about running would tell me to get some orthotics to correct my pronating feet and hope for the best, but given the rate at which runners injure themselves, that's not a path in which I have much faith.

And it just doesn't sit with me well that mankind ran unshod for millennia, apparently without suffering too much from it, yet my feet are defective and need correction.

So my response is to run el natural, or as close to it as I can get, and see if those expensive running shoes designed to stabilize my feet were contributing to my problem.

I've done a bit of research and found that spending more time barefoot decreases your chance of developing arthritis in the knees, and those who run barefoot at least some of the time have a decreased chance of developing the muscle strain plantar fasciitis, the bane of many runners, and of spraining their ankles.

Olympian Greeks, and the African runners who still go barefoot today, build up tough skin on their feet, but my pasty western hide doesn't especially like being rubbed against concrete, I've found.

So I've started using Vibram Five Fingers, a sort of glove for your foot. There's just enough plastic on the bottom to protect the sole from the shards of glass and rough concrete found on the streets of Meriden, but not enough to mask the clear signals the body sends that you're running wrong - such as when your heel painfully slams into the ground.

"You look like an idiot with gloves on your feet," my friend told me, as I demonstrated what I was up to.

"Yep, pretty much," is the only answer I had for him.

So what's the proper way to run, according to my noshoe method?

I'm still working on it, but it appears to be significantly different than the way I see many people running . I keep my torso erect, my feet come down flatfooted, and I take smaller, more numerous steps. Instead of reaching with my leg and pulling the rest of my body forward, my feet don't travel beyond what would be the perimeter of my shadow under a midday sun.

The end result is really pretty fun. I feel lighter, and my body isn't being jarred with every step. It's more of an animalistic lope than what I've traditionally expected from a run.

So now those unused muscles are a bit sore, especially my calves, but they don't hurt in a bad way, as did my bone injury.

After the - admittedly brief - two- and three-miles test runs I've been doing almost barefoot over the past few days, I'm noticing less strain in my shoulder blades, knees and back when I get done. It just feels better.

It's not all great, though. You also lose the safety net of a shoe. Lost in thought, my heel came down hard Tuesday on the jagged edge of one of the numerous broken slate sidewalk pieces around the city, and the center of my heel is still sore.

It's going to take me some time to build back up with a new method to the 20-mile runs that I was doing before I got injured. Hopefully, if I keep training over the winter, I can get ready for a spring marathon.

I'll have to see if my body has trouble with the abuse of long distance running with no padding.

I'm not sure what I'll do when winter comes and I can't wear the Five Fingers anymore, but I'll just have to play it by ear.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Almost There....

A few nights ago I was thrashing in my bed, trying to fall asleep. I wasn't pining after some lost love, but actually -as pathetic as it sounds- imagining how much better I'll feel when I can run again.

My feet are doing a lot better. Right now, I feel fine when I step but pressing directly into the bones will still causes some pain.

I'm going to give myself two more weeks to heal and then I should be ready to run.

I can't tell you how excited I am over the prospect of being able to just sprint along when I arrive in Florida for my vacation at the end of November.

Running on the beach.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Good News And Bad News

The good news is that a doctor -without an X-ray- told me that it was unlikely that I could have a hairline crack in any bones.

The bad news is that this still leaves me with inflamed tendons, etc, in my feet that don't seem inclined to heal.

I'm really, really, tired of not running. I feel like crap, frankly.

But what can I do.

Heal feet! Heal!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

On Not Running A Marathon

This ran in the paper Sunday:

Kick off your shoes and go for a jog in the grass. Let your heel strike the ground before the rest of your foot. Feel strange? Now run for a minute or two on the pavement the same way. That arc of pain shooting up your leg with every heel strike is Mother Nature telling you bluntly that your foot is biomechanically unsuited to run this way.

It’s an interesting experiment, and one I wish I’d tried before attempting to switch my flat-footed stride to one where I landed heel first. It was likely a mistake, I realize now, and one that will keep me out of the Hartford Marathon, which I’ve been training for since early July.

If you read running magazines and listen to a number of coaches, they’ll tell you that my decision to switch strides was a wise one. It’s supposed to increase running efficiency and make things easier on the body, but my experiment pretty much shows that such a stride is impossible to maintain comfortably without the intervention of the thick padding of a running shoe.

Many runners use this stride, but then again, by some estimates 50 percent of high-mileage runners suffer an injury every year.

A padded running shoe may block the pain, but it can’t fully correct the strain of landing repetitively on something that wasn’t made to absorb shock.

After switching over fully to a heel-strike, I ran the 12-mile New Haven Road in September, my first race ever. I did better than I expected and finished ahead of more than half the other runners, but after crossing the finish line I was hobbling. A bone on the inside of each foot was throbbing.

I stopped running in the hope of healing by the Hartford Marathon on Oct. 11, but the bones have made slow progress.
The pain isn’t severe now, but I have a feeling that if I ran 26 miles on still tenuous feet I’d be risking serious injury, and a talking to a few runners the consensus seems to be that I’d be a bad idea.

It’s also possible that throwing myself into running so quickly may have contributed as well.

There’s no question that I’m cardiovascularly fit enough to run a marathon. My breathing is never really la-bored, and I don’t find the running that strenuous.
I eat a raw food diet of only fruits and vegetables, and sip a mix of bananas and celery as I run, which seems to have kept me from ever having my muscles shut down from lack of carbohydrates. This process, called hitting the wall by runners, stops many racers in their tracks, but I haven’t had the problem so far.

But such a quick increase in mileage may have been too much for my bones to adapt to.
I also probably don’t have the bone structure to run well. Some people have arches that carve out graceful half moons in the wet sand of a beach.

My feet are as flat as they come and imprint of usually wide V in the sand.
The bones and muscles of my feet and ankles also continuously lock up. The staff of Omni Physical and Aquatic Therapy have graciously been volunteering their time to loosen me up but my body stubbornly refuses to stay loose.

Crunching down on feet that don’t move is likely compounding my problem.
I’m not giving up on my marathon, though.

I grew up overweight, and I never thought of myself as a runner. That I was able to expand from maxing out at five miles a run in June to 20 miles at the end of August completely stretched the horizons of what I thought was possible for myself.
After you’ve run 20 miles, 30 miles doesn’t seem all that daunting.

Besides that, I just love the feeling of propelling myself along with the road stretched out in front of me. I like the idea of improving myself and my time. The fact that I haven’t been able to run for over a month bothers me far more than the pain of the injury.

I’m going to heal up over the course of the winter and take some time to get back in shape, but I’ll find a spring Marathon to run next year.

In the meantime, you can read Dave Moran’s account of running the Hartford Marathon. He’s been doing these things for a while and would have likely left me in the dust if we’d both run.

Thanks to everyone in the community who has been rooting for me. I’ll keep you posted.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Andrew Goes Sorta Barefoot


“The human foot is a work of art and a masterpiece of engineering.”Leonardo Da Vinci

That the human body is pretty close to perfect, and that our best attempts to augment and improve it are inept bumblings at best and disastrous at worst is an idea that's served me well. Sunday, I had no choice but to follow through with it and go barefoot. Kinda.

One of the best things about a raw food diet is that you get previously inconceivable quantities of energy to use as you please. One of the worst things about a raw food diet is figuring out how to use it when your feet are busted.

I haven't run in over a month, and last Friday I was starting to go stir crazy. I passed up a trip to Boston this weekend becuase I needed to do some serious physical exercise before I went nuts.

I headed up to Fahnestock State Park in New York Saturday and hiked for five or six hours. By the end I was feeling some complaint from my injured bones, and, as usual of late, there was some low-level knee pain.

While hiking, I was reflecting on the ridiculousness of the situation. I had enough energy to run miles but I was stuck moving at a snail's pace- with pain to boot.

Worse, I felt that I hadn't routed out the underlying cause of my injury, and that after giving myself time to heal, that I might well reinjure myself when I took up running again.

It's a similar feeling to when my intestines were messed up with colitis. Even when I was feeling fairly good, there was always that underlying threat that they were going to go nuts again. It preyed on my mind.

The doctors essentially want to offer colitis sufferers a crutch. They'll put you on hormone pills
that treat some-but not all- of the symptoms. They won't touch the idea of curing the underlying cause- they won't even agree that there is an underlying cause.

I eventually got sick of the whole medical establishment and went with a raw food diet. By removing the underlying cause-the harmful food-, I cured my symptoms. I haven't had intestinal problems since, and I never expect to. It's extremely liberating.

So as I hiked at Fahnestock, somewhat distracted by the issue, I kept half tripping myself on the rocks strewn about the path.

This has chronically been a problem for me, despite being well coordinated. I spent my college years scaling mountains, I can do handstand scorpions, but put me on a hiking trail and I'll somehow manage to catch my shoe on a rock every 20 minutes.

Why? I can't feel the ground with my feet like I can feel the rock when I'm climbing. On a cliff face my hands are uncovered and my feet are in slipper-like climbing shoes. When hiking, there are stiff soles blocking any feeling of the ground that might tell me feet about the terrain.

This brought me back to something I've been tossing around in the back of my mind for some time. Why is it that Africans, like Ethiopian runner Abebe Bikila, who ran a world-record 2:15:17 marathon at the 1960 Olympics, can get by without Nike, but westerners need to coddle their feet in inches of padding and stabilization?

Genetics? Maybe with Bikila, but are you going to tell me that every poor African that runs barefoot has the feet of the gods?

I look at my flat, pronation-prone feet, which running store owners tell me can only run with $90 Nikes keeping them stable, and wonder if maybe, like doctors facing colitis, the running store owners haven't been selling me a crutch.

Is there any benefit to running shoes besides protection from sharp objects? Why did we even start to use them? The Greeks ran barefoot or in thin-soled thin sandals for their Olympics, and mankind went barefoot for the first 200,000 years of our stay on this planet, so why should I need shoes?

It's with this thought that I found myself staring up a trail at Hubbard Park Sunday, prepared to be humbled. On my feet were a new pair of Vibram fiver fingers. There was enough rubber under my foot to keep sharp rocks and broken glass from slashing my feet to pieces, but not enough to let me walk sloppy.

My bones are still in no condition to run, so I set off for a brisk hike.

In short, it was like all the best parts of going barefoot without the threat of sliced skin and muddy toes. As I walked, my feet melted over the terrain. I could feel the pebbles, the grass, and every dip and rise of the terrain.

These things completely changed the way I walked. Previously, though unconsciously, I trod with little regard to the biomechanical setup of my body because I was offered no feedback. My feet landed however they fell, and I had no idea if it was good or bad.

Suddenly I saw there were bad, painful ways to crunch down on your foot. And there were also perfect ways. After a hour or two I noticed that my knees weren't bothering me like normal.

I jogged in 20 second intervals on dirt to be safe, and I noticed that these things also change my running stride a lot. I find that instead of reaching my foot out in front me, I now lead with my torso, with my legs pushing off in back of me. It's the only comfortable way to do it.

This is incredibly interesting, but I'm going to have a lot of build up to do if I want carry this forward.

When I got back to my car, I noticed that there were muscles in my legs and ankles that I obviously hadn't been using in a shoe, and they were all complaining.

And that was just after a hike. We'll have to see what happens when I try to run after I heal up for a few more weeks.

I may look strange in these, but I have to say I'm liking the barefoot thing.

P.S. I'll post info about the Marathon I didn't run later.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Eating To Save The World?

I've been doing a lot of thinking about the ecological damage done by food food choices. I searched high and low on this topic without finding much, so I decided to throw some facts together myself and do an article.

You might find it interesting to look at the damage, and good, that's done to the earth through what we eat:

Eating To Save The World

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Coming Down To The Wire

Things are really coming down to the wire with my feet.

They're feeling better, but the marathon is just nine days away.

I actually made the decision to stop biking, which, as convoluted as it sounds, seems to be loosening the muscle that is pulling on the bone. By stopping the biking, which I've been doing daily to stay in shape, I've improved more in the last two days than I had in the past week.

Crazy, crazy feet.

I'm hoping for the best.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Update...Still No Running

I'm biking like crazy, but I haven't run in some time.

The bones in my feet are still sore, so I'm not running. Bones. Baaah.

OMNI Physical Therapy is doing everything in their power to get me ready to run the Marathon. They're blasting the area with ultrasound, a massage therapist is working on the muscle around the bone, etc.

When it comes down to it its a race against time. How quickly can my feet heal?

If I can run the race, I don't think I'm going to do too fantastic. I haven't run more than a couple miles since the beginning of September. I'll just have to run it slow. But at least I'll be able to finish it...hopefully.

Monday, September 22, 2008

No More Training For Me

I've given my feet weeks to heal, and it's clear that they need more time.

I've been running extremely lightly (2-3 miles 10 min/mile pace) every other day and the results are pretty consistent- I run, and the pain worsens. I even tried running on grass and dirt trails to see if it would make a difference, but no dice.

At this point I don't know what's up with my feet, but I feel I can't train anymore. I'm not willing to risk permanent injury. I still plan to run the marathon, but I'm not going to be in the kind of shape I'd like to be in when I run it.

Hopefully my feet are completely healed by then. They've got 19 days.

Until then, I'll be doing a lot of biking. It's not nearly the same thing, but at least it gets the heart going.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Running...a little

At the advice of OMNI physical therapy I'm running again, but I'm taking it easy. After some warm up biking I ran about three miles this morning at a slow pace. By the end there was pain in my foot, but not severe. It was just sort of a vague ache. I hope it's healing up.

I'm going to try to run a bit every other day and see how it goes.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Ode to Endorphins - And More Foot Trouble

After nearly two weeks of resting the sore talus bones in both feet, I took to the road for a modest 5-mile jaunt Saturday.

Let me tell you, it feels incredible to get the endorphins flowing again after just stagnating for two weeks. My muscles also felt pleasantly stretched as well.

Often people who don't do much exercise will shake their head when they hear that I'm training for a marathon. To them it seems like I'm putting myself through something grueling- and to an extent it is. But there is definitely a bonus to exercise. You feel so much better than you would.

On the downside, the bones started aching mildly after a few miles of running, which tells me that I'm not healed yet, and that my training will have to be put on the back burner yet again.

It's incredibly frustrating. The Marathon is 26 days away, and I was planning to use this month to get in one more long run and also to work on my speed. My plan was to run the race at a pace of 9/min miles or less.

Now I can't train, and the gains I've made over the last three months are probably deteriorating.

I may have to settle for just finishing the marathon and not worrying too much about my time, but we'll have to see how things go.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

When All Else Fails, Impale Your Foot

Yesterday I indulged in some logic that goes like this: the bones and muscles in my foot aren't moving properly, so let's jab some needles in them until they do.

Worked pretty well.

I was back at OMNI Physical Therapy in Wallingford to let them get another look at the issue. Besides my bones/cartilage ache, which has been giving me problems, from the beginning they've been saying that my foot doesn't really move smoothly. It probably has something to do with the fact that I'm flat footed combined with the extensive mileage I've been dragging them through.

They've been manually loosening up my foot/ankle, but it's always a temporary fix, and after a run it gets caught up again.

So this time Dr. Richard Powers mentioned that he could do some acupuncture as an alternative treatment.

I tend to be a bit skeptical about such things, but on the other hand I'm ridiculously curious and willing to experiment.

He turned both of my feet into pin cushions and left them that way for 20 minutes. When he removed them, I have to say that my feet were moving better. I could flex my feet and feel them go through their full range of motion, as opposed to getting caught on bone and muscle as they had been.

Will it stay? No idea. I'll find out when I start running again this weekend.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Emasculating Meat





Your Virility and Meat

When I gave up meat, dairy and eggs in college, it was the end product of several years of research on the subject. I drew the conclusion that it was the smart thing to do in terms of health, so I just did it.

I didn't really tell anyone, but my friends caught on that I hadn't eaten meat in quite some time, and I admitted that yes, I was now a vegan.

They started ribbing me over it, making references to my girly food as they were downing their manly burgers, etc. I put up with this for maybe a week or so before I'd had enough.

In the middle of lunch at the dining room I cut one of these comments short and launched into a five-minute diatribe explaining that I was in fact statistically more manly than they were.

When it was all over, one of my friends dropped his chicken nugget and said, "man, that was really bad ass. He just gave us his manliness as a PERCENTAGE"

I've basically distilled that diatribe, with the addition of scientific citations, on my website.

If you're interested in why meat, dairy, and egg eaters are basically emasculating themselves with each bite, you should read it.

On the other hand, if you're coming from the paper's site and you're not comfortable reading about the male reproductive system, don't follow this link.

-------------------------------
Training

The bones in both feet are still a bit sore, although better. I'm willing to give them a few more days of rest, but I should really get back to training soon.

Went for a fantastic bike ride along the coast near Madison on Friday, followed by a swim at the beach. I rode through a pristine golf course because all the little hills were fun, though I'm sure I broke some rule there.

Sunday I went for a hike at Hubbard Park.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Resting My Dogs

I'm taking it easy, frankly. I'm a firm believer in rest when you're dealing with pain. As I mentioned in Tuesday's story, a bone/cartilage on the inside of both feet is a bit sore, though it's pretty much better now. I'll be sticking to biking until I'm feeling completely pain free and healed up.The last thing I need is for that pain to become a major injury.

When I'm healed I'll start experimenting with my stride and hopefully developing something that won't hurt those bones in the future.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

The New Haven Road Race

This article ran in Today's Record-Journal:

For a guy who's never run a race before, and who hasn't engaged in a serious athletic competition since high school, I was pretty pleased when I crossed the finish line of the New Haven Road Race ahead of my goal time and in front of more than half of the other runners.

You might have seen me running around Meriden, Cheshire and Wallingford over the past few months as I prepare for the Hartford Marathon on Oct. 11. The 12-mile New Haven race was my first taste of actually being completely surrounded by a sea of runners, and it was a good way to see if I could hold my marathon pace with the press of bodies and the adrenaline of competition to deal with.

People - the ones I ran with and the ones on the sidelines- made the run equal parts worthwhile and frustrating.

When the starting gun echoed, I was ready to go. But, trapped at the far back of the surging mass of contestants, there wasn't really any place I could go. Three minutes after that I was still running way below my goal pace of nine minutes per mile. I weaved through runners for what seemed like forever. When there was space I would hop up onto a sidewalk and sprint by as many as I could.

Finally I was out of the press and away, but I was convinced that I was lagging quite a bit, so I really picked up my pace. My GPS watch was not cooperating and I had no time to stop and adjust it, so I was pretty much left guessing as to how fast I was going.

Convinced that I was going to miss my goal, I eventually just settled into a nice pace and zoned out. My breath went in and out, the scenery rolled by, and everything seemed OK.

Runners are a funny group, I observed.

Unless you're an elite runner, the only person you have to compete against is yourself, so none of the rivalry of other sports shows during a race.

Some run in solitude, but others use the run as a social event, gabbing like there's no tomorrow.

From epic tales of a dog's bravery in foiling a robbery to feisty debate over proper interpretation of Franz Kafka's "The Metamorphosis," I heard it all. I mentally dubbed the later the most intellectual conversation ever to take place between athletes during a sporting event.

Especially at the beginning of the race, I saw runners bolt by me. I was impressed by their speed until I passed a number of them three-quarters through the race. Anyone in reasonably good shape can run a few sixminute miles, but if you're walking at mile 10 with a stitch on your side, you've wasted your time.

I never expected to say this, but I really liked the cheering fans. I didn't imagine running to be a spectator sport, but in periodic clumps, the denizens of New Haven were out there cheering for us with surprising gusto.

I especially liked the rather plump old woman in a lawn chair who had rigged her garden hose up to spray the runners as they went by.

"Come cool off, honey," she told me as I splashed through.

A few movements after my "thank you," a runner behind me actually stopped running to get soaked. "This ain't a shower, skinny," she told him. "There's lots of ya that want water, and you gotta get back on the road if you're ever gonna finish this thing."

After a few seconds of chuckling, I took her advice as well, and picked up my pace.

From the New Haven Green, the 12-mile course took us past Yale University, numerous residential neighborhoods, the waterfront and several large parks. By the time I was on mile 10, I was pretty tired, but determined to make up for lost time, I speeded up a bit. We rounded the final bend and it was a straight shoot down Whitney Avenue Whoever had the idea to blast Survivor's "Eye of the Tiger" around mile 11, I can only say thanks. You just can't

Please see Running /8

From Page 7 ~ Running Raw: 12 miles done

run slowly with that song ringing through the air.

At one point, the top of my water bottle flew off and went rolling back the way I had come. I sprinted after it with a curse. I secured it before long and started sprinting to get back to my old position, which very nearly exhausted me. I got back into a steady rhythm just before the finish line came in sight.

Along the final stretch, the crowd was thick along the sidewalk, and everyone was cheering loudly or calling out encouragement. It made for a pretty memorable finish.

When I finally saw my official time, I was pretty surprised. I had managed to overcompensate for my earlier delay and finished in 1 hour, 46 minutes, and 16 seconds. I'd averaged an 8:33 pace, and came in 923rd of the 2,090 runners who finished the race.

The winner, James Carney, finished in 59 minutes and 11 seconds. The last runner to cross the finish line clocked in at two hours, 56 minutes, and 34 seconds.

I'll grant that my diet of only raw fruits and vegetables gives me a slightly different view on things, but I found it hilarious that beer and doughnuts were served at the after party. My ability to recover from exercise seems to be based on how quickly after lengthy exertion I take in simple sugars from fruit, so to see beer and doughnuts as recovery food seems a bit off.

It was a good run, and I'm glad I did it. Now I just need to figure out how to run 26.2 miles at about the same pace.

One thing that I need to change is my stride. I've been working on it with the goal of making it more efficient and reducing wear and tear, but over the last week I've been feeling some pain from the bone or cartilage on the inside of my feet. I'm hoping that the guys who have been helping me at Omni Physical Therapy in Wallingford can assist me in fixing I up before it turns into an injury.

Edward Bellows over at Innovative Massage Therapy LLC, in Wallingford, has also been a big help. Massage probably isn't the right word for what he does, which is to help people with severe muscular pain to find relief without surgery. He uses a technique called pain reflex release to push into knotted muscle and get it to smooth itself out. The technique is slightly unpleasant, but effective.

I have no chronic problems, but he's been working out on numerous knotted muscles that I've built up. He also does this amazing thing to completely clear my head. He just pushes into the back of my neck in a couple of spots. It's surprisingly effective.

I'm creeping closer to the Hartford Marathon, and I've still got a lot of training to do, so I will heed the advice of the old woman with the sprayer and get back on the road.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

New Haven Road Race, Here I come

So I finally got out for a run last night after days of work-laden torpor, and I frankly kicked ass.

I ran 10.29 miles in 1:32:17. That works out to an average of 8:58 min/miles, 166 bpm, and I burnt 1337 calories.

That's exactly the pace I'm hoping to run on Monday for the 12-mile New Haven Road Race. I think it's definitely doable.

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I chowed down on 6 cobs of raw corn fresh picked from the field last night. Fantastic stuff. I had no idea that you could even eat uncooked corn until I went raw. Is it ideal? Nope. But it's great for a treat several times over the course of a summer when you can get it fresh.

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Watermelon Disaster

Expletives rang through the air yesterday as I arrived at my garden to pick some of my fresh watermelon. What were probably raccoons slipped under the plastic netting barrier I had erected over my watermelon and cantaloupe patch and ate almost everything. Of 14 watermelons I had growing, four small Bush Sugar Baby varieties survived, and two of those were far from being ready to eat. Most of my cantaloupe are gone too.

What was really enraging is that they didn't even eat everything, and they even wrecked the single watermelon that was growing from the 200-pounder seeds I planted.

They poked their snouts through the rind and ate maybe a quarter of each watermelon. What a waste. The 200 pounder wasn't even close to being fully ripe or fully grown, but they destroyed it anyway.

I'd been looking forward to those watermelons since since April when I started on my Garden.

I'm not really the violent hunting type, so I won't be going after those raccoons with a shot gun, but I'm quite pissed off. I think I'm going to have to erect a strong fence next year to keep out everything.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

No Running and And No Sleep Make Andrew uggggggg

I've been working long hours and I'm exhausted. I worked late last night, didn't get to sleep till 12:45 a.m., and woke up at 6:30 a.m. to cover the first day of school. I haven't gotten a run in all week, and I'm feeling exhausted and wound up at the same time.

I need sleep, then running, then food. Preferably oranges. Oranges would be good.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Andrew's Culinary Delights...And More Running

I've added a recipe space to my website. Right now there's just one recipe, my raw tomato soup- wonderful in it simplicity but delicious in its taste. I'll be adding more later, and I'm hoping that other raw foodies out there will submit some favorites of their own.

After last weekend's 20 miler, I took a break from distance to concentrate on pace. I ran 11.60 miles in 1 hr, 52 min on Saturday. That's an average pace of 9:43 min miles. 1500 calories burnt, and an average heart rate of 162 bpm. I'm going to get this down to around 9 min/miles, and I'll be working on that. I think I'll set my GPS to track speed instead of heart rate and see how that goes.

Friday, August 22, 2008

My Beef With The FDA

The FDA just oked the irradiation of lettuce and spinach. Click here for details.

I don't have time to rant too much, but really FDA, what's wrong with you? Should we clean up the animal feces contaminating our irrigation channels, or should we just say...that's too much work for the corporations that control us. Let's take the easy way out and nuke our fresh food, essentially turning it into dead food.

I love in the article how they cite extended shelf life as an asset!

Here's why is sucks if you're a human being.

1)Food irradiation can result in loss of nutrients, for example vitamin E levels can be reduced by 25% after irradiation and vitamin C by 5-10%. This is compounded by the longer storage times of irradiated foods, and by loss of nutrients during cooking, which can result in the food finally eaten by the consumer to contain little more than 'empty calories'. This is potentially damaging to the long and short-term health of consumers, particularly for sections of society already failing to obtain adequate nutrition.

2) When food is exposed to high doses of ionising radiation, the chemical composition and nutritional content of food can change. Radiolytic by-products are often formed in irradiated food. Very few of these chemicals have been adequately studied for toxicity. One such chemical - 2-DCB - can cause DNA damage in rat colon cells at high doses.

3) Food irradiation does not inactivate dangerous toxins which have already been produced by bacteria prior to irradiation. In some cases, such as C. botulinum, it is the toxin produced by the bacteria, rather than the bacteria itself, which poses the health hazard.

4) Irradiation can cause mutations in bacteria and viruses leading to potentially resistant strains.


Honestly, what's wrong with you FDA. Stop messing with my food!

And while you're at it could you ban Bayer from producing the pesticide that's causing Colony Collapse Disorder? The Bees will love you.

Training


Today was a cross training day for biking. 17 miles or so.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Proud Father Of Produce


It's been a poor year in CT for gardens, with too much rain and too little sun, but my produce has been coming along pretty steadily regardless.

I just pulled a titan of a tomato out of my garden and it was ridiculously delicious along with some fresh lettuce, some celery, a bit of avocado, and a whole bunch of other tomato varieties in my giant salad last night.

Some people scoff at my assertion that organic, freshly-picked produce tastes incredibly better than the 1000 miles away, pesticide-ridden, waxed-covered greenhouse produce you find in the stores. I inevitably find that these people 1) Don't eat much raw produce, 2) Rarely bother to taste what premium quality produce tastes like.

One thing I noticed after I went raw and my taste buds adjusted to the lack of salt and spices in my diet was that I could taste whole new levels of complexity in my food.

I'm unabashedly obsessed with tomatoes because all of the varieties have such complex tastes. I've got a dozen cherry, plum, and full-sized tomato varieties in my garden alone. I'll often bite into one and just enjoy the subtle tastes that unveil themselves.



One of the greatest parts of having a garden is that you'll be hard find the equal of your organic garden in any store, and you can have so much for so little cost. Even in this poor growing year, I have a huge bounty.

Unfortunately, the fate of my three watermelon varieties and my cantelope is up in the air, with some of the vines not looking too hot, but we'll see. I think all the rain is effecting them, and some of the larger watermelons have rotted.

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Today's Run:

Today I did some marathon pace training. I ran 9.13 miles in 1 hour and 23 minutes. That was an average of 9:08 min miles, and an average heart rate of 158 bpm. I burned 1186 calories, or roughly 11 bananas.

What I'm finding is that I have more than enough cardiovasular stamina to to keep up this higher pace, but my muscles don't like it. I'm going to have to keep training at this speed till they do.

It's actually really annoying because my heart rate keeps dropping whenever there's a hill to go down. Sure I can sprint down it, but this is exhausting for the muscles on the long hauls.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Marathon Pace

Quick Summary:

I was too busy to post yesterday, but I did get some running related stuff done.

I met Ed Bellows of Innovative Massage Therapy in Wallingford Tuesday morning. He describes himself as a muscle medic, and is trained in Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation. Basically he finds the knotted muscles that most people have running through their body, and points of pain, and then works the laundry list until they're all gone.

He was nice enough to take a look at me pro bono and started working on some knotted muscles in my legs and some spots of pain I had in my neck, etc.

Definitely a new experience for me, and quite satisfactory. I don't know if those muscles will stay loosened, but I certainly feel better for having it done.

Later I headed over to OMNI Physical Therapy, and they told me that my stride has come a long way. I've been working on the stretches they've given me to even out my hips, and concentrating on rolling from the heel to the ball of my foot when I run.

Today:

Now that I've proven I can go the distance, though I may do one or two more long runs, I'm going to concentrate on speed. I ran six miles at marathon pace this morning. I averaged 9:05 min miles. The key is maintaining that pace over many miles, and that's something I'm going to have to work on.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Your Body After 20 Miles

You've gone 19.70 miles of a 20-mile run, and you've just passed your apartment. You wish you could stop, but you refuse to quit after all that work, so you keep moving and think about how to come up with .30 miles. You turn onto Colony Street.

Your legs sort of stopped responding about a mile back. You're still moving forward at a run, so the signal from your brain must be going through, but your legs feel like a distant blur of sensation.

You turn onto Washington Street, figuring that you can loop around, and then realize that you're running up the hill. Yet another hill. The last thing you needed was another hill.

You keep going. Your run becomes a kind or ragged trot that seems to favor one side. You imagine that someone watching you must think you're doing some sort of pony impression. In your exhausted state, you find this inexplicably funny. Ponies? Are you becoming delusional? Stop thinking about ponies and keep running.

Your GPS watch beeps, telling you you've done 20 miles. You see the back end of your apartment ahead and finish the final bit of distance at a run. It's the principle of the thing. You don't stop for the last 30 feet. You limp up the fire escape and get inside.

You pry off your sodden clothes and look at your right foot, noticing the large blood blister below the ball. "Oh", you say, rather matter of factly.

You do your stretching, which will stop you from being unbelievably sore the next day. You've been doing yoga for six year and your balance is pretty nifty. You can do handstands and arm balances, but today, you barely stop yourself from toppling over as you stretch.

You finish and head to the kitchen and systematically devour a couple thousand calories of fruit. You'll need 5,100 today just to break even. Michael Phelps needs 12,000 a day. How does he do that? you think.

You take a shower and then plop down into your chair. The fruit is already doing its thing and within an hour you feel 70 percent revived. You'll need sleep though, and lots of it, to fully recover.

Your mood feels really really great despite the hell you just put yourself through. This is runner's high. You'll feel fantastic the rest of the day.

"He he he," you find yourself chuckling for no reason. "20 miles, you crazy SOB". Yes, you've definitely cracked, because there's nothing funny about it.

Note: I just did up the map and it said my route was 21.61 miles, though my GPS said 20. I have to think that the GPS is more accurate, but who knows.



-------------------------
Analysis

This was a tough run. No getting around it. From the very beginning I had less energy than on my previous 18-mile run last weekend. I wasn't getting enough sleep on the previous days, so that might have caused it. Maybe I needed more carbs.I also had some cramps at the beginning of run, which was different than last time.

That's the thing about running. It's half stuff you can control and half intangibles that you're unsure you can control.

Also, I registered for the marathon, so I'm all set.

Sunday I went to the beach to get some sun on my blister and wash it in the salt water. Felt really good to lie in the sun.

Today I decided to go biking for maybe 10-12 miles.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Protein, Protein, Protein....and tomatoes

Of all the emails I get, protein is by far the chief topic of concern. How am I getting it? Why am I not wasting away after around eight months on this diet?

I was reading "Walden" a few weeks back and I was reminded of a quote I had come across earlier by Thoreau on protein.

"One farmer says to me, 'You cannot live on vegetable food solely, for it furnishes nothing to make bones with,' and ... all the while he walks behind his oxen, which, with vegetable-made bones, jerk him and his lumbering plow along in spite of every obstacle."
-Henry David Thoreau

People have been so brainwashed by poor information that they think that meat, dairy and eggs are the sole source of protein, and that we need massive quantities of the stuff to build muscle, when just about every quality piece of science says otherwise.

If you're looking for quality info on protein, check out a recent page I put up at my site, which should explain why plant protein is superior for health, and why you don't neat animal protein at all.

Actually, I was going to write about tomatoes, but I have to get to work on a feature I'm working on.

Last night I biked 16.12 miles to Middletown. Today is my rest day for this weekend's 20-mile run.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Running Shorts

I had to come into work early today and didn't get a chance to run, but I'll be biking after work.

One thing I've been thinking about recently is running shorts..and swimming trunks for that matter.

My beef with them is that whoever designs these things has to be an idiot or physiologically my polar opposite.

They all have these asinine mesh linings. I have no idea what their purpose is, but on running shorts they're often touted for their magical ability to fight bacterial build up. This magical process is not explained. I think the whole concept of the interior lining is some sort of prudish notion left over from someone fearing a look up their shorts.

But when you run or swim, you get wet with sweat or water. The lining of the pants then clings to your nether regions, and if you keep moving, it starts chafing you. Running with wet material clinging to you down their is not fun.

I've bought two pairs of running shorts this summer, each of which I've surgically relieved of their linings.

No more chafing.

Anyone know what those things are really for? Does anyone enjoy them? Do they not cause problems for you?

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

A Gadet For Training

I didn't have time to post yesterday because I was swamped with work, but I did receive my Garmin 305 GPS/Heart Rate/Pace tracker two days ago, so I've been fooling around with that. It's pretty cool, and I'm just figuring out how it all works.

Today was my first morning of training with a specific heart rate in mind.

I ran at marathon pace, which is considered 80-90 percent of my maximum heart rate.

This came out to an average of 161 beats per minute, or an average pace of 9:05 minute miles. Running 5.09 miles took me 46 minutes. It's a faster pace than I'm used to, but it was a good challenge, and I can tell that this gadget is going to be a good training tool.

Every time I slowed down unconsciously it gave me the most annoying beep, and continued to beep every few seconds until I picked up my pace.

After a bit of cursing under my breath, I definitely ran faster.

"I'll be damned if I let that SOB beep at me," I was thinking.

So after awhile I kind of learned what a certain heart rate feels like and just did my best to maintain it.

Running at this pace should theoretically bring me in under my four-hour goal for the marathon.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Smashing Through 18 Miles




Saturday

I smashed my way through over 18 miles on Saturday. It was hands down the best long-distance run that I've done so far, and I really feel like I've made a huge breakthrough.

Running 18.5 miles is going to be tiring no matter what you do, but I finished feeling like I could have pushed myself to do more.

What did I do differently? I've really been working on my stride, trying to make sure that my steps land correctly and roll from heel to toe. I'm probably did that for about 3/4 of the run, which is good considering that I'm forcing my body to relearn a very basic motion.

This took a good portion of the strain off my knees and ankles.

The other huge breakthrough was fuel. Previously, I had stopped half way through my run to drink my banana/celery drink (lots of water, 1-2 bananas, a few stalks of celery). I felt good after that, but I my energy gradually dropped as I did the second half of my run.

This time, I started off with my water bottle full of the mixture, and I took a sip every few minutes. This provided a pretty consistent level of glucose and fructose as well as critical sodium, which kept me feeling good. On my last 16-mile run I was starting to get a headache towards the end, probably because my body had shifted off sugars to running on fat, a highly inefficient process.

I'd actually like to have eaten some more calories and gotten a bit more water, but I did well enough. I'll have to examine new ways to get more fuel.

I did take a 15 minute break in the middle to stretch, mix up more drink, and eat a bit before hitting to road. After this, I felt like I was back up to 80-90 percent of my starting energy level, with just a bit of muscle fatigue.

I won't have this opportunity to take a break in the actual marathon, so I might want to experiment with going without it.

That being said, I'm pumped. I feel like I'm going to do really well in this marathon, and completely bypass this wall everyone talks about.

Youthful hubris? Perhaps.

We'll have to wait and see.

Until then, bring on more bananas.



Monday:

I took a quick run around Hanover Pond this morning. -5.38 Miles


Friday, August 8, 2008

Cross Training

Today was my rest day from running in preparation for my 18-mile run this weekend.

I took a bike ride up the mountain to Hubbard Park. I was up early, and the mist hanging along the peak over the reservoir was quite beautiful.

The ride up that steep road to Castle Craig is a good challenge. One day I'd like to run it.

The castle was shrouded in fog, but in the distance I could see areas lit up by patches of sunlight. Nice effect.


Thursday, August 7, 2008

Greens Do The Body Good



Someone emailed me recently in awe of the volume of food I eat. I was trying to put it in perspective for him, and told him that the amount of salad that would fill a platter meant to serve a SAD family of four is generally about what I eat every night after my fruit meal.

I took a picture of the salad I made last night for perspective, which is above.

What you're seeing is spinach and lettuce leaves, sliced cherry tomatoes, cucumber slices, and a "dressing" of blended tomatoes and celery. I can't emphasize enough how amazingly good that dressing tastes once your taste buds are off processed junk, salt, etc.

It was a nice cool morning for my run, and I headed up to Giuffrida park.

If anyone is wondering, the reason my weekday runs have been a bit shorter than I was doing is because OMNI has suggested that Iput my primary effort into my distance days, but also to work on shorter runs that maintain a good pace.

I feel like I'm kind of a slacker for not doing at least nine miles during the week, but I guess it's for the best. I'll be attempting 18 this weekend.

I've been working on my hip stretches and my stride. The stride is starting to feel more normal, but it's still awkward. I still find myself running and realize that I haven't been doing heel to toe for the past five minutes.

I'm looking forward to getting this Garmin heart rate/GPS system so I can track my stats more definitively.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Lap Around The Lake

I took a pretty easy run around Hanover Pond and the surrounding area this morning. I was concentrating on my stride and trying to got heel to toe. It's surprisingly hard to do steadily.

One thing I don't like about it is it shortens my stride, forcing me to take more steps to cover the same distance. It's also almost impossible to run up hill while hitting your heel because you land midfoot. This is going to take some getting used to.

I ordered a Garmin 305 to monitor my heart rate, pace, etc, so I should have that by next week. It's an expensive gadget, but I can use it for my biking and running, so It should be useful.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

A Few Stretches To Grease The Hip

As I mentioned before, I've been told that my right hip is higher than my left. Today I met with David Harper of OMNI Physical and Aquatic Therapy in Wallingford, and he gave me a series of exercises that will hopefully loosen up the muscles keeping my right hip tight and off kilter.

He also gave me a strange exercise that I do with a tennis ball which forces me to breath in a new way. It feels good and....expansive, if that makes sense. I've been doing yoga and breath exercises for a long time, and this is definitely in a different category.

We also went running together, and he explained some of the training he wants me to do.

One of the things I need to work on is rolling from my heel to my big toe as I run. I find doing this uses a whole new series of muscle in my leg. It also seems to reduce some soreness I had been getting in my ankles, but it's too soon to say for sure.

I have to mentally force myself to consistently do it or I forget and revert to my old stride, which falls in the middle of my foot.

I'm not exactly sure how far we ran, but I I think it was somewhere around four miles.

I'm interested in testing my heart rate, and was loaned an old HR monitor to do this. I just need to rustle up some batteries.

I actually think I was under guessing on my speed earlier. I may be going significantly faster than 10 Min Miles, but I'll have to do a real check to be sure. I used to be able to maintain six-minute miles for 20 minutes on a treadmill in college, though I would be quite tired afterwards.

This is way too fast for an endurance race, though.

Anyway, I'll post more tomorrow.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Victory Over My Leg





16.52 miles........check.

After being stopped at mile 13 or 14 by my rebellious left leg on my last attempt, I reran the route on Saturday. This time I kicked its ass. I bookended the run with days of rest, and I'm feeling good. The only lingering effect is slightly sore calves

On my return trip the skies opened up on me, soaking me completely. Arcs of lightning lit up the sky and thunder rumbled. Fantastic time to be running, I thought.

Actually, I came to really enjoy it. There is something elementally powerful about being caught in a lightning storm. You're so soaked that you don't care about being more wet, and so you just run as electricity flies through the sky. I happened to be running back up the Quinnipiac Gorge Trail when this was happening, and there wasn't a person to be seen. The rain was smashing into the pavement, and it was peaceful. An interesting experience.

Unfortunately, I did get a blood blister. I've never had a blister from running, and I was wondering if it might have been caused by my sodden socks and shoes. I wasn't sure if I should run with it, so I just biked this morning, but I'll be back on the road tomorrow.

Saturday's Run:


Monday's Bike Ride:

Friday, August 1, 2008

Today's Article, Salad, and The Weekend.

Video:

First off, you might want to check out the video just posted to the sidebar. The online crew filmed it and put it together, so a big thanks to them for that. I understand that they're going to try for a few more later on.


Veggies and Salad


I've gotten some email asking about salads. They want to know what I do if I'm not eating oily salad dressings. Well, after your taste buds adapt, you come to like greens and veggies as they are.

The kind of dressings sold in the store a extremely fattening and devoid of just about anything nutritionally worthwhile. Oil is 100 percent fat, and even if it's vegetables fat, it's not something you want added to your salad. A huge salad might be under 300 calories before dressing, but over a thousand after it's added.

If you're just a dressing fiend, though, then add my favorite healthy dressing. Take a bunch of fresh, juicy tomatoes and a few stalks of celery. Put them in a blender and mix to desired consistency. (Some like it dicey, some like it liquidy like real dressing). Throw that on your salad you you've got a great taste that's great for you.

Lime or lemon juice is another healthy option.

Finally, you might like throwing on some fruit to add flavor.

If if you eat a raw diet long enough, all this stuff will become pleasant additions. Your taste buds get a rest from the stimulants and let you taste the real flavors of your salad.

The Weekend:
This weekend I'll be reattempting my 16 miles run. I've given myself plenty of rest, and I feel extremely ready. Wish me luck.


Article:

This article ran in Friday's Record-Journal:

Pounding away on a treadmill at OMNI Physical and Aquatic Therapy in Wallingford, I was informed that my right hip is higher than my left, which throws off my stride and keeps me drifting to the right. It’s some of the best news I’ve heard since I started this endeavor.

The day after my article in the paper announced that I’d be taking on the Hartford Marathon on a raw diet, and I admitted that I hadn’t the slightest clue about how I should train, I came into the office to find my inbox and voice mail flooded with generous offers of assistance.

I’ve heard from grizzled veterans of dozens of marathons and relatively new runners. Many recommended good books or just gave a few pointers. I’ve heard about the dreaded “wall”, which can leave a strong runner virtually prostrate after 18 miles because they pushed too hard and didn’t take in enough sugar.

At least forty people have contacted me over the last two weeks if you count my blog, some from across the country, and I simply couldn’t answer all the messages. City officials and random people on the street have stopped me to ask about my progress and wish me luck.

But the best opportunity that’s come my way because of this is the offer from the OMNI staff of owner Frank Forte, Exercise Physiologist David Harper, and Chiropractic Physician Dr. Richard Powers. I caught their attention with my article, and they’ve offered to walk me through the training process and hopefully correct any problems I might have before they become injuries.

I’ve been running a few miles a day for years, but I’ve never really pushed myself, and it’s always been with the tentativeness of someone who’s never had a running coach.

So to have someone firmly tell me that I need some work, and who’ll walk me through the nesecarry exercises and running techniques to get my form in good order, is actually something of a relief.

I’ll be meeting with Harper soon to work out the kinks.

Forte has been running marathons for years, and he had a good deal of information for me. We covered everything form the best way to handle water on long runs- do a large figure eight route around your car so you can periodically refill on calories and water- to how to handle the wear and tear on your body.

“The rest is almost more important than the running,” he said, which is something that I’ve been starting to realize over the past couple of weeks.

Following my attempt to run all the way to Cheshire and back to Meriden, a trip of about 16 miles, I slept 12 hours. I also think I’ve been adding to the load of my leg muscles too quickly, which was probably behind my left thigh locking up on mile 14 of that trip. I went from averaging 20-25 miles a week before my training to 45 or so miles last week. I’m determined to ramp up my mileage at a slower rate from here on out.

One of the things that Forte suggested as a reasonable goal to shoot for was a sub four-hour marathon, which is considered pretty respectable for a first timer. I like the challenge, so I think I’ll give it a shot.

He told me that I had a thin build, which will help me out. “You’ve got the genes for it,” he said.

I now find it interested to hear all this talk of good and bad genes. People are plagued by illness because of their genetic misfortune, you hear.

When I was 220 pounds at age 17, I cursed my bad genes. Now that I’m 163 at age 23, have my genes changed? I remember my youth football coach talking to my father when I was 10 or 11 and saying that I was such a big guy, yet I could run down the field pretty fast. I must have good genes, he said. Now I’m thin, but I’m probably not fast enough to distinguish myself sprinting. Now I’m average speed. Did my genes worsen?

All the backaches, headaches, and regular head colds that plagued my early life have vanished since I stopped eating processed food, meat, dairy and eggs four years ago. Things have only gotten better since I started eating just fruits and vegetables six months ago. Did my health genes improve?

No. It’s all contextual. I could probably become a fast sprinter if I demanded it of my body and gave it the right fuel.

I’m determined to run this marathon and do the best job that I can. Plenty of people run them, of course, but it’s going to be especially rewarding to me because of the absurdity of me doing it previously.

Almost every time I take to the road I remember this particularly miserable run I made regularly on that youth football team. It was hot, I was wearing all my equipment, and my lungs were laboring for breath. I was miserable. I hated that run, and I dreaded it. Looking back, I realize that the distance couldn’t have been more than a quarter of a mile!

Now I look forward to my daily runs that cover the breath of the city and beyond. The endorphins are pumping, I’m feeling great, and I don’t feel like my ability to breath has the slightest impact on my ability to run. Running is a joy, even if it’s a joy that sometimes beats the crap out of you and steals your wallet.

I look around on these beautiful summer mornings and wonder why more people aren’t out on the road with me. People complain about the heat, but one of the benefits of this diet is that you run several degrees cooler than the average person. The heat doesn’t really get to me.

Anyone crazy enough to join me? All you need are some bananas and a pair of running shoes.

For daily updates on my training and maps of my routes, check out my blog at: http://running-raw.blogspot.com/

For information on my diet, check out my site: www.raw-food-health.net

Thursday, July 31, 2008

The Economics of Fruit


Stuck into an inhospitable crag bordering the parking lot next of the Record-Journal building, there sits an old neglected apple tree. It's daily washed with car exhaust, and some type of vine has wrapped it up, slowly strangling it. It's quite obvious that no one has done anything for this tree in a long, long time.

And so it was with a great deal of surprise that I noticed it's branches filled with green apples last fall. I did a bit of climbing and came away with a few. To my surprise, the apples were fantastic, and easily the equal of any I get from the orchard.

It's a tree that got me thinking.

Today is a rest day for me, so I thought I'd briefly talk about the economics of my diet.

Someone emailed me recently and said that my diet may may be healthy, but that it's "unsustainable". Not everyone can afford to have fruit, they said. Our nation can't handle lots of diets like yours.

I beg to differ. Fruit growing is something I've been researching lately, and my take on the situation is the complete opposite. There can be nothing more sustainable than fruit.

Take that old tree for example. It's probably been dutifully producing a bumper crop- that usually rots on the pavement of the parking lot while people go hungry in the city- for decades.

Fruit is actually the most efficient use of farm land. Orchards produce the most calories per acre of any crop. We could use a tenth of today's farmland to support the entire nation, or use all of today's farm land planted with fruit trees to feed a huge population.

So why are fruits and vegetables so expensive? It's a good question that I'm very curious about. I think that part of it is that they've taken on a kind of boutique image. I've seen locally grown tomatoes for sale for $4 a pound!

If you've ever grown organic tomatoes from seed, you know that tomatoes cost pennies to grow. $4.00 a pound is ridiculous. I've been harvesting a huge crop from my garden for little cost.

It's the same thing with fruit. Fruit is relatively passive. Sure, orchards trim and fertilize fruit trees to maximize harvests, but you can abandon a tree like the one next to the parking lot and it will keep producing food for you. You can plant a healthy tree and it will still be feeding your great grandchildren. It's actually amazing if you stop and think about it.

As for my food budget, it's actually pretty reasonable. I'm a reporter, and can't afford tons of organic fruit on my pay, but I do pretty well for myself. I buy in bulk.

Even with the increase in price, bananas can be had for .44 cents a pound. The 40-pound box I buy every week costs me $17.60. Because they're so packed with nutrients and minerals, calorically dense, and just plain tasty, bananas form a decent part of my diet.

But I buy what's in season and cheapest. Citrus fruits in the winter, peaches, nectarines and watermelons in the summer, apples in the fall, and anything else that that looks good. If you buy in bulk, you get good deals.

Roger's Orchards in Southington, for instance, will sell you a half bushel of peaches (seconds that taste great, but look slightly ugly) for $16.

I usually spend $50-60 a week for fruits and veggies.

When you consider that I no longer have much use for restaurants, and only grab a cheap salad when I go out to restaurants with friends, it's probably fair to say that I'm saving an additional $20 at least.

The other factor is long term. Sure, I might pay more now for my health, but science says that I'll be reaping the benefits as I age.

Studies have shown that a low fat diet like mine (fat under 10 percent compared to 30-40 percent of calories from fat for the average SAD Diet) has no problems reversing and preventing heart disease. A heart bypass operation costs $180,000. How much does a lifetime of diabetes care cost? Cancer risk has been shown to be very linked to diet. Think about the price of chemo.

How much would you pay to avoid arthritis, headaches, and have tons of energy?

I'd say that the economics are in my favor.

The other ridiculous factor is that the government subsidizes poor health by underwriting meat, dairy, and egg production, as well as grains like corn that get turned into high fructose corn syrup, an ingredient in most junk food. They should be subsidizing healthy food.

Now we're talking about universal health care, so we can pay for the meat that clogs the man's arteries, and then we can pay for the heart bypass surgery to keep him alive.

It's a strange world.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

I Need More Sleep and A Run Through The Cemetery

The elite Kenyan runners sometimes spend 16 hours in bed during their peak training season, my research tells me.

I can commiserate. The more I run, the more I need time to heal and recover. I mentioned that while recovering from my Saturday 16-mile attempt, I slept 12 hours. That's probably a record for me.

But the thing is that I'm a reporter. I'm often forced to be mentally on my toes and stimulated late into the evening. It's not too uncommon for me to not get home until 8:00 or 9:00 p.m. When you're trying to get to bed early, it can be pretty hard to wind down.

Around 11:30 p.m. I was fidgeting in bed last night, trying to fall asleep, but suffering from an overactive mind. Sometimes meditation works, but not if I'm too agitated.

I ended up getting up, reading for an hour or so, and then finally going to sleep. I woke up the next morning at 7:30 when the light started creeping under the shades.

By 8:30 a.m. I was on the road, pounding the pavement, creating even more of a backlog of sleep needs.

Right now I'm feeling a bit tired. I can never sleep while I can see light, so napping doesn't really work.

Some people would say drink caffeine, but that's just robbing Peter to pay Paul. It doesn't solve the underlying needs of my mind and my body.

Such is life, I guess. I'll try to get to bed earlier tonight.

The Run:

Tonight I took a zigzag course around the city, eventually headed through Walnut Grove Cemetery. I don't really understand cemeteries. I would be annoyed to know that my corpse was permanently squatting on a good piece of land. Walnut Grove is beautiful, despite the tombs and gravestones. It could be a park.

But then I suppose it could also be a housing development. At least the place affords me a pleasant, shaded place to run as it is.

Future Posts:
1) Last night I worked with some the friendly folks at Omni Physical Therapy, who volunteered to take a look at my running and give me some tips. I'll be writing an article for the paper about that experience soon

2) The Economics of Fruit

3) The Mental Side of Running

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Sixteen Miles And The Lesson Well Taken

Saturday:

It was a beautiful day Saturday morning, and I set off around 10:30 a.m on a 16 mile jaunt. On this, the longest distance I had ever run, I decided I was going to experiment with some things.

The first was breakfast. I've always had cramping problems before when I've run with food in my stomach. I decided to eat eight bananas about two hours before I set out. I'd done this before with watermelon, but banana is more calorically dense, which you need to fuel a long run. It's also a more substantial food, and theoretically could give me some digestive challenge compared to the watermelon.

As ran down W. Main Street, I I felt some mild tightness in my stomach, but it passed away pretty quickly.

I headed down Oregon Road, up the Quinnipiac Gorge Trail, and into Cheshire. W Meriden Road is basically a long climb that lasts a few miles, but I didn't have too much of a problem with it.

I was rationing my water, but by mile seven or so I had run out. I was purposely taking this route so that I could stop off at my parents house. There, I had asked my parents to pick some celery from the garden and save me a couple of ripe bananas to try another experiment- my raw "energy drink."

It's simple, but far better than the crap they sell at the store. After a couple of hours, I was feeling fairly tired and a bit thirty. I made a smoothie out of celery and two bananas and a whole lot of water. I sipped it slowly, stretched, and set off back to Meriden after about 20 minutes.

I suppose a 20 minute break in the middle of my run is cheating, but whatever.

So I felt completely refreshed with my "energy drink" and had no lack of energy as I powered up the hills in the neighborhood I grew up in and back down to Meriden.

On about mile 13 or 14, I ran into a problem, though. My legs had been tired before my run, and after a couple hours my left leg was shot. I wouldn't exactly describe the sensation as pain. It was more like a really deep tiredness. It's like my muscle had come off its track. It was just telling me to stop.

I could have powered through it, but I figured that it was better to slow down and walk rather than risk injury.

I found it really, really annoying to be walking all the way back to Meriden when I had plenty of energy.

But my muscular rebellion had a good point. I had probably been averaging 25 miles a week previous to my training.

Last week, I ran 47. I think that while I was cardiovascular fit enough for the mileage, my leg muscles may not have been prepared.

After a massive meal after I got back to to my apartment and a lot of stretching, my leg was soon bending and functioning just fine, though it was a bit sore.

I slept 12 hours that night. I was completely exhausted and the sleep felt fantastic.

I took all of Sunday off for rest and, as I was off from work Monday, I didn't run that day either, but instead decided to go to the beach and do some swimming.





Tuesday:


After two days of rest, I was ready to run again. I had a nice tour of the city and stretched my legs a bit.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Eight Miles and The Return of The Sun




It's nice, really nice, to run in the cool morning air under a bright sun. The last few days I've been hot, soaked, and treated to dark skies.

Life just seems a bit nicer when the sun is out, and my running seems to improve as a result. Just in my head? Maybe.

I had a really nice eight mile run down Oregon road, up the Quinnipiac River Gorge Trail to the Cheshire Border, back on the winding road past Hanover Pond into South Meriden, and back around the pond to the downtown.

I was thinking as I ran that I seem to not be winded as I run. I could run faster in that capacity, but my leg and calf muscles seem pretty tired by mile six or seven and start to slow me down.

I think people are starting to recognize me from the pictures of me that have run in the paper. An old guy shouted out to ask me how many miles I had run yesterday on my walk to work. Other people I call up for quotes ask if I'm "that running guy."


Getting into Fighting Shape


I've been purposely dropping my body weight slowly but surely. I'm trying to get my body fat percentage down to single digits -where professional runners generally keep it- while still taking in enough calories for exertion.

I weigh myself periodically, but don't really worry too much about how on track I am. I weighted myself Tuesday on the fancy scale I got over the winter, and I'm on track.

It tells me:

Weight: 162.4 pounds
Body Fat Percentage: 10.8 percent
Water Percentage: 69.6 percent
Bone: 8.6 pounds
Muscle 53.9 percent.

I realize that this doesn't add up to 100 percent. I believe how it works is that the water percentage can be found in all parts of your body. There is water in your fat, muscle, etc.

But adding muscle and fat together only account for 64 percent. Does the 8.6 pounds of bone fill in the rest? I don't think so. So where's the rest of my weight kept?

Anyone know how this works?

I also want to apologize to Bill, who I apparently inadvertently stood up for a run this morning.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

The Watermelon Experiment




A morning dentist appointment kept me from running far today, but it also gave me the chance to experiment with breakfast.

I've long avoided food before my morning runs because I've found that it makes me cramp up. That works fine for four-mile morning runs, but what about 26-mile afternoon runs? Fuel really begins to become a problem.

So today I ate half of a watermelon for breakfast at about 7:15 a.m. I started running after I got back from the dentist at about 9 a.m., and it didn't give me a cramp.

I have no idea why not. I'm going to experiment with some blended bananas before a run this weekend.

The Response: I just wanted to thank everyone in the community who has emailed or called me to give me advice. I've probably had at least 30 people contact me since Tuesday.

Diet Questions: I've been fielding a ton of questions about my diet, what I eat, why I haven't wasted into a gelatinous blob, etc. Rather than answering all these questions individually, I'd like to ask that people check out my website first, and then email me if you still have questions. The page is: Diet Page


Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Running in The Rain





I'm not sure if my body is getting used to the strain, or if my new running shoes are just that good, but I didn't have too much of a problem with nine miles today.

I was certainly a bit tired by the end, but at least I was cool. The skies opened up on me about half way through the run and I was completely soaked.

I don't have the romantic attachment to the rain that a lot of New Englanders seem to have. Our species grew up in equatorial Africa, and I think clear skies and sunshine is what we were meant for. But standing on the bank of Cresent lake at Guiffrida Park, the fog hugging the surrounding peaks, I had to admit that there was a certain sodden tranquility to the place so early in the morning.

You'd never know unless you hiked up, but the entire opposite side of the mountain (large hill?) is completely missing, ripped away for some metal or for gravel.

No Sidewalks = Bad

Running out of the park and up Westfield road, I was forced to jump onto the embankment every few minutes by the huge dump trucks filled with rock that rumbled by, frequently spraying me with brown water.

The road eventually runs under the giant conveyor belt that runs over the road, dumping rock onto the ground on the other side. The mountain is shielded from view by foliage and fences, so you'd never know of the huge gap in the landscape.

Sick of the trucks spraying soot and soaking me, I probably would have turned around at that point had I not already mapped out my route to get the distance right. I continued on to Atkins Road, which may be in Middletown (The paper boxes had turned from the Record-Journal to the Middletown Press)and then headed back.

On the way back I went through Brookside Park, which seems a pleasant, if slightly overgrown place. I also discovered a Capoeira place downtown. I've always wanted to be able to do back flips.....

I was starving when I got back and devoured quite a bit of fruit and some celery for electrolytes. Overall I feel pretty good. I feel that I could do 15 miles right now. But 26?

We'll see.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Rest Day




Everyone keeps telling me that I need rest days, though I don't know why considering that I've run daily for the last couple of years. Maybe the increased mileage will take its toll. But anyway, today is my elected rest day.

I'm going to head over to Woodbridge Running on my lunch break to pick up my new running shoes.

I plan to take a lengthy run this weekend. I'm thinking in the 12-17 miles range.


The Diet:


People keep asking me about my diet, so I thought I'd expound.

Most of my calories come from fruit. I also eat a ton of vegetables. About 80 percent of my calories come from carbohydrates, 10 percent from fat, and 10 percent from protein. The amount of calories I take in on any given day goes up and down depending on how many I'm expending through exercise.

Today, for instance, with no running, I ate half of a large watermelon for breakfast.This works out to about 600 calories.

There is nothing I can imagine that would be better to eat after a long, sweaty, dehydrating run than a watermelon. Watermelons are over 95 percent water, meeting most of my water needs.They're also packed with simple sugars that my body can use with little digestion.

For lunch, I'll likely eat a banana and blueberry smoothie. Eight bananas, a few handfuls of blueberries, and some ice. This works out to about 850 odd calories.

I've got a bunch of ripe peaches, and I think I'll eat them for dinner. I'll follow this up with a large salad (1 head of lettuce, 6 tomatoes, several stalks of celery). The salad will come in at under 300 calories.

On a day with more exercise, I would eat considerably more.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Saturday, Sunday, and Monday Training Log

Saturday:


My knees a bit sore from increased mileage in worn-out running shoes, I decided to go for an extended bike ride. I figure some generic exercise is better than no running at all.

I headed up to my parent's house in Cheshire from W.Main in Meriden, a trip of about 17 miles. I plucked a few tomatoes from the garden before riding back. I found an abandoned apple orchard that I intend to plunder come Fall, as well as a full peach tree. When they ripen, I'll ask the owners if they don't mind me taking a bunch. Most people are only too glad to get rid of the excess.

I should have new running shoes on Tuesday, so hopefully the soreness won't be a problem in the future.



Sunday:

Going with the intensity over mileage theme brought on by my shoes, I decided to run up to castle craig on the trails (the final ascent was too steep and rocky so I hiked). It was humid and hot, and I was soaked by the time made it up to the castle.

A nice run though. At some point I intend to run the very steep paved road, which will really be challenging.




Monday


I was a bit worried about being late for a morning interview, so I decided to do today's run at a really quick pace. Great experience, as I've rarely pushed myself in terms of speed. Still no idea on how fast I went. I've got to take care of that soon.