Ain’t myth-behaving

I recently read an article purporting to debunk several running myths. That article is here

Now I don’t know how evidence-based the debunking truly is, and by that I mean if the sampling size was large enough to realistically support their conclusions, but since they agree with my own beliefs I’ll accept them, and really, isn’t that how Americans operate? Look at the current election: People gravitate toward news sources that reinforce their own opinions, right or wrong, instead of challenging those beliefs in an effort to find the truth.


In this instance, I’m more than happy to point at the myth of heel striking and say, “Nanny nanny boo boo. I told you so!” Because it isn’t landing on your heel that causes the injuries, it’s about where your heel is when it does land. In other words, as the article says, it’s about overstriding, how far in front of you your leg is stretched when you do land on your heel. 

The myth is that landing on your heel shocks your body and actually stops you for an instant. And I’ve maintained that it doesn’t, because no one lands with their leg hyperextended and their knee locked. We land with our knee bent, just like midfoot or forefoot runners do. We just touch down  on our heel first  before the rest of the foot strikes.

I’ve been trying to run landing on my midfoot or forefoot, but that just seems like I’m running tippy-toed. Not natural and I tire much more easily.

Starting out or running a sprint, I’ll be on my toes, but once I hit cruising speed, then I start to heel strike. 

Whereas the current fad says ideally your foot should be under you as you land, mine is slightly forward. Not by much. Certainly not in the sense of overstriding. And I’m certainly not striking at the back edge of the heel the way they often illustrate it; I land flat on the heel.

So there. Take your silly fad and shove it. And that goes double for those barefoot runners who say you can’t heel strike barefoot. Bullshit. Again it has to do with the length of your stride and where on the heel you’re lamding.

The other myth they talk about that I found interesting was about running in the wrong shoes and how there is no evidence to show that buying running shoes based on over- or under-pronation or good or flat arches helps prevent injuries.

Which to me, is good news. I have been told I have fairly flat arches and over-pronate (my foot rolls inward) and that I should get a shoe with a lot of stability to prevent my foot from rolling. So I have bought motion control shoes based solely on that advice.  The Brooks Beast that I only ran in a couple times and used mostly for walking and most recently the Brooks Adrenaline GTS16. 

The problem I found with these shoes is they are not comfortable to run in. There is no flex because it’s made to prevent flex. Plus, they feel heavy. And even after taking out the arch support insert the store also sold me, I still wasn’t happy with them. It is like running in wooden shoes: No give.

Then I switched to a pair of neutral Saucony Grid Cohesion 9 and immediately suffered a thigh injury which I wrongly attributed to the shoe.

But it wasn’t the shoe’s fault. I didn’t overpronate myself into an injury, I had overtrained and simply ran too hard, causing the flare-up in my thigh/IT band. The injury had been in the making and switching to the Saucony was mere coicidence.

In fact, my last few runs, on the treadmill and outside, have been on a newly purchased completely neutral shoe not designed for “heel strikers,” and to be honest, they’ve felt great. 

So yes, the advice from the article is to buy shoes that feel good, that are comfortable on the run, because there is no evidence supportive shoes help prevent injury.

And lastly, (I won’t bother addressing pre- and post-run stretching since I know it benefits me personally and here we go back to the “‘murica! I’ll believe what fits my world view and dismiss the rest”), they address the myth of 180 steps per minute

Basically, it reiterates what I had questioned and that is 180 spm only works at a certain  pace. It only applies to a certain speed  (which for me is about 8 mph) and is pretty silly to attempt it at much slower speeds. So why even bother counting? Your step per minute pace is whatever you are comfortable with. It naturally increases as you run faster and decreases as you go slower.

So there. These myths show us one thing. Don’t analyze things too much because what they tell you to do today, isn’t what they told you yesterday, and wont be what they tell you tomorrow.

Run. Enjoy. Live for today.


Addicted to Puma

My very first pair of running shoes, and probably my first name pair of athletics shoes of any sort, was a pair of Pumas. Prior to that, I think I mostly had things like PF Flyers or Keds.

The Pumas were from way back in the day when the top maker of such shoes was Adidas. Puma, Reebok, Nike, New Balance, Converse, were also popular.

Anyway, I’m a sentimental type for my firsts. I’ve finally purchased the very first pair of audiophile loudspeakers I ever owned, the Polk Audio Monitor 7. And they still sound as magnificent as I remembered them. I still have fond memories of the first car I ever drove, the 1971 VW Superbeatle. And thus, my first pair of running shoes, Puma, also give me fond memories.

But Puma seemed to disappear from stores for many years. I tried looking for them, but most regular shoe stores or department stores didn’t carry them. For a while there, I thought they’d gone out of business. And I have never seen them in any specialty running shoe store I’ve been to.

Then I found a Puma store in Gurney Illinois. I didn’t purchase a pair because they seemed a little pricey and I didn’t feel like paying Illinois sales taxes. But this showed me that Puma either never went away or was making a comeback. So I kept looking.

Then I found a local store, Rogan’s, sells them. And I bought a pair. Then, like Lay’s potato chips, “you can’t eat just one,” I bought another pair. Then another. And another.

But none of them were running shoes. Not real running shoes. Sure, they looked like running shoes, but that’s all. They didn’t have any of the features top running shoes had. You couldn’t even pull out the insole. It was glued in.

Even the one pair that seemed like running shoes, and the one that received some fairly positive reviews, the Bioweb, was a poor running shoe compared to many others (and I reviewed it in my last blog).

So here’s a picture of my addiction:


…so far.

These are all are “running shoes,” except only one of these shoes I would consider a real running shoe. That’s the one on the furthest right.The one on the left is a Puma Roma Rugged running shoe, that really seems more like a cross-training sneaker. The next is the Puma Cell Surin Engineered2. The next is the Puma Tazon, followed by the Bioweb.

I just acquired the Mobium Elite through Amazon. They are the Puma Mobium Elite V2 and I’ll put up a review of them in a few days after I’ve had a chance to run in them a few times.

The other shoes I use for walking and wearing to work. I like their looks and they are comfy as all get out.

It’s funny. I used to make fun of my wife’s collection of shoes. I never thought I’d become a shoeholic, but I guess I have.


Would Spider-Man wear these?

Earlier this summer I was in the shoe store, Rogan’s by name, and I was looking at the different pairs of Puma they had.

One of them stuck out from the rest, which is no small feat considering Puma is known for its bright, eye catching  (some might say garish) colors.

This one:

It’s the Bioweb Elite and as you can see on the upper there’s a website structure covering the fabric. Puma calls it a web-cage.

OK, I admit it. I’m a sucker for garish. So I tried on a pair and they seemed fine for the few minutes I had them on at the store.

At home, I decided to try to run in them. Well, let me tell you (and even if you won’t let me, I’m going to tell you anyway) they sucked.

Since then, I’ve read several reviews and they mostly seemed, if not rave, at least overly positive reviews. Makes me wonder if Puma isn’t paying them.

We’ll start with the so-called Web Cage. It was tight. So tight, that after a short time wearing them, my instep started to hurt.And I hadn’t tied them any tighter than any other shoe.

Second, they have a very high profile. Not Hoka One One high, which I’ve never tried, but high enough that they made me feel like Boris Karloff as Frankenstein’s monster, tottering around on his big platform boots. I felt tall and I think that threw off my natural sense of balance because running in them made me feel unsteady, like I was going to step wrong and sprain an ankle.

Third, they seem rigid and stiff. Not much flex. And whatever the cushioning material of the midsole is, when combined with the hard plastic webbing surrounding it, the shoes felt like I had two bricks strapped to my feet.

One reviewer called them light weight, but they felt just as heavy as my Brooks Adrenaline GTS16.

And one final comment: they are noisy! What with the hard materials of the midsole and outsole making the shoe clomp like it’s a hard leather boot, plus all the creaking, groaning, and squeaking coming from the midsole plastic wrap, suffice to say no cat burglar is going to want these Pumas.

It should come as no surprise therefore that I did not enjoy that run and immediately relegated the Biowebs to walking status. I mean, they still are attention-grabbing.

Also, I hoped that several months of walking would “break them in.” No such luck. I still have instep pain so have to tie them looser than I like and a recent run in them hasn’t changed my opinion of them.

Get them for the looks if you must (they do have a wide range of colors), but if you’re looking for a decent pair of runners, look elsewhere. These ain’t them.

[FYI: Puma released the Bioweb Elite in 2013. The model I have is from that first generation, I believe. Puma remodeled the shoe as the Bioweb Speed with a lower profile. I don’t know if that model is an improvement.]


Calf love

The good news is my hip and thigh pain that struck down my running in August is gone. I’m now running limp-free and it doesn’t feel like my hip is going to pop out of joint..

The better news is I’ve been able to increase my running time to 40 minutes now. Granted, the distance is only about 3.5 miles. Thats also was an increase, but considering the recent injury it was a leisurely pace; slow and steady is preferable to trying to push myself and risking reinjury.

The possible bad news is, last night I noticed a new pain. Not something constant, not like the hip/thigh pain that I felt all the time regardless of activity. No. This was a weird occasional stab of pain in my left calf muscle that would catch me off-guard. 

The first time it hit, my leg almost collapsed under me. That would have been fun if I had crumpled because the treadmill would have shot me into the wall behind me. A regular AFV moment.

And the intermittent pain kept up for about the first 15 minutes of the run, without rhyme or reason. It was like practical joke pain: coming when I’d least expect it. A quick sharp pain, then it would go away for dozens of step before striking again. Each time almost making me stumble. Funny, pain, funny.

But after that first 15 minutes it was gone. Did the muscle finally warm up? I don’t know.

All I know is I didn’t like it and now it’s gone. But for how long? And what needs to be done to prevent it?

Do I need to stretch my calves before running? Do I need to do calf specific exercises, like calf raises or even jump roping, to warm-up before a run?

I guess I just need to show some calf love.


Heart rate schmart rate

When I first started this running program earlier this year, I just ran. I wasn’t concerned with pace or things like that. I just ran, starting at about a mile, trying to get my time down.

During the run, and for a while after I’d finished, I’d be gasping for breath. I believe the term is sucking wind. Then afterwards, I’d be completely drained.

After a while, I learned pacing: that I shouldn’t be trying to run at fast as I can, but to run at a pace where I’m not struggling to breathe. One suggestion is to run at a pace where you can comfortably hold a conversation. (Since I run solo, that isn’t possible, unless I talk to myself.)

So, over a few months, I worked on pace while gradually increasing distance and trying to decrease time.

Generally, my heart rate has been between 145 beats per minute up to 160 or more when I attempt to sprint.

I have never paid attention to target heart rate, max heart rate, or heart rate range. At least not recently. I think I calculated that when I was a much younger man, but taking heart rate measurements back in the Stone Age wasn’t as instantaneous as with today’s portable wrist monitors. It was difficult at best to take your heart rate on the run and stopping to do it seems inconvenient. So I never bothered.

So I just looked the heart rate formula up. [For those who aren’t familiar with the formula to find your max heart rate, you take the number 220 and subtract your age. Where they came up with 220, I don’t know. Is that the number at which your heart will burst from your chest like a baby alien? Then to find your target heart rate, you take the max heart rate and calculate what 55% and 85%. That’s it. That’s your range.]

Without revealing my age (if you do math, you should figure it out), my heart range while exercising should be between 88 beats per minute and 136!

Seriously? I’m at 78 just sitting here typing this. I reach 88 just walking down the hall! That’s my goal for exercising? Am I supposed to be a couch potato?
My mall walk pace puts my heart rate around 112 to 118 bpm. So 136, I blow right past that even when I’m doing a slow run. Who created this calculation? It doesn’t seem reasonable. Maybe when you’re younger, because your max heart rate is so much closer to the 220. But as you get older? It makes no sense.

As I said, my heart rate on my runs is generally in the 150s (although I do try to keep it in the 140s). That’s almost my max heart rate.

And when I first started running, I was exhausted afterwards. My legs would be so tired I could barely climb the stairs to bed.

Now, however, after a good six months of running (give or take the last month with the injury), when I finish my run, I notice that I’m not as tired. Certainly not drained of all life force. In fact, after my last few runs I’ve felt invigorated afterwards. Not tired. Refreshed. It’s an odd feeling. And the stairs are no trouble at all afterwards. My legs don’t feel like noodles.

So this whole max heart rate thing? I think it needs to be taken with a grain of salt. One size does not fit all.

Listen to your body, not some formula.

If you’re gasping for breathe as you run, slow down. If your heart is pounding in your chest, slow down. If you’re exhausted afterwards and don’t seem to recover right away, slow down.

If you’re running at a pace that seems comfortable yet is still beyond the target heart range of that formula, use your own judgement.

Me, I’d keep going.

Nevertheless, if you’re just starting out, and you’re completely out of shape, never having really been active before, the heart rate range might be a good starting point. As they say, before starting any exercise program, consult your doctor.

Run. Rest. Throw away the heart monitor.


Morning people suck

Sunday I ran in the morning.

I’m not a morning person.

I’ve never been a morning person.

The only time I ever voluntarily got up early in the morning was Christmas morning as a child, eager to see what Santa had left under the tree.

Otherwise, I sleep in on my days off.

I follow several running sites on Facebook and elsewhere, such as Runner’s World, Women’s Running Magazine, etc cetera.

One thing I’ve noticed, and find extremely annoying, is the number of articles they post concerning how wonderful and healthy and energizing running in the morning is.

Heck, they are so exalting in their praise of the morning run that I’m waiting for titles such as, “Morning runs cure cancer!” or “World Peace achieved through morning runs!”

In other words, I think these articles are a little over-the-top with their views, as if morning runners are the most advanced humans on the planet.

There are morning people and there are night owls and never the twain shall meet. Recently, they even had an article by someone claiming not to have been a morning person but after giving it a try, they became a morning person.

I call bull shit.

One does not transform into a morning person simply by getting up a few mornings and running. If that were the case, nearly everyone would have become a morning person simply because we all have to get up early for 12 years of schooling, then many more years of going to work.

But it doesn’t happen that way. It never has for me.

And that’s why Sunday was an anomaly.

Yes, I did get up to run in the morning. Granted, it was 10:00 am, but that’s still morning. I even had some coffee prior to running.

But the run itself? I tried. Really. But I only made it 1-1/4 miles. For me, the first mile is the hardest, after that my body clicks into autopilot and the remaining part of the run passes by relatively easily and quickly.

In other words, the first mile seems to take forevah, but the rest of the run passes by so quickly, I’m often surprised how far I’ve gone.

My attempt at a morning run was one big fail. I never became energized, it never started to feel wonderful, I never got in the zone, and I never experienced the runners high.

I continued to feel tired and worn out. It still felt like morning.

So I quit. Then in the evening I tried again. And after the first mile, I hit my rhythm and kept going for almost another mile. I only stopped because of my recent thigh injury and worries that an extended run would cause it to flare up again.

So you see, not all of us are morning people. Not all of us can get up the required motivation and energy to run in the morning.

Some of us prefer running in the evening, especially after work the run will burn off the stress and pressures of the day. Running in the evening relaxes us so we can get a good night’s sleep.

Running in the morning is good for morning people. Running in the evening is good for evening people. Trying to say one is better for everyone than another is just silly. It’s like asking which is prettier, a sunrise or sunset? Depends on your perspective at the time.


Sunrise or sunset?

Just once I’d like to see a positive post from one of the running sites extolling the virtues of evening running.

But I won’t hold my breath.

And morning people don’t suck. I just said that to get your attention. You’re all a little weird, but you don’t suck.

Unless you keep trying to get me to run in the morning with you.

(And just for the record, I had tried morning runs when I was much younger, but they were miserable as well. Sunday, was an experiment to see if anything had changed. Nothing had.)

Run. Relax. Get plenty of rest.


Wait don’t weight

One thing I’ve learned over the years is don’t sweat your weigh-in. I know some people who become obsessed with weighing themselves and not only do it daily, but several times a day.

This can be self-destructive because progress takes time. Taking hourly weight measurements is frustrating because our weight fluctuates throughout the day. Even day to day our weight changes depending on what we’ve eaten, the temperature, if we’re retaining water, and so on.

I generally weigh myself once a week. But even then I don’t really get hung up on the nimbers.

For instance, I’ve hit a plateau and my weight hasn’t changed since the beginning of August.

Have I stopped making progress? Not really. Several things have been going on.

Injury. Since the middle of August, I’ve had a nagging hip/glute/thigh injury that has made me reduce my running routine. Without the consistency of an aerobic workout three or four times a week, my body hasn’t been burning calories as efficiently as it should be.

Weight-training. To compensate for the injury and a possible muscle imbalance, I’ve been lifting weights: doing squats, quad extensions, calf raises, and hamstring curls. It’s possible that I’ve been building muscle. As I build muscle, it might cause my weight to fluctuate, even increase. Muscle and fat weigh the same but muscle is denser and takes up less space.

Take measurements. Unfortunately, I haven’t been taking body measurements to see if I’m still progressing toward a fitter me. I did take measurements a year ago, but I haven’t since. Why? I can’t find the tape measure or that notebook. Yeah, I know. I’m a dweeb.

But my pants are looser at the waist, so that is an indication that I’m losing fat (not necessarily weight).

My advice is throw away your scale or at least cut back how often you step on it. Once a week at the most. Any more often and you will just get frustrated if you don’t see the weight you want to see.

Don’t sweat the small stuff and the small stuff are those numbers on your scale.

And I just finished a 2 mile treadmill run at a 5 mph pace. I don’t want to push things. The leg is getting better, but I’ll still take it slow and easy for at least the next 3 or 4 runs, just to play it safe.

I don’t like being injured and I’m impatient when it comes to rehab but pushing things isn’t the smart thing to do.

Do you have any tips when it comes to weight loss progress or even rehabbing an injury?