Friday, September 13, 2013

A Slightly Incoherent Running Manifesto and Summer Recap

Lake Treadmill. 
Parallel to my legion of fans and popular world view, I generally picture myself as a long running, hardcore, off road, ruggedly handsome, rich, Patrick Dempsey haired, slightly eccentric (in the rich tradition, not the homeless man in tin foil hat, holding a cup of cat milk tradition) adventurist with the balance and grace of a leopard and the common sense of Ben Franklin. Over these last summer months, long running was subtracted from that image. The other attributes remain mostly accurate. 

I've switched back from minimal to arched footwear, iced, stretched, massaged, rolled, and slept under Feng shui'd magnetic crystals. I'm still unable to get over 6 miles without causing massive swelling to the 1st metatarsal on my non-surgery side. That quickly stresses the tendon and I get PF pain from the joint to the heel. My whining always showed stronger than my running.

After my T1 (yeah #1, USA USA) diagnosis, running became my vehicle to keep my insulin resistance low. Ridiculously low. I'm almost off the scale. Less resistance, less insulin injected. And God knows how much baby powder and horse laxative the chef's at Norvo Nordisk add to their proprietary rapid insulin recipe. 

Restricting the medical jargon to a minimum: Whether generated by your body or big Pharma, insulin is a hormone with inflammation properties. Inflammation makes heart attacks. Heart attacks suck. Its also the vehicle that delivers honey bun to your midriff. Mmmm honey bun. Insulin is similar to Glenfiddich consumption. A small amount is essential to life, but too much and you'll wish you were throwing up over the backyard deck. So easy on that mixing bowl of twice baked potato bagels and the bottomless trough of fried dough.  

The most important thing Wilford Brimley taught us, after Quaker Oats are awesome and its inadvisable to practice law in TN, is that Liberty will conveniently ship all the diabetic supplies you could desire right to your front door. Good news really, my pharmacy is almost 0.6 miles away. I don't recall him mentioning the often better than medicinal results of exercise and diet. 

As a carbon based life form I love carbohydrates, as a human I love to overindulge. So its a struggle to strive for carb consumption below 100g per day. When inactive, each gram raises my blood sugar about 4.5 points, peaking around 95 minutes after eating. I'm nervous when my BS gets over 140. (Blood sugar not Bulls%$t. My bulls%$t integer is way over 140). These targets translate into a Subway salad (11 grams) consumption rate that would make Jared blanch. 

The thing is I like grapes, pineapples, pizza, Chinese, Mexican, Italian food, Lucky Charms and donuts more than a registered sex offender like's a white cargo sized van full of candy. Bad example, I would appreciate a van full of candy. Any of these foods spike me into unacceptable BS levels, unless I'm working out. When the body exercises all those muscles suck up (more technical medical jargon) any available glucose from the blood stream. You get really insulin sensitive when taxing the body. So much so, that a healthy anatomy cuts its insulin production nearly in half to compensate. Its harder for me to cut injected insulin, so I eat my way to balance. I'm usually the only one at the food tables before a race starts. 

I know, a lot of words, but I wanted to outline my motivation. I have found running to be the most effective form of exercise for BS control. Following a marathon, I can eat nearly anything without consequence for almost three days. Directly following my new career as a full time insulin injector, I became reliant on my mileage as my primary diabetic control mechanism. A great tool, but when your only tool is a hammer you eventually f&$# up your thumb. This blog has churned out more injury than races. At the start of this summer, my hamstrings and calves were so tight, from repetitive stress issues, I couldn't touch my ankles. Toes were out of the question.

Limited to infrequent 5 milers for the entire summer, I was forced to find alternatives to replace my usual 100-150 miles per month. My cereal addiction depended on it. I went kicking and screaming. For me, running trails is fun, biking more of a corporeal punishment. But, I found that a summer spent cross training provided some unanticipated benefits. Flexibility improvements and a more balanced physique brought me new insight. I'm not measuring my body in minute miles anymore. Fitness consists of a balance of stamina, strength, and flexibility now. And while my ability to churn out endless 9 minute miles (never near an age group winner anyway) has slightly diminished, I can easily turn lights on and off with my feet now, freeing up both hands to carry extra stuff. Boasting a 33 percent increase in strength, I am almost as buff as Roger Rabbit. 

The point of all this, if any, is that running became too key a component in my life. I ran through injury. I ran at really dumb times (the summer at lunch time, then back into khakis for work comes to mind.) I started rubbing my hands together and cackling over garmin charts. (Although in this community that behavior qualifies as mostly normal). In my experience, most runners are at peak health 50% of the time and gimpy 60%. It mirrors an addicts behavior.

God, grant me the serenity to accept the rest days I cannot change,
The courage to change the tapers I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.

So this entry is a brief overview of my summer cross training. My running methadone. I'm starting to slowly mix running back in now. I signed up for Medoc's 10 mile option. I may never get the full mileage back, but I'm not losing sleep over it anymore. Every time you run out the door may be your last run. Its still my first physical love, but its not the only one anymore. When it comes to exercise, I get around.

I made Group On my first stop. I sampled everything with an elevated heart rate and measured it in beats per dollar saved. Hot yoga, curling, swim lessons, sausage grinding, whatever. Especially if it offered a few weeks access to facilities. My biggest score, Triangle Rock Club, mockingly located in Morrisville, became my favorite. Forty bucks knocked down to $20 with an online coupon, bought me a training indoctrination, free equipment rental and unlimited visits for two weeks. And they have a decent gym. Two weeks, for anybody without Popeye's forearms translates into about 4-5 visits. I had to have a little extra recovery time for muscles toned only carrying 20 ounces of Hammer Perpeteum at a time. In one nook, suspended from the ceiling, they have a small area with a long pipe that you can try to advance yourself on hand over hand. Super fun and my favorite part. I liked this place so much I considered paying the monthly $60 fee and making it my new physical cornerstone. But we've been down that road. Three months from now it would be a blog about forearm surgery.

I took my limp to its logical fashion conclusion and tried pirating for awhile. From SC I repossessed one of the kayaks given to my family as a Christmas present a few years back. She satisfied my exacting criteria, the red schooner fit into my company truck with an extra inch on the windshield and rear hatch sides and my family had tired of moving around her to gain access to their shed. Lake Crabtree is merely 14 minutes from my house and the easiest access point to water larger than my bathtub available. Cardio without leg involvement gives the kayak high marks and I found it pretty fun. Though, I outgrew Crabtree rather quickly. Hugging the shoreline, the entire circumference is slightly less than 5 miles. I found myself circling a time and a half to twice to complete a good 2 hour paddle. I rechristened the pond lake treadmill. With highways on both sides and bordering a walking trail, your never really away from it all. Eventually, boredom overcame good sense and I ventured into the two restricted channels. Past and under the mysterious highway overpass, I found only shallow still water and an ornery turtle. I'll keep the vessel in my x training repertoire, but a new water discovery is essential for next year even if it requires further portage. Extra gold stars for exercise with the best suntan. Frowny faces for every time I had to check under the seat and the bow for spiders or snakes. (I store the boat in the crawl space under the house.)

The Morrisville Aquatic Center performed swimmingly as a key element in running replacement therapy. In compiling this, it appears that most cross training leads in someway through Morrisville. Reasonably priced at $6 per day for a "non-resident" like myself. (I guess that's better than illegal wader.) The pool is uncovered in the summer and boasts a blow up dome over the fall and winter months. Like the Silverdome, only 200 times smaller. The facilities are fair. Aged but well cared for, they match me well. The pool is only 25 yards. Yes, that is correct, 70.5 laps to the mile. And I am only really proficient in the sloth quick breast stroke. Thank you small town Indiana high school. It became my habit to swim a mile or slightly over, (9 laps breast every tenth lap freestyle,) then hit the onsite weight room. Great low intensity HR zone 1 and 2 workout. The weight equipment fulfills all of my needs (i.e. its mostly very heavy). Good cardio equipment, although I tended to avoid it on non-legs day. They also have included classes. Pilates, Yoga, Spin. I think I even saw a karate class. Could have been just a random guy in a kimono. I'm still using the aquatic center months later and will probably keep it as an adequate, but extremely unsexy pillar of my training. I do my best to brighten the place up with my extensive speedo collection, but I'm only one middle aged person. I can only do so much.

Courtesy of the pay per view feature on Time Warner Cable, I was introduced to yoga. I followed the yoga for runners 30 minute episode, until it was etched into my muscle memory. TWC has since replaced it with yoga for golfers. I'm convinced yoga for billiard players and finally yoga for puzzle enthusiasts will follow. Combined with some advanced stretching, this new discipline has brought the most balance to my exercise regimen. It effects blood sugar levels extraordinarily. A half an hour yoga session performs almost as well as a run. Big bonus on the lack of perspiration. Yoga barely qualifies as a glisten, where a heavy run literally leaves its mark in dry salt on my forehead. Your new flexibility rocks. Think about all the new sex moves you can attempt now. On the other hand, your masculinity factor is unlikely to pass the Susane Summers mark. Downward dog in running tights and a head band is really hard to pull off for the male sex. And don't even get me started on finding leg warmers in manly colors. You finally master the abilities to try the Kama Sutra's Wheelbarrow Handstand position, if only the woman in your life was not laughing so hard at you. 

All summer I averaged 30 running miles per month. A long way from my nearly 200 mile December two years ago. The climbing, kayaking, swimming, yoga, biking, ellipticaling, free weights and Quidditching were more than enough to replace the lost miles. Honestly, I feel a lot better. Its nice to be sore in new places. At my highest mileage, my legs would always twitch as I fell asleep. In retrospect that seams a bit unhealthy. I'm a long way from marathon capable presently, but my world didn't end. And I don't look like I so desperately need a meal in the next 30 seconds. My chest is almost 3 inches bigger (although still only an A cup), I can bench 225 (two 45 lbs on both sides which looks really cool), I can carry two suitcases through most airports, I can swim 1/110 of the way to Cuba and if I drop a quarter I can pick it up without bending my knees. The foot is still jacked up, but I'm pushing it gently. 

Medoc is just around the corner. I haven't been over 4 miles in months. On paper, I can make it if I add 1 mile per week. I think I'm going to try it. If I can't make it, maybe I can wrestle Medoc instead. If its too far to run, I'll walk. If its too far to walk, I'll sit. I've added to my mantra. I used to tell myself, "Push the envelope." 

Now I tell myself, "Push the envelope. Don't be stupid." Its a big world, if your injured (and most of us are or will be), go find a good Group On. Now excuse me, its time to get my mileage up.


1 comment:

  1. Training like a well educated fool. How are we to lay about and ice cream rep. Great read.