Monday, November 16, 2009
I bought my first pair of honest-to-goodness running shoes in 1978. A fellow named Jim Fixx had just published a best-selling book, The Complete Book of Running. I still have my original copy. The cover featured Jim Fixx sporting a pair of red nylon Onitsuka Tiger racing flats. Jim’s book helped push the running craze into the stratosphere!
In 1978 I was 21 years old. Up to that point I had never run a single step voluntarily. Goaded by coaches, I had done quite a bit of running, though. I raced the ½ mile in high school. I trained for football, but that was mostly sprinting.
Thirty years ago running shoes were primitive. Nike released the Waffle Trainer in 1974, which was a quantum leap forward in running shoe technology. Innovation came quickly. Adidas stepped in with the SL-72. Brooks sold a shoe called the Vantage. New Balance sold the 320 that came in widths from AA to EEE. However, only serious competitive distance runners bought these shoes.
I plodded along in PF Flyers. Even though PF Flyers could make you “run faster and jump higher”, they were woefully inadequate as training shoes.
Enter the superb Etonic Street Fighter KM! I was walking past a shoe display in JCPenney - and there they were! The most beautiful shoes I had ever seen. The Etonic Street Fighter (don’t you just love the name) was a rich blue shoe with yellow trim that just shouted “speed”! I asked the salesman about the Etonics. He told me these shoes were the latest thing on the market. He had my size in stock. When I tried on the Street Fighters they fit like gloves. I was hooked! I plunked down $27.50 and walked out of the store with a box full of cool!
I couldn’t wait to try my new shoes. The next day I stood looking down a ¼ mile cinder track wearing my brand-spanking-new blue shoes. I launched myself down the track as fast as I could go! Oh man - oh man - oh man! I felt like I was running on air! The track melted away behind me. I just kept running and running and running. My feet didn’t even touch the ground! I think that was the moment I decided that running was fun! I loved my new shoes! I have never bought a pair of shoes since then that impressed me as much as those Etonics. On that day so many years ago, for just a short time, I was invincible!
In retrospect, the 1978 Etonic Street Fighters were more like slippers than running shoes. By today’s standards the Street Fighters offered very little cushion and virtually no support. But they sure were pretty. And they were also real running shoes. The Etonics were better in every way than my old PF Flyers.
My current running shoes are Nike Air Pegasus 25+.
The 2009 Nike Air Pegasus is light years ahead of the museum relics of 30 years ago. However, my legs don’t work as well as they did back then. Would I trade my new Nikes and old legs for a pair of Etonic Street Fighters and young legs? Nope! I would be giving up all the enjoyable miles between then and now. Besides, running is not the in legs, nor the shoes – It’s in the heart.
Sunday, August 23, 2009
A two month layoff of running has taken a toll. I really suck at running now. I decided to do a 5K training run yesterday. I committed to keep running for the whole 5K. I have always tended to burst, run out of gas, walk, and then burst again.
I read someplace that the burst/walk strategy builds speed but not endurance. Who knows? I have looked up all sorts of stuff about metabolic energy systems, VO2max, and Type IIa fast twitch muscle fibers. All I know is that some people are fast and some people can run forever. There are very few people that can run fast and forever. Those that can are called Olympians!
Here is an interesting article about muscle types:
Here is a bunch of info on VO2max:
This article attempts to explain the complexities of energy systems:
I noticed that there is not perfect agreement on how all this stuff works to make a runner fast, slow, or in-between. I am starting to think I am a lost cause. I cover more distance in less time if I burst and walk.
I really want to be a slow and steady runner. I want to run for long distances with little effort. In my current state of fitness, I run until I am completely out of oxygen and collapse! Rats! I huff and puff, gasp and wheeze, and sound like freight train.
I shuffled, jogged, and staggered for 5K yesterday. My time was 30:41. I felt like I was going to die!
For you master runners, here is a neat little age norming tool:
My 30:41 puts me mid-pack a 48:85% for 52 year-old slowpokes. I am not sure I believe this little age norming tool.
I am still trying not to hurt myself again.
My wife is a long-distance runner. She just keeps going and going and going. She thinks I am a lousy long-distance runner. I agree.
Saturday, August 22, 2009
There is a quote from an old Pogo comic strip, "We have met the enemy and he is us!"
I often think about this Pogo quote when I do something stupid and injure myself for the sake of improving my health.
Over the past two months I have been in physical therapy to cure a self-inflicted over-use running injury called bilateral hip bursitis. Since starting therapy I have been "good". I have listened to my physical therapist, Adam. I have done all the strange exercises with the rubber stretchy thing. I have done all the bizarre stretches. I have gotten tons better!
About a week ago Adam gave me the green light to start doing some easy running. I was so happy to run again I actually tried to jog.
“v.intr. jog•ging, To run at a slow or leisurely pace.”
I am not a natural jogger. I usually run too fast and burn out quickly. I really worked hard at keeping a “leisurely pace”. I was so proud! I took a few days off to rest and recover. I was amazed that I was showing signs of becoming a common-sense runner.
The next time I went running I decide to hit the high-school track. I took my timer along just to see how “fast” a slow and leisurely pace really was.
I heard in my head “Danger! Danger, Will Robinson!” Due to my overly competitive nature, a timer on a measured distance means only one thing – this ain’t fun anymore! My wife saw me leaving with my timer. She asked me, “Why can’t you just go running without a watch.” I shrug my shoulders, “I gotta know how much speed I have lost!” She asks, “What does it matter?” Dang, I hate logic! Do I listen? Nope!
I got on the track and hit the “go” button on my timer. I started at a gentle jog. I did a lap. The timer showed 00.02:27. I did the math. That works out to about a 30 minute 5k. I picked up the pace a bit. I start breathing very hard. I didn’t push it. I conked-out at the 4k mark in about 24 minutes. I just ran out of breath.
I have a long way to go!
Thursday, August 13, 2009
I went on a run today. I took little steps. I took slow steps. I ran intevals. I ran for 90 seconds then walked for 60 seconds. I did these intervals for 30 minutes. I was very pokey!
I think that is what it must feel like to jog. I didn't even break a sweat. I didn't hurt myself either.
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