Monday, June 29, 2015

Smile

I run and cycle a lot--most weeks I spend at least six hours traveling by foot or bicycle. Too often, I encounter runners looking completely miserable. The other day I passed a woman running the other direction. Her head was down, her ear buds were in, and her face was contorted into a painful grimace.

If you're going to exercise, why not enjoy yourself? It baffles me to see people outside, in beautiful weather, looking like they're getting a root canal.

Running should be fun. If you're not having fun, why do it? While I'm out for a run, seeing another runner smiling, nodding their head in my direction, and saying, "hi," always makes my run more enjoyable. Positive energy is contagious.

Sharing that joy of motion while running is just one benefit of smiling while you run.

Researchers have found that people who smile more often are happier. Does this mean that happy people smile, or that smiling itself makes you happy? Scientists have found that it goes both ways. They've also found that people experience less pain when they're smiling (read this article from Scientific American).

So when you're on your next run, bike ride, or walk through the park, smile. If you don't make someone else's travels more enjoyable, you just might enjoy what you're doing more.

Run well.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Traffic Etiquette

There's nothing more effective at spiking my heart rate on a run or a bike ride than a driver's angry honk or yell. Yesterday, as I biked north on Galaxy Ave from Apple Valley to Eagan, I waited at a stop light at the intersection of Cliff Rd and Galaxy Ave. When the light turned green, I climbed onto my bike and began pedaling across the intersection.

As I moved past the intersection, a driver behind me shouted, "Get off the road!" My heart rate spiked and my adrenal glands spewed testosterone into my bloodstream. I turned to look over my right shoulder to see the cretin voicing his ignorance of Minnesota traffic laws (read here, and here).

I don't raise the finger indicating extreme displeasure with someone's driving behavior, but seeing the driver of a black sedan leaning out the window, cigarette hanging from his mouth, staring at me from behind his sunglasses with the kind of vitriol normally reserved for seal clubbers, certainly put the thought of extending the magic finger into my head.

In the 0.37 seconds I had to consider extending my finger, I remembered that I wasn't, "that sort of person." By the time I remembered to give the less offensive "thumbs down" gesture, the moment had passed.

My thoughts turned to righteous indignation as I contemplated the general ignorance of traffic laws, specifically in relation to runners and cyclists. I could write an entire post listing the 100+ times I've been yelled at by drivers while biking or running, but I'll save that for another post.

Really, road rage is brought on by the stress of moving faster than one is used to. Most humans can't travel faster than 8 MPH for an extended time, so as soon as they begin moving faster than that, they enter a state of stress.

This stress is manageable for humans who've practiced--think of the first time you road a bicycle: Scary, right? How about when you learned to drive? Were you nervous? If you weren't, I know your parents were.

So, drivers who fail to anticipate the road ahead or who think they have the right to get to wherever they're going faster than anyone else, tend to experience higher stress. This can lead to anxiety-induced poor driving or road rage.

What this means for bikers, runners, and anyone who gets honked at, yelled at, or flipped off, is to refrain from engaging in a confrontation. People who deal with chronic road rage can become violent. Don't make an angry driver more angry by flipping them off or engaging in a shouting match.

A couple of years ago, I was running down the same stretch of road as yesterday's bike ride. My training called for a tempo run, so I was running a fair amount faster than my normal pace (read: I was in a state of stress). When a silver SUV rolled through a stop sign, I politely let the driver know to watch for pedestrians by smacking the side of his vehicle as I rounded its rear end.

Continuing down the sidewalk, I heard the squeal of brakes and the shouts of an angry driver, "Come back here M@TF%&! I'll kick your ass!" were among the many hateful words spewing from the young man's word hole.

Not wanting to know if the young man was packing heat or ready to take out a tire iron, I politely waved and continued on my run.

Running, biking, and driving can be fun. Take some deep breaths today--enjoy those activities. Don't let stress get the best of you.

Feel free to share a story about road rage--I'll plead the fifth on all the times I've lost it while driving.

Run well.


Icing Injuries

Back when I was in college, ice "baths" and ice massages were a regular part of running-related injury treatment. Now, however, research indicates that icing may not be an effective treatment for overuse injuries common in running.

Icing may be beneficial for acute injures like an ankle sprain, but compression may be just as effective.

Ice baths, whether in an athletic facility's whirlpool or in your own tub, may actually decrease your performance gains. Inflammation is the body's response for "healing" muscles after vigorous exercise like running, cycling, or weightlifting, and icing reduces inflammation. While this may be helpful for sprains and other acute injuries, its benefit for recovery from a hard workout or overuse injuries is questionable.

Keep in mind that we are all an experiment of one, so if you feel icing is beneficial, do it. I take ice baths after racing marathons, but the frigid water is not something I desire on a regular basis. If, however, you are dealing with an overuse injury that hasn't healed for a week or more, stop icing. Instead, consider compression, changing footwear, and reducing the volume or intensity of your training.

Run well.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Salazar - Running Villain or Innovative Coach

Salazar's Rise to the Top

The 1982 Boston Marathon has been frozen in time as one of the great moments of US running History. In "Duel in the Sun," John Brandt describes the lives of Alberto Salazar, a hard-working Catholic boy and son of Cuban immigrants, and Dick Beardsley, a Minnesota farm-boy who would later develop an addiction to various pain medications.

While both athletes had their faults, I've always identified with Beardsley's vulnerability and honesty when describing his battles with addiction.

Both Bearsdley and Salazar found little success in the marathon following their 1982 duel,  but Salazar went on to make a name for himself winning the Comrades Marathon and coaching elite athletes for Nike's Oregon Project.

 Oregon Project's athletes speak out

Recently, Salazar has been accused of providing his athletes with performance enhancing drugs. Some of his athletes, including Kara Goucher, have denounced Salazar's training practices.

The alleged practices include providing runners with testosterone supplements and medications designed for thyroid disorders and asthma. Several runners have claimed that Salazar was doing so without their knowledge.

Propublica has an interesting article laying out the allegations in more detail.

After reading Salazar's book, "14 minutes ," I came away with the impression of Salazar as a very driven human being, but also arrogant and entitled--like his success was something he deserved (review here).

Though I like to assume positive intentions for all people, I can't help rooting against Salazar, which is unfortunate because I'm a big fan of some of his athletes. One of my favorite moments in sports was watching two of his athletes, Mo Farah and Galen Rupp, finish first and second in the 2012 Olympics.

Salazar makes a nice villain for running, but it's hard to know how to cheer "against" him. I want his athletes to do well, but I want him out of the sport. What is an appropriate punishment for cheating in for running coaches? Fines? Bans? A demand for transparency?

I say all of the above, but the IOC and the USATF will be responsible for those decisions.

In the meantime, I'll continue to be a fan of the sport, while  routing for justice to be done. Bring on the bans, fines, and demand for information. Salazar needs to know he's not above the rules, and he doesn't have the right to the time and talents of Nike-sponsored athletes.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Coaching Options

Welcome to Twin Cities Runner Coaching! My name is Nate Leckband, and I offer consultations and training plans for new or experienced runners. Depending on your needs, I am able to do the following:
  • Steer you to well-established training plans and methods
  • Answer questions about one or more training plans you're interested in
  • Create a custom training schedule suitable to your running preferences and goals
I'm happy to provide help for whatever your running goals may be. I've worked with brand-new runners, somewhat experienced runners, and semi-competitive runners. As a Running Room Clinic Instructor and a personal coach, I've helped runners run their first 5k, 10 mile, half marathon, and marathon. I've also helped several runners run new best times at distances ranging from 5k to the marathon.

I keep up-to-date on the latest research and trends in running, and believe that running is not only good for the body, but can help improve many aspects of life. Runners I've worked find a variety of reasons to run, such as:
  • Getting back in shape, or in better shape
  • Running a race for the first time
  • Becoming more competitive or set a new best time
  • Getting motivated and energized in life
  • Feeling better emotionally and physically
Read about some of the athletes I've coached on the Testimonials page.
Feel free to contact me with any questions at: leckbann@gmail.com
 
Afton 50k, 2011

Check out my past runnings and ramblings at: Twin Cities Runner

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