Monday, March 26, 2012

Humans are the Perfect Runners

It turns out that we humans learned to run before we learned to think.  I knew it!  After all we are not the largest, or strongest animals on the planet...and we are not even the fastest runners.  Our unique competitive advantage is that we have the best endurance.  And that ability to outlast every other running mammal led to our dominance.

I wish I had started running earlier.  You know by now that I'm not a natural runner but since 'finding running' nearly 30 years ago now, I've become an obsessed convert.  Heck, I'm even involved in a competitive running event May 6 called Reggae Runners Half Marathon Challenge with Larry and Dan.  We were online friends first, met up in person in Negril last December and will compete individually but together via the Internet this May.  Yes, it appears that the three of us are runners before thinkers...still!  Check out their individual blogs here:  Larry Savitch, Dan Cumming.

Recently CBC aired a great documentary, "The Perfect Runner" that explored the evolution of humans as runners.  If you've read Christopher McDougall's excellent book, "Born to Run" then you'll like The Perfect Runner where Niobe Thompson explains how humans evolved into the best endurance runners on the planet...leading to our dominance!  Here is a short description of the program:
How did our ancestors survive the shift from trees to land, and evolve to dominate the planet? The answer lies in a remarkable ability we evolved far earlier than our powerful brains: humans are nature’s perfect endurance runners. Gemini-winning anthropologist Niobe Thompson (Inuit Odyssey, 2009; Code Breakers, 2011) takes a journey of personal discovery back in evolutionary time, in conversation with leading evolutionary biologists and immersed in cultures whose survival still depends on endurance running. From the highlands of Ethiopia, to the most remote place in Arctic Siberia, to the world's toughest ultramarathon in the Canadian Rockies, The Perfect Runner weaves cutting-edge science with gripping adventure, and leaves the viewer with a new and inspiring understanding of our common evolutionary inheritance as the running ape.
Here is a short video trailer of the program, The Perfect Runner:

The Perfect Runner, Official Trailer from Niobe Thompson on Vimeo.

Sally always encourages me to "Run Christopher, Run".  Now it makes perfect sense.

Until next time...

Monday, March 19, 2012

Training secrets for the Reggae Runners Half Marathon Challenge

Court and Andrew with me in Negril, at Reggae Marathon,  December 2011
Now I've done it!  I opened my big mouth and accepted the challenge to race with 2 other runners on May 6.  Dan Cumming, Larry Savitch and I are running individual races and have a 21 year age spread separating us.  But through 'age-adjusted' timing, we'll be competing head-to-head.  So instead of taking it easy at the May 6 Goodlife Fitness Toronto Half Marathon I'm actually going to have to 'race'.  Here's my secret training plan guaranteed to propel me to the top:
  • Running Stairs.  Once a week for the next 4 weeks or so I have scheduled a session on a set of stairs near home.  I plan to run repeats (run up, walk down) starting with 10 sets and working up to about 20.  I hope to build leg strength so that I can push harder in the closing stages of the Half Marathon.
  • Speed work.  Two sessions each week up until the week before the half marathon.  My plan is to keep these to about 6 km each but include 4 sets of approximately 200 metres done at a significantly faster pace with a slower recovery in between.  It won't be the most scientific but hopefully it will give me the speed I need to run the second half faster than the first (the notorious 'Negative Split')
  • Tempo runs. Again, two sessions each week of about 6 km each running at a 'near race' pace.  This should help the breathing and oxygen intake.
  • Long Slow Distance runs.  Once a week on the weekend I plan a 'long run' to get up to my half marathon target time of 1:55.  I actually plan to exceed that time for my training runs since it is a 'little bit' optimistic.  
  • Rest days.  One day off for now but will work up to 2 each week for the month before May 6.
I'm still running in the 'natural-style' in my Puma Faas 500's as well. I still love their minimalist approach;  the fit for my fairly wide feet are excellent.  

The real key to all of this is to stay healthy and injury-free. Unfortunately I had a little setback this past weekend with a nasty flare-up of the plantar fasciitis in my right foot.  Nothing that a few days of rest won't cure so don't get your hopes up Larry and Dan even though you now know my 'secrets'.  I'll be back to training later this week.

Oh, one more thing:  I have to loose a 'little weight'.  Dam, there go those salty snacks!

Until next time...


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Monday, March 12, 2012

Dan, Chris and Larry's Half Marathon Challenge May 6

I'm running in the Goodlife Fitness 1/2 Marathon on May 6 in Toronto.  I posted that on the Run for Heart Facebook page and that triggered a response two Reggae Marathon friends, Larry Savitch and Dan Cumming who noted they were also running in their own 1/2 marathons on that day.  In a flurry of emails over the past week, we concocted a way for the three of us to compete to see who is the fastest.  Boys will be boys!  We've called it, 'Reggae Runners Half Marathon Challenge'.  More in a minute, some background first.

Larry, Dan and I connected online in 2011.  On Facebook and through numerous email exchanges we became online friends.  We moved the online friendship into the real world when we met up in Negril last December for the Reggae Marathon. Since then we've continued the online friendship on Facebook and on our personal blogs.

Oh, I should mention that Larry lives in Florida, New York and Dan lives in White Rock, British Columbia.

Daniel Craig walking out of the sea?

Larry and his Easy Skankin group came to Negril last December to run in Reggae Marathon and vacation at and vacation on the beach in Negril. Check out his excellent review of the Reggae Marathon:  'Running in Paradise).

Dan posted a picture of himself and his wife on the beach in Negril from 1969 that started our online connection. He had a 'disaster' at Reggae Marathon 2011 when he missed the start hours!  Even with that, he turned that disaster into a great run...and a great story. Check it out:  Reggae Marathon 2011).

2011 Negril, Jamaica
1969 Negril, Jamaica

These pictures were taken 42 years apart at Long Bay Beach Park in Negril.

So here's what we're up to:  we each will run our individual races in our separate cities on May 6 competing to see who is the fastest.  Since we are running in different races and conditions...and have a 21 year age spread...Dan figured out how to manipulate our individual finish times to come up with an 'age-adjusted' time for each of us.  Therefore even though Dan, Larry and I are 67, 46 and 54 respectively, through the magic of math, we'll see who's the fastest.

As you might expect we have already started the trash talk.  I expect it to increase between now and May 6.  Of course all that will be meaningless after my first place finish!  And if all goes as planned, all three of us hope to be in Negril December 1 for Reggae Marathon 2012 for a celebration.

We haven't figured out prizes, wagers or any other details so if you have some suggestions, please share.

Reggae Runners Half Marathon Challenge off and running...let the serious training begin!

Until next time...


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