Posts Tagged ‘Exercise’

Over 1,400 miles this year!

Today’s fantastic Scottish weather run splashed me over 1,400 miles in 11 months. Feeling good as I make the final preparations for 20 Ks for 20 days.

Take Off Your Shoes and Exercise!

Go Barefoot or Minimalist

There is a two-fold issue here. First, is shoes. They change the way our body moves, affecting everything from our toes to our nose. Why? Two reasons: they raise the heel, which changes our natural gait and makes motion far less efficient; and they “protect” and “support” our feet, making them, our ankles, legs, back, etc weak, hypersensitive, and prone to needing more and more support.

Does this mean you shed your shoes and run off happily into the sunset? No. Please don’t. The transition to going barefoot or “minimalist” (shoes that offer no support and minimal protection), can take up to a year. You have muscles, tendons, cartilage, posture, and new ways of moving to grow and learn. The hardest part of the transition, taken slowly, takes up to 3 months. To learn more about HOW to make this transition see:

How will making the transition to barefoot/minimalist shoes benefit your brain? The more efficiently our whole body functions, the less energy our brain spends on making it do the every moment tasks. The difference may startle you, because part of how we can help our brain have more energy is to decrease the energy our brain have to spend.


Studies are starting to show that running actually grows new brain cells in mice. Emerging studies also indicate that exercise helps promote overall healing and health. I’ll take both of those!

My own experience tells me that there is truth to both those statements. I the more I am able to exercise, the better I feel. I have reached the point that when my brain is fatigued (but not too fatigued), going for a run rejuvenates my brain and I come back feeling better than I left.

Whatever you form of exercise, be sure to do it with doctor approval and with help as needed so you are as safe as possible.

Primal Running Form

I was intrigued by these shots of me running. It’s one thing to try and run a certain way, and a completely different thing to then see pictures of that form in action.

Two things here: first is the clear preparation of the foot for an outer forefoot strike (just behind the pinky toe; second is the way in which one foot is right in front of the other. For me, it creates a straight line about an inch or two in from the inside edge of my feet. When I had to wear snowshoes, it felt really strange and hard to have to walk with a wider stance.

Shoe companies would have us believe we need support and protection; however, this shot clearly shows my left foot’s arch (AKA windlass mechanism), at full load. That kind of compression is supposed to happen (it absorbs shock of landing, and returns close to 20% of that energy back to your next step). Any arch support prevents this natural mechanism from functioning at all. Arch support does nothing but weaken the foot, send unnecessary shock up through the leg, and make the whole body work harder to propel itself forward.

Run with abandon!

What a Fantastic Retreat!

Alpineglow from the cabin’s deck.

A friend gave me the gift of a retreat and pilgrimage with him. We spent a week at another friend’s remote cabin around the Spanish Peaks near LaVeta, CO (Thank you!). Depending on the temperature and recent snow fall, I either ran in my moccasins or in my moccasins with snowshoes (which my feet really rebelled against, as the straps chaffed them raw a few places).

It was a grand test of my ear plugs, as they got quite a workout, with the long drive, in a new home with various noises, and then more long drives and even a few restaurants. They and I did wonderfully well, and the continued gifts and slurry of baby-step improvements from the Blood Type Diet, Primal Running, and Buteyko Breathing are clearly evident. Still waiting for my memory and cognitive capacity to improve. Perhaps with time and more running!

I did lose a few days to “short circuiting” — requiring time to recover because of cigarette smoke in our non-smoking room at one hotel (apparently there’s no such thing as no smoking rooms in even a brand new Casino. Who could have guess that one? Sardonic grin).

Running is cognitive therapy…

Since the first glimmer that I might be able to run again (last spring, so coming up on one year ago), I’ve intuitively known that primal running would be an integral part of my ongoing recovery for my bludgeoned brain. I had no idea of the extent (By God’s grace, I still don’t and this is just the beginning!).

For the past week, I’ve been testing out going for a run when my brain is fatigued. I’m not at all sure what prompted this, because it feels incredibly counter intuitive to my lived experience. But running has become so efficient for me, that I return from a run with more brain energy than I left with. I have no idea what the limits of this are, but I’m in the process of testing them out.

Yesterday, I ate something on my “avoid” blood type diet (4-5 bites was all). I asked my wife if it was on my avoid list because it just either tasted funny to me or I was beginning to feel “off.” I dropped rapidly last night (perhaps I should have immediately gone for a run?! I may get brave enough to test that extreme at some point) and was still recovering this morning. It was a “hard” brain day. So I decided to test it out. I could barely make it out the house, but once I was running, I was doing better. Inertia limits the ways you can fall, so my brain was less panicked about that (at least that’s the part of the equation I’ve figured out so far). I ended up running 5k, though it felt like 30k. (brain injury has a way of making life seem that way — the expenditure of an ultra-marathon to accomplish a walk around the block.). I even “hit the wall” 3/4s of a mile in, and felt my body shift to fat reserves by 2.5 miles. Arrived home and I’m more at a “medium” day in terms of brain fatigue. Amazing stuff! And I owe it all to primal running and primal (Buteyko) breathing!

Minimalist Footprints…

This photo intrigues me. The print in the lower left is made by a guy I saw on the trail, who appears to weigh less, be smaller than me, and made the print about the same time I did. He was walking, I was running. I mention that to make clear the prints were made onto ground of equal softness and the deeper print was made by someone lighter and walking compared with my 190 lbs running. My print is in the upper right. I was wearing my primal moccasins.

My print isn’t quite “the best runners leave no print” ideal, but it is interesting to see the difference between primal running and shod walking in what appears to be a Converse or similar less structured shoe.

Clearly the shod print is a heal strike (see the deep heel imprint.) It creates an artificially flat surface. My primal print is soft around the edges and is clearly a gentle forefoot strike. My foot molds the ground slightly, but also molds to the ground. There is clear toe articulation.

Thoughts? Riff away in the comments section…

Baby Step Miracles!

Bathed in gentle alpine glow after a night’s snow, this view looks down Ute Pass.

As I connect with, learn, and live the basics of “God’s engineering” I am deeply humbled by how great we are made and how much we try and do things our way and simply gum up the works.

What do I mean by “God’s engineering?” I mean that God, through evolution, designed us to be the most beautiful and efficient and gifted creature on the planet: mind, body, and soul. Learning how to listen to our body and what it’s trying to tell us can make everything in life better. Two cases in point:

Primal Running:
When I first began going barefoot (last spring), my feet tingled as the blood rushed in, grew new tissue, woke up dormant neural connections and created new ones. My feet began giving the rest of my body input about where I as compared with the ground. My brain no longer had to struggle to figure this out. My body (from my navel down) just knew. As this awareness and reflex grew, I realized I could run. A few more months and constant testing to see if I still needed the 4 pound walking sticks, and I’ve shifted to 8 oz. trekking poles (Thank you, Mountain Chalet!). I’m now running and moving faster and more efficiently than ever (including before my brain injury!). I’m hopeful that running will help grow new connections and help me recover even more over time (studies show mice grown thousands of new brain cells when they run compared with when they don’t).

Primal Breathing:
Using the Buteyko breathing method, my breathing is now keeping the maximum amount of accessible oxygen in my blood, increasing my body’s efficiency throughout. I’ve even been able to run more in the afternoon and once in the evening (Mornings are my best “brain energy” time). I feel better more, have more brain energy, and my sinuses are not a constant presence in every moment of life. I suspect this new efficiency deeply contributed to my being able to go to lighter sticks, as it provides a better, more consistent oxygen supply to my brain.

Baby step miracles by way of learning how to listen to my body and the way God created me to breathe and move and eat (Blood Type Diet). I wonder what other aspects of life I take for granted that I’m actually doing things counter to how God created me? How else can I go primal? The search continues… Grin.

Plus 43.6 (Yes, I’ve been negligent in reporting them!)
Total mileage: 519.5 miles

Gadzooks! An Evening Run!

I most generally run in the morning, often starting long before sunrise. Why? Because that’s my best time of day. It appears Buteyko breathing may be changing that, at least occasionally. I just got back from an evening run through the last of twilight, arriving back at the time I typically go to bed. Not sure what this will do to tomorrow.

As for the breathing. I continue to progress. I’ve discovered that when I push my speed, or am climbing a hill, I need to mouth breath. It’s a bit like having a high gear. It has vastly helped me transition back to normal, shallow, spaced nose breaths upon my return (apparently living at 8,000 feet makes this more necessary than at sea level). After multiple days of cleansing, a day like today is a wondrous gift and I’m hopefully it’s a strong sign of what’s to come as my body become completely used to having the maximum amount of accessible oxygen possible.

Plus 12.4 miles
Total mileage 469.9

Back at it!

Och! One of the joys of life with brain injury is that even just fighting off a cold can knock you out for a week. That’s where I’ve been, not fully having a cold, but just enough of it to knock me out of doing anything for a while.

Amazingly, I didn’t lose any of the progress I’d made on my breathing (my control pause is now up to 30). And on my runs, it feels completely normal to breath nose only, and on the little hills (not the mile plus long ones) I hardly think about the fact that I’m going up hill.

Plus 7.2 miles
Total Milage: 450.5

Something about a leather sole!

Wow. There is something absolutely energetic about running in an all leather shoe. Running in an all-leather primal moc feels far more barefoot than running in Vibram Five Fingers or even a moccasin with a rubber sole. The difference is palpable.
Why? I don’t know. Apparently when we walk barefoot, electrons are exchanged between us and the earth, helping us unload whatever we need to and giving us renewed energy. Whatever it is, I can certainly feel that difference when I go barefoot, and this feels similar.
So, what are the drawbacks to an all leather sole? Only one that I’ve found: slippery when on snow and ice or wet grass/smooth wet rocks. For me, we get a lot of the snow and ice round here, but not much of the others. I’m testing out more options to help with traction with the moccasin and will report back when I learn more.
Another thing that may be a problem for some is if their running technique is heavy/loud rather than light/silent, they will wear through the leather, perhaps more quickly than they are used to. From what I can tell so far, wear seems similar or better than Vibram Five Fingers.
Chuck Perry of Mountain People Footwear is the guy to go to for custom primal running mocs. He already has the all leather, but if you’re wanting a rubber sole, we’re working on that as an option.

Plus 7 miles
Total: 240.2

Deacon Patrick’s Round the World Progress

Deacon Patrick's Round the World Progress