The reason I workout and living with Gilbert’s Syndrome

Rebecca did something pretty spectacular about a month ago. We’ve been working pretty hard on some projects with sixty4media in the last few months, so she asked what she could do to make it up to me. Working a full time day job, the only time I can get to these projects is in between work and sleep. So, I said that a gym membership would be nice, but she one upped me.

We now have one year memberships to Fitness World in exchange for reports on her progress with getting back into shape and an ad on her sidebar for the duration of the membership. That isn’t bad at all, so I figure I might as well add a bit to the one year deal and provide some feedback on my experience with their facilities and services.

To begin, I thought I would explain more of where my inspiration to workout comes from and why I go to the gym or run in the morning.
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Thanks for making the 2007 Run For The Cure a success

Last Sunday was the CIBC Run For The Cure, and I wanted to make a quick follow-up post to say thanks to all of your who donated towards my or Rebecca’s goal.

The standard goal for all runners to participate without having to pay an entry fee was $150, and I ended up with a final tally of $175. Not only is that pretty awesome, but the one day total from the Canada wide, one day event was $26.5 million. That’s mind blowing, but seeing all the people who showed up on Sunday morning in downtown Vancouver would prove that not so hard to believe.

And speaking of the run, the weather was miserable. A little cool, but raining like it can be expected for Vancouver at this time of year. By the end of the few hours that we braved the elements, we were sopping wet. I’ve often said that there is nothing like running in the rain, and that statement still rings true. However, being forced to wait outside for nearly an hour for the run to start? That’s not so cool.

Rebecca and I ran the whole route together, without stopping or walking, and finished the 5k in just over 31 minutes. She did awesome, but it was even better to get home and hop into a hot shower, followed by a heaping breakfast at Hamburger Mary’s to reward ourselves.

Sponsor me in the CIBC Run For The Cure 2007

The time has come again for the CIBC Run For The Cure 2007, and I will be participating again this year. I’m also asking for your donations so that I can partake in the event, and all money will go directly to the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation to help those dealing with breast cancer and hopefully find a cure.

CIBC Run For The Cure Make your online sponsorships here, and the run takes place on September 30, 2007 in downtown Vancouver, starting and ending at BC Place. I have until then to raise $150 to participate in the event.


The Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation CIBC Run for the Cure is an extraordinary single-day experience that unites more than 170,000 Canadians in 53 communities across the country. Together, we’re raising millions of dollars to fund innovative and relevant breast cancer research, education, and awareness programs in the communities where you live. [cibcrunforthecure]

I have just recently gotten myself back into the running routine, pretty much healed from my shin splint that was bothering me a lot. My hope is to run this 5k at or under 25 minutes.

My mom has cooler shoes than me

Mom’s cool shoes I’m jealous. She got these for bike riding. With my shin splint, I’m reduced to walking for a few weeks. The pain is just too much, but these are completely the type of shoes I’d want for working everyday. Can’t wear the flip flops when hauling stuff around, not to mention with all the rain we get in Vancouver.

Got a case of the shin splints

Runner Shoes (250+ miles overdue for change) Actually, it’s more like I have a shin splint[wiki], just in my left calf. It’s been with me for about a week, but the ache won’t go away. You tend to do the stupid thing and just consider it a tired muscle, but I’ve taken the last few days off from my routes.

Rebecca set to the Google this morning and found that you should replace your running shoes every four hundred miles. I’ve often considered the every six months rule, so we did a little math.

I’ve had these current pair of shoes since my birthday, last September, but started using them in November. That makes it about eight months, so there’s strike one. Taking an average of running 10k for each day that I run, which is about three times a week, the roundabout total number of miles in this pair of runners is 600. Strike two.

Working the Google some more, I found this really good page about shin splints and running.

What Are They

Shin splints is a common term used for a half a dozen lower leg problems ranging from nerve irritations to tendonitis to stress fractures. The most common type that is experienced involves the tearing away of the muscle tissue that attaches to the front of the lower leg. The beginner runner and the runner that resumes training after a long lay off are most susceptible to this injury. The connective sheath attached to the muscles and bone of the lower leg become irritated, resulting in a razor-sharp pain in the lower leg along the inside of the tibia or shin bone. Shin splints can be felt anywhere from just below the knee down to the ankle. The pain may diminish after warming up but then returns a few minutes after the completion of a workout.

How Are They Caused

There can be several causes for shin splints. Only when possible causes are identified can shin splints be eliminated.

Possible causes include:

– Tight Achilles and calf muscles.
– An inexperienced runner just beginning to run.
– Running on uneven terrain.
– A sudden increase in faster running (speed work).
– A sudden change from soft to hard running surfaces.
– Running in worn down shoes.
– Excessive uphill running.
– Poor running mechanics which include excessive forward lean, excessive weight on the ball of the foot, running with toes pointed outward, landing too far back on the heels causing the foot to flap down, and overpronation. There is a drill that I do with my runners at Selah High School called silent running. I have them run on the track as quiet as possible. With the feet landing properly very little noise should be heard. Of all of the possible causes, pronation is the most likely to be overlooked, as it was for me in high school.

Strike three. I’ve got the worn down shoes combined with uphill running. I tend to pay a lot of attention to my mechanics, making sure that I take care of my knees in the long run. I’ve got the “silent running” thing down pretty well because I know that I’ve scared my share of people when I run up behind them and pass.

Getting new shoes is on the list of things to do very soon, but I’ll have to let this heal a little bit before getting back on the routes in full capacity. It’s not horrible as much as it’s just an annoying pain to have. Stretching and massage only does so much. Time is the only, real cure, but there are some other things I’ll try in the meantime.

What is runner’s high?

Oddly enough, I was actually thinking about this morning while I was running a long route of near 10k. Talking with Corinna about it, we couldn’t come up with a good understanding of what “runner’s high” is exactly.

I get the concept. It implies pretty much what it means, but I ventured to good ol’ Wikipedia to see what I could dig up. This is actually apart of the article for endorphin, the naturally occurring chemical in your body that is responsible for getting you “high”.

Another widely publicized effect of endorphin production is the so-called “runner’s high”, which is said to occur when strenuous exercise takes a person over a threshold that activates endorphin production. Endorphins are released during long, continuous workouts, when the level of intensity is between moderate and high, and breathing is difficult. This also corresponds with the time that muscles use up their stored glycogen and begin functioning with only oxygen. Workouts that are most likely to produce endorphins include running, swimming, cross-country skiing, long distance rowing, bicycling, weight lifting, aerobics, or playing a sport such as basketball, football(soccer), or American football. [wiki]

Ok, being the good neuroscience student that I was in college, I get what it is now. What I don’t know is if I’ve ever had it or what it’s like when you obtain this state of foot pounding zen.

The only thing I can think of coming close to this is not feeling the soreness in my legs as I start out compared to being twenty minutes into a route. To me, that’s just a sign of muscles loosening and warming up. Been doing a bit of swimming in the last few days, and I try to do some lunges and squats in between running days for a bit of resistance training. Even after running, I stretch out to prevent stiffness.

Runner’s high is said to make you not feel pain because, chemically, that’s what endorphins are designed to do. I’m just a little lost as to if I should be feeling happy, running faster, or having some sort of vision of colors, a la Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey[imdb]. I just don’t know what it actually feels like.

Serious tourist traffic congestion

If you are someone who walks along the Seawall in Stanley Park, then you know about the amount of traffic that can happen. Some of this is from the locals out for a stroll, walk, jog, run, skate, or bike ride. The other, painful part is the amount of tourists that are either lost, stopping to take pictures, completely taking up the pathway with no regard for anyone else who might be trying to “share the road”, or just screwing up the flow.

So imagine my surprise when I ran into this a few weeks ago by the Rowing Club.

Tourist Traffic Congestors 1

Oh but it gets better. There’s another one about fifty meters further, and there is no other way to get around it except go through it.

Tourist Traffic Congestors 2

There are hints that this might be temporary, but this would completely stink if it wasn’t. Being that this is the portion of the park that is so close to Coal Harbour and in easy walking distance of cruise shippers that have a day to run around Vancouver, the volume of foot traffic can get aggressively annoying, especially if you are a runner like me. Funnel hundreds of people through a tiny opening like that and… well that just sucks.

Ever try to say “excuse me” to someone and have them look at you in complete blankness? It can happen here a lot in Vancouver because you never know what language someone can or can’t speak.

Oranges and bananas and running

When my parents came to visit, they brought something into our house that we haven’t seen enough of around here. Fruit. What they left behind has been a incredible discovery that I should have seen or been aware of for a long time. Oranges and bananas are great post run foods.

I thought about looking around to see what I could find out about this, and here is my “duh moment” for today.

In general, most endurance athletes should eat a diet that is composed of 55 to 65 percent carbohydrates. Bread, rice, potatoes, pasta, fruits, energy bars and vegetables are excellent choices for your post workout meal. Potassium rich foods such as bananas and oranges will help replace lost electrolytes. This is important, because low electrolytes have been linked to muscle cramping. Consuming protein along with carbohydrates can stimulate glycogen replacement. Active individuals should consume 10 to 15 percent of their calories from protein, or 0.5 – 0.8 grams protein per pound body weigh It will also help repair damaged muscle tissue. If you are staying away from animal products, you can get protein from beans, legumes and soy products. In addition to carbohydrates and protein, be sure to consume plenty of fluids in the form of either water or fruit juice. [mamashealth]

Sure, it’s a women’s health site, but I’ve found more, useful information that has aided my health from sources like this. Regardless, I’ve also noticed a slight increase in craving fruit during and post run. I think since I’ve made the conscious link to the source of goodness for my body, my brain is yearning for the nourishment as soon as it can get me directed on the route home.

I’m going to have a banana now. The 10k this morning in this beautiful Vancouver weather was astounding.

Side stitches while running

Ok, I’ll admit it. I listen to a fitness podcast. Does that really surprise you though? I like to be somewhat healthy, mainly for combating my Gilbert’s Syndrome[wiki]. It also helps that running bug that I have. (Although, with my parents coming to town this weekend, I won’t be doing the Sun Run this year, not that there aren’t a billion other running events that I can do this summer in Vancouver.)

Listening to the Fitness Attack the other day, this episode caught my attention because any runner can relate to the topic of those cramps you get in your side. I always called them “side cramps”, but the term “side stitch” is a newer one to me. I like that one better, so from now on, that’s what I’ll call them.

You can listen to the 60 second episode yourself, but I transcribed the tip below for my own purpose. If you are a regular runner or person who exercises, you might be able to use this or even expand upon the topic.

One common and annoying problem that can develop during exercise is a sharp, stabbing cramp you might feel just under the lower edge of your rib cage, known as a side stitch. One way to over come this is to perform deep, belly breathing by maintaining a strong, core muscular system. You can minimize the appearance of this exercise related, transient related abdominal pain, and leave the stitches to the tailors and the surgeons. [fitnessattack]

I don’t get them a lot, but my mental mantra while running is that I don’t stop to walk unless I feel pain or the urge to throw up. Gross, I know, but you can’t simply stop when tired if you’re a more seasoned runner. When I get tired, then I’ll slow up my pace to a slow trot, but the point is to keep moving. It’s usually that first 20-30 minutes that is always the hardest, and if a side stitch pops up on me, then it’s around that time, maybe once every three weeks.

Stanley Park: Going where you’re allowed

20070208(009) After my last run in with the park folks, I’ve been taking running routes through Stanley Park that don’t involve areas where you are, technically, not supposed to be. And for the most part, it’s not that different than what I’ve seen from inside of the park. It’s ugly, there’s an abundance of skylight coming through where the canopy use to shield a lot more of it out, and the clean up process seems to be taking forever.

You can see some more pictures that I snapped today here. This was the first time that I brought my cellphone with me on a run with the intention of taking some pictures. Might I also add, I saw a pair of runners duck into the trails on the back side of Lost Lagoon. It’s tempting, but the last thing I want to do is have to climb of huge tree trunks across the trail. I’ve had to do that already, and it’s not much fun.

Prior to these storms that sacked the place, I used to marvel at the huge stumps that are left over from the first time this area was settled and harvested for what it was worth. Most of what got knocked over recently is second growth. However, there was a lot of fallen trees in the park before the winds demolished what it did. Not to this extent, but what was there was left to be. Concern was given to keep the trails passable, but that stuff was just shoved to the side.

There are millions of dollars being appropriated for the clean up of the park, and yet this process is going at a snail pace. There are some that say that this money would be better off going towards individuals that are struggling and in dire need of help, and I can’t say that I disagree. From everything that I’m seeing, I need more proof that something more is being done.