Archive for April, 2007

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#3 – Stinging Ice Pellets

4 April 2007

When I run, I prefer to run outdoors. I’m not opposed to treadmills and I’ll use them if I have to, but I’d rather run outdoors in any conditions. Today was a good example… Even though it’s April, this is Michigan and we got some snow! 34 degrees, 35+ mph winds, and precipitation – sometimes the precipitation was rain, sometimes snow, and sometimes ice pellets. Running into a 35 mph headwind with ice pellets stinging my face was well worth the price of admission! The price being lacing up my running shoes and remembering to wear gloves in April. One of the side benefits of running is that it keeps your legs warm – I was running in shorts today and my legs felt great, but I needed two long-sleeve shirts for my torso. Next time the weather is crazy in your neck of the woods, consider abandoning the treadmill and seek the great outdoors. It will be an experience to remember and you can impress the ‘millworkers when you return covered in ice.

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#2 – Rest Days

3 April 2007

I’m sitting here eating some chocolate when normally I would be running! This past week I’ve dealt with a lingering cold and soreness in my left hip, so even though it burns me to do this I decided to take a day off. It’s no fun right now – the devil on my shoulder keeps whispering to go run – but logically I know that this will be good for me in the long term.

It might seem oxymoronic to write about not running in a blog devoted to finding reasons to run, but the truth is that if you don’t listen to your body and rest when necessary, an injury will trump any other reason to actually run.

Cal Ripkin had a great career and The Streak was truly impressive, but even when I was a kid I would wonder just how good he could’ve been if he’d allowed his minor injuries to heal for a game or two rather than play through them.

I guess it comes down to what you want. Do you want to string together daily runs and move up the ranks of the Running Streak List? Not me. I admit that those streaks are cool, but for me I have other priorities with my running. Besides, you don’t see many world class runners on that list!

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#1 – Conserve Your Heartbeats

1 April 2007

One of the interesting facts about land mammals is that their life expectancy is the same – if you measure it in terms of heartbeats. All land mammals will live for about 1 billion heartbeats. A shrew has a heart rate of 600 bpm (beats per minute) and a life expectancy of just three years. An elephant with their 30 bpm heart rate can expect to live over 60 years. The hearts of each animal will beat 1 billion times in their expected lifetime.

Humans, of course, are the exception – we can last for about 3 billion heartbeats. I’m not sure why – maybe medical technology, nutrition, who knows. Marine mammals don’t follow the pattern either, but let’s stick with ourselves and our 3 billion heartbeats. There are 525,600 minutes in a year, and the average human has a resting heart rate of 72 bpm, so divide that into 3 billion and you get a life expectancy of 79.3 years.

I was talking about this topic with a co-worker when he asked me “So how many days of your life did you burn up by running that ultramarathon?” Holy cow. My heart rate was probably around 150 bpm for the 12 hours it took me to run 50 miles, so in half a day I used up just over a day’s worth of heartbeats! More than that, I ran for 180 hours total in 2006 – that’s 7.5 days of extra heartbeats spent on running! Is it really worth it?

Before I started running three years ago, my resting heart rate happened to be the average 72 bpm. Let’s assume that I lived my first 28 years at that heart rate, which means I used up 1.06 billion of my life’s heartbeats in that span. Now let’s assume that I keep running (or cycling or otherwise keeping in good shape) for the rest of my life. My current resting heart rate is about 56 bpm, so if I keep that up for my remaining 1.94 billion heart beats, I would live another 69 years… to the age of 94!

By getting into (and staying in) good shape, I increased my life expectancy by 15 years! Each year I spend as a runner costs me one week of heartbeats, but the improved fitness adds 13 weeks to my life expectancy for a net of +12 weeks. Another way to look at it: Every month of regular running adds one week to my life! Diving deeper yet… assuming I run 3.5 times per week, that means that each run adds 12 hours to my life. How’s that for a good investment?

Yes, it’s worth it. Assuming, of course, that my clock will tick 3 billion times…