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Showing posts from May, 2014

(NOT SO) TENDER LOVING CARE

When your muscles feel tight, what’s the most natural thing to do? If you said stretch, you’re right, and also wrong. Paradoxically, stretching an already tight muscle can cause reactive tension as the muscle tries to protect itself, and since taut muscles already put pressure on their attachments, stretching can actually damage the tendon and joint. What is needed is to identify the real cause of muscle irritation and treat it properly.

You’ve probably heard of trigger points. The term was coined by Dr. Janet Travell, M.D. to describe small contraction knots in muscle and surrounding tissue (collectively termed myofascia). Trigger points can feel like a partly cooked piece of macaroni buried deep beneath the skin. They are often caused by overuse and/or overexertion, as in the case of the athlete attempting to run farther or faster, and who among us doesn’t fit that description? As you can guess, myofascial irritation is astoundingly common, implicated to some degree in iliotibial ban…

FRUIT AS FUEL

There I was, among 700 other athletes getting set to tackle the eight-mile ascent of Mt. Baldy, in the annual Run to the Top trail race last September. It was about five minutes before the start when it hit me, that all too familiar feeling. It began with the sound of a missile going off in my belly, which was followed by a stifled burp, and then the inexorable urge to find the nearest toilet. I scanned the surroundings and about 100 feet away I espied three porta potties - with about 30 panicked runners waiting to use them. Clearly I was not the only one experiencing, shall we say, intestinal urgency. I plastered a grin on my face, excused myself from my fellow competitors, and managed that tell-tale splint-legged, butt-clenching speed walk to the closest and largest tree, disappeared behind it, and…you can probably guess the rest. Thank goodness there were leaves.

Gastrointestinal symptoms are so common among runners that they even have their own cute little nickname: the trots. A b…

SAY "CHEESE"

I had just finished running my third marathon, and in what has become customary I looked up the winner and went through his race photographs. In studying elite athletes, I examine things like stride, body habitus, and facial expression. In short, I wanted to see how much Kevin Havel had suffered to run a blistering 2:23, which was almost 30 minutes faster than my personal best time of 2:51. I had gone over my own photos, and in many of them I had the look of anguish one associates with getting one’s nails ripped out with pliers. Would Kevin’s face advertise similar agony? To my surprise, the guy was smiling. Okay, so maybe he was posing for photographers, but it got me thinking about the power of the smile. Septuagenarian ultrarunner Eldrith Gosney has said that smiling is her secret weapon. “They say that if you smile, things aren’t as bad as you might think they are – somehow, smiling just makes things better.” I looked at the research, and it turns out that cracking a grin - even w…

CHASING THE SPACE BETWEEN

Recently I was invited to meditate with friends Deepak and Oprah on a journey towards passion and abundance. They suggested I extend the invitation to all my loved ones and that together we embark on a 21-day, all-new, life-changing, authentic (and much-hyphenated) experience. Yeah, me and millions of others. It was a mass email.

It is not to brag when I say I am no neophyte when it comes to meditation. I’ve been to India several times, meditated long enough to stare unblinkingly at a candle light for entire red-eyed minutes – in fact, I once had the opportunity to sit in the lotus posture (read: cross-legged) at the very place and beneath the very tree where Buddha was purported to have reached enlightenment. I’ve been initiated into the mysteries. I’ve read books on the subject by guys with lots of vowels in their names, like Aurobindo, Yogananda, Ramana Maharshi, and one of my personal favorites, Nisargadatta Maharaj. I might even consider myself an expert on the Art of Om, as medit…