Words of occasional wisdom from Bruce Oakley

Archive for June, 2011

Hurry up and wait

Posted by boakley59 on June 27, 2011

We’ve been on this BEEPing journey together for a while now, and you can tell there’s a man in front because it’s taken so long before we get to “P”!

We started with Balance, but then we staggered around a bit before getting to Efficiency. We had learned how we wanted to BE, but still needed to add Effort to get results. So now, like the busy BEE, we stay on the move, buzzing here and there, and we get … what, exactly?

This is the hardest part, because like the bee we have to spend a lot of time in the fields before we can make honey. Sure, it’s natural and we have only to “just do it,” but we’ve been buzzing and buzzing; can’t we just get to the good stuff already? Give us a break!

So here’s where we get to P: Patience! That’s right, now that we’ve spent weeks working on getting faster, our next lesson is to remember that we’re in this for the long haul. As much as we want to go fast and we keep talking about how to improve speed, this is really about endurance. Progress is slow, sometimes barely noticeable. Steady? Well, if you think in terms of a calendar instead of a day planner, then it’s steady. If you zoom in close, it’s a bit of a roller coaster.

It takes time to increase your mileage; it takes time to build muscle and speed; it takes time to overcome injuries. You’ll have days when everything works, the weather is fantastic, and you’ll run like the wind. You’ll also have days when you can’t seem to tie your shoelaces right. Take the long view: Your worst days running now are faster and easier than good days before, and it will be easier still next month. You may be tired and stiff tomorrow, but give yourself permission to rest and recover. Get ready for the day after that or maybe even the next week.

To run is to learn about limitations and overcoming them. You learn how your body works; you find (build?) your character. This is a long conversation with yourself. We can give advice in sound bites that capture the highlights, but you need to be an attentive listener to get the full value — and joy — out of the experience.

Your training plan should be months long, and you should measure achievement accordingly. You can overcome injuries and bad days if you will accept them as part of the journey. Recovery and correction take time, too — don’t rush them.

The great basketball coach, John Wooden, taught his players: “Be quick, but don’t hurry.” Great athletes know how this works; the game seems slower to them. Quarterback Joe Montana had a way of stretching out a play until he could do something great; Michael Jordan had a knack for dominating the big moments. Wait for the moment; strike like a rattlesnake. Efficient, not rushed.

Douglas Adams has it right in “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”: “Don’t panic.”

If you think about it, there are a lot of P’s in this pod: To make Progress, you need to Plan, Prepare, Practice, all of which require Patience. Like so many of these notions, the counterbalance seems Paradoxical: It takes a slowed Perspective and a certain reserve to move you from a busy BEE to a free-spirited roadrunner.



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A bit of magic

Posted by boakley59 on June 25, 2011

Magic Mile results: April 12, 2012 | March 22, 2012 | May 3, 2011 | April 12, 2011 | March 15, 2011

A few of the gang took to the Batesville High Track for a “Magic Mile” June 25. I’ve got times for each lap, the mile (1600 meter) total, and each runner’s most recent Magic Mile from the Women Run Arkansas series.

Congratulations to all of you, because as you’ll notice, every time is faster than your previous. For what it’s worth, the heat makes it harder to go faster, too, so your gain is probably better than the numbers suggest. You’re all running easier and faster under harder conditions!

Catina is nearly two minutes faster than she was 7 1/2 weeks ago! Notice Catina’s lap times, too: They’re very closely bunched. Her average lap is 2:21, but her fastest is 2:16 and her slowest is 2:27. The biggest swing from average is just a bit more than 4 percent. (Marilyn is also well-paced at 2:55 average with a biggest swing of nine seconds, a bit more than 5 percent.) That’s the key to fast races: You find a speed that you can maintain with some effort, but without too much strain. Ease off the gas for better mileage!


Kandi 1:45 1:59 2:04 1:53 1:55 7:41
Catina 2:16 2:22 2:27 2:20 2:21 9:25 11:18 (May 3)
Suzy 2:21 2:44 2:58 2:29 2:38 10:32 10:36 (May 3)
Cody 2:32 2:07 3:07 2:52 2:40 10:38
Marilyn 2:46 2:51 3:01 3:00 2:55 11:38 13:05 (March 15)
Phyllis 2:49 3:00 3:05 3:09 3:01 12:03 12:26 (May 3)

Proud of you all, and special cheers for Cody, for pushing through when it’s not any fun yet.

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A turn to tables

Posted by boakley59 on June 20, 2011

I’ve summarized numbers for weekly mileage and daily water needs, applying principles mentioned in earlier posts and explained in detail on various running sites (see advice links at Run-Coach). At these tables you can see when you are putting too much on your running plate and whether you need another glass of water.

The Safe weekly mileage increase table shows what your new mileage should be each week as you build from 9 miles a week by adding 5% or 7%. I am a bit more conservative on this than the oft-cited 10% maximum increase. I have rounded my calculations to the nearest quarter mile for easier matching to road routes.

If you are already running more than 9 miles a week, find the figure closest to your mileage (nearest 5-mile multiples in bold) in the 5% or 7% row and start from there instead of “Week 1.”

Safe weekly mileage increase
Week 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
Add 5% 9.00 9.50 10.00 10.50 11.00 11.50 12.00 12.75 13.25 14.00 14.75 15.50
Add 7% 9.00 9.75 10.25 11.00 11.75 12.75 13.50 14.50 15.50 16.50 17.75 19.00
Week 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23
Add 5% 16.25 17.00 17.75 18.75 19.75 20.75 21.75 22.75 24.00 25.00 26.25
Add 7% 20.25 21.75 23.25 24.75 26.50 28.50 30.50 32.50 34.75 37.25 40.00
Week 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34
Add 5% 27.75 29.00 30.50 32.00 33.50 35.25 37.00 39.00 40.75 42.75 45.00
Add 7% 42.75 45.75


The Daily water needs table follows the advice that women need to drink [(Wgt in lbs) x .31] ounces of water a day to be properly hydrated. Men need to drink [(Wgt in lbs) x .35] ounces. This is the normal day-to-day load. When you exercise, you must replace the lost sweat as well, so you drink more than this. The table covers five-pound increments from 100 to 235, and you can double those figures to cover higher weights.

Your body inherently calculates its needs and you feel thirsty when you need water: Obey your thirst, but sip; don’t guzzle. Your body also has a built-in indicator: Your wastewater tends to darken from yellow toward brown when you are dehydrated, and to lighten toward clear when you are overhydrated.

Male/Female daily water needs
Weight (lbs.) (F x .31) oz. (M x .35) oz.
100 31.00 35.00
105 32.55 36.75
110 34.10 38.50
115 35.65 40.25
120 37.20 42.00
125 38.75 43.75
130 40.30 45.50
135 41.85 47.25
140 43.40 49.00
145 44.95 50.75
150 46.50 52.50
155 48.05 54.25
160 49.60 56.00
165 51.15 57.75
170 52.70 59.50
175 54.25 61.25
180 55.80 63.00
185 57.35 64.75
190 58.90 66.50
195 60.45 68.25
200 62.00 70.00
205 63.55 71.75
210 65.10 73.50
215 66.65 75.25
220 68.20 77.00
225 69.75 78.75
230 71.30 80.50
235 72.85 82.25


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Against a sea of troubles

Posted by boakley59 on June 15, 2011

They say there are two kinds of runners, those who are injured and those who will be. If injury is inevitable, though, it can also be rare and need not hurt so much or so long.

To keep our legs right, we can take a bit of Shakespearean advice and “take arms against a sea of troubles, And by opposing end them.”

Here is a quick summary of thoughts on injuries and prevention, building upon a talk I gave recently (6/13/2011). I’ll expand on the key ideas in later posts.

A few catch phrases cover the territory:

• “Know thyself.” (Body type, mentality, fitness level, pain tolerance.)
• “It’s gotta be the shoes.” (Get the right kind for your foot.)

See my Best foot forward or click to view foot/shoe images from The Sporty Runner for an explanation. On The Sporty Runner page, notice the difference in the soles of the shoes from heel to arch:
Motion control shoe: A solid block of support material (usually in a different color on the inside heel) under the arch
Stability shoe: Not quite so full a block of support material (different color on inside heel) with a notch or wedge out at the arch
Neutral or cushion shoe: Minimal band of support material (main color) from heel to arch.

• “Obey your thirst.” (Get your fluids right.)
• “Always be prepared.” (Know how to build flexibility and strength.)

Build flexibility by always warming up, then do dynamic stretching (active limbering-up moves rather than slow, stationary stretches) before a workout. Walk or jog slower to cool down after the workout, then do the static stretching.
Build strength through basic exercises to avoid the five most common running injuries:
° Iliotibial Band Syndrome (ITBS): Side leg raise.
° Shin splints: Heel walk, big toe raise.
° Runner’s knee: Half squats on a decline board.
° Achilles tendinitis: Calf drops.
° Plantar fasciitis: Arch raise with big toe-little toe-heel tripod.

• “Train, don’t strain.”

° Increase weekly mileage slowly, steadily (5%-7%).
° Allow for recovery: Fast or long runs should be followed by easy, short runs or rest days.
° Be careful when changing terrain (from grass to roads or sidewalks) or topography (hills to flat to trails).

• “The P-R-I-C-E is right.”

When you do have a problem, the treatment usually is Protect, Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation. No shortcuts: The best way to Protect is usually to Rest, which is the step the competitor or mule in each of us wants to skip.

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Making Honey

Posted by boakley59 on June 8, 2011

Interesting — as in “ironic” or “weird” or even “disappointing” — that this post has taken so long to get written. We’re up to the “E for Effort” in the “BEEP” series, so this is not the one where you’d want to fall short. Particularly bad example as a coach.

In my defense, I have been trying in clumsy little ways. Since this “E” brings us to “BEE,” lines have come to mind about how there’s “a buzz around here lately” as new runners get going, finding new and perhaps unimagined enjoyment in the push for fitness. I’ve thought of how the “running bug” has caught some of us who are now “busy as a BEE” on the roads, at the track and sharing our stories online.

You can see that Effort can be strained, even as the point is to develop graceful Balance and Efficiency. But the thing about Effort is to just do it. This is good advice even if it has become a hyper-exposed marketing slogan. Another version comes in words of wisdom from the bride-to-be in “Chariots of Fire” after Harold Abrahams loses for the first time and whines that he won’t run if he can’t win: “You can’t win if you don’t run.”

We’ve talked before about running as something that is simple or at least elemental: It doesn’t take a lot of equipment, it can be done pretty much anywhere and anytime we’re ready, and our bodies are made for it. But you still have to get out there. And you have to get out there in heat, in cold, in crowds, on your own, in sadness and in joy.

Even that’s not really enough. Effort isn’t just moving; it’s also attention. Running should be enjoyable, but if it’s done cavalierly, it can take a heavy toll. Our bodies are made to move, but they are susceptible to wear and tear. Repetitive movement of the wrong kind has the effect of a rock chafing against a rope — eventually the rope goes to pieces. So, we have to make an Effort to learn about the right kind of shoes; we have to practice to make our movement graceful and fluid so we build endurance and speed without wrecking bone and tissue.

We talked about Balance and Efficiency as attributes but also as actions or approaches. Effort has a duality of its own: It is exertion, as in “giving 110 percent,” and it is preparation, as in knowing the race course before you run or what kind of shoes you need or what the best restorative drinks and foods are. You have to work to be ready. You have to work to improve. You even have to work to have fun.

But that’s the honey from this “BEE”: If you work hard enough through the beginning roughness, you will run to the fun. The Effort is more like play at that point, not work.

“No pain, no gain” is the line from the late great Steve Prefontaine, but he was heavy on the exertion side, working on being one of the best racers in the world made popular in exercise videos by that famous Jane (Fonda). But “Run for fun” is the better line for all of us in our everyday pursuit of being our best selves.

The most important Effort is to put a smile on your face, because that’s the part over which you alone have control. A friend posted recently on Facebook:

“Ability is what you are capable of doing. Motivation determines what you do. Attitude determines how well you do it.” —Lou Holtz

Attitude is all up to you. People can yank your chain; hills and heat make it hard to run. How you react to such distress is up to you. You can reply gracefully or just ignore provocation, which usually will defuse it. You can turn your thoughts to the strength you gain through adversity, which helps it pass more quickly. You can smile anytime and be a light to others.

Do it often enough, and soon it won’t seem like any Effort at all, the way a bee makes honey.

Beep beep. Roadrunner.

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