Sunday, August 31, 2008

The Human Race

About 55 runners, walkers, and dogs met at 8:00 AM at Russell Road Ball fields today to take part in the human race. We covered 10K in perfect weather. Many balanced athletes participated in the race, and others volunteered at the aid station and finish line. Road Runner sports helped us with finish line goodies and shirts. This event was a great example of the dream and the vision that got the store started 2 years ago. Thank you all for your smiles and enthusiasm, and remember that every day is an opportunity to partake in the great human race.

Photos of the race are available here.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Is technique important?

Anyone who has talked to Eric or me about running, knows that we emphasize the importance of running technique to prevent injuries and improve efficiency.

When we watched the men's and women's Olympic marathon, we observed the wide range of styles that these elite runners have. Some of them heel strike, others run on their toes, some have a head-bob, others swing their arms laterally, others have very long strides, etc. However, they are all very accomplished and incredibly fast. Does this mean that technique doesn't matter?

Well, I think that the answer is, like for many other things in life, somewhere in the middle. In my view, concentrating on technique is important, but, we should also recognize that our biomechanics determine to a large extent how we move. Additionally, I think that while working on technique may not significantly improve speed, it does reduce the risk of injury.

However, it is telling that generally speaking, the smoother, more graceful runners lead the pack.

The NYT has an interesting article about this.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Cultural immersion through exercising abroad

It has been a while since my last post. We were on vacation for two weeks in Mexico, and then getting up to speed at work and home after our vacation.

We only ran three times while we were in Mexico. One of the runs was an early, 87 degree, sticky morning in Mazatlan. We ran with the locals along the beach. Many of them wore track suits and carried dumbbells. We didn't fit in, to say the least. Maybe it was the water bottles we carried. Many of the older gentlemen that passed us looked like very tough runners. We imagined they probably ran the Mazatlan marathon earlier in the year.

It is very hard to be a vegetarian in Mexico. I mostly ate mango, coconut, and avocado (I know, how awful is that?). In Mexico, like in many other places, fish is not classified as meat, so I often got offered fish dishes as a vegetarian option. It was so hot and humid that I was not very hungry, so this was not a big problem.

We also ventured into my aunt Martha's gym one morning. We did a spinning class, which was a heart exploding experience. The instructor kept yelling at us "Arriba!!!." At some point, I was so out of breath that I stopped translating for Eric, who by now figured that whenever the instructor yelled something, it meant "Go faster."

The winner was the 'Zumba' class we took at the same gym. I had never heard of Zumba before. It is similar to an aerobics class, except that it mostly consists of dancing fast paced Latin music. The teacher seemed to be possessed by the devil, judging by her convulsions at the beat of the latest Latin hits. Eric looked bewildered. Talking about cultural immersion. He later told me: "You know you owe me, right?." At least he had the excuse of being, ahem, white. But me? What could I say? I have been away for 12 years?

Talking about being away. While shopping in Mazatlan, the store owner told me "You have pretty good Spanish for being an American." That about did it for me. I can't rapidly gyrate my hips anymore, I don't eat meat (not even fish!), and apparently, I have an American accent.

Well, at least I can still eat hot chiles, like these ones...