Tag Archives: debate

The Minds of a Runner


One is the motivator who gets me out the door on a cold morning, pushes me to finish the last leg strong, and grinds out those last few miles when reason and sanity are screaming to end the punishment. But it dreams big and is tempted to push too hard, beyond the “extra mile” into overtraining and unrealistic goals.

So I have another mind who sets boundaries on training and has a practical view of what can be accomplished. And when I don’t set a new PR (personal record) at every race, it reminds me to be grateful for the experience and enjoy running for its own sake. But at times it needs a poke or three to get up and do what needs to be done.

When my running mind and rational mind are in harmony, amazing things can happen. But like any relationship in close quarters, there are moments of friction leading to some lively internal debates. In the end, I find a way to do what I need to. But it isn’t always a smooth ride!

Here are a few recent examples where my “rational mind” (RM) and my “running mind” (RNR) had differences of opinion.

1. Running in Lousy Weather

RNR: Remember, we have intervals on the schedule today.

RM: Yeah, but it’s windy and snowing outside. Let’s do them on the treadmill! We’re on the way to the gym anyway.

RNR: If we have to, I guess. . .Hey, what’s that on the side of the road?

RM: I see nothing. NOTH-THING!

RNR. Why, I believe it’s a runner. And he’s running into the wind. What dedication! There’s a real runner for you.

RM: I’m not listening.

RNR: You know, it’s not that cold out. And it’s only one set of eight quarters.


2. Hill Work Day

RM: Okay, the hill is just ahead. All warmed up and ready to go. How many repeats are we doing?

RNR: I think the assignment was four. But we can do at least six, no problem.

RM: Let’s see how we feel after the first couple.

(After repeat #2)

RM: Okay, let’s get in six. So next repeat we’re halfway done!

RNR. Oops, come to think of it, I believe the assignment called for eight. Yeah, I’m pretty sure about that.

RM: This isn’t fair. We still have a two-mile run home after this.

RNR: Think how good the cooldown pace will feel after the last repeat..

(Result: Eight repeats. Turned out the assignment didn’t specify a number. But the cooldown pace did feel good.)

3. Rest days

(Day before)

RM: Man, that was a brutal workout. But rest day tomorrow! Get to kick back and eat cookies.

RNR: You got that right. I am toast.

(Rest day)

RNR: What are you doing?

RM: Kicking back and eating cookies.

RNR: You understand that whole “rest day” thing isn’t meant to be taken literally. Go out and run a few. Earn those cookies.

RM: But rest is important. It’s a necessary part of training.

Kicking back with my daughter Tori in Richmond.

RNR: Come on, just a quick 5K. You know you want to.

RM: Actually, I don’t.

RNR: Lazy slob. We’re getting weaker by the minute. I feel our strength slipping away.

RM: Shut up and pour more coffee.

RNR: Okay, but if this happens again tomorrow I’m really coming after your ass.

4. Race day, at the starting line

RM: Okay, we’re going to run a good, strong race.

RNR: Righto.

RM: No pressure, no high expectations, just do our best.

RNR: Yup. Here to have fun. Only stress is what we put on ourselves.

RM: Ten seconds to the gun! Relax, shake arms out, breathe easy, focus. . .

RNR: And by the way, if you don’t set a new PR today, you’re a LOSER.


So if you see me out there putting in some tough miles, feel free to admire the balance of dedication and self-discipline of my “two minds.” Or, like the neighbor watching me do intervals in the snow, you could just yell, “You’re crazy!”

To my running readers out there: what goes on in your mind(s)? Feel free to share it here!

Why a Helmet is Worth a Bad Hair Day


Last week we camped with some good friends in the Empire area. One day we decided to take a group ride along the Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail. The ten miles between Empire and Glen Arbor are pretty and not terribly difficult. But for one friend, it was a milestone. For the last couple of years he’s struggled with knee issues. Thanks to PT and regular workouts he’s much improved, but this was his first ride of any real distance in a long time.

Seven miles in, we stopped for a water break. As my friend dismounted, his foot caught on the bike frame and he went down.

His head smacked the pavement.



The Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute reports that of all cycling-related deaths, 74 percent involved a head injury. And 97 percent of the riders who died were not wearing helmets. You might think, therefore, that if a First Rule of Cycling existed, it would be this:


Hitting the trail! (Yes, I know, but he put the helmet on before we started.)

Hitting the trail! (Yes, I know, but he put the helmet on before we started.)

Thankfully, this story has a happy ending. He was wearing a helmet, and it absorbed the impact instead of his skull. He was dizzy for a few minutes, but after some rest he was able to continue, and we completed the ride. He suffered a bruise to his ego, but his body is intact to ride another day.

Our group wears helmets on every ride, and when our kids were growing up, we insisted they wear them too. To me, it’s a no-brainer, so to speak. And yet there are those out there who argue against their use. Among the claims this article makes are:

  • the accident rate goes up when people wear helmets
  • when cars pass cyclists, they give helmeted riders less room than non-helmeted ones
  • requiring helmets discourages more people from riding bikes at all.

And CNET reports here that a brain surgeon says if you’re hit hard enough by a car to kill you, a helmet won’t do you much good. Perhaps so – but last week’s situation didn’t involve a speeding car, or any speed at all. He fell from a standing position. Without a helmet, we have no doubt he’d have been in the emergency room, with potential long-term consequences.

Every year I see many helmetless riders on the Heritage Trail, or the Betsie Valley Trailway, including entire families with small children. I can guess at their mindset. They’re on vacation, released from stress, riding slowly on a smooth, flat trail with no motor vehicles allowed. What could happen? Well, one young guy panicked and slid right off the trail when I announced my presence behind him. He was okay, fortunately, but elsewhere on the trail he could have struck a fallen log and taken a nasty spill.

And people fall off bikes for less reason than that. I’ve fallen many times, usually when I can’t get my foot out of the clips during a stop. I’ve managed to avoid banging my head (thanks, Aikido) but I have that foam and plastic insurance policy up there just in case.

And if you want to participate in one of our local triathlons? Experienced riders and no drafting allowed. What could be safer? Yet you’re not leaving the transition area to start the bike portion without a fastened helmet.

Yep, we check!

Yep, we check!

Yes, one reason is liability, but if a helmet is so useless, what’s the point? Other than all the evidence (like here) that wearing a helmet reduces the severity of injuries. Guess I forgot.

Yes, I know I shouldn’t tell you what to do. And I can’t make you wear the f***ing helmet. Why should I even care what you do?

Because if you’re reading this post, you’re one of my readers, which makes you special to me. And I want you to stay alive and healthy so you can keep reading my posts.

So go out for that ride, and wear the f***ing helmet, okay?

Stand Up to Work, But Sit Down to – What??

I hope you’re NOT sitting down when you read this.

In yet another wave in the media tide that says we’re f***ed no matter what we do comes the news that extended sitting is bad for your health. Not only that, it can apparently undo any good work you’ve done when you’re not sitting, such as walking, running, or engaging in other exercises that are supposed to keep you healthy.

Fine, I give up. Screw the run, pass the donuts.

Fine, I give up. Screw the run, pass the donuts.

The eye-catching, sensationalist headlines trumpet stuff like, “Sitting is the New Smoking,” “Sitting will kill you, even if you exercise,” and “Sitting All Day Is Really, Really Bad For You.” And even that famous medical expert and Apple CEO Tim Cook was quoted recently as saying that, “[S]moking is the new cancer.” I could not find a comment from him as to why he leads a company making devices that encourage people to be seated for extended periods.

Anyone who knows me knows my interest in maintaining and improving my health and fitness, and how seriously I take my training. And yet, in order to afford my fitness activities and the rest of my life, I have a job – one that requires me to spend considerable time in my office reading, typing, or meeting with people. Which, most of the time, is done while seated. As is eating most meals, driving, watching TV, and writing blog posts like this one.

No sitting means no laps! Bad idea! says Gabby.

No sitting means no laps! Bad idea! says Gabby.

Yikes! What ever am I to do?

You can see this, and other examples, at Amazon.com.

You can see this, and other examples, at Amazon.com.

Fortunately, brilliant minds have come up with solutions. Two recent innovations include the stand-up desk, and for those who want even more help exercising, the treadmill desk (although its benefits have come into question). These wonderful inventions come at a price, naturally, starting at around $300 and going up to whatever your fantasies and your wallet can stand.

The thought that while I’m sitting at my desk I’m undoing much of the good I do myself while exercising has been bugging me for some time now. So I decided to experiment with working at my desk while standing. But heck if I was going to drop $300 or more to get a desk unit to try out. Besides, once I’ve made a decision, I get impatient about carrying it out. So here was my solution.

Do-it-Myself Stand-up DeskWho needs IKEA? I’m an engineer!

I spent most of this afternoon (about 4 hours) working like this. I even conducted a meeting with someone while standing up. (He was seated, but hey, it’s his body to wreck.)

The results were mixed. The first 3 hours or so were comfortable. After that my back got stiff and I took some “sit breaks.” Many of the stand-up units can be raised and lowered for just such occasions. A few more trials may be needed before I spring for one, though. I’ll keep you all posted (pun intended, of course).

Meine Herren, Please Sitz Yourselves

Taking the opposite position, as it were, there is apparently a long-running debate in Germany about whether men should sit down when doing “Number 1” or if they should continue to relieve themselves standing up. There are even terms for the two sides: sitzpinklers (those who sit down) and stehpinklers (those who do it standing up). Being a sitzpinkler is seen as “non-masculine” by some men, while others see it as progressive and a way to help out toiler cleaners, who are mainly women.

The issue came to a head (*) recently when an apartment renter in Duesseldorf sued his landlord for this right (standing up for standing up?). The landlord claimed the renter’s urine had damaged the marble bathroom floor due to his, shall we say, poor aim, and had withheld part of the security deposit. The case was decided by a judge in favor of the renter. The moral of the story: He who installs marble flooring near a toilet is a dummkopf.

For my part, I remain strongly in favor of a man’s right to pee standing. If nature gives one the ability, one should use it, I say. Besides, what would we do with all the urinals?

You know, the men's room is SO much more aesthetically pleasing these days!

You know, the men’s room is SO much more aesthetically pleasing these days!

Check out some highly entertaining (and somewhat shocking) unusual real urinals at this site here. One more example below.

Go ahead, sitzpinkler! I dare you!

Go ahead, sitzpinkler! I dare you!

See you next time, if I survive all my sitting. You know, even in doctor’s offices and waiting rooms, what are we asked to do? Sit! Quick, have Tim Cook set them straight!


(*) Jeez, I’m full of puns today. Is it okay if I release them sitting down?