The Marathon: Part VIII - Fartlek Training

One of the most useful training methods for a runner is called fartlek training.

I was exposed to fartlek training for the first time when I was in the seventh grade. My track coach, Ms. Maldonado (sorry, Ms. Maldonado, I forget your first name :( ) announced one afternoon that we would be engaging in fartlek training. You can imagine how a thirteen-year-old boy might react to a word like fartlek. In fact, forget thirteen-year-olds; you are probably thinking much the same thing right now. And so it goes for any English-speaking person who first hears about fartlek training; every introduction to these workouts requires a hand-waving explanation about the world itself. So, here it is:

For the record, ladies and gentlemen, fartlek is a Swedish word that means "speed play." 

Now that we've all grown up a little, we can get down to it.

What You Stand to Gain from Fartlek Training
Physiologically speaking, fartlek training offers all of the same benefits as interval training, namely increased speed, muscle strength endurance, and VO2-max. In fact, fartlek training is just a variety of interval training.

Another major benefit of fartlek training is that it subject the runner to a variety of running speeds over the course of a single outing. As beginners, runners are accustomed to thinking of running from the perspective that it is a singular act. What I mean is that beginners often only have one speed: jog. (I have already warned you of the dangers of jogging. See here for an important discussion of why runners must always attempt to go "beyond jogging," so to speak.) By engaging in interval training in general, and fartlek training in particular, runners acquaint themselves with not simply a "jogging speed" and a "sprinting speed," but with the full spectrum of additional speeds in between those two poles (tempo speed, race pace, goal pace, easy pace, etc., etc.).

For a runner, having a spectrum of speeds from which to draw is like a painter's having more than two colors on the palette, or a carpenter's having more than just a saw and a hammer. In my opinion, fartlek workouts are the single best way to develop a ready source of various running speeds and learn how to apply them in different contexts.

Forget about the abstract explanations; let's get practical. You have heard that you should always increase your running speed when running uphill or downhill during a race. You may have heard that doing so gives you an important edge against your competitors. Yet, if you were to actually sprint every uphill or downhill, you would run out of energy before the finish line. For this kind of approach to running and racing, you need something faster than race pace, but slower than a sprint. What is that pace? Fartlek training can help you learn what it is.

Not a racer? No problem. There will be days when your energy level is such that you cannot commit to a full-on workout, but you neither want to take a day off nor an easy day. You'll need a pace that is slower than usual, but faster than easy. Enter: fartlek training.

Differences Between Fartlek Training and Traditional Interval Training
The key difference between a fartlek and traditional interval training is also its major benefit for non-competitors, aging athletes, and novices: subjectivity.

During the course of a traditional interval workout, you may be tasked to run a given distance (say, 400 meters) at a given speed (say, 1:30, or six-minutes-per-mile pace), a given number of times (say, four times), with a given amount of rest between each repetition (say, ninety seconds). There is little-to-no room in such a workout for runners who find the pace, the amount of rest, or the total workout length inappropriate for their own needs. To make matters worse, most runners aren't even aware of what is appropriate for them, and find themselves continually frustrated as they attempt to engage in solid training that is confounded by the fact that their individual bodies need a more lax approach.

In contrast, fartlek training applies subjective speeds, distances, and durations to achieve the same basic physiological result. No one runner is forced to adhere to the broad, on-average standards of a typical workout regimen. Here we may benefit from some specific examples.

Examples of Fartlek Workouts
Tomorrow, we're scheduled for a fartlek workout. In the spirit of the occasion, I'd like you to choose your own fartlek workout. Here are some examples of fartlek training; I'm certain you'll find something that works for you.

Example 1: Team/Group Fartlek in a Single-File Line
You'll need no less than three other friends or teammates for this workout. Here's how it works. Plot a running course as you normally would. Begin running as a group, in a single-file line, with the leader setting the pace for the entire group. The leader must set an appropriate basis pace, somewhere from easy to moderate (perhaps 6 to 7 on our subjective intensity scale). As the line begins running, the person at the back of the line runs hard to the front of the line, then resumes the original pace (or sets a new one, again from easy to moderate). As soon as that person has reached the front of the line, the new "last person in line" runs hard to the front of the line. The process repeats in that way until the workout is over.

Example 2a: Simple Timed Fartlek Intervals
The easiest way to do this is to simply divide your workout into even segments and alternate pace accordingly. For example, during a 40-minute run, you may divide your time as follows:
  1. 5-minute warm-up at easy pace
  2. 6 minutes at tempo pace
  3. 6 minutes recovery at easy-to-moderate pace
  4. 6 minutes at tempo pace
  5. 6 minutes at recovery pace
  6. 5-minute cool-down at easy pace
You may divide the time segments into shorter or longer segments as desired.

Example 2b: Getting Elaborate
If you have a good watch (see here for details) and some prior experience with fartlek training, you can consider more elaborate workouts, such as this:
  1. 5-minute warm-up at easy pace
  2. 7 minutes tempo pace
  3. 3.5 minutes recovery
  4. 6 minutes tempo pace
  5. 3 minutes recovery
  6. 5 minutes tempo pace
  7. 2.5 minutes recovery
  8. 4 minutes tempo pace
  9. 2 minutes recovery
  10. 3 minutes tempo pace
  11. 1.5 minutes recovery
  12. 2 minutes tempo pace
  13. 1 minute recovery
  14. 1 minute tempo pace
  15. 5-minute cool-down at easy pace
This is a long workout, but very rewarding if done once every two weeks or so.

Example 3: The No-Brains Fartlek Workout
If this is all getting a bit too complex for you, you still have options. Here's a dead-simple way to engage in fartlek training without a running group, a watch, or the memory of an elephant. Run on a street or a path lined by streetlamps or power poles. Alternate tempo pace and recovery pace by a chosen number of power poles that you pass (say, tempo until you reach the 2nd power pole, recovery until you reach the next one, repeat). You can even do this with nearby bushes, visible cracks in the sidewalk, fire hydrants, or anything you please.

Oh and Uh, One More Thing...
My training schedule does not specify the length of time for this workout. Again, consider it a choice. Try to make sure it is longer than an easy run and shorter than a long run. Other than that, the choice is yours.

Happy running!


Sore Muscles

Here's an interesting bit of medical wisdom from Dr. Gabe Mirkin, M.D. (please resist the urge to snicker at his last name):
You finish a workout and feel great; then you get up the next morning and your exercised muscles feel sore. We used to think that next-day muscle soreness is caused by a buildup of lactic acid in muscles, but now we know that lactic acid has nothing to do it. Next-day muscle soreness is caused by damage to the muscle fibers themselves. Muscle biopsies taken on the day after hard exercise show bleeding and disruption of the z-band filaments that hold muscle fibers together as they slide over each other during a contraction.
Of course, this doesn't diminish the importance of proper hydration and a good cool-down, but it's interesting nonetheless.

Dr. Mirkin recommends utilizing the burning sensation as a training tool. What you do is increase running speed up until your muscles start to burn, then back off. Repeat this until your muscles start to feel stiff, and then stop working out altogether.

The idea can be applied on track and fartlek training days, neither of which I have yet covered here. (Our first fartlek workout is this Tuesday, which means you can expect to read about it here on Stationary Waves some time tomorrow.) Feel free to give it a try yourself this Tuesday, especially if you've never before engaged in fartlek training.

The Lay of the Land on Week 2

I had a great day of working out today. The morning's workout was delightfully challenging, and the evening's easy run was pleasant and relaxing. Mentally, I'm starting to feel myself getting into good physical shape.

It's a funny feeling, because I was already in good shape. But when the body starts to change, the mind understands what's going on. I have said in the past that when a person gets in really fantastic shape, their brains also benefit. In my experience, top-tier athleticism (for oneself) mentally feels as though the world is moving in slow motion. It's an unparalleled high. If you're interested in experiencing a feeling like that yourself, I encourage you to take up the challenge and commit to my 18-week training regimen. It just might change your life.

But has it changed mine?

Where I Am, Day 7:
  • Weight: 151.6lbs. (I should point out that I do not anticipate losing any weight while training)
  • Estimated Body Fat : 16.4%
  • Estimated Bone Mass: 7.9%
  • Estimated Water Mass: 61.0%
  • Average of All Blood Glucose Readings for the Past Seven Days: 9.89mmol/L (includes postprandial readings)
I note here that my blood glucose is notably lower (3%), however three percent is within the margin of error for a home blood glucose monitor, so I'll take this with a grain of salt. Perhaps of more interest is the fact that, measured by the standard deviation of blood glucose readings, my blood sugar control has already improved. I attribute this to the fact that I am working out twice a day; no one workout is disruptive enough to cause a huge swing in my blood sugar.

However, it's also conceivable that I take a bit too little daily basal insulin, and the twice-a-day workouts are chewing up more blood sugar than I otherwise would.

All in all, things are going well for me. How are you doing?


Week 1 Recap and Tomorrow's Workout

Thus ends Week #1 of my 18 marathon training regimen. How did you fare? 

A couple of things to keep in mind:

First, if you slacked off on one day or missed a day or something, don't worry about it. Not only do we have 17 more weeks to prepare for the Montreal Marathon, but it serves no useful purpose to beat yourself up over a lost workout. Remember, fundamentally we are doing this for fun, so enjoy it. 

Second, I know some of you are still on the sidelines, watching me do this without taking the plunge yourself. Sure, you sit this one out. But you're not going to have half as much fun as those of us who make this a consistent part of our lives for the next four months. In the end, we'll have something to show for it (and we'll look pretty good, too). But a lot of you would love to do this and just think it's too late. After all, a whole week's gone by. Well, friends, don't let that stop you. The slope of the incline - so to speak - is gradual enough that you can join right in at Week #2. Do it! I guarantee you'll feel better than you ever have in just a couple of weeks. 

How Do I Feel?
I have to tell you that my body feels fantastic after this week. There's something about starting something new that activates all the right chemicals in the body. My abdominal area is already carrying a bit less mass, and my abs are returning to their six-pack state. (The Situation, eat your heart out.) I feel happy when I wake up in the morning and jump out of bed to do my morning workout. I can't wait to get out of work and start my afternoon run. This is what it's supposed to be like, my friends. 

Sure, the first part of the week was pretty rough, but by the time I got back from my long run, I felt like I was once again a physical force to be reckoned with. I wonder what Week 2 will be like...

Tomorrow Morning
I've scheduled a Hyperfitness workout for tomorrow morning. This one is a bit of a long shot for the general public, because most of you haven't read Sean Burch's book and won't be able to look the workout up. (That's not a very good excuse, though. I mean, you can get his amazing, phenomenal book for under seven dollars if you look in the right place.) To complicate things further, I'm unsure of whether or not I can reprint one of his workouts without violating copyrights. (I'm not really in the mood for civil disobedience tonight, but if you're a stickler for these things, you can take it up with Stephen Kinsella.) So I am at a bit of a loss as to how I'm going to provide a workout to you, the audience, today.

If you can follow along in Hyperfitness, then the workout I'll be doing is the Week 1 / Week 2 Climber workout for Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.

In the worst-case scenario, you can repeat last Monday's workout with push ups, crunches, squats, and a 30-minute jump rope session. That should provide a close approximation of our workout today.

Remember to push it a little harder than usual tomorrow morning because our evening workout is an easy run. 

I'll be back with more diabetes facts, physiology, workout tips, and the usual send-up of music, economics, and philosophy next week. Until then, I'm going to bed. See you later.


The Marathon: Part VII - The Long Run

Perhaps the most universally recognizable aspect of training for a marathon is the long run. As the furthest distance run in the course of the week, it is often a runner's go-to point when answering the first question asked of all runners by all non-runners, "How far do you run?" It is simultaneously the most common "group run," and the classic solitary trek. It is the run that takes you out into nature with your dog, or the run that weaves you through every familiar city street. It is the greatest source of pride and accomplishment for a runner. It is the sport's archetypical workout.

My long runs have taken me out into the desert without water, or deep into the forest without a map. I used carefully plan my long run courses and stash emergency food and water along the way. I have run through portions of protected North American forests that few if any other human beings had traversed in years. I have discovered hidden waterfalls and met lonely and dangerous animals along the way. Every runner has a great story about an epic long run. (Those of you who know me have probably heard my bull-charging story a few times.)

No blog out there does a better job of capturing the essence of a long run better than that of my old friend Anton Kleparek. Do check it out when you have the chance.

Where a Long Run Takes You
Whether you're training for a marathon or a shorter race - or even just running recreationally - the long run is an integral part of any approach to conditioning. It's not sufficient to simply run every day, lift some weights, do a little speed work, and hit the races. Every runner has to teach themselves to run much further than the maximum-encountered-racing-distance.

For marathon runners, long runs are a unique challenge, since it is extremely impractical for most people to frequently run ultra-marathon distances as part of their marathon training. The goal for us, then, is to acquaint our bodies with extreme distances gradually, so that the final marathon offers no surprises.

Long runs serve a variety of purposes in the training regimen.

First Purpose - Tolerating Distance
It goes without saying that long-distance running is something you have to learn to do. "Long distance" itself is entirely subjective. When I started running at age seven or eight, a mile was a long way to run. I learned to do it, and proclaimed myself to be a distance runner. Even in high school, the 1600m run was considered a race for distance runners. By the time I went to college, though, the 1500m was middle-distance. By age 21, I had long since concluded that the 5K was virtually a middle distance race, too. Top-tier marathoners can run every 10-kilometer split of their marathons faster than my fastest one-off 10K.

As you can see, what constitutes a long distance depends on ability and experience. The only way to acquire that is to go on long runs.

Second Purpose - Muscle Tissue Development
One of the surprising things about the human body is that it contains two kinds of muscle tissue analogous to the "light meat" and "dark meat" of poultry. Among runners, this renders itself as follows:

Sprinters, on one end of the spectrum, mostly possess muscle tissue that is optimized for anaerobic cellular respiration. Marathoners, on the other end of the continuum, predominantly possess muscle tissue that is optimized for aerobic cellular respiration. Everyone else has varying degrees of each.

For any athlete, ideal training optimizes the balance between light and dark meat. In our case, we'd like to train our bodies to excel at aerobic respiration. A major benefit of this is that we will become experts and burning fat tissue and blasting carbohydrates. What most people try to accomplish via "boot camps" and P90X programs we will accomplish by going for consistent weekly long runs. You will shed pounds and inches and, the more you do it, the more efficient your body will be. Have you ever dreamed of being able to eat whatever you want and not gain a single pound? This is how you do it.

But more practically speaking, we want to get to the point where we can go for a two-hour run every week without feeling tight, sore, and shaky the next day. By the time our 18 weeks are over, you'll be there.

Third Purpose - Training Variety
Many people underestimate the need to have lots of variety in any training regimen. There are physiological benefits to this, but perhaps more important than all of that is the fact that people who aren't bored continue working hard.

After a week of waking up early for strength training and hurrying home after work to get in a "basic run" or a do some speed work, it is nice to be able to sleep in one day of the week, relax, take the day as it comes, and then head out for a nice, relaxing long run during which your only responsibility is to enjoy yourself.

Fourth Purpose - Rest
Yes, believe it or not, long runs are an opportunity to give your body a much-needed rest from all the strength training and speed work we encounter during the rest of the week.

During strength and speed training, your body uses up a lot of stored glycogen. Just as water vapor, CO, and CO2 are the natural byproducts of burning fossil fuels, CO2 and acid are the byproducts of human exertion. That acid remains in your muscles until you drive it out with water and, counter-intuitively, additional physical motion.

Long runs are lengthy periods of extended - but easy - physical motion, and they give your body a chance to work out some of that acid build-up. (Of course, proper hydration goes without saying.)

How to Properly Execute a Long Run
Now we know why; what about how?

There are competing theories on the correct way to go on a long run. For you Level 1s out there, I suggest simply relaxing and taking it easy. Don't worry if you have to stop a while. Take a snack, take some water. If you're going somewhere interesting, take a camera and snap a few photos when you get there. Enjoy yourself.

If you're more serious about your long runs (i.e. Level 2s), your focus should be on maintaining a consistent pace. It's easy to have a widely varying pace over the course of two hours, but you'll need to fight that if you want to run a solid marathon. To that end, think about pacing yourself right from the start. Exercise a little restraint and consider whether your initial pace can be sustained for two whole hours.

But there's a catch: By starting out too slowly, many runners shoot themselves in the foot. If you run too slowly, you compromise your running form. Two hours of inefficient running will exhaust you as much or more as two hours at a very high running pace. This is why you may find that by starting out slowly, your pace slows down even further than it would have had you started out faster. Therefore, remember to strike a balance with your long run pace. (Don't worry - it takes practice to get it right!)

If you consider yourself a Level 3 runner, my recommendation is to start out briskly and challenge yourself not to lose speed. You may increase over the course of the run, but never decrease. Fight hard against pace decay. Plan a well-known route that will allow you to gauge your success. If such a course is unavailable to you, you can try an out-and-back run in which you commit to running the 2nd half faster than the first half. This simple approach can provide a lot of success.

So that's it! Good luck tomorrow!


Almost Done With Week #1

We're off to a great start, and I hope you feel it, too.

Tomorrow morning, easy stuff. Do your basic strength training workout of push ups, crunches, and squats. Then, in the evening, it's time for another basic 45-minute run. We've established the routine. Now we conquer the world.

Up Next: The Marathon: Part VII - The Long Run

The Marathon: Part VI - Strength Training

There are essentially three forms of strength training, and my Level 3 training schedule is designed to use all of them.

For marathon training, the key is to develop good muscle strength while keeping mass to a minimum. Countless runners underestimate the importance of muscle strength training, but it is a key to making running easier and more efficient. This will help you improve and feel better, regardless of your skill level.

What You Stand to Gain
One of the most important benefits to running of strength training is the improvement in overall posture. Take notice of the people you see over the course of a day. People with weak upper body muscles tend to sag at the shoulders, their necks hunch forward, and they are constantly shifting their body weight from one side to the other as they stand. This is not just a question of an unhealthy body; these poor folks cannot even hold themselves upright! Imagine the extent of their muscle atrophy that they are too weak to carry the weight of their own spine.

That a person can run an entire marathon despite having a weak upper body and core does not mean that everything is okay. Developing core and upper-body strength means being able to sustain proper running form over the multiple hours required to run a marathon. This reduces the probability of injury, as well as increasing your speed.

Speed is the other major benefit of strength training. When I say "speed," I am not merely suggesting that you can improve your time (although that is true). I realize that many of you are only interested in finishing the race strongly. That's okay.

But keep in mind that running for four hours is far more difficult than running for three hours and forty-five minutes. Every minute you shave off your time is a minute made easier on your body. Again, you will reduce your risk of injury. Beyond that, running will be a far more pleasant experience for you overall.

Let's face it: it feels good to run faster than your nearest competitors, whomever they may be. This is a valid and important aspect of running, no matter what your peer group is. Weight training will help you get there.

High Resistance Training
The first of the aforementioned three forms of strength training is standard, classic resistance training with heavy weights, and fewer repetitions.

The physiological objective of this kind of training is to increase the size of your muscle fibers. As you work out, they start to tear. You can think of it almost like metal fatigue or an elastic band in that the activity slowly and imperceptibly breaks down the tissue involved. The body rebuilds this tissue to withstand a greater workload in the future. Namely, the muscle fibers are rebuilt thicker and stronger.

There is a lot of information - and misinformation - out there when it comes to resistance training. Most experts agree that this kind of weight training is most effective under the following conditions:
  • Training is done no more than 2-3 times per week. (Only one day per week is dedicated to high resistance training in the Level 3 schedule.)
  • Repetitions are limited to about 6-12 per set.
  • Proper form and technique is utilized at all times; weight is reduced if proper form cannot be maintained.
  • The athlete aims to just reach muscle exhaustion by the final repetition.
Low Resistance / High Repetition Training
This form of strength training works a little differently in the body. Rather than increasing muscle fibers, lower resistance / high repetition strength training increases the plasma content between muscle fibers. This also increases muscle size, but not quite in the same way.

The rules to this form of strength training are almost identical to high resistance training, except that weight is significantly reduced while the number of repetitions significantly increased.

A common myth in the fitness world is that this kind of weight training "tones," whereas high resistance training "build mass." In reality, both forms of exercise build a different kind of mass, and you should expect to see your muscles increase using either technique (or a combination of both). Marathon runners need not worry about muscle size, up to a point. Besides, it is unlikely that a runner could build up a detrimental amount of muscle mass in an 18-week training regimen; nor would a body-builder be particularly interested in running a great marathon.

Plyometric Training
The secret weapon to any strength regimen is plyometric training. In simplified terms, plyometric exercises improve the body's ability to convert muscle strength into speed.

This is accomplished by repetition of "explosive" movements, such as jumping. My workout schedule involves plyometric exercises such as squat jumps and clapping push-ups. Believe it or not, these exercises will help you develop running speed and function as a refreshing reprieve from the typical hours of track work included in most training programs.

Most people find plyometrics incredibly difficult initially, if they are not used to them. After a week or two, however, they become much easier, and much more fun. So if you find your heart pounding and your lungs gasping for air in the beginning, take my word for it: you will thank me in a couple of weeks.

Strength Training: Catch-up

Sorry, folks. I blew it yesterday. I needed to provide some more information on this morning's strength training workout, but things got busy and I just didn't have time last night.

The workout I intended for this morning is a standard upper-body strength training workout:
  • Two sets of 12x pull ups or lat pull-downs
  • Two sets of straight rows
  • Four sets of 12x bench press
  • Four sets of 12x chest press
If you feel up to it, you can also do some crunches, but that's not necessary today.

Since this is a high resistance / low repetition day, keep the weight pretty high, but not so high that you can't do the exercises correctly. You should reach the point where your muscles are just exhausted by the last repetition. And if you have to bail on one of the sets or cut down on the reps, that's okay. 6-12 reps will do you about the same good, provided you are lifting with proper form and technique.

Tonight's run is another 30-minute tempo run. Same rules. Keep at a nice clip. This one will be a little easier than Tuesday's.


Diabetes Basics

Diabetes mellitus is the generic term for a group of symptoms involving the body's failure to utilize the hormone insulin. There is no such thing as "the" diabetes. Each type of diabetes is a very different disorder and must be treated and conceived of as such. What these disorders all have in common is a set of symptoms.

Insulin is the one and only hormone that carries glucose into cellular mitochondria so that they can produce energy. You can think of insulin as the spoon with which human cells eat. No other chemical in your body fulfills this role, therefore, insulin is necessary to survival.

If your body cannot use insulin, for whatever reason, then your cells cannot eat. The food you eat ceases to be absorbed by your body. You starve to death.

Type 2 Diabetes
Type 2 is the most common form of diabetes, however, as I mentioned above, it is itself a collection of symptoms. There are a few different kinds of type 2 diabetes, each with their own underlying causes and, therefore, treatment guidelines. What they share in common is the fact that in all instances of type 2 diabetes, the body continues to produce normal - or even excessive - amounts of insulin; yet that insulin no longer has any effect on the body.

In general, type 2 diabetes can be separated into two categories: (1) genetic type 2 diabetes, and (2) acquired type 2 diabetes. Keep in mind, I am over-simplifying and that in many cases, type 2 diabetes is a function of both genetics and lifestyle.

In the case of genetic type 2 diabetes, an individual is predisposed to insulin resistance due to their genetic make-up. Often they are of Asian or South Asian descent. They may be normal, healthy people, but by middle age, the insulin produced in their pancreas is no longer sufficient to keep them alive.

"Acquired" type 2 diabetes is the one you have heard about. This kind of diabetes occurs when people fail to lead healthy lives. They eat too much sugar and get too little exercise. Their pancreas is constantly called on to produce insulin. The body develops a tolerance. Eventually, it has little effect. This kind of type 2 diabetic is often overweight, and likely also has high cholesterol, high blood pressure, heart disease, sleep apnea, muscle atrophy, hypertension, and so on.

This Is Important
Although "acquired" type 2 diabetes is the most popular, not everyone with type 2 diabetes brought it upon themselves. We have heard a lot about the "obesity epidemic" and "preventative medicine." This kind of thinking is simplistic and unrealistic. If we cured worldwide obesity, we would still have a type 2 diabetes problem on our hands. That's because there is no "the" diabetes, and diabetes in and of itself is not a disease. It is a symptom.

Type 1 Diabetes
Type 1 diabetes is radically different from type 2 diabetes and, other than sharing symptoms, they have nothing in common.

Type 1 diabetes occurs when the body no longer produces insulin. A vital hormone used by every cell in the body is therefore completely absent in a type 1 diabetic. Their bodies may be just as sensitive to insulin as a perfect newborn child; but there is no insulin for them to use.

Most commonly, this is caused by an autoimmune disorder in which the body's own immune system attacks and kills pancreatic beta cells. However, in many other cases, type 1 diabetes is caused by pancreatic bacterial infections. Still other cases may be caused by internal injuries that damage the pancreas. Remember, there is no "the" diabetes, and diabetes is only a set of symptoms.

Type 1 diabetes cannot be cured or alleviated by dietary adjustments, Chinese medicine, holistic healers, homeopathy, naturopathy, exercise, or hard work. We diabetics don't have functional pancreases; herbs and lifestyle choices do not impact this fact.

People with type 1 diabetes will not be "okay" if they just have "a little bit" of whatever treat you're offering them. This is due to the fact that anything a type 1 diabetic eats merely floats around in their blood stream, causing headaches, eye problems, heart problems, etc., unless and until they inject themselves with insulin.

Nonetheless, people with type 1 are free to eat whatever food or drink they please, so long as they inject themselves with sufficient insulin to metabolize it. The insulin they inject, however, does not behave like naturally occurring insulin. Typically, injected insulin takes longer to metabolize food; when type 1 diabetics eat something very sweet and sugary, they often experience hyperglycemia (high blood sugar) even though they have taken enough insulin.

The result is: headaches, dizziness, fatigue, nausea, vision problems, and/or vertigo. Type 1 diabetics do not "miss out" on sweets and candies; they dislike them. They feel bad when they eat them. It is not worth it.

Although exercise makes all people healthier, type 1 diabetics do not necessarily gain better control over their diabetes with exercise. For those with type 1 diabetes, exercise and their disease are two separate issues.

I have type 1 diabetes.



Well, that one's over. I admit, I felt a little weak during the second half of the tempo run. But doggone it, I finished and finished strong. How did you fare today? How was the first tempo run of the year?

In hindsight, today may have been a bit stacked. Therefore, I am going to make tomorrow's morning workout optional. Do it only if you feel up to it. Thursday is going to be another difficult day, and you don't want to exhaust yourself before your long run this Saturday. Use your judgement.

Broadly, this applies to every day of the program. Running is not the kind of sport where you can schedule every day 18 weeks in advance and never deviate. There is always some level of "feel" involved.

Part of being a non-beginner is knowing and understanding what your body is telling you on a daily basis. Don't just bang through a calendar of workouts because you signed up for it. Pay attention to what's going on, analyze, assess, prescribe. You are in control of your body, so take control. That's what running is all about.

I'll be back with those Diabetes Basics later on.

Lessons and Impressions

One of the realities of type 1 diabetes is that it is quite often impossible to account for every variable you encounter in the course of a given day.

Case in point, my evening workout was thwarted last night by an episode of hyperglycemia. I was certain I had done everything correctly yesterday, however, when I reviewed my tracking log, I discovered that I missed a single unit of insulin during lunch. That, combined with the extra activities I had undertaken over the long weekend, was enough to push my blood glucose into the proverbial Alps.

It's tempting to beat myself up over this a little. How could I be so stupid as to miss out on 30 whole grams of carbohydrates at mealtime? And to top that off, this had an adverse impact on my workout and my evening jam with my band. These things have a tangible impact on my life.

Realistically, though, nobody's perfect. It would be impossible to do everything perfectly, all the time. I am not a robot. So there are a some lessons to be learned from this:
  1. Don't feel too bad if you don't nail your insulin ratio. It's serious and potentially injurious, but after you've taken care of the problem, let it go. You did the best you could.
  2. "Stray carbs" such as carrots and a tablespoon of peanut butter here and there can potentially add up, so be very careful when you count your carbs.
  3. I never would have caught my error had it not been for my prototype food/exercise/blood sugar spreadsheet. I really need to finish this up and make it available to the rest of you. Perhaps we can "open source" it and develop something really useful. Stay tuned.
  4. If you have to cut your run short, cut it short. Don't give yourself a guilt trip over it, just take your medicine and try again tomorrow. My morning workout was already a good success.
Well, I think that's it.

As an aside, I'm testing out Blogger's email posting feature. If this post pops up several times or not at all, you'll know why.

Up Next: Diabetes Basics

The Marathon: Part V - The Tempo Run

My suggested training regimen describes the following different kinds of running workouts:
  1. Run
  2. Tempo Run
  3. Easy Run
  4. Fartlek Training
  5. Track Workout
I've promised to cover each one of these in greater depth as we come to them. Tonight's run is a thirty-minute tempo run, so now I'd like to explain what a tempo run is and how to approach it.

There is beauty in brevity. Tempo runs are one of my favorite workouts because they cover so much training ground in such a concise way. Tempo runs help you work on your speed, your pace, your endurance, and your mental grit, all in a total elapsed time much shorter than other workouts would. When you don't have time for a full workout, they're also a great way to squeeze a quick one into a tight schedule. They also provide some much-needed variety in the daily running grind.

I covered intensity scales earlier. Tonight, we'll aim for something at about an 8, or perhaps 80% of your maximal heart rate. My coach in college used to say that tempo runs are supposed to be "at race pace, minus thirty seconds per mile." So if you're aiming for a 3-hour marathon, you'll want to do your tempo runs at about 6:30/mile pace. (Need help figuring out what your pace translates to? Try this handy marathon pace calculator.)

More organically, you should be pushing yourself to the level of significant discomfort the whole way. If this feels bad to you (especially considering our substantial strength workout this morning), you need to remember that it is nothing compared to the last 10km of a marathon. Tough it out. Besides, it's only a 30-minute run. You can definitely bite the bullet through a quick thirty-minute jaunt down the road!

What you can hope to achieve from this is a better familiarity with how to push your body beyond the feeling of wanting to give up or slow down. You'll also help acquaint your body with a rapid running gait, which is an important psychological counterpart to speed work. You've heard of runners' highs and endorphine rushes? By the end of your workout today, you'll feel one if you've managed to keep yourself on pace.

You'll know you need to speed up if you feel yourself stop sweating. That's the tell-tale sign that you've reduced your speed. 

I know it can feel difficult, but if you manage to push through today, you're ready for the other 17-and-a-half weeks for sure!


Tomorrow Morning: The Matrix

Tomorrow, we'll wake up bright and early to tackle a workout I developed with my lovely wife. We call it the Matrix, because we developed it around a 4x4 grid. Each column represents an exercise, and each row represents a set.

I warn you in advance - this is a pretty tough workout. It combines classic lifts and core exercises with both upper- and lower-body plyometric moves. Why plyometics? I'll cover that in a future post.

The idea here is that each set works four major muscle groups and contains two "average intensity" moves, one "high intensity" move, and one "low intensity" move for maximum variation.

Here's how it works:

First Set:
  • 30 squat-jumps
  • 30 push ups
  • 20 upright rows
  • 50 alternating crunches (right elbow to left leg, left elbow to right leg, etc.)
Second Set:
  • 30 unweighted squats
  • 30 clapping push ups
  • 20 upright rows
  • 50 hip raises
Third Set:
Fourth Set:
  • 30 jumping lunges
  • 30 one-legged bosu ball push ups; jump from one foot to the next with each "up"
  • 30 bent rows (each side)
  • 50 trunk-twist crunches (With your knees bent and in the air, do a full crunch; then, while in the "up" position, bend your right-side torso toward your right knee. Repeat on the left side.)
Up Next: The Marathon: Part V - The Tempo Run

A More Objective Exercise Intensity Scale

Yesterday I proposed a subjective scale to estimate the intensity of physical exercise. Some of you, however, may prefer a more objective or scientific measurement of exercise intensity.

Here is an excerpt from the book Exercise and Sport in Diabetes, 2nd Edition, edited by Dinesh Nagi:
Effort intensity is well correlated with heart rate (HR) in the absence of heart rhythm abnormalities or autonomic neuropathy. One way of defining the intensity of exercise is to state the actual HR as a percentage of the maximal HR. The maximal HR can be calculated or measured during a bicycle or treadmill stress test. Calculated (theoretical) maximal HR for all women or untrained men is 220 minus age. For trained men, it is 205 - 0.5 x age. 
As a trained man, I estimate my maximal heart rate to be approximately 189 beats per minute. "Maximal" heart rate coincides (by definition) with a 10 on our subjective-value scale.

Runner's World Magazine proposes the following percent-of-maximal heart rate values for various kinds of runs:
  • Easy run: 65% to 75%
  • Tempo run: 87% to 92%
  • Interval repeats: 95% to 100%
I will add these values to the training regimen's Legend tab, however I recommend taking this with a significant grain of salt. In my view, running over 90% of your maximum heart rate during a tempo run is too fast.

Meanwhile, hitting your maximum heart rate during interval training is contrary to the approach I'm using in my training regimen. Our objective is to develop fast-twitch muscle fibers using strength training a plyometrics, not during speed work. 

The Avenger is Reality. The Name of the Weapon is Inflation.

Perhaps the most convoluted paragraph Rand ever wrote was:
If I told you that the precondition of inflation is psycho-epitemological - that inflation is hidden under perceptual illusions created by broken conceptual links - you would not understand me. That is what I propose to explain and to prove.
-- Rand, Ayn, "Egalitarianism and Inflation," Philosophy: Who Needs It, Centennial Edition, pp. 169-170.

That passage is followed by what is, for my money, the clearest explanation of what inflation is, where it comes from, and how it impacts the macroeconomy ever put in print. I re-read it this morning after my workout and was very impressed.

I remember not being completely won over by this essay the last time I read it. Amazing what a couple of years studying Austrian School economics will do. Rand was right: I didn't understand it initially.

Rand implies but never clearly states one idea that people must learn to fully grasp. The government (any government) doesn't produce anything. The government is purely a consumer. When we ask the government to pay for something, what we are really asking is that society spend its accumulated savings - as well as its potential to invest in more efficient means of production - on something we want now.

Therefore, with every government expenditure, there is: (1) a loss of personal savings; (2) a decreased capacity to produce new goods and services; (3) a reduced inability to invest in more efficient production; (4) an increase in the overall price level; (5) a decrease in the value of money-in-hand; and (6) a reduced ability to consume in the future.

Is it worth it? Really?


Are You Tired?

Your first day is coming to a close. Are you exhausted, or ready to start fresh tomorrow morning? I'm hoping the latter.

We'll have an easier morning tomorrow. Same as today, minus the jumping rope. The goal here is to accustom your body to the two-a-day framework, as well as tear down and start rebuilding some of those upper body and core muscle groups. Eventually, we'll work our way toward a thrice-a-week strength regimen consisting of a plyometrics day, a low-rep/high-resistance day, and a high-rep/low-resistance day. We're not there yet.

Follow that up with a solid 45-minute run in the evening. Nothing major. We're only on day two.

As for me, I'm going to get some sleep before my blood sugar gets too restless. See you bright and early.

The Marathon: Part IV - The "Run"

My suggested training regimen describes the following different kinds of running workouts:
  1. Run
  2. Tempo Run
  3. Easy Run
  4. Fartlek Training
  5. Track Workout
I've promised to cover each one of these in greater depth as we come to them. Tonight's workout is a forty-minute run, so today I'll give you an idea of how to approach the basic run.

The Subjective Intensity Scale
Different experts have different approaches to the idea of workout intensity. Some, like Sean Burch, make use of a subjective intensity scale. For example, I could describe an arbitrary scale of 1 to 10, where 1 represents falling asleep and 10 represents running from a man-eating lion. We can imagine, then, that the lower half of the scale is reserved for sedentary activities; the upper half is for workouts and other such activity. 

It is tempting to suggest that an easy run is a 6, race pace is a 10, and the basic run is an 8; but that's not exactly how it works. A marathon runner should only ever approach 10 when nearing the finish line, or during some track workouts; in all other instances 10 is a waste of valuable energy. 9 would be something like your marathon goal pace. 8 is more like tempo pace, 7 is average, and 6 is an easy run.

On a subjective intensity scale, then, tonight's run should be forty minutes at 7/10, or a 70% intensity level. Have a look at the "Legend" tab of my Workout Document to keep track of intensity level.

Now Forget What I Just Said
Having said all that, I seldom reference subjective intensity scales myself. Part of the problem is that, left to our own devices, we'll never push ourselves hard enough. We tend to be convinced that we're at a 7 if we're breaking a sweat. That makes easy runs no different than a brisk walk and tempo runs not nearly difficult enough to achieve our goals. How do you get around that?

One way is to "add 0.5 to everything." If you think you're running at 7, force yourself to run 7.5. If you think you're running 7.5, force yourself up to 8.0. This isn't a perfect solution, but it can be very helpful when you're doing pace work (and especially once we start fartlek training).

My preferred option, though, is a bit more organic. For the basic run, don't think too much about intensity. In fact, don't think about intensity at all. A basic run is the speed you would have run had you simply felt like going for a run.

On Tuesday, we'll be going for our first tempo run, so I'll be sure to provide more organic descriptors of what is perhaps my favorite workout.

Thoughts From This Morning

This morning's workout came and went. It was good for me; was it good for you?

Predictably, the strength training was relatively easy. The push ups were the most difficult part for me, which is mildly disappointing, since I have become a bit of a push up master over the last two years. I look forward to regaining some tricep strength in the coming weeks.

The other things is that I have evidently not been drinking enough water the past couple of days. I've acquired the habit of drinking 1-2 liters of water a day. Yesterday, I spent some time in the sun and didn't properly hydrate. All of life's little events are important down-stream. This morning my muscles were more sluggish than they should have been. I'll be drinking a lot more water today.

I teased you with the possibility of provided some tools for diabetic runners. I'm still working on this, though, and I'll need more time to make it as user friendly as it could be. For now, let me simply suggest that you start keeping a record of your blood glucose levels each time you test. You're starting a new workout regimen, and you will want to keep an eye on the impact that has on your body.

To that effect, I'd like to share some of my own statistics with you as a bit of a "before picture." Over the course of the coming weeks, I'll be keeping a close eye on the changes in my body, so that I can better understand how the marathon will impact me. This means safer, and perhaps even better, running.

A Word on the Tools Used
To track my body, I'll be using a OneTouch UltraSmart blood glucose meter, an electronic Weight Watchers scale (which also provides somewhat iffy estimates of body fat %, bone mass %, water content %, etc.), and my prototype Excel Worksheet, which is a combined data log and analytical tool.

(Once I get this tool into a user-friendly format, I'll share it with you and my local chapter of the Canadian Diabetes Association.)

Where I Am At Day 1
  • Weight: 151.5 lbs.
  • Height: 5'10"
  • Estimated Body Fat (%): 16.0
  • Estimated Bone Mass (%): 8.0
  • Estimated Water Mass (%): 61.3
  • Average of All Blood Glucose Readings Since May 4, 2011 (Includes postprandial readings): 10.22 mmol/dL (184mg/dL) 
Up Next: I'll be providing another article, The Marathon: Part IV.


Here We Go. Are You Ready?

Tomorrow, we kick off our 18 week program with a modest workout. If you're joining me for the Level 3 morning workout, you'll want to get up nice and early. I realize it's the weekend, but you'll have a lot better success if you make your morning workout a regular routine. In my case, this means I'll be getting up at 5:00 A.M., come what may.

What to Do Tonight
Spend about 20 minutes this evening stretching and relaxing. Don't exercise today. We want to be ready to start fresh with 18 consecutive weeks of strong exercise. Drink a lot of water today. If you can handle drinking more than a liter of water, aim for two.

Tomorrow Morning:
Begin by getting out of bed as soon as your alarm goes off. The quicker you stand up and get some light on your face, the more energy you'll have for your workout. Quickly put on your workout clothes and start stretching. You'll want to make sure you do some inside hurdler stretches, calf stretches, IT band stretches, and glute stretches. I seldom stretch my arms, and my back muscles are usually stretched sufficiently during the hurdler and IT band stretches. Keep in mind that the goal of these stretches is to increase flexibility, not to avoid injury. A byproduct of better flexibility is that you will avoid injury. Your muscles will also develop more quickly.

Having finished stretching, it's time to work out! Those of you who are not diabetics should consider having a glucose- or fructose-rich snack on your way out the door. Half a piece of fruit is probably ideal, be it a banana, orange, apple, or what. The energy should hit you just as you start your routine and will be a great help.

My recommendation for you diabetics, however, is to avoid snacking. We'll be starting out with strength training, which will naturally push your blood sugar higher. But you don't want your blood glucose levels climbing too high. As yet, I have not ever needed a snack prior to a strength training routine. You may also find that after increasing your blood glucose levels over the course of the strength portion of the workout, you can complete the cardio portion more safely and successfully. This is why I always do my strength training prior to doing any cardiovascular exercise.

We start with four sets of a push up / crunch / unweighted squat routine. You will have to choose a number of repetitions that is appropriate for your current fitness level. For me, this will be executed as follows:

1st Set:
  • 30 standard push ups
  • 50 standard crunches
  • 30 unweighted squats
2nd Set:
  • 30 wide-armed push ups
  • 50 right side crunches
  • 30 unweighted squats
3rd Set:
  • 30 "triangle" (tricep) push ups
  • 50 left side crunches
  • 30 unweighted squats
4th Set:
  • 30 standard push ups
  • 50 hip raises (see this video for technique)
  • 30 unweighted squats
Remember not to rest between the push ups, crunches, and squats. Our goal is to do these continuously. Take about a 60-90 second break between each set.

Once we've finished that, we'll take a 2-5 minute break before jumping rope. For now, avoid doing any fancy jump-roping. The goal here is to simply keep moving for 20 to 30 minutes. Relax, don't jump too high, don't land too hard. Remember that we have a 40-minute run to complete in the afternoon, so if you over-expend yourself in the morning, you'll have no energy left for the evening workout.

You should be able to complete the whole workout in less than an hour. If it takes you much more than 60 minutes to do all of this, you may want to consider moving down to Level 2. It's only going to get more difficult after today; it won't get any easier.

Tomorrow Evening
Nothing complex this Sunday. Go out for a 40-minute run. Not too fast, not too slow. You should feel comfortable; you should be able to stride out a little bit, too. If you find yourself working too hard, slow down. Today isn't supposed to be a difficult day. Just relax. There's no shame in slowing down to finish the 40 minutes, or even quitting a little early, if you're not used to 2-a-days. Most importantly, stay comfortable.

Up Next: I'll share my initial thoughts after my workout tomorrow, and maybe provide you with some handy tools for blood glucose monitoring.

The Marathon: Part III - The Philosophy

I believe the most important part of running, like everything else I'm interested in, is the underlying philosophy of the thing. Running isn't just about strapping on some neon clothing and raising money for breast cancer. Running is a way to explore yourself and your health on a level that's difficult to reach via other activities.

Successful running, then, involves understanding the underlying themes and applying them as you work.

No One Gets Tendonitis Running From Man-Eating Lions
There's no such thing as a "naturally gifted runner." Wait, correction: We are all naturally gifted runners. Some of us just don't know it yet.

Why do I say this? Well, humans originated on the Serengeti plains, where we have been hunting and gathering for eons. To survive there, you have to know how to run, and run well. Otherwise, you might get eaten by a man-eating lion (or suffer some comparable fate).

From there, mankind migrated outward: to the Middle East, Europe, South Asia, East Asia, across the Bering Straight to the North American Arctic Circle, and then down to the southern tip of Argentina. In each and every culture from the African plains to the Inca Roads, humans have excelled at running great distances at high speeds.

More to the point: You cannot claim that "people like you" "weren't meant to run." You were. It's in your genes. Some of you might suggest that running hurts you more than it hurts most other people. Every time you go out jogging, you suffer uncontrollable spasms of pain the likes of which I - as a "naturally gifted runner" - surely know nothing about.

But here's a question: Do you honestly think it would be so painful to run from a man-eating lion chasing you across the Serengeti? Of course not, and there is a good reason why. But to understand it, we have to first dispel a horrible idea.

The Idea of the Perpetual Beginner
The commercial "running industry," consisting of shoe sellers, magazines, book publishers, and so forth, have made good inroads promoting running as an activity to people from all walks of life. You can go anywhere and discover all kinds of information about how to be a beginner. For many of you, you stop there. I'm here to encourage you to take strides (pun intended) toward moving from a beginner to an intermediate runner.

There is no need to be a competitive runner. Most people don't have the time or desire to make it to that level. But there are a couple of important truths about running. The first is that running is more fun when you run faster. (Notice I said "faster," not "fast." In other words, whatever is "fast" for you is also "more fun" for you. I'm not talking about universal, cardinal values of speed here.)

The second is that running is an inherently safe activity. You should never suffer running-related injuries. If you do, you have either fallen down or you're running with bad form.

The problem with the Idea of the Perpetual Beginner is that new runners are never taught good running form. As a result, they are at constant risk of injury. They also never get to a point where they are running fast enough for running to become genuinely entertaining.

Therefore, It All Starts With Good Form
Back to the man-eating lion. No one "jogs" from a man-eating lion. No one "walk/runs" from a man-eating lion. When faced with a serious threat, the human body instinctively adopts a safe, efficient, natural, and speedy running gait.

In a future installment, I'll cover tips on how to improve your form, so that you can run safely and rapidly. For now, I'd simply like to ask that you stop jogging and stop walk/running altogether. These activities perpetuate your status as an inexperienced novice and obliterate your running form. You will hate running at best, and get seriously injured at worse.

Every time you get out and run, imagine that you are coursing through the winding paths of a Mayan jungle to deliver an important message, or barreling across an African plain to reach your camp before nightfall. Focus far off into the distance, relax your shoulders and your ankles, and let your running instinct take over.

This is key to safe, happy running.

Mind Over Matter
From there, the only other thing you need is determination. When you get out there and start training tomorrow, you are going to encounter shortness of breath, burning lungs and muscles, hot sun, inclement weather, traffic exhaust, myriad distractions, and thousands of other unpleasantries.

When you do, focus deep into your solar plexus as you tell yourself over and over: Mind over matter.

The moment you feel you cannot press on any longer, repeat this mantra for a few minutes. The more your body screams and begs you to stop, the more consistently you must repeat yourself. You will find after a few short minutes that the desire to stop passes, like a brief fear in the middle of the night. You'll be running a bit faster, you'll laugh to yourself at the futile objections raised by your more fearful self, and carry on in confidence.

The difference between a true beginner and an experienced runner is how much control you have when your body starts to object to the conditions in which you've placed it. Experience means conquering your fears and calmly learning to press onward.

In that sense, running shares a common bond with Buddhist meditation. This is why I have said many times that, to me, running is a prayer. It is an opportunity to overcome your internal fears and objections, accept your surroundings as they are at that moment, accept who you are and what you're doing, and come out that experience with tranquility, serenity, and courage.

Once you've achieved that, there's nothing that can stop you; not in running, not in life.

Up Next: Tips for tomorrow's workout - the first in our journey to Montreal.

The Marathon: Part II - The Tools

I said before that in order to run, all you need is time and feet. This is true. Running is perhaps the world's oldest sport, and our ancient ancestors didn't use fanny packs and Nalgene water bottles.

When you walk into a beginners-oriented running store, you are inundated with "must-have" products, each more expensive than the last. Moisture-wicking clothing, special socks, bizarre neon jackets, hats that claim to breathe better than your own head, ointments and unguents, sundry jellies and liquids that "hydrate better than water," and dozens of salesmen ready to send you off with hundreds of dollars of "necessary" gear.

Friends, this is a lie. This is marketing. What you need is simple. I have your shopping list right here.

1. A Good Pair of Running Shoes
This is obvious. Barefoot running fads notwithstanding, in order to run a marathon, you'll need a good pair of trainers. (Across eighteen weeks of training, you might even need two pair.) In general, you need not spend more than about $80 on a pair of shoes.

Refer to the diagram below:

What you should look for is a shoe that is even along lines B and C, so that your foot doesn't roll side-to-side at impact. The shoe should naturally curve from just behind line C, all the way to the toe, to ensure a healthy roll in your stride to the toes. It's okay to have some curvature behind line B, but you should not be striking your heel that far back.

Beyond those guidelines, it is mostly personal preference. In general, I find Saucony and New Balance shoes to be the most consistent. Nike is a close 3rd place, and Adidas is not bad. I stay away from the other brands, personally.

2. A Good Watch
Despite all the many technological advances we've seen in our lifetime, they have not improved much on the running watch in the past 30 years. The classic Timex Ironman Triathalon has been my watch of choice - and that of most runners - for my entire life, and I don't see that changing any time soon. Forget your latest $100 gadget, here's all the watch you'll ever need at Amazon.com for $24.

Maybe you don't want a blatant product endorsement. Fine. But if you plan on undertaking my marathon training schedule, just make sure your watch has the following: A chronograph (stopwatch) with at least a 12-lap memory, and a countdown timer with a "Countdown Chronograph" feature (it starts the stopwatch as soon as the timer has finished counting down).

In order to easily keep track of the fartlek training sessions on our schedule, you may want to splurge on a $30 watch, but don't spend more money than that - please. Don't be a sucker.

3. Shorts
I don't have any guidelines here. There are a lot of expensive and not-so-expensive options out there. The key is to find some shorts that are physically comfortable to wear. In order to finish a marathon, you'll be literally running for hours. You shouldn't spend that time chaffing or adjusting your junk, and you shouldn't have to apply Vaseline.

My personal favorites are these Under Armour compression shorts, but you can find a perfectly good pair of shorts at Wal-Mart for $10. Go nuts.

4. A Hooded Sweatshirt
I bought mine at Target for less than $10. Forget the fancy running jackets and moisture-wicking long-sleeved clown shirts. Rocky ran in a classic ash-grey sweatsuit, and so can you. When it's cold outside, throw on a couple of t-shirts and a hooded sweatshirt, and you're good to go.

5. Diabetes Stuff
If, like me, you're a type 1 diabetic, then you'll need to make sure you're carrying the following with you at all times for emergency purposes:
  • Emergency carbohydrates. A little packet of PowerGel is small and easy to carry, and provides a good enough shot of carbs to get you home if you go hypoglycemic.
  • A cellular phone. I don't take one with me on every run, but if you plan on doing a long run alone, you'd be stupid not to take a phone with you if you have an emergency. Ladies who run at night or in isolated places may want to follow suit.
  • Rapid-acting insulin analogue. You'll probably only need to take this with you during long runs, in case your body runs out of insulin glargine/detemir/degludec/whatever. If you go into DKA, you'll want this stuff around.
This means we diabetics are the dorks running around with fanny packs. But hey, it beats death. Besides, nobody else has the cajones to run a marathon with a condition like this. So you have my permission to sock-it-to anyone who gives you trouble over this.

Up Next: A bit about running philosophy.


The Marathon: Part I - Introduction

This coming Sunday, I begin training for the Montreal Marathon. I'm in pretty good shape already; I run about 40 minutes per day, and do strength training three times per week. Pretty good. Not great.

Because this blog is a springboard for many ideas, I thought I might include my philosophy and training secrets with respect to running, too. I've been a distance runner for nearly a quarter-century; I started when I was about seven or eight years old.

I ran my last marathon in 2008. I finished in a modest 73rd place, out of about 3,000 people, at a time of 2:47. A year later, I was diagnosed with type 1 (juvenile) diabetes mellitus. It's been a goal of mine for the past year and a half to run a strong marathon as a diabetic. It can be done, and I will do it.

And frankly, if a chronically ill guy like me can, then so can you. So why not join me?

Here's the deal: I'll be posting my 18-week training regimen right here on Stationary Waves. What I plan on undertaking shall be dubbed the Level 3 (Advanced) regimen. I will also include the Level 2, for recreational marathoners; and the Level 1, for less experienced runners interested in tackling their first marathon.

Along the way, I'll be documenting the impact this kind of training has on my diabetes control. There is precious little information out there for diabetic endurance athletes and, while I cannot claim the ability to contribute to the scientific literature on the topic, I can offer firsthand experience to other type 1 diabetics in similar circumstances.

First stop: Check out the training regimen right here, and choose the Level that's right for you.

Up next: What you'll need to successfully run a marathon.


Further Adventures in Canadian Health Care

Tonight, after two weeks,  I am finally going to be able to get a re-fill on my prescription for test strips.

I originally did not get a new prescription because I missed my April appointment with the specialist. (I was out of town on business.) No problem, though, I still had plenty of strips.

Then I attempted to refill the prescription. First, I called the pharmacist and
asked whether I had remaining refills. She assured me I did.

When I arrived at the pharmacy, they informed me that I actually did not have any refills. I told them that I called beforehand to ask and wouldn't have wasted my time refilling my prescription if I didn't have any refills. The pharmacist said, "I agree with you." What? Then she said she would call the doctor to refill and then call me when it was ready.

...No call, for a week.

So then I called the pharmacy later and asked them if they could contact my doctor for a refill. They said yes and that they would call me. No call for a day.

Then I called the doctor's office, and they said sometimes that happens when the doctor hasn't seen you in a while. And they tried to give me a fax number to give to the pharmacist. I said, "Well, wait a minute. I'll take that fax number, but how will I know if the doctor will refuse to fill the prescription?" She asked me when my next appointment was. I said July. Then she checked to see if she could get me in any earlier. She said the earliest available appointment is October. Then she said, "I'd keep your July appointment if I were you..." (no kidding) "...so I think the doctor will refill your prescription."


So then I called the pharmacist again and said I have been waiting to hear back from them. They said they haven't heard back from the doctor yet. I gave them my doctor's name and the fax number. The pharmacist said that they would fill an "emergency prescription" for me.

So all that, and I still don't have my actual prescription!

Nothing in the USA equates to how bad this system is.

Did You Miss My Latest Article?

Yesterday the Ludwig von Mises Institute of Canada published an article I wrote comparing the epistemology of Rand to that of Mises. Find it here.


Preaching the End of the World

I spent the afternoon transcribing this beautiful Chris Cornell song.

Lyrics and music all rights reserved by the original publisher. This is merely my take on it.

By Chris Cornell, Natasia Shneider, and Alain Johannes
Transcribed by Ryan P. Long

A       Asus2
Hello I know there's someone 

F#m              F#m/E
Out there who can understand and who's

D      Bm7              Esus4    E   
Feeling the same way as me

A          Asus2
I'm twenty-four and I have

F#m           F#m/E
Everything to live for, but I 

Bm7             C#m              Dm       Esus4    E
Know now that it wasn't meant to be

       Em      E 
'Cause all has been gone and

A7      Em
All has been done and there's

D              Dsus2 D Dm
Nothing left for us to save

Dsus4 Dm    Dsus2 Dm  A
We    could be    to  gether as they

C#m         F#m
Blow it all away      so if you 

Dm                    F#dim            Esus4   E
Find that you've been feeling just the same    Call me now it's


              F#m                F#m/E
It's just the end of the world

           D                     C#m
You need a friend in the world

'Cause you can't hide

   Bm7               Esus4      E
So call and I'll get right back

          F#                F#7
If your intentions are pure

              D              E          A       E
I'm seeking a friend for the end of the world

I've got a photograph I'll send it off today
And you will see that I am perfectly sane
Not for a lifetime or forever and a day
'Cause you know now that just won't be the case

So call me now it's alright
It's just the end of the world
You need a friend in the world
'Cause you can't hide
So call and get right back
If your intentions are pure
I'm seeking a friend
For the end

Of the world

There'll be no committment and 

No confessions and

G7                   C      Csus2 C
No little secrets to keep

No little children or

Houses with roses just

   F#dim                 Esus4     E
The end of the world and me

Em            E
'Cause all has been gone and

A7      Em
All has been done and there's

D               Dsus2  D  Dm
Nothing left for us    to save

   Dsus4  Dm    Dsus2  Dm  A              C#m         F#m   F#m/E
But we    could be     to  gether as they blow it all away

             DM            F#dim         Esus4     E             
And we could share in every moment as it breaks

[Chorus (x2)]

F#m    Am/C    Dm     Esus4    E    A