About Me

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I am a 45 year old long distance runner who is on a journey to regain the joy for running and life.

Monday, April 29, 2013

I am Mad but Optimistic

I am angry!  I have been trying to live better and healthier both mentally and physically my entire life and I feel like I still have no clue!  It seems like everything I have tried and believed in my entire life regarding better health has been mostly wrong.  And it is only now that I am realizing this.  I have really realized lately that the so called experts in the health field are really good at fixing our health problems when our health condition gets to a point where it is very serious, but they have no clue when it comes to what really keeps us healthy and prevents us from becoming sick.  I am really angry that the people and system that I have trusted my entire life has let me down.  I am pissed off!

However I am also very excited because over the past few months I am beginning to realize that is all up to me to fix myself and it is up to me to dig into the issue by doing my own research while not settling for the mainstream message that exists regarding health.  I think that because of the WEB and the ability for people to easily share ideas the subject of  personal health that we now have a chance to learn the real truth about health.  I have began to immerse myself  into this topic by reading books, listening to podcasts, and sifting through the information via the web.  This has made me excited and optimistic.  In future posts I will keep talking about what I am currently doing or trying to improve!

Last night I went for a 11 mile run in the woods and it was nice.  But it is still not how it should be.  My experience is good, and hopeful, but it just feels like something is not right.  During this run I was cruising along at a good pace but there is this underlying tension and anxiety that just won't go away.  I felt like my muscles were going to lock up, but they didn't.  But then I drove home and was feeling pretty exhausted and maybe a little nauseous. I cooked dinner and sat down to eat and then I felt nauseous and not very hungry.  Then, all of a sudden, I cramped up like I have never cramped up before.  This was awful.  The cramping was in my large leg muscles in both hips, both quads, both hamstrings, my back, and I even felt tight and twitchy in my neck, face, feet , and hands.  It was like an overall body cramp and it was terrifying. This lasted for about 5 minutes and then finally released.  I was able to lay still for the next hour without moving and without cramping but was on the verge of cramping if I moved at all.  After this was all over I realized I feel on the verge of this kind of cramping all the time.  It is as if my muscles throughout my body are tense and just won't release.  The contraction part of the muscle is working correctly but the release is not.  So what have I been doing to try to help with this?

One thing I have been trying for the last 2 weeks is drinking 2 cups of licorice root tea per day to help with adrenal fatigue, which I have the symptoms of as I talked about in an earlier post.  One of the side effects of licorice root is a potassium/sodium imbalance which can lead to muscle cramping.  It just so happened that I was drinking a cup of licorice root tea when the big cramp episode happened.  The licorice root tea seemed to really have a good effect on my fatigue and it seemed to calm me down and level out my mood, but may have had a negative effect on my muscle tightness.

The other thing I have added lately to my diet is magnesium supplementation. As I understand it magnesium is needed for the muscle relaxation phase of a muscle contraction.  Calcium is needed for the muscle tightening phase of the muscle contraction.  So I have not supplemented any calcium.  So far I have really not noticed any effect.  I have been using about 400 mg per day of magnesium, but I think I might increase that dosage.  There does not seem to be any horrible effects from magnesium and it is not toxic until a very high level. This should be helping because I have the classic symptoms of magnesium deficiency. In fact I recently visited a naturopathic who was sure I had a magnesium deficiency.  I even took a few mega dose magnesium shots.  It turned out my test results showed that I did not have a deficiency of magnesium.  But I am still thinking magnesium can help.  I hope!

The other huge thing I have been focusing on is diet, and really everything I put in my mouth to eat!  I know that diet is a key part of healing and is vital to optimal health. I am still closely following the Perfect Health Diet which is a diet and a book written Paul and Shou-Ching Jaminet.  I have been eating more and more good fats and it seems to be helping with my healing. The thing about diet is that what I have been learning by researching this topic in depth is that we, the public, are basically being lied to about what is a healthy diet.  That is part of what really pisses me off.  For instance I have discovered that eating a diet high in saturated fat from high quality sources like egg yolks, beef liver, coconut oil, grass fed dairy butter, and organic sour cream as well as a few other sources improves our overall blood lipid profiles.  It will raise your good cholesterol and lower your triglyceride levels which is GOOD!  I will be talking about this much more in future posts.  I am looking at this new way of eating as a long term process which I am approaching with an open mind.  I will be tweaking my diet as needed to optimize my health as I get more and more into this process.  This is very exciting!

So why I am mad and upset by past bad decisions I have made regarding health, I am optimistic about what the future holds.  I realize I am not healthy right now.  And I realize I can do something about that.  That is hope!


Saturday, April 20, 2013

April 20, 2013 My thoughts- Some Valuable Insights!

It is 8:00 pm and I just returned from a 5 mile run.  This was not an ordinary run.  I think it was a breakthrough run and it sure felt good!  What made it different was that it was the first run in over 2 years that felt easier and easier as I ran.  And I felt strong at the end!  It wasn't the usual feeling of "I am sure glad that is over," but instead a feeling of confidence, strength and hope is what I felt.  Maybe even a little feeling of peace, which is a feeling I crave and rarely experience.  I am sure thankful for this run and for the day.

One of the things I believe I have been experiencing for the past 2 years to a pretty severe degree is adrenal fatigue.  I had my neurotransmitters tested recently and my epinephrine levels were practically at 0, and my norepinephrine and dopamine levels were very high.  From my limited study of this those patterns can be caused by way too much stress, both physical and emotional, over a long period of time.  My energy levels and my ability to handle stress over the past 2 years has been very low.  So one of the things I have started doing this week is drinking licorice root tea.  This seems to be helping, along with a strict adherence to my diet, following the www.perfecthealthdiet , including taking a few select supplements that are recommended by the perfect health diet.  I have also been taking magnesium supplements of 200 to 600 mg per day, usually at night before bed, which I think is also helping my tense muscles to some degree.  Today on the run I just had feeling that the magnesium and the licorice root tea are making a difference.

Another thing I am becoming more and more aware of is just how my body reacts and tenses to stimuli in my  environment.  Over the past 20 years of dealing with the public at a retail sales job I have developed some very poor reactions to stress.  I tend to be very sensitive to any negative emotions coming from other people (i.e. angry customers} and I get an overactive adrenaline response.  I have noticed this causes some pronounced physical reactions that have developed into patterns.  I tend to start to almost hold my breath, especially not breathing out fully which causes my diaphragm muscles to tighten.  Then I get stuck in this position where my chest is sticking out and my lower spine is curved way too much causing my pelvis to rotate which puts pressure on my lower back and hips.  My whole way of standing is just exhausting because I am out of alignment.  I really realized this when I was flipping through my Chi Running  book, www.chirunning.com  and looked at a picture of the author, Danny Dryer, doing what he calls the grounding stance. (pg.109).  I tried it and it felt absolutely amazing.  It felt like it was putting my body into a position it hadn't been in for a long time, but which it should be in all the time!  So I have been doing this stance many times each day and I can actually feel my body changing some of the old patterns that have been so ingrained over the past 20 years.  And I am actually feeling this change when I run too.  I have been running all out of alignment too putting pressure on lots of small muscles instead of using my large muscles which naturally happens when you are grounded and alligned!  By using the small muscles it contributes to my exhaustion and low energy levels and is definitely a factor in my health issues.  This is exciting to finally start developing some insight into what is going on with me and to actually see some progress forward.

Those are my thoughts for today.  I just realized I sure do have a lot of realizations while I run and if I sit down right after I run a lot of that insight will just flow out of me.  If I wait for an hour or two I tend to forget that insight.  So I will be writing right after my run from now on!

Now off to eat some salmon, potatoes, salad, and some pumpkin, chocolate, nuts and coconut milk for dessert!


Thursday, April 18, 2013

April 18, 2013 update: The Tools I am Using

OK.  I sit here at my computer on this beautiful Thursday evening and I feel like I want to share what is going on with me so I will!  I ran 5 miles today on a treadmill and it was tough.  My typical problems are that I am extremely stiff, especially in my muscles that control my breathing.  The muscles that radiate from the diaphragm in my back and hips, and upward to my arms and shoulders are extremely tense and therefore I feel really tired.  I usually am able to run an 8:00 pace rather easily, but not today.  The interesting thing is that I felt really calm, but my body felt very tense and stiff.  I ended up running about an 8:15 pace and my heart rate was approximately 145.

So far this week I have run 15 miles and on my way to my first 30 mile week in a very long time.  I will definitely hit that goal.  The goal I really want to hit is to have running feel good again.  I feel that it will.

The way I will get there, I am not totally sure.  I am very motivated to feel better and to have my running feel good again.  I kind of use running as a barometer to check to see I am feeling in life.  Those two things really seems to correspond.  Some of the things I am doing to regain my superior health and happiness are as follows.

The biggest change I have made in the last couple of months is my diet.  As my health was getting worse over the last 2 years I was convinced that my diet needed to go more towards strict veganism.  I know a great ultra runner who is vegan and I have researched a lot on this topic and it seemed to me that this was the diet that was the healthiest diet.  Then I sort of randomly ordered a book from Amazon along with my chia seeds, hemp protein, etc., called "The Perfect Health Diet."  When it arrived at my house it sat on my bedroom floor for about a month until one evening I just picked it up and started reading it.  By the end of the first chapter I was absolutely blown away and very intrigued.  This book is by far the most compelling nutrition book I have ever read and anyone who reads it will have a very difficult time disputing it.  There are two main things that make this book so different and compelling.

Firstly, the story behind how the diet was arrived at is so very interesting and makes it so easy to trust.  Paul Jaminet and his wife, Shou-Ching Jaminet were both having some health problems in their 40's and Paul decided to take some time off from his job and devote what ended up being about 5 years to researching the human diet in order to try to improve his health.  And he did.  Secondly, every thing that is recommended by the book is very thoroughly backed up with a very astute and very well explained research.  Oh, and it should be mentioned that Paul was a an astrophysicist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, and his wife is a molecular biologist and cancer researcher at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Harvard Medical School, and Director of BIDMC’s Multi-Gene Transcriptional Profiling Core. So in other words, they are both very smart!  So I decided to start using the Perfect Health Diet.

This was a very drastic change for me.  It meant I would now be eating meat, butter, cream, egg yolks, and even liver, all foods I have eaten none or very little over the past many years.  Once I started eating this diet I noticed immediately that I just felt a little bit better.  I also noticed that I was very satisfied after meals and I didn't seem to get hungry for a long time.  I have only been on this diet for a couple of months and I am excited by the initial results.  I will keep updating my progress with it on this blog.

Briefly some other tools I am using to improve my health are:  Chi Running,  the Buteyko breathing method, lots of stretching, and I am using every spare moment to research all areas of health. I am taking some supplements such as magnesium, and licorice root tea.  I will get more into these things and other tools that I discover and learn about as I make this journey.  

I should mention that the website to find out about "The Perfect Health Diet" is www.perfecthealthdiet.com .  

I should also mention that this blog is like a journal for me and may not be well written, there may be many spelling and grammatical errors, and it may even seem non-sequitur at times.  The idea is to convey my thoughts daily or many times each week and just write what comes to mind.  I will really appreciate feedback and interchange of ideas, but remember I ain't no writer.  Just sayin.


Monday, April 15, 2013

My Life from December 2010 to April 2013

This is a brief overview of my life for the past 2 1/2 years.  At the end of 2010 I started doing a running/comedy podcast with my buddies Carl and Russ called 3nonjoggers.  We had a blast doing this.  Coincidentally my running life and my health and outlook on life started to take a turn for the worse about that time.  I have always had a lot of nervous energy and running long distances in the woods always alleviated this and kept it under control.  Starting at the end of 2010 running no longer was helping me with this issue.  I started experiencing really significant anxiety and physical fatigue which was quite puzzling to me.   I basically started to run less and less, not because I didn't want to run, but because it was not stress relieving anymore but instead was very difficult and exhausting.  Mentally and emotionally I wanted to run but it was just not providing the rewards it once did.  I got to a point in 2012 where I didn't run for more than 6 weeks.  I have never taken more than a week or so off  for the past 25 years so this was not normal for me.  I spent a lot of time sleeping more and resting more and when I went back to running a little bit after the 6 week break I didn't feel like the break really helped.  I was just as tired and exhausted.  Since then I have continued to run some, about 15 to 20 miles per week with the hope that some time in the future I will feel better and ready to run more.

So starting at the beginning of 2013 I decided I would just try a little experiment.  My plan was to add a minimum of 1 mile per week and slowly increase my running over the course of 2013.  I started running a 12 mile week the first week of February and have increased to 28 miles run week ending 4/14/1013.  So far so good.  I am still having the same issues of being overly tense and physically very tired but I have decided that I am going to figure this out and solve this issue.  I am attacking this from two angles.  Physically, which includes nutrition, and spiritually/mentally.  This blog will mostly cover the my journey from the physical/nutritional angle, but I will mention certain aspects of the spiritual/mental side.  I think that anyone who has run a 100 mile race in the mountains knows that it is very much a spiritual experience.  I want to experience crossing the finish line of a 100 mile mountain race again and this is my journey back to that point.

A New Beginning

Am I an ultra runner?  I have asked myself this question many times in the last 2 years and I keep coming up with the same answer every time I ask:  100% ABSOLUTELY I AM AN ULTRA RUNNER!

I started my Ultra running career back in 2006 when I decided I needed a new challenge after running hundreds of various distance road races including about 15 marathons over 20 years of running.  In July of 2010 I ran a very solid 50 mile race, the Mt. Hood 50 miler, and was feeling great about my running future.  I trained hard the rest of the summer and started to feel a little tired in August of 2010.  I went into the Pine to Palm 100 miler in September of 2010 a little tired and with a sore foot.  Well, that Pine to Palm 100 miler was brutal and it was my first 100 mile DNF.  And I never really recovered from this race.

I ran one more ultra in April of 2011 and actually performed pretty well.  I ran a trail 50k in about 4 hours and 30 minutes but something just wasn't right.  I noticed during this race that no matter how much I pressed the pace or slowed down it just felt hard.  Ever since that run almost all of my running has felt hard.  I can run the same paces as I have always run, but it doesn't feel good.  It feels hard.  And most of all running used to be a huge stress reliever.  I would always finish a long run feeling very calm and peaceful.  Now I don't. Running does not relieve my stress and tenseness.  So as of  today, April 15th, 2013, I am on a journey to fix this problem and figure out what the hell is wrong.  This blog will be devoted to this journey.  This is a new beginning!