Monthly Archives: December 2008

Running after 50: what I learned in the Big Snow of ’08

Yes, you can run in snow and ice.  I’ve even read an article by a runner in Colorado who puts sheet metal 1/2″ screws in the soles of his running shoes to create “studded shoes” for ice running.  Yes, it can all be done and probably is done on a daily basis all over the frozen sections of the world.

And I learned some stuff in the Big Snow of Seattle ’08.

I learned that no sweat in sub-freezing temps is a very good thing.  Sweat will become icy almost immediately, and that’s bad for muscles (and generally the whole system, doh.)

I learned that shorter strides is a good thing, that planting your foot firmly and squarely will help keep you from sliding unexpectedly. Of course paying close attention is also a pretty good idea.

I learned that yes, you really can sort of “burn” your throat if you are mouth breathing and the temps are super chilly and you’re not accustomed to those temps.

And on a related note: I learned that running in freakin cold ass temps while still recovering from a cold is a really bad idea.  Short term, you’ll feel great to have those endorphins coursing through your bod, and maybe your bod will even like the whole thing for a while.  Maybe just keep your runs short, and day on/day off for a while.  It’s an idea.

Instead, I ran while still recovering and ran nearly every day after, or took long long brisk walk/runs.  Upshot: I got sick again, and the second bout was way worse than the first.   I’m taking the hint: you really do have to think differently about things when it’s frigid cold, snowy and icy outside.  A different strategy, some care to the old bod goes a long way towards keeping one healthy.

Today, after six days inside nursing my cold, I’m going to go for a shorty short run which will undoubtedly have me wheezing and coughing, but I feel pretty strong, have some good energy and have promised myself to take it easy out there.  It’s all good.

Running in Snow & Bummin’ on Jobs

One of the great things about running outside (vs. in the gym on a treadmill) is that every day is different.  Every single day, there’s something new–a slightly different path, the weather, the angle of the sun, the birds, the other people out running…all different every day.  I love that.

Goldeneye Duck during snow shower

Goldeneye Duck during snow shower

So the past two days I’ve run in Lincoln Park here in West Seattle, even though we’ve got enough snow to make me think we were transported to some Mid-western town with mountains during the night.  Yesterday I ran along the beach which was icy and not relaxing even though it was staggeringly beautiful, then back up into the park proper where I learned that you can gallop full out in dry snow without worrying about slipping–it was a real rush!

Today I stayed up in the park since I knew the beach trail would be way too slippery to be enjoyable.  The snow in the park had a crunchy crust but was fine for running and I found that even in 20 degree weather, you can work up a sweat and feel that happy all-over warm that I associate with x-country skiing.  I’ve never run in the snow before, so this is a big new adventure for me.

On the Jobs front: Steve Jobs, that is.  There’s so much talk lately since it was announced that Jobs wouldn’t be giving the keynote at Macworld in Jan that his perceived poor health was going in the unwelcome direction of Worse. I don’t know about it, I can only imagine it must be hard to grapple with that kind of media attention to personal matters, but as (Fake Steve Jobs) Daniel Lyons discusses in this Newsweek article, Apple is Jobs and Jobs is Apple.  The fanatical fan base is as bound up with the mystique of Steve Jobs as with Apple’s to-die-for product line (count me in here).

I can’t imagine Apple without Steve Jobs, and as a mac user and Jobs admirer, I don’t want to.  Still, as Lyons points out, Jobs is not just a genius of mythical proportions: he’s human after all.

Running on ice + Naomi Klein and when “being against” is better than “being for”

Yesterday I got up thinking: this snow ain’t got nuthin on me.  I’m running today, no way I’m not running.  Well, some things got in the way, like a broken furnace (now fixed, happily) and a number of other tasks.  It all worked out well, though, because in the back of my mind I was plotting my escape.

I figured that if I could just get down to the beach walk in the park near our house, I’d find a sun dried stretch of running ground that I could just loop back and forth on.  That plan was true–but getting down there was a trick.  What I found was that the process of running in ice and snow makes the run intense and focused–no gawking at scenery–but a real meditative eye towards where your next step will land.  Once on the dry walk by the beach, I could take in the sights, but getting in and getting out was a mind focusing exercise–and lovely!  3.75+ miles, my first good run since my cold.  Can’t wait to repeat today.

Naomi Klein is profiled in the New Yorker (Dec 8th) and it’s well worth spending some time on.  She’s an amazing woman with an honest, clear eye on the scoundrels who would fix the game of life in their favor at every turn. I first learned about her way back with her first book, No Logo and really resonated with her approach. Her new book, The Shock Doctrine, takes apart the Milton Friedman theory of “free markets” (good lord, has there ever been a more insidious example of double speak?) that has evolved over the last 30 years into a manipulated game in which disruptive events are either created or alternately seized upon in order to push through a whole slew of market deregulating legislations and market focused actions.


Southeast Asia post-tsunami: the shoreline which was once inhabited by local populations is now sold off to Resorts, with a capital R.  Ditto Katrina.

Terrorist attacks of 911: the list is too numerous, but think broadly about the Patriot Act, the stike-first declaration of war, the appointment of czars and outsourcers like Blackwater.  Too numerous.

The subprime and Big Three bailout: we’re in the middle of a very nasty hostage crisis wherein we’re being told the end of the world will come if we don’t pay up.  To some degree, of course, very bad things will happen if these companies collapse, and those bad things will hit us hard.  But the thing is: seems like those bad things are happening anyway and we’re getting hit hard–so, what’s up?

Klein believes we’re beginning to learn, we’re beginning to recognize and pay attention to that little voice that says, Hmm, haven’t we been here before?

The New Yorker article reflects on her life and approach, and there’s an interesting section which explores the benefit of recognizing a bad approach and working to change it, while avoiding the trap of being stuck in “favor” of anything.  That alone is worth meditating on.

Her new book, which is definitely on my wish list, is The Shock Doctrine.

Craigslist for Service (reprinted from The CX Blog)

Craig Newmark, the founder of, is by his own admission the Customer-Service-Agent-in-Chief of Craigslist. I’ve admired this guy for a long time and for all the reasons we all admire him, but I simply swooned with admiration when he posted his service manifesto on Change This back 2005 and eloquently laid out his philosophy of service and community.

He has begun to lay out a plan for creating a Craigslist for Service, and you can read the full article over at Huffington Post--it’s a good read.  There’s actually a good deal of discussion of this idea, but coming from the original Craig, maybe we’ll get some good traction here.

No surprise that he’s thinking big, inclusive thoughts about what Obama has called a Craigslist for Service. Craig supposes Obama might be using craigslist as a metaphor for something that doesn’t exist yet, but he’s all over the idea because it makes such perfect sense.  He’s thinking of channels into and out of this proposed center of service activity:

Here are four possible aspects of “a craigslist for service.”

1. If you have the time and inclination to get out, you might volunteer for an existing service organization, probably a recognized for-profit. There are sites which make this relatively easy, the most effective of which is

2. You might have some cash you’d like to pool with others to get something done. Sites which make that happen include, funding classroom projects, or, which provides micro-finance loans to small businesspeople.

3. You might have the time for traditional civic engagement, where you participate in local governance. For example, you might join the PTA, or just attend local city council or board of education meetings, or join the board of a small non-profit. That’s traditional grass-roots democracy, an important American tradition.

4. Online, you might get involved in the new grass-roots democracy, where you get increasingly smart about some aspect of national governance.

I’d recommend taking a look at, specifically the discussion of healthcare. It’s a great first step towards real networked, grassroots democracy.

Check out, which fosters sites which provides checks and balances on government. The Sunlight sites are about government transparency, like how money is used, and abused in government. I’d like people to get smart about some specific area, keep an eye on that, and report… problems.

Also, if you’re a technology fan, check out, an existing program where you can help patent examiners check out new inventions.

5. To make this really happen, people need to declare themselves publicly, to commitment to some form of service, and follow through. This is like the pledge system of the Clinton Global Initiative, or, or We’ll need something which scales to the tens of millions, which also plugs into the social networking tools people actually use.

(Yes, that was five.)

Is there a cabinet post for Service?  There should be.

Running after 50: The Hills of Seattle (a cool map)

Winning a Cold-War with myself so I’m laying low, just walking my run routes the last coupla days.  But someone sent me a map of the steepest hills in Seattle, kind of interesting.

Running after 50: what was I thinking?

Last Saturday I ran 6.8 miles.  This was after a 6.4 miles run 4 days earlier, and previous to that by a a few days, a 6.2 mile run–a big leap from previous average of 3-3.5 miles, which I’d been doing about a week prior.  What’s wrong with this picture?

Okay, so since late June, I’ve upped my 6x a week to  3-3.5 miles more or less.  That was up from 2-2.5 5 times a week, so that was already a step up in the distance department, and it’s also about 18-20 miles a week.

Suddenly, after reading the Murakami autobio on running, I sort of got it into my head that it would be cool to see if I could run 6 miles, like he did every day at the beginning of his book.  He’s 59, and his book is a sort of chronicle of thoughts on running, and the practice of running itself.  When he decided to do the NY marathon, he changed from 6 miles a day to 10 miles a day and more.

The ease of adding more miles was enticing to me: if 3 miles feels this good, imagine what 6 miles must feel like!

So I tried 6 miles.  I actually ran 6.2, my own private 10K and felt really excited to learn that 1) I’d lived to tell the tale, 2) I felt pretty okay, all things considered.  As noted above, a few days later I went further, and a few days after that, further still.  At the same time, I tried to keep up my regular runs.

This last run on Saturday, while easier in some ways than the previous one, was also harder in another way.  My body really hurt later, and I was really tired (imagine!).  That same night, my body was still feeling really strange–can’t quite describe, just uncomfortable–it felt like there was excess energy coursing through me at the same time that I was really tired.

The next day I did a little research online and discovered this amazing fact that seemed to be shared by most everyone: if you are training to increase your distance, do so by 10% of your previous weekly run, for two weeks or more if needed, and then again, 10% x 2 weeks.

What I had unwittingly done was increase my miles by 100% over the course of 3 weeks.  I’m lucky I didn’t do damage, although my chronically sore heels are little more chronic now.  I do long stretches of yoga and stuff after my runs, even short ones, so I think the tone of my muscles is pretty good.

So, I’ve asked the ego-and-excitement driven me to step back for a while and let the more practical driven me to take the reins for a while.  It’s not easy, surprisingly.  Today I ran 3.4 miles and it didn’t feel like enough.  I threw some hills in for good measure and last minute, even though I’d planned to limit myself to 3 miles only, I threw in a couple more paths through the park.  Just couldn’t go back feeling this un-exercised.

I’m sworn to start over now and do it better, since I’m also sworn to stay as healthy and injury free as long as possible and to keep running.  It’s all good.

Running after 50: Ch-ch-ch-changes…

Yesterday I ran 6.4 miles, a new distance for me. It’s a flat course, and beautiful–uplifting, so there’s a part of it that’s just awesome. But I was truly beat by the last mile, truly and completely. 6.4 miles is far for a bod that just last spring thought: I don’t think I’ll ever be able to run a 5k. Yesterday I ran my own private 10k.

One of the reasons I got hooked on running was to manage the enormous changes that my body and mind were experiencing as a 50+ year old woman. I know men go through a lot of changes after 50, too–I watch the commercials on TV, so I get it. But really, the whole repro-system de-activating itself is amazing and has lots and lots of ramifications. (And mind you, once things settle down, most everyone I know feels better than they’ve felt in years, so there’s that definite bennie.)

I’d read a few places that exercise would help with some of the more cumbersome changes, like metabolism and energy. So I joined the gym–and guess what. It helps A LOT

been counting sheep most of my life

been counting sheep most of my life

Most recently I’ve found that it’s helping with a problem I’ve had most of my life, but which is way worse after 50: sleep. Suddenly, the last coupla months, I’m sleeping the sleep of the dead. I’ve never, not ever, slept this deeply before and I love it–I feel like I could slurp it up like a good meal. I wake as if I had taken a long vacation–I can’t describe how delicious this feels.

Running after 50: distance (part deux)

After running my farthest distance yet just the other day (6.25 miles), I’ve had plenty of opportunity to think about one’s own ideas about distance.

This last spring when I first started to increase my endurance and strength, I did so after my nephew suggested I start using the program described in Body for Life–one thing in particular: the running for 20 minutes routine, every third day.  What was revolutionary for me: alternating weight training and running made the days I ran even more important.  And shooting for a really good 20 minute run, with hills and flats, increased my own expectations of what I could do–I loved it.

Pretty soon, however, 20 mins wasn’t enough. Just about the time I pushed the time up to 25 minutes, I decided to try my first 5K.  The deal was, I switched from time to distance, but time running was always the necessary foundation and now, when I’ve pushed myself too hard and I feel on the edge of perhaps injuring myself, I switch back to time.

Distance feels better than time, for some reason.  Saying I ran 3.5 miles just seems like more of an accomplishment than saying I ran 32 minutes.

But knowing–and using the knowledge–that I can and should modulate between the two sometimes is a great thing to learn.  The other day, after running 6.25 miles, I was sore and tired.  The next day, my chronically sore heels were whimpering for some TLC.  Even though I was sort of excited by the thought of another big run, it was time to ease back–way back.  And build up again.  I ran for 25 minutes, an easy jog thru the park, and felt great–light on my feet and happy.

It’s important to pay close attention to this body that ain’t no spring chick anymore.  Working with it will help it to go the distance.