1.31.2016

the science of my brain on the science of my running, and other nonsensical ponderings...



So I've been doing quite a bit of running lately.  It feels like the 'old me' is back.  That being the 'me' that ran before I moved to the Middle East... I tried really, really hard to enjoy running in Bahrain, but you know what... I hated it. I hated it with such passion.

I tried to not think about how fucking hot it was.  I waited until 10 pm sometimes to go out for a run at the neighborhood brick track in A`ali thinking that I would have a better run, and I did... but I still didn't love it.  Not like I love running during 'normal' times...

I did love the shit out of the A`ali running track though.  When I managed to make it there, which was quite often, I loved just being a part of that community.  So yea, I was still running quite a bit but I just wasn't loving it.

It also reminded me of running in Gaziantep at the University of Gaziantep track.  There as well I was 'forced' to run at a track due to just not wanting to stand out as something unusual. I learned to love running on that track.  I enjoyed walking up to the security entrance and them waving me through.  I enjoyed going through the chain link fence and then just taking off onto that red...stuff... or whatever the track was made of.

Sometimes I ran when the Uni track team was practicing.  Sometimes it was the soccer team, etc.  I used to run when our gang would play frisbee too.  It was a good time running in Gaziantep.  It was also bloody hot, but not desert hot...

I do love to think of places I've lived by the running routes I took. With this, I'm taking you all to where I currently run here in Istanbul.  The bonus is that I don't have to run on a running track!  I can, and I do sometimes at the university's gym.  There is a running track-kinda thing upstairs.  When you run, you look down at the basketball court.  You can also see into the weight room, dance rooms, ping pong tables, etc.  The rock climbing club has set up their climbing wall at one of the sides of the track so that is interesting...

My usual run, though, is along the Bosphrous.  This is an incredible running route and I feel so fucking fortunate to finally be running somewhere incredibly motivating- in terms of scenery and weather conditions. Even now, in winter, I enjoy my runs.  I haven't run in a lot of really winter-y conditions before so this is big. I do have a small arsenal of tech clothing that makes running all the more enjoyable, I think.  My newest addition to the quiver is a long sleeve running vest-type thing.  It has light padding on chest and back, but sleeves are just a microfiber.  It zips down the front and has zip pockets and thumb holes.  Another bonus is really long sleeves.  I can just wrap up my fingers in the extra length instead of using the thumb holes.  It does have a hood, which I wasn't crazy about as I think that is a waste of running attire. I do use my Portillo (ski area in Chile) beanie that I bought in a different life while snowboarding throughout the region with EdVice. It makes me happy to put on that beanie as those travels were most excellent. Hah, I'll never forget going into that local market and him buying way too many olives...

Anyway, back to running... My mom just sent off a box for me here so I'm hoping that there is a pair of running gloves in it, like I hinted at :)  The weather for the past week has been excellent running weather though and it has warmed up quite a bit from 2-3 weeks ago.  I haven't needed gloves again so this is good.  My best purchase while home in Hawaii last summer was a pair of Addidas cold weather running tights.  They are still lightweight, I think, but I can really feel that they keep the top of my thighs warm.  I mean, they are absolutely delightful to wear.  I have to say that I am thrilled to have knowledge and access to this technical wear stuff.  It does make running life more comfortable and smart.  It is just icing on the cake that my current running shoes (Saucony) are my most favorite all-timers.  It has taken me over 25 years of running to find that ultimate bliss running shoe.  Winning, again.

So, yea.  Running is a pleasure here in Istanbul.  Not only do I have the tech wear down for cold weather, but the scenery is dynamic.  Running along the Bosphrous is always fresh and interesting.  Even with all the familiar landmarks, it's always dynamic.  All the funny street dogs that sometimes trot along with me for a ways before tiring or losing interest.  The locals fishing, or couples walking along and enjoying the fresh, crisp sea breezes, catching glimpses of the 3rd bridge under construction up at the entrance to the Black Sea. I love running by the fishmongers that have little set-ups along the corniche as I start to head into Tarabya. All the healthy-looking cats that are at their feet waiting for scraps. Weathered-looking men selling simit in their rolling carts, or çai, or whatever.

Yea, smelling fresh air is another highlight. And there is space! Sure it's urban, but I'm not exactly in the downtown mix.  At least up here in Sariyer, it does feel like village living- big village living :)

It is still fishing season, although winding down I believe.  Today, as with many days, there are large boats docked and all the fishermen are seated in a line and working on their nets making all their necessary repairs.  I love running by this scene especially.  They always look over at me non-nonchalantly, and then go back to their work.  A momentary diversion where they likely wonder why I'm running...

Running is big here though, for sure.  Even on the coldest days, there are always a few other runners I encounter.  Running is a high, and runners want to get high every day because we are addicted to that high.  It's that simple. 

I've been playing around with my gait these past few months as well so I feel like I'm bringing a whole new sport to my game... I've always had back problems, which I always associated with archaeology and all the strange, crazy positions that I held my body in during that time in my life as well as just the back-breaking nature in general of the discipline. I think I was always a heel-striker.  I also used to wear, religiously, New Balance 996s, which in retrospect was probably much too much of a shoe for me to be wearig.  Who knows.

Anyway, I move on to minimalist running shoes right before moving to Bahrain- likely a mistake... As well as a bad back, I was running on a... wait for it... yes, you remember- a brick running track.  Very unforgiving indeed.  And then add on oppressive heat and you have the trifecta of bad times running... lol

Lucky for me that didn't go on for too long (running in Bahrain or the minimalist running shoes). I wised up and was shown the way; my first pair of Saucony's starts a new love affair. Also the improved inserts in them heightens the experience. 

Back to my gait... Yea, I concentrate sometimes on mid-foot striking, and then I try to run striking on the ball of my food first.  I usually can't go too long with this foot-strike pattern, and my breathing increases.  It definitely works something out which isn't worked out a lot, because I tire quickly here.  I go back to my mid-foot srike and everything is just so fine.  When I try to heel-strike first, like I always used to do, it feels so foreign, and it hurts my back... I can really feel the sink-in of my lower spine. It's hard to spring ahead when you are sabotaging yourself. Aha... over 20 years to figure this out!  Heh heh.

I'm also coaching myself to use my arm strength more, and I see noticeable results. I have always underestimated what arm movement can do to propel one's running into that next level.  I had always thought that I didn't want my arms to help my legs out.  I wanted my legs to do all the work.  I was tough, or so I thought.  I was just making things much more difficult, but I still loved running in spite of it. 

Yea, this is my love story. Running.  Then one day, early on, my running was introduced to yoga.  This was a young, passionate love indeed.  Suddenly all my time was being spent with yoga.  Running was put on the back burner, but not for too long.  I was soon to realize that both were needed to make me truly happy.  Also a beach.  Yes, a beach is also totally necessary.  And blended margaritas and nachos at Polli's Mexican Cantina in Makawao.  And cats. And da kine. And and and...

Okay, this is getting absurd.  I'm out.

Peace



ps- I will say that I had a whole lotta love for that A`ali brick running track...