Running with Rage

Eric Rutin discusses running, life and other semi-important things

Eric Rutin Takes on the WSJ

November 15, 2013

So runners seem to be up in arms about a recent article written in the Wall Street Journal by Chad Stafko.  Having read it I have to say I really don’t understand his stance.  I am not sure who Chad Stafko is, but he seems to be someone that is simply annoyed at healthy people or people trying to better themselves.  His logic is along the lines of being annoyed that someone with high cholesterol decided to skip the Slim Jims or Roald Amundsen dared to trek to the South Pole (and the North Pole for what it is worth).  While we are at it, that Jonas Salk was a no-good show-off sharing his polio vaccination with everyone.  Couldn’t he have the common decency to simply be modest and keep his accomplishments to himself?

Eric Ruitn circa 1987

Eric Rutin circa 1987

Before I proceed, I have to say that I am acutely aware that making such claims are akin to Howard Stern shock jock tactics in just saying outrageously outlandish things to evoke reaction without any actual conviction or believe in what you spew.

But since Mr. Stafko decided to voice his opinion on the matter than runners need to get over it, revert to a sedentary state and I am a sucker for a good argument here we go.

I am sure there are runners out there that are in it for the social acknowledgement, but lets break that down just a little before we condemn these superficial folks.   To slap on a 26.2 sticker on your bumper, even if you are just showing off, you still have to train for several months and then run 26.2 frickin’ miles.  I don’t care how superficial you are, that is not a fun or easy experience.  The commitment to a 16-26 week training program that drags your ass out of bed at stupid hours of the morning, regardless of how cold or hot it is outside (and it is always one or the other at some point in your training) isn’t for the meek.  While all your friends are heading out for a late dinner and drinks on a Friday night, you bid them adieu and head to bed by 8:30, knowing you will be pounding pavement in a couple of hours.  Running for three plus hours on a Saturday morning covered in sweat, grime and God only knows what other bodily fluid is not quite as pleasant at sitting in a Starbucks with your Mac penning animosity. Then when it comes to race day, everyone, and I mean everyone comes to that point when every bit of their rational self tells them they can not venture one single step farther, yet somehow, someway their internal will propels the left foot in front of the right one only to repeat again and again and again.  He seemingly boasts why run 10 miles when you have a perfectly good car to drive it as if it is as crazy as bathing in beef bullion and challenging a pack of rabid wolves to a wrestling match.  How about not wanting to be a fat ass with high blood pressure and 350 cholesterol?  So, if someone wants a little superficial acknowledgement, so be it. They ran 26.2 frickin miles afterall.  They have done something that .5% of the US population has accomplished.

Now lets chat a little more about just want to be seen running around.  Well as I previously mentioned, typically I am out the door before anyone wakes up.  Training in the summer here in the comfortable Arizona summer when the lows are often in the mid 90s, I often run 20 miles in the dark, am showered and back in bed before the kids even wake up much less the neighbors.  The only other people I see are fellow runners, so I am really not getting all that much attention.  Then lets think more about wanting to be seen?  My Running with Rage pals have all had incidents involving pee, poop, vomit and pretty much every other human disgustingness you can imagine.  Not really show off moments.   Lastly my favorite long run is from Central Phoenix down to South Mountain along Central.  The reason I like this so much, it is a nice, long, lonely run where it is just me and my run.  I rarely even listen to music on these runs as I don’t want to be disturbed by the outside world.

Eric Rutin Pittsburgh Marathon

Finishing Pittsburgh

Do runners like to talk about running?  Hell yes we do.  Just like golfers like to talk about golf.  Just like cancer researchers like talking about proton therapy.  Just like Republicans like to talk about the Second Amendment (the First they can take it or leave it).  Just like writers like to talk about  about literature and being published.  People like to discuss their passion.  Typically runners like to talk to other runners about running.  I was recently at the Inc. 5000 Conference and on the opening night I attended the kick-off party. I didn’t really know anyone, but I met this cool woman, Jennifer, that was also runner.  She has run races around the world.  We compared experiences and had an instant bond that made it then easier to also discuss our respective businesses.  I believe the term they use is rapport. It is a social skill.  I then met the president of Inc. Bob LaPointe, a famous motorcycle enthusiast, and you know what we talked about?  Not running.  I recalled my memories of riding my motorcycle along the foothills of the Catalinas in Tucson at sunset.  There really isn’t anything wrong with talking about your passions and being proud of your accomplishments.  I am sure even Chad might have mentioned being published in WSJ with a little sense of pride once or twice.

But the biggest reason runners are the coolest people on the planet is running is all about community.  Sure we run alone, but we belong to a bigger group.  We are a group that, despite all of our diversities, are united by our commitment to this most primal activity. There are worse people out there than a group who can set audacious goals whether it be running a 5K when you get winded walking to the mailbox or signing up for a marathon or even longer distance race.  And then accomplish them!  The famous Mount Everest explorer Sir Edmund Hillary once said, “People do not decide to become extraordinary, they decide to accomplish extraordinary things”.  That is how runners view each it.  I used to golf and there was a competition between golfers usually leading them to exaggerate their abilities and accomplishments.  I can’t count the number of single digit handicappers I have known that were incapable of breaking 80.  Runners are different. We don’t compete against each other.  Surely we try and beat each other in a race, and I have to admit I thoroughly enjoy that, while Jeff has me beat on every other distance, I hold the marathon PR over him.  But when it comes down to it, I am cheering him on to be his absolute best and he does the same for me.  When one of us is down, the other picks him up.  Runners enjoy each others accomplishments almost as much as we enjoy our own.

I remember being at Scotty’s wedding, standing in the kitchen talking with him and Shelly, my counterpart in the wedding party.  Scotty is rather fast and I was a little faster than Shelly but the interesting thing was, as we shared our experiences, I realized despite our different times arriving at the finish line, they were all basically the same.  This was reinforced later when after the Detroit Marathon Jeff, Scotty and I were eating our post run meal, talking about the day’s race.  I mentioned that it took every bit of my will power to run past the 13.1 turn-off and to continue on with the marathon (in a big part due to Jeff running with me step for step, encouraging me despite not having the best race to that point).  I was amazed when Scotty then said there wasn’t a marathon he has run that he didn’t have the same exact thought at some point.  This was a guy that just ran a 2:35 marathon and came in 11th place overall!  Jeff and I also ended up with a PR that day.  While I was struggling in the mid miles, I was able to return the favor when Jeff had his own struggles later.

Whenever I talk to Scotty I am always reminded how great and inclusive the running community is.  He runs at a whole other level than anyone else I know (other than Mark Cosmos that runs 10o miles races, but that is another story) and has every right to feel elite  yet he is impressed by everyone else.  He has told me he thinks the accomplishment of the 5 hour marathoner is more impressive than his.  This is a guy that runs sub 6:00 miles for a marathon.  He said if he had to run for that long of a time period, he couldn’t do it.  This wasn’t said in a arrogant manner, but rather genuine admiration that someone is so dedicated to their goal, they are going to accomplish it no matter how long it takes.  When I see someone that is obese running at a pace that most would consider walking, I think how frickin awesome it is they they are out there trying to make themselves better.  This is a point that our dear old Mr. Stafko just can’t comprehend. It is easier to shun or mock people for doing things we can’t or won’t than to truly admire them.  To a runner, any person that is willing to lace up the shoes and head out the door is to be applauded, regardless of any results after that.

Boston Eric Rutin

Eric Rutin 24 hours before at Bomb #1 site

Lastly, the running community is all about supporting the spirit and will of the human race.  This extends  beyond just the actual runners, Chad Stafko excluded.  As I mentioned, it doesn’t matter if you are an obese person running 100 yards, or Wilson Kipsing setting the marathon world record in Berlin or a mid-pack running like most of my peers.  Go to any race and you will see people of every ability lining up at the race, but you also see hundreds eor ven thousands of volunteers working at a race, giving there own personal time.  Then look on the streets and you see people cheering on complete strangers, encouraging them through their struggles as if there were BFFs, passing out gummy bears at mile 18 in Indian Village.  Everyone, runners, volunteers and supporters are unified in their appreciation of effort.  That is all anyone in the running community ever asks.  Give effort, and you are rewarded.  That is why the events at Boston earlier this year messed with me so much.  Of course I had my issues with being so close to the bombs and the what ifs that I couldn’t quiet in my head, but what traumatized me the most was how the Tsarnaev brothers attacked an event that celebrated  greatness in humankind.  Thousand and thousands of people with no agenda other than striving and cheering for greatness we assaulted.  Runners had trained for years to compete in the most prestigious contest of human endurance.  While I can not say I understand the motive behind such acts, I can attest for the effectiveness of terrorism in doing as the name suggests creating a constant state of terror and unsettledness in a community.  What I can not understand is the choice of targets, attacking churches, schools, and even The Boston Marathon, outside if the Olympics, they greatest testament to human will and perseverance.  They attempted to erode the will of the community and yet all they did was strengthen it, in a large part due to the will to overcome adversity of the running community.

It just seemed counter-intuitive.  Just like Chad Stafko’s article.

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The history of concerts according to Eric Rutin

November 10, 2013

This is a list of concerts that I, Eric Rutin, attended in my life.  I will admit, that I have not been to a concert in ages and at this point in my advanced life I really don’t see attending another unless its with my kids as parental supervision.  That being said, Cade is already older than me when my parents dropped me off at the gate of Pine Knob to see my first solo concert.  More about that in a moment.  I am sure I don’t remember all the concerts, some due to their absolute horribleness, others due to alcohol consumption and others just to a fading memory.  I encourage any of my friends reading this to add any that I may have missed.   Some of the concerts were life changing and others I am pretty embarrassed to admit I went to but all in all there is a wide array of musicians and genres.  I have debated different ways of arranging from chronological, to quality to frequency but I couldn’t come up with a clear winner.  I will present in a loosely chronological manner with a sprinkle of randomness tossed in.  (sorry about the dangling preposition)

Electric Light Orchestra  (ELO)

This was my first concert I attended. It was at the Pontiac Silverdome and I went with my friend Eric.  So It was Eric Rutin and Eric Somethingoranother.  It was 5th grade and we LOVED this band.  We called them Eric’s Lovable Orchestra, pretty clever for 11 year-olds. We even had t-shirts made. All I really remember was the band had a huge spaceship that opened up and out they came.  Totally Spinal Tap style.  But the bigger memory was the priest sitting behind us in full priest attire.  He opened his bible and inside it was cut-out for his pipe and stash.  Deception would later come into play for myself.

The Guess Who

I saw them on family weekend when we went to visit my brother at Michigan Tech.  I actually attended this with my parents.  It was on the floor of some arena.  I remember them playing These Eyes, I was wearing a Mork from Ork ski vest and that I feel asleep.  This also would come into play later.

The Beach Boys

This was my first venture to Pine Knob, the greatest musical venue ever.  It has some corporate name now, but I was fortunate to grow up in the 70s and 80s before everything was so blatantly corporate.  I blame the Rolling Stones for changing all that with their 1981 “final tour”, but that is neither here nor there.  I am not sure who I attended this with but it was some sort of friend and parent supervision.  We were allowed the freedom to roam  and the Beach Boys were still pretty hip. This was sixth grade.

Joe Walsh

I was now a 7th grade and obviously ready for my independence.  I went with some friend I don’t recall.  (I actually have a pretty crappy memory of pre-1981)  I look back in horror that, not only were my parents completely comfortable dropping me off at a concert at 12 years old, but a frickin’ Joe Walsh concert none the less whose fame was built on glorifying sex, drugs and rock and roll.  But my parents were not as hip as I am.  They had no idea who Joe Walsh was.  I am a cool dad that belts out Icona Pop effortlessly while my parents listened to talk radio or Nat King Cole.  Regardless, all I really remember was the joy of independence and being around all the drunk and stoned people, though I myself was a goody two-shoe.  This is how I kicked off the summer of 1980.  I remember my friend wanted to go see the Doobie Brothers but I was too afraid to say Doobie in front of my parents, so that was my only concert that year.

The Who/The Clash/Eddie Money

This was the first final farewell tour for The Who way back in 1982.  I was a boarder at Cranbrook by now and I was finding out how important music was to an adolescent. I listen to lyrics, they spoke to me personally, they gave me the voice to say what I was unable.  I listened to Orchestral Maneuvers in the Dark, The Police, Buzzcocks, and other early 80s punk, but the two big influences were The Kinks and The Clash.   Ray Davies was simply a brilliant song writer and The Clash touched my inner teenage angst like no other.  The Who announced their final tour that was on a Thursday night, a particular dilemma for a boarding student.  The year before Cranbrook didn’t allow boarders to attend the final Rolling Stones tour and had a backlash of parent anger.  So the doors were wide open with a parent’s permission slip for me to attend the The Who.  I liked the Who plenty, but it was The Clash I absolutely had to see.  I went with John Packer who’s dad owner a Pontiac dealership as well as a box at the Pontiac Silverdome and my freshman RA, John Berger.  We hung out in the box enjoying libations and being tormented by Eddie Money.  Then came time for The Clash.  John and I slipped past the security guards that were preoccupied pummeling other people hopping the wall to notice us casually walk down the steps to the general admission floor level.  Somehow I randomly connected with Scotty Lebo who was attending with some of his other friends.  Scotty is the only other person I know that likes The Clash as much as I do, so I was happy I was going to experience the greatest concert ever with him.  We made our way through the packed crowd to about 15 feet from the stage, so close the fire hose they were using to cool the crowd hit us with an uncomfortable velocity.  This was incredible.  They opened up with London Calling and my famous or infamous infant bladder came knocking.  I was not about to leave my precious spot for a mere bathroom crisis. I pulled out and peed right there on the floor or more aptly on the leg of this big biker guy standing in front of me.  Fortunately the fire hose already had him wet so he didn’t notice a little more wetness and besides I figured he deserved it for preventing me from being 13 feet from the stage.  When they started playing Should I Stay Or Should I Go (not my favorite by a long shot) when the crowd started chanting GO..GO…GO.  WTF?  So Mick Jones in a haste, flipped off the crowd, unplugged his guitar and walked off the stage.  Show over.  For The Who, despite being a pretty big fan of them, we retreated back to some empty seats and as they played in what was at the time record decibel levels, I proceeded to fall asleep.  Must be something about bands called the Who that causes narcolepsy in me.3340293178_417fb37f35

I cant really tell you what my next concert was so I will get random for a while taking a trip through the rest of high school and college.

Santana

This was where I applied the knowledge I learned from my first concert experience.  Yet another concert at Pine Knob. We sprung the extra couple of bucks for the $18 seats versus the $12 lawn seats. I filled a two-liter bottle with 7-up and Seagrams borrowed from my parents full bar and tossed in in my backpack along with some powdered sugar donuts, a couple of ding dongs and other delicious goodies.  Pretty much the essential concert eats. When we went through security we watched as booze bottle after booze bottle was confiscated. When the burly guy got to me, he opened up my backpack and pulled out a bag of donuts, and saw the scattering of other junk food and laughed. He handed me back my backpack and said “knock yourself out kid”.  We then enjoyed 7 and 7’s while listening to Oye Como Va.  I think this stratagem was originally executed in Sun Tzu’s The Art of War.

The Grateful Dead

I always thought that being a self-proclaimed teenage rebel (disregard my upper-middle class upbringing and the fact I attended boarding school) and that I should like The Grateful Dead.  It was kinda like Jack Kerouac.  But truth be told, I didn’t like them at all, but Liz, my first girlfriend, liked them and I liked everything she liked so she would like me. Normal teenage rational.  I went with Liz and I think her friend Norah, but it could have been someone else or even two someone elses.  Well without going into too many details, the security showed Liz and I the exit for doing what I considered perfectly appropriate Grateful Dead behavior (no, not drugs).  So Liz and I had to sit outside the gate and wait for the concert to end to collect the third wheel that I think was Norah but maybe wasn’t.  Maybe the fourth wheel too.  This just confirmed that I simply didn’t, nor do, like The Grateful Dead.  Nor do I like endless riffs.  I wish I had saved the $15 I spent on my ticket.  While I still can’t say I like Kerouac, I can at least say I appreciate him.  Tom Wolfe’s Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test is far better than On the Road for what it is worth.  Oh wait, I digress.

The Monkey’s Reunion

Back to music.  I went with Andy Wildermuth who looked a lot like Peter Tork and a couple of other Fac brats.  Yes I went to a Monkeys concert. Deal with it.

pine knobSimple Minds and The Pretenders

The best concert ever, but not for the music, which wasn’t bad, but for the experience.  I went with most of the Fac Brats, Rose Domas, Margie Goldman and Beth Grossman.  Before the concert we hung out at my house getting properly liquidly enthused.  As we were driving to Pine Knob (surprise) Christopher started one of his legendary rants claiming if he had to get a girl pregnant in high school and have to marry her, he would want that girl to be Helaine Scholnik.  Disregard that Helaine had been spending the summer skillfully avoiding him.  It wasn’t just a random comment, he kept repeating it and adding more  and more detail, more sure each time.  But one thing for sure, Helaine was the one.  We got to the concert and found a place on the lawn to spread our blankets and enjoyed the music.  The sun had set and Simple Minds had concluded.  The guys got up and went to pee on the perimeter fence (an advantage to being a guy) still listening to Christopher’s love rant.  Upon concluding our pee, we bumped into some girls.  Christopher hit it off with one of the girls remarkably fast and before we knew it, was making out with her.  She came back to our blankets and the two of them obliviously mauled each other for the entire Pretenders set.  If this was the Grateful Dead they would have been tossed.  The music ended and Christopher took down the girl’s phone number before she left to reunite with her friends.  We all walked off in awe.  But we had no idea what awe actually was until Christopher, without missing a beat, resumed professing his love for a hypothetically knocked-up Helaine.

The Clash

This time there was no The Who, no Eddie Money, no John Parker no burly biker to pee on, just Scotty, Ned, Tony and me (and of course maybe others I don’t remember) and the intimate Fox Theater.  Someone may have opened for them, but who cares, I don’t remember, I was there to see The Clash finally.  It was the best concert of my life.  It was raw. It was loud. It was hard. It was The Clash.  No pissed off Mick Jones.  There were also no side stories or antics, just a couple of guys getting to see The Only Band That Matters.

Simon and Garfunkle

This was their reunion tour and a trip back to The Silverdome.  Scotty and I went with Margie Goldman and Beth Grossman.  It was a pretty good show and  little historic.  Kinda like Kerouac for me.  Didn’t love it, but appreciated it. Afterwards we went and got Marty’s Cookies.  Yum.

urlINXS

I am sure I went with some of my friends, but I just remember going with Chrissie Mathias. The significance of this was I was on a date with the one and only babysitter I ever had. Maybe it would have been more appropriate going to the Simon and Garfunkle concert with her.  Coo Coo Ca Choo.  As Mrs. Robinson as this sounds, Chrissie was only two years older than me.  She was the girl that lived down street that I had my first middle school crush on that also worked at my dad’s pharmacy.  For some horrifically inexplicable reason my mom decided that at 13 I needed a babysitter one night and they picked 15 year-old Chrissie for no other reason that I can imagine other than to permanently scar me with unrepairable embarrassment.  My parents that believed in teaching their kids independence had been leaving me at home alone for years and yet this night they had to get me not just a baby sitter but Chrissie.  Well five years later I was actually on a date with my babysitter.  It was cool and without a cent of therapy, I someone recovered some of my shattered esteem.  Oh yea, it was Pine Knob.

Bruce Springsteen

This was my first high priced concert.  It was the Born in the USA tour and Rose got four tickets.  I forget who the other two tickets were for but they bailed so we decided to scalp the tickets.  I think we got a hundred bucks for them (huge money in 1985).  The concert was his return to Detroit on a world tour right before our senior year.  The seats were directly stage right and we had as good of a view of the roadies behind the stage as we did of the band.  While it was nice that Rose sold the tickets at a little profit, she sadly sold them to a guy that turned out to have a 350 pound friend that sat next to me.  Well, he more sat on me. He oozed over the arm rest and I had to wait for him to stand before I was able to.  (there I go with the dangling preposition again)  While most people found Springsteen’s endurance, providing a 3 plus hour concert, amazing, I was praying for the show to end as I was tired of being sweated on by the large mammal next to me.  But I discovered Bruce will do an encore even if only one person in the back row requests it.  No Cortney Cox dance along either.

U2

This was down in Tucson at the Convention Center.  I went with Jill, Dan, Liz, Erich, Michelle and Michele.  I am still to this day 25 years later reminded that we didn’t bring Mark along.  The concert was filmed and Bono acted like a cowboy.  That is all I remember other than I liked it and we went to Red Robin before.  I had a Red Robin Monster Burger.

The Specials

The Specials played on the mall on a makeshift stage at U of A’s Spring Fling festival.  It was officially a concert but I think I was the only person that was actually standing still listening to them and not simply passing by on their way to something else.  It was a good night for me despite going alone.  I also met Christine Applegate during her Married with Children glory days.  Oh yea, it was free.

Jimmy Buffet

I will lump the four shows together.  1st show was college. We drove up in Erich’s 1972 Monte Carlo to Phoenix.  He got a speeding ticket in Casa Grande on the way back to Tucson.  Second show was at the Hollywood Bowl that I went to with Michele.  Then two shows at Desert Sky Pavilion.  I used to be a Parrot Head and they were all equally awesome.  I am not a Parrot Head any more.

LA Guns and Megadeth

Our buddy Andy Alkire was a bouncer at Tucson Garden, a rock bar in Tucson.  They needed extra security for the show, so of course they asked all 140 pounds of me to protect the stage.  Along with the half a dozen other ill-equipped security we locked arms stood in front of the stage, speakers prematurely reducing my hearing capabilities, and leaned forward holding back the pressing crowd.  The music was awful but I was paid $50 bucks and given free drinks afterwards.

Exposé

Yes I saw them.  Jill took me. I tried talking my way to get back stage to meet them.  Not my proudest moment.  At least they were better looking than The Monkeys.expose-2008

The Guess Who and BTO

Back at the Tucson Garden but this time paying I went to this with Tucker Wildermuth and Dan.  Not sure what Tucker was doing in Tucson. There were only about 50 people there so getting close to the stage was not an issue. For two hours there was no bigger fan of either band than myself.  I was given the set lists from each band and the pick from the lead guitarist for The Guess Who.  I also was able to break the cycle and I stayed awake for the whole concert.

Lilith Fair

I admit I am pretty much a lesbian when it comes to much of my musical tastes.  I enjoyed Sarah McLachlin, Jewel, Indigo Girls (not really), Sheryl Crow, Tracy Chapman, Fiona Apple and Natalie Merchant.  I was also one of I think three guys attending.

Depeche Mode

I went with some people from work.  I don’t hate them, but I can’t say I like them.  Not even sure I appreciate them really. What I like most about them was how my next door neighbors my freshman year had convinced this annoying kid you pronounced it Depashay Mowday.  I made the mistake of wearing a red polo shirt to the concert. They were work tickets given to us by a radio station so of course they were good.  I was more of an unicorn at this concert than at the Lilith Fair not wearing all black and sans eyeliner.  I was standing as everyone else was, but anyone who knows me, I don’t dance, and certainly not in a crowd with out signed waivers by anyone near me.  Half way through the show this goth girl grabbed my arm and asked “excuse me sir, are you OK?”  I assured her I was. I didn’t tell her I would be better when the show was over.  Thank God they didn’t subscribe to the Bruce Springsteen school of encore etiquette.

The Dixie Chicks

Michele was pregnant with Emma and we were invited to the box of local country station, KNIX.  Emma loved them and spent the entire show rocking out in the womb.

Dave Matthews Band

I went to this concert with Carolyn.  We were way late and couldn’t find parking.  We were frantically looking for a spot and ended up parking quite far but still close enough we could hear the music.  As we were making the long walk to the gate listening to them play Crush.  Well this is when I learned that Dave Matthews likes his riffs.  A lot. It took us at least 15 minutes to get there and they were still playing Crush. We got though the gate, past security and found our seats and they were still playing Crush. In fact, I think they are still playing it.

Spin Doctors

This was the last concert I saw.  They were playing in Chrystal City after the Marine Corps Marathon.  I was looking for my usual post race tuna sub at Subway.  I have no idea, why I need to have that overly mayonnaise saturated tuna delight when I finished a marathon, but I do. I never eat them any other time, but damn I want them after 26.2 miles.  Oh yea, Spin Doctors.  Well when I got down to the “strip” in Chrystal City looking for my sandwich I discovered the concert.  Well it was was called a concert at least. It was about 7 people standing on the street listening to Two Princes.  I made 8.

There it is. I am sure I forgot some concerts.  Confused some people that attended.  But regardless, this is the best I remember.  If you made it through all of this just remember, The Clash is the only band that matters.

Other good reading

Top 25  Best Movies of All Time

15 Must Songs For Any Running Playlist

Garmin or an App?

September 22, 2013

Recently Jen Lebo, a good friend of mine, posed a question to her Facebook friends asking their opinion of which was better – a Garmin or one of the many running apps around.  This is actually a subject I have developed a strong view based on a pretty extensive history using both.

Eric Rutin's Garmin 310

Eric Rutin’s Garmin 310

I have a Garmin 205 that I have had forever that Carolyn has basically assumed control of since her old 201 otherwise known as The Brick finally gave out. I also have a hand-me-down 310XT from my running buddy Jeff that I typically use these days.  Garmins are awesome since you can configure the data fields to display the fields you want to see, rather than custom fields someone else though important.  I like to have current pace, overall time, distance and and average pace.  There are many other data fields that others may find more relevant to their training such as cadence, elevation, speed, calories and a host of others.  You can even set up ranges to keep you training at the levels you wish or even a virtual race buddy.

Another great thing about Garmins are their spot-on accuracy.  I have driven routes just to check the mileage and they always match up with at most a .1 overall discrepency.  When I run a race, I get that familiar buzz right at the mile markers (provided the race directors are accurate).  With occasional except of the battery running down, I have never had a glitch in any of my Garmins’ performance.

The only complaints I can say I have are sometimes it seems like it takes an eternity and a half to find a satellite (though never had an issue with the 310)  and they are rather expensive.

Now a little about apps.  I was excited when I first got my iPhone and figured it was a great solution for music, GPS and in case I needed a phone for an emergency.  OK, I admit it, during the Rock and Roll Marathon a couple of years ago I was also using Siri to text Carolyn’s sister on her Boston qualifying effort.  As I previously mentioned, I have used several different apps, both paid and free, to find the perfect app.  I soon gave up on my quest for perfection and resigned to settle simply for being accurate.

During the same RNR,  I discovered that RunKeeper was about .1 miles short as the miles were clicking farther and father from the mile markers until eventually I couldn’t even see them on the horizon.  This may not seem like a lot, but over 26.2 miles it adds up to over two and a half miles of inaccuracies (see I am good at math).  I then realized that all of my previous training was off as well – my twenty mile runs were actually closer to 18.  It explains why I was training REALLY well.  I later drove some of routes and I discovered the app was off about 75% of the time and sometimes as much as .2 miles per mile.

Nike+ Running App

Nike+ Running App

While using MapMyRun I had the whole thing crashed mid-race and  when I relaunched it, it proved pointless.  I had similar accuracy and reliability issues with all the apps I tried.  I later discovered on a couple of message boards it comes down to cell phone company’s GPS accuracy and Verizon was generally viewed as the worst.  So if this is true I guess it really isn’t far to blame the apps as much as the technology they are bound to (leave my dangling preposition alone).  While I am not a huge fan of Nike running shoes, I will say that the Nike+ app was probably the most dependable.

So if you want to give my opinion on this matter any credence, which you really should, then I would say if you are debating between investing in a Garmin or downloading an app it comes down to your purpose.  If you are training for an event, a have performance goals, or are just serious about running  there is no question you should get a Garmin.  However, if you are just running for recreation or allow the occasional doughnut indulgence, then an app is probably perfectly fine.  You will be able to get general feedback and track your progress.

There you go.  you know are armed with incredibly credible objective facts to make a smart decision.

Eric Rutin seen running?

September 19, 2013

Eric Rutin MissingIt was reported this morning that Eric Rutin was seen running on the Bridal Path.  Could it be?  Could the man that once lead a nation through example to run on hot days, rainy days, cold days and pretty much any day that ended in a Y but has not been seen in a dozen fortnights really have been seen running up Central Avenue?  His disappearance from running had many wondering if Eric Rutin was this generations J.D. Salinger. Or at least John Parr.  Who?  You know, you just won’t admit it.

Well it is true. I finally hit the path and ran a walloping two miles.  The past five months has been odd for me.  It started with the bombing at Boston.  It really messed with my head.  Other than the obvious paranoia that goes with experiencing an actual terrorist attack, it really affected my motivation to run.  I was annoyed that I allowed those horrible brothers to zap my desire to run, but they did.  I kept vowing to start again: on the 30 day anniversary, then 60, and 90….

I did get out and run a couple of times, even made it a full week once.   However the few times my mind was willing,  my body was not quite as cooperative.  In the past five months I have had a calf injury, ankle mishap, and an Achilles issue.  In the 13 previous years I was sidelined once when I cracked my ribs.Eric Rutin runnning feet

Well I miss running.  I miss running long distances.  I miss running for a couple of hours.  I miss running with my friends.  So this morning I dropped Emma off at her badminton tournament and parked at the big church and set off on my modest run of two miles.  It was interesting timing as I departed at the same time as what appeared to be a gay running club started.  Despite my labored snail pace, I managed to stay ahead of them as I think it was more of a social running group.  I finished in a time that was 20 seconds faster than my 5K PR, but I finished.  I am out of shape but I know that can change.  The key is my desire to run has returned.

And tomorrow I will run again.

2013 Boston Marathon – A week later

April 21, 2013

It has almost been a week since the tragic events of the 2013 Boston Marathon.  I have to admit it has been a week I never thought I would personally experience.  A week that has changed me forever.  And a week that I hope has not changed me forever.

BostonBibCarolyn and I having been both been too close for comfort but fortunately far enough away from the two explosions got to witness the panic of most of the runners and spectators, and the immediate call to action of the police and other first responders.  When the first explosion went off I was confused.  I thought that maybe the grandstand collapsed or the inflatable finish line had popped.  I wasn’t nervous and thought the people running at me screaming surely had to be overreacting.  Then moments later, I heard the second explosion and while I never had heard a bomb explode before, I knew exactly what it was.  I was overtaking by people running for safety.  Knowing Carolyn and Anne had just crossed the finish line a few minutes before, I panicked myself and took off running for the finishers corral area.  I called my friend Jeff who had been watching online and giving me race updates throughout the day and asked him what happened.  He couldn’t help,  he said the image became pixelated and there was just a lot of smoke.  I hung up and told him to start looking online to see what news reports were saying.  The to my relief Carolyn called.  She had just gotten her gear bag and let me know they were OK to meet them on Arlington.   We had to walk to the car which was parked a mile or so away at the convention center but we got to it and were safe.

We got home and spent the rest of the day watching the news trying to find out what happened. It was then that I learned the second explosion was a few yards from where I was watching the runners make their way to the finish line.  We started going over all the what if’s and realized how fortunate and lucky we were.  What if I hadn’t decided 30 second before to check the run tracker app and saw they finished to see Carolyn and Anne had finished and I missed them.  What if I had went with my initial plan to walk down Boylston Street to keep watching runners which would have placed me right at the site of the first explosion instead of safely at the intersection of Newbury Street and Exeter.  What if Carolyn hadn’t run the first half faster than we had planned.  What if she had walked more in the Newton Hills when she was trying to protect her injured hamstring.  The more we learned on the news the less we knew and the more what if’s circled our heads.130418_boston_bombing_lg

We flew back to Phoenix the next day but could not escape obsessing about everything that occurred the previous day.  And the next day and the next day.  Then Thursday  the FBI released suspect #1 and suspect #2 pictures and video.  It was creepy in seeing how they looked so normal and even creepier that the video shows them walking right behind me.  Everyone has asked me if I saw them but I was doing the same thing the thousands of other spectators were doing, watching the runners.  I was exhausted and feel asleep really early but woke up with the TV on and reports of the police closing in on the suspects in Watertown.  I spent the rest of night switching between CNN and MSNBC hoping one of them could be accurate.  It was frustrating as hell they they both spent more time speculating than reporting.  Friday was spent checking online when I could for any new news and Anne sending me text after text saying nothing was happening.  Finally at my daughter’s softball game that evening the report came through that suspect #2 had been captured and the ordeal had finally ended.

But it hasn’t. Despite being a block from the explosions and fortunately not seeing any of the horrific causalities, I have been completely emotionally raw.  The news reporting has been bordering on negligence I think on each outlet trying to be the first rather than focusing on being right.  Little things that never before would even be contemplated now get stuck in my head.  I passed a garbage can the other day at a ball and as I tossed my gum in it, I had a quick flash of what if.  Upon my return to work as I was walking up the stairs our building tested the fire alarm.  The loud wail of the alarm in the past would have just been an afterthought but this time I had a moment of sheer panic.  I had to turn around and leave the building to alleviate the anxiety.  I ran Pat’s Run and had too many moments of what if’s as I looked around the starting corrals and the spectators.  Having experienced an experience I never though I actually would, I know can not shake it.  I trust in time these thoughts will wane and  I will return to my pre April 15, 2013 ignorant bliss.  I am sure had I stayed on Boylston and seen the carnage rather than merely felt it, this would have been an impossible goal.  I hope the little seemingly inconsequential decisions that I made that day that  ultimately turned out to be life altering will once again be natural without constant second guessing.

Carlos Arredondo

Carlos Arredondo

But the one part of this tragedy that I will not be so eager to shed is the resilience that has been demonstrated.  The images of first responders tearing through the barricades without regard showed valor beyond description.  Cowboy hat wearing Carlos Arredondo pinching the artery of a victim that had his legs blown off acting exactly how everyone hopes they would in the same circumstances.  There is a quote that has been circulating around and I will paraphrase, “If you are trying to defeat the human spirit, marathoners are the wrong group to fuck with”.  Yea, I made it a little more dramatic, but it is true.  The very drive that allows us runners to accomplish feats that seem impossible to most of the population is what is going to make running stronger than ever.  I expect the 2014 Boston Marathon is going to have more people trying to qualify than ever and more spectators attend than ever, the exact opposite consequences the Tsarnaev brothers had hoped.  The city of Boston and the BAA have both shown a empathy without weakness.  Cities, sports teams, citizens and runners and running groups have circled the wagons and honored the victims of the tragedy.  I will be running in a 3 mile Run for Boston event to raise money for OneFundBoston.

In one week running has shown me the lowest depths of humanity followed by the highest summit of humankind.  And the great thing, the summit is a whole hell of a lot more crowded.

#BostonStrongonefund

Today’s Boston Marathon

April 15, 2013

largeWell my blog post was supposed to be very different. Carolyn ran in today’s Boston Marathon. She had hurt her hamstring in February and been in PT 3x a week since. She had to scrap her training and was able to do a very minimal program that was void of any twenty milers. She ended up posting 4:04 running on one good leg. This post was supposed to be about the awe of her accomplishment.

But it sadly is not.

As most everyone knows by now there were two bombs planted near the finish line. Reports are still coming in but regardless of the final specific death and injury tolls, it is horrific that it happened at all. Carolyn had just finished a few minutes prior and was working her way through the masses to exit the runner’s area when the first explosion went off. She heard it and saw white smoke. Her initial thought was that white smoke was not too bad. Then the second explosion went off and she knew it was no good.

I had been watching on Boylston and had just walked down to Newbury Street when the first bomb exploded. A slew of people started running at me down Exeter screaming. My initial thought was a bleacher had collapsed. Then the second happened and I knew it was no good.

I immediately called my friend Jeff who had been watching online and asked what the hell was going on. He just knew it was no good.

Today was supposed to be a celebration and sadly it was a tragic day. Carolyn did amazing and I am so proud of her. We were close enough that it has been very unnerving but fortunately far enough that neither was in harm’s way.

24 hours earlier Carolyn and Anne were cheering me on while I ran the B.A.A. 5K in front of the Marathon Sports that was the site of the first explosion. A little too spooky. Had Carolyn walked once more on her gimpy hamstring who knows what the outcome would have been. Had I decided to take Boylston instead of cutting down to Newbury St. who knows…

My heart goes out to all the people affected by this completely senseless tragedy. A marathon is a celebration of all that a human can achieve. Sadly the 2013 Boston Marathon will always be remembered as a demonstration of how evil a human can be.

2013 B.A.A. 5K

April, 14 2013

finishFirst things first, I am too slow to qualify for the Boston Marathon.  Carolyn has taken care of that, so while here in Boston, I signed up for the Boston Athletic Association’s 5K, the first race of the B.A.A.’s Distance Medley series.

The weekend started with the race packet pick-up of course.  The marathon packet pick-up was a well oiled machine, a combination of assembly line and Homeland Security, while the 5K was off in a distant lonely room with a couple of friendly volunteers biding their time until they get promoted to the big show.  Walking into the tiny room I realized I left my wallet at home when I saw all the massive signs plastered everywhere saying ID  required for packet pick-up.  I sheepishly walked up to the check-in person and started telling her the whole back story of how I left my wallet at home and didn’t have ID.  Halfway through, she cut me off and informed me it was no problem and asked for my name.  As she handed me my packet, she asked “Oh yea,  can you sign your registration card, I keep forgetting to get people to sign it”.  Over at the marathon side, they were asking Carolyn for blood sample and mother’s maiden name. Eric Rutin and the jester

Today was race morning and cold.  I abandoned my University of Arizona short sleeve shirt and opted for long sleeves.  We gave ourselves an hour to drive, park and get to the starting area.  It took a little over 20 minutes and the bitter cold dissipated.  Damn, I should have worn my U of A shirt.  The race started in Copley Square.  6,500 runners were crammed into the narrow streets to meandered around the Back Bay.  I started in the 8:00 pace corral but if I had any intention of actually running for time, i should have worked my way up to the front.  Instead I was back in the pack next to a guy dressed like a jester.  I also met a guy from Hermosa Beach wearing a Redondo Beach Super Bowl 10K shirt.  I told him how I ran this race in 1993 and he showed me pictures of his buddies and him dressed as salmon running the course backwards in 20 years later.  Turns out his house is a block from my old place there.  The people you meet in a starting corral.

Eric Rutin runningThe race was a series of turn after turn which lead to incessant traffic jams. It was really cool running in Boston but I thought how damn cool it will be tomorrow for Carolyn running from Hopkinton to Copley Square.  Looking at my Garmin, I saw my pace fluctuating from 7:35 to over 11:00 but I didn’t care.  I was just enjoying being part of a B.A.A event.  At mile 2 I saw the jester and while I wasn’t too concerned with my time, I was not going to let a joker beat me and accelerated by him.  I weaved my way past him and settled in behind a group five wide that was planning their dinner party for tonight.  It was just after that I was passed by a stocky, grey haired New Englander that had no qualms bulldozing through the human barriers  I tucked in behind him until the final stretch down Boylston Avenue then sprinted to the finish, the same one the that the 27,000 marathoners will cross tomorrow.

The race was fun and allowed me to check Massachusetts off my 50 Bib in 50s States quest.  It also probably is going to be my only opportunity to cross the fabled finish line.

Boston-Marathon-2012-009-1024x768

21 Best Movies of All Time

March 17, 2013

Hello.  My name is Eric Rutin.  You came to my blog.   Prepare to have your mind exploded.

I had previously posted the best songs to have on your running playlist and that seemed to create a stir.  The list was a pretty good objective account that oddly some didn’t agree with.  Kinda confused me as I have outstanding taste in music.

So here I go with another list.  Usually as you know I talk about running in some sort or another, but today I am going to share the 10 best movies of all time.  These are the flicks that you can watch again and again and rather than get bored, you pick up a new line or discover new plot or subtle twist.  A lot of the critics have movies like Citizen Kane and Gone With The Wind, but mine is less pretentious.  Those are movies critics think you should like and while they aren’t always horrible, I could not imagine watching them every time TBS runs them.  If you read this and don’t agree with at least 9 of them I have but one word to say to you.: Inconceivable!

Last-Of-The-Mohicans-still

21. (500) Days of Summer – You will notice a theme pretty quickly. I am not above the romcom.  I think the movie is clever and fun.  Joseph Gordon-Levitt was perfect as Tom and Zooey Deschanel is always great.  This may raise some eyebrows, but really, it is impossible not to get a warm feeling when introduced to Autumn?  It lets me know life will always work out if you let it.

20. Can’t By Me Love – Patrick Dempsy in his finest role.  I have to admit there were a couple of other classic 80’s movies that were battling for this spot, The Sure Thing, Better of Dead and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, but this one inched in front of the others in a dead heat probably since it was filmed in Tucson.

19. Sixteen Candles – Staying in the 80’s I had to have John Hughes represented, but this was his best.  I was in high school when this came out and related more to the Geek than Jake Ryan.  I am sure Long Duk Dong is incredibly racist in today’s politically correct world, but he was hilarious.  Best line: No more yankie my wankie.  The Donger needs food.

18. Crossing Delancy – Probably the least known movie on the list, and yes, yet another romantic comedy, but this movie is touching and just makes me feel good.  If you haven’ seen it, plan date night and watch it.

17. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly – Classic Clint.  Do I need to say anything else?  Oh yea, great sound track.  Who doesn’t recognize that music?

TheBirdsRavens-73388816. The Birds – This is the scariest movie I have ever seen. Now I will confess and say I don’t watch slasher flicks or movies with creepy kids so my pool of scary is limited.  But this movie freaked me out and still does.  Where the special effects bad? Of course.  But the premise totally could happen.  I get a chill down my spine anytime I see a group of birds hanging out on a power line plotting.  I can also say that of the great directors, I really do think Alfred Hitchcock has done a lot of remarkable movies.

15.  The Graduate – A great great great movie that I am sure I don’t understand completely.  Plus I think coo coo ca-choo Mrs. Robinson may personally be responsible for sending me into puberty.  Best line: Mr Braddock: Ben, this whole idea sounds pretty half-baked.  Benjamin: Oh no it’s not. Its completely baked.

14. Last of the Mohicans – Daniel Day Lewis seems to have won an Academy Award for every other movie he has been in, but this is his best.  By far.  The movie is a thrill ride thanks to a great story and an even better soundtrack.  And if you haven’t figured out yet, I am a sucker for a love story and a little piece of my heart is ripped out every time I see the final battle between Uncas and Magua.

13. Caddyshack – The second most quotable movie on this list.  While some think it is just slapstick and silly, it is actual brilliant.  Especially when you know how much of it was ad lib, including basically all of Murry’s classic  Cinderella Story.   Was Rodney Dangerfield ever more funny?

12. 2001: A Space Odyssey – Hmm, back then 2001 people imagines technology continuing into space rather than the world wide web.  The movie is hypnotic and just as with the graduate, I am sure I only understand half the symbolism. A question that constantly nags me, is Hal evil or not?  A little trivia: it is Stanley Kubrick ‘s breathing in the suit scene. hal-9000-1920x1200

11. Groundhog Day – Yet more Bill Murry.  Equal parts cute and funny. There is no particular reason why I like this movie so much, but anytime it is on (oddly it plays a lot on February 2nd), I watch it and thoroughly enjoy it.

10. This is Spinal Tap – Oh wait, is this the second most quotable movie on this list?  I envision people in forgien lands watching the movie and just not realizing how deep the satire drips from this movie.  The songs are catchy despite the absolutely hilarious lyrics.  Which is the best song?  Big BottomStonehedgeLick My Love Pump?  Best Line (maybe the best line in all cinema): “These go to eleven”.

9. Jaws – Second scariest movie of all time.  As with The Birds, it is scary because it totally could happen. And sharks scare the crap out of me.  It was probably not a good idea for my parents to take me as a seven year old to see it.  Scared for life.

8. Monty Python and the Holy Grail – Not sure if this would have been a more appropriate movie for my parents to take me to in 1975, but probably would have scared me less.  As with Caddyshack this movie would be so easy to just pass off as a silly movie, but it is brilliant.  The jokes aren’t afraid to take anything on and this just might be the second most quotable movie on this list.  Best scene (and this was very hard to narrow down): King Arthur and the Black KnightTheBlackKnight

7. Grosse Pointe Blake – It is an 80’s high school reunion. It takes place in Detroit.  It is sardonic. John Cusack, one of the best actors of my generation had to be included somewhere on this list. Oh wait, he is in Sixteen Candles. But the biggest reason?  It has a great soundtrack.  Some may mock 80’s music, but not this ska inspired soundtrack with oodles of The Specials and The Clash.

6. To Kill a Mockingbird – This was one of the best books I read growing up and the movie is its match.  Georgy Peck is amazing and he is simply the man and father everyone wishes they should be.  The story is also incredibly bold and progressive for the time.  Atticus Finch is the man and father we all wish we could be.

5. Saving Private Ryan – The landing on the beaches of Normandy is so realistic that I found myself leaning to dodge bullets.  I felt the claustrophobia of attacking the beach under the spray of German machine gun fire.  The rest of the movie is a great story and the claustrophobia of war never lets up. Most war movies glorify it, and while Saving Private Ryan certainly shows the soldiers’ heroism, it does a greater job showing the senselessness of war.

4. The Matrix – The special effects of this movie are mind-blowing.  The movie is supposedly loaded with symbolism, but I don’t think that deeply.  I just enjoy the action and the special effects.  And well, Trinity is bad ass. Best scene: Neo and Trinity going to save Morpheus.

3. The Shawshank Redemption – This has to be on everyone’s top five list.  It might be a perfect movie. The cast is spectacular.  The story is a masterpiece.  The film is outstanding.  Try and find a flaw.

2. Love Actually – I HAVE to watch this every Christmas at least once and also sneak a couple more times in through the year.  It might not be fair because this isn’t really one movie but rather at least eight stories all intertwined.  I can not decide which story I like best and just when I decide I almost as quickly change my mind.  For now it is Jamie and Aurelia.

princess_bride1. The Princess Bride – THE most quotable movie on this list or any list.  There is not a line or word wasted in this movie.  It took me a while to see it as I mistakenly assumed it was a trite kid’s movie. But I am so glad I finally did.  It is a rare movie that just gets better and better with each viewing.  The story is simply about true love, a theme subtle as a club  over your head woven throughout.  And I if I could narrow it down to one best line, I would.  But there is great line after great line throughout.  Just go out and buy your own copy and watch it. And then watch it again.  Then again.  Two things to think about.  Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was offered the role of Fezzik and Whoopie Goldberg wanted the role of Buttercup.  How different would the movie had been with those castings?

Well there it is.  The top 21 movies of all time.  If you think this list is in any ways anything other than perfect, all I can say is inconceivable.  Or perhaps that doesn’t mean what I think it does?

4 techniques to run faster and stay injury free

March 10, 2013

Recently I ran a 5K and Carolyn took a picture of me as I neared the finish line. I was horrified.  Well maybe horrified is a little strong, but mildly concerned just lacks the drama I want. My form sucked.   I was over-striding.  Not much, but enough that it caused a heel strike. I felt that the Apocalypse was upon me.

So I signed up for Runners Den’s form clinic taught by Ron French.  I know Ron a little and have tremendous respect for his opinions so I was an eager student.  There were nine other people that signed up on my day.  He video taped each of us which upon review confirmed I was over-striding.  Like I thought, it was not too much, but it was clear I needed to improve.

Eric Rutin Overstrides

Video doesn’t lie

Ron promotes a mid-foot versus a heel strike and that spurs much debate, especially when it comes to marathon running.  One thing though that is pretty much agreed upon, there is no such thing as a bad mid-foot strike, but there is certainly bad heel striking.  But the counter is a mid-foot strike does not hold up for longer distances.  Even the great Haile Gebrselassie, altered his foot strike from mid-foot to a heel strike when he made the transition from 10,000 meters to the longer distances.  All he did was set world records in both the half marathon and marathon as a heel striker.  So what to do?  Well the one thing that seems universal, try landing with you foot as flat as possible and 90 degrees to your shin. This will maximize efficiency and reduce the braking effect, regardless of mid-foot or heel strike.  To see if you are  over-striding look at yourself on video or a picture and see if you have too much toe pointing up and your leg straightens ahead of your body as you land.  If so, you need to focus on your foot landing under you not in front of you.

So the first key is to not lose sleep over if you are a heel striker or a mid-foot, but to keep from over-striding. Have your foot land beneath you with your knee slightly flexed. Simple.

The second thing Ron had us focus on was to run centered.  Essentially most people, especially novice runners, tend to lean forward and some even backwards.  The key is to have your hips, shoulders and head all aligned over your natural center. To locate your natural center stand straight up, hands above your head with knees slightly flexed (slightly means slightly, not like you are ready to squat or play shortstop).  Lean a little forward from the ankles.  The point right before you start stumbling forward like a drunk is where you want to be. If you look at your profile you will see your weight is centered above the balls of your feet.  Once again simple.

The third technique to focus on is staying level.  A lot of over-striding will result in you bouncing or dipping with each step.  All this excess motion up and down inevitably will result in fatigue as you go along.  The longer the run or race the greater importance this efficiency is.  You take approximately 33,000 steps in a marathon and a dip of just two inches per stride results in over a mile of wasted motion.  Run in your natural center and keep those toes down and most of this excess motion will disappear.  I would say this is simple as well.

The last thing Ron talked about was cadence.  Some call it turnover but the definition is the same – the number of steps per minute.  It seems that runners are all different heights, speeds and abilities and therefore cadence would be a highly personalized thing.  But regardless of all of our individuality, we should all be running at a the same cadence of 180 steps per minute.  I can’t figure out how that is possible, but people a whole lot smarter than me have done studies and graphs that prove it.  Who am I to argue?  To find out your cadence set the timer on your watch to a minute and count your steps. For me it was easier to count just my right foot and multiply by two.  Sure enough I was running  less than 180 and that is the easiest explanation of why I was over-striding.  I tried running faster  but that wasn’t increasing my turnover, it was just making me tired.  So I took Ron’s suggestion and downloaded a metronome on my iPhone. I set it at 180 beats per minute and set out.  It seemed far too rapid but the brain is an amazing thing.  I just focused on the incessant beep and my stride automatically adapted.  I ran three miles at a 180 pace without any incremental effort.  To test it out on my run the next night i timed my cadence 5 times and every single time I was exactly 180.  I even tried running faster and slower and each time it was 180.  So, adjusting your cadence is not so simple on your own, but download a metronome and it is beyond simple.  The hardest part is listening to that constant beeping without going nuts. My plan is to every now and then time my cadence confirming my change is permanent.  If not, I will bust out the metronome and simple.

Haile Gebrselassie, altered his foot strike from midfoot to heel when he failed to transition from 10,000 meters to the marathon with the same degree of success

Ron says i am ready to run with better form.

I have been focusing on these four techniques the past two weeks and I have to say, there has been a difference.  I am running about :15 faster and more importantly, there has been a noticeable reduction in stress on my body.  Usually I am tired during the final stretch and trying to hold on to my pace, but lately my final mile has been my best mile.  It is easy now but we will see how it holds up when I train for my next marathon and am doing some long runs.

So want to run faster and more efficiently?  Focus on these four tips and you will improve.

  1. Don’t over-stride
  2. Run centered
  3. Stay level
  4. 180 steps a minute

Simple

My new speed workout

Feb. 17 2013

Eric Rutin races Carolyn

Years ago I was introduced to speedwork in my marathon training to get faster. It didn’t seem to make sense how these relatively short bursts would help in an endurance event, but it did.  At first it consisted of the usual tempo runs, Fartleks, even some track work.

Then I came across Yasso 800’s developed by the legendary Bart Yasso.  These are supposed to be a predictor of your marathon performance. The basic premise is you run ten 800 meter repeats and the time you run them in translates to your marathon time.  So you run your ten Yasso’s in 3 minutes 30 seconds each, then you should be able to run your marathon in 3 hours and 30 minutes.  While I think this is a great workout I have yet to find anyone that it has worked as an exact predictor and this ranges from a 2:36 marathoner to the 5 hour crowd.  If it worked, I would have run a couple of Boston’s by now.  Regardless, I still do them as a final test of my preparedness for marathons as I think it is an excellent predictor of if you are ready for your marathon.

One thing most speedwork workouts have in common is they are redundant and not fun (Fartleks excluded).  They consist of running hard to the point of exhaustion, draining every ounce of strength from my legs strength.  Recently I created a new workout by accident.  It is requires two runners and is great if one runner is faster and you normally don’t get to run together.  Here is how it goes:

I leave before Carolyn if we are running the same distance.  We both run the same route and she tries catching up to me and I try go stay not let that happen.  Then after she catches up with me as she always does, I need to keep up with her for the rest of the way home.   If she is running farther than me, I leave after her and my route intersects hers towards the end.  We time it so the final mile should be her on my heels or me struggling to keep up with her.

I run this as on days I am doing my speedwork and Carolyn is doing an moderate run.  It is great because it pushes me to run faster when she is chasing me because I want to run as little as possible at her pace.  Plus there is the whole ego thing.  On days I am chasing her I also have to run fast so I am able to catch her, otherwise I am running hard with no reward.

So if your running partner is like mine in that your joint runs consist of starting out together and then reconvening at the finish this is a great way to run together.  Even when she isn’t with me, she is with me.  I am consumed with thoughts of avoiding her or of catching her and it keeps my focus on running hard after a goal – a real tangible goal, not simply running against the clock.  I am sure down the road this workout is going also be great training for finishing races, not allowing other runners to pass me when I am tired down the stretch.

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