Monthly Archives: December 2006

My New Heroes, Or There Ain’t Such Thing as Growin’ Old and Weak

Today I pulled out an old issue of USMS Swimmer magazine, issue September-October 2006, which featured the XI Fina World Masters Championships held this year at Stanford University back in early August.
Here are some of the folks who competed and how fast they swam:
Laura Val, 55, 50 Free 29.59, 100 Free 1:02.63
Richard Abrahams, 61, 50 Free 25.23
Christel Schulz, 66, 50 Free 32.73, 100 Free 1:14.76
Graham Johnston, 75, 100 Free 1:10.92, 200 Free 2:36.30
Oldest swimmers to compete:
Eugene Lehman, 93
Ellen Tait, 96
Things to consider. My fastest 50 is probably around 52 seconds and I can’t keep that up past 50 meters. My fastest 100 is probably around 1:48 or so and that’s also going all out. And you look at that partial list of folks who competed and note that they are DECADES older than you and are still swimming faster than you, sometimes twice as fast…!
Growing old and weak? Not on your life. They keep training and training and reaping the benefits of strength maintenance and health. They have mitigated the slow physical decline of aging and blast the traditional notion that when you grow old, your body will waste away. And to compete when they are 90+ years of age: WOW.
These folks are my heroes, the ones I aspire to be like. For when I grow to be as old as they are, I plan on being as energetic as they are, enough to keep racing Ironman for many decades to come. They are truly an inspiration!

First Run with Velocy Shoes

Yesterday morning, I ran for the first time on my Velocy shoes. If you recall, Velocy running shoes are supposed to be designed such that they help you run on the balls of your feet. How interesting a feel these shoes presented!
It was early morning and I decided to run on the treadmill with a form run, which is a jogging warmup, some drills, and then some quick, short speedwork.
I put on my Velocy shoes and I remembered the first time I put them on at the NYC Marathon expo. They are stiffer than usual and not as much cushion as you would expect from a running shoe. The sole is curved slightly to encourage your foot to roll forward on each stride and thus get you into a forefoot running style. I was not sure I believed that the structure of the shoe could make this happen, but I had to try them to be sure.
Note that I already run with the Pose Method, which is basically a forefoot running style. So I wondered what difference these shoes would make on my running style…? I do admit that when I get tired, my form gets messy. I also acknowledge that my left leg runs slightly different than my right. It’s something I’ve been trying to even out over the last 2 years of running Pose.
Upon hopping on the treadmill, I could immediately sense a difference in running. The arc in the sole definitely put me more forward onto the balls of my feet while running. With each step, I could feel the foot rolling through the arc of the sole. I think for the most part, their claim is true that it does help get into that form. But I also wonder that since I am already running Pose, that the change is not that dramatic. I would love to have someone who runs midfoot or even heel strike to try these shoes and see what happens.
I also wonder if these shoes are acting as a crutch for running a form which I should train my body to naturally do, which is what I’ve been doing up to now. If I ran on these shoes more often, would I feel worse going back to normal running shoes? Or would I be better at forefoot, aka Pose, running because of them?
Hopefully before the season starts, I can run more on these shoes and be able to compare them to running with normal running shoes.

More Graston Success: Forearms

About two months back, I started getting sore in my wrists and forearms when I practiced piano. It was at a time when I was perfecting my stroke and really working hard at strength, having increased my paddle usage and seeing good results.
I did not want tendonitis to develop, nor to watch it go towards carpal tunnel syndrome. Seeing many people with wrist braces made me want to get this treated immediately!
I went to my physical therapist and asked her if Graston could help with my problem. I thought that generally, tendonitis comes from overuse and tight muscles which don’t get released, as well as putting the joints and muscles in awkward alignment when performing an action. So correcting my form while playing piano was not too hard. I just sat further away from the piano and my wrists are straighter. But performing a good catch while swimming and then pulling back in a shallow way does put more stress on the forearms. Couple that with piano playing and you get sore forearms!
It turned out Graston was great for this. As I get Graston applied to any muscle on my body, I find that the rough handling of the muscle, while painful during treatment, seems to relax and release tension when the treatment is done. It’s uncanny and my physical therapist says that they are still studying why this happens. Maybe the muscle gets abused so much that it just says “Enough! Uncle!” and just relaxes. Ha. I am sure there is a more scientific, neuromuscular explanation.
So she takes her metal tools and scrapes up my forearms. It hurt like crazy in the beginning! But man did it work well. It kept my muscles loose after workouts and piano practice and the soreness was under control.
In the off season now, I just got Graston on my forearms and they didn’t hurt at all. The lack of swimming these last few weeks has taken so much stress off them that piano playing by itself didn’t tighten up the muscles enough to cause soreness.
I can see where Graston applied to the forearms can definitely help the athlete, the musician, and ultimately us computer techno-generation of mousers and typists from getting sore wrists.