Performance Driven Athletic Socks

I am one of the first athletes, starting back in 2008, to begin wearing, testing, and promoting the value of graduated compression socks for any athletic activity. Increased blood flow and injury prevention are very important for me as an older athlete. Increased blood flow means more oxygen and nutrients and less lactic acid build up. Injury prevention means greater protection to the muscles, ligaments, and tendons by reducing the vibration with increased support. My sock of choice is the Sigvaris Performance socks (www.sigvaris.com) that are real graduated compression (many companies claim their socks are but fail in our testing) and go from the tip of your toes to above the calf.

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This above photo is from the store Sanbeck AG, Winterthur, Switzerland (http://www.sanbeck.ch/) is part of Sigvaris’ European promotions displaying their Performance line of socks. Sigvaris takes their extensive medical background and brings it to the athletic arena. I believe that Sigvaris is the best Performance sock on the worldwide market. I am wearing them in every one of my athletic events from running to tennis. Sometimes I forget how the graduated compression socks help my legs feel so good. All I need to do is to wear an ordinary polyester sock on a run and I really feel the difference in performance and recovery.

I used Sigvaris Performance socks in every race this summer in Greece. I am not a big advocate of the sport sleeves that are seen at many sporting events. The sleeves might be practical and easy as you can still wear your ankle height socks and wear the sleeve above them, but the science to me does not make sense. If you can imagine the graduated compression sock like a tube of toothpaste pushing the paste upwards. Even though the compression is greater at the ankle and decreases as you go up the calf, why would you not want to include the foot? I want the blood in the foot to be part of the process. I feel the difference in the effectiveness between the sock and the sleeve. I wear the performance graduated compression sock before my event for blood flow on the way to the competition, at every event for performance, post event for recovery, and in my travels as my lower extremities can swell especially on flights.

Give the Sigvaris Performance Socks a try to see if they make a difference in your next race.

3 Steps To Run A Faster Mile In Your 50s

Many people have been inquiring since I completed my 2015 www.OneMileRunner.com event, The Greek Islands Adventure, on how I was able to break 5 minutes, in 5 one-mile races, over 12 days. I promised that I would share what changes I made to my training in the months preceding the event and what changes I made during my race schedule.

So here are the 3 steps to a run a faster mile in your 50s…

  1. I still did three speed workouts a week in the months leading up to my event, but the arrangement was different. I knew for my event I had to be able to run fast on very little rest. In the past for example, I would run 8 repetitions of a 1/4 mile at race pace in one workout and I would sometimes leave beat up and in need of a greater rest period. This year I cut the repetitions in half. I did speed repeats at race pace every Tuesday and Thursday, but only 4 repetitions. I left each workout still feeling fresh. I found my speed, established it in the workout, and then left. All my speed workouts were on the road, never on the track. One thing my chiropractor and I discovered a few years ago is that my hips stay in better alignment running in a straight line. No longer do I run fast while cornering – what a difference! Pounding the corners creates an  imbalance with one side of my body contracting while the other side lengthening. After years of running my intervals on the oval track, I now only do my speed on a measured straight line 100s, 200s, 400s, and 800s. NASCAR automobiles are made for their left turns, our bodies our not especially as we get older.
  2. All my long distance base training was done on a soft surface. I took advantage of our Florida beaches, dirt trails, and a the new crushed shell trail loop at Benderson Park. I never ran slowly on the road (as I have done in the past). This really helped in not beating up my legs. As we age, our joints can no longer take the pounding of a hard surface. When I see people running slowly on the sidewalk, I know it will not be for long as it is about 10 times harder than the roads. Injuries will soon be a result of those repetitive workouts.
  3. Back in 2008 when I had to break 5 minutes in 20 different road mile races in 20 weeks, I still did a hard track workout every Wednesday afternoon in whatever city I was in for the race. I look back and remember my mind set that unless I raced every Saturday and did another speed workout on Wednesday that I was not race ready. This year at 52 years of age, it was different. I went into the races having done all my work. During the weeks of my races, all I did was travel, warm-up, run easy, and then race as hard as I could. Rinse and repeat – one after the other. No extra speed workouts were done during my race period. Focus was only on my recovery. I felt as good racing this year as I did back in 2012. It is nice to do repetitive races with bouncy legs.

Hope these steps help you wisely prepare for your races and enjoy running as fast as you can even as you age.

 

I posted an 80-Minute Mile…and I was happy with my time!

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My 80-minute mile took place traversing the Mahoosuc Notch in western Maine. Many hikers consider this mile the toughest or slowest mile of the Appalachian Trail and usually take a couple of hours to go through the notch. My brother, Richard, and I followed Ken Alden through the notch. Ken did not hesitate choosing his spots to attack the rock formations in front of him. Richard refers to Mahoosuc Notch as a “jungle gym for adults.” Each hiker must go over, under, or around massive boulders that fell from the surrounding cliffs. This hike was part of our 17-mile day hiking from Old Speck to Goose Eye Mountain (photo on the summit above near the end of our day). What a great workout that took us the entire day. Here is Ken below sneaking through a hole he found at Mahoosuc Notch.

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Before tackling Mahoosuc Notch, my Maine hiking expedition began in central part of the state at Gulf Hagas in what is referred to as “The Grand Canyon of Maine.” Richard, Aubrey (my niece), and I hiked a trail that begins with taking our boots off to cross a running river and then goes up and around the rim of the gorge. A beautiful hike with many waterfalls, it was a nice way to break in my new boots. The next two days we hiked about 20 miles of the Hundred-Mile Wilderness trail which is a challenging part of the Appalachian Trail. It was a nice way to send my niece off to college and brought back memories of her completing all the 4,000 footers in New England back when she was just 13. Richard, the consummate guide, took me through four days and 42 miles of hiking some picturesque but difficult Maine terrain.

Maui Jim is sponsoring the Maui Invitational college basketball tournament coming up in November. Because of this, Maui Jim is doing a sweepstakes that includes roundtrip coach airfare, six night hotel accommodation, rental car, a pair of tickets for each tournament day, a $500 VISA gift card and two pairs of Maui Jim sunglasses. Check out this link to enter the sweepstakes:  http://woobox.com/f66gu7

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I am traveling to the US Open tennis and then again overseas. Will be back in September reviewing my races in Greece. Have a great rest of your summer!

 

 

 

 

 

Decompressing After Greek Races

After the “2015 Greek Islands Adventure,” we flew to Munich and then took a train to Hinterthal, Austria to visit our Sarasota friends Jim and Nina (who are spending the summer in Austria). Due to their generosity and hospitality, we were able to enjoy such a special time in Austria. We went sledding down a glacier, biking/running/hiking in the Alps, and visited the picturesque city of Salzburg. Here is Jim and Nina below an amazing rainbow…

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After Salzburg, we went to a Mozart concert in Vienna, flew to beautiful Prague (my favorite city on our trip), and finished up in Frankfurt. We flew back to Florida this past week for a couple of days of recovery and reloading.

I fly up to New England tomorrow to hike “The Grand Canyon of Maine” with my older brother, Richard, and my niece, Aubrey, who is soon off to college. I have been doing some killer workouts this week in Florida trying to prepare my new hiking boots. The main focus was on doing a few thousand stairs a day on my gym’s stair stepper. New boots on a multi-day hike can be quite treacherous. I hope the boots are sufficiently broken in for the trek.

I will write again in a couple of weeks answering the many questions I have had about my training for the Greek Islands tour. Did I train differently at 52? What was the overview of my weekly workouts? What was added or removed?

Amorgos, Greece – Final Race (#5) of the 2015 Greek Islands Adventure Tour

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Today we completed the 2015 Greek Islands Adventure tour in Amorgos, Greece. Amorgos is one of the smaller Cyclades islands and is the easternmost island in this group. Amorgos is home to one of the most amazing monasteries in Greece, Panagia Hozoviotissa. It is a cliff side monastery northeast of Chora. It is breathtaking to see this structure overlooking the blue waters of the Aegean Sea.

Today I finished in 4:42. I cannot tell you how blessed I feel that I could complete this tour at 52 years of age. Every tour has begun with inner doubts and fears, which leads to finding trust, which then forms into a faith that we can accomplish our aspirations. My body held up to the pounding, after racing the mile 5 times in 12 days in 2015. Since 2008, injury-free racing has been our theme. To have the ability and belief that I can put my toe on the starting line and feel I have an opportunity to break 5 minutes again and again. Thanks to my beautiful wife, Sekyen, and the www.OneMileRunner.com team members who help me stay physically healthy and spiritually inspired to break personal goals year after year.

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This was my final multiple-race tour. I will participate in a couple of road mile races that I have not attended before in the US and Canada in 2016. We have done an incredible amount of mile racing since 2008. Now after six months of training, we will travel to Austria, Czechoslovakia, and Germany for a little rest before heading back to the States. Thank you all for your support and encouragement during all our races throughout the years.

Naxos, Greece – Race #4 on the 2015 Greek Islands Adventure Tour

 

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As we await to hear what is going to happen with the Greek bailout, banks will remain closed all week and we will know by Sunday if the EU accepts the Greek proposal. Our time on the islands still remains peaceful and “business as usual” as I have even seen my first credit card transactions since we have been here on the island of Naxos.

Naxos is one of the bigger islands in Cyclades with a deep ancient history. We have enjoyed our time here taking in some of the ruins and archaeological digs on the island. This was the first race I ran without a “Meltemi” – the dry, northern wind I spoke about in my last post. We all had our best day this morning as our team ran the event seamlessly. I felt strong and safe on the road and ran a 4:41. Please take a quick look at the short video below highlighting the last quarter-mile of the race. Check out how we had to go around the man on his donkey… a great memory of our Greek runs.

Thanks to people like Petros (below), www.OneMileRunner.com has been able to execute these mile races around the world. Thanks for all your care and expertise Petros.

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We now travel to Amorgos on the slow boat tomorrow afternoon. We are planning to race on Sunday morning. That would be 5 races in 12 days. Now it is time to recover for a day and finish well in my last race.

Ios, Greece – Race #3 on the 2015 Greek Islands Adventure Tour

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Beautiful Mylopotas beach is one of the best beaches in the Cyclades Islands as it continues to receive “Blue Flag” recognition with its golden sand and super clean waters. We had the opportunity to race in the area and it did not disappoint. This was the first race where I could actually warm-up on and train on beforehand. I think that helped with my visualization as I ran a 4:45 for Race #3. We have been dealing with extremely windy conditions this past week on the Greek islands. We have learned a new word since we have arrived, “Meltemi”, meaning a strong, dry north wind of the Aegean Sea. It has kept temperatures cooler, but the seas have been rough.

Last night was a huge vote for Greece. As the Greeks overwhelmingly rejected the demands for more austerity in a landslide NO vote 61% to 39%. This was the first Greek referendum in 41 years. It was a huge victory for Prime Minister Tsipras and his party. The banks will still be closed on Tuesday and Wednesday as the Eurozone negotiations begin with a new finance minister for Greece, Euclid Tsakalotos as Yaris Varoutakis stepped down after the voting results. It should be an interesting couple of days of meetings now with the European leaders.

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We travel to Naxos tomorrow. The weather forecast calls for hotter weather without the windy conditions of the meltemi. We will see what this does to not only our boat ride, but also our race conditions next week.

Folegandros, Greece – Race #2 on the 2015 Greek Islands Adventure Tour

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So the big Greek citizen referendum is Sunday. Many people have been inquiring about the financial situation here. It is simple. It is all cash. I am traveling in the islands and it is very peaceful, but you must have cash in your pocket. I was planning on paying the hotel portion of the tour with my credit card, but with the capital arrears in place this past week, the local businessmen have no idea when they might get the money from the bank on credit card purchases. So put the credit cards away and take out your Euros – at least until Monday. Then we will find out if the Greek banks open or not after Sunday’s vote. Good thing we brought some extra Euros for our travels.

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We had to run race #2 a day earlier due to some local changes. So with only a day rest in between my races, I crossed the finish line in 4:52 a bit fatigued. My first race I was very even as I ran a 2:22 half and then another 2:22. Today was different. I faced an incredible headwind in the first half of the race running a 2:29, then finished with a 2:23. Today reminded me of my speed workouts that I ran every Tuesday and Thursday to prepare for this tour. I broke up the workout into two knowing I would have to find that level of performance with very short rest. I think those workouts helped me run well today in these conditions.

Since we finished the race a day earlier, we had an opportunity to visit some of the island’s best beaches.  Beautiful. The water is so clear and so blue it almost looks artificial. The highlight was Katergo, accessible only by boat, as it is considered by some as one of the world’s best beaches.

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We are now off to Ios on Saturday July the 4th. Hope everyone back in the States has a great holiday weekend!

Santorini, Greece – 1st stop on the 2015 Greek Islands Adventure

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What a time to be in Greece! After a long day of flying from Tampa to Miami, Frankfurt, Vienna, and then Santorini, we made it to Greece on 7/28. The last time we visited Greece was just three years ago. Financial problems and arrears were happening then, but this time it is worse. We have heard amazing stories since we have arrived and it should be an interesting couple of weeks as Greece fights for its financial future.

After the banks and financial markets closed on Monday 6/29. People were saddened, but did not panic. We all waited until late on 6/30 to see if Prime Minister Tsipras was going to arrange a final deal before defaulting on the Greek loan, but it did not happen. Now the focus moves to Sunday as the Greek citizens have the opportunity to vote “yes or no” on a Euro zone referendum. After that vote on Sunday, we will all know if the citizens back their prime minister or not. If a “yes” vote wins, Tsipras will surely step down. If a “no” vote wins, then Tsipras will stay in power. Will the banks open on Monday 7/6? What will happen to the Greek people and their financial future? Stay tuned…

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We raced on the morning of July 1st. It was not the same course I ran here in 2012, but similar. I even ran the same time as in 2012, registering a 4:45 in my first race of the 2015 Greek Islands Adventure. We had a little trouble getting the proper safety established on this bustling Greek road, but fortunately we did not have any problems. I felt a good bounce in my legs as this 5-race tour begins. We take a boat tonight to the nearby Cyclades island of Folegandros for race #2 on America’s Independence Day 7/4.

 

Peak Performance Or Injury?

Athletes walk that tightrope of peak performance on one side and injury on the other. I am two weeks away from Race #1 of the 2015 www.OneMileRunner.com annual event entitled “The Greek Islands Adventure.” I definitely was on that tightrope this week.

After traveling to Maine last weekend for my niece’s high school graduation, we had our usual dress rehearsal prior to each of my mile event tours on Tuesday. The half mile course is nearby my house and is not an easy course to run on with many twists and turns. I have had difficulty in the past years breaking 2:30 on this course. In 2012, I thought my training was right on schedule, but I posted a 2:32 time in our dress rehearsal. I went on to race great solid times in 2012 on “The Isles Mile Challenge.”

I have tweaked a couple of things in my training at 52 years old, but I felt confident that my training has been on schedule leading up to my race season. On Tuesday, I ran 2:28 at about a 90-95% effort, I was shocked and discussed the run with my team. So I decided to go back to the starting line and run it again…how can I run faster than the 2012 dress rehearsal? I ran the course again and posted another 2:28. It freaked me out a bit, but I will share the changes I have made to my training in August when I return from Europe. So that was one side of the tightrope – peak performance. Then came Wednesday…

On Wednesday, I ran an easy 6 miles on the shell trail at Benderson Park. Just after the 5 mile mark, I accidentally stepped on a pine cone and landed on the side of my foot. I yelled at the pain and shock of the errant landing as I have never before missed the bottom of my foot completely. I felt like I “dodged a bullet” as I limped around avoiding serious injury. The next morning my lower left extremity felt worse, so I soaked in the hot tub and took two days off from running. Yesterday I ran 7 miles and did some barefoot sprinting in the Siesta Key white sands. I was back. Repeat 1/4 mile sprints this Sunday morning, followed by a full body weight workout, and then hit the massage table to have my massage therapist, Lori, check my lower leg.

It was a strange week of walking the peak performance/injury tightrope two weeks away from race day. Let’s hope I can avoid other pine cones this week…