Archive for July, 2013

There was a time when I believed that right was the strongest force in the world; and that right defeated wrong every time.  The horseman in the white hat was always victorious over the horseman in the black hat.  Light subjugated dark.  I was taught to make sure I was right before forging ahead, then stick by my convictions, and everything would be for the best.

Time was when I thought I could be the best.  I thought I could win.  It would just be a matter of time.  If I did everything right, worked hard enough, then winning and being the best would be attained.

At one time I thought the world to be clear cut and well defined.  It was easily detectable what was good and what was bad.  Good and evil.  It was pretty easy to determine which was which.  It was as clear as right and wrong.

But, as I grew into the world, blue skies turned to dark clouds.  I discovered that right didn’t always win.  There were forces on the darkside that, at times, were stronger than light.  Good was not always victorious.  Sometimes, good was the victim.

I found that I could not always win.  No matter how hard I worked, I might not win.  Thinking I was right and working hard did not prevent my opponent from being better.  Winning was not always under my control.  There were other forces out there.

I changed as I grew.  I became involved in more and varied pursuits.  That was part of my education both formal and informal.  I learned from a lot of people.  Some of those teachers taught from the church, some taught from manual labor, some taught from schools, some taught from the family.  Whether I realized it or not, learning was happening everywhere.  Living and growing was being a student.

The simple look into life from the simplicity of a child faded.  Things became complicated.  What I wanted to be real truth was but a ray of light into each day.  How much light was determined by things I didn’t understand at the time.  But, more understanding was discovered as I learned, as I grew into the world.

The world gave me people to deal with on a daily basis.  People I had to try to understand.  Some of those people became friends and some became enemies.  Some were just passing by.  Still, good and right and darkness were intertwined in those people.  Discovering which was where was a problem.  Learning to deal with it was a different problem.

Authority was a door I encountered on a more intense level as I matured.  Teachers, coaches, bosses were just a few that presented different problems.  At times, life was less enjoyable because of them, and life was also more enjoyable because of them.  School, college, work, daily life gave opportunities to learn to cull the bright days from existence…to live more in the light than the dark.  But, barriers were always out there.

Change was still happening.  I was alive, and I knew it.  I relished it.  Change was becoming the watchword of the decade when I was in college.  My life grew from the pacific 1950’s into the torrid 1960’s.  I was changing just like everything around me seemed to be changing.

I was latching on to new ideas.  Some of these came from enlightened professors in my classes.  Others came from sources outside the classical educational realm.  I was soaking in new ideas in all the reading I could find.  These reads dealt with educational ideas, recreation, and athletics.  Since I was majoring in physical education and wanted to coach, I was intensely interested in some of these seemingly “off the wall” ideas…because it was a change from the status quo.

Even though there were a lot of things in the 60’s that I rejected, the openness to new ideas in athletics fascinated me.  I had learned the traditional approach; now, I was a child of the 60’s in learning new things.  It was exciting.  It was change.

Time moved on.  The following decades brought stability lacking in the 60’s.  There was less change.  This was interpreted to be a good thing by a lot of people.  I was settled in to teaching and coaching and raising a family.  Surviving in our society.  I became a victim of a changeless regime.  Status quo.

I’m lucky in that I recognized this situation.  I wondered if I would become a fatality of the status quo.  Was I figuratively dying?  I needed answers to questions unanswered.

This scenario happened to a lot of people during this era.  Some buckled; some survived; some thrived.  Those who felt the world had changed too fast and then too slow buckled.  Those who tried to move with the rhythm of change survived.  Those who observed societal changes but chose their personal changes thrived.  They were the lucky ones…or, the prepared ones.  They are the ones who are thriving today as our world once again accelerates change.

Changing fast or changing slow or not changing at all has always presented personal problems to society members.  Within the sea of change, be it fast or slow, is needed a home base, a place of solidarity.  If one has this, then one can face any change that is presented…and, it will be presented.  We hear about it all the time.  The change is perhaps the major stressor in our lives.  On the street, we refer to this problem as “stress.”

Our society is inundated by various methods to deal with this onslaught of change, stress.  We have TV programs that want to teach us how to cope.  Bookstores are loaded with solutions to the problem.  Agencies and organizations exist to help us survive the situation or to survive the problem the situation causes, such as alcoholism, drug addiction, or obesity.  We pay money to buy the secret solution from unproven sources.

It may seem odd to a lot of our society members that our chosen activity cuts to the core of the secret of dealing with the big problem.  Running distance has been referred to “the Western form of meditation.”  The East gave us various forms of introspection and meditation to calm the inner world so the real world could be dealt with effectively.  The West gave us a work ethic that help put our country in the forefront, and gave us individual problems.

In our modern times, the West and our country in particular has given the masses the simple gift of distance running.  This was “jogging” in its earlier formative years.  Now, with our running, we find the best relief from the stressor that change represents. In our running, we have found a way to deal with all the changes our society throws at us in this technological age.

When I go for a run, I again experience a world in which right is the strongest force.  Good is dominant.  Light kicks ass over darkness.  My running simplifies my life no matter how much change is happening.  That simplicity is hand-in-hand with the pursuit of happiness as a life goal.

Running cannot progress if one does it incorrectly.  No matter what, doing it right will cause progression.  Even if one thinks the running is not good enough, it is still right if one is getting better.  “Proof in the pudding,” so to speak.  This correctness carries over into moral bounds.  Running is the right thing for the human body to do.  The conscience is activated through running because of the moral picture of the world that is presented to the runner.

The world of good is opened when I run.  No matter how bitter I may feel starting the run, I see the world as a better place after the miles pass.  I tend to see good things happening and see the beauty in the world around me.  The rhythmical activity causes the brain to tune in to “feel good” thoughts that in turn influence how I see the world.

I am a child when I run.  Running is a seemingly simple action, and that simplicity takes me unconsciously back to “once upon a time.”  There the world is again clear cut.  Happiness is found in the simplicity.  Movement initiates this manifestation.  As miles pile up, the mind is in its base level of existence.  The mind will reduce the world to a simple level.  Running, breathing steadily at an increased rate, muscles repeating the action, the body being stressed in evolutionary means, takes me to a focused level of non-focus to the point that I am living as a human is meant to live.  When I am running, that is easy to see and understand.  It is simple.

That may be why I run.

RW

“Running is the classical road to self-consciousness, self-awareness and self-reliance.  Independence is the outstanding characteristic of the runner.  He learns the harsh reality of his physical and mental limitations when he runs.  He learns that personal commitment, sacrifice and determination are his only means to betterment.  Runners only get promoted through self-conquest.”

Noel Carroll

I was in college when I started to run seriously.  Before that, I only ran when I had to (except for a “volunteer” mistake in high school) and stopped as soon as possible.  I think that was about 100 years ago.  Seems like it, anyway.

But, I remember that first serious run.  It was winter, and there was some left over snow on the ground where I was at the time in Clarksville, Tennessee.  I was going to run around the main campus of Austin Peay State University.  As far as I could calculate the distance of that long run, it was a half-mile.  I know what you’re thinking… that was a big jump to run that far.  But, I was fearless.

I dressed for the cold weather, and, then got to the most important part of the preparation.  That would be the shoes.  I needed shoes that would give me some cushioning, friction in the snow and ice, and comfort.  Being a physical education major and knowledgeable about athletics, I immediately dug out my trusty pair of “Hush Puppy Desert Boots.”  These remarkable shoes were deemed “desert boots” because of their design which consisted of a thick crepe rubber sole and a suede leather upper that reached up to the little bump on each side of the ankle.  Those babies were just what I needed for the snow and ice.

That run progressed into many more consistent runs and into the spring.  I had noticed that some of my peers who were distance runners in track didn’t do their runs in Hush Puppies.  They had shoes with three stripes on the side.  They looked a little more streamlined than my clunky Puppies.  I explained my running in Puppies and asked about their shoes.

When they got up from rolling in the floor laughing to the point I thought they were going into a seizure, they told me to get “real” running shoes.  That would be the Adidas Italias.  They were white with green stripes.  The sole was slightly grooved and was about half as thick as my Puppies.  The problem was that I could not buy them in Clarksville.  So, I had to go to a sporting goods store in Nashville, Tennessee to find them.  And, they were the only store that had them in western Tennessee.  But, I found them.  I got ‘em.  Then, I felt more like a “real” runner.

The Italias did feel different from my Puppies.  They felt better.  They were lighter, and the cushioning was denser and more responsive.  I was just worried that the thinner sole would wear out a lot sooner than the Puppies.  My track friends told me that they just used theirs’ for running and not for walking to class and stuff.  That would make the shoes last longer.  So, that’s what I did even though I knew I didn’t look as cool without the Italias on my feet.  With my strong runner’s self-discipline kicking in, I wore my Puppies to class.  My Italias were worn only for running where I was looking cool to all those who saw…well, to hardly anyone.

Other running shoes were out there.  New Balance had a leather upper and ridged-sole shoe that looked like a fake golfing shoe.  Converse had a crepe-rubber soled shoe with a cloth upper.  Puma had a shoe with a sole as hard as a rock.  Then, there were sneakers, tennis shoes, bowling shoes, and army boots that filled the gap.

I continued in this mode until I got my first teaching and coaching job in Ft. Walton Beach, Florida.  During this time, a local sporting goods store gave me a new pair of running shoes to wear and then recommend them to the team I was coaching.  Those shoes were the first Nike shoes with the waffle soles. They felt great.  My runners loved them.  Before long, just about everyone who ran had feet encased with Nikes.Nike+Logo

That started the fast train of evolution in running shoes.  Nike gained in popularity.  Adidas and Puma fought to hold them off in sales.  Tiger, as they were called then, became Asics and claimed a steady niche in the market.  Reebok had an on-off affair with popularity among distance runners.

Nike sponsored research in runners footstrike and biomechanics of the running gait.  Information was gathered from the running camps around the nation.  Soon, they sponsored camps and continued their research.  Other companies followed suit.

The result of this was that the running shoe became a thick soled, higher heeled behemoth.  All companies had their model that seemed to follow the same prototype.  One radical model came out and lasted only a few years and was very different than the direction of the popular shoes of the time.  That was the Lydiards which were designed by New Zealand Coach Arthur Lydiard.  He had the idea that the shoe companies were ruining the running shoe by making them too protective and interfering with the natural action on the human foot during running.  His shoe had the heel and forefoot close to the same level instead of the heel jacked up higher than the forefoot.  The sole was thinner.  The shoes were more expensive than the popular lines and lasted only a few years.

My running was mostly in Nikes.  I am probably an efficient runner because I have had very few injuries during my many miles.  I think this was the case in spite of the shoes I was wearing.  Presently, my shoes of choice in no particular order are Brooks Flow, Brooks Flow 2, Newton Gravity, and Brooks Glycerin 9.  I’m still running in Nike Free covering three models.  But, I seem to gravitate toward the Brooks and Newtons.

Brooks_LogoV_BlueBlack1

One of my favorite books (running or otherwise) is Christopher McDougall’s Born To Run, A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World has Never Seen.  In this book, the evolution of the running shoe was addressed by Dr. Daniel Lieberman, a professor of biological anthropology at Harvard University.

Dr. Lieberman said, “A lot of foot and knee injuries that are currently plaguing us are actually caused by people running with shoes that actually make our foot weak, cause us to over-pronate, give us knee problems.Until 1972, when the modern athletic shoe was invented by Nike, people ran in very thin-soled shoes, had strong feet, and had much lower incidence of knee injuries.”

He continued with the following, “Humans really are obligatorily required to do aerobic exercise in order to stay healthy, and I think that has deep roots in our evolutionary history.  If there’s any magic bullet to make human beings healthy, it’s to run.”

Evidence is given in this book pointing to the fact that as running shoes have become more “technologically”advanced, the incidence of running injuries has increased.  Perhaps, this has given fuel to the barefoot running craze we are experiencing now.  And, I’m sure, it has motivated the major running shoe companies to come out with their “minimalist” line in which the shoes have the heel lower to the ground and encourages the footstrike to be midfoot instead of on the heels. They also have less corrective measures built in to the shoe.  These lines of shoes are gaining in popularity.

In my constant layman’s research into ways to improve my running and my athletes’ running, I have evolved into some form or biomechanical changes that seem to help with consistency and injury prevention.  Along with this, I have gravitated toward the shoes mentioned earlier as my shoes of choice.  Even the old Lydiards that were previously mentioned as being radical to their times, were a favorite of mine.  I had to stop using them because they became unavailable.  But, it all fits in to where I am today with the running shoe.

I have always told my runners to go back to an old pair of comfortable running shoes when they suffer an injury.  I found out through experience that this would speed healing or do away with the pain entirely.  The old shoes would be worn down enough to actually promote a more natural footstrike.  The built-in corrections were broken down after so many miles.  The results were positive…probably not what the shoe companies would want to hear.  Again, this is a positive for the minimalist movement.

So, it kind of seems that a runner should get the shoe that seems most comfortable to him or her when they try them on and run a few steps.  And, the cheaper shoes may just do that…except for the Newtons with their freakish cost. But, the Newtons may last a lot longer than the other shoes.  I do not know that at this writing because I am presently using Newtons on and off so the mileage is not very high.  I do know  that I have just put 1000 miles on my first pair of Nike Frees…and I am still using those on and off…and they still feel good.

Nike Frees, 1000 mile shoes and still going

Nike Frees, 1000 mile shoes and still going

Hmm…That doesn’t fit in to what the shoe companies recommend as the life of their shoes.  Most of those recommendations tell us to stop our running in those shoes at about 300 miles.  Then, go buy another pair.  Maybe, they have a different motivation in the form of dollar signs.

I guess the bottom line is for each runner to analyze their running in relation to the shoes they are wearing.  Don’t listen to the shoe reps when they are telling you that you need a particular shoe to correct a myriad of problems you didn’t know you had.  That rep is telling you what he has been told to tell you.  You know your running better than they do, so do your own analysis, and you will probably be better off.  Might even save some money.

This is not to totally disregard all the professional advice given to runners about their shoes.  But, if all their advice was correct, why is the injury rate percentage for runners not getting less?  Why were the pre-1972 runners injured less?  Why do some primitive runners who do not have the “advantage” of the modern running shoes, seem to not experience stress fractures, plantar fasciitis, knee injures, and all that stuff the experts tell us we suffer because we pronate too much?

According to Dr. George Sheehan, each runner is an experiment of one.  We can usually determine our injuries and do what is required to solve the problem…without the super running shoe guaranteed to protect you from everything.  Just be a thinking runner and tap into what you feel.

Richard Westbrook

As we become increasingly involved in technology, science, and business, we should not lose that instinct, that feeling for the earth. Running is a very beautiful way to bring out those healthy feelings.”

Bill Rodgers

Marathon runners

Vol State 2013 Finish

Vol State 2013 FINISH

Well he’s done it again! Richard finished the Vol State Foot Race 314 miles in 6 days 4 hours 56 minutes 16 seconds!!!! 6th out of the unsupported 12th over all!!! We are so proud of him and very glad to have him home! First meal was Taco Bell, ha ha. Show him some loves people! Congratulations Richard! We love you so much and are so very proud of you.

More to come soon and im sure Richard will have a nice write up for you guys about his journey… too bad he left his camera battery at home…. 😦

~Nick

We are trying to post the full update but are having trouble with the internet right now. The Vol State website will not allow us to view the map this morning due to high traffic. Richard has completed 301 miles and has ONLY 13 TO GO, of course, all up hill. He remains 12th overall, 9th individual, and 6th individual/unsupported.

OK, here we are…

Final day morning check-in

Final day morning check-in

Final Day morning check-in

Final Day morning check-in

 

Vol State 2013 Day 6 Nightly Check-in (map)

Vol State 2013 Day 6 Nightly Check-in (map)

Vol State 2013 Day 6 Nightly Check-in

Vol State 2013 Day 6 Nightly Check-in

Richard was approximately 40 miles from the finish when he last called his wife and said he would spend all night on Monteagle, all up hill. He said he will be VERY disappointed if it’s more than 40 miles. He was around 275 miles into the race. 39 miles to go!

He is 12th overall, 9th invidual runner, and 6th individual/unsupported runner. He hasn’t seen anyone on the course when Jan told him his place. He couldn’t believe it and said he thought he was around 28th place. Haha!

He will probably run through the night and finish some time in the morning. That is good to hear since today the heat was horrendous for all the runners.

Look for the new, and hopefully, final report in the am.

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Vol State 2013 Day 6 Check-in morning (map)

Vol State 2013 day 6 morning check-in

Vol State 2013 day 6 morning check-in

 

Richard called.. Was charging his cell phone.. He was about 10 miles from Manchester. It’s 60 miles from Manchester to the finish, Richard is hoping to finish tomorrow! If he does that will be 4 days before the scheduled end of the race (Sunday the 21st). He is doing great and hoping to finish in the same time he did last year… hopefully better though!

Day 5 nightly check-in

Day 5 nightly check-in

Day 5 nightly check-in

Day 5 nightly check-in

Westbrook was reported as approaching Shelbyville in 14th place overall. He is currently the 10th individual runner and the 7th individual/unsupported runner. He has run 222 miles thus far and is not stopping. LESS THAN 100 TO GO!

Richard called his wife, Jan, to tell her briefly that he made it to Shelbyville. His phone was dying then. Hope he can find somewhere to charge it or he can’t check-in.

Next update tomorrow.