Life, Running, & Medicine.
Notes on life as I see it.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Upcoming: Dallas

I will be headed out for Dallas in the AM for a quick meeting and returning Saturday.  I plan to run Saturday morning before the morning meetings (which will mean getting up like 5am).  I'd like to run a few miles in every city I visit and the Forerunner seems like the coolest way to record it.  So the Naples runs for January, Dallas for Feb and planning on a week in Chicago later in March.
I'm compelled to call this sport "Georunning" but it seems like that's already been coined and refers to running only when going to or from a "Geocache".
You'll notice this week the running has been lighter than most.  It should pick back up next week...

Monday, January 28, 2008

Oakland Cemetery

Oakland Cemetery is one of my favorite stops on my neighborhood runs.  It is a beautiful "garden cemetery" established in 1850 on the edge of downtown Atlanta.  It is about a mile-or-so loop I add to the "far corner" of my run.  It's filled with water fountains and cool air, a nice break from the parking lot that is so much of Atlanta.  The gate on the WEST end of the cemetery (nearest the guard house) seems to always be open to foot traffic, whether its 5am or 3pm.
The Atlanta skyline photo is from "Bell Tower Ridge" at Oakland.
The headless statue I just thought was, errrrr, interesting.
(btw I plugged my lcd tv up to my computer until my new dell monitor arrived so I can update my motionbased account and photos)

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Brutal 8.5

Today a full day of 9-hole golf, played the front 5 horribly and straightened it up with 4 straight pars to finish.  The trick is I finally figured out what a "swing plane" is and am swinging that way without "breaking" my wrists on the backswing.  It definitely feels a bit wimpier but the balls are flying straighter, and without the spin, farther.

I only did a 4 miler Friday in hopes of a long run today, so after golf I got ready for a nice "warm" afternoon stroll.  I basically did my usual route through the neighborhood and through the Oakland Cemetery, but added a small detour for a total of 8.57 miles.  ALL SAID IT WAS THE WORST RUN I'VE HAD A IN WHILE.  I felt horrible all the way till about mile 4 then just felt weak and fatigued.  Looking back my breakfast today consisted of coffee on the way to golf and lunch was some chips and salsa.  Let's hope that's what did it.

I took a few pics of the cemetery when running through (been meaning to do that) and will upload them when my desktop computer gets its new monitor this week (thanks Dell).

For the Garmin Forerunner crowd, my neighbor and I ran together.  He has the 305, I have the 205.  We were careful to start and stop them exactly the same time and of course we ran together.  His recorded us going 8.67 miles, mine 8.57.  The only difference was that mine was set to "auto pause" when we stopped for water and photos, and his kept recording.  I guess that's what did it... or do you think the 205 and 305 have different algorithms?

On-On till next time

Calories Burned Running Hills (Controversy)

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A buddy and I have been debating the caloric expenditures of running hills. After a little research it seems there is a reasonable discrepancy out there about just how much "work" is done when running up and down hills.

There is a an old-school formula out there that most treadmills and exercise calculators use that take your calories burned at a given pace and multiply that by the grade (or incline) to get the marginal increase or decrease in running hills. For example:
[kcals @ 5% incline @ 7mph] = [kcals @ 7mph] + [kcals @ 7mph] x 0.05

To me it seems this equation has a few shortcomings and assumptions:

  • Assumes that the relationship between CALORIC EXPENDITURE and GRADE is LINEAR. So going from 20% grade to 25% grade is just as hard as going from 1% to 6% grade.
  • Assumes that running downhill is easier than running uphill, and to the SAME DEGREE. So running downhill 15% is just as easy as running uphill 15% is hard. Weird double speak I know.
  • BOTTOM LINE IS that if you run in a loop at a steady pace all your uphills will cancel with your downhills and you get no calorie calculation credit for any "hills" that are in the loop, no matter how big. I think most can agree that a hilly run is almost always SLOWER and harder than a flat run (we should get credit!)
I did some digging in the scientific literature and a study by Minetti et al (J. Applied Physiol., 2002 Sep;93(3):1039-46) looked at normal adults running on a treadmill placed at varying "extreme inclines" or declines. After running a bit the subjects had blood draws done to look at oxygen consumption, basically a very accurate method for determining calories burned.

What they found is very complex to interpret, however Figure 1 seems to make it most clear to the "rest of us":
  1. The increase in calories burned going uphill DOUBLED when the grade increased by only 20% (for example going from 10% to 30% grade energy expenditure went from 5 to 10). By the traditional calculation our calories burned would've only gone up by 20%, rather than 200%.
  2. When running downhill, energy expenditure seems to follow the traditional rule until we reach about a -17% grade. At this point it actually gets HARDER to run downhill than uphill.
Yes I know it is rare that any one of us is running on 30% grades, but there are area here where we're hitting 15% and 20% from time to time. [FYI grade is like a slope, just in percent form. So a rise in elevation of 100 feet over a 1000ft length is a 10% grade, downhill grades are indicated as negative].

So the net result of all this is that when running in hilly terrain we are burning far more calories than our old-school calculators are telling us, even if we run in a loop where the uphills "cancel" the downhills.

To go a step further I took a 1 mile loop near my house where I run up (and down) a big hill. Using the traditional calorie calculation I'd burn about 130 kcals (based on weight and steady pace). If I add in the corrections for hills from this study it bumps my calories up to 220 (about 70% more; note that doing this calculation was tough and used excel, I will spare you for now).

So the challenge is twofold: 1) repeat this study a few more times under varying conditions to validate it, and b) change the fitness calculator world to account for this.

A third challenge is underway and might just be patentable, so I will hold off on unveiling it for now.

Happy Hills

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Thursday, January 24, 2008

Strange Thing Happened...

Strange thing happened on the way to the blog: I did a self-search for thismanruns at technorati and found a) that I have NOT been automatically pinging my posts so technorati barely knew me but more interestingly b) an off-beat mashup-advertisement-only website about elliptical machines apparently borrowed my most recent post and presented it like thier own original content.  There is probably a techno-savy term for this, but I don't know it.  Apparently they have a bot out there that searches for posts that mention "elliptical trainer" or the like and then they copy those blog entries into their own feed.  This gives the appearance that they are hosting this awesome blog with postings from elliptical experts everyday.

Also on the way to the blog you'll notice I made a few layout changes.  I hacked the Blogger template and made the two columns a little wider so there isn't so much wasted space on the sides.  I also added some new buttons, like the " Digg This" and one for the Complete Running Network Blog Family.  Additionally I got this new piece of blog-flare, the Romlet.  I'm still not sure what the Romlet is.  It does something to keep track of how many of their tracked sites link to you.  It was billed as being some kind of tool to build a blog social network or something, but I don't see how.  Unless I find it useful in the next week or so I will kill it.

MOST INTRIGUING TONIGHT was around 7pm when I was at a stoplight on the East side, facing south I saw THE BIGGEST METEOR EVER.  It looked like it could've been a missile heading to Earth, but burnt out about 20-degrees off the horizon.  Mind you it was so bright it was very clear and bright in the middle of the city with lots of ambient street lights around.  I even thought it could've been a plane or something going down.  It started dim like most shooting stars then brightened up, got a tail, got dim then got real bright, like an explosion and dim again until dark.  Lasted about a second.  I've been out at 3am to "meteor showers" before in rural areas and never saw one this bright.  Cool is all I'm sayin'.

In running news I did my usual weekday-workday routine yesterday, this time adding an extra half mile or so.  I will probably do the same Friday.  Still chilly here, but most of the cold is coming from the whipping wind.

And yeah, Brian, lets plan on a pre-ING run - maybe 3/15? (early AM)  Everyone else invited of course...

Monday, January 21, 2008

Cold Days

Sorry for a little rambling:
1. On the heels of my last post we got more snow here Satuday - about 2-3" best I can tell.  Much of it is still around as it hasn't broke 40 degrees all weekend.
2. This evening I went out and did a 8-miler in the cold (37F).  I got one of those thin Nike earwarmer bands and wore my longsleeve.  Was definitely cold, but my pace was good (better than some other recent runs).
3. We are seriously considering the purchase of an elliptical trainer for the house.  We've been looking around some and are finally over the sticker-shock.  I first swore I couldn't spend more than a few hundred bucks on such a toy but after riding several of the sub-$800 machines we've now got a new price target.  Per another website (that doesn't sell anything) we read a review of SOLE ellipticals and treadmills (  They seem to be pretty much a sleeper brand, selling mostly to commercial clients and most notably Hilton Hotels.  They've recently gotten into retail (so I read) and offer several solid-build ellipticals and treadmills for $1000+ less than the big names out there (PreCor, LifeFitness).  We are looking most carefully at the Sole E35 elliptical at $1300.  Has anyone had any experience with one of these?  It features a fullsize 82" long frame, heavy-duty steel, a 27-lb flywheel, a 20-inch stride and a 5yr in house warranty with lifetime frame/brake warranty.  I rode one today at Dick's sporting goods and was super-impressed with the smoothness and stability especially compared to the crappy cheap Proform's and Reebok's they had.  If we get it I'll leave a full review...
4. New running feed.  You'll notice the lefthand column on this page features a "recent runs" tab.  This weekend I discoverd that MotionBased automatically publishes an RSS of your runs.  So from now on all of my Forerunner / MotionBased runs will show up here.  Cool!  One problem is that I occasionally run on a treadmill, elliptical, or just plain forget the Garmin and currently MB doesn't allow for manual entry of runs, so those won't get published.
5. Oh and thank goodness Kroger supermarket finally started selling a generic rasin bran crunch this past week.  There is so much to look forward to.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Snow Day

Wednesday afternoon brought a cold front to Atlanta.  We had an ice warning on with all the local schools preparing to close down for a "snow day" Thursday.  As for myself, I didn't even realize the cold was coming until I walked outside the building in my running shorts... and had snow slap me in the face.
I thought twice about running, maybe even three times.  Being a Florida boy this is the MOST snow I've ever seen at a place where I wasn't just visiting.  The air wasn't too cold though (so unfortunately most of it didn't stick), only a balmy 38F.  After thinking about how much I needed the run, and how it would be great to run in the snow, I tightened my laces and headed out.
We had quite a gusty little snowfall, snow full-on horizontal at times, and many times requiring me to stare at only the ground to keep going.  By the end of 6 miles I had some snow piled on my shorts and shirt.  The hair-snow had melted, leaving me kinda soaked.
HOW REFRESHING.  Running in the cold is great.  I remember how not too long ago I would get VERY winded whenever I ran below about 45 degrees; I think it's because I was so out of shape.
Happy Snow Day.

Monday, January 14, 2008

ING Georgia Marathon & Half

I put in my registration last night at for the half marathon. That will be the longest run I've ever done (close only to a 20K race in 1996 when I was much younger...). I'm trying to get in enough training that I can finish with a 9:30 pace and not be too dead; being in Atlanta though the hills are bound to be killers.

Still have my sights set on the full Chicago Marathon '08. I recently found out I will be traveling there in March - I may have to practice parts of the course while I'm there. About the middle of November I had no idea if I'd be able to swing it, but low and behold there was light at the end of the tunnel. Back are the days of taking off at 4:30 to do a little run before heading home.

Anyone else in the blogosphere doing the ING (GA)?

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Naples 1 and 2

This past weekend one of my medical societies had thier annual meeting at a luxury hotel down in Naples, Florida. I took advantage of the climate (both social and meteorological) to partake in both cocktails as well as a run on the Naples gulf shore.

Friday morning I headed north from the hotel and mostly found myself running though resort/condo parking lots and along paved paths. Two observations: 1) the sidewalks are asphalt to accomodate the many golf carts and 2) there are a A LOT of planted palm trees. Comical really. I did two miles in one direction, thanks Forerunner, and turned it around. Back before daylight and in time to see plenty of old men pat themselves on their backs at the conference.

Friday afternoon we had the obligatory foursome scramble gold tournament. I wound up getting paired with a couple of sales reps that bought drinks all afternoon, and this was reflected in our score - Minus 5. Just as well, we had so much to drink we didn't stop and wound up playing 6 extra holes and not submitting our score.

Saturday morning i headed South from the hotel and found the beach, running some 2 1/4 miles on packed sand. An absolutely beautiful experience. I ran all the way to the ugly southern protective jetties that were built to prevent erosion, cut east back though the condos and returned to the hotel along the "intercoastal". 6 1/4 in total.

Saturday morning left the conference early, patted MYSELF on the back and played another round of golf before getting on the plane [Eagle Ridge Golf Club in Fort Myers, where 17 of 18 holes have water hazards, about half with water on each side of a dog leg. Lost 8 balls]

Great weekend. Arms and legs sore.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Monday Bloody Monday

I think I've just about had it:  Yet another knock-youR-socks off busy weekend.  I burned through 1/2 a tank of gas this weekend driving back and forth to the hospital for the emergency du jour...
Friday night we were lit up all at once by 1) little man with tracheal stenosis whom an outside MD gave a shot of steroid to and told him to find the nearest ER and "tell them you need to see an ENT tonight" and 2) little old lady that had very minor procedure but got an MI from anesthesia, then got put on blood thinners, then almost died when she started coughing up too much blood.  Oh yeah, and 3) the HIV+ man with that had orbital cellulitis (serious eye infection) that couldn't find anyone to watch his kids so he refused to be admitted to the hospital. Is that noble?
The little old lady got better in the ICU, except the heart attack part.  The little man got an awake tracheostomy Saturday.  Another kid across town then got his neck drained of the worst abscess / soft tissue infection I've ever seen in a "healthy" person.  Saturday night brought the usual crowd of mandible fractures and knife fights.  Sunday morning saw me running out of one OR to drive across town to wrap up the hemorrhaging trach site from the day before...
To cap it all off, in true Dirty South style, I drive in at 2am today to see a woman who swore she had some "chicken grissle" stuck in her throat from her collard greens dinner that night.  Lucky me she was the very "gaggy" type and she vomited the minute I tried to look in her mouth.  No grissle after all.
My new research will be: why is is that some people gag the minute your finger or a tongue blade hits their tongue but they still can eat food just fine?  I mean if it really is physiologic shouldn't the food gag them too........
Somewhere in between the mayhem I put in a 5K on the hospital treadmill Sunday and 5 1/2miler today on trails with the Forerunner.  The trails I ran are about 50% tree covered and the watch seemed to do VERY well.  I noticed my pace jumping around a bit as it did some averaging but the overall distance measured was the same as google maps.
Hopefully you guys are having a better go at it...

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Good Temperature for a Treadmill

Atlanta did not break out of the low 30's today, with very gusty wind.  Low of 20 last night with expected 17 tonight.  Some of the mountain areas in North Georgia are getting a snow dusting but nothing for us - only dry cold air.
I brought my shoes & iPod to work today in hopes of running afterward - but at 5pm was still bitter and frigid.  I wanted to try the 205 near work because "my trails" there go through some heavily wooded areas, and I'd like to see how the accuracy is in tree cover.  Will have to wait 'till later this week it looks like though.  Still don't have that treadmill or elliptical I've been thinking of...