In the third Renegade Health Radio show, Kevin and Frederic talk about: Running!
In the third episode of the Renegade Health Show, Kevin and Frederic discuss running and exercise. Fred is now running in freezing temperature, and will share his experience. Kevin, a long-time runner, talks about problems with running forms and why it’s probably a bad idea for most people to wear Vibram shoes. Tune in to discover this and more!
Listen here now:
Click the play button to start the call:
Let’s Talk About Running
- Kevin’s participating in the “Tough Mudder!” Will you be there?
- Fred talks about running in really cold weather for the first time. Do you brave the cold temps?
- Kevin tells the story of his great run in the pouring rain, and how he and Annmarie play tag team with Hudson while taking laps around the track.
- Should you try running barefoot? Using Vibram shoes?
- Have you tried ChiRunning, or read Danny Dryer’s book? If not, you may want to look into it, especially if you enjoy running and want to continue doing it with less risk of injury.
- The meditative aspects of writing—where Kevin gets his best ideas.
Kevin: Renegade Health Radio. Hey guys, it’s Frederic Patenaude. I’m Kevin Gianni.
Frederic: We’re on the phone this time. This is going to be a little different.
Kevin: It’s going to be a little different. We’ve now done three shows and we’ve had three different meetings.
Frederic: That’s true! Yeah, Skype, the phone and live or whatever. Both in person, right?
Kevin: Next up it’s going to be a string and can method.
Kevin: Or telegraph or something like that. We’ll run out of mediums. We’re trying to get it straight over here. We just, Annmarie/Renegade Health, the offices here, we just moved into another office in the building so we took over another space and our Internet is a little choppy today so I can’t be on Skype today and Frederic is traveling, and, you know, just trying to make it right for you guys. I think the quality of information is more important than the quality of the call, but we’re working on the quality of the call. I keep saying call. I’ve been doing calls for so long. I’ve really never done podcasts so excuse me for saying that. This is podcast.
Frederic: Whatever it is, it’s audio, and by the way, we’re getting a transcript. Some people are asking us for a transcript, so the future podcasts will also be transcribed and available for you to read on the website.
Kevin: Great. Hey, Fred, do you have something you wanted to share with everyone?
Frederic: I had an interesting comment from the last podcast that we did on what’s the natural cause of death. So someone says, Perry says, “I don’t understand why people want to live so long. I like what comes with youth—novelty exploration, power, energy, a sharp mind, attractiveness, sexiness, stamina recovery, whoa. What’s so great about being old? You get none of those things. Some free time to count your money again? Maybe I’ll change my tune later, but I’m sure a total of 50 years will be enough of this stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid under-evolved world for me. Exit, stage right.” So that was a real comment we got.
Kevin: Well thanks for listening, Perry. As we were saying before we started, I just really don’t think this Perry has a kid. Perry believe me, when you have a kid, you’ll want to stay on this Earth as long as humanly possible. That’s about all I can say.
Frederic: Yeah, I don’t think Perry has a job either, or an apartment, or is old enough to take care of things. Gel the future kind of things.
Kevin: A lot of assumptions here, but you know, Perry, if you are listening to this podcast, write us back and tell us a little bit about yourself. We’d appreciate it. Hey Fred, do you know I’m training for the Tough Mudder?
Frederic: Yes, you told me, but should I pretend that I didn’t know? Actually, you almost fooled me because I was in Berkley recently and Kevin didn’t mention anything about the Tough Mudder. This is a race he is going to tell you about. It just came up in a conversation. Someone else says, “Hey,” his friend Nick, you know, “How are you doing with your training for the Tough Mudder?” Something like that, you know. It was a perfect indirect way of having some awesome thing about yourself be told. This is how it’s supposed to be. Like you want to brag, you don’t brag directly, you have other people brag about you. I’m impressed that you’re doing—you have to do it first, right?
Kevin: Yeah, I have to do it first. I haven’t done it yet, so don’t give me any credit until I do. But I have mixed feelings about it. It’s one of those things where maybe ten years ago when I was single and working out like a madman and just had different priorities, I think it might be something that I’d want to conquer or even just like prove to myself that I can do something like this. But these days, you know, I don’t really feel like I have that much to prove, at least physically, on that level, and I don’t really need people barking in my ear, giving me orders when I’m running around and trying to do some of these obstacles. I don’t know. I have a little bit of a mixed feeling about the whole thing.
Frederic: For people who don’t know what we’re talking about, can you say a little bit about what is it?
Kevin: Probably a good idea! Tough Mudder is…what’s the best way to describe it? It was an event created…I believe it was created in some way or another to be somewhat charitable to wounded warriors. I don’t know if that came in before or after, but it’s kind of like a tough-guy obstacle course, but it’s not only men who are doing it. There’s actually a decent number of women who do the Tough Mudder as well.
Essentially, it’s anywhere between a 10- to I think 12-mile run, and in between, I think you go through 20 some odd obstacles. Again, I don’t know the data here because I think less is better in this situation. We know how to train for it, in terms of running and running up hills and doing stadium stairs and a lot of body weight exercises like push-ups and maybe some kettle bell training. But it should be an interesting thing. It usually takes about four to five hours to complete probably at my level. I’m not trying to win. I know I won’t win. Somebody might say what kind of attitude is that and I say it’s an attitude that doesn’t set yourself up for huge disappointment. That’s what it is. You can check it out at toughmudder.com. You might have some fun just looking at some of the videos and deciding if it’s something for you or maybe get a group of your friends together. Who knows? But we’re doing it in May, so if you have any interest in joining us, I guess you could sign up in May for the Vermont one.
Frederic: Yeah, I don’t think so, Kevin. But I must say I did my own Tough Mudder the other day. When I visited Berkley, California I was—I started running again because the weather is—I stopped running like back in November because the weather got really bad here. I know there are people that are running outside in cold weather and I was just not one of them. So I started running and when I came back here, I was missing it, you know, just being outside. I mean, the gym is just kind of depressing when that’s the only exercise you do. So I wanted the outside. I thought, you know what? I’m just going to try to go run in freezing weather. That was two days ago. It was -10 degrees Celsius, which is what, 15, 10-15 Fahrenheit or even lower, probably. It’s freezing but a beautiful day. Just sunny weather. I did like every person now in 2014 does when confronted with a problem is, I Googled it—how to run in cold weather. So I got some great tips. Found an article on About.com, so I had all the gear, put it on and went running. I must say I had a pretty good time. It’s not as bad as it seems. As long as it’s sunny, you know, it’s not like snowing or something crazy like that, yeah, I was happy to do it.
Kevin: There’s a video on…I don’t know if you can find it on You Tube, but it’s a newscaster who finds two—a couple, a young guy and a young girl, running in like the middle of a snowstorm. There must be like a foot of snow and they’re like, “Oh yeah, it’s great. It’s great for stabilizing muscles and it’s fantastic to just get out in the fresh air.” The newscaster says, “Well, are you guys afraid of falling?” They were like, “No, no we never fall.” So the newscaster says, “All right, see you later.” And the camera pans as they’re like running off in the distance and you see this poor girl just totally wiped out on the street. Running in the snow might have a little bit of a challenge.
Frederic: It’s not, I mean, the trail that I normally go to, it’s sort of an old railroad track. They’ve done that all throughout Quebec because those railroads are not used anymore. Not every single track, but the really ancient ones, so they’ve turned them into biking and running trails. So it’s pretty cool. It’s like 5 or 6 or 8 kilometers where I live that you can go and use and it’s pretty nice, but I didn’t realize in the winter that they don’t clean it up. They don’t remove the snow or anything like that, so it’s just hardened layers of ice and snow. I realize you can walk your dog and stuff on that stuff—people do it—but running…I realized that was not safe. So what I did is I stayed on the streets because snow doesn’t accumulate on the streets where people walk and so on. So that’s where I ran and tried to keep it a little safe.
Kevin: I’ve been running in the rain here. I will tell you that if there’s one exercise in one particular condition that I think is just the most amazing thing on the planet it’s running in the rain at about 60 degrees outside. So when the temperature is 60 degrees Fahrenheit and it’s raining and the rain is a little bit cold.
Frederic: Oh yeah, I know that.
Kevin: You know, you almost feel like you can’t, like you just don’t sweat. It’s just almost like the perfect weather for exercise. We’ve had a couple of those days here. The other morning it was pouring here, like absolutely pouring, and I get up and I said to Annmarie, I said, “Do you want to take Hudson to the track?” What we do is we do a circuit on the track, so we’ll take Hudson and Annmarie will run a lap while I have him, just kind of playing either inside of the track or on the track. He likes to jump on the letters of the King Cobras, which is the middle school sports team, so there’s letters that says “The King Cobras.” He jumps on those.
Then Annmarie will take him and then I’ll run a lap, and what we’ll both do is we’ll sprint the hundred meters, the long hundred meters, and then we’ll kind of jog on the curves and then sprint the hundred meters again. So I asked her if she wanted to do this the other day and she’s like, “No, it’s just too rainy for Hudson.” We just didn’t want him to…he’d been out in the rain the day before. We didn’t want to kind of get him sick. So I literally stood like back and forth with the door open because it was pouring so hard for about five minutes trying to decide if I really wanted to brave the rain. And so finally I just looked at her and said, “All right, I’m doing it.” Then I just ran right out into it. I didn’t think about it anymore and it was probably one of the best runs that I’ve had in the last couple of weeks.
Sometimes you just got to do it, and I was thinking to myself, It may not have to be the perfect run, or even if I walk a little bit or even if it’s just too much rain and I turnaround, I think the lesson for me always is just show up. Just show up to do whatever. Just show up even if you just show up at the gym and you get there and you do two exercises and you’re like oh man, I just feel awful today. Just take off. It’s cool. You did more than you probably would do if you stayed at home and just stayed in bed or something.
Frederic: And you kept the habit going.
Kevin: You keep the habit.
Frederic: Sometimes you think, I mean you think, like you thought to yourself that you would not like running in the rain and you ended up liking it.
Kevin: Yep, just like you did with running in the cold.
Frederic: Yeah, exactly. I mean, I used to live in Vancouver, B.C. and I loved the running there because it’s the kind of weather that you’re describing all the time or it’s very often like that, and it almost never freezes and it’s perfect for running. That’s like the most running that I ever did was in Vancouver, B.C., because I just wanted to go everyday. The worst is really humid, hot temperature. My heart rate goes through the roof and it’s just very difficult. What do you think, Kevin?
Kevin: It’s almost like a slog. I remember running in Austin a couple years ago when we were traveling around, what’s that Lady Bird Lake there, the lake that’s right there? I think it’s called Lady Bird Lake and I think it’s maybe, you can customize how long you want it to be. It can be anywhere from 2 to 3 to 4 to 5 miles or something like that, I think. I remember running around there in just dead, middle of the day, just because it was the only time I could do it and it must have been 105 degrees out or something like that.
In Austin, it’s not hot like Phoenix hot. You know, Phoenix hot is dry. You dry out really quickly, but it doesn’t feel super, super hot. But in Austin, it’s just so hot and so humid and I remember just coming back and just feeling like I had just been hit by a bus. It was just one of those “man this is just so hard.” It’s almost like the humidity slows you down it’s so thick. Then the heat is just so oppressive. You’re right about the heart rate. It does really kind of bring your heart rate up. I don’t know if that’s a negative thing. I guess it just depends on high it’s going up, right?
Frederic: I think it’s a question of adaptation. Let’s say you’re going to run in Hawaii for a marathon or half marathon and you’re training in Portland, Oregon. You’re going to need some adaptation time for that new climate. So I think those first few days, in that climate, that the heart rate really goes up and you’re adjusting. But after you’ve been running in that climate for a few weeks or whatever, your body will adjust and I think the heart rate is going to go down.
Kevin: I’ve always wondered because some of the American sports teams here, why they never practice up in the mountains to be able to improve their oxygen intake. I’ve always wondered why that doesn’t happen. I know that some of the Olympic athletes, even the summer Olympic athletes, train up in like Steamboat Springs and some places in Colorado. I’ve always wondered why they didn’t come in the off season to Colorado to have this high altitude training so when they come back to sea level they just have better oxygen uptake. I have no idea why they don’t do that and maybe some do, and maybe that’s a secret that they don’t like to publish.
Frederic: Let’s talk about running a little bit. We didn’t really plan on talking about this topic, but I think it’s interesting because there are a lot of misconceptions about exercise in general, and I know, especially in sort of a natural alternative Paleo movements, people have all kinds of ideas about exercise and what you should eat for exercise and after exercise and what kind of exercises you should do and there are even ideas running around that cardio like running and cycling isn’t good for you. You should only do interval training and so on. I mean I have a few thoughts on that. Was wondering maybe if you wanted to share some stuff about that because I know you have a big, a huge background in fitness.
Kevin: Yes, I started running, oh man, years and years and years go and I hurt myself running a marathon and for me that was kind of the first time I had really hurt myself to a point where I had to stop running because of the injury for a certain period of time. I was lucky then, though, to be able to find Danny Dryer and Danny Dryer is the guy who wrote the book ChiRunning and also ChiWalking since then.
Danny is a fantastic guy. If you ever get a chance to go to a workshop of his, see him in person, train with him, whatever, I would totally recommend it, particularly if you like running, because he is going to save you years of wear and tear on your knees, hips, back, ankles, plantar fascia, he’s going to save you a ton of time. He’s going to spare you; wait, he’s going to get you more time on your feet.
So I learned some of the principles that he talks about, and I can’t say that I am a master of ChiRunning, but some of the principles that he talks about are really beneficial to anyone who wants to enjoy this type of hobby for or type of exercise. I consider it more of a hobby than exercise. Makes it better that way, for me. I do it as exercise, but it’s one of those things where I love doing it so it doesn’t really seem so much as an exercise like bench press. Like bench press is an exercise to me. It’s almost like a death sentence sometimes. Oh my gosh, it doesn’t seem like it has any purpose.
But anyway, I think the best thing, kind of going into the principles of running and in particularly what Danny teaches, is that our bodies are meant to run very efficiently and we don’t do that. We can probably talk for hours about the type of shoes that you can wear, your running form, and we can talk about injury prevention, but I think the biggest thing that is kind of a misconception and maybe even a myth in today’s running lexicon, or kind of just the forums that we kind of hang out in—particularly in the alternative health running forums—is that we should be going back to barefoot. Some people are going to like say that I’m talking nonsense right now, but I thought about this for a long time and studied it as well.
Going back to barefoot isn’t necessarily the best idea and here’s why: A lot of people are using these Vibram shoes and they’ve been running for years in regular running shoes and then they seriously just put on their Vibram shoes and start running, in their Vibram shoes.
Frederic: Bad idea for most people, yeah.
Kevin: It’s an awful idea. I’ve seen people with stress fractures, with injuries that become worse because of doing that, and the reason why is very simple. Your anatomy has adjusted to being in these clunky shoes that we call shoes that we really don’t even need but over a period of 20, 30, 40, 50 years, your whole locomotion, the way that your body moves has adapted to doing what it does with those shoes. In order to train to actually be a barefoot runner, you have to train for literally years to be able to retrain your body, and some people can’t even go all the way back.
You have to be very careful about the type of shoes and that kind of theory that your body just naturally knows how to run barefoot. It’s a total theory and it’s actually kind of something that’s actually injuring people. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t run barefoot. I’m saying that the best way to do it is train very slowly and what I used to do, when I first, before I even had Vibrams, I would go to the track and I would run three laps with shoes and then one lap without and just totally barefoot. People would look at me like I was a nut job. This was before Vibrams became popular. This was probably about 8, 9 years ago. So I would do that and then I would pop my shoes back on for another few laps, run barefoot for another lap and I did that for years. I did that for like three or four years and then I tried the Vibrams and even then I still think that the Vibrams contributed a little bit to some of the recurring knee issues that I have now that I am working through using, going back to the ChiRunning technique.
So Fred, what are your thoughts on running and running technique?
Frederic: I think running, like what you said, at the beginning, that it’s more like a hobby for you. I mean that resonates with me, because people want an exercise that does everything. They want to find the best exercise, or is interval training better than running? Or is cross fit better than blah, blah, blah? And you know, every exercise does something different, so you can’t have an exercise that does everything. You want to find the type of exercise that does what you want, what you’re looking for, and I like running, like you, because of the high that I get and the feeling being outside and so on and the mood enhancement.
Those are my main reasons to run, probably similar for you. I love the just going out for that and listening to music and being outside and there’s a lot of misconceptions about running. Running form is important, like you said. I learned a lot of from Shelly Stein who kind of coached me. She is going to be a writer for Renegade Health soon, as well, so you can learn more about her. She kind of taught me some basic stuff. I never got into ChiRunning, but I think a lot of her information came from that, so I kind of got a little bit. I don’t think I have awesome form, but it’s a lot better than it used to be, and I never got injured or anything in recent years.
I mean people, spend a lot on exercise equipment. I see that all the time now that running is popular. I used to run near my mom’s place in Quebec like 10, 15 years ago, and you’d run in the summer and suddenly you’d meet another runner and then you kind of wave or say “hi” and then that’s it. You might encounter another person running on the way back or something. Now, in the summer, I mean, I meet people like every minute, every two minutes. There’s like a lot of people running. In the last, I don’t know, 3, 4, 5 years, it’s just become hugely popular again in North America after not being so popular for a while. And people run because it’s kind of a fad and they get expensive shoes and they get all this equipment and they don’t really need that. They just need to go out and run and learn how to run, maybe take a class on running, and people will take a class on lifting weights or they’ll take a class, but it doesn’t occur to most people to take a class on running because everybody thinks there’s nothing to know. But there’s a lot to know, right? Not a lot, but there is some to know, right?
Kevin: Absolutely. I mean, the biggest fallacy that’s kind of ever happened, in running, is the idea of the heel strike. You run heel to toe and when you run heel to toe…well, let me go back a little bit more. The shoe companies, I guess they were noticing, I don’t know what was—I don’t even know what happened. I don’t know what made someone say that running heel to toe was the right thing, so what the shoe companies decided to do was create this really big thick padded heel in the shoe. That was an attempt to kind of pad the heel, which is not meant to actually strike first when someone is moving or you’re running naturally. You’re supposed to have a mid foot fall so the middle of your foot hits and almost the front and the heel kind of hit like one, two, like that, so the front hits and then the heel hits just to stabilize you. If you think about it, if you’re running heel to toe, every time you’re landing with your heel, you’re sending a shockwave straight up your leg so into your ankle, into your knee, into your hip, into your lower back. This is why a lot of people have pretty serious injuries from running. It’s not necessarily because of anything else, but the fact that their form is incorrect.
Like Fred said, any type of lesson that you can take—and I definitely recommend ChiRunning.com—and you can tell Danny that we sent you over here, because I’ve had a love with his work for such a long time. Anyone who wants to have running as a hobby, and again, yes, it’s exercise, but as a hobby, really needs to do this because if your hobby gets taken away from you because you’re doing it incorrectly, in the form of an injury, it becomes very depressing.
I know when I had my initial calf injury, way back when, when I ran that marathon, I was depressed for six months because I couldn’t run. That to me really affected my mood. It really made me feel bad about myself. I didn’t really want to do other exercises, but I was forced to do them because I wanted to stay in shape and I just kind of got into this funk.
So if you have a hobby like that or an exercise that you love, learn everything about it. Learn all the techniques. Learn all the secrets and talk to the people who have been doing it for a long time. One other thing I do want to add about running is the mood and meditation aspect of it is amazing for me. So again, Fred, you were talking about mood enhancement. For me, I’m talking about just overall life enhancement when I run. When I get out there, I don’t even think about what I want to think about, but man, if I need it, it comes to me. It’s kind of like this thing where your head starts going and you’re running and maybe you get like a little rhythm or beat in your head and then suddenly you’re not thinking about anything and for me, answers start to come. If I am thinking about maybe something in my relationship, if I am thinking about something within a business or if I am thinking about an idea or trying to find a way to have a hook on an article or a chapter in a book, if I get out and run, the more that I do that, the more the answers just come. I don’t know if I am kind of channeling it or stepping into some other realm where I can get clear communication from whoever, but it just is one of those things where the more I do it, the more I feel that I am really just here, guided and protected and just getting the right information to make the right decisions.
Frederic: I’m totally on board with that. There was a time where, I mean, I would get so many ideas running that it was like a problem because I wanted to find a way to capture those ideas. So the iPhone wasn’t invented, but I would carry like a portable recorder just to record my ideas running because those were like the best ideas. It’s just amazing and I get that a little bit, if I go take a walk, but much more running. [Crosstalk]
Kevin: Go ahead.
Frederic: I was going to say, and if you can’t run, you definitely can walk. This is not—and I use walking meditation as well because walking is exercise.
Kevin: Yeah. If you’re listening to this and you’re like, “Man, I really wish I could run,” you can walk. It’s okay. It’s totally cool and you can read ChiWalking and learn how to walk better so you can save your knees even more.
Frederic: That’s cool. Does ChiWalking use a metronome? Because I know that’s one thing that I was doing at some point that kind of helped me run with a metronome and follow the beat because I think one of the problems is people actually run too slow or they’re not moving their feet fast enough so that they spend less time in the air and too much time landing and so it places more strain on the whole body. By paying attention to that, you kind of get back in a rhythm. Especially if you’re going to run like more than 5k at a time or more than like 20k a week or something, then you should pay attention to that.
Kevin: Definitely. ChiRunning does a metronome and you, I think it was 85, somewhere between 85 and 90 and you just time your foot falls with the metronome. And another reason why you’re not doing slower strides is because when you’re doing slower strides, it means that you’re using your muscles more because you are using them to propel you and in this case, with ChiRunning, you’re working with all the forces of chi or you’re working with gravity to be able to let your body lean and then your feet just kind of move you along. You’re using some muscles to stabilize you and to push, but not so much as allowing gravity to let your body lean forward, and then having your feet there so you just stay up.
At first, sometimes, it’s actually a little bit uneasy trying to do it because you’re like, “Wait, am I leaning forward trying to fall? Am I bending at my waist and I’m falling forward? Am I going to fall?” Once you get up to like a really nice speed, you realize that your gas pedal is just your lean and sometimes you’re leaning so far ahead and your feet are kicking up behind you that it just feels kind of surreal. It doesn’t necessarily feel like a normal type of run. It just feels like almost like gliding.
Frederic: It’s like kids run like that.
Frederic: It’s really amazing. Since I’ve learned that, I’ve been watching when children run like for no reason. And you watch them and they do the falling forward motion exactly like that, and you watch their feet and the angle of their feet is really the right angle. It goes to 90 degrees. It’s perfect. Then you watch people that are like painfully running on the same tracks, as a sport, and they have it all wrong, right?
Kevin: Yeah, and you can see a children running. When Hudson runs up and down the sidewalks now and you just look at it and you’re like, “Wow, like that really is good form,” and then you put shoes on children and then their form starts to disintegrate a little bit. Then it’s a lifetime of form disintegration and then there’s bunions and plantar fasciitis and ankle issues and knee issues and calf issues and lower back issues and that’s what we do.
Definitely, if you have kids or if you’re trying to get someone who is younger to run faster or just have healthy lower extremities for their lives, two things: one, make sure that they run less in shoes so less shoes; and two, make sure they don’t wear heels, because heels kind of have this whole other process that puts a lot of strain on the lower back. It tightens up the quads and all that sort of thing. It’s crazy. It’s all this backwards information. It seems like things were okay and then we step in with science in many ways. Not to say that all science is bad, because there’s a lot of science that Fred and I both really appreciate and like, but some scientist steps in and changes everything for the worse, and then we’re the ones who have to deal with the fall out from all this.
Frederic: Without mentioning the gurus who have it all wrong and say the wrong things often and put you in the wrong path with the false advice that they’re spreading, I mean, that’s often the case, like you mentioned with running.
Kevin: Some people say fat-free. Some people say sugar-free. Some people say coffee-free. We say guru-free around here.
Frederic: Awesome. So I think that’s it for today, Kevin. What do you think?
Kevin: I think we’re good. Thanks for listening, guys. Put your comments below. We’d love to hear them.
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