Willpower

Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will.

Mahatma Gandhi

Born to Run: Book Review

  

The next leap forward in human endurance would come from a dimension he dreaded getting into: character. Not the “character” other coaches were always rah-rah-rah-ing about.

Joe Vigil, a coach we encounter on the epic journey that is Born to Run wasn’t talking about grit, drive or hunger. 

In fact, he meant the exact opposite. Vigil’s notion of character wasn’t toughness. It was compassion. Kindness. Love.

I share this view: that it is important to always be nice to one another and to always think about how others feel. 

Even now, I’m not sure why I did this: when I was in the last kilometre of my last full marathon in Kyoto, ready to give up and start walking, I started saying “arigato” to all the volunteers lining the streets handing out drinks. It somehow gave me the little extra ounce of strength I needed to get over the line. Certainly having something nice to think about, rather than “my left knee hurts” pushes me forward towards the line.

Perhaps all our troubles—all the violence, obesity, illness, depression, and greed we can’t overcome—began when we stopped living as Running People. Deny your nature, and it will erupt in some other, uglier way.

It may be overly optimistic to think that if everyone went back to running like our forebears, that all the tyranny would disappear. But being nice to one another is certainly a good mantra to live to. And maybe if we were all running, we wouldn’t have time to be greedy and violent!
Christopher McDougall takes us to meet the legendary Tarahumara – a Mexican tribe known for their endurance running.  First we meet them at a grueling 100-mile run in the heights of Colorado. This is a place where only people really dedicated to running and achieving seemingly impossible goals go.

Instead of a marathon, Ken created a monster. To get a sense of what he came up with, try running the Boston Marathon two times in a row with a sock stuffed in your mouth and then hike to the top of Pikes Peak.
Done?
Great. Now do it all again, this time with your eyes closed.
That’s pretty much what the Leadville Trail 100 boils down to: nearly four full marathons, half of them in the dark, with twin twenty-six-hundred-foot climbs smack in the middle.

On his journey, McDougall talks to scientists who say that we humans were indeed born to run! There is a tendon behind our head known as the nuchal ligament. The purpose of the tendon is to keep the head straight when running fast. It is not needed when walking. The tendon has been found only in dogs, horses and humans.

A jogger in decent shape averages about three to four meters a second. A deer trots at almost the identical pace. But here’s the kicker: when a deer wants to accelerate to four meters a second, it has to break into a heavy-breathing gallop, while a human can go just as fast and still be in his jogging zone. A deer is way faster at a sprint, but we’re faster at a jog; so when Bambi is already edging into oxygen debt, we’re barely breathing hard.

And so our ancestors were master huntsmen who would simply outrun their prey over very long distances — literally tiring them out.
We next meet the Tarahumara in their natural home for the book’s finale when a group of American runners joins McDougall on a trip to race in Copper Canyon.

Born to Run
is an interesting read that I would recommend to anybody with an interest in running, human endeavour or anthropology. But more importantly it opened the door to some more interesting   books, such as Eat and Run by Scott Jurek. 

Nice day to sit in the park

It’s apparently 30 degrees right now but with low humidity it feels much cooler.

After weeks of temperatures over 35 degrees Celsius, and rain the last few days, it’s really nice to sit in the park listening to cicadas and eating a packed lunch prepared by my lovely wife.  
 

Quote of the Day from Runner’s World

Wow! After quite a dry period, RW has adorned my inbox with another quotable quote. Actually, this one came a few days before the one I posted yesterday but I noticed this one afterwards:

I’m afraid the reason so many new runners quit is because they never get past the point of feeling like they have to run.

John Bingham

I have to be honest… I still feel this way from time to time. It has been hard to lift my head off the pillow lately!

But once I get outside, I never regret getting out there!!!!

Quote of the Day from Runner’s World

Every day I receive a motivational quote of the day by email from Runner’s World. Some days the quote is rather tenuous and I just think “blah, so what?”

 But this one today really got me thinking. 

Growth and comfort seldom ride the same horse.

Anon. 

It’s when we go through challenges in life that we are really learning. It’s important not to give up and not to let thoughts of “I’ve never done this before!” cloud your judgement. 

Livin’ on a Prayer

It has been hard to motivate myself to get out and run lately with first of all seemingly endless rain from the middle of June until the first half of July, and then unbearable heat of over 30 degrees every day since.  

Yesterday I ended up walking back halfway through my 24km run with the Mercury hitting 34 degrees. 

This evening I forced myself to go out again for 12km. There’s no sun of course at night, but the temperature was still 29 degrees Celsius. The heat got to me again and I only managed 6km. But still, it’s better than nothing. 

I’m over 100km for the month and will have to work hard to run 46km over the next five days to achieve my monthly target of 150km. 
Every cloud has a silver lining. At the end of this evening’s run, I was greeted with a message from Runkeeper telling me I had got halfway towards my year-long goal of running 2,015km: only 26 days behind schedule. Last year, it wasn’t until October that I managed to run over 1000km for the year.  

   

Sayonara, sushi: 21 little things that people miss after leaving Japan

SoraNews24 -Japan News-

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As a reader of RocketNews24, chances are you already have a pretty big soft spot for Japan. You may even already be living in the Land of the Rising Sun or have plans to fly out just as soon as circumstances allow.

But sometimes, even when we love a place with every fibre of our being, we just can’t stay forever. Family anxiously awaiting our return; work commitments; financial constraints and more mean that, at some point or other, many of us have to wave goodbye to Japan and return to our respective homelands.

Some of the things people miss about Japan will be immediately obvious, but others tend to sink in only a few weeks or months after returning home. Today, we’re taking a look at 21 of the little things, in no particular order, that Japan does so uniquely or so incredibly well that foreigners really start to pine for them…

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Shinagawa Kumin Park

While out walking with my family yesterday, we happened upon a great park that we never even knew was there! 

Tokyo and the surrounding area is home to about 37 million people, and so green space is quite hard to come by. 

A couple of hours after our discovery, I eagerly went out to run around it! It’s only a short distance from where we live and has now become my new favourite place to run!!! 

I haven’t yet paced it out properly. But Shinagawa Kumin Park (Shinagawa Kumin Kouen 品川区民公園) has a running / walking course of about 2 kilometres with all kinds of exercise bars, benches and beams all around. Shinagawa refers to the ward that the park is located in. And Kumin doesn’t refer to the spice associated with Indian food (sorry, my poor attempt at humour) but rather means “citizen of the ward”.

It has great playing facilities for the kids, an aquarium, restaurants and even a barbecue area.

Anyway, don’t recommend it to too many people, we should just keep this paradise to ourselves! 🙂
Map

   
 

   
 

Tokyo Imperial Palace Run

Ran around the Imperial Palace for the first time in ages today. Actually, I ended up doing two-and-a-bit circuits for a total of just over 12k. 
I was supposed to meet friends in Jimbocho but had to finish off an important presentation at work for tomorrow. So I ended up running alone for most of it, while my two friends ran together.

  

Believe it or not, people were actually running around the Imperial Palace!!
 
It was a bit tiring to run right after work, but after a while I felt the benefit of doing an early evening run. Especially as I worked up quite a thirst. So when I finally caught up with my friends, we all went for a well deserved  chat over beers!

The Link Between Exercise and Earnings  – quoted from HBR The Daily Stat

An email I received today from Harvard Business Review: The Daily Stat made me sit up and take notice. I always feel revitalized after a run, and notice that I feel less ready to take on the world when I skip a run. But does this mean if I run a little harder, I’ll get a pay rise?

A study of data from thousands of people in the U.S. shows that self-reported engagement in vigorous exercise (running, aerobics, sports) at least three times a week is associated with higher wages: nearly 7% for men and even more for women, in comparison with the general population, says Vasilios D. Kosteas of Cleveland State University. Exercise has been linked to improved mental function, psychological well-being, and higher energy levels, all of which can result in increased productivity, Kosteas says.

SOURCE: The Effect of Exercise on Earnings: Evidence from the NLSY