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Easily Outraged? Cop this…

Easily Outraged? Cop this…

We live in the age of the easily-offended. Where our outrage and anger is set on a hair-trigger. Social media has given us a platform to rant and rave. It is the 21st century soap-box. But is it worth it?

What is the cost of being so quick to offend and outrage?

In the moments during and following the social media red-mist the following takes place within your body:

–The hypothalamus ramps ups and signals the pituitary gland to get to work.

— The pituitary gland releases hormones to the adrenal medulla.

— Adrenal medulla releases cortisol.

— Cortisol promotes muscle contracture; pupil dilation; suppression of GI tract (digestion); increases heart rate; amygdala becomes hyper-aroused which can lead to emotional tagging in the hippocampus (sets you up to repeat this response in the future).

— Prefrontal cortex becomes inhibited (this is where present-time awareness, planning, motivation, decision making etc happens).

Not a good picture really. What basically happens is the outrage primes our system for a physical response (flight or fight) which tapping on a keyboard can’t satisfy.

And because of the tagging in the brain, we can become pre-programmed to be the angry bear-trap in other areas of life. The person cutting you off in traffic now deserves to die a painful death. The kids playing up in the backseat leads to an explosion of rage. The coffee shop gives you a flat-white instead of a latte- AARRRRRRGGGGGGHHHHHHH!!!!!

So again, is it worth it?

Being quick to offense is grossly damaging to so many of your systems inside your body- as well as relationships around you. So next time you feel compelled to respond to a trivial Facebook post with an angry tirade, consider your own health. Maybe just take a few deep, calming breaths. Run around the block (flight)- or punch a pillow a couple of times (fight).

Let the anger go, because it isn’t worth it.
*Thank you to my colleague James Smith for keeping me on track with the neuroanatomy/physiology/biology!

My Training Diary

My Training Diary

Entry 1
I’ve been training for the 2018 Paris-Dakar rally for a few months now. I’ve got a fair amount of time to prepare but it’s a bloody gruelling and unforgiving event so I got to prepare properly.
My preparation strategy? I’m just smashing out the kms! The event consists of 1000s of kms of rugged terrain spread over a couple of weeks, so I reckon the more kms I can fit into my training, the better.  Did  I mention I’m going to try to do it in my everyday car? It’s a duel-cab ute which the manufacturer claims is Australia’s toughest tradie, so it should be up to it!
A month or so ago I started to notice a bit of a wobble on the right hand rear wheel. My wife told me I should get a mechanic to look at it, but who has the time for that? Every second I get to allocate to this goal I am spending smashing dirt roads because that is the most important thing.
Entry 2
Bad news! I was out doing a big drive on some tough tracks on the weekend, and had a bit of an incident. You remember that wobbly wheel? You guessed it, it bloody well fell off! It caused me to have a bit of an accident so the old ute is out of action for a bit. I guess I am off to the mechanic now!
Entry 3
So I saw the mechanic today. Not good. The back axle is bent beyond repair and the chassis is also twisted slightly- it could be a write off. My wife was not happy, and operation Paris-Dakar 2018 is now off. And you know the worst bit? The mechanic thinks that all that caused this was loose wheel nuts- and that if I would have checked them from time to time this could have all been avoided. Thanks a lot, smart-arse!!
This is all fiction.
I don’t aim to enter car rallies. I run trail ultra-marathons. And I train other runners aiming to complete ultra-marathons.
The above story is an analogy that fits so many ultra runners I have met. I usually meet them somewhere between wobbly-wheel and complete write-off. Prior to seeing me they usually have just run, and run and run. And then run some more. They usually come to see me once that niggly knee starts to stop them in their tracks.
It needn’t come to this.
Completing an ultra-marathon, or a regular marathon, or even a half-marathon, is a significant undertaking. Even if your preparation is faultless, there is still risk that injury will rob you of success. So to take on such a goal and just smash kms and never hoist the car up and have an expert have a good look over it is just asking for failure.
Your body is your vehicle. Get is strong, keep it moving freely, let is rest, put good fuel in it. Be smart about what you are doing. It will pay you back many times over.
Don’t run any more? Who do you think you are?

Don’t run any more? Who do you think you are?

I’ve taken on a lot of clients who have been told by a Health or Medical Practitioner that they should not run ever again. Usually it is due to chronic knee pain with some evidence of structural change- like some cartilage degradation for example. This may not sound shocking, but it should.
“So Mr. Wood, every time you run, your knees pull up sore. Running is very hard on the knees, and your knees aren’t exactly in show-room condition. I recommend that you cease running from now on”.
If this news was delivered to me it would be analogous to a shotgun blast to the guts.
“Don’t run any more?
But I love running!”
“Get yourself a bike, bike riding is great for the knees”.
“But what about when I have kids, I won’t be able to kick the footy in the park with them?”
“Not if you don’t want a knee replacement in 5 years time!”
“Well what if I am being chased by an axe wielding maniac, can I run then”.
“Well, in that instance yes, but don’t blame me when your knees are killing you the next day!”
This is pretty clear cut. And that is the problem I have with this type of delivery. By being so definite in the stance that running (without pain) is not possible in the future, they are effectively saying this.
“On behalf of all Medical Experts and Conservative Health Care Providers, I state that it is impossible for you to run in the way that you want to without aggravating pain and accelerating degeneration of the structural features of the knee.”
Now I know some pretty bloody awesome people in the above mentioned fields, but I wouldn’t think anyone has the right to speak on behalf of every Medical and Health Practitioner both currently alive and those to come in the future.
Instead, why not just word it like this:
“I don’t know how to help you run”.
Simple, and absolutely more true than the previous example.
And imagine if you were given this perspective instead. What would your reaction be? Mine would be:
“Ok, thanks for your honesty. I’ll search for someone who can”.
The reality is that it is quite possible that for some people, running without pain is impossible. But who has the right to make that conclusion. If my clients want to run, it is my job to help carve out a pathway to make that possible. I’m not always successful, but I’d like to think I am humble enough to own my shortcomings rather than deem the goal impossible.
If you’ve been told that you can’t run any more, maybe you can’t. But maybe you can.   
When the Grim Reaper comes looking, where will you be?

When the Grim Reaper comes looking, where will you be?

grim-reaperI was Mountain Biking at Fox Creek in the Adelaide Hills a few weeks ago and had an experience that lead to a thought, which lead to a blog. This blog.

 

The experience: At the bottom of a downhill run, that converges with a few other downhill runs, I intersected with a fellow rider.

 

I acknowledged him and he started talking in what sounded like an excited tone- his full-face downhill helmet was muffling his voice.

 

“Sorry I can’t hear what you’re saying mate!” said I.

 

The other rider removed his helmet and said something quite enthusiastically- I can’t remember what he said because I was in shock.

 

When this guy removed his helmet, what he revealed was long, wispy white hair, about shoulder length but with a bald top. He had wrinkled, leathery skin and squinty eyes. He would have had to have been about seventy years old- at the very least.

 

“Are they your mates over there?” he said.

“My mates don’t come out riding with me, they’re all bloody old wimps!” He exclaimed. Bear in mind he had just come flying down one of the Black Diamond Downhill runs- think massive jumps, tight bermed corners and terrifying drop-offs.

 

We chatted a bit as we walked our bikes back to our respective cars. His wife was waiting patiently in the passenger seat of his ute. She was knitting. I am not joking. This actually happened. Ask Max Martin if you doubt me.

 

This got me thinking about my wife’s recently deceased Grandfather. He died in his early 90s, and had been ‘living’ in a nursing home for about 7 years. Prior to that he existed on a lazy boy armchair plonked in front of the horse racing channel on pay tv. He had done this for the previous ten or so years.

 

When the Grim Reaper finally pushed his door open and signalled ‘time’ on his life, Grandpa’s response was probably ‘It’s about bloody time mate, I’ve been waiting 15 years for you!’.

 

When Death goes looking for my old mate from Fox Creek, he probably won’t be at home on the couch. Check the garage Grim. I bet his bike isn’t in there.

 

Old mate will be out at Fox Creek. If he gets the tap on the shoulder at the top of a downhill run, he’ll probably say ‘Come on Grim, can you just let me have one more crack at this track and catch me down the bottom?’

 

When it’s my time to shuffle off, I hope I am hiking up a Himalayan mountain, or wake-boarding, or kicking the footy with my Grandkids, or Great Grandkids. When Death comes looking, I’m gonna be hard to find!

Good luck with your run- don’t forget the fun!

Good luck with your run- don’t forget the fun!

87ff8794-fb17-40ac-b7d6-a73e12cad49dThis time of year many Adelaideans are in the final stages of their preparations for their big running goal for the year. The City to Bay is only two and a half weeks away- and The Yurrebilla and Operation Flinders Ultra-Marathons will be following shortly after.
If you are having a crack at one of these, I wish you the best of luck! I also encourage you to relax, and enjoy yourself. I train a lot of runners and help guide them to the start line for events like these.
I have noticed a trend in recent years which worries me a bit. The fun seems to be evaporating. These days it is very easy to track your running progress. GPS watches are getting cheaper and yielding more and more info.
Smartphones with Strava or RunKeeper or Movescount or any number of tracking apps are easily attained alternatives. These are great tools. They can give you objective data on your progress and can also log your training sessions- which is great for accountability.
But I am noticing more people evaluating the quality of a run, or of themselves as a runner based on what their numbers say. ‘I can’t wait to get home and download the data to see if that was a good run’ is a paraphrasing of a mindset I see often.

When I go for a run the criteria I use to judge it on are:

  • Did I feel good?
  • Was there a fun descent that I ran well?
  • Did I see anything beautiful?
If my average 1km splits are 7 seconds slower than the same run I did last week, so be it. That is not one of my quality criteria. It is nice to see progress. And if you run regularly and are training appropriately you should see a trend towards improved performance.
But improvement is not linear. Sometimes you run after a stressful day at work;  or a bad night’s sleep; or you are fighting a bug that is lingering just under the surface. If you don’t reach your standard every time your run, cut yourself some slack about it! And in the end, why do you run?
If you run the City to Bay in 61 minutes and you aimed for 59 minutes, who really cares?! You just ran 12km, give yourself a pat on the back! Unless you are aiming to win the bloody thing, the aim should be fun, I reckon.
Many of us lead busy lives and we juggle multiple deadlines from multiple sources constantly. Don’t let your leisure time become just another pressure you place upon yourself. In the end, no-one except yourself really cares about how well you run. So relax and enjoy the ride. That way, you can’t lose.
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