JOHN F. CARTER TELLS A LONG TALE OF HIS JOURNEY FROM UNBEARABLE SCIATICA PAIN TO PAIN FREE HEALTH. Much of the telling of his ordeal is spent relating the series of mental and attitudinal changes that occurred when relief did not appear to be in sight. How he adjusted his approach to work, life in general, and most frightening, a future enduring near-constant pain.
“It was that futile search for answers that led me to write this article and share my experience with others” he explains in the Medium.com article.
It’s a lengthy story, and it’s not about the specific exercises that ended his ordeal; he recommends the books he read but spends very little time describing the physical therapy that helped him.
This brief Science Friday blog provides a link to the exercises he may have been performing. The reason for this supposition is that I had a much milder form of sciatic nerve compression about a decade ago. I had endured progressively worsening right lower leg and foot pain, especially when driving long distances for a couple years. My remedy was to stop every 20 minutes, get out of the car (or desk) and walk around for 5 minutes. Finally, after also suffering left knee bursitis that prevented walking and having been prescribed physical therapy for that problem, I mentioned the issue to a therapist.
She insisted on obtaining permission to safely treat this additional problem from the orthopedic surgeon who diagnosed the knee. I got it, and she provided me with some exercises, the same moves demonstrated in a PDF from the Orthopaedic Specialists of North Carolina.
Incredibly, the pain subsided with a week or so! I felt I had been handed a life-saving device. The effect on the quality of my daily activities had been incredible.
She explained that likely multiple hours of sitting hunched over a computer preparing lectures as an associate professor in a medical school and looking through a microscope as a research pathologist, and then leaning forward in the driver’s seat with the back set straight up during my 2 hour commute each way each weekday was compressing the anterior portion of my lumbar spine; and it required stretching exercises to extend it and lessen nerve compression.
Her intervention worked. I’ve not seen much written about this issue since that year. John F. Carter’s article hinted that he had a similar problem, but much more severe and debilitating symptoms, and was helped by at least one of the moves I was prescribed and performed.
Clearly, any type of significant leg pain should be investigated by a medical doctor to determine it’s cause and treatment. The purpose of this blog post is to share lumbar spine extension exercises that might prevent this problem from occurring in those who may be prone to developing it. Frequent, prolonged upright or hunched-over sitting for hours at a time was key to my foot/lower leg pain.
Check them out. The prone extension on pillows was my go-to exercise. I still perform it every night before sleep!
RUN & MOVE HAPPY!
GUIDELINES FOR EXERCISE Meghan Rabbitt has advice for fitness enthusiasts who wish to adopt the latest trend in dieting in a short article the for MyFitnessPal.com blog, “The Do’s (and Don’ts) of Intermittent Fasting and Fitness”.
Rabbitt, with the help of experts, first defines the practice and then alternates describing best practices with those to avoid with regard to working out. She explains how to ease into and then extend the part of the day when food is not eaten, ranging from 12 to 16 hours in duration for most plans. Rabbitt also offers recommendations on how best to introduce fasted workouts and “break” a fast. She differentiates this type of “intermittent” plan (a daily reduced window of time in which eating is permitted) from that which requires abstaining from food for more than 16 hours, sometimes as long as 48 hours (2 full days).
Her do’s and don’ts represent sensible guidelines for safe exercising while dieting; recreational athletes interested in coordinating workouts with IF would likely find this short article a quick, first-step read.
RUN & MOVE HAPPY!
NOTE: If fasting to achieve weight loss is not of interest to you, but dieting as a strategy to increase longevity is intriguing, check out the science-heavy article by Dr. Jason Fung posted on Medium.com, “Longevity and Diet”
WEEK 13: RUN-WALK-BIKE ACROSS AMERICA STARTS TOMORROW
Segment 33 Bradford PA to Corning NY
Segment 34 Corning NY to Cazenovia NY
Segment 35 Cazenovia NY to Speculator NY
This week we will make our way from the Keystone State of Pennsylvania into the Empire State of New York, first to a city known for its manufacture of glass and ceramic products, Corning NY. The city is south of the Finger Lakes (FL) region, which is skirted on this trip.
The region is famous for beautiful woodland scenery, vineyards, and wine making. Officially there are 11 long, narrow, sometimes very deep lakes in this central part of the state. The Finger Lakes were carved by glacial action, as are many of the geographic features of the Great Lakes states. This area of New York is also a main part of the homeland of the Iroquois, a Native American nation that was one of the most powerful in colonial times.
The village of Watkins Glen NY, north of the route at the south end of Seneca Lake, is well-known by nature enthusiasts for the nearby State Park, with its beautiful rushing streams, waterfalls, and gorges. Race fans know it for the Watkins Glen International racetrack, which is on the NASCAR Cup Series schedule (in 2019 the race will be contested on August 11.)
The route passes from Corning through Ithaca, which lies at the southern end of Cayuga Lake, then east of the city of Syracuse to the historic village of Cazenovia in the town of the same name. Ithaca is the home of Cornell University, which is both a private Ivy League and a public land-grant educational institution. Syracuse is home to its namesake University. Cazenovia Lake lies at the northeast edge of the town, and although it is situated at the far eastern end of the FL region and not officially included with the eleven Finger Lakes, sometimes is called the 12th Lake because it seems to have similar glacial origins.
The last stop this week is Speculator NY, deep within the Adirondack Mountains. The route runs eastward from Cazenovia and enters Adirondack Park, the boundaries of which correspond to the dome-shaped area comprising the Mountains, about 160 miles wide and a mile high. If you stayed at an inn you might enjoy relaxing in wooden Adirondack reclining chairs that derive their name from the area. You will have earned it! Only a relatively few more days of effort remain, about 300 miles of road.
RUN & MOVE HAPPY!
IT’S POSSIBLE TO THINK THAT BECAUSE A FOOD IS ‘HEALTHY’, NOT HIGHLY PROCESSED, AND FULL OF NUTRIENTS THAT IT CAN BE EATEN WITHOUT MUCH THOUGHT ABOUT PORTION CONTROL. Julia Malacoff, in an item posted on the MyFitnessPal.com blog, reminds us of delicious items that make for wonderful snacks, especially when consumed every so often, in relatively small amounts. She warns dieters who are striving to lose weight, that certain unmindful indulgences could sabotage their efforts.
In “8 Healthy Whole Foods That Could Slow Weight Loss” Malacoff has built a list containing some foods that shouldn’t surprise anyone who’s enjoyed them (high-in-fat oils, nuts, and nut butters), and others that taste so great we’ve suspected they might make it onto such a list (high-in-sugar smoothies). But to find whole wheat baked goods, granola, and trail mixes (protein bars should be in the same group, I think) included might be eye-opening.
Malacoff explains that all the foods she has identified in her article are calorie-dense and for this reason, unless consumed in small quantities, can sneak too many healthy calories into a meal plan.
It will take less than a minute to scroll down through the full piece and a few more minutes to back up and read each short explanation. But potentially, it’s time well spent if doing so raises awareness that these scrumptious foods must be eaten with attention paid to the small sizes that constitute a single serving. Many are measured only in tablespoons.
Filling a snack baggie, gulping a large cup, or making multiple passes at a guacamole bowl without careful consideration isn’t a smart approach with these foods it seems.
Earned Runs does not focus on weight loss, but the flip side of taking fat off is putting it on. “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” is a take home message we can find in this article whether weight maintenance or reduction is a goal. Savor these foods, but do so mindfully
RUN & MOVE HAPPY
WANT TO START TRAINING WITH WEIGHTS? Consider trying just one exercise, the Incline Farmer’s Walk, from this celebrity workout designed by Gunnar Peterson. The full workout is highlighted by Brett Williams in his MensHealth.com piece of March 6, 2019.
Peterson has the athlete demonstrating the workout use sophisticated gym equipment but suggests carrying dumbbell weights on an incline treadmill rather than this fitness machine.
Interspersed with taking forward walk steps the Beverly Hills trainer has his subject perform shoulder shrugs that are used to time the exercise:
It seems reasonable to assume the treadmill incline can also be adjusted down from the 11% used in the demonstration.
WHY THIS EXERCISE? According to a Livestrong.com article written by Sara Lindberg and reviewed by Aubrey Bailey, this exercise “targets the muscles in your upper body” and also “strengthens your lower body”. The list includes muscles of the shoulders and upper back, the biceps, triceps, and forearms, as well as the quadriceps, abductor, adductor and posterior chain (gluteals, hamstrings, and calf) muscles. In my experience it works on hand grip and core strength, and benefits balance too.
Beginners may wish to learn more about the specific muscles worked in the Farmer’s Walk and be educated about correct performance by first reading their article.
Injury prevention should always be a concern when attempting new exercises, especially in novices or older/younger individuals. A search of the medical literature did not produce much information on the topic of safe performance of the farmer’s walk. An article discussing methods of strengthening the gluteus medius muscle incorporated this move in an exercise program.
Physical therapist, Richard Haynes, published a blog item discussing recommendations for its use in patients wishing to recover strength after surgery. As with any exercise program, obtaining medical clearance prior to attempting this move is a good idea.
The European Institute of Sports Physiotherapy published an item from Alex Bell Moratto in the Pierre Louis Denaro blog, “Clinical Spotlight”, which recommended the Farmer’s Walk for a variety of strength building purposes.
More complicated and difficult variations of this one simple exercise, also called a LOADED CARRY, which involves walking while toting heavy objects like barbells, kettlebells, dumbbells, rocks, and logs, etc., are demonstrated in a MensHealth.com article by Lou Schuler.
[Half gallon or gallon plastic jugs filled with water or sand might work too].
Utilizing proper form, this single functional exercise promises strength gains that may encourage additional training. Give it a try if you’d like an introduction.
RUN & MOVE HAPPY!
NOTE: A few of the other exercise in Peterson's workout can be easily performed without the equipment demonstrated, by substituting more commonly available items
Lateral lunge with chop
Use a Swiss ball or a Bosu instead, move arms to introduce side-to-side movement
HIIT cardio any aerobic activity
DON’T OVERTHINK IT; CONSIDER FOAM ROLLING THIS AREA ANYTIME, INCLUDING FOR COMFORT Julia Malacoff instructs how to perform an abbreviated foam roll session in which only the neck and upper body receives self-massage, in her article for the MyFitnessPal.com blog.
She starts off by announcing that there is controversy regarding the safety of this practice. I have noticed that most how-to demonstrations do not caution against rolling involving the neck or back, but simply do not mention doing so.
Malacoff has asked experts, including an orthopedic physical therapy specialist and clinical exercise physiologist, to describe the proper, safe techniques for foam rolling the neck (region of the cervical spine) and areas of the thoracic spine (back) and lumbar spine (lower back).
The main points:
Years ago I found that foam roll sessions which concentrate on the upper and lower back to be a totally enjoyable morning OR evening habit. It's relaxing. Many fitness lovers associate lower body foam rolling with pain and shy away from it altogether. Perhaps those who read Malacoff's article may be tempted to utilize the self-massage technique at least for upper body and neck comfort.
RUN & MOVE HAPPY!
WEEK 12: RUN-WALK-BIKE ACROSS AMERICA STARTS TOMORROW
Segment 30: Bowling Green OH to Strongsville OH
Segment 31: Strongsville OH to Meadville PA
Segment 32: Meadville PA to Bradford PA
This week, from Bowling Green Ohio we’ll travel south of Put-In-Bay, a historic vacation resort town on the shore of South Bass Island in Lake Erie and Cedar Point Amusement Park in Sandusky, which is a must–do destination for roller coaster ride enthusiasts throughout the world. The area surrounding the route is fertile farmland; you’ll see soybeans and corn as well as other field crops, dairy cows, beef cattle, and sheep among other livestock. The most important livestock product is milk; wool is also a leading product.
The route continues south of Cleveland, Ohio, the site of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum on the south shore of Lake Erie. The city is home to the 2016 NBA Champion Cavaliers basketball team, Indians MLB baseball team, and Browns NFL football team. If there were time to take side trips on our journey, a visit to Cleveland would be well worth a delay for the reason of stopping at the amazing West Side Market. It doesn’t receive as much attention as Seattle’s Public Market, but surely is equally as wonderful, if not more, in my experience.
Then we’re on to Strongsville OH, a suburban city on the Ohio Turnpike, to which the family of John D and William Rockefeller, later co-founders of Standard Oil Company, moved when JD was in his teens. The first oil refineries of their pre-Standard Oil Company were built in nearby Cleveland. Beautiful Rockefeller Park in Cleveland is part of the vibrant city’s Emerald Necklace of metro-parks, an extensive system of nature preserves, which has long served as a resource for area runners.
The road from Strongsville to Meadville, Pennsylvania takes runners, walkers, and cyclists through rolling hills, past horse farms east of Cleveland into the quaint village of Chagrin Falls, Ohio on the powerful Chagrin River. From there you’ll pass through Ohio and Pennsylvania Amish country areas with its lush farms, horse-drawn buggies, and plainly dressed folk. Middlefield Ohio, just south of the route, is famous for its fine Amish Swiss cheese.
Meadville, located about 40 miles south of Lake Erie and 90 miles northwest of Pittsburgh, known for its steel mills and bridges. The Drake Well is nearby, the site of the first commercial oil well in America. We will continue on through the Allegheny National Forest to Bradford, a city in the Allegheny Mountains very close to the border of New York State. This city, like Meadville, experienced booming growth in the country’s oil rush years. It is also known as the home of the Zippo Manufacturing Company, which has produced the iconic windproof lighter since 1932.
Before cell phones were around, lighters like the Zippo (also Bic) and matches had been used to light up the night at concerts. A wonderful Beat.media article explores the history of this practice, for those who wonder how it began.
The past several weeks journey will have taken us along the relatively flat and green glacial plains of the Great Lakes region, and then up into the wooded heights of the Allegheny/Appalachian Plateau. With little more than two weeks remaining of this challenge, next week we will soon enter upstate New York and the Finger Lakes region, then move on to New England and our final destination!
RUN & MOVE & VACATION HAPPY!
*Full disclosure, Michigan is my home state; West Michigan my favorite place in the world!
I've loved times lived in the Cleveland area too, frequently traveling on the Pennsylvania Turnpike to Maryland. That's why there's a bit of insider detail in these last 2 weeks posts.
YOUR insider information on places the route passes through or near, would be amazing to include. Please share.
LET’S ALL GO TO THE MOVIES… SCIENCE FICTION, KID FLICKS, DRIVE-INS, AND STREAMED COMING-OF-AGE CLASSICS. THREE YEARS ago, Earned Runs featured science fiction movie viewing as a potentially fun vacation Friday activity. There were links to several lists of films judged to be the very best of this genre, with some lists covering many decades and including classics made as far back as the 1930’s. If movies that push the limits of science understanding and credulity appeal to you check out the VACATION WEEK FRIDAY 2016 post to help plan a 2019 vacation.
Later, in 2017 Earned Runs suggested that Wednesday, clearly falling midweek and not occupying a weekend slot, could be a great day to see kid flicks that even adults would enjoy. The vacation week blog posting that year linked to several lists with delightful titles, like “movies to watch before you turn 12”, or a slightly later age of 13 or 14 years. The sentiment behind such lists seemed to be a huge improvement on so-called “bucket list” versions, which focus in what to do before life ends. Too depressing. Check out the discussion that year if films designed to delight children seems like a good bet for your vacation this year.
Last year we explored the possibility of a DRIVE-IN Movie vacation activity. Travelandleisure.com published a list of the “Best Drive in Theaters in America”, which can be of help if one is nearby. Midwestliving.com highlighted those operating in the middle of the country. A 2016 article from Mentalfloss.com featured an interactive map that located every active drive-in in America. Yellow stars were used to mark spots where currently operating drive-in theaters could be found!
The best resource in 2018, in Earned Runs opinion, was the “Drive-ins” updated, searchable site. I entered my home zip code and found 6 theaters within a 100-mile radius. Clicking on the link of each listing took me to a fact page about the theater that had a link to the theater’s website. All 6 near me in West Michigan were operational. I found first run movies at these theaters including one showing movie double features on 4 screens!
Is it necessary to wait until vacation week to enjoy a drive-in movie? Clearly the activity is a great “stay-cation” option that could be fun on any night of any week in which the weather cooperates. My childhood memories of going to the drive-in include playground fun at the base of the large screen until sunset arrived, when the sky was dark enough to permit movie viewing. Car headlights would be flashed, the parental signal to return to the car. My brothers, plus a friend or two, and I would rush to the concession stand to get popcorn just as the movie started. In my mind’s eye, I remember seeing the swing-set’s silhouette against the indigo of the darkening sky on a crystal-clear night and almost shivering with excitement at the thought of the fun to come.
But the effort involved in locating and getting to an outdoor theater, with or without a family in tow, makes it an inconvenient venue for movie-viewing during summer vacation and most other times. Streaming is the modern answer to busy schedules and travel issues. Coming-of-Age movies are newer classics that might be considered for this season’s enjoyment, perhaps after the little ones are asleep?
Regardless of viewing location and genre, movies, like s’mores, seem to be made for summertime.
RUN & MOVE & VACATION HAPPY!
[Updated from 2018 post]
http://drive-ins.com/theaters (LIST OF ALL Drive-ins)
Vacation week 2016 Post
Vacation week 2017 Post
TOMORROW, AUGUST 10 2019, IS NATIONAL S'MORES DAY!!! WHAT CONJURES UP MEMORIES OF VACATION CAMPING more than the idea of making and eating s’mores? Maybe roasting hot dogs over an open fire or grill?
The simple traditional recipe is provided with instructions (at the very end of a long post with many images) from ourpotluckfamily.com.
If help is needed perfecting a campfire s’mores-making technique, check out this 2015 editorial from SheKnows.com.
Not on vacation? Depending on how and where you plan to spend Saturday, whether or not on vacation, there are recipes to accommodate non-traditional situations in a piece on CountryLiving.com, “35 S’mores Dessert recipes for the Sweetest Summer Ever.”
I especially would like to try the S’mores Cookie Cups (#3), S’mores Rice Krispies Treats (#10), S'mores Brownie Cupcakes (#8), S'mores Nachos (#12), S'mores Squares (#25), and S'mores Bars (#34). If walking, running, hiking, swimming, biking, or other fun early morning exercise is on the schedule Saturday, the S’more Stuffed French Toast (#25) could be a perfect post-effort breakfast splurge!
To impress family or friends with offhand knowledge of the history of this campfire staple, check out a 2015 story in nationalgeographic.com. It says the s’more has a “long yet vague history” that “dates back at least to 1927 when a recipe for the more formally designated ‘some mores’ appeared in Tramping and Trailing with the Girl Scouts.”
The article goes way back, delving into the invention of marshmallows from a swamp plant root that produced a sticky white sap. According to a quoted reference the candied root was cut into chunks that served as early cough drops in the Middle Ages. After learning more It seems the French can be thanked for the beginnings of the modern marshmallow.
Gather all the modern ingredients today, and enjoy a s’more or s’more-dessert-variation…vacation is the perfect opportunity.
RUN & MOVE & VACATION HAPPY!
NOTE: To make a great campfire s’more, the chocolate must melt. Sometimes the heat of a toasted marshmallow is not sufficient to melt the chocolate pieces. Because of this, we now wrap our graham cracker + chocolate piece + marshmallow 'sandwiches' in aluminum foil and put it on the grill or in the oven to heat briefly to obtain the best outcome.
It has mostly seemed to be a matter of temperature, but over the past few years, I think it has become a matter of ingredients. The Hershey’s brand milk chocolate bar we traditionally used appeared to be thinner, yet getting more brittle and ‘un-meltable’, causing us to switch to Hershey’s brand ‘Kisses’ in our s’mores.
Even they seem not to melt as easily. The mouth-feel and taste of the bars'/kisses suggests the amount of paraffin wax may have increased. Some internet gossips/bloggers on the topic agree, and one person’s attempt to obtain information from the company was not helpful. Ingredient listing by Hershey does not include paraffin, but there is no doubt it is used in making in their bars and candies.
I have tried using Reese’s Peanut Butter cups (also made by Hershey) but this is not a classic combination. Please add your insight and suggestions in this topic to help us make a better original campfire s’more.
THE PERSEID METEOR SHOWER REACHES A MAXIMUM ON AUGUST 12-13 this year, although it will have been active since July 14 and extend to August 27. Unfortunately, the presence of nearly a full moon on this date will make viewing the popular astronomical show difficult.
There are a several days before the event is to occur, over which to make a decision and prepare for the night-show activity.
A Space.com article “Perseid Meteor Shower 2019: When, Where & How to See It” by Sarah Lewin provides the particulars for interested sky and star-gazers. It references NASA meteor expert Bill Cooke, who is of the opinion that the peak night will be the evening of August 12-13.
Best to find an area of “dark sky” with the least nearby polluting earth light as possible, lay down in an open spot from which the northeastern sky can be seen, and be patient. Don’t forget to apply bug spray.
If you plan to travel to a well-known dark-sky area, this year’s predicted dim showing may mean it will be less crowded than in years when the shower has promised to be spectacular. The 2019 event may not create a lot of enthusiasm. On my home turf, the east coast of Lake Michigan, astronomical shows can lead to traffic jams on the small roads and access drives to public areas, like state park beaches, where the openness creates the ability to view the entire sky away from city lights. Perhaps not this year, though.
Remember to be thoughtful and courteous if you drive to a park. Dark sky park workers advise bringing flashlights covered with red or brown paper bag to preserve sensitivity to faint light. The darksky.org webpage for the 2015 Perseid shower explains the concept of the radiant, “a point on the sky to which the tracks of the Perseid meteors all seem to trace back”.
For more details read the entire Space.com article. AND check the local forecast to determine if you can count on a clear sky.
RUN & MOVE & VACATION HAPPY!
APerseid in 2007 By Brocken Inaglory - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2632873
WEEK 11 RUN-WALK-BIKE ACROSS AMERICA STARTS TOMORROW. Earned Runs 2019 Vacation Week August 3-12 has officially begun. Enjoy this upcoming week's posts that, for several years now, have been geared more toward vacation fun than purely fitness interests. We hope to arrive back from our time off refreshed and energized to make the most of the remainder of August.
Segment 27: Ferry from Milwaukee WI to Holland MI
Segment 28: Holland MI to Coldwater MI
Segment 29: Coldwater MI to Bowling Green OH
THE WEEK BEGINS WITH A HIGH-SPEED ferry ride across Lake Michigan, from the terminal in Milwaukee, Wisconsin to one in Muskegon, Michigan. The trip takes 2.5 hours and allows travelers on their way into “Pure Michigan” (the state’s tourism advertising campaign) to avoid Chicago area traffic around the southern end of Lake Michigan.
Upon arriving on the eastern shore of the ‘Big Lake’, the name those living in West Michigan use to distinguish this Great Lake from the many smaller recreational waterways in the Mitten State, you will be at the far edge of the Eastern Time zone. The sun sets just before 9 pm here in early August, and the long twilight period extends the length of camping and picnicking days at State Park beaches even further.
From Muskegon MI, you will travel through blueberry country as you move south to Holland, MI; the nearby fields will be in the height of production for the year. This charming college and vacation town, which boasts a Dutch heritage and spring Tulip Festival, hugs Lake Macatawa and its channel to the Lake. A mix of humble, quaint, and stately cottages are built into graceful tree-covered sand dunes that extend inward a short distance from the shoreline.
[Blueberry lovers take note. The development of cultivars at Michigan State University, the contribution of these varieties to the state’s agricultural economy, and spread to other blueberry growing regions of the world is discussed in a University newsletter item, “Building a Better Blueberry”.]
As the route continues in a southeast direction, it passes through farmland and around more lakes. The most productive fruit, vegetable, and landscape plant growing areas in the region are found in this western portion of the state. That’s because of the climate-moderating effect of Lake Michigan, which acts to extend the growing season longer than in areas farther inland. Michigan is third in the nation in apple growing and is a leading producer of blueberries, cherries, peaches, grapes, and other fruit. You will skirt this area and travel more centrally through farmland where dairy, livestock, and corn are also of agricultural importance.
On the way to Coldwater MI you’ll pass through the city that gave its name to Kalamazoo College, home of the Boys Junior National Tennis Championships since 1943. “Nats at the ‘Zoo” is one of the most important events for 16 to 18-year old tennis phenoms in the US, held in early August.
At the end of the week, the route heads from Coldwater to another college town, Bowling Green, Ohio, briefly running through the very tip of northeast Indiana, also a Midwest apple growing area.
This part of Indiana and northwest Ohio is the area where Johnny Appleseed established nurseries that may have contributed to the future presence of apple orchards here. According to a tripsavvy.com item “Ohio and the Legend of Johnny Appleseed”, farmer John Chapman spent time in Defiance County, Ohio; the “colorful—and beloved” figure died at the age of 70 in Fort Wayne Indiana, both south of this week’s route.
Our trek across portions of states bordering the Great Lakes seems to highlight fruit and produce growing, which may be a surprise to some who only associate this part of the country with heavy industry and the Rust Belt. Travel, even that which involves distances not too far from ‘home’, nearly always offers wonderful opportunities to learn.
RUN, MOVE & VACATION, HAPPY!
TODAY IS THE OFFICIAL START OF EARNED RUNS 2019 VACATION WEEK. The blog is taking a break from fitness-related topics. We're not going to be worried about meeting challenges or staying on training schedules. The point is to NOT have a routine, but to enjoy activities that we ordinarily don't make a priority, but that help us relax and appreciate life.
Of course not everyone has vacation this very week. But these posts can be a source of vacation week activity ideas if your's is still to come.
SCIENCE SATURDAY: MUSEUMS, AQUARIUMS, PLANETARIUMS. This post was originally written in 2017 for Friday and updated in 2018 for Saturday Looking back then, Saturday seemed to be the better day for this activity; it usually marks either the beginning or the end of a typical vacation period.
Beginning of vacation Saturday: For 'stay-cationers' Saturday might be that day that kicks-off a week in which you remain at home nights but seek fun day-time adventures. For those traveling away, check-in time at hotels is usually late in the afternoon, and although luggage can be checked with the hotel’s bell desk or left in the car, the range of potential activities might be restricted until a room is secured.
End of vacation Saturday: by this time the return home might have already been accomplished to avoid weekend traffic. There’s the need to unpack and recover a bit, as well as prepare for the upcoming non-vacation week.
Regardless of whether you’re at the beginning or end of a week’s break, at home or still away at vacation’s end, perhaps the previous days were spent mostly outdoors. A break from full-on physical activity might be a welcome change. Admittedly, Saturday might be busier than weekdays at museums, aquariums, and planetariums, but being surrounded by other happy visitors can add to the excitement and fun of an institution’s offerings. Strolling through nearly empty halls on less hectic days could be dull and kind of lonely.
Let’s start with museums. They’re not only about science. They can be about art, history, and sports too. Have you lived in or near a city with a museum, maybe even a famous museum, but never visited? Or toured with your elementary or middle-school classmates more than a decade ago?
Aquariums and planetariums fall into the same category of these often-neglected entertainment venues. Yes, entertainment! Today’s institutions are likely to have hands-on exhibits and moving parts that educate and provide a fun experience for adults as well as children. Taking a break or eating on site can also be a treat, as sometimes specialty foods are offered that relate to the institutions theme.
If you've traveled far for vacation, there is sure to be a museum nearby, even if small. Local museums may focus on an important regional industry, like petroleum and oil (Texas), autos (Michigan), flight (Washington), motorcycles (Iowa), iron (Michigan), shipbuilding (Maine, Mississippi, Massachusetts, California), to name a few. The Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago is likely the most well-known, but there’s one in Baltimore too.
Washington DC likely has the greatest concentration of places to visit, especially related to government activities. Nearby Baltimore area has a fantastic National Cryptologic Museum adjacent to the grounds of the National Security Agency headquarters at Fort George G. Meade, one of the most interesting I've ever visited.
The end of summer vacation is perfect for slowing down and enjoying what doesn’t make it into hectic everyday schedules. Consider spending a few hours in buildings that are designed to awe and inspire!
RUN & MOVE & VACATION HAPPY!
Image: Early morning past the Smithsonian Institution Building, Washington DC. Taken by PKSenagore October 18, 2016. All rights reserved.
SUN VERSUS SUNSCREENS. The Chicago Sun Times recently reported the results of a sunscreen study published in the Journal of American Medicine Association (JAMA) that revealed several active ingredients, avobenzone, oxybenzone, octocrylene and ecamsule “enter the bloodstream at levels that far exceed the FDA’s recommended threshold without a government safety inspection.”
After 24 study participants applied sunscreen in a manner consistent with “maximal use” conditions on 4 consecutive days (4 times a day, on 75% of body surfaces), blood tests showed that absorption into the blood stream “far exceeded” 0.5ng/mL on the very FIRST day of the study. At this level, the FDA recommends performance of “nonclinical toxicology assessment including systemic carcinogenicity and additional developmental and reproductive studies.”
There were 4 groups; each received a different sunscreen formulation containing a combination of active ingredients as might be found in commercially available products (lotion, spray, or cream). The study protocol required application (2 mg/cm2) for 4 days and the performance of blood tests.
A conclusion of the research was that there is a need for more investigation into the “clinical significance of these findings”; there was no recommendation to discontinue use of sunscreens.
My personal use of sunscreen has been restricted to inorganic barrier products included in formulations promoted for infants and persons with sensitive skin, containing only zinc oxide and/ or titanium dioxide. I am not very likely to apply as large an amount used in the study for total body coverage, nor to re-apply 4 times a day for 4 days straight.
However, a SCIENTIFIC review paper on the topic of neurotoxicity of various sunscreens (including nano-particle inorganic filters I use) suggests that the safety and regulation of such UV protection technologies, applied alone or in combination, has not been sufficiently established given their continuously increasing worldwide use. Safety concerns extend not only to humans but to the environment and other living systems.
The issues seem to be so complex as to be mind-boggling, and the potential hazards of using versus not using UV protection on a global scale have yet to be determined.
What are outdoor fitness enthusiasts like me to do? It seems wise not to completely rely on the application of products to the skin, as I have previously, but use the type of old-fashioned methods promoted before such products were created or commonly available.
Although my activities would be restricted I should perhaps give greater consideration to: enjoying the outdoors at times of the day when the sun exposure potential is lessened (mornings and evenings); wearing clothing that creates a physical barrier (like hats, sunglasses, and sleeves); and opting for shade over direct sun when possible (umbrellas, awnings, porches etc.).
Clearly this isn’t the ultimate answer for me or the rest of the world when it comes to UV protection, but with information that harm might also be found in certain artificial protective measures I think I should budget my exposure to both the sun and sunscreens and be cautious in acceptance of technology.
Hopefully future new UV protection could be developed with the concerns of knowledgeable scientists and the public identified and addressed up-front, rather than retro-actively investigated.
RUN & MOVE HAPPY!
DON’T BE FOOLED BY THE INTRODUCTION TO THIS UPPER BODY WORKOUT created and demonstrated in a video by Mike Donavanik. The frequent contributor to SHAPE.com directs his comments at women and promises the session will help to streamline the torso, leading to a lovelier, bulge-free view from behind.
Most components of this workout, which Donavanik performs over the entire 10 minutes it was designed to be worked, have been part of routines prescribed to me for the purpose of improving strength for running, not for achieving a better-looking physique. And the persons pictured demonstrating the exercises were nearly always male runners.
This workout is not just for women hoping to look better. Check out the video to discover one or more new exercises that might be worth incorporating into an existing line-up. Or add Donavanik’s total workout to your list of strength routines; it’s a ready-made session of complex moves designed to build power in the lower and upper back, shoulders, and posterior chain muscles. Some, especially those performed on one leg or that twist the torso may be more difficult because balance is tested too.
My favorites, in the list below, include the Deadlift to Row, Single leg Romanian Dead Lift + Row, Bodyweight I-T-Y, and Super Duper Superman. The remaining exercise are rather difficult for me, which means I really need to work on the muscles involved and possible use lower weights and find slightly easier variations before attempting the harder versions.
Deadlift to Row
Single leg Romanian Dead Lift + Row
Good Morning + Horizontal Press
Alternating Plank Row Press
Downward Dog Row
Super Duper Superman
Donavanik can seem a bit silly at times, but his routine is not.
RUN & MOVE HAPPY!
WEEK 10 RUN-WALK-BIKE ACROSS AMERICA STARTS TOMORROW
Segment 24: West Union IA to Boscobel WI
Segment 25: Boscobel WI to Madison WI
Segment 26: Madison WI to Milwaukee WI
WOW! ON THE FIRST SEGMENT THIS WEEK THE MIGHTY MISSISSIPPI RIVER IS CROSSED. Even virtually it seems like a really big deal. Notice, when leaving Iowa, that both the state’s western and eastern borders are formed by rivers, the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers, respectively. Iowa is the only state with this distinction.
The National Geographic Society website has a student activity for grades 6-8, in which students examine the role of rivers in the settlement of the Americas; if your kids are walking, running, or biking this challenge, it might be worth exploring as a learning activity.
Moving into the state of Wisconsin, the route follows along the Wisconsin River, a tributary of the Mississippi and the longest in the state. Apparently, there are bald eagles to be seen along the northern Mississippi River valley, between Minnesota and southern Illinois, but mostly in January and February.
Wisconsin is one of the USA’s top dairy producers and is famous for its cheese. Fans of the professional football team, the Green Bay Packers are known as “cheeseheads”. Due to settlement of its lands by European, especially German and Scandinavian immigrants in the 1800’s and early 1900’s their cultural influence persists.
The remainder of the week our travels continue across Wisconsin to its two largest cities. The first is the state’s second largest and state capital, Madison, named after President James Madison and home of the University of Wisconsin.
Milwaukee, the largest, is next. According to the TrekTravel.com online itinerary for its bike tour (week 4, day 28), the route to Madison from Boscobel WI takes you through a beautiful ‘unglaciated region” of Wisconsin’s Driftless Area, where you experience forested steep ridges and rolling hills, deep green valleys, spring-fed waterfalls, and crystal clear trout streams possessing dramatically carved limestone bluffs.
It says that nearby farms, which use sustainable growing practices, produce organic foods and other treasures like heirloom vegetables and artisanal cheeses likely to be found in Madison restaurants and its farmers market. Part of the tour company's admitted enthusiasm for this city is due to the fact that Madison is its hometown, which explains the wonderful insight into the area's charms.
Milwaukee is at the eastern edge of the route through this state and offers up scenes of the Lake Michigan western shoreline and the Brewers’ baseball team stadium, Miller Park. It is the home of iconic Harley-Davidson motorcycles and the company's landmark building-housed Museum.
German settlers were responsible for the city’s beer-making and -loving heritage. A large Polish presence was established as well, along with immigrant communities from Lithuania, Italy, Ireland, Russia, Bohemia and Sweden. Festivals still honor their influence on the city.
There is much to see and enjoy in Wisconsin.
Get ready to cross another large body of water, Lake Michigan known by locals as "The Big Lake", next week!
RUN & MOVE HAPPY!
BRIDGE TO PHYSICAL SELF
Running, walking, and fitness activities enable us to experience our physical selves in a world mostly accessed through use of fingers on a mobile device.
EARNED RUNS is edited and authored by me, runner and founder. I began participating in road races before 5Ks were common. I've been a dietitian, practiced and taught clinical pathology, and been involved with research that utilized pathology. I am fascinated with understanding the origins of disease as well as health.
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