I'm a big'un. 6 foot, 270#. (Yeah, I'm seriously built for this). I've always been athletic. I was the catcher for my baseball teams and offensive guard and defensive tackle on my football teams. I could get up a head of steam and clobber somebody into next week as long as it was within twenty or thirty yards of where I launched from. At 46, I can still swim for miles and usually only leave the water because I'm out of time, not out of breath/energy. What I have never been able to do is run. If there is an injury to be had, I've had it. I feel like I've even invented a few. I'm the Little Engine That Could. I'm slow, but I'll be there at the end. At least, that's what I console myself with. Doctors, even the Chief Flight Surgeon of the Navy, have told me to just give it up, I'll never run well, long, or without debilitating pain and injury afterward. Instructors, Coaches and observers have likened my "style" to a galloping Galapagos Tortoise married to an asthmatic diesel locomotive just looking for some YouTube "fail" video to call home.

Did I mention that I'm slow? I time my runs by how many solar eclipses and harmonic convergences that occur...per mile.

I'm in a program right now that is VERY physically demanding. I am consistently the slowest guy on the runs, prompting some colorful commentary from the other "students" and cadre of instructors. I'm older now, and a LOT heavier than I was in my late teens and early twenties, but I SWEAR this is more difficult than boot camp, and/or some of the other physical courses I've been involved in. "Keep UP, Grampa!" "Run Faster, Tubby-tubby!" You get the idea. I've asked everybody I know how to run faster; better. Even the gazelles I know could only advise me to "run faster." My class's physical training instructors (Formerly Bad-ass Spec Ops guys) could only tell me...wait for it..."run faster." In five weeks of training, I've managed to take a whopping (sarcasm) 23 seconds off of my mile and a half time, over-strain my left LCL and pull a hammy. I don't think this is what "faster" is. I had, until yesterday, resigned myself to lumbering through this coarse giving 150% effort for 50% results and NEVER being forced to run again, nor wanting to, for the rest of my life.

Yesterday, that all changed. Scott, one of my class mates (a bonified Gazelle on the track, and only a few years my junior) had told me about a book that he read a while back that changed his running style, and his injury rate. It was called "Born to Run", and Scott explained that the book made the case that ALL of us were born to run. You know, R-U-N, not lumber like an AT-AT on attacking a frozen rebel base...like me. Yesterday, I went to the book store to search-out this lifeline from heaven. I didn't find it. I DID find "The Cool Impossible". To say it resonated with me would be a masterful understatement. I've always known on a visceral level that I'm running wrong. There had to be a "better faster", not just a faster-faster, but...HOW? Last night, I blasted though pearls of wisdom, exercises, forms and "SHAZZAM" insights like a man possessed. Page after page explained everything I had been doing wrong, but even better, explained HOW to do it RIGHT! Now, about two-thirds of the way through the book, I'm convinced that it was written just for me. Time to correct my heel strike, over-stride, bend and lean...I'm sure breathing and cadence will factor in, too.

I still have more to read, and a long road ahead of me (in a good way), but...I think I've found the key to turning what has been completely impossible into my Cool Impossible.

I had to tell somebody!

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Comment by Lori Enlow on September 30, 2014 at 7:12am
love it!!
Comment by Robert Burpee on September 30, 2014 at 5:17am
I hear you brother I've bought probably 12-14 copies of TCI giving them to parents at my sons school, friends, my chiropractor other runners, anyone truly interested as there is so much misinformation around.
Comment by Allen Rothery on September 29, 2014 at 12:11am

One of the biggest problems I've had was trying to figure out this whole breathing thing.  Yeah, I've taken a breath or two in my years, but running and breathing...well...I sound like an asthmatic steam locomotive running in reverse after chain-smoking a carton of unfiltered Camels. 

One in, two out.  Two in, two out.  Two in, one out...and you do the hokey-pokey and you shake it all about!  ???  It wasn't adding up for me.  Until...

one of my class mates (a powerful runner and genuinely good guy) laid-down some wisdom on me that had me awestruck.  It went something like this: "When you are thirsty, you don't put the glass to your lips, draw deeply on the cool water and...spit it all out.  Nope, you drink it down.  The same goes for breathing when you run.  First, you have to draw it in, then keep it in your lungs where it can do some good before getting rid of the CO2.  Your breathing needs to refresh your lungs and muscles...drink deeply."

It took the span of...oh...fifteen seconds for my breathing cadence to sync-up with the rest of me.  (two in, hold for a beat, out...all by foot cadence...very rhythmic)

I had previously asked all of my instructors "how"...begged these guys, each and every one of them..."Master Yogurt, teach this poor  Padawan your breathing secrets"  To the man, they would say something uber-helpful like: "Get in better shape and you'll breath better", or "breath quieter."  You know, serious secret wisdom of the ages translated from ancient texts carved into stone jello molds.

Once I get it all put together and finish this coarse, I think I'm going to give each of my instructors a copy of "The Cool Impossible".  I can't stomach the idea of somebody coming along behind me in another class, just as hungry for knowledge...just as scared or intimidated by the very act of bipedal locomotion taking place faster than an amble...just as injured, hurt and pained as I WAS and that person getting screwed by ignorance on the part of the "experts".  Not on my watch; not if I can prevent it.

Comment by Alessandra on September 28, 2014 at 3:38pm

Allen, good f

Allen, way to go! You are very inspiring,  thank you

Comment by Robert Burpee on September 28, 2014 at 3:25pm
Allen, you've finally worked it out, under the ruse of attaining an impossible dream, The Cool Impossible in nothing but mind control. The implantation of a thought seed, "The impossible is possible, fear can be overcome, in fact it can be used" BE CAREFUL IT IS ADDICTIVE!!!
Comment by Allen Rothery on September 28, 2014 at 12:48pm

Update:  It's been two weeks since I've started doing things (mostly) the Cool Impossible way and, well it's been great!  The micro (stabilizing) muscles in my legs are still screaming every day, but I'm taking that as a good thing.  I'm still feeling like an elephant trying to balance on a golf ball when doing the stabilizing ball exercises, but I'm managing to laugh at that "soup sandwich" guy in the mirror now.

(Note to self: try to fall off of the damned ball in such a way as to NOT hit the hefty Cross Fit chick  way over there across the room in the face with the suddenly repurposed, speeding "dodge ball"...apparently, that's frowned upon in this establishment)

I have also managed to finish all the class runs WITH the class.  That's HUGE to me.  Even more than that, I'm starting to shave some serious time off my mile times.  If I can keep improving (Hey, it's Cool Impossible!), over the next three weeks, I may even make my mandatory run times!!!

Yeah, I'm getting the impression that this stuff WORKS!!

I went with a "minimal" (4mm drop)pair of Brooks before going to the B2Rs...next pair.  They really helped counter the heal strike my Asics Nimbus' were promoting.  Night and day. 

I will admit, there seems to be something terribly wrong with me now, though.  It seems that I've developed some form of horrible brain infection.  Not only am I running with my class (3-5 miles 3x per week), and running 1.5 to 3 miles at lunch 5 days a week, I also seem to have some kind of unreasoning compulsion to knock-out another few miles when I get home in the evening.  Could I have been infected by a brain-eating ameba? I've had my wife check for the tell-tale marks of a alien mind-control device implantation surgery, but...well...no dice.  I've purchased a nice snap-brim tin foil fedora, just incase it's a secret governmental experiment beamed through Castle reruns, but that's also failed to diminish the urge.  What's happening to me?! (I'm even considering training for a 10K.) 

...my wife is even considering joining me on some runs now.  Is it THAT contagious? 

THUNDER Tater, HOOooooo!

Comment by Robert Burpee on September 17, 2014 at 6:04pm
Well done champ, I was going to say "well done little soldier", but I don't know whether it translates from Oz to Yank. :-)
Comment by Allen Rothery on September 17, 2014 at 5:02pm

Well, I have a little news.  Actually, to me, it's huge.  My first knuckle-down serious effort at running using the new biomechanical model was Monday.  I struggled to keep up with the others in my program. (let's call it "class" for lack of a more fitting description)  I kept sliding between the old way, and the new way.  I think it was mostly because of old habits colliding with present pressures and lack of muscle memory.  For a while, I felt "better faster", but a long uphill shredded that.  So, Monday was...a wash.

Tuesday was a light day, and the exercise ball exercises entertained some folks at the gym.  At least the pointing and snickering seems to indicate amusement.  Right?

Today, things changed some more.  Another class run, including several rounds of "Indian runs"  up until the half-way point and I was still chugging along with the rest of the class!  More than that, by the end of the circuit, I was STILL with the class!  After 5 1/2 weeks, this is the first time I finished ANY run with the rest!  I'm hurting, but I'm doing the happy dance.  Horse Liniment anybody?

Don't get me wrong, I know there's a bunch of work left to do.  I can't believe I'm saying this, but I'm actually looking forward to it. 

I showed "Cool Impossible" to my PT instructors and told them I was trying to fix my stride, and they seemed to actually (ahem) like the idea. 

Oh...um...a tip from me to y'all:  Be very aware of your audience when you decide to celebrate your (my? ...minor?) victories with a "thunder...Thunder...THUNDERCATS, HOOooo!" 

Comment by Robert Burpee on September 17, 2014 at 6:01am
Pssst ............ Allen ... You know something it actually works. Pass it on! :-)
Comment by Mark Middleton on September 15, 2014 at 12:59am
Astro-physics, kids cartoons, Star Wars references and running. I'm looking forward to reading more from you Allen.

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The Cool Impossible by Eric Orton

The Cool Impossible: Run Beyond Limits

 
“this is by far one of the best training books of the past decade.” - Competitor Magazine

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