SAN ANTONIO—I’ve been running pretty much my entire life (as far as I can remember, at least since third grade). Ike was still in the White House when I began running back and forth to school. Ike’s long gone, but I’m still at it.
Most of my running has been unremarkable, but the one area I’ve excelled is injuries. I’ve had ‘em all. Mostly, the common garden variety of overuse injuries that everyone gets, but I have also blazed new trails and continually found unusual ways to get dinged up.
Let me count some of the innovative ways I’ve injured myself: Sneezing (back), flip turns (neck), drinking warm Gatorade (strained abdominal from puking), tripping (broken foot) and even sailing (strained a hamstring; don’t ask).
But I have found a new way to get hurt: Doing nothing. That’s right. Just sitting at my desk and not doing anything more strenuous than moving my fingers, resulted in my latest gluteal strain.
Sitting. So many of us do it for long, long periods every day, staring at their computers. Hard to believe, but it’s deadly stuff. Chew on this. An Australian study found that adults who spend 11 hours or more a day sitting are 40 percent more likely to die over the next three years—and it doesn’t really matter how fit you are.
You don’t sit 11 hours a day? OK, but are you trapped in the cubicle world and sitting for eight hours? If you do and you’re 45 years or older, your risk of dying within the next three years is still 15 percent higher than those who sit four hours or less a day.
What actually happens when you sit so long is the electrical activity in your muscles drop dramatically. This sets off a chain reaction of all sorts of bad stuff: your calorie burning rate drops to next to nothing and the risks of Type 2 diabetes and becoming obese rises.
Even sitting for as little as six hours a day is brutal. Statistically, men who sit six hours a day have a 20 percent higher death rate than men who sit only three hours a day. It’s even worse for women. Their death rate is 40 percent higher.
Scary. Now certainly many of those who sit for such prolonged periods are morbidly obese and their mortality risks are double those of comparable sitters who are fit and active.
One advantage we as sitting runners have is we tend to move around quite a bit. We run, we walk, we cycle, stretch, swim—we move in our free time. But plenty of people don’t move at all, choosing to spend their free time in front of their TVs.
Says Dr. Suzanne Steinbaum, director of Women and Heart Disease at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York: “Yes, you have to work but when you go home, it’s so important you don’t go back to sitting in front of the computer or television. “After sitting for eight hours, the risks go up exponentially. It’s really about what you’re doing in your leisure time and making the decision to move.”
Movement is the key. Simply getting up and getting a drink of water or going to the bathroom might seem trivial, but it at least breaks up the sedentary cycle.
I don’t sit for eight hours a day, but some days I do. Last week after an exceptionally long day in front of the computer, I could barely move when I got up and my lower back screamed so loudly that instead of doing a long run, I spent the weekend on a block of ice and loaded up on Aleve.
No biggie, but I have learned the hard way the importance of getting up and moving around every 45-60 minutes. But it isn’t easy to interrupt whatever I’m doing by just getting up and walking around the room.
It might not be easy, but it’s necessary.
- One of the most remarkable runners in town is Marc Bergman of Round Rock. This man has gone from jogger to stud in just a couple of years. His marathon season was a long one: Nine marathons in 10 months and dropped 14 minutes on his PR down to 2:35:43 which came in his last one. Begman won the Light at the End of Tunnel Marathon last weekend, just a week after running 2:47:48 in the Missoula Marathon. But he saved his best for last in this trail race on a downhill course from Snoqualmie Pass to North Bend in Washington. Amazing. Other Texans who ran include Clay Brieger (3:09:22) of Corpus Christi, Kelly Braun (3:58:54) of San Antonio, Penny Lane (4:09:14) of Austin and Amanda Hager (4:26) of Seguin).
- Paul Terranova is all in on his incredible summer quest. Terranova, an accomplished 38-year-old triguy, is attempting the unthinkable: Running all four classic 100-milers this summer and then the Hawaii Ironman in October. Terranova has already finished the Western States Trail 100 and this weekend he’s tackling the Vermont 100. He’ll follow that with the Leadville Trail 100 in Colorado and then the Hardrock 100 in Utah. Also entered in the Vermont race are Marcy Beard and Kipley Fiebig of Austin and Dave Bogle from Round Rock and Jason Mittman of San Marcos.
- The latest running stats are in from Running USA and last year there were 518,000 marathon finishers which is just a small bump (2.2 percent) from 2010. There appears to be a bit of a slowdown in the number of finishers when compared to 2010 (an 8.6 percent increase from 2009) and ‘09 (nearly a 10 percent increase over ‘08). But counteracting that slowdown is the half marathon boom which had 1.6 million finishers in 2011 which is a 16 percent rise from 2010. Texas has three half marathons among the top 30 in the US. Rock ‘n’ Roll San Antonio is fifth largest with 19,546 finishers. Rock ‘n’ Roll Dallas is ranked 23rd with 11,008 finishers and our hometown Livestrong Austin Half is listed at 28th with 10,544 finishers. BTW: Las Vegas is numero uno with 33,257. Among US marathons, Houston Chevron is ranked 12th largest with 6,916 finishers. New York City was No. 1 with 47,133 finishers (the most of any marathon in the world) and Chicago was second with 35,755 finishers.
- What I’m listening to this morning: “Mud Slide Jim And the Blue Horizon” by James Taylor.
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