Monday, 15 September 2014


At least three days a week and more often, I hope, four days a week, I tie up my shoe laces and head out for a 7-8 km run around our neighbourhood.  I run for a variety reasons, including the obvious - I like the health benefits.  I think I am pretty heart healthy.  I have gone from being borderline hypertensive to having blood pressure that my doctor raves about and that he says he would kill for, My resting heart rate is in the neighbourhood of 55.  I think I have more physical energy and stamina.  All good stuff.

I also run for other reasons.  I'm tired of talking about my depression and anxiety but man, when I run, I just don't feel it at all.  That rock in the pit of my stomach just disappears.  If I don't feel exactly good, neither do I feel bad.  I'm not sure if this is because of the neurochemicals that some say flood your brain during aerobic effort, or if it's because the physical discomfort of the activity is so psychologically grounding or, more likely some combination of both.  In either case, I run for relief.

As important as anything else, though, I run as a model for our daughter Lena.  Exercise is as close to a panacea as we have today, drastically reducing our risk for  a variety of diseases such as cancer and cardio-vascular disease, as well as diabetes and kidney disease.  Reasearch is also showing that the single most important thing we can do to delay age-related dementia is exercise.  I have also read recently that a number of school districts across North America have been experimenting with mandatory cardio workouts during school hours.  Evidence indicates very significant positive impacts on academic performance.  I want all of those things for our little girl and I hope that by her seeing me workout she'll want to as well.


Some other little snippets about my running regimen:

  • Even when I was running in my youth, I suffered from crippling shin pain.  This past summer I read about a running technique that is variously called Skill-Based Running, the Starrett Method or Chi Running.  I experimented with it and overnight my shin pain disappeared and I have been running fairly injury free since.  I encourage anyone who suffers to look into this.  I'm not one to fall for gimmicks and indeed the academic literature on the approach is, at best, inconclusive and at worst shows no benefit from the approach, but for me it works (though inexplicably I have been suffering from some leg pain this past week)

  • for the past couple of years I have suffered egregiously from insomnia.  Exercise is supposed to help but it really hasn't for me.  However, this past summer, rather than tossing and turning all night or, maybe worse, surrendering to the wasteland that is late night television, I have gotten up to run anywhere from 2:00 to 5:00 in the morning.  This is a great time to do it.  The air is cool, the neighbourhood is quiet and there is almost no traffic and you get see all kinds of nocturnal wildlife (raccoons, skunks, and a lot of rabbits for some reason).  I almost always finished my 8K without stopping.  My daytime runs are much less successful.  I finish maybe a quarter of my runs without interruption.


  1. Awesome to hear you're running, Geoff! Nice distance, too! I totally support your view that it offers up so many positive effects, both physically and mentally. I also run to decrease anxiety - I find if I feel keyed up, it always helps. Even if it's a not-so-great run, I always feel better after going. Are you planning to do any events as part of race weekend next spring? My girlfriend and I just signed up for the 10K!

    1. Thanks, Sonia. I'm not, for some reason, terribly interested in participating in race weekend. I think signing up would just make running an obligation and it would become a burden to me. Just the way my twisted mind works. Lena has, in the past, expressed interest and if she showed some commitment to training, I would do it then. Good for you and your friend, though! Are you currently training/running? I just encourage you to remain safe and injury-free especially through the winter. If you run outdoors through the winter and you aren't already aware, the Running Room sells some pretty good spikes that fit over your running shoes (though you have to be careful to not become over-confident running in them). ANyway - good luck!

  2. I need to get back into running. There are so many good reasons to do it, like you've mentioned here, and I just really need to get myself in gear for my mental AND physical health.

    1. Thumbs up, Karen. I don't know what your experience with running is, but here in Ottawa there are a lot of running groups and running programs, so you must be spoiled with choice in California. They seem a great way to get into running by offering coaching, comraderie and motivation. I had kicked around joining one myself, though didn't for a variety reason. Something to consider.