Humans Were Evolved To Lift Weights

 

evolution 490x179

About 400,000 years ago, the first ancestors of the anatomically modern humans appeared. These humans needed the means to hunt and to survive. Since weapons were not invented till about 200,000 years later, they gathered every day to do push-ups, lift heavy rocks, and did pull-ups on low hanging branches. After gaining a lot of strength, they wrestled animals to the ground for meat and punched predators in the faces to survive.

Haha! No.

We hunted by running. We survived by running.

Without weapons, we can only get animal protein by scavenging carcasses. That wasn’t enough as the other scavengers are much stronger than us. We can’t run as fast as a cheetah, but over long-distances, there is not one animal that can beat us. We ran animals down and ate them for protein to evolve our brains and body.

There was nothing to use for defense except for sticks and stones, and that wasn’t much. We survived by running, climbing and hiding.

We ate just enough to fuel ourselves and kept our bodies lean. Being lean ensures that you don’t waste energy carrying excessive weight in fat or muscle. Being lean makes you faster. Being faster gets you more meat and keeps you alive.

Everyone ran. The men, the women, the children and even the old. You had to or else you wouldn’t be able to eat or to stay alive.

Even after the first weapons came about, you still had to run to club or spear an animal to death. Tools are useful, weapons are clever. They made our lives easier but they also slowly took away the very reason why we survived.

It is simple. You and me, us humans, survived as a species because we ran and we were bloody good at it too.

Go. Run.

(This article is not intended to make fun of weight lifting. Weight lifting gives nice bodies and strength. I’m trying to say that running was and is more important in the context of survival.)

5 Reasons Why It’s Better To Run In The Mornings

For as long as I can remember, I preferred to run at night or in the evenings. Waking up is a chore and waking up early to run is a bigger one. It’s also perpetually summer all year-long where I live – in sunny Singapore – so it’s comfortable to run at night.

morning ang mo kio 364x490

So why do I run in the mornings now?

#1 – Fresher Air

Parks are irritatingly small for distance running so I run a lot on roadsides. The air in the mornings have lesser vehicular exhaust, dust and whatever impurities that is kicked around after the rush hour in the evenings.

#2 – Backup Plans

There are times when it’s impossible to run safely due to thunderstorms or haze so it’s so much better to plan for a morning run and have the choice to switch it to a night run if the weather is really bad.

#3 – More Energy

We all know how tiring school or work can be, and even if you overcome the mental barricades to step out for a run after a long day, your body might not perform well for the run due to fatigue. I know I can do runs up to 1.5 hours on an empty stomach and if I need more fuel for a longer run, I just wake about 30 – 40mins earlier to consume something.

#4 – Better Diet & Sleep

Having to wake earlier means having to sleep early and you don’t have to read much to know that it’s good for the body.

Post-workout nutrition is important so I used to end up having late meals after a night run. It’s quite unhealthy and difficult to sleep early with a full stomach and a post-workout body state.

Breakfast is my favourite meal of the day and what better way to indulge after a morning run?

#5 – Getting it Out of the Way

This has to be the biggest reason for me to switch. I spent as much as 2 hours each time, running about 4-5 days a week and that means sacrificing time with my fiancée; and she wasn’t too happy about it. Having my runs in the mornings ensures that I have a “normal” life to do things in the evenings. To her, it doesn’t even seem that I am not around on the weekends as I finish the runs before she wakes up.

 

It’s tough to wake up early to run in the mornings and depending on your work or school, you might even need to wake up at 4 – 5am to squeeze in a run. I realize that waking up early is not the most difficult thing about this change; sleeping early is. All the electronics that I use before bedtime keeps me up and I have to overcome it by having a routine to make myself sleep earlier.

Good luck if you are trying to make a switch! Do share any tips to help with waking or sleeping earlier.

1000km in Vibram Five Fingers

It’s been 16 months since I first shared shared my experience in Vibram Five Fingers (VFFs) and since I just passed the 1,000km mark 2 weeks ago in these strange looking minimalist shoes (I refuse to call them “barefoot shoes”. You are either barefoot or in various kinds of footwear.), I’d like to share again on my journey thus far.

The two ailments I had in regular shoes prior to switching to VFFs were plantar fasciitis and knee aches/pains. Knee aches have been non-existent so far. As for plantar fasciitis, the only times when I will feel slight pain is when I haven’t been running for a period and I MIGHT feel a little pull under the left foot during the 1st to 2nd run. So I can safely say that I am rid of these two problems for good every since switching to VFFs

Besides the period of time last year when I went got top of the foot pain (suspected tendinitis), probably from switching to VFFs much too soon without a transition plan, I was completely free of any injuries. Apart from a good, progressive training plan, the most important thing for any runner is to be injury free. An injury can set you back for weeks, months & even years of progress in fitness and being free from that ensures that you can constantly improve even if you are just inching forward.

I wish I had found some way to measure my feet before switching to Vibram Five Fingers; especially the bridge of my feet because I can almost swear that the arches of my feet have risen slightly over time and they feel more muscular as well. I remember being identified by a “shoe specialist” that I am leaning towards being flat footed and I have not encountered any problems from “the lack of arch support”.

vibram five fingers family 490x367

I have 3 pairs of Vibram Five Fingers now. One pair of Classics that I use to walk in on an almost daily basis and 2 pairs of Bikila that I rotate for runs. Note that I don’t rotate them because of cushioning; I rotate em so that they have time to be dry from sweat and wet weather.

How long do these thin shoes last? I run mostly on cement and tarmac and manage to clock 600km in my VFFs KSO. I could have continued to run in them but I don’t want holes in my socks when a section of my socks started showing through the bottom of my KSO. I read of others like this dude who clocked over 1,200km in a pair and still going strong!

I really don’t see myself running in anything else but minimalist shoes and will recommend it to anyone. But along my journey, I have also came to a bigger understanding that the saying of “If it ain’t broke, do not fix it!” applies to shoes as well. If you never had a problem running in shoes or even landing on your heels, I’d say that you are a lucky man/woman.

Else, if you are willing to forgo the concept of cushioning and structured shoes or have been getting injured, I will highly recommend you to give minimalist shoes a try and run like how we humans are engineered to. Remember to transition slowly!

Here’s a screen-shot of a recent barefooting article by My Paper where I gave a short blurb on running with minimalist shoes.

krisandro my paper run barefoot 237x490

Lawrence Lin, the dude in the pic, plans to run the Sundown 2011 100km BAREFOOTED. I salute the man!

Link to article (Page A16)

Feel free to contact me to discuss about VFFs or running! I always love to make another friend who enjoys this misunderstood sport. I can be reached via my contact form, on Twitter and through Facebook.

Running Diary – Part I

I will start chronicling my training data and methods here from race to race. One reason for this is to serve as a running diary and the other is for anyone who might be interested to know how I train. I am only an amateur long distance runner and I definitely will not say this is the right way to train but I collect a lot of data and I am seeing good results from my training.

*Warning* This will be an extremely boring post for most, so do not read beyond this line if you are not interesting in running data.

Training period: 26 Jan 2011 – 28 May (Sundown 2011, 21.1 km)

  • Distance ran (Excluding racing distance): 473.25 km
  • No. of runs: 59
  • Highest Weekly Mileage: 48.55 km
  • Average running distance: 8.02 km
  • Time spent: 46 hrs 47 mins 31 secs
  • Max. distance ran: 20 km
  • Avg. speed: 10.1 km/h
  • Avg. heart rate: 157 bpm
  • Avg. cadence: 166 – 174 steps/min.
  • Calories burned: 32,233 kcal
  • Weight change: 67.8 kg (9 Feb) – 64.5 kg (28 May)
  • Lowest measured weight: 63.2 kg (29 May)
  • Resting heart rate change: 63 bpm (30 Jan) – 56 bpm (12 May)
  • Lowest measured resting heart rate: 52 bpm (24 Mar)

 

Race Details:

  • Race Name: Sundown 2011
  • Distance: 21.1km
  • Time: 2 hr 02 min 13 sec
  • Avg. Pace: 5:48 min/km
  • Avg. Cadence: 164 steps/min

 

Training details:

I train mostly in heart rate zones. The zones are defined by assuming through calculation that my Maximum Heart Rate (HRmax) is 192 bpm and my Resting Heart Rate (HRrest) is measured once every 3-5 days. I measure my HRrest 1st thing in the morning before I get out of bed and it’s at least 24 hrs after the previous run.

These are my heart rate training zones with a HRrest of 56 bpm:

krisandro heart rate zones 490x388

The bulk of my training is of Long Slow Distances (LSDs) and the rest are Tempo Runs, Short Intervals & Long Intervals. I chose to adopt a 10-day training cycle instead of the more common 7-day cycle because I didn’t want to run 4-6 days straight with just 1 or 2 days of rest. The 10-day cycle also allowed me more flexibility in the event that I had to skip a session or two and was still able to keep to the important scheduled Long Run.

This is one real example of my 10-day cycle:

  • Day 1: Warm-Up Jog – 1.5 km, Short Intervals – 800 m x 6
  • Day 2: LSD – 8.8 km
  • Day 3: Rest
  • Day 4: Warm-Up Jog – 1.5 km, Long Intervals – 2.7 km x 2
  • Day 5: LSD – 8.8 km
  • Day 6: Rest
  • Day 7: Warm-Up Jog – 1 km, Tempo Run – 6.6 km
  • Day 8: LSD – 8.7 km
  • Day 9: LSD (Longest Run) – 20 km
  • Day 10: Rest
  • Total distance (including jogging laps during intervals): 71.79 km

 

Types of Runs:

LSDs: These are ran in Zone 3. I will divide the distance as equally as I can into 11 parts (Zone 2.7 to Zone 3.7) and slowly allow my heart’s bpm to rise as I jog the distance. Barring sections on routes with down and/or up-slopes, my speed will naturally increase as the effort of my heart increases which results in a overall negative split.

Tempo Runs: These are ran in Zone 4. I will divide the distance as equally as I can into 12 parts (Zone 3.7 to Zone 4.8) and slowly allow my heart’s bpm to rise as I run the distance. As with LSDs, the overall timing of each run is a negative split.

Short & Long Intervals: After reading about efficiency of interval training distances by Arthur Lydiard, I mainly do distances of short intervals (800 m) and long intervals (1.5 km & above). I run as fast as I can (entering Zone 5) with the last session’s timing as a guide for each lap. Upon hitting the end of a lap, I will slow jog until my heart rate hits Zone 2.9 before I start my next lap.

 

Race Comparison:

krisandro sundown 2011 vs sbr 2009 490x277

(Click to enlarge)

Race to race comparison will show a very skewed improvement this time because the races are so far apart (almost 2 years).

 

Fitness comparison:

As my LSDs are done with the same effort (heart rate zones), I shall compare LSDs of similar distances over a time period.

krisandro LSD comparison 490x73As you can see, there is marked improvement in speed even with a decrease in effort (avg. heart rate).

 

Summary:

Seeing that I manage to finally complete a training period and run a good race, I’ll be adopting the same concept in my build-up to Singapore Bay Run & Army Half Marathon (21.1km). However, my planned mileages are in preparation for my 1st full marathon in Dec for Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore.

Feel free to ask me or discuss about my training plans and running. I can be easily contacted via email through my contact page, on Twitter or through Facebook.