July in Cochrane

Posted by martin.parnell |

July can be a tough month. I remember in 2010, when I was running 5 marathons a week, after a brutal winter and wet spring, I was so looking forward to long summer days running along the Bow. It didn’t happen. July and August were wet, wet, wet. However, this year was different and I managed to get some long- overdue yard work done. I have one of those “zero” maintenance gardens. Not a blade of grass just lots of shrubs and rocks. However, weeds don’t know it’s a zero maintenance yard and they pop up everywhere.

After three days of removing the little devils, it was time for the “piece de resistance”, 12 cubic yards of mulch. Now that’s a lot of mulch. Wheel barrow after wheel barrow of the chopped-up bark was carefully laid and the front and back garden were soon a sea of mulch. Weeds-be-gone. Hopefully I’m good for a couple of years.

July is also a busy month for events in Cochrane and area. Last year, I won a registration for the TransRockies Gran fondo Highwood Pass and this year’s event was scheduled for July 12th. Gran fondo means “Big Ride” in Italian, and this is one of the biggest. The route was 134kms, starting at the Stoney Nakoda Resort, and heading out along highway 40 to the top of Highwood Pass. This is the highest paved section of road in Canada. At 8.00am a group of 400 of us headed out. The winner came in at 3hrs 48mins and 31 secs and I rolled in at 7hrs 10mins and 50secs. Good value for money.

The next two events were on the same day, July19th. In the morning, I headed down to Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park. This was the setting for the 5 Peaks Riversong Run at the Ranch. Volunteers from the Rotary Club of Cochrane organized the parking and participants were shuttled down to the event site below the Park building. Over 400 runners were involved in a number of races including a 3km for Kids. 8km trail Sport, 13km trail Enduro and a half marathon. I tackled the Enduro. Starting at 9.30am I was finished at 10.50am and hiked my way back the parking lot. Time to head to Canmore.

The annual 24 hours of Adrenalin has taken place in Canmore for the last 16 years. Teams and individuals cycle the Canmore Nordic Centre trails, nonstop for a day, starting at 12 noon on Saturday and finishing at 12 noon on Sunday. The highlight of the weekend for me is the kids 24 minutes of Adrenalin. This year we had over 150 children aged 2 to 12 participating and we raised $3,895 for Right To Play.

July has also been a planning month. I have one Quest left in my “Quests for Kids” initiative, to complete 10 Quests in 5 years and raise $1m for Right To Play helping 20,000 children. So far over $600,000 have been raised and now it’s time for one final effort.

On Monday, August 11th at 6.00pm I will be announcing my 10th and final Quest at the Town of Cochrane Council Meeting. Stay tuned

Quote of the week:

"Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all"

Helen Keller

Participants in the kids 24 minutes of Adrenalin came in all sizes and with every style of bike. Fun was had by all.

 24 minutes


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Born To Play

Posted by martin.parnell |

The International Calgary Running Symposium was held from August 14th to 16th. This event was in celebration of the retirement of Dr. Benno Nigg, one of the early pioneers of biomechanics research. Over 200 of the world’s top authorities on running research were in one place and it was an opportunity I was not going to miss.

The format was panel discussions and keynote presentations. The panel discussions covered running injuries, running performance, theoretical models and data mining and barefoot and minimalist shoe running. Several interesting nuggets came out of the discussions: The need to establish a definition as to what exactly is a running injury; what role does genetics play in injury frequency; the use of ice baths and why in the longer term it’s not such a good idea and barefoot running verses shoes, it’s whatever works for you.

Keynotes were presented on some fascinating topics. Dr. Alberto Minetti’s presentation was “Giant strides are what you’ll take, skipping on the moon”. He explained that skipping was the optimum gait in a low gravity environment. I’ll definitely keep this in mind when I sign up for the Rock and Roll Moon Marathon. Dr. Martyn Shorten’s topic was “Runners in their natural habitat – biomechanical field study”. Dr. Martyn highlighted a running gait between walking and running called “grounded running”. This is one used by a number of ultra-runners including myself.

The talk I was most looking forward to was from Dr. Daniel Lieberman. Dr. Lieberman had co-authored, with Dr. Dennis Bramble, an article in 2004, in Nature magazine called “Endurance Running and the Evolution of the Homo”. The theme was picked up in Christopher McDougall bestselling book “Born to Run” and the rest as they say is history. Barefoot running is not really my cup of tea but I am intrigue by the science behind it.

One area that I found particularly interesting in Dr. Lieberman presentation was on energy conservation in the hunter-gatherer society. Energy intake had to balance energy expenditure which included such tasks as foraging, hunting and making tools. Energy could not be wasted however there was one exception, play. This was a way of learning new skills and surviving in a harsh environment.

After his presentation I had a chance to chat with Dr. Lieberman. We talked about the role of play in today’s society. Health challenges such as heart disease, obesity, and Type 2 diabetes are at epidemic levels. We need to get people moving and he pointed out that play should not only be for children but also for adults. Never underestimate the power of play, your life may depend on it.

Quote of the Week

"Jogging is very beneficial. It's good for your legs and your feet. It's also very good for the ground. It make it feel needed"

Charles Schulz - "Peanuts"

Who needs biomechanics research. This drawing by my grand daughter, Autumn, age 10, captures my running form perfectly.

Born To Play 

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