Wednesday, September 15, 2010

2010 Laser Masters Worlds - Day Three (Groundhog Day)

As predicted in yesterdays blog (sound familiar), today's racing was (again) canceled due to high winds and rough seas. Although not as severe as yesterday's conditions, the race committee determined after a two hour delay that it was too risky to send the fleet out in the prevailing 20-25 knots breeze and massive waves. Certainly a big consideration for them is the vast number of competitors (350) they have to manage and the wide variation of ability and fitness of the Masters competitors. While some outside the class may question why we didn't sail today, you won't find many here who don't think it was the right decision.

Another layday is another opportunity for my body to recover. I did get in a light gym workout and finished a very inspiring book that I recommend to anyone - "Born To Run," by Christopher McDougall.

Born To Run is self described as "full of incredible charters, amazing athletic achievements, cutting-edge science, and most of all, pure inspiration." The author, Christopher McDougall, sets out on a massive quest to answer one simple question: "Why does my foot hurt?" McDougall, who is six feet four inches tall and weighed 230 pounds, stopped playing pickup basketball and decided to turn himself into a marathoner. Turning 40, in five years of running he ripped his hamstring twice, strained his Achilles tendons repeatedly, sprained ankles, suffered aching arches and had to walk down stairs backwards because his heels were so sore.

What is intriguing about Born to Run is that it exposes the modern approach to running and high-tech shoes as the major culprits of most running injuries. McDougall states that 80% of all runners sustain injuries that are related to the stress induced by modern shoes and ignorance of natural, child-like running technique. He also gives an insiders look into the ultra running scene (50-100 miles races in mountain courses) and conveys the passion and dedication of these self-made athletes. Finally, the takeaway message is that our bodies are built as running machines and we need to get back to how we ran as children and to experience the same joy.

McDougall's message really resonated with my effort of getting back into shape to effectively sail the Laser, which has thus far been a two year journey. It involves working out regularly, on-the-water training with the top Laser sailors in the world, and improving my nutrition and overall health. My philosophy was to start out slow and my mantra at first was "less is more." It included walking on a treadmill and a basic weight routine. I had suffered an aggravated Achilles tendon over the past 20 years and was unable to do one of my most favorite exercises, running. I like running because of the physical benefits but more because of the mental boost it provides. Pounding out 3-5 miles thinking about racing to great victories used to be one of my favorite workouts, but I thought those days were long gone. I was very wrong.

My workouts are quite robust now and include lifting 4 days a week plus 6 days of cardio, either running or cycling and a lot of times both. With this increased intensity comes the inevitable injuries, soreness and pain. I have learned that those issues come with the territory given the intensity of my regimen and my "life experience" (i.e. age). It is frustrating being sidelined by a nagging injury and the thought that I can be hitting the road again in earnest is exciting.

I am looking forward to trying some of his concepts this fall and winter to see for myself if I can experience pain free running again.


  1. Hi John,
    Your efforts are commendable and remind me of what I went through to compete in the RS:X. The Worlds look like a great challenge just to get out and compete each day. I really miss those days and wish you the best!

    If you are sidelined from running, How about Masters Swimming? Nice to know you can swim for the beach if things really go south!

    Mark Powell (now living in Tallahassee FL)

  2. Hi Mark,
    RS:X windsurfing is truly the Ironman of Olympic sailing! I am not a swimmer but have found cycling to be really fun and a great workout. Spin classes really got me started and are great for when the weather is bad. I do run consistently on the treadmill and less on the road. You can't always find a gym or have a bike when traveling, so running is the best option.

    Are you still tracking hurricanes?

  3. Yes, right now I'm working on Tropical Storm Karl in the Bay of Campeche.
    Good luck out there!