This new series is guest blogged by Doug Logan.
Doug Logan is an Adjunct Professor of Sports Management, at New York University.
He was the CEO for USATF from 2008 until September 2010.
He was also the CEO, President and Commissioner for Major League Soccer from 1995 to 1999. To read more about his background and involvement in Track, Soccer, Rugby and the Music industry, read my Freelap Friday Five Interview
This is his 18th article. Click here for his entire series.
SHIN SPLINTS REDUX
London by Thanksgiving
A major component of the daily rhythms of my contemporary life is my morning walk. It is not like the morning “constitutionals” taken by Harry Truman through the streets of Washington, DC, armed with a trusty walking stick. Nor is it akin to the dignified struts taken by my great-great grandfather, Don Antonio Gonzalez de Mendoza y Bonilla along Havana’s Paseo del Prado in the mid 19th century.
For me, this morning habit is more athletic than social. It is solitary. It is a place where I can think, dream, reminisce and plan. I usually finish more alert and refreshed than when I began.
Most days, I follow the same five mile course and mostly see the same “regulars”. We share a wave or a greeting but generally don’t interact. Something binds us but there is the tacit respect for the other’s privacy.
I was forced into walking when the orthopedic professionals stopped me from running. My joints, particularly my ankles, lack the cartilage cushioning for the impact of even a mild jog. So, walking it is. I experimented with distance, frequency and speed. I have found the right “metrics” in exercise that keep me grounded and in balance. Five miles a day, every day, at about a 15:30 per mile pace. I don’t get hurt, I don’t feel over-exerted, and my joints don’t swell.
In the fall of 2011 I decided to keep track of my daily walks. I invested in a Nike + Sportwatch with GPS and have synched it to both my laptop and an APP on my phone. I began keeping records on October 1st, 2011 and to-date I have walked 3,063 miles. Sometime this past summer I reached the distance between New York and Los Angeles [2,790 miles]. I hope to reach the distance between New York and London [3,465 miles] by Thanksgiving. My ultimate goal is to circumnavigate the earth [24,901 miles at the equator, 24,859 miles at the poles]. Gonna do it!
There is, however, something more that I get out of those 11,000 steps a day. I read somewhere that our male cave-men ancestors generally did not roam much more than a couple of miles from the cave in their daily hunts. I feel in tune with the anthropology. I occasionally think of the burden placed on those early survivors to bring home food for sustenance. Meanwhile I am listening on iTunes and can return to the cave empty handed.
There is compelling medical evidence that besides improving fitness and a general sense of well- being, a regular regimen of walking can also influence how fast your memory ages. The human hippocampus is a curved ridge deep in our forebrains. It allows us to form, store and process memory. A 2011 study conducted by Dr. Kirk Erickson of the University of Pittsburgh examined a group of men and women ages fifty-five to eighty.
He divided his subjects randomly into two groups. One group walked briskly for forty minutes a day. The other group performed a variety of yoga-like stretching exercises. At the end of one year, the “stretchers’” hippocampi shrank. This is consistent with what happens in older adulthood; the hippocampus generally shrinks 1% per year and this shrinkage is responsible for some of our cognitive decline as we age.
The “walkers”, however, had larger hippocampi than when they started the study. Again, there are some anthropological theories about this growth. When our forbearers went out to hunt they had to be observant of their surroundings and exercise caution against threats. Perhaps we modern-day walkers tap into that exercise of brain cells and, in turn, keep our memory functions active and fresh.
For me, walking also provides other outlets and balms. I get bursts of intellectual creativity as I put one foot in front of the other [many of these essays have been composed on my morning jaunts]. I become reflective on my behavior and make decisions regarding my conduct, particularly towards others. Walking stimulates my curiosity.
Finally, when I am walking I notice things about nature that I am prone to ignore in other settings. Lately, I have observed the maturation of a family of baby lizards who are denizens of a patch of palmetto beside a bridge. I rescued a slow moving turtle crossing a busy roadway. On a recent walk on the High Line Park in Chelsea in Manhattan I was delighted at the sight of the dying and desiccated summer wild-flowers that were a harbinger of the fall season just arriving.
After a lifetime of taking vigorous exercise I approached my early days of walking as an embarrassment. I thought the activity was “wussy” and un-manly. As with many of my other pre-conceived notions, I was all wet.
London or Bust!