Dr. J on Running

Year in Review

1 Januray 2010

I ran a thousand miles in 2009, up 60 percent from the 628 miles of 2008. I started the year recovering from plantar wart removal with a high-power laser, and ended it dashing through foot-deep snow. After six weeks at the end of 2008 without running to prevent the formation of scar tissue in the quarter-inch hole under the ball of my foot, I started 2009 by running 76 days in a row.

In total, I ran 268 days last year. I ran most on Tuesday and Saturday 44 times each. I ran least on Friday 33 times. The rest of the week fell in between. I ran on 38 Mondays, 35 Wednesdays, 35 Thursdays and 39 Sundays. I ran 226 miles in the first quarter of 2009, 143 miles in the second quarter, 257 miles in the third quarter and 374 miles in the fourth quarter. I averaged 19 miles per week over the year, with 29 miles per week last quarter average. I ran a one-mile week in June and a 39-mile week in December to clinch the thousand miler.

My weight remained steady throughout the year. I hovered around 172 pounds plus or minus a couple of pounds. I used a web-based calorie counter to limit my intake to 2,000 calories per day whenever my weight exceeded the norm. I ate sensibly most of the time, aiming for five fruit servings per day and structuring my meals around 100-gram servings each of protein, starch and vegetable.

Frequent shortness of breath led to a battery of medical tests. An electrocardiogram (EKG) came back clear. A cardiac sonogram revealed the heart of a runner with large chambers, clean arteries and vigorous blood flow. A breathing chamber test showed 99 percentile lung capacity. An abdominal ultra-sound revealed a mass on the kidney that Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) confirmed as benign. Anxiety attacks survived as a plausible explanation for my shortness of breath.

My annual physical examination revealed a sudden rise in the Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA) from well-below normal last year to normal levels this year. A digital examination suggested a mildly enlarged prostate. A repeat blood test confirmed the relatively high PSA and the abnormally low levels of vitamin D. We followed the former with a prostate biopsy it came back clean and the latter with mega doses of prescription pills and a one-a-day vitamin supplement.

My cholesterol and sugar levels remained excellent. My blood pressure jumped all over the place from 90/60 after a long run to 140/90 after a long trip. I flew 116 times last year, and spent 97 nights in hotels. This travel schedule interfered initially with my running, until I found a way to structure my trips around my runs. At the end of the year, I achieved elite status with multiple airlines and hotel chains.

Reading Born to Run in July 2009 launched my experiment-of-one in light-foot running. Six months into the experiment, I ran 24 minutes barefoot on the treadmill once-a-week, after increasing that time by a minute each week. I also dropped my average shoe weight from 16 ounces to 10 ounces. My heaviest shoe weighs currently 12 ounces, and I run routinely in 8-ounce racing flats and spikes.

My glass ball suggests an active 2010 with a target of 1,500 miles run. I wish to increase gradually my long runs to posture myself for a fall marathon. I plan to race once-a-month at a variety of long distances, and to focus on the 15K to half-marathon range over the summer.

Dr Kamal Jabbour looks forward to winter running in Upstate New York or wherever work takes him. Dr. J receives email at kamal@jabbour.org. His RUNNING Column appears in Cyberspace whenever the endorphines move him to write.

© 2010 Dr Kamal Jabbour