Wednesday, March 16, 2011

... Ergo Sum

by Dr. Daniel Shaye, Chiropractic Physician

Do you exist?

It seems an odd question, but it's an ancient one. French mathematician-philosopher René Descartes pondered this question, and decided that since he could think, he must exist. "Cogito, ergo sum" he declared.

What do you declare?

On a recent Sunday, I pondered this question as I watched a YouTube video of a competitive cross-country race (yes, sandwiched between my own runs, I sometimes watch other people run). The power and intensity and speed of these athletes thrilled me... as did the size of the pack, the living energy of it almost like an entity of its own. Each individual flashed by, self-propelled yet part of, one with, the pack. Each athlete was so focused, so intense, carefully gauging pace, spacing and contact with other runners, terrain, effort, distance. And as I watched, I felt my perspective change as I realized what each one was doing: Striving to exist.

Not all of us will run in a tightly-bunched pack of competitive, spike-wearing runners; yet many of us will enter an event/race this year, and still more of us will run or walk with others. For the solo runners and walkers, you too are part of a group, an entity called "runners" or "walkers" or "athletes." Being active in this way is an expression of who you are, your desires, and perhaps who you wish or declare yourself to be. For some of us, a time or place or performance marks that level of "success" or declaration that we have accomplished something worthy, notable, defining. For others, it's more a matter of the ritual, the doing-what-I-do because, well... that's what "I" do. Yet regardless of why you do what you do, your very doing it says something about you.

What are you declaring when you lace up the shoes... or, as some do, the non-shoes?

For the competitor, the pack is an exciting entity. Try watching a competitive pack of runners without emotion (I can't do it). I can hear that pack-- not the runners in it, but the pack itself-- thundering in footfalls and in unspoken words, a terrifying possibility:

"YOU are NOTHING! YOU will be LOST in the pack!"

Equally strong-- no, stronger, I can hear another voice speaking through me:

"You have the opportunity to BELIEVE; and in so doing, to delightfully, beautifully, spectacularly, and joyfully declare: TODAY, I more than EXISTED... I TRIUMPHED over the fear, the distance, the anonymity. Today I dared to dig deep and find ME."

It's that second voice that speaks to our competitive fires, that helps us hold contact with the next runner, that draws our eyes up towards the clock as we give it all we have towards that beckoning finish line.

Today, somewhere, a runner took her first steps. Another dreams of a high school record. Another ponders personal records. Olympic athletes train with long-term focus on the upcoming Games, or the next cycle beyond. Whether or not you focus on such lofty goals, or whether you use running to move beyond goals, beyond pressures, beyond the over-active mind towards peaceful mindfulness... go forth and enjoy your existence. Walk, or run... and as you do so, enjoy that YOU EXIST, in this way.

I'll see you on the roads and trails, my friends.

-Dr. Daniel A. Shaye
Certified Chiropractic Sports Physician
Fellow, International Academy of Medical Acupuncture

Do you have a question you’d like answered? Mail your questions c/o Performance Chiropractic1307 Jamestown Road, Ste. 103, Williamsburg, VA 23185; e-mail; visit us on FaceBook at; or go to

Friday, March 11, 2011

Do Not Stress Over Your Competition

Many runners sometimes get anxious when they go against a tough opponent. They get nervous on who they are competing with and they get so worked up that they lose focus on their own running. In the end, they make mistakes and end up beating themselves up if they do not win. As a result, here is a list of techniques that a runner can use to help manage the stress of going against the competition.

The first step is to learn as much as you can on your opponent. Although this may seem obvious, some runners may think they already know what they need to know. Remember there is always something to learn about your competition. Read the reports about your opponent and watch him or her performance. Try to figure out an angle on how you can beat your competition. The more you know about your competition the better your chances are you will win. This will also help to reduce your worries in the future.

Do not assume anything about your competition whether they are stronger or weaker than you. Every athlete has his good and bad times and just because you may be facing a stronger opponent does not mean that you will lose. Remember that you and your opponent both have an equal chance of winning. You are both starting from scratch. This should help you to give you confidence going into your next event.

Focus on how you can best strive for perfection in your own running instead of worrying about your opponent. For instance, you are going against the number one athlete in the tournament and you are nervous. Instead of focusing on how good your competition is, focus on your performance. Concentrate on how you can perform your event and how you can best improve on your problem areas.

Realize that you can't win all of the time and that also includes your competition. You may be the best athlete in the world, however you will still sometimes lose. No one can win all of the time. When facing a tough competitor, use this fact to your advantage. Even the best athletes will make some mistakes.

It is not uncommon to get nervous when you go against a better opponent. All you can do is to focus on your skill sets and do the best you can. This will help you in the long run.


Stan Popovich is the author of "A Layman's Guide to Managing Fear Using Psychology, Christianity and Non Resistant Methods" - an easy to read book that presents a general overview of techniques that are effective in managing persistent fears and anxieties. For additional information go to:

Sally's Last Column of What's The Big Idea

Cheers, all,

Life is full of insurmountable opportunities - that's what Pogo said in his comic strip years ago. It was true then, and it's true now. I'm finding it more and more difficult to find the time to devote to this column, as new opportunities evolve in my work as an artist, as a standardized patient, and my growing family.

That said, I have to let this be my last column. It's been a true pleasure, writing Big Ideas for the past 8+ years. Thank you for giving me the experience. Big Ideas started with the Peninsula Track Club here in Newport News Virginia, and grew to have a readership in the US, Guam, Canada, and Italy. It's been great.

The best to you,

Sally Young


A calorie isn’t just a calorie when eaten at the wrong time of day. The timing of meals can greatly affect weight management recent studies with rodents have shown.

As nocturnal animals, most mice eat and explore at night, and sleep during the day, thanks to their internal biological clocks. But in new research, scientists disrupted this rhythm by introducing dim light during the active, dark cycle. The mice gradually shifted to eating during the day, when they should be resting, dumping calories into metabolisms that were set for sleep. These out-of-phase dinner bells resulted in mice that were heavier and fatter than the control mice that followed natures’ way. Both groups were matched for diet and activity.

The results are consistent with weight gain in human studies of “night-eating syndrome,” and with people who work night shifts. Although the mechanism may be related to body temperature, satiety hormones, and stress, Joseph Bass of Northwestern University found that a high fat diet alone had the same disruption of circadian rhythm in mice. "Maybe a very common perturbation, high-fat feeding, is one of the factors that disrupts the circadian rhythm," he says. "And disrupting the circadian rhythm, in turn, affects appetite.”


Carl Foster, exercise scientist at University of Wisconsin­­ - LaCrosse, took a clear-eyed view of how much time world-class runners spend in each training zone. Instead of thumbing through training logs and questionnaires, he measured the actual heart rates to determine the true exercise intensity and volume of practice sessions.

Intensity zones are based on physiological thresholds, which denote a change in the body’s response. Zone 1 is light intensity, below the ventilatory threshold, the point where breathing changes first occur; Zone 3 is the respiratory compensation threshold, where the lungs turn into rapid, stoking, air-sucking bellows; Zone 2 is the Goldilocks zone, the run that’s fun because it’s easy yet invigorating - but of marginal value to improvement.

Zone 2 is the place to stay you’re doing your best to have the non-experience of a lifetime, but tiptoeing across the rim of 80 percent and above your maximum heart rate will stress your body enough to make it adapt and become stronger. Although his study doesn’t account for cardiac drift that occurs after about 20 minutes of moderate running, Foster points out, “If you want to be you best, go hard and go easy, and don’t go in the middle.”


The “exercise in a pill” concoction that was headlined by the media in 2008 sounded like another pathetic charade to dupe a gullible public. Fitness and food, the sacred union of twin passions, are revered by athletes everywhere. But by 2009, the International Olympic Committee and World Anti-Doping Agency added AICAR - the exercise pill - to their lists of banned substances, and had tests ready to detect its use.

Ron Evans at the Salk Institute in California was originally investigating obesity, an inflection point in actuary tables where an extra thirty pounds turns insurance salesmen into prophets. Working with rodents, he stumbled upon a genetic switch known as PPAR-delta. Activating the switch upregulated the oxidation of body fat and the growth of mitochondria-rich slow-twitch muscles. His mice became remarkably fit without doing anything: they slimmed down, resisted weight gain even on a high fat diet, and could suddenly run long distances.

Evans and his team of scientists discovered that AICAR, a drug used in clinical trials for problems related to heart disease, could activate PPAR-delta. On high doses, sedentary mice suddenly became Marathon Mice, covering 44 percent farther distances than sedentary mice that didn’t take the drug.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

National Road Racing League

The NRRL launched on January 1st, 2011 and is the first of its kind. If bowling and fishing can have a league then why can’t running have a league of its own? As you probably know, DC is the nation’s fittest city (3rd year in a row), so it only seemed natural to start the league here. The league caters to all levels of runners, from the weekend warriors to those who make running their lifestyle, and everyone in between.

Here is the link to the league website:

It would be a great help to us for everyday runners to know who we are and be able to spread the word to their running buddies. We want to keep the pace running has started by giving people a competitive and social outlet through running.

Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions.

Liz Capowski
NRRL Project Manager