First week update

Last week I posted my half marathon training plan: From Couch to Half Marathon in 11 weeks.  The first week plan consisted of a couple hours of walking each day.  This led to shin splints.  I managed them with intensive attention:  massage, foam rolling, hot baths, and essential oils.  By the week end the shin splints were just a memory.

The most fun was getting new running shoes.  A friend of mine introduced me to the idea of minimalistic running shoes.   It seems like there are two schools of thought regarding shoes for running.  One idea is that shoes with a lot of structure and support help cushion the joints from impact injuries.  In this first school of thought the more support the better.  The second school of thought is that the human body is naturally designed to cushion the joints from impact injuries and shoes with the least structure and support are better.  The second school of thought claims that modern shoes actually weaken the body’s natural support system.

Since I was already conditioned to walking barefoot most of the time it made sense to try out a minimalistic shoe.  I picked up a pair of Minimus Trail Shoes at REI and simply love them.  My feet forget they even have shoes on!  I am curious to see how they do with increased distances, but right now (6 days, 30 miles total) they are perfect.  I even ordered a second identical pair.  I love the idea of “barefoot running” so much I am thinking about trying the Vibram Fivefingers Barefoot Running Shoe next. minimus trail running shoesOn my sixth day, with my new minimalistic shoes on foot, I started adding short periods of running to my walks.  My shoes did great for three days and then I think I wore the wrong pair of socks.  The result?  A blister on the right side.  So far it hasn’t slowed me down.

ankle blister first week of half marathon training

From Couch to Half Marathon in 11 weeks

Yup, you heard right.  It is time for me to mix it up a little.

Just before my medicine retreat, I talked to my daughter and she mentioned signing up for a half-marathon in April and one in June.  This got me to thinking about the possibility.  Maybe it was because it was the last thing I heard before going into silence for three days, or maybe it was because I was thinking about moving back to Occidental – the place I last began training for a marathon 20 years earlier, or maybe it was because I was intrigued by the Access Bar, an exercise food that increases endurance, eliminates fatigue, and prevents lactic acid build-up.  In any case, I decided to challenge my daughter to the June 4th Half Sauer and Half Kraut Marathon.

Never mind that I haven’t done aerobic exercise in a year and haven’t run in decades.  I used to have an active lifestyle before I moved to Arizona and found that doing anything out in the sun was simply unbearable. Yet, it was cool enough still to start training and I figured by May I would be living back in the Bay Area.

I looked online for how to prepare as a beginner for a half marathon.  The first thing I learned was that beginners are considered people that have been running three to four miles a few times a week for a year.  I soon found that the proper search words were “from couch to half marathon”.  Unfortunately, what I wanted to do wasn’t a possibility.  I had 11 weeks and all sensible people took at least a month longer to get ready.  I did find one website willing to provide a couch to half-marathon in 10 weeks guide.  However, the plan did not seem robust enough for me.

Despite the lack of aerobic exercise and running experience, I thought I had adequate time to prepare.  It seemed possible to me that I would be able to run (not run-walk) a half-marathon in under 2 hours with less than 12 weeks training, contrary to the authorities.  Since I know that many internet blogs simply parrot information, I decided to critically evaluate why I thought training would be possible in 11 weeks and what I would need to do to be successful.

I take good care of my body and these are the things that I think contribute to a strong base from which I can build.

  • I do a daily chi gung and tai chi practice.  At least 15 minutes everyday.  Despite the belief that only aerobic exercise can tone the vascular system, this type of exercise actually tones both the heart muscle and arterial muscles.  In addition, I have more life energy (chi) now than I ever had in my life.
  • I spend at least 30 minutes each day in meditation.  My meditation for the past year is a chulen practice which is focused on building life force energy.  I have more reserves now and greater capacity than I ever had in my life.  Indeed, twenty years ago when I started to train for a marathon I initially had to slow down due to fatigue from over-training.  Then I had to stop my training due to the life stress of divorce.
  • My body is in good physical condition.  I eat a whole food diet and supplement with high quality multivitamins/multiminerals.  I take additional supplements to support my individual health susceptibilities. (This means I take specific supplements to prevent the diseases my parents have developed.)


When I consider the additional stress of rapid training for the marathon I have decided to use the following supports.

  • Additional supplements. I usually take a Peak Performance Nutrition Pack and I have decided to up that to the Heart Health Peak Performance Pack.  This is because the additional running will create strain on my heart and vascular system and my family tends towards cardiovascular events, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol.  I am also adding, a glucosamine/chondroiton/MSM supplement with additional anti-inflammatory herbs like turmeric (Replenex® Extra Strength) to help with the additional strain on my joints.
  • I am using essential oils (Tea Tree, Lavender) on my legs to reduce post exercise inflammation, stimulate circulation into the area, and enhance recovery.  I also use arnica tincture on my legs and arnica 30c internally.
  • I am using hot epsom salt baths (with essential oils), my infared heating pad, and even my ultrasound to encourage faster recovery.  I know that some people go for ice after workouts.  This would be an option, but I would want to submerge my whole leg in an ice bucket, and that is just not practical. For me alternating ice water and hot water would be ideal.  I’ve done this on my arms after a long day of massage.  I may do this for my legs if it seems required to support my body.
  • I am using a foam roller to massage my calves, shins, hamstrings, IT band, quadriceps, and spine after each work-out.  My IT band is tight!  I have a couple lacrosse balls to work my gluts, piriformis, and gemellus.  A have a chronic problem with tightness on my right side, so I need to be proactive with keeping things loose.
  • Dynamic stretching is fabulous at ensuring my muscles stay limber.  I discovered the power of dynamic stretching a decade ago when I was recovering from a knee injury (impact).
  • A greater emphasis on longer walks or runs earlier in training.  Most plans seemed to focus on increasing distance gradually.  I thought it made more sense to start with a couple hours a day of walking and then increase speed gradually.  Maybe half-marathon training is different, but when I was training for a full marathon, the emphasis was on doing long, slow runs.  It seemed to me that I would be able to increase my moderate paced walking distance at the same time as beginning to do some running.
  • Training twice a day.  Despite my experience with over-training twenty years ago, I sensed that more frequent activity at a moderate pace in the first few weeks would create a base faster that I then could use to chisel away my time from.  With this in mind I intend to train morning and night unless my body tells me differently.
  • Using the Access® Bars fifteen minutes before my training activity on an empty stomach.  Finding out about the Access Bar actually made me consider the quick training for the half-marathon.  I do not think I could do it with out this tool.  This exercise bar is designed to switch the body’s metabolism away from using sugar for fuel and into fat-burning.  I was curious about how this could be possible given the bars simple ingredients.  Indeed, since the bar includes CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) I erroneously thought that was all there was to it.  Just a nice tastey chocolate bar with CLA.  Then I read a summary of the research papers.  What I learned was the bar was developed, researched and produced without CLA originally.  You can read for yourself if you’re interested.  The bottom line is that elite athletes use the bar to switch their bodies into fat-burning mode.  This means less fatigue, greater endurance, greater strength (press and lift more, can do more repetitions of any activity, can hold planks longer), and no lactic acid build up.  No sugar being burned means no lactic acid build up and that means no muscle soreness the next day.  The muscles recover faster and I can train twice a day.


All my ideas are interesting, but let’s put it to the test.  I did my first walk on March 14th – just 82 days from the June 4th half marathon.  What time is possible for the 13.1 miles of a half-marathon?  Can I beat my daughter straight out?  I’d like to…

Now, my daughter has been running for years – three to four miles a few times a week.  She is also half my age.  While I am competing against her it seemed to be reasonable that I would be given a handicap.  After looking at finishing race times in the different age classes for the top placers and considering her running experience versus my lack of we decided on a 25 minute handicap for me.  That means if she finishes the race in 110 minutes and I finish in 134 minutes I win by a minute!

I am ready to go!

What to do for Allergies

People are often complaining about seasonal allergies.  Many people seem to think that pollen is the cause of seasonal allergies and fail to realize that underlying their reaction to pollen is a dysfunctional immune system.  Of course, there is also something causing the immune system dysfunction.  Illness tends to be multifaceted and a wide variety of strategies can be applied to resolve anyone issue.

Often times people ask me what they can take for allergies.  This is an excellent question.  It also blows my mind a little.

The simple answer it to take something like CounterAct Allergy, an over-the-counter loratadine antihistamine.  However, when people ask me this question they are usually wanting an alternative to the mainstream drugstore solutions.

This is where my mind gets blown.  I am trained in a classical, constitutional approach to herbal medicine.  To “treat” allergies I would need to know more about the person to find out what is contributing to the problem.  My goal would be to eliminate the issue, not just treat the symptoms of the allergy.

Yet, when someone stops me on the street with an allergy question, they are expecting a one word answer, not a half-hour of questions.  Luckily, herbal medicine has several anti-histamines.  The best one is ambrosia.  However, I rarely recommend this one, because while the plant is ubiquitous, the one place you won’t find it is at the store.  In addition, I have found the indications to be quite specific to allergies characterized by copious fluids.  With watery eyes and runny nose it can dry things up within 5 minutes.  However, to find out the characteristics of the person’s allergies would require questions and, well, here we are trying to avoid getting into a long health discussion.

The herb I most recommend is nettlesyoung urtica dioica stinging nettles (Urtica dioica).  It is a general anti-histamine and is great for the itchy part of allergies.  Since I use ambrosia when things are runny, I cannot say if it is as effective for that.  The preparation you use needs to be fresh freeze-dried capsules, fresh juice, or fresh plant tincture.  I recommend about 3-6 capsules, or 1 to 3 dropperfuls tincture for acute symptoms.  You should notice results in about 15 to 30 minutes.  If not, then take some more.  You may have to repeat every hour or so to keep the symptoms at bay.

Now lets talk about cost.  One 24-hour allergy tablet is going to run about 35 cents ($10.39 for 30 tablets).  If nettles is your only treatment, you could end up using four tablets every hour initially.  That would be 48 tablets a day.  Cost?  About $6.70 ($13.39 for 90 capsules on Amazon).  I know people that used more than 1000 tablets during their first season.  That would be close to $150.  Quite a bit more than the $20 that the CounterAct Allergy  would cost.  However, since herbs actually support change in the body, it is not unusual to find that they people use less herbs the next season.  Indeed, if you start with a wholistic approach right away, not only will the allergies improve, you will reduce you chances of developing cancer, heart disease, arthritis, and more.  Nettles costs more, but is priceless, even as a stand alone treatment.

Now, many times people confuse a low grade chronic sinusitis for allergies, or perhaps they have a chronic nasal infection and allergies with it.  The strategy for this is going to be different.  Nasal washes with anemopsis and peppermint are useful.  To stimulate the immune system to clear the infection, baptisia is the herb of choice.  The treatment plan in these cases need to be more specific.  Tissue healing and elimination of pathogens are critical

Stress is actually a major underlying contributor to allergies.  Many people’s bodies switch from Th1 mediated immune responses to Th2 when they are under chronic stress.  Th1 simply refers to T helper cells that activate macrophages and a cell mediated response when a problem occurs in the body.  This is the response we want happening to avoid allergies and encourage the immune system to kill any cancerous cells.  In contrast, Th2 refers to the immune response where T helper cells activate the B cells that make antibodies.  This is great if you are attacked by a virus, but Th2 response is really bad to do long term.  A hyperactive antibody system (Th2) can contribute to allergies and auto-immune diseases.

The strategy for supporting the elimination of allergies would be to reduce stress in order to get a more appropriate immune response.  Stress to the body can manifest as worry, heavy metal and toxin exposure, PTSD, and over exercise.  Sources of stress need to be eliminated and the ability to relax and restore cultivated.  There are lots of ways to reduce body stressors:

  • Indoor air quality can be improved by switching to green cleaning products
  • Heavy metals can be removed from the body using fiber, pectins and cilantro
  • Mindfulness based practices can create greater internal ease
  • Counseling, ThetaHealing® and Access Bars® can reduce/eliminate PTSD and other stress triggers
  • Adequate nutritional supplements, ideally with Oligo® technology to ensure absorption, will support the body’s natural healing ability
  • Eleutherococcus (Siberian ginseng) is something I take everyday to help reset my stress reaction.  I consider it a must in today’s hyper society or if you suffer from PTSD.
  • Follow exercise with full body relaxation.


For ThetaHealers or people trained in changing beliefs:  Check for the belief, “I am offended by the allergen’s name here.”  Many people gain instantaneous relief once the belief is removed.  Note, sometimes people affirm their negative relationship to allergen by stating something like, “I hate pollen.”  Eliminating such negative affirmations can be helpful, but better yet, ask the following questions:

  • Hey body, what could we be doing if we weren’t doing this allergy thing?
  • What would it take to change this?
  • What am I allergic to?
  • How does this allergy serve me?
  • What am I offended by?
  • Can I change this?
  • Can I change this now?
  • What would it take for me to be free of allergies?
  • What energy, space and consciousness are me and body capable of being allergy free?
  • Is this allergy mine?


Here are the products I personally use and recommend.  I take two capsules of the Siberian Sport everyday along with Peak Performance – a clinically tested multi-mineral, multi-vitamin, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, probiotic supplement pack.