Monday, December 18, 2017

"Merry Christmas" vs. "Happy Holidays" -- The Debate Goes On...

Last week, a colleague in my office asked me if I believe that "Happy Holidays" has become the most common phrase of the Christmas season, rather than "Merry Christmas." In fact, he asked which phrase I tend to use the most. I'm a "Merry Christmas" kind of guy, but I certainly don't mind the "Happy Holidays" phrase because that also encompasses New Years. Regardless, whether to use "Merry Christmas" or "Happy Holidays" has been a debate for many Americans over the past several years.

Just in the past week, CBS News reported that a new poll shows that “Merry Christmas” remains the top holiday greeting among Americans. The poll, conducted by Monmouth University Poll Institute, shows that 67 percent say that at this time of year ‘Merry Christmas’ is the greeting they tend to use. Twenty-five percent of those polled say “Happy Holidays."

In another poll conducted in the past week by the Pew Center on Religion and Public Life, it was shown that most Americans are not concerned about the language of Christmas/Holiday greetings in public places. In fact, 52 percent of Americans say they don't care how a store clerk acknowledges the holiday, while 32 percent would like to hear "Merry Christmas," and 15 percent would prefer "Happy Holidays" or "Seasons Greetings."

So, what does any of this have to do with health and fitness (since this is a fitness-oriented blog)? Well, your vocal apparatus is your lips, tongue, teeth, top of the mouth, and the voice box in your throat. There are muscles in the lips, tongue and throat as well as your cheeks and jaw. Overall, it takes about 100 muscles to speak! In fact, it takes the same amount of physical energy to say any of the following: "Merry Christmas," "Happy Holidays," or "Seasons Greetings." So, exercise your vocal apparatus this month by expressing to others one of the three phrases -- and have yourself a wonderful Christmas... Holiday... or, Season!

Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,

Paul Staso
www.paulstaso.com

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Over Five Thousand Santa Claus Runners Set World Record

It was just one year ago that 5,025 road race participants dressed in Santa suits crossed the finish line at the Surf-N-Santa 5 Miler in Virginia Beach, Virginia. As a result, they broke the Guinness World Record for the Largest Santa Claus Run.

The most complicated Guinness requirement was that the participants had to be wearing all five pieces of the Santa suit provided to them for the duration of the race, including the red pants, a red jacket, hat, black belt, and a white beard. Guinness officials allowed runners to pull the beard down under their chin, if needed, so it wouldn’t restrict their breathing.

To help make the suits as comfortable as possible for runners, there was an alteration table set up during packet pickup the day before the race, as well as the day of the race.

Race officials were also required to take video of the start and the end of the race, and have counters at the finish line to see how many racers did not have their full five-piece suit on. The official counters tallied 191 Santas who did not have their full suit on at the finish, which left them with 5,025 official Santa finishers — enough to break the previous world record of 4,961 Santas set at the 2013 Dundalk Charity Santa Fun Run in Ireland.

The course went along the Virginia Beach Boardwalk, which was decorated with Christmas lights. Racers could even make pit stops at either a gingerbread cookie or a candy cane aid station for an energy boost throughout the race. Check out the 2016 highlight video below!



Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,

Paul Staso
www.paulstaso.com

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Go Nuts, Not Donuts -- Going Nuts for Heart Health!

Harvard researchers followed 210,000 adults for 32 years. They looked at heart health for people who ate nuts at least once a week to those who didn’t eat any nuts. People who ate:
  • Walnuts at least once a week had a 20 percent lower risk of heart disease.
  • Peanuts two or more times a week had a 14 percent lower risk of heart disease.
  • Tree nuts (almonds, cashews, pistachios, or macadamia nuts) two or more times a week had a 15 to 23 percent lower risk of heart disease.
Of course, it’s possible that other habits helped reduce the risk of heart disease in the study's adults, such as being active each day. However, it can't be overlooked that nuts are high in fiber, nutrients, antioxidants, and healthy fats that can help lower heart disease risk.

So, go nuts! Even a small handful once or twice a day can help keep your heart healthy.

Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,

Paul Staso
www.paulstaso.com

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Enjoying The Feeling of Being Retired From Adventure Running

One year ago, I announced via this blog that I have retired from running across states and countries. Sometimes when athletes retire from something that they've done for most of their life, they come out of retirement so that they can try and relive the feeling and excitement of their sport one more time. So, what am I feeling now that it has been nearly 7 years since my last adventure run (across the Mojave Desert) and having been officially retired from running over a marathon a day across vast land areas all alone while pushing a support stroller of gear, food and water weighing half of my body weight?

I feel great and have absolutely no regrets!

Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,

Paul Staso
www.paulstaso.com

Monday, December 4, 2017

North Pole, Alaska is a Great Place to Visit!

I grew up in Alaska and have been to the small Alaskan town of North Pole a couple of times. It's known for its year-round Christmas decorations, including candy cane–striped street lights. Santa Claus House is a Christmas store with walls covered in children’s letters to Santa, as well as a 42-foot-tall Santa Claus statue outside! Streets have names like Kris Kringle Drive and Mistletoe Lane. Live reindeer and an opportunity for a photograph with Santa Claus at the Santa Claus House are available year round.

As I write this blog post, it's currently minus 5 degrees at North Pole, Alaska. However, when I ran through there during the spring of 2009 on my 500-mile Alaska running adventure, the temperature was pleasantly in the 50's. On average, North Pole, Alaska receives just over 5 feet of snow during the winter months, and has only 3 hours of daylight at mid-winter. The lowest recorded temperature there was achieved in 1990 when it got down to minus 53 degrees!

Prior to Christmas each year, the post office in North Pole receives hundreds of thousands of letters to Santa Claus, and thousands more from people wanting the town's postmark on their Christmas greeting cards to their families.

You may be wondering if there are any athletics going on in the tiny town of North Pole, Alaska (population around 2,000 people). You may be surprised to learn that the town has an all-female flat-track Roller Derby league called the "North Pole Babes in Toyland" (NPBT) whose athletes have Christmas and/or North Pole inspired Skater names.

I consider myself very fortunate to have grown up in Alaska and I will always cherish my memories of visiting North Pole, Alaska with my parents.

Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,

Paul Staso
www.paulstaso.com

Friday, December 1, 2017

Are There Health Benefits of Peppermint Candy Canes?

Did you know that the United States has a "National Candy Cane Day" on December 26? Each year, nearly 2 BILLION candy canes are made and 90% of candy canes are sold between Thanksgiving and Christmas. The "candy cane" is first found in literature in 1866. Its earliest known association with Christmas was in 1874, and by 1882 canes were being hung on Christmas trees. In 1921, a machine was invented that could automatically make candy canes. Before this, each cane was made by hand.

Traditionally, candy canes are white with red stripes and flavored with peppermint, but there are many other flavors... such as, bacon; pickle; gravy, and more. Candy canes typically contain sugar, corn syrup, natural flavor, and have color added. The average candy cane contains around 50 calories and does not contain any fat or cholesterol.

According to Harvard Health Publications, peppermint oil can help relieve indigestion. Also, peppermint oil in candy canes contains a substantial amount of antioxidants -- in fact, among the highest found in nature. The Cornell Center for Materials Research notes that peppermint oil contains higher antioxidant levels than those in cereals, fruits and vegetables. Antioxidants strengthen your body's ability to fight diseases and infections, protecting your cells against attacks by the molecules produced when your body breaks down food.

Some studies have found that tension headaches may be alleviated with peppermint, including one study that found using peppermint is as effective as taking acetaminophen after 15 minutes. Also, the menthol in peppermint is known to be an effective decongestant to open up nasal passages. In addition, it's soothing to the throat and can calm a dry cough.

Enjoy some candy canes this holiday season!

Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,

Paul Staso
www.paulstaso.com

Monday, November 20, 2017

There is SO Much to be Thankful For This Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving Day is coming up this week in the United States and I have so much to be thankful for. This will be my 52nd Thanksgiving and I've been thinking back over the past 52 years of countless times with family and friends. Yes, there is so much to be thankful for and I want to take a moment to express some of the reasons why I am truly thankful this year.

In the photo accompanying this post is my lovely fiancé, Kelley. We've been together for 2½ years and engaged since November 2016. I am so thankful to have the love of a beautiful Christian woman who has captured every part of my heart. In 2018, Kelley and I will be married and our next Thanksgiving will be as Mr. and Mrs. – which will be a blessing beyond measure. Kelley has four wonderful children, two of whom are adults. Her adult children are pursuing college degrees while working many hours each week at jobs. Her two younger children are straight-A students and are very involved in dance classes. Kelley is an amazing mother and her children are certainly a blessing to her. I am thankful to be in their lives and to see each of them pursuing their interests and goals with such passion and commitment.

I have four fantastic children of my own and my youngest, Brian, is a senior in high school and will be turning 18 years old in just 7 weeks. Once that big event happens, all of my children will be adults. Brian's high school career has included playing soccer and running cross country. He stands at 6 feet tall and will soon be blazing his trail as an adult. Ky is 19 years old and creates the most incredible music, recently finishing an ambient influenced synth-pop project. I never thought that when I bought him his first sound mixer many years ago that he'd develop his talents so well and be creating music that people from around the world listen to on SoundCloud, Google Music, and Apple Music. My daughter Ashlin, who is 23, graduated from the University of Montana this year with a bachelor of science degree in exercise science, health and human performance. She is currently working as a Psychometrist at a neuropsychological practice. My daughter, Jenna, is 24 years of age and in her second year of teaching 3rd grade at a K-12 private school, as well as being a varsity volleyball coach. She'll be spending this Thanksgiving with Kelley's family and I in Indiana. As a father, I couldn't be more proud of my children and all that they have accomplished, and I love each of them more than they'll ever know.

My parents are in their 80's and are doing well. They've been married for 63 years and consistently encourage me and offer advice in so many of life's arenas that I find myself in. Their love and support has meant the world to me over the years and I'm thankful to be their son.

I am the youngest of seven children and unfortunately I rarely see my siblings. As the decades have gone by, we've seen the miles between us grow and our connections decrease. However, I love each of them and am thankful for all of the Thanksgiving moments that we've shared in the past. I have friends that have been in my life for countless years and who have often provided an ear to listen, an encouraging word, and more. I am thankful for each and every one.

My health is very good and my job keeps me busy. Income flows steadily, bills are paid regularly, a house shelters me daily, and food is within reach at any time. I can adjust a thermostat on the wall to instantly have warm or cool air, I have clean water and a comfortable bed, and I possess many of the conveniences of the 21st century. In so many ways, I am far more fortunate than many people in this world. I thank God, my Provider, for watching over me and for guiding my steps on life's path. My salvation through Jesus Christ is the ultimate gift to be thankful for this Thanksgiving... and every day of the year. 

To you and your family, I wish you a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,

Paul Staso
www.paulstaso.com

Monday, October 30, 2017

Ways That Your Partner Relationship Can Affect Your Health

Can your romantic relationship make a difference in your overall well-being? Research shows that strong partnerships can help us avoid illness, adopt healthier habits, and even live longer. On the other hand, troubled relationships tend to breed stress and weaken immunity. Today's blog post will share just a few ways that your health is affected by the partner relationship you choose.



First, I must say that I've never been happier in a relationship than I am at this point in my life. For over two years I've been with Kelley (pictured above) and we've been engaged for one year. We've both experienced the stress and turmoil associated with disharmonious relationships and divorce, and we both feel blessed beyond measure to have found one another. We are truly happy to be getting married next year and building our home together! Between us we have eight wonderful children (six of whom are adults) and both of us are committed to a loving, mature and healthy relationship as the years unfold.

When it comes to a person's well being, there are many factors which affect our health, whether it's behaviors we exhibit toward each other or the habits that we pass on to each other. Regardless of the level of your partner relationship, you should keep in mind the ways that your romantic bond may influence both your mind and your body.

According to a 2012 study, people tend to gain weight as they settle into marriage (they "let themselves go"), but lose weight when a marriage ends. However, the opposite has proven to happen quite often. A happy couple can motivate each other to stay healthy -- they'll go to the gym together, set goals, and feel responsible for each other. When couples do put on weight, it may be a symptom of conflict, not necessarily "letting themselves go." It has been shown that dissatisfaction in a relationship can lead to passive-aggressive eating behaviors and sleep problems, which will ultimately lead to weight gain.

Did you know that regular physical intimacy can reduce stress and boost well-being? I know, that's probably not much of a surprise! A 2009 study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine, found that people who frequently had sex were healthier mentally and more likely to report greater satisfaction with their relationship and life overall. However, sexual intimacy is just one part of a relationship. Your partner's behavior outside the bedroom can just as easily send stress levels moving in the opposite direction. Parenting disputes, disagreements about money, or even deciding who does which household tasks have been shown to increase stress.

Sex isn't the only type of physical contact that can lower stress and improve health. In a 2004 study of 38 couples, University of North Carolina researchers found that both men and women had higher blood levels of oxytocin (a hormone believed to ease stress and improve mood) after hugging. The women also had lower blood pressure post-hug, and lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol. It has been shown that caring behaviors -- such as a touch on the arm, holding hands, or a rub on the shoulder -- can stimulate those hormones and help to overcome stress and anxiety.

It has also been shown that sleeping next to someone you love and trust can help you fully relax and embrace sleep. However, a big exception is if your partner keeps you up at night -- by snoring or by tossing and turning. Studies show that people are more likely to experience daytime fatigue and fitful sleep themselves if their partner struggles with restless sleep or insomnia. Relationships can affect sleep in less direct ways, too. Research shows that relationship insecurity or conflict is associated with poorer sleep.

In some cases, relationship difficulties may actually contribute to full-blown anxiety. Several studies have found a link between marital problems and an increased risk of generalized anxiety disorder and social anxiety. Also, stressful relationships have been shown to dramatically increase the risk of clinical depression.

A person's diet, exercise habits, and stress levels can all have an impact on blood pressure, so it's not surprising that your relationship status (and the strength of your relationship) can, too. In a highly publicized 2008 study, researchers at Brigham Young University found that people in happy marriages tended to have lower blood pressure than those who are single. People who were unhappily married, however, tended to have higher blood pressure than singles.

The link between relationships and cardiovascular health goes well beyond blood pressure. Studies consistently report that being married is associated with a lower risk of heart attack and better outcomes after heart surgery, especially for men. Why is that? Stress and other underlying biological factors (including blood pressure) are thought to be involved, but the emotional and tangible support that partners provide is believed to play a role as well.

Also, a partner's watchful eye and day-to-day care appears to foster a healthier lifestyle and closer attention to health problems. People in healthy relationships take care of each other and may feel more of a desire to take care of themselves.

Finally, it has been shown that it's not just your current partner relationship that can affect your health, but also your past ones -- especially those that ended in hurt feelings and rejection. In 2011, researchers from Columbia University found that thinking about an ex-lover can have similar effects on the brain as physical pain. It's even possible for a breakup to result in something called broken heart syndrome, a temporary enlargement of the heart (with symptoms mimicking a heart attack) brought on by extreme physical or emotional stress.

These are just a few of the ways that your partner relationship can affect your health. What's most important is to make certain that the relationship you're in is one that is healthy and beneficial for both partners. If it's not, then whether you should continue the relationship must seriously be examined.

Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,

Paul Staso
www.paulstaso.com

Friday, October 27, 2017

E-cigarettes (Vaping) May Contribute to Inflammatory Lung Disease

In September 2016, I wrote a blog post titled "Cigarettes and E-Cigarettes: Inhaling The Dangerous Facts." This week I read that a new study from researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill suggests that e-cigarette use can trigger immune responses in the lung that can contribute to inflammatory lung disease. The research was published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

Globally, e-cigarette use is soaring -- especially with young people. In 2016 the US Surgeon General identified a 900 percent increase in e-cigarette use in high school students from 2011 to 2015. While e-cigarette vapor doesn't contain the same kinds of carcinogenic compounds as regular cigarette smoke, there is a growing body of research to suggest "vaping" may have its own set of harmful effects.

The study examined 44 sputum samples from e-cigarette users, current cigarette smokers, and non-smokers. Amongst e-cigarette users, a significant increase in neutrophil granulocyte- and neutrophil-extracellular-trap (NET)-related proteins was identified. The study notes that while neutrophils are useful in combating pathogens they also are known to contribute to lung diseases such as COPD and cystic fibrosis. The study also identified similar increases in specific biomarkers associated with lung disease between e-cigarette and cigarette users. An increase in mucin 5AC, a mucus secretion associated with chronic bronchitis and asthma, was also found in both e-cigarette and cigarette users.

Dr. Mehmet Kesimer, senior author of the study, has said: "Comparing the harm of e-cigarettes with cigarettes is a little like comparing apples to oranges. Our data shows that e-cigarettes have a signature of harm in the lung that is both similar and unique, which challenges the concept that switching from cigarettes to e-cigarettes is a healthier alternative."

It's becoming more clear that there are adverse effects of e-cigarettes. While they most likely don't cause the same kind of harm as cigarettes, it may indeed be a misnomer to believe that they are a "healthy" alternative. The only truly healthy alternative to cigarette smoking is to simply not smoke at all.

Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,

Paul Staso
www.paulstaso.com

Thursday, October 26, 2017

The Funniest Compliment I Ever Received About My Running

On the evening of October 9, 2006, I was in Fellowsville, West Virginia, at the home of Stan Shaver and his wife, Thelma. They were kind enough to provide overnight accommodations as I was nearing the finish of my solo run across America. On that particular day, I had run more than the marathon distance and the next day I was scheduled to run 38 miles to Mount Storm, West Virginia, which included steep and narrow roads going up the Appalachian Mountains.

At the time of my visit, Stan was the Principal of Fellowsville School and was serving in the West Virginia House of Representatives (District 46). After a wonderful dinner, Stan and I were sitting in his living room chatting about the cross-country adventure that I had been doing for over 3 months. He couldn't believe that I had averaged 30 miles per day solo pushing a 65-pound jogging stroller of gear for 2,960 miles to his front doorstep. It was simply amazing to him. He told me that what I was doing surpassed anything in athletics that he had ever seen, including Lance Armstrong's wins in the Tour de France. He then gave me the funniest compliment that I had ever received regarding my ultra-endurance adventures. Stan said, "There are IronMen, and then there's whatever the hell you are!" I laughed, but quickly realized that he didn't mean it as a joke. He was completely serious!

Of course, the "Ironman" title in athletics is for those who complete the Ironman Triathlon challenge in Hawaii -- swimming 2.4 miles; bicycling 112 miles; and, running 26.2 miles (in that order, without breaks). I've never felt compelled to pursue the Ironman (mainly due to my lack of strength in swimming), but I greatly respect those who can complete that race. There's also "Iron Man" -- the fictional superhero by Marvel Comics. However, I don't think that's the "Iron Man" he was referring to!

So, to hear Stan say what he did was taken as both a compliment and quite humorous. Thanks for encouraging me, Stan!

Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,

Paul Staso
www.paulstaso.com

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

This is My 200th Blog Post in 16 Months

This is the 200th blog post that I've made in the past 16 months. It was in June 2016 when I decided to start blogging again after a 5-year absence. I had blogged regularly from 2006 through 2011 as I did various mega-mileage running adventures. Writing about running, bicycling and other fitness topics has been something I enjoy, and I'll continue to write as I feel compelled. If you've followed this blog for any amount of time, you've probably seen that I don't post every day, and I don't post at all on weekends. I do try to post something weekly, at minimum.

It always amazes me how many people access my blog from various countries. Just in the past week I've had readers from the USA, Russia, Canada, Poland, Ukraine, France, Portugal, Thailand, and Brazil. My most popular blog post in the past 16 months has been "I'm Officially Retired From Running Across States and Countries."

I apply keyword tags to each blog post so that search engines can catalog my writings. Each day there are readers to my blog who locate it through a search engine when doing a health/fitness query. I also get visitors to my blog who click on a link to it from my paulstaso.com website, or from my YouTube channel. Additionally, I get blog traffic from my Twitter account. I don't earn one penny for writing this blog and I keep it free of advertisements. My blog is a voluntary effort and one that I hope benefits others.

To those who stop by my blog now and then to read, I say thank you!

Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,

Paul Staso
www.paulstaso.com

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

The Earth, and People's Clothes, are Under GREAT Pressure!

Many ancient cultures believed that the earth is flat. Today, cultures know that the earth is not flat... but it is FAT. In fact, the earth has more weight pressure on it than ever before! More than 2 billion adults and children globally are overweight or obese and suffer health problems because of their weight, according to a recent study published in the New England Journal of Medicine. This equates to one-third of the world's population carrying excess weight, which is fueled by urbanization, poor diets and reduced physical activity. In fact, obesity levels have risen in all countries, irrespective of their income level. The United States has the greatest percentage of obese children and young adults, and obesity levels are higher among women than men across all age groups. The researchers analyzed data from over 68 million people between 1980 and 2015 to explore trends as well as figures regarding overweight and obesity rates.

Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,

Paul Staso
www.paulstaso.com

Monday, October 23, 2017

What Ever Happened to PaceTrek.com?

Last month, I wrote a blog post titled "What Ever Happened to PaceRun.com?" That was a domain I used for my solo run across America in 2006 in order to post writings, pictures, videos and more. From 2008 through 2011, I used a domain titled "PaceTrek.com" -- and posted other running adventures at that address. If you've visited the PaceTrek.com domain lately (which I no longer own), you've probably seen that it's a website that provides dating and relationship tips. It's actually owned by a guy in Jakarta, Indonesia. I have NOTHING to do with that website!

If you want to access any of my running adventures online, you'll need to go to www.PaulStaso.com. That is the ONLY website online for gaining access to my solo running adventures across America, Germany, Alaska, the Mojave Desert and elsewhere. It also provides you with links to this blog, my YouTube channel, my Twitter account, and my various photo albums through Google Photos.

Again, I have not owned PaceRun.com or PaceTrek.com for many years and anything published at those domain addresses has nothing to do with me or the PACE (Promoting Active Children Everywhere) projects that I've done through The P.A.C.E. Fitness Foundation, which I formed many years ago.

Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,

Paul Staso
www.paulstaso.com

Friday, October 20, 2017

Want a FREE Pair of Socks? Just Run Across America!

It was 11 years ago today that I ran into the Atlantic Ocean to complete my 108-day, 3,260-mile, 15-state solo running adventure across America. I was 41 years old back then and my four children ranged in age from 6 to 13. Today, three of my children are adults and my youngest will be 18 in just a couple of months. Occasionally, there will be mention of my 'crazy' run across the country, but for the most part it is now just a part of my life's path that is farther behind me with each passing day.

October 20 is a day when I pause in the busyness of my life to recall that day in 2006 when I finally ran into the salt water on the Delaware shore. I've never been able to fully put into words all that it took to accomplish that solo coast-to-coast run. Suffice it to say... it took everything I had.

Just to get to the starting line in June 2006 was a challenge. Finding sponsors for the run was an uphill battle, and I never reached the top. For instance, I had run for many years in ASICS running shoes and approached the company about the possibility of sponsoring my coast-to-coast run with a donation of 6 pairs of running shoes and some clothing. I explained that I was doing the run to fulfill a promise I had made to 97 elementary children -- those children having become the first in the United States to complete a virtual run across America within a 9-month school year. It didn't take long to receive a response from ASICS.

The company's communication informed me that they would not be involved with the run via a sponsorship of clothes/shoes, but that they wished me "luck." So, I spent over $1,000 to buy ASICS gear to wear across the country. Some of my running friends said I should boycott ASICS for its unwillingness to support the endeavor. However, I liked ASICS gear and chose to purchase what I would need. After successfully completing the run from Oregon to Delaware, I received a message from ASICS' marketing department. I was congratulated and told that even though they chose not to sponsor me with ASICS shoes and clothes, I still purchased and wore their gear -- and that they were impressed.

The communication concluded with an offer of a free pair of socks to show appreciation for my purchasing their gear and ultimately wearing ASICS shoes and clothes all across America. Yes, a free pair of socks!

So, if you want a free pair of socks... just approach a large company for an apparel sponsorship; get rejected; spend a lot of money to purchase the apparel yourself; and then, run your body into the ground by logging 30 miles per day for 108 days. You too could get a free pair of socks!

By the way, the pair that ASICS sent to me ended up being too small.

Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,

Paul Staso
www.paulstaso.com

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Has My Mega-Mileage Running Caused Artery Plaque Buildup?

All runners have heard about the tragedies. The world-class marathoner Alberto Salazar, at the age of 48, suffered a heart attack and lay dead for 14 minutes before a stent opened up a blocked artery and saved his life. Micah True, the ultra-marathoner at the center of the best-selling book “Born to Run,” went for a 12-mile run in the New Mexico wilderness and was later found dead. Ryan Shay died in the middle of the 2008 United States Olympic marathon trials. There is also the story of the first marathon itself, run by Pheidippides, who collapsed and died after completing the 26.2 miles.

These deaths are all the more shocking because the peak physical condition of the deceased would seem to protect them from heart disease. Well, now it appears that the medical world is learning more about the impact of intense levels of working out.

According to a new study published in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings, those who exercise around 8 hours a week or more may want to rethink how much they workout.

Conducted by researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago and Kaiser Permanente, the study found that those who workout more than three times the recommended amount a week are much more likely to develop heart disease than those who workout a moderate amount.

But there’s only one group primarily affected by over-exercising: White men, who are 86 percent more likely to develop a buildup of plaque in their arteries by the time they become middle-aged, according to the study.

In other words, the findings suggested that white men who work out around 8 hours a week or more have nearly double the chance of suffering from heart disease than those who exercised less than 2 1/2 hours a week.

While there’s some understanding of why over-exercising can cause health issues, no one is really sure why white men are disproportionately affected. According to the study, among all people who worked out over 7 1/2 hours a week, there was just a 27 percent increase in developing plaque buildup — much less than the 86 percent chance for white men.

This week marks 11 years since I completed my 3,260-mile run across America, and since then I've run solo across Montana, Alaska, Germany, and the Mojave Desert. In fact, in my 52 years I've logged enough miles to lap planet earth a couple of times! Has all of my running created plaque buildup in my arteries? As a runner for over 40 years of my life, I can only pray that the countless and challenging mileposts that I've reached for over the past four decades have not actually shortened my life!

Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,

Paul Staso
www.paulstaso.com

Friday, October 13, 2017

Ride The Divide: Canada to Mexico by Bicycle

Several years ago, I watched a well-made 2008 documentary titled "Ride the Divide." It's about the world’s toughest mountain bike race, which traverses over 2,700 miles along the Continental Divide in the Rocky Mountains -- from Banff, Canada to the Mexican border (click here to watch the trailer). If you're a bike enthusiast, I strongly recommend that you buy a DVD of this documentary, directed by Hunter Weeks (who also directed another awesome documentary titled 10MPH). In "Ride the Divide," Matthew Lee -- five time winner of the race -- is one tough cyclist and I relate with his appreciation of enjoying solo endurance pursuits.

Recently, I watched 44 videos on YouTube from a 2017 "Ride The Divide Challenge" taken on by three guys. I really enjoyed seeing the emotions, the scenery, and the insights from the riders. It took 43 days for the ride to wrap up at the Mexico border. I encourage you to visit their YouTube channel and watch the videos. Here's how they describe their fundraising ride: "This 6-week event is not just a physical challenge, but one in which we are challenging ourselves to see what kind of difference ordinary people like us can make when we come together to accomplish an extraordinary goal. Our hope is to build MANNA Worldwide’s first orphanage in the Philippines, fund family homes in Ukraine, and support feeding children right here in America through MANNA’s backpack program." Their ride raised $270,000 and far surpassed what they expected.

Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,

Paul Staso
www.paulstaso.com

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Fatter Not Fitter -- The Decline of Today's Youth

I read a news story yesterday that made my heart sink. CNN reports that ten times more children and teens globally are obese today than 40 years ago. The number of obese children and adolescents rose to 124 million in 2016 -- more than 10 times higher than the 11 million classified as obese 40 years ago, in 1975 (when I was 10 years old). This equates to nearly 6% of girls and nearly 8% of boys being obese.

CNN reported on the largest study ever done in obesity, with more than 1,000 researchers collaborating to analyze weight and height data for almost 130 million people (including more than 31 million people 5 to 19 years old) in order to identify obesity trends from 1975 to 2016.

From 2005 through 2011 I ran thousands of miles across states and countries -- speaking to countless numbers of school children -- in an effort to combat the development of the statistics that CNN reported yesterday. Obesity in our world is going to have to be fought by more than just a handful of people. It truly is going to take more than a 'village' to turn things around. It's going to take the whole world. Sadly, it seems that too many people are not only thick in the waist when it comes to this issue, but thick in the head as well.

Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,

Paul Staso
www.paulstaso.com

Monday, October 9, 2017

The "Water Bicycle" is Nearly 150 Years Old

In 1891, the Pinkert Navigating Tricycle (a water velocipede) certainly turned heads. Essentially, it was a bicycle crossed with a boat and used balloon-like tires to stay afloat. The invention was featured in Scientific American when George Pinkert tried to cross the English Channel on it. According to the magazine, Pinkert was about halfway across the channel when the tide turned. He realized he would be carried out to sea, so he hailed a passing vessel and was taken on board.

The first water-bicycle design actually dates back to 1869 (by D.J. Farmer), although Pinkert was the first to actually develop the concept and implement it. So, are these water bikes still around? Yes! It's possible to ride modern descendants of the Pinkert Navigating Tricycle at beach resorts, lake getaways, and other vacation spots. However, water bicycles never gained the popularity and practicality of land bicycles.

Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,

Paul Staso
www.paulstaso.com

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Is Loneliness a Part of Being Alone?

If there's one thing that I've learned well in my life, it's how to be alone. I've endured endless times of being alone. I'm 52 years of age and much of my intense alone time has been spent on the back roads, highways, and paths across various states and countries -- running. You see, I don't equate being alone to being "lonely." You wouldn't believe how many times I was asked my technique for dealing with loneliness as I ran solo across America. Everyone on the outside looking in simply believed that my 108 days on the road to conquer 3,260 miles had to be excruciatingly lonely. Well, they weren't. I'm a Christian, a Baptist in fact, and I always have God by my side. Always.

Sure, it hasn't been easy being away from my children and other loved ones as I've taken on extreme solo adventures across huge land masses that take weeks or months to conquer. However, I learned decades ago how to cope with being alone. There are times in life when being alone is quite beneficial. To be able to only hear the sound of a clock tick or your own breathing is a chance to contemplate life -- our purpose, our direction, our dreams, and our heart. Certainly, in today's busy world it's challenging to find time to be alone in the quietness of our own thoughts.

As I grow older, I grow more aware of time. Once you're in your 50's you begin to realize that you have more years behind you than you have in front of you. Time becomes more precious, and you don't necessarily want to spend all of your non-working time alone. Sure, there are those who do it and actually have more of a 'virtual' social group via the Internet as they sit alone staring into glowing screens. I'm not that type of man. I'm the type of man that wants to grab the brass ring of life, and do it with that special someone by my side -- and for me that "special someone" is my fiancé, Kelley. I want to spend my final hours on this earth looking back over a life that was well lived... thinking, "That was a hell of a run!" I want to make a difference in the lives of others, no matter how small that difference may be. I want to live, laugh and love with all of my heart and not feel like I have to watch my every step. If I had watched my every step running across places like the USA, Germany and the Mojave Desert, I would have exhausted myself mentally and the bi-product would have been emotional collapse leading to a complete halt.

My mother is nearly 81 years young, and my Dad is a little ahead of her at 84. In fact, he just celebrated his birthday this week. I spoke to him and asked what he would be doing on his special day. He said, "It doesn't matter what I do, as long as I'm with your mother!" They've been married for 63 years and are still head-over-heels in love. They hold hands, flirt with each other, and couldn't imagine life without one another. I want that, and Kelley has told me that she wants that too. Sure, divorce dealt me a tough blow and there's no way I'll be able to celebrate 63 years of marriage to one person. That's just how life dealt my cards. However, as I go through moments of being alone I realize that no matter how good I am at dealing with consistent times alone, I don't want that for the rest of my life.

I've already logged 19,205 days on this earth. If I'm lucky, I've got another 13,870 to go (that is, if I live to 90). So, barring a life-ending heart attack, being struck by a bus, or some other tragedy, I should have about 42% of my life left -- but of course, many of those years will be in retirement and taking advantage of senior discounts. In retrospect, I spent much of my 22 to 50-year-old range alone. Yes, I had my four children around me as they were being raised, but from the perspective of non-children relationships, I was alone for much of that season of life. Now, my children are adults and my fiancé and I are looking toward our future together.

Is there an art to being alone? I believe that people who can cope well with being alone are, by nature, patient people. I believe I'm a rather patient person, and that has worked to my advantage in running across states and countries. Philosopher Thomas Carlyle once said, "Endurance is patience concentrated." I understand that so well, and by understanding that I believe I can endure times of being alone quite well.

When have I felt the most alone? The answer may not surprise you, but the reason for the answer may. When I was in the middle of the Mojave Desert in April 2011 during my solo 506-mile run from the South Rim of the Grand Canyon to Badwater Basin, Death Valley -- I felt the most alone I ever have in my life. There was a four-day stretch of nothing but uninhabited paths, blowing sand, and heat. I was physically exhausted from pushing all of my gear, food and water in a cart and was laying in a one-man tent -- looking through the mesh-net ceiling and seeing nothing but the most intense sea of stars and satellites. It was completely silent, except for the distant sound of an occasional coyote howl. My marriage was crumbling, the business I owned was crumbling, and I was once again away from my four children... who gave me more strength than they even know. My only companion in the desert was God. He was there. I laid there rather dehydrated... hungry... hurting... exhausted... and feeling as though if I closed my eyes and didn't wake up, that it wouldn't matter much. There are certainly times when being alone can feel like a coffin. My choice then was to not let the desert be my final resting place. I ran out and became the first to successfully complete that running adventure. Life is truly worth living, and "living" is what I want to do with the time I have left.

If you're in a season of being alone, do some looking back, but not as much as looking forward. History is behind you, life is in you now, and the future is stretched out before you. In time, you'll rise up out of the desert and run for the horizon. Make sure it's one hell of a run!



Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,

Paul Staso
www.paulstaso.com

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Annually, More Bicycles Are Sold in the United States Than Cars

Bicycle sales are increasing in the United States! Statista.com reports that in spring 2017, the number of Americans who have been cycling within the last 12 months amounted to 66.21 million. The number of cyclists/bike riders has increased 19 million from 2008 to 2017. Regarding sales, more than double the number of bikes are sold each year than passenger cars. Where passenger car sales are on the decline, bicycle sales have been increasing since the 1990's. In fact, new bikes have been outselling new cars in the United States for most of the last 20 years.

The following chart illustrates the number of cyclists and bike riders in the United States from spring 2008 to spring 2017.

Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,

Paul Staso
www.paulstaso.com

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Why I Chose to Pass on the Mojave Desert Run Documentary

In January 2011, I was approached by a film-making studio about the possibility of them creating a documentary about my solo run across the Mojave Desert -- which was scheduled to begin in April 2011. I met with the producer and was actually considering it. I was thinking that a documentary would be a great way for my children, and my future grandchildren, to clearly see what I endure to accomplish the solo runs across states and countries that I was doing.

The producer explained that his crew would only film me from a distance and would not interfere in any way with my 500-mile solo run across the Mojave Desert. He said that three times per day they would want to interview me for about 5 to 10 minutes (morning, afternoon, evening) to ask a few questions and to get my thoughts. Other than that, their filming would be done like an observer watching me deal with whatever might arise. I was truly intrigued with the idea and was told that once the documentary was completed that I would be an inspiration to a wider audience than I had already acquired. To be honest, the thought of a documentary about my running stroked my ego and made me feel as though I had reached an elite level in mega-distance running.

As the months of January, February and March of 2011 unfolded, I was training hard in preparation of running an average of 30 miles per day from the south rim of the Grand Canyon to Badwater Basin, Death Valley. The support stroller I would push (containing gear, food, water, tent, and electronics) would weigh around 100 pounds... primarily due to the significant amount of water I would push through barren desert. As I pounded out the miles in preparation for that desert crossing, I began to reflect on my previous solo runs across America, Germany, Montana and Alaska. I conquered all of those places alone... and for some of those adventures I had a satellite tracking device so that people could see my precise location 24/7 via an Internet link -- a tracking method that I would also use across the Mojave Desert. I thought about some TV "adventurers" who were supposedly self-sufficient but who had been the target of public skepticism. For instance, Bear Grylls of "Man vs. Wild" fame. He faced various accusations that his film crew assisted him by actually providing food and shelter when he wasn't in front of the camera. As I pounded out my training miles for the Mojave Desert run, I began to wonder if I would eventually face the same skepticism that Bear Grylls faced if I were to have a film crew following my adventure every step of the way.

Suffice it to say, there is no documentary film about my solo run across the Mojave Desert. In March 2011, I contacted the documentary team and told them that I was going alone and that no documentary would be made. Of course, they tried to persuade me to rethink my position. However, I had made my decision and successfully ran across the Mojave in 17 days... completely alone. People from around the world tracked my progress live online via my satellite tracking device and pictures, videos and writings that I posted from the desert. You can access that information via paulstaso.com. I have never regretted my decision to not have a documentary made about that run. I battled some very difficult conditions and situations, and I endured it all completely on my own. I didn't have cameras in my face, the temptation of 'support' from a nearby crew of people, and experienced the Mojave Desert in a way that very few have ever encountered it. Now that over 6 years have gone by since accomplishing that adventure, I look back with great satisfaction and no regrets.

Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,

Paul Staso
www.paulstaso.com

Thursday, September 21, 2017

What Ever Happened to PaceRun.com?

When I ran across America in 2006, I posted writings, pictures and videos at the domain PaceRun.com. Now, all of my ultra-running endeavors are compiled at www.PaulStaso.com. I recently heard from a friend who had tried to access pacerun.com and there was nothing there. Well, I haven't owned that domain for many years and a little online investigation has shown me that a guy in Wisconsin now owns pacerun.com and is trying to sell it for about $2,000. He also owns about 250 other website domains that he's trying to make money off of. If you want to access any of the websites for my solo runs across America, Germany, Alaska, Montana, or the Mojave Desert -- just go to www.PaulStaso.com.

Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,

Paul Staso
www.paulstaso.com

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Let's Discuss The Meniscus...

I know a teen athlete who, unfortunately, by the age of 16 had meniscus surgery of both knees. Meniscus tears in the knee can range from minor to severe, depending on the extent of the damage, and they can make it difficult for the knee to function properly. For teens, meniscus tears usually happen because of an injury, often after twisting or turning the knee while it is bent and the foot is firmly planted.

A soccer, basketball, lacrosse, tennis, or football player who plants a foot to change directions or who takes a hit from another player is vulnerable to meniscus injuries. Runners who misstep or step in a hole can sustain the same injury. Men are more likely to tear a meniscus than women, but that may be because of the number of men that participate in sports as opposed to a gender-specific cause.

The National Center for Biotechnology Information investigated the outcome of 29 youth meniscal surgeries (average patient age being 15). The follow-up was 2 years post surgery. The results were that 24 of the 29 healed (patient was clinically symptom-free) regardless of location or type. Four patients re-ruptured their menisci at an average of 15 months after surgery. Recurrent meniscal tears were located in the pars intermedia; the poorer blood supply in this region may give a higher risk of re-rupture. In 2 of the re-ruptures, degeneration of a central part of the meniscus demanded removal. In the other 2 cases, the initially repaired meniscus had to be partially removed, but the remaining meniscus had healed and could be preserved. The recurrent tears were all located in the same zone as the original injury.

Minor tears usually don't need surgery, especially if they are on the outer part of the meniscus where there is a good supply of blood. These tears should heal on their own fairly quickly. For severe tears or tears that don't respond to other forms of treatment, a doctor may have to perform surgery. Sometimes a surgeon can repair a torn meniscus.

The options for surgery involve either a meniscus repair (sewing the meniscus back together with stitches and/or anchors) or a partial meniscectomy (trimming the torn part of the meniscus out). Which of those two options is necessary depends on the location and orientation of the tear itself, and the patient and surgeon have little ability to affect that outcome.

Obviously, if the tear is repairable, that is good in the long term, although the rehab and overall recovery take longer and there is unfortunately a sizeable percentage of those repairs that don’t heal. But if the repair heals, the surgeon has preserved the entire meniscus to serve as a shock absorber.

Potentially, problems could result from removing some of the shock absorber in an athlete or exercise fan who continues to engage in repetitive impact. Over time, that impact will start to take a toll on the articular cartilage and later, the bone, and lead to degenerative changes. Arthritis tends to be the most likely result, appearing years following a partial meniscectomy.

What exactly is the meniscus? The meniscus is a small “c” shaped structure within the knee that represents itself as a piece of cartilage, acting as a cushion in the knee joint.

The meniscus sits between the Femur (thigh bone) and the Tibia (shin bone) acting as a shock absorber — one of these is located on the outside of the knee (the lateral meniscus) and the other on the inside of the knee (the medial meniscus). The medial meniscus bears up to 50% of the load applied to the inside compartment of the knee, while the lateral meniscus absorbs up to 80% of the load on the outside compartment of the knee.

The meniscus plays an important role in the knee because it aids in joint stability, helps protect ligaments against force and it provides lubrication. Years ago, it was a common practice to remove damaged meniscus following a knee injury. This frequently led to arthritis and other degenerative conditions including a “bow-legged” or “knock-kneed” deformity. Today, the approach is to try and repair the meniscus because orthopedic physicians agree that it plays a significant role in the overall health of the knee.

The National Center for Health Statistics reports that meniscus surgery is the most frequent surgical procedure performed by orthopedic surgeons in the United States, performed about 700,000 times a year at an estimated cost of $4 billion.

There are many variables that must be looked at when diagnosing a meniscus injury — including where the injury is located within the meniscus, the pattern of the tear and how it was injured.

Location: The front portion of the meniscus is referred to as the anterior horn, the back portion is the posterior horn, and the middle section is the body. A posterior horn tear is the most common meniscus injury. In addition, the meniscus is also broken down into the outer, middle, and inner thirds. Tears in the outer 1/3 area have the best chance of healing because blood supply in this area is the strongest and helps aid in the healing process.

Tear Pattern: Meniscus tears also come in many shapes including horizontal, longitudinal and radial.  A complex tear will involve more than one pattern.

Complete vs. Incomplete Tear: In addition, a meniscus tear will be classified as complete or incomplete.  A tear is complete if it goes all the way through the meniscus and a piece of tissue becomes separated from the rest of the meniscus. If the tear is still partly attached to the body of the meniscus, it is considered incomplete.

Acute vs. Degenerative Meniscus Injuries:  Meniscus injuries will be classified as acute or degenerative.  If a person is bearing weight on his or her leg and the knee is bent, an acute meniscus injury will occur if the knee is forcefully twisted while in this state. Statistics show that about 61 of 100,000 people experience an acute tear of the meniscus. Degenerative tears of the meniscus are more common in older people. 60% of the population over the age of 65 probably has some sort of degenerative tear of the meniscus. These tears are most likely to result from minor injuries involving regular or sporting activity. They eventually will weaken and become less elastic and may or may not present symptoms.

Symptoms of a Meniscus Injury: Depending on the extent of the meniscus injury, pain will be mild to severe. Most patients will experience swelling and a throbbing or sharp, knee pain.  In addition, a clicking or popping sound will be heard. If the injury is small, symptoms will usually go away without treatment.

Look at these numbers related to a torn meniscus...
2-4 pounds:
The increased amount of body weight force placed on the knee joints when walking
6-8 pounds:
The increased amount of body weight force placed on the knee joints when running
5 times:
The inside (medial) meniscus is five times more likely to be injured than the outside (lateral) meniscus. 
90:
The percent of meniscus tears that can be diagnosed (by a physician) with a careful injury history and physical examination.
If a meniscus tear has occurred on the outer rim, there are enough blood vessels to allow the structure to heal. If the tear is in the central area where there isn't a good supply of blood, the tissue may not ever heal and may need to be removed through arthroscopic surgery.

  • Recovery without surgery may take six to eight weeks.
  • Recovery with surgery may take three to four months.
  • Wear a knee brace or sleeve for protection.

A 2013 study, conducted in Finland, added to recent research suggesting that meniscal surgery should be aimed at a narrow group of patients; that for many, options like physical therapy may be as good as a meniscal surgery. The Finnish study does not indicate that surgery never helps; there is consensus that it should be performed in some circumstances, especially for younger patients and for tears from acute sports injuries. But about 80 percent of tears develop from wear and aging, and some researchers believe surgery in those cases should be significantly limited.

There is another recent study which shows that exercise therapy is just as effective for treating meniscus injuries as surgery. Orthopaedic surgeon, Nina Jullum Kise, was in charge of the study. She is a senior consultant at the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Martina Hansen's Hospital in Bærum. A total of 140 patients with meniscus injuries took part in the study -- half having surgery and half having exercise therapy. Two years later, both groups of patients had fewer symptoms and improved functioning. There was no difference between the two groups. However, those who had exercised had developed greater muscular strength. This is consistent with previous research, which showed that surgery yielded no additional benefits for patients who had had exercise therapy. Jullum Kise believes that as many as three in four could be spared surgery with the right exercise therapy program. The exercise therapy program involves a warm up and various types of strength training. It is built up in stages that become more challenging as the patient improves and becomes stronger. "We hope that the stronger muscles of the exercise therapy group may counteract osteoarthritis, a type of arthritis that often occurs in patients who have undergone surgery for a meniscus injury," says Dr Jullum Kise.

Finally, here's a two-minute video worth watching...



Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,

Paul Staso
www.paulstaso.com

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

It's Illegal To Ride A Bicycle In A Swimming Pool

Did you know that in Baldwin Park, California it's illegal to ride a bicycle in a swimming pool? Yep... it's an old law, but apparently still on the books! It's unclear when the law against riding in a swimming pool began or what the original purpose was.

If you're ever in Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina you'll want to be aware that it's illegal to ride a bicycle without having both hands on the handle bars.

When it comes to the ridiculous between bikes and the law, don't think that it's just nonsense from days gone by. In fact, just last year Representative Jay Houghton from Missouri proposed a bill requiring bicyclists to attach a 15-foot high fluorescent orange flag to the back of their bicycles, to make absolutely sure they are seen by motorists. Local cyclists argued that the weird bike rule would not improve safety, and could lead to a dangerous situation in strong winds. The bill was voted down.

Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,

Paul Staso
www.paulstaso.com

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Why I Don't Coach Others On How To Run Across America

I can't begin to tell you how many people have contacted me over the past 11 years wanting advice, coaching, guidance and support for their own attempt at running across the United States. They usually find the website of my 2006 ocean-to-ocean crossing and send me a message to ask all sorts of questions. If they would just spend time at my run across America website, most of their questions would be answered. I have daily journal writings, pictures, videos, and more available to anyone who is willing to take the time. During the first few years after my successful crossing, I would write back to those who reached out to me -- offering my suggestions, advice, and opinions based on my own experience. I don't do that anymore. Why? Because too many people are getting injured, becoming permanently disabled, and even dying as a result of attempts to cross the country on foot.

In recent years, there seems to have been a spike in walkers/runners being struck by vehicles while trying to cross the country to promote a cause or charity. Personally, I had seven close calls with cars when I ran across America and was fortunate to avoid being struck. I've read about fathers and sons killed while trying to run across America, leaving their families to grieve the tremendous loss. I simply won't put myself into a position of possibly contributing to such a tragedy by coaching someone on how to run across the country.

Recently, a husband and father of four kids was struck by a vehicle while in the final 700 miles of his run across America to raise money and awareness for a charity. The picture accompanying this blog entry is how he looks now. He was struck by a vehicle while he was running along the edge of a highway. In the past month he has had five surgeries due to extensive injuries and will spend another 5+ months in the hospital. He has to learn to walk all over again, and has been told that he'll never run again. There is REAL risk in taking on a coast-to-coast walk/run. Inattentive drivers are everywhere and accidents happen in a split second. I truly was fortunate to successfully complete my 3,260-mile USA crossing, as well as my subsequent solo runs across Alaska, Montana, Germany, and the Mojave Desert. The man pictured above is my age and now his future, and his family's future, is uncertain. It's a sad conclusion to what started out to be a positive endeavor with an admirable purpose.

So, I don't offer assistance of any kind to people wanting to try and cross the USA on foot, or any other large expanse of land. My solo running adventures are well documented and available online, and that is the only information that I'm willing to share. I wish all cross-country trekkers success, and for those who are grieving the loss of a loved one who attempted it... I extend my deep condolences. To those who are fighting to heal, I offer my prayers for strength, courage and perseverance.

Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,

Paul Staso
www.paulstaso.com

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Waist-to-Height Ratio: How Do You Measure Up?

I'm 52½ years old; 5 feet 9½ inches tall; weigh 162 pounds; and, my waist is 32 inches. I just shared with you some statistics about myself that many people are afraid to share. Think about it. Are you hesitant to share any of this information with anyone? If you are, don't worry. Many people are hesitant about sharing things like their age, weight, and so on. In fact, many lie about it -- to others and to themselves. The fact is that all of us have measurements that define our body, but those measurements don't define WHO we are. Who we are is defined by so many other elements of our lives, such as our interests, jobs, convictions, goals, and more. The statistics of our physical being do not define who we are as a person, but can tell us if we need to make changes as to how we take care of our body.

Have you ever used a waist-to-height ratio calculator? It is a simple way to see if you have a healthy waist-to-height ratio. Since I have a 32-inch waist and am 5 feet 9½ inches tall, my waist-to-height ratio is 46.04, which equates to a healthy, normal weight. However, keep in mind that the calculator provides a general guideline and should not be taken as a definite indicator of your overall health or physique. It’s always best to get a detailed body fat analysis using such techniques as hydrostatic weighing, DEXA scan, or BodPod to accurately determine your lean muscle mass to body fat ratio.

So, what's your waist size? According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), your waist size is "normal" if it’s 35 inches or less for women or 40 inches or less for men. If your waist size is bigger than this, the NIH states that you’re at risk for health problems like diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure. A bigger belly means you’re storing fat, a risk factor for chronic disease. How to measure your waist size:
  • Wrap a tape measure around your waist. (The tape measure should be around your bare stomach just above the upper hip bone near your belly button)
  • Breathe in, then out, normally.
  • Pull the tape measure snug.
  • Record your waist size.
If your waist size is larger than normal, set a goal to improve it. Be active 30 to 60 minutes a day. Eat more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds, and less junk food. Set a small goal, like losing one pound a week, until your waist size is in the normal range. Then, keep up those healthy habits for life.

Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,

Paul Staso
www.paulstaso.com

Friday, August 25, 2017

"Can't Wait To Dip In The Pacific To Feel What Paul Felt"

More and more people are tackling the challenge and adventure of running across America. Most have a support crew following closely in a RV, and promoting charities via coast-to-coast runs is becoming more common. Many seek publicity around every curve in the road, often to promote their charity and sometimes to promote themselves. Growing in popularity is the setting up of online fundraising pages and linking those pages to social media accounts to pull in dollars from people around the world. One runner currently crossing the country has raised $12,000 in his first month on the road -- all by using online fundraising websites. Live satellite tracking, instant online mileage reporting, video blogging, and more are now common for transcontinental runners. I must admit, I'm glad I did my run 11 years ago before the "run across America" challenge became so charity driven and attention seeking. My crossing was pretty quiet from a media standpoint, was funded primarily by myself ($7,000), and didn't have a charity to promote. I ran simply to keep a promise.

One of the several runners/walkers currently taking on the endeavor of crossing the country recently wrote: "Paul Staso is a hero... In 2006, Paul crossed the nation pushing his jogger, Bob... Can't wait to dip in the Pacific to feel what Paul felt." For the past 11 years I've had coast-to-coast crossers mention me online. They usually find my 2006 website, which I have linked to paulstaso.com, and they study my daily journal writings, pictures, videos, route, and more... aiming to experience what it feels like to "dip" into the ocean after running 3,000+ miles across the country. Some never make it to the starting line. Others start, but don't finish. And then there's the few who actually succeed and get the chance to feel the satisfaction that comes with knowing that their legs (and heart) carried them from one ocean to another. It truly is an indescribable feeling. However, there is a lot of pain, sweat and tears (literally) that must happen before the waves are felt.

It was 11 years ago today that I logged my highest mileage day during my run across America. I was in South Dakota and logged a 48-mile day in 12 hours while pushing my 80-pound jogging stroller, "BOB" (which is an acronym for "Beast of Burden"). That was a long day in 80-degree temps and it brought me to the halfway point of my run from Oregon to Delaware. I summed up that particular day with this writing:
"If you were to go to a standard 1/4 mile running track, you would have to do 192 laps around the track to equal 48 miles. Now, think about doing that while pushing 80 pounds the entire way. That's sort of what it's like out on the road. Of course, there are other factors that I contend with on a daily basis... such as weather, road conditions, elevations, cars, people, and more. I often have people tell me, or write to me, that they are absolutely amazed that I can cover such long distances on a daily basis. Much of my ability is rooted in my personal faith, a tenacious determination, acquired mental strength, and a genuine physical ability to withstand hours on the road. Many athletes possess these qualities and I am certainly not "unique" in the world of ultra-marathon runners -- or "journey" runners. I may be unique to you because you don't personally know anyone else who can do such extreme running. For me, it's just something I can do well... and I am very motivated to cross the entire United States and stop when my running shoes have touched the edge of the Atlantic Ocean."
I wish all U.S. crossers, either running or walking, well on their journeys and I hope that each of them gets to experience what it's like to feel the ocean waves against your weary legs upon completion!

Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,

Paul Staso
www.paulstaso.com

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Have You Seen The "Shoe Bike"?


Adidas showcased its ongoing relationship with tire manufacturer Continental by producing one of the strangest-looking bicycles on the street. The "shoe bike" uses six Adidas shoes (complete with Continental rubber soles) in place of each of the bike’s wheels and tires. The ride isn't the smoothest, but is certainly unique!

Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,

Paul Staso
www.paulstaso.com

Friday, August 18, 2017

30 Years of Rails-to-Trails Conservancy

Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (RTC) is an American nonprofit organization formed in 1986 and based in Washington, D.C. that works with communities to preserve unused railroad corridors by transforming them into rail trails within the USA for walking, running and bicycling. With more than 2,000 rail-trails and more than 31,000 miles of multiuse trails nationwide, RTC's focus is on linking these corridors — creating trail networks that connect people and places, just as the railroads once did.

RTC uses a three-pronged strategy to realize its vision of trails at the heart of healthy, thriving communities: changes in public policy, changes in infrastructure and changes in personal behavior.

I'm a long-time user of rails-to-trails pathways, with my favorite (so far) being the Hiawatha Trail in northern Idaho. In Indiana, where I live, I've enjoyed running and biking on the Nickel Plate Trail and Panhandle Pathway. On my list to do is the Cardinal Greenway, a 62-mile path which touches five Indiana counties. I'd also like to cycle the Katy Trail in Missouri. Want to find a rails-to-trails route near you? Go to www.traillink.com. It is an excellent resource set up by the RTC, providing verified maps and detailed information about 31,000 miles of trails across the USA.

Check out the RTC today at railstotrails.org; instagram.com/railstotrails; twitter.com/railstotrails; and, facebook.com/railstotrails.

Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,

Paul Staso
www.paulstaso.com

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Lightning Bolt Fails to Strike at World Championships in London

Earlier this week, Usain Bolt (hailed by many as the greatest sprinter of all time), lost to two Americans in the 100-meter final at the 2017 World Championships in London. It was the legendary Jamaican sprinter's second loss of the day, losing a semi-final race earlier.

It’s the first time in his illustrious career that Bolt's been beaten in the 100-meter final at the world championships, or the Olympics for that matter. Justin Gatlin (age 35) of the U.S.A. grabbed gold in 9.92 seconds, and American Christian Coleman (age 21) took silver in 9.94. Unfortunately, the Americans received boos from the London crowd after the race was finished.

After winning the 100-meter race, Gatlin said: “I dreamed about this day. I worked hard for this day. And it took for me to not be selfish and think about myself and think about others to give me that fight.”

Bolt (age 30) is retiring from the sport TODAY after he runs the 4×100-meter relay. He chose not to compete in the 200 meters at the world championships.

Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,

Paul Staso
www.paulstaso.com