Friday, April 28, 2017

Why Do I Write This Blog?

I blogged for many years as I ran solo across states and countries. After I completed my last adventure run in 2011, I took my numerous blog writings offline. It wasn't until late June of last year that I decided to start blogging again. So, the blog that you're reading has only been online for 10 months. In that time I've posted 162 writings.

This blog uses the free blog-publishing service of "Blogger," which has been around for nearly 20 years. In 1999, Blogger was launched by Pyra Labs -- which was bought by Google in 2003. I believe that this service will continue for a long time. Therefore, I decided to place my blog here. You see, I won't be around forever and once I cross my final finish line on this earth I want my writings left behind -- both for the benefit of my children as well as those who may find one of my writings via a Google search related to a topic I've addressed. Maybe my words will help to educate and/or encourage someone after my time here is done. I know that may sound rather dismal coming from a 52-year-old... but it is one of the reasons for my writing -- although not the only reason!

If you read my blog writings from 5 to 10 years ago, you know that the focus was on my ultra-endurance training, running across large expanses of land, and topics related to youth fitness. Over the past 10 months, I've included in this blog a variety of writings -- some about sport, some about nutrition, some about personal experiences, and so on. I try to post a blog writing each weekday, Monday through Friday, taking the weekends away from it. I enjoy writing and my eldest daughter once told me that she's amazed that I always seem to find something to write about.

This blog is a way for me to do something I enjoy -- write. It also gives me a place to share things that I feel are worthy of a 3-minute read. I also take opportunities to share some personal thoughts and experiences. However, I am not an "open book" to the general public. The personal things that I share through this blog are selected carefully. I'm sure some family members and friends have learned things about me and/or my running that they didn't know until they read this blog.

Writing has always been an enjoyment for me. I was in an advanced English class in 8th grade and on the yearbook staff. Since then, writing has been a part of my life. One of my B.A. degrees is in journalism and I do a lot of writing in the law profession. I've had numerous websites that I've built and written for, and I've written a book that I'm aiming to publish in the future. Writing has been as much a part of my life as running has been. Each word written is like a step taken, and eventually I reach the finish line and sign off with...

Gotta Run,

Paul Staso
www.paulstaso.com

Thursday, April 27, 2017

2017’s Best & Worst States for Children’s Health Care

The United States ranks 28th in life expectancy among wealthy countries, according to the most recent Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development data. It ranks 42nd in life expectancy among all countries, according to 2016 data from the Central Intelligence Agency. In my opinion, that's very disturbing — especially when taking into account that health spending is approaching $10,000 per person, which amounts to twice and even three times the spending in other affluent nations!

WalletHub.com recently posted an article that I believe is well worth any parents' time to read. In part, the article states:
Raising a child in America is more expensive than ever, and health care accounts for a big chunk of the bill. And while more kids are insured today than at any other point in history, the higher coverage rate hasn’t translated to lower health costs for parents. Per-capita spending on children’s health care in 2014 reached $2,660 — having increased by more than 5 percent every year since 2010 — due mainly to rising health costs, according to a recent report from the Health Cost Institute. But it’s a different story in every state. WalletHub’s data team therefore compared the 50 states and the District of Columbia across 28 key indicators of cost, quality and access to children’s health care. Our data set ranges from share of children aged 0 to 17 in excellent or very good health to pediatricians and family doctors per capita. Read on for our findings, expert insight from a panel of researchers and a full description of our methodology.
I encourage you to view the full report for all 50 states and the District of Columbia!

Gotta Run,

Paul Staso
www.paulstaso.com

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

My Life Has Greatly Changed Since I Conquered The Mojave Desert

This week marks six years since I completed my solo run across the Mojave Desert. My life is very different, in many ways, than it was six years ago.

Five years ago I went through a divorce. About 2½ years ago I relocated from Montana to Indiana to accept a position with a law firm. In August 2015 I met Kelley and in November 2016 she and I became engaged. Last year I made the decision to retire from running across states and countries. The past six years since completing that 506-mile, 17-day run across the Mojave have been filled with change, adjustment and refocusing on the direction of my life.

I'm 52 years old and am the father of four incredible children, ranging in age from 17 to 24. I've been blessed in countless ways in my life and do not take for granted any opportunities or successes I've been fortunate to have. My fiancé is a wonderful woman who I love and respect with all of my heart, and who has been instrumental in helping me gain a clearer perspective and focus in my life. I am happy, healthy and excelling.

My running cap, shades and stroller have been replaced with office attire and a Buick. The roads of America are no longer my office and school children are no longer my audience. I am working in a field that I first started in nearly 25 years ago — law. I handle an array of cases dealing with securities fraud, construction liability, personal injury, and more. Having previously worked for law firms in Alaska and Montana, as well as in the legal division of the U.S. Department of the Interior, I'm pleased to be with a firm that has a renown reputation for quality work and success.

Are there more changes on the horizon for me? Sure there are! I'll be getting married to my best friend; setting new athletic goals; and, changing the wallpaper in my office! Yes, the past six years have been a time of change, adjustment and refocus. Now it's time to run forward in my life and to look forward to all that the coming years and decades have to offer.

Gotta Run,

Paul Staso
www.paulstaso.com

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Some People Cheat in Order to Claim a Run Across America

It has been over 10 years since I completed my solo run across America. Since then, many people have attempted a coast-to-coast run/walk, and several have actually accomplished it. What saddens me to see are those who decide to cheat in order to claim a run across the country. Some have actually been eaten up by guilt and eventually admitted cheating. Case in point, former teacher Rosalynn Frederick.

On March 23, 2013, Rosalynn, age 37, began a run/walk across America from California to Connecticut to promote a non-profit organization. She says that she averaged about 20 miles per day for about 5 months on the road, taking in thousands of dollars for the organization as well as her trip costs. The following year she wrote a blog post which began with the words "An Important Truth." In that writing, Rosalynn admitted to cheating on her run/walk across America and lying to those who had supported her and donated to the organization she promoted. In part, she wrote:
"Last year, on August 15, 2013, I completed a journey across the United States that took me 5 months... There are some things that I have kept private. What I have recently realized is that one of the things I kept to myself for so long, was eating me up inside. I’m going to share this now because it feels right for me to do. It also feels scary. I’ll start by saying that I’ve felt ashamed and so sorry about what I’ve done. I wish I could go back and do things differently, but I can’t. So, now I deal with the consequences of the decisions I made. I was not the 20th woman to cross the USA on foot. In fact, I did not cross the entire USA on foot... I was dishonest and I regret it... I was running very short on funds and emotional strength... my body rebelled... I secretly hitched a ride... I honestly can’t fully remember how I convinced myself that what I was doing was acceptable. I think desperation had taken over. I’m sure my ego was involved. I had lost perspective on reality. I had lost a sense of my true self somehow along the way. I was so consumed with my goal that I was willing to lie to keep up appearances... For 10 days, I went out in the morning hoping to be able to cover the planned mileage on my own and ended up hitchhiking, calling a cab, or taking a bus for a portion of the mileage…and I didn’t tell anyone... When I finally made it to Norwalk, CT on August 15, I celebrated, but in my heart I knew I was living a lie. I was ashamed, yet I still kept it to myself... I have a strong sense of disappointment in myself regarding this experience that I am learning how to deal with. That’s going to be another long journey."
Rosalynn isn't the only person to cheat during a crossing of the country on foot. There have been several others. For instance, last year British runner Robert Young was over halfway across the United States on a supposed world record pace when it was discovered that he was cheating by riding in his support vehicle at night over portions of the route. An investigation was commissioned by his chief sponsor and it was concluded in a 101-page report that he couldn't have possibly run the distances/times that his tracking devices indicated. Unlike Rosalynn Frederick, an admission was not to come out of Robert Young. He still maintains that he did not cheat, but rather that he made "mistakes." How did his run end? Well, he never crossed the finish line. Instead, he abandoned the run while in the state of Indiana shortly after his cheating (or "mistakes") were discovered by observers.

My solo run across the country required 108 days on the road to conquer all 3,260 mileposts. It is the most physically exhausting feat I've ever done and now that I'm in my 50's I look back on it with fond memories and a sense of pride in what I accomplished. I can wake up each day with a clean conscience knowing that I didn't cheat at all on my own crossing of the country. Cheating in athletic and/or adventure endeavors is nothing new. Every year we hear about athletes who get caught cheating, but it isn't often that athletes voluntarily admit their cheating. I appreciate the fact that Rosalynn Frederick finally admitted her cheating. Hopefully, her admitting it made a positive and lasting impact on her life.

Cheating is never worth it... whether in school, sports, professions or relationships. The wise course to take is to simply aim to do your best, regardless of the outcome, and wherever your finish line ends up cross it with your integrity and honesty intact.

Gotta Run,

Paul Staso
www.paulstaso.com

Monday, April 24, 2017

Lightning Strikes at an Indiana Junior High Track Meet!

This past Saturday I was at a junior high track meet near Wabash, Indiana. The temperature was in the 40's with clouds and a brisk wind -- not ideal conditions. I've watched school track meets for 40 years and on some occasions have seen incredible performances. Saturday was a day when lightning struck... not from the sky, but during the 8th grade boys' mile.

The Southwood Junior High Track Invitational meet record for the mile was set in 2016 by Zack Reed. He ran a 5:08 mile as a 7th grader. Zack was back on the track this year as an 8th grader and took off quickly at the sound of the gun. All too often I've seen people decide it's a good opportunity during the mile and two-mile races to go to the concession stand or the bathroom. The 8th grade mile race on Saturday was not one to miss.

Zack blazed around the track, despite the cool and windy conditions, and crossed the line in a blistering time of 4 minutes, 52 seconds. When his time was announced over the loud speaker, there was only a handful of spectators that clapped. The boy had just set a new meet record, surpassing his record from the year before by 16 seconds! What the spectators also didn't understand is that they had just witnessed (if they were watching) the 10th fastest mile in the nation this year by an 8th grade runner -- according to Athletic.net, which maintains rankings. The fastest 8th grade miler so far this year is Judson Greer of Texas who ran a 4:36 mile on April 3, 2017.

Zack Reed is a name that people will hear more of in the future as he advances through his high school years as a track athlete. In my coaching career I was fortunate enough to be able to coach a high school state champion in the mile. I feel that I can identify talent in the mile when I see it, and on Saturday I definitely saw it in Zack. I wish he and his coach well as they journey toward many miles to come over the next several years.

The next time you're at a junior high track meet, keep your eyes open. You just might see lightning strike!

Gotta Run,

Paul Staso
www.paulstaso.com

Friday, April 21, 2017

I Used to Have a Fear of Hurdles, But I Got Over It!

I first tried hurdling when I was in the 8th grade. It was the spring of 1979 and I had joined the junior high track team as a sprinter. Our coach was looking for a guy to run the hurdles. There were no volunteers. My coach said "Staso! Run over this hurdle." I could feel the fear well up in me as I looked at the metal and wooden barrier! "Me?" I asked. "Yes, you!" he said. "Just run at it and try to hurdle over it."

I had never run over a hurdle in my life, and to do it for the first time with the entire team watching filled me with apprehension. I slowly walked to the lane and faced the hurdle. Yes, I was afraid. I had only watched the high school guys run the hurdles, and I didn't know much about it. I ran at the hurdle and kicked my right foot forward -- the foot I would use to kick a football. I managed to come down on the other side... on my feet! It wasn't great-looking form or technique, but I got over it. The coach then announced that I was the team's hurdler! He didn't ask anyone else to do it, just me! So, that season I was the only hurdler on our junior high team, and I would soon find out that my coach didn't know anything about hurdling. He suggested that I watch hurdlers in track meets and practice what I was seeing. I was a quick study and actually ended my 8th grade year of track as the best hurdler in our conference.

I ran the low hurdles in high school, but in my junior year my coach asked me to try and run the high hurdles... because the team didn't have any high hurdlers. Well, those hurdles were considerably taller and my 5'9" frame with a 30-inch inseam seemed a bit short for the 39-inch hurdles. Regardless, I started to work at it. The "fear" I had conquered on the low hurdles had returned. To be successful in the 110-Meter High Hurdles you have to be able to do three strides between the hurdles. That was very difficult for me to learn. I had to increase my strength and my speed. Eventually, I got over my fear and conquered the 110-Meter High Hurdles -- setting a regional record in my senior year (1983).

I believe that most hurdlers experience some level of fear when first starting out. There's certainly a fear of hitting the hurdle and getting injured. However, in time confidence builds... along with strength, speed and flexibility.

Gotta Run,

Paul Staso
www.paulstaso.com

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Looking To Buy An Olympic Torch? One Sold For Nearly $400,000!

On Ebay, you can find a ton of Olympic memorabilia for sale -- including actual Olympic torches! In fact, at the time of this writing there is a torch said to be from the 2012 Olympic Games that has been purportedly autographed by Nadia Comăneci, the winner of five Olympic gold medals and the first gymnast to score a perfect 10. The asking price for that Olympic torch is nearly $16,000! Too expensive for your wallet? There are many other Olympic torches for sale that would cost you only a few thousand dollars.

I had the honor of carrying the Olympic torch for the 2002 Winter Olympics, which was held in Salt Lake City, Utah. The photo accompanying this blog writing is the actual torch that I carried, mounted on the wall of my home. Personally, I could never imagine selling my Olympic torch for any amount. Some keepsakes are priceless! However, there are certainly those who don't value keepsakes, and perhaps several of the Olympic torches for sale on Ebay were obtain from estate sales or were inherited... the recipients only wanting to cash in on the value of the torches.

Olympic torches are some of the rarest and most desirable of all Olympic collectibles. Unlike Olympic pins, which are fairly cheap and commonly available, an Olympic torch can cost an obscene amount of money. I recently learned that there are only two collectors in the world who own a complete collection of both the summer and winter Olympic torches.

It surprises me how many Olympic torchbearers put their torch up for sale! During the 2012 Olympic Games in London, there were some torchbearers trying to sell their iconic torches for over $200,000! A few said that they were trying to raise money for charities. Experts note that the most valuable torches are the rare ones. The rarest torches are said to be Helsinki 1952, Squaw Valley 1960, and Innsbruck 1964. Those can sell for hundreds of thousands of dollars. The 1952 Helsinki Summer Games torch sold for nearly $400,000 at an auction in Paris in 2011.

I'll never forget running with the Olympic torch in 2002. My four children cheered me on and at that time they ranged in age from 2 to 8. At the Opening Ceremony for the 2002 Olympic Games -- for the first time in Olympic history -- an entire team (the winning US men’s ice hockey team from the 1980 Winter Games in Lake Placid) lit the Olympic cauldron. I literally had tears in my eyes at that moment as I realized that I had truly been a part of Olympic history.

Gotta Run,

Paul Staso
www.paulstaso.com

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Did My 206 Marathons Within 5 Years Cause Me Permanent Damage?

The Boston Marathon took place earlier this week. There were 27,221 people who started the race and 97% finished the 26.2-mile course. Leading up to race day there were many headlines in newspapers, television reports, and online reading:
  • Running a marathon is as traumatic for your body as having heart surgery
  • The Many Ways Running a Marathon Destroys Your Body
  • Running IS bad for you! Marathon runners 'at greater risk of fatal kidney disease'
  • Marathon running could be bad for your health
These sorts of headlines irritate me! There are extensive research studies from well-respected institutions dating back decades showing the undeniable benefits of marathoning. Although I'm not one to race in organized marathons, I have done my fair share of completing the marathon distance... time and time again.

The total mileage of my solo runs across the United States, Montana, Germany, Alaska, and the Mojave Desert from 2006-2011 was 5,386 miles -- the equivalent of 206 marathons in 184 days on the road (all while pushing 80 pounds of gear in a support stroller)! Of course, there was also about 7,000 training miles during those 5 years.

If I were to believe all of the doomsday articles written about marathoning, I could possibly convince myself that all of the marathons I accomplished in my 40's have permanently damaged my body and decreased my lifespan. However, I don't buy it! Sadly, headlines (like those above) can discourage potential marathoners from ever approaching the starting line.

My advice to anyone interested in researching marathon running with an aim of possibly taking on the challenge is to read quality studies from reputable institutions. Don't let some 'scary' headlines keep you from experiencing one of the most wonderful goals in running. Train smart, have a check up with your physician beforehand, and enjoy the 26.2-mile journey -- a journey that millions of people have successfully taken since the first marathon distance was accomplished in 490 BC.

Gotta Run,

Paul Staso
www.paulstaso.com

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Terry Fox's Running Shoes Reflect A One-Legged Man's Dream

In 1980, 22-year-old Canadian Terry Fox ran nearly a marathon a day for 143 days as he attempted to run across Canada to raise money for cancer research. Cancer had taken one of his legs and he was determined to give hope to others battling cancer. Although he eventually lost his race with cancer before being able to complete his 5,300-mile trans-Canada run, he raised money and awareness... and inspired millions of people worldwide. The shoes shown below are those that Terry wore (Adidas Orions) during his run across Canada, patched with Shoe Goo.



Terry completed 3,339 miles of the run across Canada. At www.terryfox.org it states:

"He changed people’s attitude towards the disabled, and he showed that while cancer had claimed his leg, his spirit was unbreakable. His "Marathon of Hope" had started as an improbable dream – two friends, one to drive the van, one to run, a ribbon of highway, and the sturdy belief that they could perform a miracle. He ran through ice storms and summer heat, against bitter winds of such velocity he couldn’t move, through fishing villages and Canada’s biggest cities. Though he shunned the notion himself, people were calling him a hero. He still saw himself as simple little Terry Fox, from Port Coquitlam, British Columbia, average in everything but determination."

I remember following Terry's progress via television and newspaper reports in 1980 -- when I was 15 years old. He was certainly an inspiration back then... and still is today!

Gotta Run,

Paul Staso
www.paulstaso.com

Monday, April 17, 2017

My Autograph on Shirts, Hats, Pictures, And So Much More!

I will never forget the first time I was asked for my autograph. It was August 11, 2006 in a diner located in Bowman, North Dakota. I was 1,266 miles into my solo run across America and had just completed a 32-mile day in 95-degree temperatures. I was taken to dinner by Roy and Bev Buckmier -- my hosts for the evening -- and Mayor Lynn James. I couldn't help but to notice that the young waitress kept looking my way. The town was aware that I was running across America and the waitress wanted to make sure I was well fed. After I finished my meal, she approached me in a rather shy manner and asked for my autograph. I couldn't believe it. I had never been asked for my autograph before! I scrolled out a few words on a napkin that she gave to me and signed it. It was flattering to be asked for my autograph and little did I know that it would only be the first of many times.

Having run solo across America, Germany, Alaska and the Mojave Desert... sometimes my name would get in front of people before I did. They would read about me in their local newspaper, or see a TV news segment, and then be on the lookout for me. I cannot begin to estimate how many times I've given my autograph since I was in that little North Dakota diner 11 years ago. I remember doing an assembly in Germany where I was asked to sign approximately 300 pieces of paper so that each child could have my genuine autograph.

I've signed handmade posters, t-shirts, hats, pictures, shoes, and more. I had to draw the line when I was at a middle school in Germany and a girl asked me to sign her stomach! Yep... you read that right. She actually handed me a marker and asked me to sign just above her belly button. I declined and offered to sign a piece of paper. One school teacher asked me to sign the shirt that she was wearing... just above her left breast. That was a rather awkward experience, especially with other teachers and students around.

If you look on Ebay, you'll see that there are many autographs for sale. Trust me, you won't find mine! My autograph really isn't worth anything. I wasn't a "professional" athlete and the endeavors I accomplished across states and countries are pretty uncommon. It has been several years since I've been asked for my autograph and I really don't miss that. I always felt a bit uncomfortable doing it. I never thought of myself as any sort of 'celebrity,' but I certainly didn't want to say "no" to anyone.

I'm sure that my autographing days are behind me. The ink of those autographs has certainly faded over the years and can likely be found in various garbage dumps, old boxes of school-related memorabilia, or possibly used as fire starter on a camping trip. Regardless, I do know that giving someone your autograph does not make you a celebrity or famous. I thank each person who ever asked for my autograph. Each time it was actually an encouragement to me and added a little boost to my spirit as I reached for more mileposts down the road.

Gotta Run,

Paul Staso
www.paulstaso.com

Friday, April 14, 2017

Today is Indeed a "Good" Friday!

There is a man who has run many marathons carrying a cross on his back, while barefoot, with a crown of thorns. There have been comments online about it being an impressive feat, but there have also been those who have ridiculed and criticized him for it. The Christian runner, from Japan, has been quoted as saying: "I want people to think about the burdens we carry and the burdens Christ carries for us." Regardless of what you may think of him, he is indeed a man running with conviction.

Today is Good Friday. For Christians, Good Friday is a crucial day of the year because it celebrates what we believe to be the most momentous weekend in the history of the world. Ever since Jesus died and was raised, Christians have proclaimed the cross and resurrection of Jesus to be the decisive turning point for all creation. On Good Friday, we remember the day Jesus willingly suffered and died by crucifixion as the ultimate sacrifice for our sins.

With such a moment of sadness, suffering and sacrifice, why is this day known as "Good" Friday? Good Friday is “good” because as terrible as Jesus' crucifixion was, it had to happen in order for us to receive the joy of Easter -- the day Jesus was raised from the dead, showing all people from that time forward his victory over sin and death and giving mankind hope for eternal life.

Wishing each of you a Good Friday and a Blessed Easter.

Gotta Run,

Paul Staso
www.paulstaso.com

Thursday, April 13, 2017

The Early Days of Hurdling -- A Sport That Has Changed Over Time

It's believed that hurdling originated in England in the early 19th century, where such races were held at Eton College around 1837. In those days, technique was primitive and hurdlers merely ran at and jumped over each hurdle, landing on both feet. The hurdles were much more of a barrier than they are today. Back then, you couldn't "run through" the hurdles and knock them over. The stationary, heavy hurdle was more likely to knock over the runner!

A major improvement in hurdle design occurred in 1935 with the invention of the L-shaped hurdle, replacing the heavier, inverted-T design. In the L-shaped design and its later refinement, the curved-L (or rocker hurdle), the base-leg of the L points toward the approaching hurdler. When struck, the hurdle tips downward, out of the hurdler’s path.

There have also been advancements in hurdling technique. Experimentation with numbers of steps between hurdles led to a conventional step pattern for hurdlers -- 3 steps between each high hurdle, 7 between each low hurdle, and usually 15 between each intermediate hurdle. Additional refinements were made by Arthur Croome of Oxford University around 1885, when he went over the hurdle with one leg extended straight ahead while at the same time giving a forward lunge of his torso. Croome's technique became the basis of today's hurdling technique.

Gotta Run,

Paul Staso
www.paulstaso.com

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Racing Over Hurdles in the 1800's... Wearing Snowshoes!

The Montreal Snow Shoe Club was founded in 1840 and organized an array of races -- including a hurdle race while wearing snowshoes!

Competitors were expected to clear the hurdles by jumping them completely, or gently touching the tail of the snowshoe on the front edge of the hurdle. The hurdles were the sturdy equestrian style and miscalculation in attempting to clear the hurdles was common... often resulting in broken showshoes and injuries.

Hurdle heights were eventually standardized at three feet (36 inches) and a formal rule was adopted in the 1878 Laws of Snow Shoe Racing that required full clearance of each hurdle. The standardization of the racing shoe to one and a half pounds with no less than ten inches of gut at the widest part was decided by a December 1871 convention of snowshoers from various Montreal clubs.

I don't believe this will ever become a winter Olympic sport!

Gotta Run,

Paul Staso
www.paulstaso.com

Monday, April 10, 2017

Proper Hurdle Stretching to Increase Flexibility

I did some hurdling over the weekend. One of my favorite stretches during my early hurdling days from 8th grade until my freshman year of college (1979-1984) was the "hurdle stretch" -- used to stretch the hamstring muscle.

To perform a hurdle stretch assume a seated position and extend one knee at a 45-degree angle from your hips, thus resembling the position a track athlete has when clearing a hurdle. Position your other leg straight out in front of you. Reach along your straight leg as far as you can. If you are able to reach your ankles, grab them and relax. Otherwise you grab the farthest point of your leg that you can and relax.

Unfortunately, over the years it has been determined that the hurdle stretch carries a higher risk for injury than other stretches do. The hurdle stretch forces sideways motion of your knee joint, which is designed only to flex and extend. The awkward torque on your bent knee places strain on the tendons and ligaments of the joint. Safer stretches place your body in a good anatomical position and isolate the muscle you are stretching.

You can modify the hurdle stretch to make it safer and less stressful to your knee joint. Instead of assuming a hurdler’s position with one knee bent at a 45-degree angle behind you, fold the leg you are not stretching so that the sole of your foot is tucked against the inside of the thigh on the leg you will be stretching. From there, bend forward to perform the stretch.

The hurdle height for my age group (age 50-54) is 36 inches. In high school I raced over 39-inch hurdles, and in college the height was 42 inches. This weekend I decided to set up a hurdle at 42 inches to see if I could still clear it. Well, it took some stretching and a few tries, but I eventually was able to get over it. Hurdling on grass may be safer if a fall occurs, but it truly isn't ideal for trying to hurdle a 42-inch barrier. I much prefer being on a track surface with spikes. Regardless, it has been a couple of years since I hurdled a 42-inch hurdle and it felt good to do it again. It sure makes the 36-inch height seem far more manageable!

Gotta Run,

Paul Staso
www.paulstaso.com

Friday, April 7, 2017

When is it Time to Retire Running Shoes?

This picture was taken when I was in the state of Illinois during my run across America. As you can see, my running shoes were needing to be replaced! I logged approximately 500 miles on each pair of shoes that I wore during that 3,260-mile run from Oregon to Delaware. However, this pair had 600 miles of wear... after just 3 weeks on the road.

Generally, running shoes should be retired after 300 to 500 miles of use. Why the range? Because how quickly a shoe wears depends on you. For example, if you land hard on your heels with each stride, you're going to wear through shoes more quickly than a more efficient runner. Go by feel. If after a normal run your legs feel as if the shoes aren't providing you adequate protection, they probably aren't. Give your legs a week to make sure it's really the shoes and you're not just tired. If the shoes still feel dead, you should replace them. The majority of runners replace their shoes too late. When you can see white midsole material poking through the outsole or when the sole under the heel looks crushed, the shoes are long past their prime.

Researchers have said that you must change shoes before the ethylene vinyl acetate, or E.V.A., that lines most running shoe insoles breaks down. Bread has been used as an example. Think about a piece of bread fresh out of the bag... light and fluffy. However, if you press it down with the heel of your palm, it's flat with no rebound. That's what can happen to E.V.A. in running shoes.

So, when should you retire your running shoes? Honestly, no one really knows because extensive studies haven't been done. With so many variables — type of shoe, runner’s weight, running surfaces, running style — there may never be a simple answer. My rule of thumb is to not log more than 500 miles on a pair of running shoes. It's just not worth the risk of injury to put more than that many miles on a single pair.

Gotta Run,

Paul Staso
www.paulstaso.com

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Have You Ever Done Streaking?

In 1974, Ray Stevens had a popular song on the radio called "The Streak." Some of the words in that song are: "Oh, yes, they call him the Streak... Fastest thing on two feet... He's just as proud as he can be..." The song is actually referring to running naked ("streaking") -- something that became a fad in the 1970's.

A "running streak" is actually when a person runs at least a mile per day EVERY DAY without missing a day. Earlier this year, the longest running streak on record ended after an amazing 52 years and 39 days. Ron Hill, age 78, a three-time Olympian for Great Britain, ended his running streak on January 29, 2017. In a statement released by Streak Runners International, Mr. Hill stated: “I have been having heart problems and have been waiting for some time now to have the problem diagnosed and hopefully rectified.”

Jon Sutherland, age 66, of West Hills, California, has the best chance to break Hill's longest streak for consecutive days running. Mr. Sutherland has run at least one mile every day for the past 47 years and 10 months.

I've never been one to try and have a running streak. When I was 30 years old back in 1995 I thought about starting to run my age in miles on each birthday. So, on my 30th birthday I ran 30 miles. It took me about 5 hours, but I decided that I didn't want to be on the road every year on my birthday. I recently turned 52 years of age, so logging a 52-mile run on my birthday would have been challenging!  Every year, Dave McGillivray, the race director of the Boston Marathon, runs his age in miles on his birthday. He first started doing it at the age of 12 and hasn't missed a year since! He'll be 63 this year, so he has quite a challenge in front of him.

To all of the running streakers and birthday age runners out there, I salute you!

Gotta Run,

Paul Staso
www.paulstaso.com

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Lights... Camera... RUN! The Role of the Media in My Running.

With all of the miles I logged between 2006 and 2011 doing "P.A.C.E. Treks" across states and countries, dealing with the media is something I never truly got used to. It wasn't that having a television camera in my face made me nervous, or having a newspaper reporter ask me all sorts of questions made me uneasy. It was just that my running has always been rather personal, but my efforts to try and promote youth fitness (combined with the uniqueness of what I was doing) ultimately put me in the media spotlight as I reached for the mileposts.

I've been featured in Runner's World magazine, the U.S. Military's Stars & Stripes, the Washington Times, and various other newspapers, publications, radio stations, and television news broadcasts for my ultra-endurance endeavors. I've done podcasts, interviews for blog authors, and have even been mentioned in foreign press. It was always important to me to try and turn the focus from me to the reason for my running -- that being to promote youth health and fitness. I'll never forget my first television interview, which was impromptu! I was running through eastern Washington state only about 400 miles into my 3,260-mile solo run across America in 2006 when a news media vehicle pulled up and the reporter asked to interview me for a news segment to be aired that evening. I was surprised that what I was doing was deemed "newsworthy" and I thought that it would be a rare occurrence. Well, it was just the start of what would be countless miles of doing interviews and having a microphone and/or camera pushed toward my sweaty face.

I never sought out media interviews. I just figured that if they happened... they happened. When a news story about me would appear in print or on television, I could typically expect to be stopped a lot the next day by people wanting to meet the guy they read about or saw on television. Suffice it to say, every day after a news broadcast I could count on it taking much longer to get my daily mileage accomplished. I'd experience more people stopping me, honking their car horns, and yelling encouraging words out of their windows after a new story about my running aired on local stations. I must admit, it did help to encourage me through the endless miles from one side of a state to another, or from one ocean to another.

I do appreciate the media coverage that I received during my P.A.C.E. Trek running endeavors. Some of my undertakings received very little media -- such as the Alaska run or the solo crossing of the Mojave Desert. Regardless, I pounded out the miles with the satisfaction that I was hopefully encouraging a young person somewhere to set goals, take care of their body, and to aim to always do their best in whatever they wanted to pursue. Ultimately, I just wanted to be an example. You can see some of my television news stories at my YouTube channel.

It would appear that my media days are now behind me, but I will always have fond memories of the opportunities I had to speak with reporters and to try and cast a wider net in encouraging young people.

Gotta Run,

Paul Staso
www.paulstaso.com

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Many Women Joggers and Runners Are Trying to Outrun Harassment

According to a survey from Runner's World magazine, 58% of women under the age of 30 say that they regularly face harassment when running outside. Of those women, 94% reported that men were the main perpetrators, and 79% said that it bothered them. The survey involved 2,533 women and 2,137 men.

More women than men reported changing their running routines over concerns about harassment; 63% of women said they chose their running route because they feel it's a route where they'd be less likely to face someone who might want to harm them. That's in comparison to 23% of men. And while 41% of women chose their route to avoid unwanted attention, only 9% of men reported having to do the same.

Also, 37% of men say they run outside at any time of the day, no matter how dark or light it is out, while only 8% of women can say the same, presumably out of concern for their safety. It's a rightful concern since 30% of women reported having been followed on their runs, and 18% say they've been sexually propositioned while on a run.

I've never been harassed while on a run, other than to have people yell at me "Get a job!" or "Hey look, it's Forrest Gump!" as I've run across states and countries pushing a jogging stroller of gear. I've never been attacked while running and have never actually witnessed a female jogger/runner harassed as she was outside logging miles. However, this is clearly an significant issue for women and I believe that there are several measures that women can take to stay safe.

TIP 1: Having a partner along with you can help. If not a partner, then perhaps a dog. Those wanting to harass a woman as she is running will be less inclined if she is not alone, or if she has a dog that would clearly protect her. TIP 2: Some women wear headphones as they run, playing music which can block out any sounds of verbal harassment. However, headphones can also prevent you from being aware of a possible attacker coming up behind you! TIP 3: Changing up your route also can help. If you run the same route every day, you may be a predictable target for someone on that route who may want to harass you. TIP 4: Run facing traffic because it makes it far more difficult for someone to stop and abduct you (not to mention that all runners should face traffic!). TIP 5: Carry runner's mace or pepperspray if it is legal in your state to do so. There are many kinds that can fit into the palm of your hand. I carried pepperspray on my stroller - in easy reach - as I ran across America, but thankfully never had to use it.

There are certainly things that women can do to help deter the possibility of harassment and/or attack, and I've only listed a few in this brief blog post. Be smart, be alert, and be safe!

Gotta Run,

Paul Staso
www.paulstaso.com

Monday, April 3, 2017

The Best Sun Tan of My Life... And The Most Dangerous!

When I ran across America in 2006, I happened to do it during the second hottest summer ever recorded in the United States. As a result, I got a very good tan! This particular picture of my foot on an ice bag shows just how tanned my skin got -- particularly compared to my pale foot which was always in my running shoes. This photo was taken 1,000 miles into the journey, or after completing only one-third of the distance. Yes... I got even darker as the miles clicked by.

I've always been very thankful that I made it all the way across the country without serious injury or getting hit by a car. I'm also thankful that I didn't end up with any skin cancer as a result of the extreme daily exposure to the sun. Being on the road 8 to 10 hours per day (often when the temperature was at or near 100 degrees) literally cooked my skin at times. On the third day of the run I hit record-breaking 100-degree temperatures as I entered Portland, Oregon. The heat was relentless that summer and I applied sun block to my skin as frequently as possible. I wore a hat every moment I was on the road and never ran without at least a singlet (tank top).

By the time I ran out of the state of Washington in July 2006, the skin on my shoulders was beginning to blister and bubble due to the extreme heat (105 degrees) and exposure. I did the run solo, so I had no vehicle to get into in order to cool down. The route I chose across Washington was along the Columbia River Gorge and there are no trees or sources of shade, and very few houses for a couple of hundred miles. At times, I felt like I was actually cooking on the surface of the pavement (particularly since asphalt can be 60 degrees HOTTER than the air temperature). My blistered shoulders hurt and made sleeping at night very difficult. As the miles clicked by, my body adapted and the blistering on my shoulders subsided. At that point, I just kept getting darker and as I ran through the Standing Rock Indian Reservation in South Dakota I nearly blended in with the locals.

The vast majority of melanomas are caused by the sun. In fact, one UK study found that about 86 percent of melanomas can be attributed to exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun. Although I've done several adventure runs across states and countries, none was hotter or longer than my 3,260-mile run across America during the summer of 2006. It has been over ten years since I did that run and I'm fortunate to not have any signs of skin cancer. It's estimated that 9,730 people will die of melanoma in 2017.

Melanoma accounts for less than one percent of skin cancer cases, but the vast majority of skin cancer deaths. You may be surprised to learn that on average, a person’s risk for melanoma doubles if he or she has had more than five sunburns. Regular daily use of an SPF 15 or higher sunscreen reduces the risk of developing melanoma by 50 percent.

The hot days of summer are just around the corner. Be sure to protect your skin!

Gotta Run,

Paul Staso
www.paulstaso.com