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