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Friday, January 28, 2011

Red Bandana: Get Fired Up for Fitness This Winter

Read my latest column: Fitness Pioneer Jack LaLanne Dies at Age 96
Is your fire burning for warm days running outside? Do you long for late sundown runs with the light scent of grilling and the laughter of backyard Whiffle Ball games? Do you look out the window today, the coldest day yet of 2011, and crave for a good run sans ten layers of winter gear?

I do.

Have a Goal: Choose a Race to Run
Running on cold days is hard. The fire in the belly needed for fitness mid-winter needs kindling. Kindling, in this case, is a goal with a date attached to it. To burn hot through March (or April — this is, after all, Chicago, not Miami), we need to think beyond the ice and sub-zero wind chills. Look two or three months, and choose a race.

My goal is in April. That is 9:30 am, Saturday, April 16 to be exact. My eye is on the Young Life Access 10k/5k. Even if I'm chugging my way through all 6.2 miles, I will be fit enough to get it done.

Why this race? The same day, earlier in the morning, runners can join the "Bloom and Zoom 10K" on the Morton Arboretum grounds. It is a well-organized event that will not disappoint participants. The cost is roughly the same, and the natural beauty of the Forest Preserves are no less gorgeous than the expertly manicured Arb. I live equidistantly from each.

All things are not equal, though. The Young Life race is bound to be smaller. They had under 200 runners last year. The smaller crowd will be relaxed, like a big neighborhood fun run. That is good for me as I get back into the swing of things. I do not mind the later start time. That's rare, and, on a cool April morning, I will love to have coffee and watch the sun rise before lacing up. There is no oversleeping this one.

Young Life reaches out to, and builds relationships with teenagers. They say on their website, "This event is a fundraiser to help give students with special needs the opportunity to attend Young Life camp this summer." My $30 race fee will be invested well.

In order to best enjoy that long springtime run, you need to get through the winter in decent shape. Sure, you might tag on a pound or two, but those will melt off as the temperature goes up. Running outside will be fun again, and you might find yourself less likely to play hooky from a workout when there are so many things to see and smell.

Head to the Chicago Area Runners Association (CARA) website, and click on their "Find a Race" link. It is easy to find one in your area on a weekend which works for you. Or, stop by any local running specialty shop for race flyers.

Running Playlist Song of the Week"Ring of Fire" by Johnny Cash.
Maybe you heard the Adam Lambert or Alan Jackson version, but the Man in Black is who made it an international hit in 1963. Johnny co-wrote it with his soon-to-be-wife June. Their daughter Rosanne said, "The song is about the transformative power of love and that's what it has always meant to me and that's what it will always mean to the Cash children."

There is are mariachi-style horns and guitar-drum beat which pace this excellently for runners looking for more pep in their step.

"Love is a burning thing
and it makes a fiery ring
bound by wild desire
I fell in to a ring of fire."


Young Life Access 10k/5k
Saturday, April 16, 9:30 a.m.
Danada Forest Preserve (near Herrick Lake, but off Naperville Rd.)
3 S 580 Naperville Road
Wheaton, IL 60187
Chris Derfelt, 630-544-6212

Bloom and Zoom 10K
Saturday, April 16, 8 a.m.
The Morton Arboretum
Lisle, IL 60532

Freelance writer Anthony Trendl loves BBQs, folk music and porches. I look to running as I battle midlife and my mid-section. Contact me to send your favorite tips, songs, recipes. See
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Sunday, January 23, 2011

Jack LaLanne - Born: September 26, 1914 - Died January 23, 2011 RIP

Jack LaLanne died today. He was 96. Do a few few push-ups in his honor this week.

He popularized fitness more than Frank Shorter, Jim Fixx, Bill Rodgers combined.

Most recently, he made infomercials hawking juicers. At his most commercial, health was a forefront of what he was about. Mostly, his impact was before my time. By the time I was born in 1966, he was a legend.

Why he matters to running is that he gave a voice to fitness beyond weightlifting and Charles Atlas bodybuilding types. While Atlas certainly addressed and encouraged fitness, LaLanne's goal was not to build big men, but healthy, strong men through smart exercise and eating.
 Famous for his phrase: "I cannot afford to die, it will ruin my image," we know Jack LaLanne lived well.
Feats and Honors
From Jack LaLanne's website
1954 Age 40: Swam the length of
the San Francisco Golden Gate Bridge underwater with 140 pounds of equipment, including two air tanks… an undisputed world record.
1955 Age 41: Swam, handcuffed, from Alcatraz to Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco, CA.

1956 Age 42: Set a world record of 1,033 pushups in 23 minutes on “You Asked for It, a TV Show with Art Baker.

1957 Age 43: Swam the treacherous Golden Gate Channel, towing a 2,500-pound cabin cruiser. This involved fighting the cold, swift ocean currents that made the 1 mile swim a 6 ½ mile test of strength and endurance.

1958 Age 44: Maneuvered a paddleboard 30 miles, 9-½ hours non-stop from Farallon Islands to the San Francisco shore.

1959 Age 45: Completed 1,000 pushups and 1,000 chin-ups in 1 hours and 22 minutes. “Happy” is born and The Jack LaLanne Show goes nationwide.

1974 Age 60: Swam from Alcatraz Island to Fisherman’s Wharf, for a second time handcuffed, shackled and towing a 1,000-pound boat.

1975 Age 61: Swam the length of the Golden Gate Bridge, underwater, for a second time handcuffed, shackled and towing a 1,000-pound boat.

1976 Age 62: Commemorating the “Spirit of ‘76”, swam 1 mile in Long Beach Harbor, handcuffed, shackled and towing 13 boats (representing the 13 original colonies) containing 76 people.

1979 Age 65: Towed 65 boats filled with 6,500-pounds of Lousiana Pacific wood pulp while handcuffed and shackled in Lake Ashinoko, near Tokyo, Japan.

1980 Age 66: Towed 10 boats in North Miami, Florida filled with 77 people for over a mile in less than 1 hour.

1984 Age 70: Handcuffed, shackled and fighting strong winds and currents, towed 70 boats with 70 people from the Queen’s Way Bridge in the Long Beach Harbor to the Queen Mary, 1 ½ miles.

1992 Age 78: Academy of Body Building and Fitness Award

1994 Age 80: State of California Governor’s Council on Physical Fitness Lifetime Achievement Award

1996 Age 82: Dwight D. Eisenhower Fitness Award

1999 Age 85: Spirit of Muscle Beach Award

2002 Age 88: Jack receives his very own star on the Hollywood Blvd. Walk of Fame

2004 Age 90: Jack celebrates his birthday with a major media blitz in New York, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. ESPN Classic runs a 24 Hour marathon of the original Jack LaLanne Shows

2005 Age 91: Received the Jack Webb Award from the Los Angeles Police Historical Society, the Arnold Classic Lifetime Achievement Award, Interglobal’s International Infomercial Award, the Freddie, Medical Media Public Service Award, and he was a Free Spirit honoree at Al Neuharth’s Freedom Fourm.

2007 Age 93: Received the Treasures of Los Angeles Award, Lifetime Achievement Award from Muscle Beach, and the Y.M.C.A. Impact Award.

2008 Age 94: Inducted into the California Hall of Fame, Parker Seminars Award, received the honorary degree of Doctor of Humanities from the Southern California University of Health Sciences, receives the People of Vision Award from the RP International, receives the Heroes Humanity Award, and was inducted into the Gallery of Legends hosted by the World Acrobatics Society.

2009 Age 95: Jack receives Lifetime Achievement Award from Club Industry. Jack LaLanne days were observed in San Francisco and Los Angeles.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Red Bandana: Don't Let Age Cause You To Scream

Read this week's column: Get Fired Up for Fitness This Winter

As I write, Jimi Hendrix's cover of Albert King's song "Born Under a Bad Sign" plays in the background. I don't recommend it for running. It grooves, it moves, it sways, this tune from the guy who is more famous for "Purple Haze," changes pace too often to work.

It is, let me say, perfect for BBQing. The BBQing I'm doing now isn't really BBQing or even grilling. I'm just warming up smoked spare ribs I picked up at Bende's Specialty Foods in Glen Ellyn, IL. Though nationally famous for their salami, smoked sausage, smoked meats, this location is a small grocery store/deli with a full range of imported European foods (address and phone number below).

The ribs are richly smoked. I am going to slather on a tomato-based sauce and see if a new afternoon snack can be found.

What I'm thinking about though is neither Jimi nor ribs. I'm tossing out a salute to Jermaine Townes, a 39-year-old Desert Storm veteran who just made the College of DuPage basketball team. Though 6-foot 4-inch and 200-pounds, he is still 39. More importantly, he's unafraid of getting into shape. The youngin' on the team might run circles around him. They have nicknamed him "Old School."

I'm laughing. "Old School," you see, is five years younger than me. If he's "Old School" then I must be older school. I know that no matter how it I get, any college kid will lap me in a one lap race.

So what?

So what, nothing. Townes likes basketball, and though he might not be on the starting line, he is playing something he loves and getting fit in the process. Way to go Jermaine!

How old are you? Too old to get in shape? Stop that. That's old people talk. Be young, always, even you old people. Chronology will happen, and things will be slower than they used to be. Age is age is age. But, attitude is the better part of age. Respecting our bodies certainly includes careful warming up, walking when necessary, and resting aggressively. It also means never quitting, always exercising, and always knowing when to when at the dessert table. Don't pretend to be 20 if you aren't, but don't acquiesce to a mindset of "too old to" either.

So get out there all you old schoolers. Break out the ugly gray sweats, the 1984 black LOOP t-shirt with holes in it, and an faded red bandana. Load up your iPod with songs too old for the oldies station. Get together with a friend who is equally aging. As your ancient bodies lumber down the sidewalk, feel free to discuss those important questions: Should Ron Santo be in the Hall of Fame? Willis, Sears, Macy's, Fields — does it matter? What's the best hot dog joint in Chicago, and what's a Chicago dog, anyway?

Sort these concerns out while you run. The kids at the college won't have a clue what you are talking about.

Sure, body parts will groan, creak and moan. You probably will too. How great you will feel the next day, and the day after that, as you continue to work through the stiffness of middle age — that's why you are out there. You can do it.

By the way, I tried the ribs with a favorite sauce. Salty and chewy the way a beef jerky is, and I'm not sure it is the snack I hoped for. The very friendly and helpful Trixi behind the counter explained to me most people use it a soup ingredient. It will instead go into tonight's lentil soup. I think I will stick with Bende's extremely delicious Teli salami as afternoon finger food. Try their free samples.

Running Playlist Song of the Week
"The Wind Cries Mary" by Jimi Hendrix
Not all playlist songs need to be fast paced. This is especially true for the long run, sometime in those middle miles when a runner is cruising through. Already warmed up, and looking to maintain a steady, easier pace, I find I like to get lost in an old, familiar song.

Hendrix's sad song of lost love is best followed by something upbeat, but at mile four or five, give it a try.

"Will the wind ever remember
The names it has blown in the past
And with his crutch, it's old age, and it's wisdom
It whispers no, this will be the last
And the wind cries Mary."

Bende's Specialty Foods
444 Roosevelt Rd
Glen Ellyn, IL 60137-5642
(630) 469-6525

Old school freelance writer Anthony Trendl loves BBQs, folk music and porches. I look to running as I battle midlife and my mid-section. Contact me to send your favorite tips, songs, recipes. See
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The Red Bandana: Finding Fitness Through the Joy of Running

The Scream, c.1893 Poster Print by Edvard Munch, 24x36

Friday, January 14, 2011

Red Bandana: Resolutely Speaking: Fighting for Fitness in 2011

Read this week's column: Don't Let Age Cause You To Scream

Week One of 2011 is over. You have made your resolutions. You are more focused on conquering your goals than Sisyphus is on pushing his boulder up the hill. Some of you have decided that it is time to turn away from the chocolate cake and start exercising. You mean it. This is the year.

Come on. Let's get real. That cake is delicious, and, if you are out shape, working out is no fun. Eventually, you will eat a lot, sit around, and end up next year hundreds of pounds heavier than you are today. Maybe thousands. You will feel bad, which will lead you back to that yummy cake, a few flicks on cable in the sunniest part of summer, and, viola! You return to be being a junk food, couch potato, TV clicker addicted living room bum that you were in 2010. You give up. Resolution schmesolution!

That's one approach.

Another approach is to get back on the horse and trust the process. The process for most of us is simply this: avoid the cake, and work out more than before. The more you apply this, the better the results will be.

Understand completely that there is too much of a good thing. You need the right amount of calories, nutrients and water. As I am not a dietitian, I will not venture into how much of each constitutes enough. Let's just say your body will fight back if you try to cheat it from what it needs.

Similarly, too much working out is bad. Besides injuries coming from your muscles not being ready for a fast increase in miles (add no more than 10% miles each week), but life balance can become whacked. All run and no life can make Jacqueline a dull girl. At one very fit time of my life, I ran over 100 miles a week, biked another 300 miles, and otherwise only thought about running. If I were a professional athlete, this might be an appropriate way of living life. I was just an average local runner with no social life.

Back to the resolution thing.

Are you resolved? Are you digging your heels into the ground, ready to fight for fitness? Do you really want what you say you want?

Think about last year. Did you have a resolution to get fit? If you did, and you aren't, then what needs to change? Did you find yourself constantly in the position of being tempted to snack? Conveniently lazy with friends? Forget to schedule in exercise?

1) Can't resist the cake? Then eat something before you go to your Aunt Gertrude's for dinner. You might still munch a happy slice of this blessed dessert, but you might have the strength to say no for the second slice. Better yet, have a glass of water.

2) Need accountability? Tell people you are trying to get fit. You might others who acknowledge the same goal. Say, "I am hoping to lose 10 pounds by May 1 through eating more intelligently and running three times a week." Just watch if they offer you that triple fudge decadent brownie supreme.

3) Skipped a week by accident? Have you ever finished the week and realized how you did not work out once? Plan ahead. If you are running three times a week, pick those three days, choose a time, and a distance. If you are running outside, choose which route as well.

Do these sound obvious? They are. If 2010 did not deliver that fit bikini beach bod as hoped, getting back to basic strategies is necessary.

Running Playlist Song of the Week
"Keep Pushing" REO Speedwagon
You won't get intelligent Simon and Garfunkel-type lyrics, or a beautiful melody ala Paul McCartney. You will get a rockin' song which gets straight to the point. Turn this one up. It is cold out there. You are going to need all the help you can get.

Keep pushin, keep pushin, keep pushin, keep pushin on
Keep pushin, keep pushin, you know you have got to be so strong
Keep pushin, keep pushin, well even if you think your strength is gone
Keep pushin on

Freelance writer Anthony Trendl loves BBQs, folk music and porches. I look to running as I battle midlife and my mid-section. Contact me to send your favorite tips, songs, recipes. See
Author blog:
Author’s running blog:

The Red Bandana: Finding Fitness Through the Joy of Running

Friday, January 7, 2011

Red Bandana: Things A Runner Can Do While Sick

Read this week's column: Resolutely Speaking: Fighting for Fitness in 2011

I have the flu.

Since Christmas, I have been sleeping around 13-14 hours a day. I am well accustomed to the various shadows that appear on my ceiling. I can now distinguish which neighbor is leaving by the sound of their car. Also, I now have researched all 421 ways of shuffling a pillow to make it more comfortable.

I have not run. I have not walked. I did drink some Gatorade. My physician told me it was a good idea. Those of us with the flu sweat a lot, and drinks like Gatorade can help replenish necessary fluids and electrolytes.

What can you do if the flu hits you this season? Besides rereading through the amazing library of "Red Bandana" articles, there are some good, creative choices in movies and books.


"Spirit of the Marathon"
Filmmaker John Dunham follows six very different, average runners as they train for the Chicago Marathon. Filled with interviews, some documentary-style info about the marathon, and appearances by legendary runners such as Dick Beardsley, Paula Radcliffe, Bill Rodgers, Toshihiko Seko and Grete Waitz.

"Prefontaine" or "Without Limits"
Two biopics about legendary runner Steve "Pre" Prefontaine who died in a tragic car accident at the height of his career. He ran for Coach Bill Bowerman at University of Oregon, and in the 1972 Munich Olympics. Very inspiring.


"The Competitive Runner's Handbook: The Bestselling Guide to Running 5Ks through Marathons" (Bob Glover)
Glover gives hard-core, nuts and bolts info for all levels of fitness. Solid how-to, without the fluff of running psychobabble.

"Marathon: The Ultimate Training Guide" (Hal Higdon)
Lots of training tips and anecdotes from runners Higdon has trained, mostly in the Chicago area. Great for the first-time marathoner.

"The Quotable Runner: Great Moments of Wisdom, Inspiration, Wrongheadedness, and Humor" (Mark Will-Weber)
Quoted here are great runners and writers about running, from Shakespeare to high school mile record holder, Alan Webb. Distance star Rob de Castella on marathoning, "If you feel bad after 10 miles, you're in trouble. If you feel bad at 20 miles, you're normal. If you don't feel bad at 26 miles, you're abnormal." Finland's great Olympic marathoner, Lasse Viren enthusiastically revealed his secret to racing success, "Reindeer milk!" Whatever might be dubious about Viren's claim is difficult to argue. Viren won four gold medals. Oprah Winfrey is there more than once, including, "I'm never going to run another marathon."

"Galloway's Book on Running" (Jeff Galloway)
This has become a running classic, providing the basics about running, training, and racing for years. Galloway does not presume the runner is a casual "New Year's Resolution" jogger who will likely quit in a month. Instead, he looks to build a foundation of sensible workouts, leading to genuine fitness, endurance and speed.

"Once a Runner: A Novel" (John L. Parker)
Very popular among runners as one of the few novels with running as a focus. It looks at the ego of the self-consumed runner, what it means to be a competitive runner devoted to a single-minded pursuit of excellence.

"Loneliness of the Long-Distance Runner" (Alan Sillitoe)
Maybe you read this short-story in high school, about the same time as you read "Catcher in the Rye." A sharp, lean book -- it is a tale of rebellion, courage, and independence. When Colin Smith is tossed into a prison school for delinquent youths, he finds long distance running allows him a kind of emotional escape. It turns out he is very fast, and officials put him up against a prestigious public school. If he wins, there is PR for the prison and early release for Colin. That's not how it goes, but I'll let you find out what happens.

Running Playlist Song of the Week
"Let's Get This Party Started" Pink (2001)
New Year's is here. Parties, parties, parties. You will hear this wedding reception classic at least once this season. More importantly, think of it as a command to get back into gear for running. Restart your goals, and refocus on getting fit for spring. Get it on your iPod and get going.

"Get this party started on a Saturday night
Everybody's waiting for me to arrive
Sending out the message to all of my friends."

Freelance writer Anthony Trendl loves BBQs, folk music and porches. I look to running as I battle midlife and my mid-section. See or e-mail me at

Author blog:
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The Red Bandana: Finding Fitness Through the Joy of Running