Saturday, August 28, 2010

We've Moved!

Mind Your Head Co-op and it's blog now live here. Come on by for our house warming!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Spring in the Rockies!

Triad of crocus pop through the decomposed granite "dirt" to greet longer, warmer days
Spring in the Rockies is a delight! Thirty degree mornings, sixty degree days. Snow and ice patches on the trails, with upper trails still having feet of snow. I am ready for snow free trails and the ability to run the without regard for slippage! We can get a foot or more of snow in a few hours, then have it melt in the next few hours.

Run with abandon!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Warmer weather and me kilt!

Nothing beats the primal experience of primal running in a kilt! As William Wallace said (in reference to England, which chafed and constricted significantly more than pants): Freedom!

For any wondering what I run in, it's the Marine tartan economic kilt from Stillwater Kilts. Great kilt for $30 that handles mountain winds nicely even though it's light weight and attaches with velcro waist.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Record Mileage for March!

Prior to March, the most miles I'd done in a month was 117 last October. This March, I more than doubled that, traveling 238.4 miles. I'll explain more about this in my next post, but this type of improvement began after a pilgrimage to Chimayo I undertook with my family back in June, 1998.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Yeah, I have that too... Understanding Layers of Poverty

One of the common things I hear when I explain to folks that I can't do _____ because of my brain injury is  "yeah, I have that too." Maybe, but clearly not.

Yes, every symptom possible for a brain injured person is also possible for others to experience as well. But here's the thing: brain injury isn't about just one thing not working right. Brain injury is about numerous things not working right. So, my friend may well not remember the grocery list his wife asked hi, to pick up on the way home, but he DOES have the capacity to not be overwhelmed by the feedback of the PA system in the grocery store, so he can call her and learn his list.

The brain controls nearly everything about us, so damage to the brain can damage nearly anything about us as well. Many experience personality shifts, rage for apparently no reason (it's actually because of feeling trapped like a wounded animal by the bombardment of overstimulation), variable fatigue, weight gain or loss, depression, various loss of cognitive function, an the list could go on and on...

What most people thankfully don't have experience with is layers of poverty. By poverty, I mean a lack of _______ that make it difficult for us to co-create with God. Layers of poverty grow exponentially. I've I've simply lost my job, but have no other layers of poverty, that's a real challenge, but it's one I'm likely to be able to overcome. However, if I lost my job because I'm addicted to gambling, I have two poverties (at least -- it will like grow), but to overcome them I have to over come each poverty and the complications that happen because there are two poverties rather than one.

Here's a chart:
Between every pair of poverties, is another layer of poverty that has to be overcome to most freely co-create with God.

When it comes to brain injury, every symptom or area of damage is a poverty. If I just had memory loss OR variable fatigue, life would be easier. However, because I have both, they make the other harder to overcome.

In my experience, this exponential effect is something often not understood or addressed by traditional therapy. It is part of what Mind Your Head Co-op is working to both educate people about and help provide a long term means of addressing.

Note: This concept and other related ones are more fully explored in my Model of Catholic Social Teaching.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Thank you, Evernote!

Evernote is one my my cornerstone strategies and technologies for compensating with my lack of memory. Here is a profile they did on me, along with the announcement of their generious donation of 50 premium memberships. Thank you, Evernote!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Gorge-ous Rio Grande!

I had a blissful run along the rim of the Rio Grande river's gorge North of Taos. A feast for my feet witha  variety of pumice lava rock, packed and lose dirt. It was incredible fun, and I've never run anything that flat for that long (15 miles round trip). Actually did an average of 7:40 minutes per mile. My average at home is 9:20 minutes per mile - so the lower altitude combined with level terrain combined for a about an 18% increase in speed. No wonder it was so fun!

Primal Running Form

I was intrigued by these shots of me running. It's one thing to try and run a certain way, and a completely different thing to then see pictures of that form in action.

Two things here: first is the clear preparation of the foot for an outer forefoot strike (just behind the pinky toe; second is the way in which one foot is right in front of the other. For me, it creates a straight line about an inch or two in from the inside edge of my feet. When I had to wear snowshoes, it felt really strange and hard to have to walk with a wider stance.

Shoe companies would have us believe we need support and protection; however, this shot clearly shows my left foot's arch (AKA windlass mechanism), at full load. That kind of compression is supposed to happen (it absorbs shock of landing, and returns close to 20% of that energy back to your next step). Any arch support prevents this natural mechanism from functioning at all. Arch support does nothing but weaken the foot, send unnecessary shock up through the leg, and make the whole body work harder to propel itself forward.

Run with abandon!

What a Fantastic Retreat!

Alpineglow from the cabin's deck. 

A friend gave me the gift of a retreat and pilgrimage with him. We spent a week at another friend's remote cabin around the Spanish Peaks near LaVeta, CO (Thank you!). Depending on the temperature and recent snow fall, I either ran in my moccasins or in my moccasins with snowshoes (which my feet really rebelled against, as the straps chaffed them raw a few places).

It was a grand test of my ear plugs, as they got quite a workout, with the long drive, in a new home with various noises, and then more long drives and even a few restaurants. They and I did wonderfully well, and the continued gifts and slurry of baby-step improvements from the Blood Type Diet, Primal Running, and Buteyko Breathing are clearly evident. Still waiting for my memory and cognitive capacity to improve. Perhaps with time and more running!

I did lose a few days to "short circuiting" -- requiring time to recover because of cigarette smoke in our non-smoking room at one hotel (apparently there's no such thing as no smoking rooms in even a brand new Casino. Who could have guess that one? Sardonic grin).

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

New, Old Trail

Looking out over Highway 24 and Crystola (Lost Creek Wilderness on the far horizon), and the brilliant green lichen waking on the rock in the foreground in one of the first signs of spring.

There is a wondrous trail that has been blocked off but now has a new way to access it. Much of it gets more sun exposure throughout the winter and so is less icy and crusty and often fairly clear (save for the inch of powder that fell last night).

It is one of the joys of life to get to re-experience the gifts of things once known and loved in a new time and a new way. That was the soul of this morning's run -- six miles through the snow on a lovely highland trail.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Running is cognitive therapy...

Since the first glimmer that I might be able to run again (last spring, so coming up on one year ago), I've intuitively known that primal running would be an integral part of my ongoing recovery for my bludgeoned brain. I had no idea of the extent (By God's grace, I still don't and this is just the beginning!).

For the past week, I've been testing out going for a run when my brain is fatigued. I'm not at all sure what prompted this, because it feels incredibly counter intuitive to my lived experience. But running has become so efficient for me, that I return from a run with more brain energy than I left with. I have no idea what the limits of this are, but I'm in the process of testing them out.

Yesterday, I ate something on my "avoid" blood type diet (4-5 bites was all). I asked my wife if it was on my avoid list because it just either tasted funny to me or I was beginning to feel "off." I dropped rapidly last night (perhaps I should have immediately gone for a run?! I may get brave enough to test that extreme at some point) and was still recovering this morning. It was a "hard" brain day. So I decided to test it out. I could barely make it out the house, but once I was running, I was doing better. Inertia limits the ways you can fall, so my brain was less panicked about that (at least that's the part of the equation I've figured out so far). I ended up running 5k, though it felt like 30k. (brain injury has a way of making life seem that way -- the expenditure of an ultra-marithon to accomplish a walk around the block.). I even "hit the wall" 3/4s of a mile in, and felt my body shift to fat reserves by 2.5 miles. Arrived home and I'm more at a "medium" day in terms of brain fatigue. Amazing stuff! And I owe it all to primal running and primal (Buteyko) breathing!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Minimalist Footprints...

This photo intrigues me. The print in the lower left is made by a guy I saw on the trail, who appears to weigh less, be smaller than me, and made the print about the same time I did. He was walking, I was running. I mention that to make clear the prints were made onto ground of equal softness and the deeper print was made by someone lighter and walking compared with my 190 lbs running. My print is in the upper right. I was wearing my primal moccasins.

My print isn't quite "the best runners leave no print" ideal, but it is interesting to see the difference between primal running and shod walking in what appears to be a Converse or similar less structured shoe.

Clearly the shod print is a heal strike (see the deep heel imprint.) It creates an artificially flat surface. My primal print is soft around the edges and is clearly a gentle forefoot strike. My foot molds the ground slightly, but also molds to the ground. There is clear toe articulation.

Thoughts? Riff away in the comments section...

Baby Step Miracles!

Bathed in gentle alpine glow after a night's snow, this view looks down Ute Pass.

As I connect with, learn, and live the basics of "God's engineering" I am deeply humbled by how great we are made and how much we try and do things our way and simply gum up the works.

What do I mean by "God's engineering?" I mean that God, through evolution, designed us to be the most beautiful and efficient and gifted creature on the planet: mind, body, and soul. Learning how to listen to our body and what it's trying to tell us can make everything in life better. Two cases in point:

Primal Running:
When I first began going barefoot (last spring), my feet tingled as the blood rushed in, grew new tissue, woke up dormant neural connections and created new ones. My feet began giving the rest of my body input about where I as compared with the ground. My brain no longer had to struggle to figure this out. My body (from my navel down) just knew. As this awareness and reflex grew, I realized I could run. A few more months and constant testing to see if I still needed the 4 pound walking sticks, and I've shifted to 8 oz. trekking poles (Thank you, Mountain Chalet!). I'm now running and moving faster and more efficiently than ever (including before my brain injury!). I'm hopeful that running will help grow new connections and help me recover even more over time (studies show mice grown thousands of new brain cells when they run compared with when they don't).

Primal Breathing:
Using the Buteyko breathing method, my breathing is now keeping the maximum amount of accessible oxygen in my blood, increasing my body's efficiency throughout. I've even been able to run more in the afternoon and once in the evening (Mornings are my best "brain energy" time). I feel better more, have more brain energy, and my sinuses are not a constant presence in every moment of life. I suspect this new efficiency deeply contributed to my being able to go to lighter sticks, as it provides a better, more consistent oxygen supply to my brain.

Baby step miracles by way of learning how to listen to my body and the way God created me to breathe and move and eat (Blood Type Diet). I wonder what other aspects of life I take for granted that I'm actually doing things counter to how God created me? How else can I go primal? The search continues... Grin.

Plus 43.6 (Yes, I've been negligent in reporting them!)
Total mileage: 519.5 miles

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Gadzooks! An Evening Run!

I most generally run in the morning, often starting long before sunrise. Why? Because that's my best time of day. It appears Buteyko breathing may be changing that, at least occasionally. I just got back from an evening run through the last of twilight, arriving back at the time I typically go to bed. Not sure what this will do to tomorrow.

As for the breathing. I continue to progress. I've discovered that when I push my speed, or am climbing a hill, I need to mouth breath. It's a bit like having a high gear. It has vastly helped me transition back to normal, shallow, spaced nose breaths upon my return (apparently living at 8,000 feet makes this more necessary than at sea level). After multiple days of cleansing, a day like today is a wondrous gift and I'm hopefully it's a strong sign of what's to come as my body become completely used to having the maximum amount of accessible oxygen possible.

Plus 12.4 miles
Total mileage 469.9

Friday, February 12, 2010

Clay Dreams

Earth sleeps sound and snug,
I run with soft, caressing,
My clay,  her dreams, dance.

Plus 7 miles
Total Mileage: 457.5

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Back at it!

Och! One of the joys of life with brain injury is that even just fighting off a cold can knock you out for a week. That's where I've been, not fully having a cold, but just enough of it to knock me out of doing anything for a while.

Amazingly, I didn't lose any of the progress I'd made on my breathing (my control pause is now up to 30). And on my runs, it feels completely normal to breath nose only, and on the little hills (not the mile plus long ones) I hardly think about the fact that I'm going up hill.

Plus 7.2 miles
Total Milage: 450.5

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Mind Your Head Progress...

Working on Mind Your Head Co-op -- the website tool is now in place, which means I have to get my act together and work with our web guy to make it do what we need it to do. The plans here are amazing. We will have a tool for creating your own custom long-term recovery plan as well as connecting you with an assortment of possible and appropriate products and services to implement that plan. I'm very excited!

Plus 13 miles (10 yesterday, 3 the day before)
Total Mileage: 440.3

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Mind Your Head Logo Contest!

Design the new logo for Mind Your Head and win $200.

Submissions must be received by February 22 extended to March 1, 2010, and include the 2 versions described below.

2 logos (as described below), each 10 inches at it's widest or tallest point (whichever is larger) if in print form, or equivalent size at 200dpi if digital form, with a white background (paper) or transparent background (digital). Submission not meeting these requirements may be disqualified.

Deacon Patrick is the judge and his decision is final. The winner will be selected by March 1, 2010, and the award given thereafter. All logos submitted become property of Mind Your Head, a ministry of the Diocese of Colorado Springs. By submitting your work, you grant Mind Your Head sole and exclusive copyright.

What I'm looking for
1) Mind Your Head Logo: Connotes hope for long term recovery and living life to the fullest. Vibrant color, artistic style. Maybe it has a head, maybe it doesn't. Have fun, and show the vibrant zest for life that we live despite (and perhaps because of) our brain injury! Do not include text.

(Most "brain injury" logos show a head, usually very clinical looking, perhaps showing gears for the brain. This is not what I'm looking for.)

2) Shoot the Moon for Brain Injury logo: Some element (or the entire logo) of the Mind Your Head logo, along with the moon. The rest is up to you.

How to Submit your Entry:
Include your name, complete contact information (mailing address, phone, email) and send to:

By email: Deacon Patrick
(I can accept files up to 20mb, so if your file is larger, submit via cd or DVD or file download service)

By mail (for paper and CD/DVD artwork):
Mind Your Head
c/o Office of the Bishop
Diocese of Colorado Springs
228 North Cascade Avenue
Colorado Springs, CO  80903

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Breathing amazing!

Today's run was amazing. I ran 3 miles on my "easy trail" (just 200 feet drop and climb in 1.5 miles). Then I added in a more vertical road loop that climes 200 feet in a half mile to see how I would do breathing. I entered into the climb and while my breathing deepened it was still slow(er than it used to be) and relaxed. I could feel I was really raising the CO2 in my blood supply and also reaching my threshold at which I could maintain my pace.

On a second run, I did one of my favorite trails, a 4 mile out and back, with a 900 foot climb in the first mile. I definitely pushed my limit the whole way up, but literally within steps of the trail getting less steep I was already able to have a short pause in my breathing.

It is truly amazing to be running in "primal glide" while breathing slow with a pause. No billowing cloud of breath in my visual way in the 5F air. No cold mouth or lips. Just properly warmed air by the time it got to my lungs. This sure feels like how we're born to run!

Plus 8.5 miles
Total: 427.3 Miles

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Breathing deeper by breathing shallower

Mountain mahogany on a crisp highland morning
Today is one week of Buteyko breathing. I clearly see the benefits, and also the price of getting toward them. Today's run (I'm keeping them to three miles for now as I adjust) was amazing -- a taste of what i't like to run along smoothly primal style while breathing slow and gentle. Transcendent and yet utterly present int he moment. Beautiful. It sure is wild to be running along as fast as I used to run the same trail, yet breathing a fraction as hard, and feeling far better -- knowing I have a reserve and I could run even harder, especially as I get closer to the goal of a control pause of 40 (I'm at a measly 16 now, up from a start of 6).

I wonder what role altitude plays with making the transition? I spend an hour yesterday in my hyperbaric chamber. While in it I really pushed myself with the breathing exercises, and the effects seem to have helped me reach a new level. I wonder if living at 8000 feet makes the transition harder/slower? Using the chamber really seems to make a difference. I've used it today also. Usually I wait 12 days, to allow my brain to keep up with the changes -- but I'm testing out if it's actually my O2 and CO2 levels that got out of whack and it takes 12 days for my body to recover. I imagine the chamber magnifies any mistakes or benefits of our breathing.

Plus 9 miles (3 miles over three days)
Total milage: 418.8

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Starting Buteyko Breathing -- Amazing!

This is my third day of breathing using only the shallow breathing advocated by the Buteyko Breathing Method. I found it o the internet after starting to breathe exclusively through my nose. Doing so, I felt better than I have in a number of ways, but after running I experienced severe sinus congestion akin to allergies (from some sort of irritant, no real idea what -- perhaps simply oversensitivity to particles in the air, cold air, or volume of air).

Immediately after starting it, I was able to run a few miles and return and not experience any sinus congestion. How? By taking shallow breaths. There's not really any more to it than that (that I know of yet), but the book and practioners can guide you thorugh it as the amazing simple can be oddly deceptive when it comes to something so foundational and unconscious as how we breathe.

Yesterday, I did a regular run and kept up my normal speed. Again, no congestion. Today I'm experiencing a "cleansing day" -- the idea is that by breathing shallower (normal), my O2 and CO2 levels begin to come into ballance, which makes the oxygen more accessable to the cells, and everything in the body works better. However, when first starting this, it's possible to experiencing the body cleaning house of scum that couldn't be gotten rid of when there was too little CO2 and too much O2 -- a bit like how scrubbing the tile and grout in the bath makes a mess in the tub.

Here are a few excerpts from my breathing log:

Today is an intriguing day. I feel like I have scrubbing bubbles of accessible oxygenated blood everywhere in my body, like all my tissues and capillaries are effervescing. Images of the cleaning solution with the "cleaning bubbles" seem appropriate. I don't want solid food (a first for me since my brain injury), but am instead craving only salad, "Green Magma" and fruits. We'll see how long that lasts. Clearly I am cleansing, or detoxing, at a cellular level, but I've never felt it happen this way. While my body is resting and not up for much, it's rather the feeling of resting in bed on a cold winter's day, than a negative thing that I strive to embrace and carry on as best I can (those "brain fatigue" days happen a lot with brain injury, and are one of the things on which I'm curious to see the effects of Buteyko. The bottom line today: even feeling worse, I feel better.

I continue to have layers of paint feel like they peal out of "new" areas of my sinuses -- perhaps areas that have been closed off?

Breathing light is very easy now, feeling more like a new normal than a new odd. The rhythm and feeling of shallow breaths is starting to be more unconscious and conscious. I have done no sprays or oils or other sinus meds since starting Buteyko.

I suspect that my body has to be cleansed to the fullest extent possible before it's ready to make the next leap in improved Control Pause.

Monday, January 18, 2010