Archive for the ‘Thoughts’ Category

By Bernard L. Gladieux, Jr.

Nearly all training athletes experience some post workout muscle soreness. Non athletes and newcomers to physical exercise may wonder if it is even worth the agony. To people who are unaccustomed to the transient pain that often follows high intensity effort, and those with low pain thresholds, it may not be. To the committed veteran, elite athlete however, garden variety muscle stiffness, soreness and other soft tissue aches and pains are just an acceptable feature of the sport – like thorns amongst the roses. Moreover, a certain level of pain goes with the territory, and veteran athletes come to accept the post workout mix of fatigue and soreness as a sign that in the recovery, the body is assimilating, repairing and restoring to come back stronger tomorrow or next week.

Macho stoicism can help you cope with such pain to a certain point, but even the toughest athlete performs better and is happier when the recovery passes rapidly, and the sore, stiff feeling doesn’t linger. Here are some simple techniques for handling, managing and minimizing the distracting, if benign, muscle pain virtually all athletes come to know in due course.

● Distinguish: Learn first how to tell the difference between pain that will go away promptly after a few ibuprofen and some rest and pain that has decided to take up long term residence in your body. If pain has taken a long time to build, slowly increasing in severity over time even though you’ve tried to ignore it, chances are, it will take just as long or longer to go away –  even assuming you give it the proper care and rest.

The worst that you can do is to try to banish the pain as an act of will. You will not recover from a chronic injury if you continuously repeat the trauma, whatever it may be and however subtle. You would think the idea is too, too obvious. Unfortunately, many athletes, especially those hooked on endurance training all too often allow the triumph of blind hope over experience and common sense.

●Prevention: Simple muscle soreness that fades after a day or so does indicate that your soft tissues are going through a training cycle in which, all else being equal, they will be stronger when they feel better. Trick is to train just hard or long enough so that the soreness does go away after a reasonable recovery period, say, 24 to 48 hours.

To enhance your recovery, always be sure you have plenty of water in your gut before, during and after every training session. The hotter the outside temperature and the more intense the training, the more important good hydration is. Especially when it is hot and humid and the effort is going to last more than an hour or so, do consider adding specific electrolytes before, during and after. They can keep you from cramping, bonking and just feeling crummy.

●Warm ups: Failure to ease into hard effort may be the most frequent cause of lingering muscle pain. Muscle fibers flex and stretch against one another in an infinite number of interfaces underneath those ripples. To work efficiently, they need to be thoroughly lubricated. When you warm up, that is what goes on inside your muscles and explains why you can make some muscle soreness go away by easing into a workout with a long warmup. Almost as important is a gradual cool down that keeps your heart rate up at a fairly high, albeit sub-aerobic level for at least a few minutes at the end of the session. That permits
the blood to carry away the accumulated lactic acid in the muscle tissues, a biochemical cause of muscle soreness.

●Stretching: Although there are still doubters around, the consensus among trainers and rehab specialists on the efficacy of stretching for athletes is in favor of it. If you stretch deliberately and regularly when the muscles are well warmed, it will enhance your flexibility and will probably reduce a lot of exercise related pain.

●Drugs: Non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen and aspirin are favored by many trainers and athletes for sore muscles and do seem to provide genuine, if temporary, relief. As a general rule, however, prudent athletes try to take these apparently benign, over-the-counter drugs only when they are really needed.

●Massage: firm, deep manipulation of your muscles before and after exercise will almost always make sore muscles feel better, and some times, under skilled hands the results are dramatic. If you are a serious, training athlete, seek out a good, regular massage therapist on whom you can call both before and after important races and training sessions

You can learn to apply self massage and may be surprised at the relief you can expect from it. You may also find that judicious localized application of ice to specific muscles and muscle groups gives considerable relief and therapeutic benefits. To learn more about self care, go to The Pressure Positive Company Website at  www.pressurepositive.com .


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The Animal Rescue SiteThe Animal Rescue Site is having trouble getting enough people to click on it daily so they can meet their quota of getting FREE FOOD donated every day to abused and neglected animals. It takes less than a minute (about 15 seconds) to go to their site and click on the purple box ‘fund food for animals for free’. This doesn’t cost you a thing. Their corporate sponsors/advertisers use the number of daily visits to donate food to abandoned/neglected animals in exchange for advertising.


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50th College Reunion

In my seventy first autumn I am here at the keyboard in the studio of the homestead where my family and I have dwelt and toiled for the past thirty two years, longer than we have lived anywhere else. The place has treated us well, and we have reciprocated. We have designed, preserved, rebuilt and modernized the 150-year-old stone farmhouse and outbuildings and reclaimed outside space from decades of overgrowth and neglect. Carpentry, block and stone masonry, digging, stuccoing, plastering, framing, excavating, planting and pruning at times dominated and defined life here. The place has rewarded us by becoming friendlier, more comfortable, prettier and, happily, easier to maintain.

The more technical and physically demanding tasks I increasingly “job out” more readily these days to those younger, more resilient and more skilled than I. Because time now seems more precious to me than it did two or five decades ago, I am less possessive about personally owning the physical input that this country property demands. My dues in that regard are just about paid up.

Occasionally the journey here has been arduous, but almost always the returns have been manifold; I am harder and more capable and confident than I was in the beginning, and I now am connected to this plot of ground and its structures by thousands of images for as long as my memory remains intact. Such an intimate rootedness has given both me and Sally, my dear and enduring wife of nearly fifty years, unexpected and vivid perspectives on our earlier life in and around Washington, DC, and elsewhere, most particularly throughout our various travels abroad. Having such strong and complex ties between us and the home to which we may return at will has enriched our appreciation of foreign lands and cultures and has deepened our empathy with the people we encounter in those places who share that same sense of connection with their own homes.

Our son Bunky and our daughter Renee each returned several years ago from lives and careers elsewhere to participate in our family business and gradually to take over its management from us. We continue to be blessed with their presence and by frequent visits of our seven grandchildren, aged between 6 and 26 who bring with them individually and collectively a special lightness and cacophony.

Our website can be accessed at http://www.pressurepositive.com. The site contains extensive information on self care in managing muscular pain and dysfunction, mostly with the tools of our design and manufacture. It also contains links to other information sources as well as access to our own blogs, illustrated guides and our video series on self care.

Home life, whatever its challenges, has been richly rewarding, and we plan to continue on, in the company of family and friends, making whatever contributions we can to a more viable and peaceful national and world community.

Bernard L. (Bun) Gladieux, Jr. AB ’59

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summerBy now the winter doldrums should have blossomed into the full flower of spring fever, and dreams of an extended period of outdoor activity should be lighting up the thoughts of veteran athlete and tender neophyte alike.

But seasonal change is also a good time to think about where you are going and how you are going to get there, particularly when it comes to your physical fitness and your own exercise and training routine. Here are some guidelines that might help in making the transition work best for you:


It is not too early to set your objectives. If the big, long range ones seem too daunting, pick more friendly, closer goals that you can reasonably accomplish say, a fitness run, a 10K or a metric century ride before the Fourth of July or Labor Day. While there is nothing inherently wrong with selecting multiple and even grandiose goals, you will have a better time of it if you focus on goals that are compatible with your talent and temperament and that will require nothing more than a coherent, achievable lifestyle for yourself. Distinguish in your own mind the difference between real purpose and day dreaming.

Draft Your Routine:
Once you have decided where you want to be at some point down the way, develop a rough training program that will lead you there. If your goals include some specific race or event that entails a major effort, it should be easy enough to work backwards from it in setting a training program. This kind of scheduling is especially important for such a major challenge as a marathon or similar, singular athletic event in which proper preparation and training count for virtually everything.

Some athletes, like normal people, sometimes have trouble keeping their quest for goals in check and in perspective. There is certainly something to be said for losing yourself to the enthusiasm of the moment and stepping beyond your own limitations. But in the end, the successful athlete keeps a healthy, internal equilibrium at the center.

Perhaps the most difficult, most elusive virtue of the committed athlete with a goal-oriented agenda at any level is patience. Those very energies that charge you up to pursue a path are the very ones that tend to make you dissatisfied with the status quo. Yet patience is often the athlete’s most valuable internal strength. Knowing when to back off, when to taper, take a rest period, or a breather or a nap is typically a more critical sense than the ability to eke out just one more lap before packing it in for the day.

In Good Heath,
Bernard L. Gladieux, Jr.
President, The Pressure Positive Co.

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Your Own, Personal Road to Fitness
By Bernard L. Gladieux, Jr.
President, The Pressure Positive Company

Choosing a sport or a mode of physical activity for fun and fitness can be as easy as falling off a log. It can also be as risky for your body and spirit if your choice takes you away from your physical or psychic or practical center.

roadtofitnessIt does seem that some of us drift into our sport and fitness activities without much conscious analysis. We just go with the flow. If the flow leads us into a successful path to find health, happiness and fulfillment, Hooray! But if continued athletic success seems elusive, another look at who and what you are just might lead you in a more rewarding direction. Here are some thoughts about making smart, personal choices.

In great measure what you are given controls what you will become. That is not to say that you have no options that will allow you to carry yourself beyond the expectations you, your friends and family might harbor for you. But if you find, for example, that your running or jogging has begun to wear thin or to leave you fatigued or hurting, it could be that your genetic gifts make you more like a Clydesdale draft horse while you have been exercising more like a gazelle or a cheetah. Take a clear, hard look at yourself. You may not want to shift from running 10 K races to pulling a beer wagon, but having a sound view of your physical strengths and gaps will help in setting your track and staying on it.

Childhood sports experiences can create lifelong interests, attitudes and skills. They can also burn you out, sometimes for life. If you have a powerful and positive early sport or athletic background, use what you retain of it to support your activity whatever it may be. If your background is absent or negative, think of it as just another challenge to transcend. If you are athletically inexperienced, no matter what your age, you can begin walking and/or jogging any time. These activities are as far away as the first step. Use common sense and check with your physician if you have the slightest doubts.

A football knee, a touchy sciatic nerve, a Morton’s toe – name your weak spot; we all have at least one. Some of us tend to entire gardens of chronic injuries and anomalies. Know yours, and be able to assess their impact on your athletic viability. Clearly if running invariably stirs up an Achilles’ tendonitis, opting for an activity that spares you high-impact bouncing makes a lot of sense. Serious leg problems need not end a runner’s athletic career, but once they are chronic, they need tending to, and in general, the sooner, the better. Chronic injuries could require a temporary, partial or perhaps a full and permanent shift from running into some other training regimen that maintains your conditioning but affords your body its healing respite.

If there is one characteristic that is common to just about every marathon runner, it is the mental toughness necessary simply to survive the enervating, sometimes numbing hours of training. Doing it, sticking to it and following through are not for the faint- hearted or the tentative. But you can be a runner without ever running a marathon or wanting to run one. Take your training and your competing only as far as you choose and can sustain out of your own, internal enthusiasm and fortitude.

Elderliness seems to be less a barrier to athletic achievement than ever. Still age does demand certain caution and concessions. Know when to quit the racing circuit and head out from the competitive arena into calmer, safer pastures. If you are older and are just thinking about starting to exercise, start slowly, take your time, rest early and often and quit at the drop of a hat to come back another day.

Setting your own, internally directed training and competitive objectives, if any, is arguably one of the most important steps you will take in the months ahead. Be deliberate and sober about it, but don’t shy away from your own best visions of what might be, given who and what you are.

In Good Health,
Bernard L. Gladieux, Jr.
President, The Pressure Positive Co.

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Ergonomics: Efficiency and Safety in Motion
Bernard L. Gladieux, Jr.

Overuse injuries, although they often seem quite straight forward, can be, in fact, quite complicated in that they are often caused by a combination of factors that vary widely from person to person. So, whether you are a weekend jogger and spend your work days at a desk or a bench or you are an elite, daily training, competitive athlete, there are some ways you can safely navigate around and through the many risk factors that will threaten your continued mobility, fitness, good health and longevity in the short or the long run.

So, as you make choices about your exercise, how often, how intensely and at what activities, here are some things to think about:

Form and style:
Much athletic coaching and training concentrates on the details of movement. If you are fortunate to have been taught by a skilled and experienced athletic instructor as a young person in, say, junior high or high school, you will have learned all about how to run, how to breathe, how to pace yourself. Now, as you may be contemplating your athletic renaissance, remember all that good advice and put it to use.

musclebalanceIf you are just now starting from scratch, find a trainer or an experienced mentor coach or friend to help you get it right. Very often a local club is a good place to start with club runs or rides among contemporaries. Keep your eyes and ears open for tips on how to move smoothly and efficiently. In running especially, economy of movement follows form and style very closely and will minimize early fatigue that will in turn help to forestall injury from inefficient form.

Frequency in balance:
One of the earliest decisions you may have to make is how often you are going to challenge your body in the activity you select. Be aware that one of the most serious risks in the early stages of most quality exercise programs results from an early excess of enthusiasm. It doesn’t take long for the beginner jogger or cyclist or walker or weightlifter to start feeling the uplifting effects of physical activity. You will know it by the giddy feeling of exhilaration and invincibility that recent converts often demonstrate while in the “honeymoon phase.” It is typically a happy time, but, as rewarding as regular exercise can be, it is not without its hazards. So it pays to be aware that injury can sneak up on you. Your best defense is to listen to signals from your body and to schedule your program so that you allow an appropriate amount of time for recovery after every effort. For a normal workout that may be only a day or for something extraordinary like a marathon, it might require a month before you are back to a normal.

Learning curve:
In time you will accumulate knowledge about your own limits and what works for you and what doesn’t. Always be open to learning more – more about yourself and more about everything that bears on your well being from diet to rest, stretching to cross training. Although exercise is not like neurosurgery in its intellectual demands, it greatly benefits from a basic academic knowledge of anatomy, physiology, nutrition and any sports medicine you can absorb. These days extensive research information is widely available on the Internet.

Taking your time:
Look first at your carefully structured plan to become permanently more fit and strong in the longer term. Consider the stepping stones towards whatever goal you decide to aim for. It may simply be to remain upright and moving for the next twenty or forty years. If you are aiming for something more dramatic and shorter term, your accelerated schedule will demand more intensity as well as more discipline and caution. In terms of your daily activities, try to get in the habit of easing into your training mode of choice with deliberate restraint. One technique that you may soon discover on your own will increase your endurance significantly: Simply warm up slowly for twenty minutes to half an hour before starting any demanding activity.

Muscle balance:
Every experienced athlete knows that the exercised muscle inevitably becomes stronger, and the unexercised muscle does not. Accordingly a sport in which only a limited number of specific muscles are engaged may leave you with neglected, relatively weaker muscles. That difference between opposing muscles can easily result in an imbalance that often leads to acute muscle strains and other injuries that are entirely preventable by a regular, balanced strength training regimen. Maintaining a basic muscle balance is not difficult and does not necessarily involve an extraordinary time commitment. At the outset, however you may have to alter your habitual routine in order, for example, to begin a twice a week weight training program.

With the help of a trained exercise therapist or athletic trainer, you can create a sequence of exercises appropriately tailored to your own, specific needs and goals.

Become an adventurer; mix it up:
Once you are in the habit of training regularly, you can start experimenting with new ways to add variety to your exercise that will enhance your enjoyment. Increase your resistance to overuse related injuries and improve the efficiency of your form. This approach is often referred to as “cross training.” In concept, cross training is simplicity itself: you exercise your primary muscles and allow plenty of time between workouts to allow your muscles to recover and repair; but instead of taking a nap, you go workout at something entirely different. Of course cross trainers can wear down, become plagued by chronic fatigue, reduce their resistance to colds and other infections, but by spreading the stress around your own, more vulnerable trouble spots, you reduce the risk that any one
will break down.

Outlook and simple pleasures:
Always keep in mind that whatever you do to attain and protect your health and fitness,
it should be something that yields you intrinsic rewards. That is pleasure from the sheer pleasure of the experience. Never let that thought go. Everything else is gravy.

Bernard L. Gladieux, Jr.
The Pressure Positive Company

Copyright © 2008 Bun Gladieux Jr.

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Keeping George Sheehan      

Bernard L. “Bun ” Gladieux, Jr.

The recent loss of a good friend got me to thinking recently of the many people I have known in my 70 years with whom I share a special kinship. These are family and friends I have lost in the sense that they are no longer among us living but who live very much in me because of their impact on my life and my outlook.

One of these people is George Sheehan who died several years ago after a long and brave battle with prostate cancer.  I hadn’t known George Sheehan as well as some or as long, but the George Sheehan I was fortunate to come to know and admire was a kind, caring, humane man, deeply committed to living life fully. He used to say something to the effect that running might not make you healthy or make you live longer, but that done right, it would make you fit and would allow you to double the amount of living you are able to experience for as much time as you have here.

In his dedication to running, Sheehan discovered a trove of wonderfully valuable secrets that he spent the rest of his life sharing with the world.  He lived in the here and now, very much connected with the earth and within himself.  He glowed with the enthusiasm of a boy earnestly at play.  When he spoke and wrote, it was to share his boy’s enthusiasm for living.

At one time in the late 1970s we would speak fairly frequently by telephone about his articles.  I was, at the time, editing “The Jogger,” the periodical of what was then The National Jogging Association.  Later we changed its name to The American Running and Fitness Association, and Sheehan was a loyal and consistent supporter of the organization which is now called American Running Association.

Dr. Sheehan allowed us to publish some of his material when it wasn’t otherwise spoken for by “Runner’s World” to which, he carefully explained to me, he had a prior obligation made all the more imperative by his having a large number of children to put through college.

We actually met several times over the years and even ran together on occasion. Once, when I when I was much younger than I am today, we ran along side one another in the Boston Marathon for a couple of miles.  At about mile twenty, on the outskirts of Cambridge, and not feeling all that chipper myself, I spotted his anguished figure a few paces in front of me.  He was swaddled in his signature white handkerchief around his head and was wheezing and groaning like a belabored steam engine just like his legend says.

He gasped some comments about the day, the course, and we exchanged some other thoughts of the moment, but it was clear that George Sheehan was in his altered state, suffering with gusto his self-managed catharsis.  I eventually stepped it up to a quieter place in the stream of runners and left George to enjoy his experience alone in the crowd.  Later I saw him hobble around the finish area clearly in exquisite, residual pain, his penance completed, nobly wrapped in a blanket and in the arms of his loving and indulgent family.  I remember thinking, “there’s a happy man.”

Several years later, at a time when we were both recovering from something or another, we ran together at the back of a 5k run in Allentown, PA.  Sheehan, older, slower and, I thought, more relaxed and mellow, spoke again about the day, about being happy just to be out in it and about how you were more likely to meet nicer people at the slow end of a race than at the front.  He had a gift for making wry, droll observations that hit the mark.

 In 1978, when we were together at a meeting in Chicago, I asked George Sheehan to sign my book, “Running and Being, The Total Experience.”  Here is what he wrote on the inside front cover:  “Dear Bun, “As you know, this is not the total experience, there’s always tomorrows run. All the best, George Sheehan.” It was and remains a thought worth repeating, and I suspect that it can be found in any number of other copies of this thoughtful and influential book.

In his beautifully crafted writings over the years, George Sheehan has helped me to grow and to deepen as an athlete.  As he has for thousands of other striving runners, George Sheehan encouraged me to continue my quest for inner discovery, to find the child inside and to nurture him with child’s play.

No one else has ever spoken so eloquently about how the profoundly physical act of running for the pure pleasure of it helps us bring together all the elements of our being as coherent, living, breathing, thinking, feeling, reverent human animals.


“Be a good animal, and go out and play.”  Thank you George, I think I’ll do just that. And if it’s an especially good run, I’ll dedicate it to you. 


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