Thursday, September 7

Running with the moon

This month's full moon -- the Harvest Moon -- is a humdinger. It's close to the Earth and looking huge.
No wonder I have been able to stick in a few extra miles.
For a while now, I've been experimenting with co-ordinating my training with the moon's phases. I got the idea from the vascular surgeon Dr Irving Dardik. A founding chairman of the US Olympic Sports Medicine Council, Dardik was at one time banned from practising medicine because his peers thought his ideas on biological rhythms were too outlandish. But they make a lot of sense to me.
Dr Dardik designed an exercise programme that realigned patients with the natural cycles of the environment. With carefully timed periods of exercise, Dardik found he could nudge people's onboard biological computers back into synch and actually recreate a healthy system; he got some amazing results in people with chronic diseases.
Dardik's big idea is that life is a wave, not a straight line. Everything occurs in cycles. One week we're up, one week we're down. Birth rates, death rates, accident rates. Heart rates, even. Plot them on a graph, you'll see waves.
When I looked back at my training diaries I saw the same cyclic pattern.
This natural phenomenon is one of the reasons we have coffee breaks. Within the 24-hour sleep/wake cycle, there is an ultradian rhythm that produces natural peaks of activity and rest every 90-120 minutes. Waves within waves. We're healthier when we respect the ebb and flow of our energy.
One of the ways to "ride the wave" of biological rhythms, Dardik said, is to tune exercise to the phases of the moon. Full moon is a high energy time. New moon is a low energy time. Join the dots. After the new moon, you may find your energy starts to pick up, building to a peak of activity around full moon, when it starts falling off again towards the "trough" of new moon. your highest-mileage weeks (and races, if possible) leading up to, or at, full moon. Have your easy week around new moon. When we're heading into new moon, I don't push myself in training and I am hyper-vigilant for signs of impending injury.

* Information on Dr Dardik is hard to find. His Institute's website has been passive for more than a year. There is one book, by science writer Roger Lewin, that tells the full story: "Making Waves: Irving Dardik and his Superwave Principle" (Rodale, 2005) and that's it.

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