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Get the book!

Everything you want to know about running across the USA, twice! If you want to do something amazing like this yourself, or if you are just curious and want to know all about it, this book is for you!

Hi, I´m Milton Miller and in December of 2010 I started my first run across the USA, from Miami to Los Angeles. Then, on January 1st of 2014, I started a second run, this time from Los Angeles to Miami. In this book I write about all the surprising, often amazing stories about what happened during these two great journeys.

The book everyone is asking about!

I get asked about it a lot! Yes, I wrote a book about this run and the first, done in 2011. It is available now! Click here to open the FREE eBook

You can also save it in your computer. Share with your friends! It’s free!

What this book is about:

  • What makes a couch potato any previous running experience suddenly get up and decide to run across the USA?
  • How do I pay for these adventures. What are the possibilities for someone who wants to do something similar.
  • How a drinking club (with a running problem) became my main support group.
  • Mistakes, miscalculations, and many things that didn’t go as planned.
  • What gear I used and solutions I found for many problems without having to fulfill any contract with a sponsor. I can write about what really works and what doesn’t.
  • How I chose my routes and how I planned for each part of the adventure.
  • All about camping in the wild, gear, techniques, and experiences.
  • How I can find peace and tranquility along the journey. How to keep my mind occupied.
  • The overall compassion of people I never met before and how, while hearing my story and about my journey they opened their homes and businesses to me.
  • The battles that happen inside one’s mind during such a long struggle: the doubts, disappointments, and what gave me strength to persevere.
  • How these runs changed me, the way I think, how I treat people, and how people treat me. What I used to believe before, and what I believe now.
  • Interesting statistics about performance, weight loss, and much more!

But there is more!

The free online book is PG-13, and only the printed book has an extra chapter called “Sex, drugs and violence”, so it is R-rated! imageGet ready for some crazy stuff!

  • Transcontinental runners don’t have groupies and yet a lot can happen over thousands of miles. I will tell it all! Out of respect for the privacy of people I interacted with, I may have to change some names, times or locations.
  • Guns, guns everywhere! You will be amazed about the gun talk, the cultural significance, the dangerous situations and the times when violence became very real during my journeys.
  • An honest conversation about drugs. From alcohol to weed and prescriptions. The runners that run high and the runners that get high after running. The near pitfalls and the astounding great stories.
  • The funny and the scary tales about encounters with apparently insane people or with homeless, white supremacists, indians, fugitives and other kind of people that you don’t see so much “in society”.
  • And finally, you may understand why I call it “madness”.

Thank you!

Autograph

How to run from a dog

Late afternoon, approaching the city of Elton, Louisiana, this good looking dog decided to follow me, like that one did in Florida last month. At first I didn’t mind it too much, just hoping that it would find something else to do and leave me alone. Well, it didn’t work that way.

This dog not just stuck around for miles, but was becoming an annoyance. I wouldn’t want to have a dog by the end of the day when I need to find a place to set up camp. That is a no-no! But worse than that, this dog was crossing the road back and forth all the time. Cars were swerving and having to slow down hard to not hit it. And most of the drivers were thinking that it was my dog! I was getting angry looks and a driver even came back to yell at me. Sensing that it was going to be bigger trouble than I want to handle I called 911.

The dispatcher on 911 told me that the city I was in does not have animal control services so there was absolutely nothing they could (or care to) do about it. I was on my own.

So I decided to run from it!

Nearing the end of my day I was on the road for more than 20 miles already and quite tired. At this point I just wanted to walk the rest of it, pass the city a mile or so, and camp. My walking speed is around 3 miles per hour, and the dog was still around me.

First I tried my “fast” pace, which for most runners sounds like a joke… a 5 mile per hour joke. But being about distance, and not time, 5 miles per hour is a pace I can keep for a good while and shift between surging and recovering for very good periods at this point. But not at the end of the day. After a while I was getting really exhausted and every time I looked back the dog was right there with me! I was going to blow a gasket that way.

Then I thought for a while about what I learned reading Born to Run, about the fact that the dog has to breathe once per step, how it cools off, and how humans can speed up towards the upper part of their jogging range, while a four legged animal would have to be at the bottom end of its aerobic range to keep the same pace. So instead of trying to outrun the dog at 5miles per hour in just a few minutes I changed strategy: Run at 4 miles per hour for an entire hour or more.

For the first half an hour or so the dog kept running happily right by my side at 4 miles per hour, but very gradually it tired and had to stop to cool off, while I could just keep going. It tried to catch up a couple of times but in about one hour he just sit down and stayed there.

That was a good reminder that you outrun a dog just the same way that you run from one ocean to another: You run with your head, not with your legs.

Barefoot running

Athletic gear design, if anything, has gone in a completely opposite direction. Over the next 50 years several major brands infused technology and clothing together to create high performance athletic gear. Shoes have been the largest focus.

Interestingly though the prevalence of lower body injury has increased since the introduction of performance footwear from brands like Nike. This increase doesn’t seem to be correlated with more runners running more miles though. As some researchers would suggest, the energy costs of running are less when running barefoot and the prevalence of injury is less frequent as well. The basic argument being that the human foot is perfectly designed for running (without the aid of shoes).

Such research has created a somewhat underground group of runners that run unshod. They ditch the shoes and hit the road with liberated toes gripping at the surface to feel every detail of the road beneath them. Runner’s like Barefoot Ted have sold the barefoot method really well and his experiment has branched out into a new wave of barefoot runners.

My personal experience is that if wasn’t for running barefoot I wouldn’t be running today. With shoes it was just too painful and felt awful. The moment I took the shoes off and started training I felt amazing and my progress was dramatic!

See also:

Sports Science on Barefoot Running
Run Bare
Study: Humans Were Born To Run Barefoot
Running Shorts. Singlet. Shoes?

Lack of recovery

Failure to recover properly can result in chronic dehydration, accumulating muscle damage, systemic inflammation, depressed immune function, and changes in hormone levels.

In the short term insufficient recovery causes muscle soreness, fatigue, and poor performance. If a runner neglects recovery continuously more damaging effects occur like loss of muscle tissue due to excessive muscle fiber breakdown, diminished immunological capacity and, worst of all, permanent damages to joints and other structural damage.

Runner’s knee is considered to be an overuse injury, as are many other types of common running injuries. As the term suggests, overuse injuries involve the gradual breakdown of body tissues resulting from repetitive motion over long periods of time. These injuries are quite different from acute injuries such as ankle sprains.

Beginning runners (like me) suffer the most overuse injuries per hour of training because their bones, muscles, and connective tissues are not yet well adapted to the new lifestyle.

Abrupt changes to training pace or style, like suddenly increasing duration, frequency, or intensity of workouts, can make those problems flare up. The solution for that is to instead ramp up conservatively as the body adapts.

An easy way to measure your recovery status is to take your pulse at rest one day that you are fully recovered and rested, and then again first thing in the morning of every running day. A pulse rate that is much above your reference number suggests that your body is still working on recovering from the most recent workout.

The human body has remarkable capacity to adapt, with proper training, resting, and nourishment. But you must keep an eye on the signs it gives you to know when to push forward and when to let it relax and recover.

How to speed up recovery

Do you know what to do after exercise to speed your recovery from a workout? Your post exercise routine can have a big impact on your fitness gains and sports performance but most people don’t have an after exercise recovery plan.

Most people exercise for the benefits they get from their workout: improved sports performance, better endurance, less body fat, added and even just feeling better. In order to maintain an exercise routine it’s important to recover fully after exercise. Recovery is an essential part of any workout routine. It allows you to train more often and train harder so you get more out of your training.

The biggest challenge or running long distances every day is not the running itself. I would even say that running is the easy part! The challenge is to recover enough in just 14-18 hours between one run and the next so to not cause damage and injury.

Recovery after exercise is essential to muscle and tissue repair and strength building. This is even more critical after an intense running practice. Normally a muscle needs anywhere from 24 to 48 hours to repair and rebuild, and working it again too soon simply leads to tissue breakdown instead of building up.

These are the ways I found most effective, for me, to speed up recovery:

Recovery time

Sounds obvious but isn’t. If you spend 8-10 hours on your feet, running and walking, you must spend the next 14-16 hours of the day doing other things like relaxing laying down, lightly stretching, massaging, and of course sleeping. What I don’t recommend is sitting down. Interestingly if I sit down for more than a few minutes I feel my legs stiffening and my feet hurt more. Anything else is fine, just not sitting down.

Massage

Massage feels good and improves circulation while allowing you to fully relax. You can also try self-massage and Foam Roller Exercises for easing tight muscles and avoid the heavy sports massage price tag.

When I had some muscle and tendon pain on my left leg, right in the 3rd week of training, I had that taken care of with some deep tissue massage and one additional day of rest. Amazing results for something that would slow down my training for quite a while!

Cool Down

Cooling down simply means slowing down (not stopping completely) after exercise. Continuing to move around at a very low intensity for 5 to 10 minutes after a workout helps remove lactic acid from your muscles and may reduce muscles stiffness. So I try to just walk and more about a few mintes before getting into a car or stopping for a meal.

Taking a brief cold bath after a run may limit the tissue swelling that follows muscle damage. Most runners also swear by ice baths for the same reason.

Keep your body warm after your run. If your clothes are cold and wet from sweat or precipitation, change into warm clothes as soon as possible.

Stretch

If you only do one thing after a tough workout, consider gentle stretching. This is a simple and fast way to help your muscles recover. I also stretch a bit every 8 miles or so, and during the last ¼ of the run I stretch every 2 miles or so. I feel that it makes it a lot easier overall. Notice that I wrote “gentle” stretching. A lot of people try to push their stretching to a point that they get injured by stretching rather than the exercise!

Stretch the rest of your body, especially your calves, quadriceps and hamstrings, for 10 to 20 minutes at the trailhead while you’re still warm. Stretch the rest of your body, especially your calves, quadriceps and hamstrings, for 10 to 20 minutes at the end of the run while you’re still warm.

Eat Properly

After depleting your energy stores with exercise, you need to refuel if you expect your body to recover, repair tissues, get stronger and be ready for the next challenge. This is even more important if you are performing endurance exercise day after day or trying to build muscle. Ideally, you should try to eat within 60 minutes of the end of your workout and make sure you include some high-quality protein and complex carbohydrate.

There is also some recent evidence suggesting that consuming modest amounts of protein during long runs may lessen muscle damage and improve recovery.

Eating properly has a major impact. When you finish a run you have plenty of damaged muscle fibers in your legs, low glycogen level, and you may be dehydrated. Good nutrition is what will correct those physiological imbalances. You must take protein to repair and build muscles, liquids to rehydrate, and slow processing fibers as well.

Replace Fluids

You lose a lot of fluid during exercise and ideally, you should be replacing it during exercise, but filling up after exercise is an easy way to boost your recovery. Water supports every metabolic function and nutrient transfer in the body and having plenty of water will improve every bodily function. Adequate fluid replacement is even more important for endurance athletes who lose large amounts of water during hours of sweating.

I like to drink beer and if you do drink any alcoholic beverage make sure that you drink some water first, and keep the amount of alcohol reasonable. Some cold beers after a long run feel great and have a “pain killer” effect, but make you feel lousy the next morning, so exercise some discretion.

Active Recovery

Easy, gentle movement improves circulation which helps promote nutrient and waste product transport throughout the body. In theory, this helps the muscles repair and refuel faster.

Ice Bath

Some athletes swear by ice baths, ice massage or contrast water therapy (alternating hot and cold showers) to recover faster, reduce muscle soreness and prevent injury. The theory behind this method is that by repeatedly constricting and dilating blood vessels helps remove (or flush out) waste products in the tissues. Limited research has found some benefits of contrast water therapy at reducing delayed onset muscle soreness.

How to use contrast water therapy: While taking your post-exercise shower, alternate 2 minutes of hot water with 30 seconds of cold water. Repeat four times with a minute of moderate temperatures between each hot-cold spray. If you happen to have a spa with hot and cold tubs available, you can take a plunge in each for the same time.

Sleep

Get Lots of Sleep. Optimal sleep is essential for anyone who exercises regularly. During sleep, your body produces Growth Hormone (GH) which is largely responsible for tissue growth and repair. I used to sleep an average of 6-7 hours per night, and since I began training I have been sleeping 9-11 hours, sometimes more. That is one of the “side effect” of growth hormone release.

Elevate

It helps relax your legs if you can keep them elevated for a while. Usually I do it for 30 minutes or more. A couch, the bed and some pillows, a lounge chair, those and many other places are appropriate to invert your body or at least keep your legs up for a while.

Self-preservation

The human body is capable of extraordinary endurance, but it has mechanisms to prevent self-destruction. Blacking out is one example of such self-preservation.

It’s essential to never try to run through more than a moderate pain in a muscle, bone, or joint. Toughness and determination are good qualities, but disrespecting pain altogether will lead to serious injuries that may take a long time to fix.

Dizziness, light-headedness, confusion and blurred vision are symptoms of heat illness and severe dehydration. It’s your body telling you (not asking anymore) to stop and recover.

Persistent fatigue, declining performance, lasting muscle soreness, and low motivation are signs of overtraining, and the only right thing to do in those circumstances is to take a break. It may be a day or may be more than that.

It’s now well understood that you don’t slow down because your muscles have reached their limit, but because your subconscious mind believe that you should slow down because it is worried that your muscles will be damaged soon. Anything that makes your mind believe that limit is not near will allow you to go longer. Self suggestion, reevaluation of the circumstances, new mental models can change that. I like to remember at the beginning of every run about how good I feel at the end of every run, regardless of how bad I felt in the beginning or during it.