Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Dehydration: The Hidden Culprit

If you're a runner, you probably know all too well about training-related injuries. If you've not experience one personally, then you probably know someone who has. Often such injuries are caused by doing too much too soon, over-training, pushing too hard, or coming back from a previous injury too soon. And then there is the occasional injury that just happens for no apparent reason. But, one cause of running related injuries that's often overlooked is simply dehydration...not drinking enough H2O.

When we see a plant wilting, the first thing that comes to mind (even if you have a brown thumb) is, "Gee that plant needs water." But when it comes to a running-related injury we often look for the most complex reasons for why an injury has occurred. Often it's as simple as not drinking enough fluids pre-, during-, and post-run. 

Okay, I'm pretty sure they're are some naysayers out there, but maybe this will change their minds. Research shows that when you dehydrate a muscle by only 3%, a runner can lose about 10% of contractile strength which can cause an 8% loss of speed. A study conducted at Ball State University showed a 7% drop in speed over 10 kilometers by runners who were dehydrated by just 2%-3%. That's only 3-5 lbs for a 165 lb runner.

So what exactly is Dehydration? Dehydration can be defined at a loss of 1% or greater of body weight as a result of fluid loss. The signs of dehydration are varied, but here are a few:
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Heat Intolerance
  • Dry Mouth or cough
  • Flushed Skin
  • Loss of Appetite
  • Light-headedness
  • Dark opaque urine 

So how does dehydration cause running injuries? Well, the human body strives for balance (homeostasis). Proper fluid levels helps maintain this balance. Proper heart function, blood pressure, blood flow, muscle function, temperature regulation, proper digestion, joint cushioning, energy production all depend on sufficient fluid levels in the body.

Dehydration is often the hidden culprit. You may think your pulled calf muscle is due to that intense hill workout....and that may very well be the main cause, but doing the intense hill workout not properly hydrated is setting yourself up for injury. You're muscles aren't going to perform at 100% when not well hydrated. Also, not properly rehydrating after a hard workout or long run puts you in a hydration deficit going into your next workout.

Your brain doesn't work as well when you're dehydrated either causing changes in mood, irritability, lack of concentration which can all affect your judgement on a run. 

There are going to be some individuals who read this and think, "Well then, I'm going to drink gallons of water each day during training to offset dehydration." Like most things, however, too much of a good thing can be bad. Over hydration can deplete your electrolyte stores (sodium, potassium, calcium, chloride magnesium) which are needed as well for homeostasis. Sodium is needed for proper hydration and potassium is needed to help a muscle relax after contraction. Potassium also is important in regulating blood pressure. So, don't overindulge. There is a formula you can use ( Men: drink daily in ounces your body weight x .35; Women: drink daily in ounces your body weight x .31), but I recommend to just drink water throughout the day. You can have your caffeinated beverages (i.e. your morning coffee), but don't count it as one of your water sources.  

The Sweat Rate Test is a great way to make sure you properly rehydrate after a run. Do this test on a mild day and on a really hot/humid day. This way you'll know about how much water to replace after both types of runs.

Sweat Rate Test:
  1. Weigh before running (running clothes on, but shoes off); record the amount
  2. Run for 60 minutes
  3. Weigh after running (running clothes on, but shoes off); record the amount
  4. For each pound lost, drink 16oz of water. (i.e. 3lbs lost = 48oz)
No need to gulp down the replacement water, but make sure you replace that lost water in the hours after your run.

Drinking water is great for most workouts lasting 45-60 minutes. But, if you're running over an hour, be sure to drink a sports drink or use an electrolyte replacement tab in your water to offset the electrolyte loss from perspiration. For runs longer than an hour, sports drinks will also provide fuel (carbohydrate) replacement for your muscles. On long runs, its a great idea to wear a hydration belt, carry a handheld water bottle, or stash some bottles of water and sports drink along your route. FYI: Drink water when taking an energy gel or GU. Drinking sports drink when taking a GU can give you a double-whammy of carbs causing stomach distress.

Monday, July 18, 2016

10 Tips to Prevent the Marathon Training Blues

Runners often get discouraged when training for a marathon. Their lack of performance and/or motivation can be due to numerous factors. In the video below, I share 10 tips for helping to prevent the marathon training blues. If you're currently experiencing the training blues, listen to the tips and see if any of the suggestions may be the cause of your discouragement with your training.
(Correction: In Tip#3, I state "the body sends blood to the muscle layer to help cool down the body." I meant to say, "the body sends blood to the skin layer to help cool down the body, causing less blood to get to the muscle layer, which makes you fatigue quicker."

10 Tips to Prevent the Marathon Training Blues from Thad McLaurin on Vimeo.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Keeping Your Electrolyte Stores in Check?

For short runs, drinking just water after the run is fine, but for endurance runs, it's important to replace lost electrolytes after the run. On runs more than an hour, you need to be sure not only to kick in some fluids with electrolytes during the run, but you need to be sure and replace them after the run too. Not replacing the lost electrolytes can lead to an electrolyte deficit leading into the next run and that's not a good thing. So what are electrolytes? Electrolytes are macronutrients the body uses to keep the body systems working properly. Runners often hear about two electrolytes (sodium and potassium) but there are actually five electrolytes.

The "BIG FIVE": 
  1. Sodium is important because it carries the water molecule throughout the body. without sodium, you'll become dehydrated very quickly, even if you're drinking water. Ever been on a run and had a sloshy stomach? If you just drank a bottle of water, it's probably just what you just drank sloshing around, but if you drank earlier in the run and you still have that sloshing around happening in the stomach, chances are your sodium stores are low. You can have a stomach full of water, but if there isn't proper levels of sodium in the body, there's no way for it to get out of the stomach to the rest of your body.
  2. Calcium is needed for muscle contraction, nerve function, and strong bones
  3. Magnesium like Calcium is needed for muscle contraction, nerve function, and strong bones 
  4. Potassium is needed to relax a contracted muscle. Low levels of Potassium can lead to muscle cramps. Potassium also supports heart function and helps keep blood pressure regulated.
  5. Chloride is needed to maintain fluid balance, blood volume, and blood pressure
Sports drinks are great for during the long run, but research has shown not only are dairy drinks (chocolate milk) great for post run rebuilding, they are also better at re-hydrating the body after a long run than sports drinks. Chocolate milk is a great post run recovery and rehydration drink. It contains the right mixture of carbs and protein and drinking it within 15-30 mins after your run is idea in helping your body recover and rebuild. Chocolate milk also contains sodium and calcium, two of your needed electrolytes. 

It's a great idea to include electrolyte-rich foods in your daily diet as well as to eat post-run. Sports nutritionist Nancy Clark provides some great food suggestions below to help replenish your depleted electrolyte stores:

Sodium: chocolate milk, peanut butter, bagel, even soup! Also try some deli turkey!
Potassium: bananas, sweet potatoes, spinach, kale, peas, beans, avocado, and dried of fresh fruits like oranges, melons, raisins, prunes
Calcium: milk (regular or soy), cereal, yogurt, latte
Magnesium: leafy green veggies, whole grains, nuts, peanut butter, dried beans, lentils
Chloride: olives, rye, tomatoes, lettuce, celery

Smoothies are an easy way to get in your needed electrolytes. No need to drive to the smoothie shop either. Below are some great smoothie ideas from nutritionist, Laura Buxenbaum that are easy to make at home.

Running Refuel Shake
1 cup fat-free chocolate milk
1 scoop 100% whey protein powder
1 banana
Crushed ice

Triple Berry Smoothie
1 cup low-fat vanilla yogurt
1 cup skim or 1% milk
1/3 cup frozen blueberries
1/3 cup frozen strawberries                                                               
1/3 cup frozen raspberries

Orange Peach Mango Smoothie
1 cup orange juice
1 cup low-fat vanilla yogurt
1/2 cup frozen unsweetened peaches
1/2 cup frozen mangoes

PB&B Protein Smoothie
1 banana
1 tablespoon creamy peanut butter
1 cup 1% milk
1 scoop plain, vanilla, or chocolate whey protein powder
Crushed ice

Blues Buster Smoothie*
1 (6-ounce) container low-fat blueberry yogurt
1/2 cup apple juice
1/2 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
1/2 cup frozen sliced peaches
Crushed ice
*Recipe from SoutheastDairy.org

One of my favorite smoothie creations is the "RunnerDude Pumpkin Smoothie."

RunnerDude's Pumpkin Smoothie*
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 cup fat-free vanilla Greek yogurt
1 banana, sliced into chunks (freezing the banana is beforehand is great too!)
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1/2 cup skim milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup ice
Note: for a thinner consistency, add another 1/2 cup skim milk. For extra sweetness, add 1 tablespoon honey.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Need a Running Coach?

I hear it all the time..."I'm not good enough to have a running coach." I usually respond with, do you have a personal trainer?" Answer: "Yes."

It's pretty common for individuals to think it's perfectly normal to have a personal fitness trainer, but then to think that only the elite or professional athletes need a running coach. Coach...Trainer....it's all semantics.

"Coach" usually refers to someone training athletes in a specific sports field, be it football, baseball, soccer, swimming, running, etc. Most individuals don't consider themselves athletes. Therefore they don't need a coach.  Guess what? If you are out there running and working toward becoming a fitter individual and you're doing it on a consistent and regular basis....you are an athlete. You're not an elite athlete, but you are an athlete.

 "Coach" also conjures up for many the stereotypical image of the red-faced, high school or college coach with the tight polyester shorts, ball cap, and whistle around the neck. A rather intimidating image. I had a Jr. High PE teacher like that. He didn't like me and I didn't like him.

Well, as a running coach, I'd like to clarify that running coaches today, at least this coaching dude, breaks that stereotypical mold of the hardcore, in your face, win-win coach. Does that mean I go easy on you? No way! What it does mean is I work with you where you're at and help to get you where you want to go safely and healthfully. That's really what coaches/trainers in the private sector do.

Can you benefit from a running coach? Definitely. Why? The biggest way a coach can help, whether you're a beginner or a long-time runner, is through structuring a training plan that will safely help you reach your goals. A coach is also a sounding board for all the questions you may have about your running. Is my form good? How do I control my breathing? How do I get out of this slump? How do I get faster? Is this pain normal? How should I fuel my runs? What about hydration? A running coach can answer all these questions and more. And better yet, the answers will be specific to you and your running.

Monday, May 2, 2016

First Run The Boro Run

As a way to get to better know all the awesome routes our wonderful city, Greensboro, has to offer runners, RunnerDude's Fitness will be hosting a series of 8 groups runs during the months of May and June. The first run will take place on Saturday, May 7th at 7:30am leaving from RunnerDude's Fitness (2309 W. Cone Blvd., Greensboro, NC). Arrive by 7:15am so you can get your cue sheet and meet the pacing guides. The starting point for each run will vary depending on the location of the run. Starting locations will be posted in advance here on the blog, at www.runnerdudesfitness.com, and on the RunTheBoro Facebook group page.

The routes will vary in length from 6 to 10 miles. There will be pace group leaders to help guide runners through the course. Their job isn't to keep runners at pace like in a race, rather they're there to guide runners a given pace range through the course. We encourage runners of all paces to come out.

These runs aren't designed to be speed runs. On the contrary, they are designed for the runners to get to know their city and take in visually all it has to offer while exploring running routes they may otherwise have never experienced.

Runners will need to bring handheld water bottles or wear a hydration belt as water will not be provided on the run. There will be water and Gatorade for runners after the run.

The first run will be just a tad over 7 miles and will take in the southern tip of the Atlantic & Yadkin Greenway, parts of the Kirkwood and Old Irving Park neighborhoods as well as the Latham Park Greenway

Cue sheets will be provided for runners each Saturday in addition to the pace group leaders. After each run the routes will also be posted, so if you'd like to run a route again, you'll be able to access it.

Discover a new running route. Make new running friends. Learn more about our city. Have some fun. RunTheBoro!!

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Build Confidence. Don't Break It Down.

When I was in middle School in the late 70s, I was overweight and not athletic at all.  I never wore shorts. Actually didn't wear jeans either? Evidently back then the only thing clothiers thought kids my size wore was plaid. Just what the "fat Kid" needs, right? Plaid. 

Man I can't tell you the last
time I had a burger and fries.
I remember having to run the mile in Mr. Wade's 8th Grade PE class. Yes, I ran the mile in my plaid pants and my plastic/vinyl "athletic" shoes from Pic-n-Pay. Me and Danny Weidner were the last to finish. I think I ran that mile in 18 minutes and 20 seconds. Mr. Wade did not like me. His disdain for me and the other non-athletic kids was very obvious. He even met with my parents to let them know I was different and that they probably needed to do something about it. 

Yep, I was different. Those plaid pants, that "roll" around my middle, those plastic running shoes, and that 18-min mile made me who I am today. Ironically at 51 years old, I've run 15 marathons, 1 ultra-marathon, 20 half marathons and too many 5K and 10Ks to count. Oh yeah, and I'm RunnerDude, owner of a personal training studio and running coaching facility, founder and host of one the most popular running blogs in the country, and author of a running book.

What's up with the double
pictures? I think one of
me was plenty. LOL!
I'm a huge believer in things happen for a reason. I bet if I had been the fastest kid in the class, I would not be a running coach today. Now don't get me wrong. I think kids need to be active. But, each kid is different. Some kids are team sports players. My brother was. He played basketball, baseball, football, tennis and now golfs. I tried team sports. I played baseball 2 years and football 1 year, but did not enjoy it at all. I mainly played because my dad signed me up. It's what you did in 1974. If there were other options, I wasn't aware of them.

In middle school, I had a friend who was very fit and was into gymnastics. I always envied his ability to run and do flips in the air. He was strong, but because it was not football, basketball, or baseball, he was often teased too. During those middle school years, there was a sign-up day for gymnastics at the school gym. I actually got the nerve up to go. We lived in a small town on the North Carolina Coast. I rode my bike up to the gym. I was nervous as all get out. I had sweat stains the size of Montana under each arm. I walked in, climbed up the big built in bleachers and sat there watching the others register and try out. I sat. I did not have the confidence to try out. I was the fat kid. I couldn't do that. Really all I needed was someone to say, "Hey, come try." I stayed for about an hour then walked back down the bleachers, got on my bike and headed home. No one every knew I went to the tryouts that day. 

In that small coastal town in which I lived in, there was a man, Mr. Smith, one of my friend's dad, who used to run a big 10-mile loop around the town. He'd run with his big black dog. He always looked so content running with his dog. I admired his ability to run so effortlessly. Without him knowing it, Mr. Smith motivated me to try it. One day, not long after that gymnastics tryout day, I decided to try to run. Yep, in my plaid pants and plastic shoes. I didn't go far (probably a mile or two of Mr. Smith's route), but I did run and it felt good. I did it a few more times. Nobody ever knew. 

Later that summer, I decided to lose weight. My mom was doing Weight Watchers, so I just followed the same meal plan. I lost 40lbs that summer and started High School a new person. I ran the mile in 9th grade in under 8 minutes. My confidence boomed. I was still teased, because I wasn't a jock, but it didn't matter, because inside I had grown so much.

I didn't do too much running after that until my first year in college. I ran my first 10K in Raleigh, The Great Raleigh Road Race. That's when I discovered others ran too....all kinds of people. That's the day the seeds for RunnerDude were planted. I continued to run lots of 5K and 10K races and in the late 90s I got into running marathons. Plaid pants ditched long ago, I was feeling good about my accomplishments as a runner and all this confidence was helping me in other areas of life. Running reveals so much more about yourself than just your physical abilities. That's the message we need to instill in our kids. 

If you are the parent of a "plaid pants" kid, encourage them to explore different activities. Not all kids have to be in organized sports, but maybe you can do family walks, go hiking, or see if they're interested in running. What they are interested in is the key.  Maybe it's art, music, or dance. Get them involved in what they are interested in. Once they have gained some confidence, then they'll be more likely to put themselves out there to explore more.  

Lead by example. Kids shut out preaching, but if they see you leading a healthy lifestyle, they'll come around. It may take a few years, but it does work. My 24-year-old son, Duncan initially wanted nothing to do with running or fitness...and now he's working along side me at RunnerDude's Fitness as an awesome fitness trainer and running coach.

The great thing about running (as one of my runners, Brandon put it) "it's an individual sport that's made so much better by running with friends." You can start out on your own or with a similar-level group and build your confidence. You can compete with yourself or with others. You can run solo or with others. You can make it your own.

I guess in a way, I should thank Mr. Wade. Not because he was right. But, because I knew he was wrong.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Enter to Win a Free Pair of Saucony's!

If you're a neutral runner or an over-pronator, Saucony has two shoes just for you! The Saucony Triumph and Hurricane are not new shoes, but they been updated the past few year making them evern better than ever.

Check out the specs on both shoes below, then at the bottom of the post enter for a chance to win a free pair of Hurricanes or a free pair of Triumphs!

The Saucony Hurrican ISO2 with EverRun was recently named "Editor's Choice" by Runner's World in the 2016 Spring Shoe Guide. 

This is the second Runner’s World award for the brand’s flagship supportive running shoe: The inaugural Hurricane ISO was named “Best Update” in the Runner's World 2015 Summer Shoe Guide.

“The newest version of the Hurricane combines all of Saucony’s technologies to create a ride that is comfy, cushioned, responsive, and stable,” said the Runner’s World review of the shoe. Testers’ highest praise was reserved for the fit and comfort of the well-padded, two-layer upper that hugs the heel and midfoot while providing plenty of room up front for your toes. New for this version are layers of EVERUN material in the midsole-where it cradles your foot as it sinks in and then bounces back as you push off. The new triangle-lugged outsole design improves the shoe’s flexibility, while firmer material under the inside of the heel and arch controls inward rolling.

The all-new Triumph ISO 2 with EeveRun was named “Editor's Choice” in the Runner's World 2015 Winter Shoe Guide (December 2015 issue). This is the second Runner’s World “Editor’s Choice” Award in a row for the Triumph: The inaugural Triumph ISO was named “Editor's Choice” in the Runner's World 2015 Spring Shoe Guide.

The new Triumph ISO 2 is the brand’s super-plush neutral trainer, now featuring a full-length EVERUN Topsole and EVERUN Landing Zone, TRI-FLEX outsole and ISOFIT upper.

EverRun: Both shoes contain EverRun. EVERUN’s patent-pending Topsole construction process positions a 3mm layer of Saucony’s revolutionary EVERUN foam material closer to the foot, directly under the sockliner, instead of embedding it in the midsole below a layer of rigid cement. This construction process distributes propulsion force over more area, reducing local peak pressures while delivering a dramatically more lively and responsive ride.

The EVERUN Landing Zone and heel insert provide remarkable impact protection, maintaining cushioning properties three times longer than standard EVAs while returning 83% of the energy absorbed, according to research in the Saucony Human Performance and Innovation Lab.

(There are two separate entries below. The first entry is for the free pair of Triumphs. Scroll down to see the entry for the free Hurricanes. Drawing ends on Sunday, March 27th and the winners will be announced Monday, March 28 on the blog. Good Luck!)

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