Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Monday, September 28, 2009
As an infant, I had two febrile seizures induced with high fever. I was on medication until I was 5 and had no other seizures. So, by all accounts, I was fine, and I came off the medication. No other issues, or complications, I was no different than anyone else.
My son was born in 1998, when I was 20. He's my little miracle, as he was conceived while I was on birth-control, but I believe he had a reason for being here, and am so thankful everyday that he's in my life. When he was a year old, I was just going back to work from maternity leave, and going through difficulty in my relationship, and ended up being a new first-time-single-working mother, at 21. All of this combined was enough to make my seizures come back with a vengeance. At first, I didn't understand what was happening, as my two previous seizures occurred as an infant. I went to my doctor, described what was going on, and he immediately contacted the Ministry of Transportation and had my drivers' license taken away. Don't feel sorry for me, all of these experiences have made me the person I am today—better than before, taking nothing for granted, strong, positive and determined.
It was like the doctor went in and flipped a switch. I used to count in days being seizure-free, but am now counting years! This September, will be 8 years since my last seizure! I've experienced some memory loss during those years (sadly, I have to rely on pictures for a lot of my son's first.... like his steps, etc.), but a small sacrifice to have my life, freedom and independence back, and being able to take a bath by myself! :)
I had also been a smoker (a very bad habit I had), but something clicked in late August, 2005. I had my "awakening moment" when Peter Jennings passed away of lung cancer, and less than a week later, Dana Reeves was diagnosed with lung cancer, and didn't even smoke! What the heck was I doing! I've had life changing brain surgery, and I'm smoking? I picked my quit date, Sept 6th, and stuck to it. Since I was mentally prepared for the challenge ahead, and had amazing reasons to quit, I did.
Like many have experienced, I started gaining a bit of weight. Although I exercised sporadically, it wasn't enough. Working with computers, being a stats-oriented person, a gadget-girl, driven by visual results, and technical, I spotted the Nike+ iPod kit on May 5, 2007, and have been running since! I never thought that running would become an addiction,! After the first few runs, I called my mom to let her know, and she was in shock. In fact, last summer, when I went out to visit her, I went for a run. I'm still convinced that she drove along the previously discussed route to see if I was "actually" running. After a few months of running, when I was really starting to get more into it, I picked up a Garmin, showed my dad all my running gadgets, and he was shocked at how much times have changed since his running days.
In just over 2 years, I've done some 5k's and 10k's, a 15k, a Half-Marathon, and a 30k. I'm happy knowing that I left everything out there during my marathon attempt this past Mother's Day, even though it just wasn't my day. Now I'm training for a triathlon!! Running for me is a way to keep stress levels under control and my head clear, as well as do and see things I never thought I'd ever achieve! I remain committed to never letting stress ruin or control my life again. —Mel in Canada
Saturday, September 26, 2009
Reflective clothing is a must for early morning and evening runs.
Up your weekly mileage by no more than 10% to prevent injury and allow your body to gradually adapt to more miles.
Never run without telling a friend or family member your running route, your start time and your expected return time. Better yet, post your weekly running schedule with routes and times on the fridge so your family will know where you are.
Never run without properly hydrating before, during, and after the run. On longer runs, drink 16oz 2hrs before, drink 6-12% every 15-20mins during, and after the run drink 16oz for every pound lost.
Identification on your person is crucial if you’re ever in an accident. Make your own or purchase a Road ID.
Never ignore pain. If pain doesn’t subside after RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation), make it RICED by adding the “D”—diagnosis—and see your doctor.
Group Runs are one of the safest ways to run in the early morning or during the evening. Plus they're fun!
Stretching before and after a run is a good thing. Dynamic stretches like buttkicks, skipping, and walking lunges are best before the run and static stretches like calf stretches or toe touches are best for after the run.
Against-traffic-running is a must if you have to run on the road so you can see what’s coming.
First Aid and CPR training is a great idea, especially if you run in a group or with a buddy. If something happens, you can provide help immediately while waiting for EMS to arrive.
Eat to fuel your runs and for refueling after your runs. A high carb snack (~300cals) before the run and a post-run snack with a 4:1 carbs-to-protein ratio (i.e., lowfat chocolate milk).
Listen to your body. Over-training is one of the main causes of injury. Allow time for rest and recovery.
Yield to traffic. In most cases runners have the right-of-way, but better safe than sorry. Even if you have the right-of-way, never assume a driver is aware of your presence.
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Friday, September 25, 2009
• Recreational Marathoner: Experienced runner, may have run one or more marathons; has a base of 25-30 miles per week
• Intermediate Marathoner: Experienced runner, may have run one or more marathons; has a base of 30-40 miles per week
• Advanced Marathoner: Experienced road racer with previous marathon experience; has a base of 50 miles per week
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
• Complex Carbs (100% whole grain breads and pasta) should be ingested the 1st day, then transition to simple carbs during the 2nd day of carb-loading.)
• Avoid complex carbs on the 3rd day of carb-loading; stick mainly with simple carbs (but don't try anything new you haven't tried during your training).
• Raise the total percentage of daily carbs from 60-70% to 70-80% during the three carb-loading days. (Remember that your overall total calorie intake should remain about the same, so to increase the % of carbs, cut back a little on the protein % and fat %.)
• Bananas and salty pretzels eaten during your carb-load will ensure that you haven't depleted your sodium and potassium levels from the additional hydration during carb-loading.
• Last big meal should be 12-15hrs prior to the race start.
• Over hydration can be just as bad (if not worse) than dehydration because it can deplete vital electrolytes. Be sure to drink plenty of fluids during the carb-loading phase, but no need to drink excessive amounts.
• A light high-carb breakfast 2-3 hours before the race is wise and should consist of about 300 calories. (A little protein in fine, but stay away from the fat. Both take longer to digest and can make you feel sluggish during your run.)
• Don't be alarmed if you gain a few pounds. It's mostly water retention from the extra carbs. You'll sweat out the extra pounds during the race.
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
I have run in twenty-one U.S. states and logged over 24,000 miles, but my most exotic running location was in the country of Panama. Roughly 20 years ago, my company at the time, AT&T, was hired to install systems on some of the U.S. military bases near Panama City. My first trip down there was in 1990, only a few months after the U.S. invaded Panama to capture Manuel Noriega. There were still vivid reminders of the brief but intense conflict all over the city, from bullet-riddled or shelled-out buildings, to the stories told by some of my co-workers who hunkered down in their apartments in the city during the fight.
My first run in Panama originated from the apartment I shared with two of those co-workers during my first trip. They lived on top of a big hill in the city, and as I wound my way down the hill, past fenced-in houses with armed security guards, my co-worker stood on the balcony, watching me and shaking his head. I remember passing some young boys playing as soldiers in one yard, saying “You be the American, and I’m the Panamanian.” When we ate in restaurants, it was often under the cold gaze of a guard with an automatic rifle.
Over the next year and a half, I made a total of eleven trips to Panama. I had a running buddy, Mike, who was an Army major working with us as an intern. We did most of our runs after work on one of the U.S. bases, largely because the traffic in the city was a nightmare, plus we didn’t feel totally safe in venturing out too far from our hotel. The heat and humidity were astonishing, and we would finish every run drenched in sweat. But my most memorable experience happened one night when I wasn’t even running.
One of our project managers, Bill Keane, was an avid ultra-marathoner. He managed to arrange some meetings in Panama to coincide with a 50-mile race that was run across the Isthmus, parallel to the Panama Canal, from the Caribbean Sea back to the Pacific Ocean in Panama City. Another lady and I comprised Bill’s support crew. The race started at sunset in Colón, which looked to me like a Barbary Coast pirate town, then followed a narrow road that wound through a rain forest most of the way. We drove our little rental car alongside Bill, handing him snacks and de-fizzed Coke, and talked and laughed all night in the pitch-dark countryside, all the while hearing strange and sometimes frightening jungle noises. At one point, maybe 30 miles into the race, a dog ran out in front of Bill, startling him and causing him to step off the road into a deep puddle. Bill’s shoes and socks got soaked, and since he didn’t have a spare pair, he soon developed huge blisters on his soles and eventually had to quit before the finish.
I have some fond memories and one really cool race t-shirt from my experiences in Panama.—Will Petty, NC
Will is one of the reasons I've gotten faster over the years. He's a great guy and puts on a darn good Great Pumpkin Run 5K too! Thanks for sharing your story Will!
Monday, September 21, 2009
Recently I was asked to be a member of the guest panel in a podcast hosted by The Runners Roundtable. The topic was resistance training for runners and the featured expert was Amelia Burton, a health and fitness coach from Sydney, Australia. Amelia shared a wealth of ideas for how to use resistance training in a more functional manner to benefit a runner's performance as well as to prevent injury. Through this podcast, which included panel members from the US, England, and Australia, I learned even more about the importance of functional resistance training for runners.
Below is a recent post from Amelia's website AmeliaBurton.com that provides excellent information on resistance training for runners. Check it out and then head over to Amelia's website and check out even more of the great ideas and information she provides.
What’s your training program like? Do you focus on increasing your miles each week, maybe a bit of speed work here and there, and of course a token stretch at the end of each session? Well hats off to you because unlike 85% of the population at least you are doing something! But whether you are an amateur runner or a competitive athlete, adding a resistance session each week might just be the thing you need to take your further, faster and with fewer injuries. This article looks at the reasoning behind resistance training for runners and identifies the top resistance training exercises all runners should do.
What is Resistance training for distance running?
Conventionally we think of resistance training as weights machines, dumbbells, slow movements and heavy weights (with lots of grunting). Resistance training for runners is quite different. It’s about loading the muscles in a manner that replicates running to improve their strength power, endurance and most importantly coordination. It’s about identifying the weaker muscles in the body and developing them to prevent injury. It is NOT about building unnecessary bulk or damaging already fatigued tissue and I must stress that incorrect resistance training can tighten you up and slow you down.
What purpose does it serve?
There are four key areas that resistance training will help you with: Speed, muscular endurance, efficiency of running technique, and injury prevention.
• Increase strength of your prime movers for speed and distance: The stronger your quads, glutes and hamstrings are the faster your will go and the longer you will be able to maintain your pace. Obviously nothing beats running to strengthen these, but resistance work involving sprints, uphill and downhill running improve their strength much faster.
• Prevents injury by Increase strength of your stabilisers: Your prime movers can only work as hard as your stabilisers will allow. It doesn’t matter how strong/fit you are, if you have poor hip knee and ankle stability, you will never reach your full potential in both speed and endurance.
• Increase coordination: Similar to stability, the faster you fatigue the sooner your coordination goes. Look at a distance athlete and how smooth their running style is. That is good coordination. All muscles, tendons, ligaments and joint actions are working in smooth unison to create effortless strides. The more fatigued you get the worse these actions interrelate create a less economical stride which slows you down and increases your chance of injury.
• Increase stride length: As you fatigue, your stride naturally shortens, your muscles tighten and you slow down. By increasing your stride length (within reason) you can maintain a faster pace and waste less energy through excessive foot strikes.
Two Training Programs for Runners
Click here for a printable program you can take to the park/oval for your resistance session. Ideally you will need a stop watch and a skipping rope, but exercises can be performed without them.
Click here for a printable program for Core Stability and VMO/Glute Activation. You will need a swiss ball and leg extension machine for these.
Sunday, September 20, 2009
Saturday, September 19, 2009
Looking through the site I discovered some great functional exercises perfect for making you a stronger and more agile runner. The first is something David calls The Toe Touch Matrix. David says this exercise really works the proprioceptors in your feet. (Proprioception means "sense of self". Proprioceptors are sensors that provide information about joint angle, muscle length, and tension, which is integrated to give information about the position of the limb in space.) The Toe Touch Matrix mobilizes your hips, knees, and ankles. Instead of touching with your hands in a balance reach, The Toe Touch Matrix has you touch 10 matrix spots with your toes. David says to pay close attention to the back corners of the matrix as those spots really hit difficult areas of your body. Again, this is a multi-directional, multi-joint, and multi-muscle exercise.
At the end of 2008, David met with a foot doctor who wanted to immobilize him in a "walking boot" for one month due to his injured Achilles tendon. Not liking that scenario, David searched for a second opinion and that is how he met Juan Ruiz Tagle. Juan, who is now the training consultant at The One Mile Runner, changed David's training program and his running to a "stiffer" and more powerful running style. Take a look at this video showing a few of David's running exercises.
Friday, September 18, 2009
Carbohydrates along with fat are the two main fuel sources for your muscles. Your body can store about 2000 calories in the form of glycogen which will last about 2hrs for the average runner. So, during a long run of 2+ hours, these carb stores will be depleted. If they're not replaced during the run, then the runner will more than likely "bonk" or "hit the wall." Sports drinks and/or sports gels are a great way to restock the glycogen (energy) stores while on the run. But don't wait until you feel fatigued to begin resupplying or it will be too late.
Sodium is needed to help the body properly absorb the fluids you're taking in. Ever have that sloshing-in-your-stomach feeling during a race? The sloshing is probably not due to drinking too much too fast. More than likely the water is remaining in your belly because you've decreased your sodium levels so much that your body can no longer absorb the fluids, so they're just "stuck" with nowhere to go. Ever have calf or quad cramps? This too is often a sign of dehydration and depleted potassium levels.
There are so many different brands of sports drinks on the market all claiming they're the best for you. So what exactly should be in a sports drink? There are some basics you should look for. As for the "extras" in many sports drinks? For the most part, that's exactly what they are—extra. You'll have to decide whether you need the extras or not.
Staples Of A Sports Drink:
Most experts agree that the sodium levels of sports drinks should be in the range of 110 - 220 mg per 8 fl. oz. A newer brand, just recently available—The Right Stuff— contains no carbs, but it contains much higher levels of sodium and other electrolytes. To read a review of The Right Stuff [click here].
The carbohydrate concentration in a sports drink should be 6-8% or
6 - 8 grams per 100 ml
14.2 - 18.9 grams per 8 oz.
21.3 - 28.4 grams per 12 oz.
Sports drinks containing more than these quantities of carbs should be used for refueling after a workout, but not during.
Sports Drink Extras:
Energy drinks and sports drinks are often confused. In general, sports drinks don't contain caffeine. The smaller canned (and some bottled) energy drinks (i.e., Red Bull) often contain very large amounts of caffeine as well as sugar or other sweeteners. Research has shown that some caffeine ingested before a race can boost performance (click here for more info), but drinking large amounts of caffiene throughout a race can have adverse effects and cause stomach issues for many runners.
Some brands of sports drinks have added protein to their formula. Some claim the protein/carb mixture enhances performance. There is mixed results/opinions on whether performance is actually enhanced. The added protein, however, has been shown to speed muscle recovery. Accelerade, Amino Vital, Endurox R-4, and PowerBar Recovery Performance all contain added protein.
Some brands contain a wide array of added vitamins. While this may be good for your general health, there's no research to show that they will help with your performance or benefit rehydration.
There are actually three different types of sports drinks available—Isotonic, Hypotonic, and Hypertonic. Some are designed for use during a run, while others are designed for after activity hydration. Listed below is more info about each type of sports drinks.
Isotonic Sports Drinks—Contain electrolytes and 6-8% carbs. Isotonic sports drinks usually contain about 120-170 calories per 500 ml of fluid. Probably the most common type of sports drink, isotonic sports drinks are good for normal replacement of fluids lost through normal sweating incurred during middle and long distance runs. (Examples: Accelerade, Gatorade [original], Gatorade Endurance Formula, Powerade [original], PowerBar Endurance Sport [powder])
Hypertonic Sports Drinks—Contain about 10-15% carbs and usually about 240-320 calories per 500 ml of fluid. These drinks are designed to replenish carb levels after exercise or to top off the glycogen stores before an endurance run. Hypertonic drinks are good for marathons or ultraruns. Due to the high levels of carbs, if hypertonic drinks are used during exercise, it's very important that a runner also take in some isotonic or hypotonic drinks too to help replace fluids. (Examples: Endurox R-4, Gatorade Performance Series, PowerBar Performance Recovery, Isopure Endurance)
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
Derek, the president of CEP Socks is providing one free pair of their awesome compression socks as a prize right here on RunnerDude's Blog! All you have to do is send an email to email@example.com and put "CEP Socks Contest" in the subject line of the email. Be sure to put your name in the body copy of the email. That's it! Entries will be accepted through midnight (EST) on September 29th. The winner will be announced on September 30th. So, tell all your running buddies about the contest and send in those emails!
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
1 Cup Slivered Almonds (Trader Joes)
2 Cups Raw Pecans (Trader Joes)
1 Tablespoon Vanilla
1 Tablespoon Cinnamon
1 Teaspoon Nutmeg
1/3 Cup Canola Oil
1/4 Cup Organic Brown Sugar (Trader Joes)
2 Tablespoons Organic Honey (Trader Joes)
1/4 Cup Omega 3 Cranberry Pieces (Trader Joes)
1/2 Cup Organic Raisins (Trader Joes)
Mix oatmeal and nuts together. Mix canola oil, brown sugar, honey, nutmeg, vanilla and cinnamon in a microwave safe dish. Warm for 30 seconds and pour over the oatmeal mixture. Spread on a cookie sheet and bake at 325 degrees for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and toss in cranberry pieces and raisins. Bake for an additional 5 minutes and remove promptly. Eat plain or top with fresh berries and milk/soy milk. Granola will keep in an airtight container for 2 weeks.
Monday, September 14, 2009
Running gave me a new outlook on the world and a greater understanding of what I was capable of! In college I tried the Couch to 5k program. After the third workout I gave up on it. I wasn't a runner in my mind—it wasn't for me. If someone asked, my motto was, "I only run if someone is chasing me." I would jog occasionally or walk fast on a treadmill, but I never really ran. I didn't think I could and I never pushed myself to try something outside of my comfort zone. I was content walking and felt that I didn't want to stress my knees or participate in any high-impact exercise. This time around though, I wanted more. I wanted to accomplish for the first time in my life something that wasn't the typical me—I wanted to be an athlete.
I decided to give the Couch to 5K program another try. The first few weeks weren't bad. I realized I enjoyed the five minute running intervals more than the three minute walking intervals. My legs felt better when I ran and I felt like it was more enjoyable than walking. I arrived at that mentally challenging 20-minute interval and did it twice before moving on and feeling like I had actually conquered the run. To be honest I was completely intimidated about the 20-minute run and had just about talked myself out of doing it when I stepped back, took a deep breath, and just went for it.
When I ran those intervals with my husband and was able to just keep going, it made me feel like I had really accomplished something. It truly is a simple program and you're able to run after just nine short weeks. Now when I go for a run, I go for a brisk warm-up walk and then just start running. I have a whole world that has opened up to me because I was willing to try something outside of my comfort zone.
Running has given me more than I could ever expect, the knowledge and strength to push myself further than before, and that's a true accomplishment!
—Jessica Harbison Weaver
Jessica's story is a testament to the human will and the power of determination. Jessica also recently accomplished another awesome goal—her first double-digit run! Check it out on her blog.
Sunday, September 13, 2009
The July/August issue of Sports Health features an article that says weight bearing exercises can improve bone health and prevent diseases and injury later in life such as osteoporosis and fractures. While this isn't earth-shattering news (we've known this for a while), the article goes further to say that activities that put a larger strain on the body (weightlifting), have a higher strain rate (jumping rope), and have a higher strain frequency (running) also help to increase bone density. It seems that including short periods of rest in between the continuous movement also seems to help improve bone density levels. As little as 20 mins of weight-bearing activity a day can help improve bone density.
Your bone density levels usually peak around 30 years of age. So if you're still a young-en, get out there and run, jump, lift weights and get your bone density levels as high as possible. It will be like banking good health for your later years in life. If you're over 30, don't think you're off the hook! You need to get out there and run, jump, and lift weights to maintain your bone density levels.
If you're new to exercise, be sure to consult with your doctor before beginning any exercise routine. Also, if you've been diagnosed with osteopenia or osteoporosis, do not start any resistance training until you've consulted your doctor. You'll probably be able to add some resistance training and/or weight-bearing exercise with modifications, but check with your physician first.
Friday, September 11, 2009
Thursday, September 10, 2009
There are a lot of possible culprits to blame for this epidemic of obesity in the United States. The dawn of video games (remember Pong in the 70s?! Man I'm old!), personal computers, the remote control, and 24/7 television programming have all contributed to more sedentary livestyles for children. The increased focus on testing has decreased or eliminated recess and even PE in many elementary schools across the country. Refined grains and the onslaught of packaged cakes, cookies, crackers, and other snacks have flooded the supermarkets. And...portion sizes are grossly out of proportion.
So what can we do about this epidemic? Research shows that parents and family dynamics play a big part in the establishment of a child's eating habits—good or bad. Exposing kids to a variety of fresh foods and eating them with your kids will help. Kids watch what you do. If they see you eating healthy foods, they're more apt to eat healthy foods. Even better if they can help you prepare the healthier foods. If they see you exercising, they're more likely to be more physically active. It's recommended that adults be physically active at least 60 minutes most days. That's hard to do, but try. Break it up if you have to. Park at the far end of the parking lot at work. If it's close by, walk to the grocery store. Take the stairs not the elevator.
Go for a family run. Pick a local 5K as a family goal. Not everyone has to run. Many 5Ks have a walk or a kids fun run as a part of the race festivities. In a recent post "How Running changed My Life: Noah's Story," Noah shares about his healthy transformation. He also talks about his upcoming marathon which is going to be a family affair. His wife is running the 10K and his young son is running the 1-mile kids run. Just a little more than 2 years ago, Noah would have never pictured his family running, much less running a full marathon, a 10K and a kids 1-miler. Noah's son has great role-models and has a great chance of never having to deal with childhood obesity.
EatingWell.com—Fitness for kids: Getting your children off the couch
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
Prefabricated training plans are more or less obligated to assume that the runners using them are beginning at a relatively low fitness level relative to their own individual peak levels. Essentially, these plans assume you’re coming off a nice off-season break and are just beginning the process of establishing a fresh fitness base. This assumption makes the plans more inclusive than they might otherwise be. A plan that assumed you already had a solid foundation of general running fitness would not work for you if you lacked that foundation, even if the peak training load prescribed in the final pre-taper weeks was appropriate for you given adequate time, because you’d be in over your head from the very start.
If you are successful in maintaining a high level of general running fitness at all times, you can peak for any race in a short period of time by increasing your training load to your maximum limit and prioritizing challenging, race-specific workouts. This gives you the flexibility to race well on the schedule that suits you (provided you avoid making fundamental mistakes such as over-racing). You can peak for a 5K with as few as four weeks of maximal specific training and for a marathon with as few as 12 weeks of such training.