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Shin Splints

Written by Coach Hiruni Wijayaratne February 29, 2020

shinsplintWe are beginning a new column where we will dive into some of the most common running injuries. First up: Shin Splints.

This is the pain felt along the front of your lower leg, at the shin bone. 

Shin splints are common among runners  who increase frequency, volume, or intensity of training, along with improperly fitting footwear or worn out shoes can cause problems. Also frequent running on hard surfaces can cause shin pain.


How to prevent them?

The first thing is to understand what they are.  Then you know what stresses you are putting on your body.  Consider the age and appropriateness of your shoes and review your training to make sure you aren’t making any huge sudden jumps.   Many runners with shin splints also report tight calves and relatively modest strength in the lower leg muscles. Proper stretching and strengthening of the calf muscles can help.   One productive exercise is heel walking.  [Check out our Heel Walking Demo Video here.]


If we feel shin splints coming on, what should we do?

There is an inflammatory component here, so ice can help a lot.  A reduction in training intensity and a change in running surfaces may be required to allow the symptoms to subside.  Anti-inflammatories may be appropriate, but consult your physician to ensure they are a safe choice for you.  If symptoms persist or become steadily worse, make an appointment with your doctor.

The suggested amount of downtime is typically about two weeks. During this time, you can engage in sports or activities that are less likely to cause additional harm to your legs. These activities include swimming or walking.

Your doctor will often suggest that you do the following:

  • Keep your legs elevated.
  • Use ice or a cold compress.
  • Wear elastic compression bandages.
  • Use a foam roller.

Check with your doctor before restarting any activities. Warming up before exercising is also a good way to make sure your legs aren’t sore.



Achilles_cropped

In March, we examine another common concern for many runners.  Dr. Adam Tenforde returns to discuss a problem that can trip up runners like himself (28:23 for 10,000m), as well as recreational runners alike.

FNF:  What is Achilles tendonitis?

AT: Achilles tendonitis describes a condition involving the tendon that connects the calf muscles (gastrocnemius and soleus) to the calcaneous (heel bone).  The condition can either result from an acute stress (such as increase in training) or develop over time from chronic stressors, such as biomechanical factors or poor footwear.



jo-houJoanna ran an incredible race at the 2020 Houston Marathon. She talks about her journey to the finish line, how she ran a "dream time", while managing a busy schedule, minimizing distractions, and  other obstacles. She encourages everyone to have fun and be kind to yourself through the process of gaining fitness.


Major milestone:

A major fitness milestone is definitely running my first marathon in January of 2018. I was going through a difficult time in my personal life so training was not a priority but I decided to still go through with the run. I did not feel ready for it but I proudly finished and I'm glad I went for it. As of January 2020 I have completed three marathons!


What is the secret to your success?

The secret is not being hard on myself when I have a bad day or training session. It's telling yourself it's okay not to PR and that I will get another chance at it tomorrow.


What is the biggest obstacle to reaching your goals and how do you get over it?
Time management! It has been a learning curve over the years with minimizing distractions but I know watching less TV or no TV and packing my stuff the night before have really helped. Those two minor changes have stuck with me over the years.


What is the most rewarding part of training?
The community. I've met a lot of people over the years that share similar goals and it's nice to have others to lean on when I need advice or accountability. It's rewarding making meaningful relationships along my fitness journey.


What advice would you give to other members of the Runcoach community?
Don't forget to have fun!!


Anything else you would like to share?
All of us runners/ triathletes had to start somewhere. It was not an overnight success but more so a lifestyle change/process. Start at one mile and work your way up. You too can run a marathon.


What feedback would you offer on the Runcoach experience?
It works! Stick to your plan and schedule and you will see results.



5 Reasons to Race

February 10, 2020

Even if you’re not competitive, there are many good reasons to sign up for an organized event.

racepack

1. Ease your jitters.  Most races—especially 5Ks— are community-oriented events with runners and walkers of all abilities, ages, and levels of fitness. They provide a very supportive low-pressure setting for you. A local 5K is a great way to hold yourself accountable to a specific goal.

2. Check out some new territory. You’ll get a chance to check out new parks, trails, and fun running routes that you might not otherwise discover.  Exploring a new setting is a great way to avoid boredom and burnout.

3. Meet other runners. Chatting with others makes the miles roll by much faster. Races are opportunities to meet people with similar interests and fitness goals.  You might find that friends and coworkers you already knew, love getting outside to run too!

4. Test yourself. Use  a race to establish a baseline of fitness. Enter a race every four to six weeks to track your progress, and determine whether you need to tweak your routine. Plug in your results to the “Goals and Results” page, and we will design a plan that matches the level of activity and fitness you have now. The plan will gradually ramp up mileage and intensity so you can unleash your fitness potential.

5. Get your speedwork done.  Have a hard time getting yourself to do speedwork solo?  Sign up for a race instead of your weekly track session. Once you register, you’re less likely to blow it off. Plus, pinning on that number, and joining the pack of other runners will give you the adrenalin rush you need to push yourself farther and faster.

Remember, in addition to a personalized, training plan, as a Movecoach participant you'll access to expert coaches certified by USATF, USAT, and RRCA. We’re here to answer your questions about training, nutrition, and technical issues.  

*This article was first written by Jennifer Van Allen for Runcoach in 2017.



Avoiding the Post-Run Bonk

Written by Ashley Benson February 06, 2020
toxins-cause-exhaustionClyde Wilson was a naval service member who enjoyed weight training and working out, when his doctor on the USS Carl Vinson informed him he was on the verge of needing medication for high blood pressure and cholesterol.  After making a transformative change in his nutritional habits, he went on to study chemistry and cell biology at Stanford and now teaches there and the University of California San Francisco Medical School.  In addition, he runs The Center for Human Nutrition and Exercise Science in Palo Alto, California.


This month, we asked Dr. Clyde to weigh in about the lethargy many runners struggle through after a long run.

1.  When many runners finish a big long run, often they report feeling extremely lethargic and low energy for much of the rest of the day, even after eating.  From a nutrition perspective, what may be going on here?

 Athletes need to replace their carbohydrate losses from training at a rate that their muscles are willing to absorb those carbohydrates.  If you burn 1000 calories in a workout, roughly 800 calories of which are carbohydrate, and attempt to replace all of those carbohydrates at one sitting, the over-flow of calories into your bloodstream will send more than half of it to fat cells, where the carbohydrate will be converted into fat. 

Therefore, eating enough calories is not enough. 

The calories have to go into lean tissues to actually help you recover.  Not eating enough is another way to fall short.  So the athlete has to eat enough carbohydrate, but spaced out over time or eaten with vegetables so that the carbohydrate calories enter the body at a rate muscle is willing to absorb them.  Protein helps re-build lean tissue but is unrelated to the feelings of lethargy after hard training.

2.  What are some best bet tips on things runners can do after the run to avoid that day-long bonky feeling?


The best thing a runner can do to avoid the day-long bonky feeling is to eat 100-200 Cal of carbohydrate, mainly in the form of glucose, every 2-3 hours.  You could start with a recovery drink (first ingredient should be maltodextrin) right after training, and then granola, bread, yams, or similar foods an hour later and every 2-3 hours after that.

3.  What, if anything, can runners do during the run to help avoid these post-run problems as well?

During running, consume 50-250 calories glucose per hour (depending on training intensity, how much lean mass you have, and how well you are hydrating).


The Art of Hydration

Written by Tom McGlynn February 01, 2020

screen shot 2012-08-21 at 4.27.42 pm

You already know how to hydrate and how to run.  But do you know how to put the two together?

It has been proven that proper hydration can drastically improve race results but many runners have trouble drinking water and sports drink while on the move.  The constant motion jostles your stomach which is already void of necessary blood resources which are attentive to your leg muscles. This is one of the many reasons that the art of hydration is essential.

We use the word ‘art’ as opposed to ‘science’ because there is a limited amount of calories and fluids that can be utilized intra-run (unlike cycling, walking and other activities).  Because of this we recommend experimentation to determine the most effective personal hydration routine (ie. Much like runcoach training the below is not a one-size-fits-all assignment. Experiment and find the routine that works best for you).

Here are some tips to get started:

  1. Your hydration routine starts before the run
  2. Drink 8-16 ounces of water or sports drink with your pre-run breakfast (slightly more on race day when you are up early and have more time to digest)
  3. Coffee shouldn’t count into this equation as it is ultimately a diuretic (makes you pee)
  4. Caffeine is fine to consume as is normal for you
  5. Clear urine is a great sign
  6. Stay hydrated leading up to the run
  7. Take one final bathroom break right before the run
  8. Then take one final drink before your start (less than 2 minutes prior is best)

For runs longer than 75 minutes or runs in the heat, you will need more than just water.  We recommend sports drinks containing sugar and salt in appropriate quantities.  Here are some tips to pick the right drink for you:

  1. Check the race website you are training and find out which sports drink they will serve on the course
  2. If the race drink sits well with your stomach then stick with it; if not go for an alternative
  3. Look for ingredients that include sodium (salt/electrolyte) and sucrose (sugar)
  4. Become well acquainted with the drink and find a way to have it on race day (carry a bottle)
  5. Drink 4-8 ounces of fluid every 20-30 minutes within the run
  6. Sports gels can be effective as they include key nutrients – take these in lieu of a sports drink.  They must be taken with water.
  7. Because of caloric density you may only need to consume gels at every other fluid stop – keep up with water at every stop

Start refining your personal art of hydration at least 10 weeks prior to race day and practice before, during and after most runs.  Here are some tips for refueling on the run without carrying a water bottle:

  1. Hide your water bottle somewhere along your running route
  2. Plan to pass this spot every 20-30 minutes or place more bottles along your route
  3. Invest in a fuel belt.
  4. Enlist a friend to ride a bike with you or meet you intra-run to provide fuel
  5. If gels are your fuel of choice simply carry some with you and then target public water fountains along your course

The exact amount you need to drink can be tricky and will vary from person to person.  Here’s a science project to help you learn about your hydration needs:

  1. Weigh yourself prior to a run without any clothes on
  2. Go for a run
  3. Re-weigh yourself after without any clothes on
  4. Calculate the difference and hydrate accordingly within your next run

Example: if you weighed 160 before a 90 minute workout and then weigh 157, you have lost 3 pounds and require 48 ounces of liquid. Your schedule for a similar event would be 8 ounces every 15 minutes to maintain your weight.

Note: This is just an example.  Please try this yourself and keep in mind that the amount you need will vary depending on the temperature, humidity and other personal physiological factors.

Proper hydration can improve your race results from 5K to the Marathon.  Invest some time into the development of your art of hydration.

 



Beth is a super grandma and mom. She advocates to find joy every day, and how running helped to create a better version of herself. Go Beth!! Beth


Major milestone:

In life...being the Mom of three amazing big people and grandma of four beautiful little ones! In running..making a daily effort to become a runner, mentally or physically, after signing up for the half marathon.

What is the secret to your success?

Believing in myself. Living with intention, and finding joy in every day.

What is the biggest obstacle to reaching your goals and how do you get over it?

I am by nature a private person, so one of my greatest obstacles in this experience has been sharing my goals with others. Asking for advice is another. I signed up as a charity partner for Children's Minnesota and because I want to do right by that charity, I had a reason to share my goal with others.

What is the most rewarding part of training?

I love the escape. I also love the feeling of strength and accomplishment To lose myself in music and training helps me to be a better mom and grandma.

What advice would you give to other members of the Runcoach community?

Don't compare yourself to anyone else. Set your goal and do your best.
Anything else you would like to share?

My family tells me it is still an accomplishment to train and run, even if the bus picks me up, but I'd like to finish the Half Marathon, still running. My 6 year old granddaughter delights in saying "my grandma is a marathon runner" so I'd like to prove her right. I'd also like to cross that finish line not too far behind the son who tossed me a challenge to run with him!



The number one rule for race day fueling; Don’t do anything new. Training with a race goal in mind, means that every run you do is practice for the race. You are training your muscles, your body, your mind, and your stomach. Learning to fuel and hydrate to get the most out of your training and racing will make a huge difference in the outcome of your performance, and it all starts in your daily practice.

Pre-Race Routine. For any run over 60 minutes, you will want to eat and hydrate beforehand. Beneficial-Facts-of-Healthy-Breakfast-for-School-Kids(See blog on Pre-Run and Post-Run Nutrition). This is a great opportunity to eat and drink the same thing you will on race morning. Once you know what sits well in your stomach, and fuels you for your miles, then stick with it! A standard pre-race breakfast is coffee (or tea) for a little caffeine, a bagel/toast/oatmeal and banana for carbs and fuel, and 16oz of electrolyte mix for hydration. Have this about 3 hours prior to the start of your race of any distance. Try this protocol before workouts and long runs and see how you feel! Adjust accordingly to determine what works for you, and then, don’t deviate.

Mid-Race Protocol. If you are doing a training run or race longer than 60 minutes, you may need to fuel and hydrategelsthroughout. Look up what electrolyte fluid and gels the event will provide. It is very common in half marathon and marathon distances to offer gels on the course, but you want to know the brand, flavor, and if they contain caffeine. Then you will practice with those fluids and gels leading into the race to confirm they work for you. If they do not, you will need to carry your own. In training and racing, take gels every 35-45 minutes. Get the gel in right before a water station, and then drink water to wash it down (do not take electrolyte fluid with a gel). In between, you can take water and electrolyte fluid to stay well hydrated. If you are racing less than an 60 minutes, you will need nothing, or only water to get through the distance.

Practicing your Pre-Race Routine and your Mid-Race Protocol will help you figure out what your body needs to be successful and run strong the whole way!



imgresWhat is a Runner’s High?

 

When we exercise, we expect to feel better as a result.  We achieve a fitness or time goal and are fired up by the accomplishment.  We lose weight and like the result in the mirror.  Maybe, we just do something we have never done before and appreciate the new mental or physical dimension in our lives.  Some athletes, however, claim to feel better after exercise because the exercise itself makes them feel better.  Significantly. Commonly, this is called a “Runner’s High.”

 

This “high” has been explained through the years as a rush of endorphins, neurotransmitters secreted by our bodies during things like pain, excitement, and sex.  Endorphins act a bit like morphine chemically, so the conventional wisdom has been that they feel like it as well.

 

On the other hand, Jude Dickson and her University of Edinburgh colleagues, in their paper Does Exercise Promote Good Health, propose three hypotheses about the Runner’s High:  the distraction hypothesis (it takes our attention away from painful things at the time), the mastery hypothesis (we learn new things and achieve a goal), and the social interaction hypothesis (things are often more fun and seem easier in a group). So, is the Runner’s High a chemical reaction via endorphins, or a psychological reaction that is somewhat coincidental to running?  Regardless, all runners have days where we feel better than others, but the feeling of euphoria associated with this phenomenon can be fleeting or nonexistent for some runners, and relied upon as a pick me up for others.  But, can it be captured, quantified, and achieved systematically? 

Although an internet search of “endorphins” and “runner’s high” yields 70,000 results, that close association has been only modestly borne out by research.   For one thing, it is hard to quantify what exactly a “high” is, as the reflections of athletes differ widely as to how a Runner’s High actually makes them feel.  Secondly, although endorphin levels seem to elevate after exercise (likely because of the stress or pain the body has undergone during the exercise), that elevation doesn’t seem to have a uniformly positive result on mood, according to Sarah Willett in an oft cited article from Lehigh University.

 

The strong association between endorphins and Runner’s High in the wider public view persists. However, despite a well respected 2008 study by German researchers which found a strong correlation between endorphin production and the bloodstream of runners during and after two hour runs, not all agree that the correlation equals causation for the elusive high, in part because the large size of endorphin molecules make them difficult to pass the blood – brain barrier.  And, after all, if there was such a strong direct result, wouldn’t we all enjoy Runner’s Highs after / during every hard workout or run?

 

Other relatively recent studies have linked the same type of brain receptors that play well with marijuana use to a naturally occurring endocannabinoid, which appears to be produced in the bloodstream in large amounts during exercise.  A 2003 study with Georgia Tech college students yielded this finding, as have several subsequent similar or related studies with mice both in the US and abroad.  These molecules appear to be much smaller than endorphins. If they can pass the blood-brain barrier, does this mean that all the times we’ve joked that “running was our drug” we weren’t really too far off the mark?

 

Ultimately, questions remain to be answered about how a Runner’s High occurs, why, and frankly, what it is, exactly.  Runners are like snowflakes.  Each of us is at least slightly different from the rest both psychologically and physiologically, and it might not be unreasonable to think that the difficulties science has had in firmly establishing a cause and effect with this phenomenon lies is the infinite amounts of ways in which running can create a positive effect in our lives.  While we wait to find out what the chemical cause is once and for all, we encourage you to enjoy your Runner’s High not because of why you have it, but for the fact you have it at all.

 

 



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