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Freya Murray

I hope you all are enjoying the Olympics as much as I am.  I am particularly getting excited about the track and field events, which begin on Friday and the women’s marathon on Sunday.  For those of you on the east coast, the marathon will start at 6:00 am EST (11:00 am in London).  It seems Davila is still questionable.  Sunday Hanson Brooks put on their Facebook page she would be dropping out of the race only to have to quickly take that statement down.  Davila responded to that news with a tweet:  “Wow, news to me! Just finished with team doctor, taking it day to day. Will do anything I can to get to the start.”  I guess you can call that a lack of communication between coach and athlete.  It seems unlikely that there will be an alternate to replace her if she does decide to drop out. The 4th place finisher at the trials, Amy Hastings, will be running 10,000 meters so I’m pretty sure the marathon is not on her to-do list.  I’m still crossing my fingers Davila makes it to the start line.  She is such an amazing runner to watch.

Although there will be no alternate for Davila if she decides to drop out, Radcliffe is being replaced by Freya Murray.  I had never heard of Murray so I decided to learn a little more about the Scots woman. She is 28 years old and was the second British woman to finish the London Marathon back in April.  Her 2:28 finish in London was actually her first marathon and was fast enough to earn her a spot as an alternate in the Olympics.  Murray also competes in the 5,000 and 10,000 meters and other than running, she works as a structural engineer.  She has also won the Scottish Athletics National Cross Country title for six of the past seven years.  How did she find out she would be competing in London? Radcliffe sent her a text message while she was out grocery shopping.  I wonder if she put those groceries right back on the shelf and then headed straight home to pack…

Murray will be joining Claire Hallissey, who ran the London Marathon in 2:27:93, an impressive nine minutes faster than her first marathon back in 2010.  I can only imagine the sadness Radcliffe is experiencing, but I’m certain Hallissey and Murray will do all they can to represent their country well.  Sunday morning can’t come soon enough.

 

Claire Hallissey, New York City Marathon, 2010
Photo Source: Randy Le’Moine, Wikimedia Commons

 

Happy Trails and Happy Running,

Tracie

Flipboard and the Olympics

Yesterday a friend asked me where I found a lot of my information.  At first I was a little skeptical about sharing my inside sources, but today I decided to share my go to resource. 🙂 I use Flipboard and if you have an iPad, iPhone, or an Android, you should use it too.  It’s an online social magazine that not only has articles from your favorite news sources, but also makes Facebook and Twitter much more visually appealing.  I love it.

Today I read an article from Flipboard detailing how they are making it easier to follow the Olympics.

We’ve created a dedicated section for every Olympic sport – from archery to wrestling, and everything in between.  For each sport, Flipboard provides late-breaking Olympics coverage from professional sources like BBC Sports, ESPN, The Guardian, The Telegraph, Bleacher Report, and SB Nation, as well as the very best photography and video highlights our curators can find.

They also have an awesome athletes section where you can read about practically every athlete in every sport.  This morning I read about David Rudisha, “the best Olympic track star you’ve never heard of,” and Guor Marial, a refugee who has no country to run for but who is being allowed to run independently under the Olympic flag.  And have you heard about Lolo Jones’ controversial tweet?  Or how the U.S. track and field team is demanding a change to IOC rule #40?  It’s all on Flipboard.  Check it out if you get a chance.

Flipboard Home

Add the sports you are interested in following

The Athletes section

And your favorite athletes in a beret. Lebron looks quite nice in the hat

Paula Radcliffe

Ever since I read that Desiree Davila and Meb Keflezighi were suffering from injuries and were questionable about running the marathon, I’ve been checking the news every morning for an update.  So far it seems both runners are still planning to run, although they have a few more days to make a decision.  Davila has been struggling with a hip flexor tendon injury and Keflezighi strained a muscle during the Rock ‘n’ Roll half marathon back in June.

My heart was very sad this morning when I read that Paula Radcliffe would be dropping out of the August 5th race due to a foot injury.  She is considered by many to be the greatest female distance runner and holds the world record for the marathon with a time of 2:15:25.

Paula Radcliffe:

“I have been through the mill emotionally and physically the past three weeks, cried more tears than ever, vented more frustration and at the same time calmly tried every direction and avenue available to heal myself,” Radcliffe said in a statement. “As desperate as I was to be part of the amazing experience of the London Olympics, I don’t want to be there below my best.”

I remember watching the 2004 Olympics in Athens and when she dropped out, I cried with her.  How hard it must be to dedicate practically your entire adult life to something only to not have it work out the way you were hoping in the end.  But even if she never gets the Olympic finish she has worked so hard for, she still has quite a few accomplishments to her name.  Other than being the female world record holder in the marathon, she has won the London Marathon three times, the New York City Marathon twice, and the Chicago Marathon once.  In addition, she has won the Half Marathon World Championship three times and holds the world record in the 10,000 meters.  I can only imagine how hard of a decision this was for her, but I still admire her for all that she has accomplished.  She has had an amazing running career, and who knows that the future holds.  I wish her the best and hope that she finds peace with this decision.

One more week to go until the women’s marathon… I’m keeping my fingers crossed for Desiree and Meb!

Paula Radcliffe, Photo by Ed Costello, Wikimedia Commons

Happy Trails and Happy Running,

Tracie

 

Hydration

A few days ago, my Google+ friend Jenny posted an excellent article on sports drinks and athletics.  You can read the entire article here.   It brought about an interesting discussion among some of my fellow running friends and it challenges the conventional wisdom that many people follow with regards to hydration.  Back in January I posted an article about hydration and endurance sports, and I wanted to share it again.  I would also like to add that since incorporating the idea of “drink to thirst” into my approach to running, there have been no bad side effects and it is has been nice to worry with less.

This is what I wrote back in January

This marathon training season, I am experimenting with some new training techniques, including different nutrition guidelines and training regiments. When I came across Dr. Tim Noakes (author o fThe Lore Of Running) and his belief that endurance athletes drink too much, I was a little skeptical and I wasn’t sure if I wanted to incorporate his ideas into my training.  According to Dr. Noakes, athletes should drink according to their thirst and if they do this, then performance will be optimized.  As someone who often suffers from blue lips after a marathon and who believes it is due to the lack of liquids and sodium in my body, consuming less liquid is not on the list of things I want to change.  However, in looking at the research and listening to Dr. Noakes, maybe it’s not the lack of sodium giving me blue lips.  Perhaps it’s just really cold. =)

With regards to hydration, the recommendation that athletes are most familiar with is, if you wait until you are thirsty, then you’ve waited too long.  You are already in a state of dehydration.  Also, if you lose more than 2% of body weight, you are losing too much fluid and hence decreasing performance.  However, when Haile Gebrselassie set the world record for the marathon, he had lost 10% of his body weight, and it is common for those who finish first in long distance events, finish in a dehydrated state.  The people who tend to over-hydrate (hyponatremia) are those middle and back of the pack runners.   Dr. Noakes argues that the common advice to drink before you get thirsty and drink to prevent dehydration may sometimes result in over-drinking, with hyponatremia (when fluid intake exceeds your rate of fluid loss from sweating, resulting in low blood-sodium levels) as the consequence.

Throughout the history of hydration guidelines, there have been changes from not drinking anything, to drinking as much as possible, to most recently, drink when you are thirsty.  Certainly, there are times when we need to drink more than others – such as in high heat and humidity.  However, I am often of the mindset that I should drink at aid stations, regardless of the fact of if I’m thirsty or not.  According to the International Marathon Medical Directors Association’s (IMMDA) latest revision, this really isn’t necessary.  In 2006, IMMDA released its long-awaited hydration guidelines, which concluded that runners should, simply, drink when thirsty.

This weekend, along with my beet juice pre-race beverage, I’m leaving the handheld at home.  Instead, I’m leaving the water bottle in the car and running a loop where I can easily get to it when I start to get thirsty.

Here are a few other interesting articles I found on hydration from Runner’s World and Active.com:

The New Rules of Hydration: Revisionist Drinking
The New Rules of Hydration
Revisionist Drinking

Running is a simple sport and I don’t think we should try and over complicate things.  Listen to your body and not the  mass media.  Your body really is incredible at letting you know what it needs.

 

Photo from U.S. Navy, Wikimedia Commons

Sending happy running thoughts your way from Walla Walla.  I’m looking forward to my long run tomorrow morning through the vineyards.

Tracie

Knottted Muscle

When I  first got to Seattle, the first thing I did (after eating of course), was to schedule a sports massage.  This isn’t something I normally do while on vacation, but our hotel has a nice spa, so I thought my legs could use a little R&R.  I have had quite a few sports massages throughout my running life and every time I think to myself, it sure would be nice if I could afford to get one of these every two weeks.

Wednesday, and back in May when I had a few sports massages, I was told that I had some seriously knotted muscles.  I understand that this is what is referred to as “trigger points” and that they are not a good thing.  The way the guy put it to me during my massage was muscle fibers are suppose to lay flat, beside one another.  When they experience a lot of force and trauma, it is like they become braided.  Since recovering from my last running injury, I have been quite diligent in using my foam roller to try and work out these trigger points.  I thought I was doing a good job, but the pain from Wednesday has led me to think otherwise.

This brought about several questions.  First, what else can I do for these trigger points?  Second, how can I prevent them from reoccurring?  And third, do all athletes experience this?

As far as getting rid of muscle knots and trigger points, the main recommendations are massage and foam rolling.  Some articles I read suggested the use of NSAIDs to help with TP, but I avoid these at all costs so I’m going to skip over this recommendation.  I also learned that you can get trigger point injections to relieve the knotted muscle.  With TPI, a doctor injects an anesthetic into the trigger point, the TP becomes inactive and pain is alleviated. Acupuncture is also used to treat TP.  Another way to help with the relief of TP is the use of electrotherapy. (I wrote an article about this a few months ago, and you can read it here.)  Here is a list with a few other suggestions.

I’m really interested in learning how to prevent these trigger points.  It would be kind of crappy to think this is something I’m always going to have to live with as long as I’m running.  Some recommendations to prevent TP include: stay hydrated, be sure to consume enough potassium and calcium, foam roll, use a golf ball under your feet, pay attention to body alignment, eat anti-inflammatory foods, allow enough recovery time after hard workouts, and correct any muscle imbalances.  I try to do all of these recommendations but I really think I could try a little harder.  A soft pretzel from Flying Saucer probably isn’t that anti-inflammatory.

It seems trigger points are pretty common among athletes from all different sports.  Here are a few professional athletes who use trigger point therapy to help their performance and prevent injuries.

Although I can not get a massage every two weeks as I would like, I can still be more proactive in addressing this issue.  Foam rolling needs to become more of a habit.  I’m pretty sure the reason I do not do it as often as I should is because it does hurt.  But in the spirit of being a lifelong runner, I’ll embrace the the foam roller. 🙂

And on a side note, I’ve been practicing my visualization a LOT and working on my mantra.  The mantra that I have been using not only during my workouts, but also in my day to day activities is “You always have a choice.”  It’s crazy, but it has really worked wonders for me.  When I’m doing a hard workout and I want to quit, I just tell myself you always have a choice and I keep going.  When I wanted to take a nap yesterday instead of working, I reminded myself that I had a choice, so I got up and kept working.  The mind is a pretty amazing thing.

Happy Trails and Happy Running,

Tracie

Check out my delicious sea bass from last night. It was amazing!

Running in Seattle

As I mentioned yesterday, I’m on vacation.  I’m hanging out here in Seattle while Mario works and then we are driving to Walla Walla on Saturday.  Hooray!!! Although our hotel has an awesome fitness center, I prefer to run outdoors and see the city.  Plus, I’ve got to get in a 13 miler while we are here, and I really prefer not to do it on the treadmill.  So I decided to do a little research on some local places to run.  One of the favorite spots seems to be Myrtle Edwards Park.  Luckily it’s not too far from the hotel.  Maybe I can run to the park and then run the 1.25 mile path along Elliot Bay.

Some of the other parks and recommended jogging trails by the Seattle Parks and Rec were Alki Beach, Carkeek Park, Discovery Park, Green Lake, Lincoln Park, Woodland Park, Cowen Park, Seward Park, and Volunteer Park.  Unfortunately when I mapped out all of these other places to run, it involved a major highway.  Of course there are other ways to get there, but my inner compass isn’t so great.  I think I’ll stick to Myrtle Edwards Park.  And I’ll probably have to run it a few times to get in those 13 miles.  Oh well, at least the weather is nice!!

Oh NC, I am not missing your hot, humid days!

Happy Trails and Happy Running,

Tracie

Superfoods

There is no official definition of what is a superfood, but it is largely considered to be a food that is especially beneficial for health and well-being.  They tend to have higher than normal amounts of vitamins and nutrients.  I don’t know many superfoods other than chia seeds.  However, a few months ago, I read an article by Rich Roll naming a few of these superfoods and their health benefits.  I was familiar with exactly one of these superfoods.  See how many you know:

1) Natto for heart health

2) Cordyceps (Sinensis) Extracts for stamina

3) Tumeric as an anti-oxidant / anti-inflammatory (This is the one I knew!!)

4) Apricot Seeds & Sprouted Mung Beans for cancer cell inhibition

5) Green Coffee Beans for fat loss

6) Elk Antler Velvet for a testosterone booster

7) Suma Root & the 4 Ginseng Blend for an adaptogen

8) Camu Camu – it has the highest density of Vitamin C of any food on the planet

9) Moringa (Olefiera) is high in vitamins and minerals and it is anti-oxidant rich, reduces blood glucose and is lipid lowering

10) Pu-erh Tea (can be the most expensive tea in the world!) reduces plaque in the arteries, lowers LDL, reduces blood sugar and improves the body’s ability to metabolize fat.

So how many of these superfoods are your familiar with? If you want to read more about the awesomeness of these foods, you can read the entire article here.

I’m off to see if Amazon carries cordyceps. That plus chia seeds must equal amazing, right?

This is a cordycep. Ummm, I’m not too sure how to mix that with chia seeds. Maybe sprinkle some on top? (I’m kidding! I’m pretty sure I will not be trying this one.)

Sending many happy running thoughts your way from Seattle. I’m on vacation 🙂

Tracie

Yasso 800s

This morning I met my lovely friends Emily and Courtney out at the track bright and early.  My goal was to warm up for a mile and then to focus on 800 meter repeats.  I only planned to do four repeats and then run a few more miles afterwards.  While I was running I started thinking about Yasso 800s.  Yes, I know that Yasso 800s are 800 meter repeats, but how many should I do?  And do they really work?

If you don’t know what Yasso 800s are, you can read about them here.  Some say they can be a good predictor of your actual marathon time.  Want to run a 3:00 marathon? Run a bunch of 800 meter repeats in 3 minutes.  I’ve never used them as a training tool so I really have no idea if they work or not.  However, in perusing through the internet, I found some who were a big fan of this workout, and others who thought they were a great speed workout, but maybe not the best for a marathon.

One of the bloggers that I follow, Predawn Runner, suggests that 1600 meter repeats are a little better suited for the marathon.  HillRunner also agrees that longer repeats of 1200 – 1600 meters are more beneficial when training for longer distances.  However, Amby Burfoot from Runnersworld.com spoke with about 100 runners and he found that this workout was in fact a good predictor of finish times.

The Flying Pig Marathon has this to say on their website:

This is a workout developed by a Runner’s World employee, Bart Yasso. It accurately allows you to predict the time that you are capable of running a marathon. If you want to run a 3:30 marathon, train to run a session of 800s in 3:30 each. Between the 800s, jog for the same number of minutes it took you to run your repeats. This method holds for all speeds whether you are 2:30 or a 5:30 marathoner. The 800 paces that you are able to complete is a good predictor of your marathon time. 2 minute 30 second 800s equal a 2:30 marathon; 5:30 800s equal 5 hours and 30 minutes for the marathon.

I’m not sure how exactly I feel about the workout (or the work accurately in the definition above).  I do know that 26.2 miles is a LONG distance to be running and 10×800 isn’t quite the same.  It is my personal opinion that longer intervals, such as mile or two mile repeats, teaches you how to pace yourself and how to handle discomfort for a longer period of time.  But on the flip side, I think doing 800 meter repeats can also be a very beneficial speed workout.  I’m not just sure how much confidence I have in it being a good predictor of my finish time.

 

I wonder how fast Usain Bolt can run a few Yasso 800s…
Photo from Jmex60, Wikimedia Commons

 

Happy Trails and Happy Running,

Tracie

Choking

My sister was kind enough to give me her recent edition of Time magazine.  In case you haven’t seen it, it’s a summer Olympic special with the fabulous Lolo Jones on the cover.  Right under the title reads, “Four Years After an Epic Stumble, Lolo Jones is Back for Gold.”  I imagine Lolo has been waiting for her day of redemption since that moment when she clipped the ninth hurdle, four years ago in Beijing.  Here is the video of her going from 1st to 7th in 12.72 seconds….

The article on Lolo discusses the very real and very unfortunate phenomenon of choking.  Choking is the “failure of an athlete or an athletic team to win a game or tournament when the player or team had been strongly favored to win or had squandered a large lead in the late stages of the event.”  It can be said that Lolo choked at the biggest race of her career.  She was favored to win but she finished 7th.

Sean Gregory:

Athletes under stress choke when too many thoughts flood the prefrontal cortex, the area of the brain that houses informational memory.  Worry, and the brain becomes too busy.  It’s a misallocation of resources.  The motor cortex, which controls the planning and execution of movements, should be doing most of the work for experienced athletes.

In other words, you shouldn’t be thinking or analyzing what you’re doing.  Your brain should be relying on muscle memory to get you through the event.  Studies have shown that athletes who start to think about the details of what they are doing, tend to mess up more often than those who do not.

I highly doubt that I’ll come face-to-face with choking anytime soon, mainly because I will never be strongly favored to win a race (unless of course it’s a small event in my home town).  However, I think it’s very interesting to learn that when we start thinking too much and stop letting the body do what it has been trained to do, we start messing up.

I wish all the best to Lolo at the Olympics.  Her story of homelessness to Olympian, demonstrate beyond measure what it takes to be a great athlete.  Her dedication, commitment, hard work, failures, successes, and endless drive will hopefully lead her to the gold medal that she has trained so hard for. Go Lolo, Go!!

Thanks sis for the magazine!

Happy Trails and Happy Running,

Tracie

Hamstrings

Last week when I was reading how to best prepare for my upcoming hilly marathon, a couple of articles mentioned the importance of strong  hamstrings.  Over the past month I have been doing more to build strength in my hamstrings but I wanted to learn a little more about their role in running.  Here is what I learned… Read more