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Posts from the ‘health’ Category

Sleep

This morning I woke up and pretty much felt like death. My body was aching, my head hurt, my chest hurt, and I was so tired. Yesterday I actually slept until 9:00am which is something I never do. And today after getting back home from leaving my sub plans at work, I again slept until 9:00am then woke up, moved to the couch, and slept until 12:45pm! I can’t even recall the last time I have slept so much. I’m a typical 6 to 6 1/2 hours of sleep type of person. I think it is finally catching up with me.

Sleep is obviously important, but in particular, it is super important when you are sick. Being that this is my last week of rest before race day, I’m going to welcome the extra hours of R&R. It’ll help my body get better, (at least I hope so)! Read more

Scoliosis and Running

Three times in the past two months I have been asked “Do you have a mild form of scoliosis?”.  My initial thought was oh no! Can I run with scoliosis? Well, I think so…

Jim Thomas, Livestrong

According to psychotherapist Li Feng Tian in the “Musculoskeletan Consumer Review,” “One can usually participate in any type of exercises with scoliosis.” If you have scoliosis, posture and muscle changes caused by the condition may restrict your movements to some extent. In rare cases, your endurance may be affected by reduced lung capacity. But Tian says curvature of the spine won’t be worsened by exercise. And if running or jogging bothers you, back off for a few days. If it still bothers you, a muscle imbalance might have been aggravated, and it may be time to check in with a physical therapist.

I definitely favor one side over the other and often times feel I am curved a little more to the left.  Are there any other runners out there with scoliosis? How do you handle.  For me, I know I need to continue to focus on strengthening my right side. But what are my other options?

Happy Trails and Happy Running,

Tracie

Coconut Oil

Coconut oil seems to be one of those amazing foods like chia seeds.  When I was back home this weekend, my cousin and his fiancé were talking about how they’ve been using it quite a bit. from cooking with it to having a spoonful before going to bed.  They seem to really like it, which of course peaked my interest.  Well as luck would have it, when I was a Trader Joe’s earlier this week, there was a large display of, yes you guessed it, coconut oil.  I love trying new things so in the basket it went.  That night I used it to cook dinner and other than making the kitchen smell like the beach, I wasn’t sure why it was a good oil to consume.  (On a side note, do NOT put it in the refrigerator.  I don’t know why I thought that was a good idea but it left me digging the “oil” out with a knife. )  I definitely didn’t mind the coconuty flavor, so if it’s suppose to be so great, I’ll gladly consume it.  I only need to know why…

What are the benefits of coconut oil?

Coconut oil is the oil extracted from the kernel or meat of matured coconuts.  Back in 1994, the world viewed coconut oil as the devil of all oils because a study reported that movie theater popcorn (sans butter) was the same was consuming 6 Big Macs.  Holy cow! I’d stay away too.  However, it has since been determined that the coconut oil which was believed to increase blood cholesterol and raise blood pressure, was partially hydrogenated coconut oil (think trans fat), not the virgin coconut oil from Trader Joe’s.

Coconut oil is pure fat – 100 grams of coconut oil has 86 grams of saturated fat (I’m pretty sure nobody is going to consume 100 grams though).  The plus side is those 86 grams of saturated fat are comprised of lauric acid and stearic acid, which have many nutritional benefits.  Lauric acid is a medium-chain triglyceride.  This type of triglyceride can be digested and metabolized more quickly by the liver.  Also, because it doesn’t require the transporter L-carnitine to enter your mitochondria, it can cause you to not use as many carbs and instead, use your fat stores for energy.  The other vitamins and minerals found in coconut oil are vitamin E and vitamin K, which are important for cardiovascular fitness, and iron.

Coconut oil is believed to have numerous benefits.  It is anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, anti-carcinogenic, anti-microbial, and anti-oxidant.  I came across this article today which has over 150 uses and benefits of the oil.  With regards to fitness, coconut oil has been shown to stimulate your metabolism, improve thyroid function, and escalate energy levels.  This of course is great for any athlete as it can increase endurance and energy.  Other interesting uses of coconut oil are makeup remover, moisturizer, skin burn relief, swimmer’s ear, aftershave, and migraines.

So far I’ve only cooked with it once and I haven’t yet had a spoonful before bed.  However, I am looking forward to using it more often.  Perhaps next month, I will have super soft skin, no headaches, fabulous hair, and endless amounts of energy.  I’m looking forward to it!

And on a side note, I had a pretty awesome run this morning.  I sure have missed it!!


Happy Trails and Happy Running,

Tracie

A Study says Extreme Exercise is Bad – Grrrr….

Today I came across an article titled “Extreme Exercise Hurts the Heart, Study Finds”.  Being that I like the more extreme side of running, I quickly became frustrated and defensive (mainly with the computer because Mario wasn’t home).  Who would say such blasphemy? The article goes on to say that while exercise in moderation has its benefits, extreme exercise can “turn against you.”  I wonder what the author’s definition of extreme is?  It then goes on to say that the problem is an increase in the enzyme troponin.  Apparently this enzyme is released when the heart is in distress or being damaged.  Well it’s been a while since I studied my enzymes, so now I need to know…

What is this pesky enzyme troponin?  And how significant is the increase of troponin in endurance athletes?

Troponin can be defined as:

  • A globular protein complex involved in muscle contraction. It occurs with tropomyosin in the thin filaments of muscle tissue (Google)
  • A complex of three regulatory proteins that is integral to muscle contraction in skeletal and cardiac muscle, but not smooth muscle. (Wikipedia)
  • Proteins found in heart muscle that leak into the circulation during a heart attack or other heart injury. (Harvard)
  • an enzyme that may be measured in the blood. It is released by damage to the heart. (IRAD Online)

Ok, I admit, upon reading all of these definitions, it sounds a little scary.  If troponins are released when there is damage to the heart and (according to this article), there is an increase in troponins after an endurance event, does that mean I’m on my way to a heart attack?

Being that I only have a few hours to research a topic and blog about it, I clearly did not read through the hundreds of studies that are out there about troponin and exercise.  So please keep that in mind.  However I did find a few studies, and after consulting a dictionary of medical of terminology, I think I am able to understand what the studies concluded.  First, one study suggests that release of troponin and damage to the heart are not directly associated with one another.  Instead, that they are two separate phenomena.  The study also suggests that minor increases in troponin after endurance exercise may be compensatory and irreversible.  In other words, your body is trying to adapt and the cardiomyocyte membrane damage can be undone.  Another study, which was actually a study of other studies (that sounds confusing), found that there was an exercise induced release of troponin in almost half of the athletes, in particular heavier athletes.  But as many other articles and studies stated, it remains unclear whether increases of troponin were indicative of significant acute heart damage and of course, more research must be done.

As a few of my awesome Google+ friends pointed out, the article was written in simple language, without giving any background of the study.  What is the demographic of the participants?  What is the definition of extreme?  Personally, I felt like the article was meant to scare people away from endurance events.  But for me, long distance running has taught me so much about life, hard work, dedication, discipline, failure, and success.  There is no way I am going to give this up for a possible correlation.  I’ll keep running and for a lonnnnnnnnnng distance.


Happy Trails and Happy Running,

Tracie