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Posts tagged ‘healthy running’

Recording Miles and Running Shoes

The benefit of using my Garmin for practically every run is all of my runs are uploaded to Garmin Connect. Therefore, I am able to go back and analyze when things start to go wrong. I always include details about how I’m feeling and it’s very easy to see the progression of I feel great, my running is going amazing, to hip is a little stiff, hip hurts, OMG I can’t run. I can go so far as to pick out the exact date my running took a turn for the worse.

When I started training this season, I was running in my older Newton Gravity shoes. They had quite a few miles already on them and the lug in the front was pretty worn down. January 8, 2013 came and I got my new pair of running shoes in the mail. From there on out, the details of my runs include the words sluggish, a little off, hip hurts, leg hurts, etc. I wonder what went wrong? Read more

Benefits of Injury

As a hurting runner, it’s hard to believe that I would actually consider the idea that there are benefits to being injured. Injuries suck. Period. However, I’m finally starting to see a light at the end of this very dark tunnel. It finally came to me this afternoon.

When I started training at the end of November for my race this weekend, my running life was great. I didn’t hurt. I felt light on my feet. My running form felt perfect and I started to question why I ever got injured in the first place. I am such a good runner. I can do this seven days a week. And I did. December was my best running month ever.

But the miles add up. That slightly weaker left side gets weaker. And those slightly tight glutes get tighter. The slanted sidewalk seems to get even more slanted and what started as a slight ache, becomes a serious problem. I knew it was coming but I thought one more long run would be okay. It wasn’t. Read more

Kinesio Tape

A few years ago when I started to receive active release therapy, my doctor would apply kinesio tape.  Admittedly, I was somewhat skeptical and saw my bright blue tape as a pretty cool fashion statement at the gym.  I had no idea if it was working, and after one hard gym workout, the tape was falling off.  Fast forward to present day, and now my sports massage therapist is taping me up.  However, his methods are a little different, and three days later, it’s still on.  It literally took him about 15 minutes to apply three pieces of tape exactly right, so now I want to know…

What is kinesio tape? What is it suppose to do? And does it work?

I had trouble determining who exactly developed the technology behind kinesio tape: Dr. Kenzo Kase or Komp (couldn’t find his first name).  However, it does seem that this type of taping has been around since the 1970s, and after first being used primarily by medical practitioners, it then began to be used by Japanese olympians.  Kinesio tape is made of a soft cotton and contains no latex.  It is light, stretchy and has the same thickness as the human skin.  The adhesive is heat activated, so it is important that it is rubbed briskly after application for activation.  Because the tape is made from a soft cotton, moisture is able to dissipate through the material and the tape will usually last about three days.  And perhaps the best thing about kinesio tape is it comes in bright fun colors! Just check out my hot pink tape with my pink toenails…

 


The idea behind kinesio tape is that it allows for more range of motion with less pain than if you did not have the tape.  It also claims to relax overused muscles, reduce inflammation, and the wave pattern on the tape supposedly lifts the skin which in turn improves circulation and takes pressure off of your pain receptors.  Wow – that’s a lot of benefits from one neon piece of tape!  From my experience, I can’t say that I have experienced all of these amazing benefits.  However, great athletes such as Lance Armstrong, Kerri Walsh, and Serena Williams can be seen sporting the tape.  In fact, Lance Armstrong dedicates a page in one of his books to his positive experiences with kinesio tape.

As far as whether or not kinesio tape works for athletes, research is still in its early stages.  One study that I found, concluded the tape did improve immediate pain – free shoulder range of motion, but over an extended period of time, the kinesio tape was no more effective than regular sports tape.  Another study reported that the use of kinesio tape did improve the lower back’s range of motion.  However, if you are looking for some anecdotal evidence, I can’t say that it did much for me.  But I am one person, and what may not work for me, may be great for you.

As more people learn about kinesio tape, I see it on more and more athletes.  And over time, the evidence with grow to either support or not support the claims.  It seems to be a popular preventive measure and remedy, and even if it doesn’t do all that it claims to, at least it’s a pretty color.

 

Happy Trails and Happy Running,

Tracie

Anit-Inflammatory Foods

The weekend is a time when most people do their long runs, hard workouts, and race.  And if you’re anything like me, you reward yourself for a job well done.  I know for me personally, after a long hard 20 miler, I often times reward myself with delicious not so healthy foods that probably aren’t doing much to help my recovery.  And now that I think about it, I’m pretty sure Kara Goucher doesn’t go straight for a soft pretzel followed by a trip to the Cupcake Shoppe after her Saturday long runs.  Yikes, even just typing that makes me want to start apologizing to my body.  Foods can play such an important role in our recovery and getting us back out the door ready to tackle the next run.  So if soft pretzels aren’t then answer, then what is?

Today’s Question:  What are some good anti-inflammatory foods that runners should eat after a hard workout or race?

You would be hard pressed to find a runner who doesn’t know where the advil is in their house.  Often times if we are injured or need to recover after a hard workout, we rest, ice, compress, elevate, and take a few NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs).  However, are we really paying attention to what we are putting in our bodies and using food as a way to treat our inflammation?  Many parts of the runner’s body can become inflamed – the IT band, the muscles, the tendons, the knees, you name it.  But in addition to RICE, food can play a very important role in getting us out the door, healthy, and ready for the next run.

Certain foods possess certain anti-inflammatory agents that can help to speed up the recovery process.  In researching the top anti-inflammatory foods, one that was constantly mentioned was turmeric.  This spice, which is commonly used in Indian cuisine, has been shown to be just as effective as some NSAID drugs.  Even Rich Roll, in a recent guest blog post for Tim Ferriss, reiterates the benefits of this spice. He also emphasizes that an athlete who consumes a diet high in anti-inflammatory foods, will be able to train harder and longer than others.  Stupid pretzel…

Other foods that are high in anti-inflammatory properties are:

  • Salmon: high in omega 3 and protein
  • Basil: the oil in basil inhibits the enzyme cyclooxygenase, which is the same enzyme NSAIDS inhibits
  • Broccoli: high amounts of the flavonoid quercetin which counters inflammation
  • Ginger Root: contains the anti-inflammatory compound phenol and studies have shown that ginger root can reduce exercise-induced muscle pain by 25%
  • Kelp: contains fucoidan, a type of complex carbohydrate that is anti-inflammatory, anti-tumor and anti-oxidative.
  • Sweet Potatoes: a good source of complex carbohydrates, beta-carotene, manganese, vitamin B6 and C as well as dietary fiber and these nutrients are powerful antioxidants that help to heal inflammation in the body
  • Green Tea: contains powerful anti-inflammatory flavonoids
  • Blueberries: contain phytonutrients that fight against inflammation
  • Tart Cherries: contain the antioxidant anythocyanins, which possesses anti-inflammatory properties

In addition to speeding recovery, anti-inflammatory foods have other benefits such as reduction in heart disease risk, keeping existing cardiac problems in check, reducing blood triglycerides and blood pressure, and soothing tender and stiff arthritic joints.  Ever since I’ve started running, there has always been someone there to remind me that when I’m older, I’m going to have arthritis.  I’m not planning on letting that happen, but I do think in order to be more proactive,  I need to be a little more conscious about the foods I’m eating after a hard workout.  Yes, the soft pretzel is delicious, but maybe I should go for sushi with green tea instead.

Dinner before Boston: Salmon with Sweet Potatoes

Delicious, but probably not so great after a hard workout

Happy Trails and Happy Running!
Tracie

Intermittent Fasting

As I was leaving the gym today, my friend Tiffany asked me what I thought about running on an empty stomach in the morning.  If she had asked me this same question a year ago, I would have probably told her that it was a bad idea.  However, I’ve been hearing and reading a lot about intermittent fasting and the benefits of working out on an empty stomach.  I told her to go for it.  But her question did get me thinking more about this unconventional approach to eating.

Question: What is intermittent fasting? What are the benefits and it is good for runners?

Intermittent fasting is simply alternating periods of fasting with periods of non-fasting.  There are many different approaches to IF, including:

1) skipping a meal
2) Eating only within a certain time window (for example, eating for only 8 hours during the day and fast the other 16)
3) the 48 hour fast which alternates 24 hours of fasting with 24 hours of non-fasting
4) eat early in the morning and late in the evening but fast throughout the rest of the day
5) do not eat several hours before bed, fast throughout the night, and then workout before eating breakfast

All my life, I have always been told to eat first thing in the morning to kick start my metabolism.  And more importantly, to continue eating several meals throughout the day, as this will prevent a drop in blood sugar and keep me mentally focused for the day.  So why in the world would I want to try intermittent fasting?

As humans, are bodies are only able to store a limited amount of glycogen, about 500 grams.  On the other hand, it can store tens of thousands of calories of fat.  The reason so many people experiment with intermittent fasting is because, teaching your body to burn fat as opposed to glycogen will give it an almost unlimited supply of energy (great for endurance) and make your body a lot leaner.   I was recently listening to a podcast and the speaker compared the body using glycogen as fuel to a fuel truck running out of gas on the side of the road.  The truck’s gas tank can only hold a limited amount of fuel, and even though the truck is carrying a large supply of gas, it can not access it.  I really liked that analogy.

By experimenting with intermittent fasting, not only are you teaching your body to burn fat for fuel, but you are also learning a thing or two about self control.  As one study put it, it is essential to fitness and good health to experience intentional hunger, become accustomed to the feeling, and not freak out.  You gain more control of your own body.  Some of other benefits of intermittent fasting are reduced blood lipidsblood pressure markers of inflammation oxidative stress, and cancer.  There is also increased cell turnover and repair, fat burning, growth hormone release, and metabolic rate.  Intermittent fasting also helps to improve appetite control, blood sugar control, cardiovascular function, and neuronal plasticity.

It was difficult to find a lot scientific evidence on intermittent fasting and running, mainly because this topic is still so new.  I did find, however, one study that looked at the blood sugar levels in two different runners, one who fasted for 23 hours and the other who did not.  After the 23 hours, both runners completed a 90 minute run at 70-75% of VO2 max.  What the researchers found was that the two runners had the exact same blood sugar levels!  This completely blew my mind, because I would have never expected that.  The body really is amazing at maintaining homeostasis.

Ben Greenfield, who is top triathlete and nutrition expert, often discusses intermittent fasting for athletes on his podcasts.  He recommends not eating a few hours before bed and then working out first thing in the morning, before eating breakfast.  This is an easy way to incorporate a 12-14 hour fast into the day.  Ben Greenfield, along with everything else that I read today, put a strong emphasis on eating high quality, unprocessed, nutrient dense foods along with lots of good quality proteins.  If you are going to be doing this to your body, it’s super important to make sure it gets the right stuff when you are eating.

Currently, with my schedule I can not work out first thing in the morning.  However, summer break is quickly approaching and I look forward to experimenting with intermittent fasting during the summer.  In reading at a lot of the anecdotal evidence, IF seems to help people really lean out, lose weight, and have more energy.  And when I was looking for a picture to include with this post, Google Images just kept giving me pictures of really ripped people.  I think I might like this…

 

 

Source: HiveHealthMedia

Happy Trails and Happy Running,

Tracie