Thursday, September 17, 2015

Preventing and Treating Shin Splints

Pain management...because THIS is how wild and crazy I am.
Shin splints...they are nasty and miserable. Thankfully, they are simple to avoid.

1. Always wear good shoes. Keep in mind, expensive doesn't always mean better! Do your research. And avoid shoes marketed as running shoes. Running shoes are meant to be super light for speed and disposable after only a few runs. They offer little to no support. Look instead for a trail shoe. My shoe of choice is anything from the Asics gel series (currently wearing Asics Gel Preleus). They are a little pricey but not ghastly so and a solid pair of running shoes will always cost less than orthopedic bills.

2. Replace your shoes every 200-300 miles. We put our running shoes through a lot and they wear out fast. The Nike+ running app has an option to track the mileages on your shoes which is so helpful.

3. Always s t r e t c h after a run. This is something I'm horrible at because I feel running is an intrusion into my day and I want to get it over with as quickly as possible. One day I was in a rush for an appointment, skipped stretching and paid the price with so much pain all day. That night I finally stretched and it was sweet relief.

Sometimes shin splints happen despite our best efforts. Yes, it hurts but you've gotta work through it. Don't stop running! Apply heat, take ibuprofen around the clock and s t r e t c h your shins like nobody's business.

How do you prevent and treat shin splints? Any shin splint stories you would like to share?

Monday, September 14, 2015

How To Increase Your Running Speed and Endurance

First a bit of a confession: Back in March I started training for this running season. At first I was doing fine. It was March...perfect weather...at the beach...perfect location. And than I got a nasty cold and instead taking time off to rest I ran through it. But because of my low energy I had to stop frequently and it was a mess that got me started in stopping during my runs. Death to my endurance.

To complicate matters, when I was eleven I had reconstructive surgery on my knee. It works great now but in the past year I've developed pain in my knee and hip that only gets worse with running (yes, I'm an old lady). So running will never be pain free.

Long story short, all this lead to my breaking down after a run sometime in May and telling my mom it would never get easier. In all her loving, unfiltered wisdom she said I could either choose to succeed or quit but stop whining and making excuses. It really did seem a shame to quit after so much work and quitting really isn't in my nature AT ALL. So I had an attitude check, decided I could and I would and reached my non-stop 3.5 miles which is my typical run and really the perfect workout for me. I feel like I've worked hard but I'm not dead.

The best way to build your running endurance is simply to decided you will and do not allow yourself to stop. Run as slow as molasses if you must but DON'T STOP RUNNING. Once you stop running your muscles begin to tense, your heart rate slows, you loose your pace and getting going again is so. much. harder.

When you feel like you can't go any further and HAVE to stop, BEFORE you stop I recommend first simply slowing down. Run a 12, 13 or even 14 min/mile. There is no shame in taking your time and you will feel so proud of yourself for not stopping.

Some days I keep going only by thinking how much I want to be finished running and how stopping will just make the misery last longer. Hey, whatever works!

Breathing is huge for endurance. Steady breaths in and out the nose are best. And don't wait until you are winded to focus on breathing. Breath intentionally from the start to avoid cramps and breathlessness. If you have hills in your area (we have nothing but hills) use the downhill stretches to slow down, breath intentionally and prepare for the next hill.

As far as increasing speed, this is one I'm still trying to figure out myself. Remember the second rule for beginning runners? Don't increase your speed until you have reached your distance goal. Once you can run your target distance nonstop you will be surprised how your speed will improve without much effort.

Figure out your average run length and try to do just a little better the next time. For example, once I reached my 3.5 miles nonstop I was doing 42 minute runs pretty consistently without giving speed any thought. A 3.5 miles run in 40 minutes seemed like a pretty simple goal and it was.

Similarly, determine your average no-thought-to-speed pace. I started out doing an average 11:50min/mi. My goal is to run a less than 10:00min/mi. Your pace will fluctuate throughout the run, especially if you run on hills. For now, I try to keep my normal run pace to somewhere between 11:00min/mi and 10:20min/mi. When I need to slow down I try to go no slower than a 12:00min/mi and I throw in as many sub 10:00min/mi sprints (usually 9:30min/mi) as I can to make up for the slower bits.

Be sure you are properly nourished before you run! Last month I did a morning run on an empty stomach less than 24hrs after donating blood. It was a mess. I ran 13:00-14:00min/mi and felt like I was dying. You need those carbs for energy. I am not a breakfast person and don't like eating before 10AM. But on running morning I try to eat 60g carbs, 15-45 minutes before running. It makes such a difference in my speed and endurance! Your body needs something to burn or it will burn muscle and that's just counterproductive.

Also, drink lots of water! Just not too near running or...ya know...

Make use of your full stride. I'm 5'6" so pretty average height. Regardless of height (but helpful if you're tall!) just increasing the distance of your stride will make you faster and your runs easier. This is tricky to practice and something I have to be very conscience of.

Livin' On A Pray by Bon Jovi is my power song. I always listen to it at the half way mark and keep my pace under 10:00min/mi for the duration. It improves time and is just fun.

Always on the look out for ideas...how do you increase your speed and endurance?

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Three Rules For Beginning Runners

We've all done it at some point. You tie on your running shoes for the first time of the season or maybe the first time ever.  You have carefully researched and selected the perfect training plan. You hit the road and you feel invincible. Bye, bye training plan. Who needs a training plan?

You do.

You are new to this runner racket. So is your body. It is not used to the intensity of a long distance run. Bad things happy when we thrown the training plan out the window. Injury. Shin splints. Nastiness. It may feel like a set back to stick to a steady increase plan when it feels like you could do so. much. more. but trust me on this one...injury will be a much greater setback and may keep you from ever getting back on the road.

Rule No. 1 For Beginning Runners- Select a training plan and stick to it! Be kind to your body and give it the time it needs to adjust. I know many runners like run/walk plans but it has been my experience that once you start taking walking breaks it is very challenging to stop. I find it much more effective to steadily increase distance. Below is the training plan I used this spring and found very helpful.

Rule No. 2 For Beginning Runners - Build your distance goal before even THINKING about speed. I strongly recommend setting a distance goal (5k/3.1 miles is really the ideal distance for health benefits without putting too much wear and tear on your body. More on goals later.)  Once you have the endurance to run 3 miles (or whatever your distance goal) and KNOW you CAN you will be surprised at how fast the speed comes. (No pun intended!) I love sprinting and it's very tempting to just run as fast as feels good. But I know that if I expend my energy on the sprint I will never make it to the end. It is much wiser to keep it slow and steady until you have the endurance.

Rule No. 3 For Beginning Runners - Never compare yourself to other runners. I cannot think of anything more fatal to that running spirit than comparison. I read this running magazine where the featured runners do 50-60 miles A WEEK. My brothers come back from a 5k complaining because they were so slow (26 MINUTES!). Don't allow the success of others to steal your thunder. Think of what you can do, reflect on how far you've come and be proud of yourself for getting out there and doing it!

What training plan works best for you? Any rules you would add?

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

A Month of Running

When you read this I will be somewhere along 95 heading south for a really fantastic family vacation. Two weeks in Disney world and two weeks on the shore. Yes. Awesome. I can't wait to tell you all about it when I return in October and send you into photograph overload. But never fear! You will not be completely deprived of my presence...

A few weeks ago a dear friend and new runner emailed asking for running advice. If you know me and my running habits you may understand why I am the last person anyone should be asking for running advice. My farthest run ever was six miles. And I have no intention of ever running further. I run 3.5 miles, three times a week. I run somewhere between slow and slower. (10'40"  and 11'40") This is my third running season  (I usually chicken out over winter). And as a general rule I hate running. 

But! Having run three seasons and being part of a family of serious runners (they scare me!) I have picked up a few tips and tricks. And I am always more than happy to give advice, especially when it's about something I know nothing about. 

While away I will be training to get my 5k under 30 minutes for the 5k by Change Inc. on October 17th. So I have decided to name September the month of running. We will be touching on several running topics inspired by my friend's questions...how to build endurance, how to increase speed, the best running gear and some pitfalls to avoid. 

Let's dispense with all the disclaimers from the get go... 

I am not a personal trainer and have no professional experience or medical training. I am merely an amateur who puts one foot in front of the other and gets excited when it adds up to a significant distance I can call a run, sharing what works for me. Listen to my advice at your own risk. 

As always, I value your input! If you have any experience running you probably have more than I so please share your tips as I share mine and maybe we can learn together. What advise would you give a new runner?

Grab your running shoes and let's get going!

Saturday, September 5, 2015

What to Pack for Disney World

Walt Disney World: the happiest place on Earth. It's also my happy place. It has been three years since my last trip and I'm so exciting to be going again in just a few short days. But Disney is not for the faint and heart and to enjoy your time proper planning is absolutely vital. This will be my sixth trip to Disney World and I have learned a few tips and tricks in my Disney years, one being there are a few things you absolutely must bring to the parks. Nothing is more frustrating than hiking from your lodgings to the Disney parking lot, onto the tram/boat/monorails, into the park and then realizing you forgot an important piece of Disney survival equipment. Here are a few items I have found most helpful for park days (with the exception of the assumed essentials...money, cell phone, etc.):

Backpack
I've tried purses, totes, messenger bags... A backpack is the way to go. Way less cumbersome and way easier to manage. Just don't make the same unfortunate mistake as I and bring a large backpack. Not only will you end up packing too much, everyone in your group who doesn't want to carry their own bag will ask you to haul around their stuff which very quickly multiplies the weight of your bag. So go small. My mom gave me a Coach backpack almost identical to this one I will be using but I think something like this or this would work as well.

Foot care kit
It has been estimated that the average Disney guest walks roughly twelve miles a day. Even for those of us who exercise regularly, that's a lot of walking. One day in the World Showcase I made the mistake of wearing a new pair of shoes and after just one hour I had the worst blisters on my heels. No foot care kit in sight, I just dealt with it and still have the scars on my heels. Keep these items handy for happy feet: Gauze, betadine, Moleskin or Johnson & Johnson blister bandages, small scissors, sewing needle, extra socks and talcum powder.

Feminine supplies emergency kit
If you haven't picked up on my obsession with kits/pouches/anything organized and in it's place...you will soon. Ladies, it always comes when least convenient. And smack in the middle of The Magic Kingdom is as about as inconvenient as it gets. My mom came up with this idea and it's one of her best yet. I keep a little zip lock bag with a change of panties, pads, tampons, baby wipes and ibuprofen and it has been a lifesaver. I like to keep various sizes of tampons and pads...even if I don't use them there's always a chance someone in my party (or the next stall) will need an assist. It will still suck to have your period in Disney World but it will help it suck a little (LITTLE) less. I like to assemble my own so it's completely customized but Pinch Provisions has a super cute mini emergency kit.

First aid kit
Disney has first aid supplies available pretty much everywhere but I like to keep a few band aids, ibuprofen, Excedrin, sudafed and benadryl in my bag just in case.

Snacks
Food in Disney is ridiculously expensive. Bringing your own snacks is a convenient alternative to tasteless, overpriced food. Plus a granola bar can be very helpful for bribing young children to behave while waiting 70+ minutes for Peter Pan's Flight.

Powder foundation
Florida heat will melt even the best of us. A good powder foundation helps keep you feeling fresh and a little less...wilty. Physician's Formula has a nice powder that doesn't irritate my acne.

Water bottle
Gotta stay hydrated in the heat and bottled water in the parks is crazy. But! You can have your water bottled filled at pretty much any concession stand or counter service restaurant for no charge. Score! I use my Addison bottle by Contigo all day everyday. (The name makes it awesome, of course.)

Travel toothbrush
Seriously the best thing since sliced bread. (Although, sliced bread is enormously overrated.) Tooth brushing (teeth brushing? brushing teeth?) is a bit of an obsessions with me, I find few things as refreshing as a freshly brushed mouth. Travel toothbrushes are sold at pretty much any Target, Wal-Mart or CVS and are so nice for on-the-go.

Cool and comfortable clothing
Did I mention it's really, really, really hot in Florida? Go cool and comfortable. I will be wearing primarily leggings and long tops and, of course, my pineapple pants (they may not be the most figure flattering but they ace the cool and comfortable test).

Light sweater/jacket
So maybe it's an odd item to suggest after the many Florida heat complaints above but sometimes it does get chilly during late night shows and fireworks and in air conditioned theaters. My motto: better safe than sorry.

Comfortable shoes
Cannot emphasize enough the importance of comfortable shoes. Athletic shoes would be ideal but I just can't bring myself to wear sneakers when not exercising. Toms are a wonderful alternative. It's almost like being barefoot they are so comfortable but still cute and fashionable. And Toms One for One pledge is the best.

And there you have it! What would you pack for a day in Disney or any amusement park?

Friday, September 4, 2015

Currently Reading | September

I will be out of town for the month of September so rather than skip a month we're doing something a little different. Instead of talking about the books I have read I'm going to share my September to-read list. Yes, it's considerably longer than most of my monthly reading lists but, did I mention I will be on vacation? And we all know reading time is one of the very best parts of vacation. Undoubtedly, I will add to this list as the month progresses...any additions will be shared in October!

White Coat, Black Hat by Carl Elliott
An account of the business side of medicine...I get the idea this book also delves into medical ethics.

Being Mortal by Dr. Atul Gawande
I have read every book by Atul Gawande and they are all amazing (although Better is the...umm...best.) I ordered a copy of this book from the library back in March but the wait list was so long it just came in...perfect timing for vacation and perfect timing considering we've been discussing end of life ethics.

To Err is Human
Not so much a book as a report from the Institute of Medicine on building a safer health system. I've been wanting to get my hands on a copy for awhile and am super excited to have found a free pdf copy for my kindle.

What Doctors Feel Danielle Ofri
"A look at the emotional side of medicine." Not really sure what that means but should be interesting!

Between Expectations by Meghan Weir
Dr. Weir shares the lessons she learned during her pediatric residency at Boston Children's Hospital. Peds! BCH! It's gonna be good.

Learning to Play God by Robert Marion
"Dr. Marion reveals the dehumanizing, slightly insane, and often brutal process of medical training." Intense...

Miracles and Mayhem in the ER by Dr. Brent Russell
My father gave me a kindle copy of this book. He has a bit of an obsession with downloading kindle books but, yes, it was very sweet of him to know my genre.

The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by William Kamkwamba
This is the story of a young man who at the age of fourteen built a windmill from junk. Okay, so maybe that's a bit oversimplified. Through his creativity and resourcefulness this young man helped his rural African village and brought hope to many. Always excited to see young people doing amazing things.

Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee
Like everyone else in the world, I have mixed feelings about this book. Is it wrong to publish a sequel after so many years? Is it possible to equal the brilliance of To Kill a Mockingbird? We shall see. If you have read Go Set a Watchman I'd love your thoughts!

Tender is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald 
I have yet to meet a Fitzgerald I didn't love. Little bit of trivia...did you know F. Scott is from Maryland and named after my state's favorite local hero, Francis Scott Key? (We're pretty batty about Key here in the hometown...when you're short on local heroes you take what you can get!)

What's on your September reading list?