Category: article

Plantar Fasciitis Treatment

By Kevin Jermyn and Chris Graff | TrackCoach.com

Plantar Fasciitis (pronounced PLAN-tar fashee-EYE-tiss) is an inflammation of the plantar fascia. The plantar fascia is tissue that lies between the muscles in the mid-foot and the skin on the bottom of the foot. The function of the plantar fascia is to maintain the arch of the foot by attaching the ball of the foot to the heel and creating a bow like shape. During each step of running, the plantar endures stresses three times the individual’s body weight when the heel is first raised off the ground in the forward motion, making it obvious why many runners incur this common problem.

A sign of plantar fasciitis is pain in the middle to front region of the heel, especially in the first few steps of running or walking when you have been inactive for a long period of time. The pain can also commonly be found directly in the arch of the foot, where the tissue is located. At times a small ridge can be seen connecting the heel to the ball of the foot: this is an extremely inflamed plantar. The pain (which is caused by the enlarged plantar trapping or irritating nerves in the foot) can last anywhere from a few days to a few months, depending on the severity of the case and the steps taken to cure it.

The most common causes of plantar fasciitis are a lack of arch support in the shoes, increase in activity, lack of flexibility in the calf muscles, being overweight, using unstable shoes on hard ground, or spending too much time on your feet. There are several cures to the problem although no one is guaranteed to be the absolute solution. The treatments are:

  • Applying ice to the arch of the foot after all activities (freezing water in a Dixie cup, rubbing the inflamed area, and peeling the cup away as the ice melts, works well)
  • Rolling your foot gently on a rubber ball or tennis ball so that you massage the plantar and loosen it up (a good activity while you are sitting at your desk)
  • Stretching the calf muscles gently after periods of inactivity (when you wake up in the morning, after sitting for a long time, etc.)
  • Arch support, especially if you have flat feet or high arches
  • Losing weight
  • Anti-inflammatories such as aspirin, Alieve, or ibuprofen.
  • Better shoes and/or running on grass or trails instead of sidewalks or roads.
  • Decreasing athletic activity or time spent on your feet

Read more…



How Many Calories Do I Need?

By Matt Fitzgerald | For Active.com

Counting calories is a simple concept. Throughout the day you rely on food labels and online resources to determine the number of calories contained in each food and beverage you consume. At the end of the day you add it all up and, voila, you know exactly how many total calories you took in.

But what is simple in principle is almost impossible in practice. A few factors combine to make it almost unobtainable to accurately measure your daily calorie intake. One component has to do with the difference between how calorie counts are determined in the laboratory and how calories are extracted from food in your body. To determine the calorie content of foods, scientists incinerate them inside a device called, appropriately enough, a calorimeter. This device incinerates all types of foods equally well.

Your body is different. It extracts calories more easily from cooked foods, soft foods and low-fiber foods than it does from raw foods, harder foods and high-fiber foods. So, for example, if you eat 100 calories of steamed white rice, your body will absorb more calories than it would from 100 calories of raw lettuce.

Apart from this issue of calorie extraction, the calorie information you see on food packaging and on restaurant menus is seldom 100 percent accurate in the first place. A 2011 study by researchers at Tufts University found that only 7 percent out of 269 items on restaurant menus contained calorie counts that were within 10 calories of advertised totals.

Things get even more dicey when you try to count calories in home-prepared meals and snacks. Even experts admit that their estimates are little more than wild guesses. “I have a Ph.D. in nutrition, and I can’t tell if my dinner is 500 or 800 calories just by looking at the plate,” said Jean Mayer, lead author of the study mentioned above, in an interview for U.S. News & World Report.

Read more…



When Should You Drop Out of a Marathon?

By Jason Fitzgerald | For Active.com

Running a marathon, especially if you’re racing it, is a significant challenge. Twenty-six point two miles presents challenges that you’ll never experience in shorter races.

Because of the distance, how you fuel before and during the race is critical. You can’t store enough carbohydrates in your muscles, blood and liver beforehand for the whole distance.

The muscle damage you will inevitably experience in the final 10K of a marathon is an entirely new sensation. With tens of thousands of steps, likely on asphalt, you’ll feel the damage for days after the race.

Finally, properly pacing during your marathon is much more important than it is during a shorter race. You can recover and still have a good race if you go out too fast in a 5K, but not in a marathon.

Even with all of these challenges that are unique to the marathon, the vast majority of runners will be able to finish the race. Despite low fuel, muscle damage and poor pacing, it’s still possible to finish all 26.2 miles.

But when should you drop out of a marathon? What are the signs that point to a DNF (“Did Not Finish”) as a good thing?

There are two important reasons that should compel you to drop out of a marathon.

Read more…



Runners Nutrition Part 4: Minerals

The first step to “Good” Nutrition is focusing on what foods you need for optimal performance, instead of focusing on what foods to avoid.

To learn what an endurance athlete needs to eat in order to maximize performance we will focus on two primary objectives:

  • What am I consuming?
  • Why should I consume it?

What am I consuming?  NUTRIENTS

There are six classes of nutrients: water, vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, fats and proteins.

 

1. What am I consuming? Minerals
Minerals are the chemical elements other than carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, and nitrogen, associated with the structure of the body. There are many minerals the body needs but calcium, iron, and sodium seem to be the most relevant in terms of deficiencies and toxicity. Like vitamins some minerals taken in excess can be toxic (iron, zinc).

Calcium-(Ca++) and phosphorus combine with organic molecules to form the teeth and bones. The bones are a “store” of calcium that helps to  maintain the plasma Ca++ concentration when dietary intake is inadequate. Bone is constantly turning over its calcium and phosphorus, so diet must replace what is lost. If the diet is deficient in calcium for a long period of time, loss of bone, osteoporosis or stress fracture can occur.

2. Why should I consume it?  Minerals
This answer is a bit technical. Feel free to comment if you have questions. Iron, of all substances in metabolism, contributes to the beneficial adaptations seen with endurance training. A powerful case could be made for iron as the most critical for at least four reasons:

1. Hemoglobin fills about one third the volume of each red blood cell, so an increase in red cell mass results in an increased total hemoglobin.

2. Without iron, hemoglobin cannot be manufactured.  An increase in cell mass means that the rate of production of red blood cells must be stepped up in endurance-trained athletes.  In untrained people, typical dynamics of the red blood cell synthesis-breakdown continuum are such that about 233million cells are released from the bone marrow into the blood stream each second, with an equal number destroyed (Cronkite 1973).  This number is larger in trained athletes because of an increased production of cells to meet the increased destruction of cells.

3. A red blood cell has no nucleus and thus divides no further, but all its precursor cells do and this cellular division requires DNA synthesis, which is impossible without iron.

4. Endurance training is characterized among other things by an increased myoglobin content in skeletal muscle.  Myoglobin contains iron. Limitations in iron supply should reduce its availability as an oxygen storage reservoir in skeletal muscle. Krebs cycle enzymes, more than half of which contain iron, which allow eventual interaction of 02 and H+ to form H20, completing the large-scale energy release to form FUEL BREAKDOWN (eg energy)(“Better Training For Distance Runners”, Martin and Coe).

Are you getting enough iron? Whether you understand the four reasons or not, the take home message is, iron is very important.

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Reference:
Thanks David Martin for your insight on endurance athlete nutrition and letting us use your research. He told us we could glean and share his information, as we’re working to help you guys run faster.

Better Training for Distance Runners by David Martin

 Exercise Physiology by Powers and Howley 331



Runners Nutrition Part 3: Vitamins

The first step to “Good” Nutrition is focusing on what foods you need for optimal performance, instead of focusing on what foods to avoid. We first covered water and now we are onto vitamins.

The common assumption that an American endurance athletes make is that if they avoid the foods that could harm performance, they will automatically consume foods that will improve performance. However getting the proper nutrients isn’t that easy.

To learn what an endurance athlete needs to eat in order to maximize performance we will focus on two primary objectives:

  • What am I consuming?
  • Why should I consume it?

What am I consuming?  NUTRIENTS

There are six classes of nutrients: water, vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, fats and proteins.

1. What am I consuming? Vitamins
Vitamins are needed in small amounts and are not “used up” in the metabolic reactions.  However they are degraded like any biological molecule and must be replaced on a regular basis to maintain body stores.  Vitamins exist in two forms: Fat-Soluble and Water-Soluble.  Vitamins taken in excess can lead to toxicity.

Fat-Soluble vitamins include A, D, E and K.  These vitamins can be stored in large quantities in the body; thus a deficiency state takes longer to develop than for water-soluble vitamins.

Water-Soluble vitamins include C, the B vitamins: thiamin (B-1), riboflavin (B-2), niacin, pyridoxine (B-6), folic acid, B-12, pantothenic acid and biotin.  Most are involved in energy metabolism.  Vitamin C is involved in the maintenance of bone, cartilage and connective tissue.

2. Why should I consume it? Vitamins
The most important vitamins for elite endurance athletes are:

Vitamin C
Found in citrus fruits, strawberries, broccoli and greens
Vitamin C helps with connective tissue synthesis, hormone synthesis, and neurotransmitter synthesis

Vitamin B-12
Found in animal foods, oysters and clams
B-12 helps with folate metabolism and nerve function

Thiamin
Found in sunflower seeds, pork, whole and enriched grains, dried beans, peas and brewers yeast
Thiamin is involved in carbohydrate metabolism and nerve function

Riboflavin
Found in milk, mushrooms, spinach, liver and enriched grains
Riboflavin is involved in energy metabolism

Niacin
Found in mushrooms, bran, tuna, salmon, chicken, beef, liver, peanuts and enriched grains

Pantothenic acid
Found in mushrooms, liver, broccoli and eggs
Pantothenic acid is involved in energy metabolism, fat synthesis, fat breakdown

Biotin
Found in cheese, egg yolks, cauliflower, peanut butter and liver
Biotin is involved in glucose production and fat synthesis

Vitamin B-6
Found in animal protein foods, spinach, broccoli, bananas, salmon and sunflower seeds
Vitamin B-6 is involved in protein metabolism, neurotransmitter synthesis, hemoglobin synthesis

Vitamin D
Found in fortified milk, fish oils and breakfast cereals
Vitamin D facilitates absorption of calcium and phosphorus and maintains optimal calcification of bone

Vitamin K
Found in green vegetables and liver
Vitamin K helps form prothromibin and other factors for blood clotting and contribute to metabolism

How do you get your vitamins?

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Reference:

Thanks Dr. David Martin for your insight on runner’s nutrition and letting us use your research. He told us we could glean and share his information, as we’re working to help you guys run faster.

Better Training for Distance Runners by David Martin

 Exercise Physiology by Powers and Howley 331

 



Runners Nutrition Part 2: Water

The first step to “Good” Nutrition is focusing on what foods you need for optimal performance instead of focusing on what foods to avoid. The common assumption that American endurance athletes make is that if they avoid the foods that could harm performance that they will inherently gain the foods that will improve performance. This assumption is flawed for many reasons. One example is the common avoidance of saturated fats by many endurance athletes that has lead to a depletion of iron stores as a result of avoiding the consumption of red meats.

To learn what an endurance athlete needs to eat in order to maximize performance we will focus on two primary objectives in the form of questions:

  • What am I consuming?
  • Why should I consume it?

What am I consuming?  NUTRIENTS

There are six classes of nutrients: water, vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, fats and proteins. In the following blog series each nutrient will be described briefly and the primary food sources of each will be identified.  Also within each section, a brief suggestion of when to consume each nutrient will be given.

In the following blog series we will go through each nutrient with a:

  • Brief description
  • Primary food source
  • Best time to consume

1. What am I consuming?  WATER
The body is 50% to 75% water, depending on age and body fatness. A loss of only 3% to 4% of body water adversely affects aerobic performance. Water is lost primarily through sweat, urine, respiration and cell activity.

2. Why should I consume it?  WATER
Deena Kastor, the American record holder in the marathon, says that one of the keys to her performance is drinking 1 Gallon of water per day. Optimal consumption of water comes within 30min after training sessions are completed and during training sessions of over 1hr 30min.

You will often hear a recommended amount of ounces per distance or time. The troubles with these formulas are that often athletes do not take the time to remember the amount or timing of such formulas. Also, in December because of the temperature being cooler you will need less water than in August when it is hot.

I suggest that you drink within 30min after your training session until you are no longer thirsty and then drink a little more. Think of it in terms of drinking the amount of water you lost plus a little more for cell adaptation to occur.

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Reference:
Thanks Dr. David Martin for your insight on runner’s nutrition and letting us use your research. He told us we could glean and share his information, as we’re working to help you guys run faster.

Better Training for Distance Runners by David Martin

 Exercise Physiology by Powers and Howley 331



Runners Nutrition Part 1: Are You Eating Enough?

http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/view_photog.php?photogid=1526I recently read an article about lower leg pain being caused by too few calories in diets of collegiate distance runners. In a study with 76 collegiate female athletes there was a higher incidence of lower leg pain, missed practices, and stress fractures in athletes that had abnormal eating patterns. Abnormal eating patterns were defined as missing meals, eating lower calories than consumed by more than 3,500 kcal per week, binge eating and purging.

As a male collegiate, post collegiate, and now coach I have tried to see what the best race weights for my athletes and myself are for several years. The conclusion that I have come to is that athletes need to be at the weight that they stay the healthiest for the longest period of time.

You may be able to run faster in the short term by lowering you body weight through an abnormal eating pattern but it will not be without it’s risks of injury. The problem is that your body structure will not maintain strength when you limit your food intake beyond a certain point.  You will begin to lose some weight that is muscle mass due to your body consuming some of the protein in the muscles for energy.

Your body was made to survive and it will survive by consuming whatever is present. If you don’t have enough carbohydrate and fats in your diet, your body will begin to eat away at your muscle mass to fuel your running and daily activities. The bottom line here is try to eat good food and a lot of it.

So what should you eat? Check out the next practical, simple nutrition tip for runners. Learn what your approach to eating should be.



Find Your Race Weight


Wondering how to find your perfect race weight?

There is a great book called “Race Weight” by Matt Fitzgerald that talks about trying to run faster by finding your best race weight.  The book’s premise is that trying to reach your optimum weight should not involve starving yourself to see how many pounds you can lose before race day.  Instead it is more important to pay attention to your weight when you are running PR’s and feeling your best.  Then write down this weight and try to hit it during your competitive season.

In “Racing Weight” Fitzgerald points out that extra weight can make you run slower.  The other end of the spectrum is when you lose too much weight and lose the ability to produce enough power to maintain your best racing paces.

When you’re ready to slim down for your peak race remember that what you eat after an easy run, workout, or race plays a major role in numbers on the scale. Two easy ways to head towards a healthy goal race weight are to eat the right kinds of foods after a race or workout and to eat the right amounts of food. Of course there is a time and place for “splurging”, but if you have a weight goal it is best to avoid the “I just went on a run, I can eat whatever I want!” mentality.

Here is an idea of what you should consume after easy runs, workouts, and races to help you recover and not put on extra post run weight due to your eating habits:

Post Easy Run Snack:

  • Water- amount depends on weather, distance covered and thirst
  • 1 granola bar or piece of fruit
  • Vitamins and mineral supplement

Post Workout or Race Snack:

  • Water- amount depends on weather, distance covered, and thirst
  • Carb/Protein drink- 4:1 ratio of carbs to protein (Muscle milk, chocolate milk, Endurox, Accelerade, etc)
  • 1 granola bar or piece of fruit
  • Vitamins and mineral supplement

 



Positive Affirmations

Affirmations are words or phrases which are repeated over and over again to reinforce a single thought. For example, a negative affirmation might begin with the words “I can’t do ____” or “I’m not _____”. A positive affirmation might begin with the words “I can _______” or “I am _________”.

Why is this important for a runner? Most people have heard the saying that running is largely a mental sport. Well, it’s true! One of the reasons distance running is difficult is that we have so much time to think and it’s not always easy to keep our thoughts positive. Of course if all our thoughts are about quitting or failing we’ll never achieve our full potential. The good news is that the opposite holds true as well: if we focus all our energy on positive thoughts we are likely to reach our goals. When practiced repeatedly, our beliefs become our reality. Affirmations are the foundations of not only our fears but our confidence. And in running, confidence is the key to success.

Thoughts Can Predict Our Outcome
It’s easy to see that our thoughts predict our outcomes. What’s not so easy is to correct our negative thought patterns and turn them into positive affirmations. It is a constant battle that requires us to step out of our comfort zone and accept the challenge of freedom from our doubt and fears.


The first step is to realize that we are the source of our own problems. Every time we allow a negative thought to settle in our minds, we give power to the thought and we let it control us. This can be anything from “It’s too hot” to “I’m going to get last place”. Of course we should acknowledge our fears and not be afraid to feel them. But we should also be prepared to combat them with positive affirmations and make the best of any situation in practice, race or our daily lives.
The second step is to come up with a few go-to positive affirmations. An easy place to start is to look at the areas of your training or racing that make you feel most insecure. Then find a few phrases to help you make it through those moments of insecurity.

Try starting your affirmation with the words “I am ______”.  Personally, I like the phrase “I am powerful”. It’s short, simple and it is critical to my success as an athlete. It’s also something I doubt on occasion during a hard race or practice. You may choose another phrase, such as “I am ready”, “I am strong”, “I am determined” or anything that makes you feel confident.

Affirmations are usually 3-5 word phrases and the best affirmation is one you choose for yourself. It’s ok to reach a little bit here. As you repeat the phrase your brain will learn to believe it and your body will respond.

The last step is to practice.  Once you’ve picked your affirmation, memorize it. Write it down, say it out loud and fill your brain with positive affirmations throughout the day. Most importantly, start bringing your affirmations to practice. Repeat them before, during and after your workouts. Every time a negative thought crosses your mind, block it out with 3 positive affirmations. I have found this to get a little bit easier over the years but I don’t think that being positive is second nature.  It is very hard to master your mind, but if you can your body will follow.

What is your Affirmation Statement?



Solidify Your Run with Recovery

This is a term that I have been using to remind myself that each run needs to be solidified by a recovery element. This is my new mantra that I hope is going to help me balance the need for recovery after hard workouts or long miles.

You can solidify your run or workout by massage, naps, hydration, eating right, ice baths, etc. Why is there a need to solidify your workouts?

One of the problems with training hard or training at all is that our bodies don’t get faster or better when we run fast or long. We actually get weaker and more broken down by the training that we do. I can prove this by asking you to run a race as fast as you can and then asking you to repeat the same effort 2 hours later. You will not be able to do it because your body is not recovered yet. We get faster when we are sitting on the couch.

So how can we return to a recovered state faster after a hard workout?

  1.     Place equal value on recovery and hard work.
  2.     Be honest with yourself…are you actually recovered? Did you do the right thing to solidify your run.
  3.     Force yourself to take a 1-day off at least every 14 days. Most people will need 1-day off every 3-7 days.
  4.     Remember that good performances come not from any individual session but from consistency.
  5.    A good mood is good sign of recovery…
  6.    Solidifying your run can make your quality of life better…

How can you solidify your run?

  1. I have recently been solidifying my runs by 30mins naps.  In addition to the fact that the body does most of its healing during sleep I have been feeling a great deal less stressed by adding my 30min naps 3Xper week.  It just feels good to lay down and get some rest. Watch the Importance of Sleep video if you need more convincing.
  2. Drink some chocolate milk within 20mins to 1hr after your hard workouts.  Check the refueling with chocolate milk video.
  3. Do some dynamic drills before you do a workout or race.
  4. Stretch after your run is over.
  5. Take an ice bath for 12minutes in 52-55 degree water.
  6. Get a massage.
  7. Take a leisurely walk to unwind.
  8. Do some Yoga.

If you are a highly motivated athlete you may have a hard time solidifying your run because you thrive on the instant gratification of hard workouts. My suggestion is to change the way you think about getting faster. Instead of focusing on times and splits and ignoring the recovery process, try to balance your running with at least one activity that will solidify your run every day. By focusing on both hard work and the recovery process you can solidify every run and make sure that they count.

P.S. One of my favorite quotes is from Deena Kastor.  She says “…there is no such thing as OVER TRAINING, only UNDER RESTING.”