Hydration for Runners

Marathon Hamburg 2006Runners all face dehydration issues. We sweat it out for long periods of time and it is often difficult to quickly replace lost water and sodium. You can do a few tests to determine if you are dehydrated:

Urinate. The darker the pee, the more you need to drink. Your urine should be either clear or a light yellow. It can change, however, if you are taking supplements. Start watching your pee color within hours of taking vitamins and you can know what is normal.

Use your skin. Test your hydration by pinching your skin on the back of your hand and holding it for a few seconds. If the skin stays up, you are dehydrated.

Look at your fingers. You know that pruned skin you get when you take a long shower or bath, that can also happen when you are dehydrated. Your skin won’t look as plump.

Check your breath. If you have bad breath and this is not normal, you may be dehydrated. Your saliva starts changing because it is thirsty, causing bad breath.

Sitting in front of a fan. If the temperature is more than 95 degrees, you are better off finding somewhere where there is central air conditioning. Don’t just sit outside and blow a fan on your face. This is because when the air is that hot, it’ll mix with the fan and just blow hot air at you. This will make you hotter and not help with allowing your body to cool down and rehydrate itself quickly.

What to do in the summer when the weather is hotter:

-Avoid caffeine, which acts as diuretic
-Avoid sugary drinks like lemonade and Kool-Aid
-Avoid hot beverages that will make your body temperature rise
-Avoid alcohol, which dehydrates you
-Drink two liters of water a day. This is hard, but if you keep a water bottle with you at all times, it’ll be an in-your-face reminder to keep drinking.

Sugar and Runners

copy-cropped-cross-country_1.jpgWe’ve all seen the commercials touting high fructose corn syrup as bad for your health. But there’s even more sugars to be aware of when you’re shopping at the grocery store.

Research has shown that sugar doesn’t act much differently than other carbohydrates for blood glucose control. Many runners try to avoid sweets, but they still consume sugar more than they think. On average, we eat 22 teaspoons of sugar every day, roughly 350 calories per day.

Try spending time looking at labels for ingredients such as the following:

Evaporated can juice
Cane sugar
High-fructose corn syrup
White sugar
Granulated sugar
Brown sugar
Invert sugar
Maple syrup

For runners, think about switching some of these out every so often. It’s very challenging to do it all of the time, but a few changes really adds up:

Sports drinks. These are very beneficial for electrolytes and sodium, especially after a long run. They can replenish what’s lost due to sweat. However, for shorter runs, try just using water only.

Protein shakes. Many store bought protein shakes come with loads of sugar. Try blending your own using fresh fruit or substitute the shake with peanut butter or eggs. They go down easy on a stomach that’s been jumbled by running.

Cereal. Even the boxed cereals touting health and high protein can come laden with sugar. Be sure the read the label. Try substituting breakfast with steel cut oatmeal and fresh berries to add taste and texture.

Yogurt. This is great to eat after a run–you get protein and it’s easily digestible. Just read the labels for anything labeled from the above list.

English muffins. If you are craving carbs, which runners often are, try eating whole wheat toast instead. You can even add on peanut butter for the protein, but try to avoid jams loaded with sugar.



Runner’s Injuries

ankle sprain, painWe’ve all experienced some type of runner’s injury throughout our running lives. Whether it’s something small like lactic acid that disappears after a few days or something major requiring surgery, we all suffer for our sport. Here are a few running injuries and what you can do to prevent them:

Runner’s knee:
This is aching around the knee cap usually from overuse. Any sport that requires bending or jumping is subject to experiencing runner’s knee.

How to keep this from happening: Strengthen your hip muscles and work on balance exercises. Hit the gym to do some hip flexor strength movements and try adding in yoga to your workout routine. Yoga provides some helpful balance exercises while using your own body as weight.

Shin splints:
This occurs when you have pain in the front or inside of the lower leg. It often occurs when you run too much or for long periods of time. It can be quite painful.

How to keep this from happening: Incorporate stretching after every run. You should take 5-10 minutes to stretch and hold each stretch for 30 seconds. Research shows that anything over 30 seconds isn’t necessary, but anything under and you don’t get a full good stretch. You can also take an anti-inflammatory pill if you find yourself in too much pain after a run.

Stress fracture:
This occurs when you have a small crack in a bone that causes pain and discomfort. In runners you usually find it happening in the feet because that’s what hits the ground.

How to keep this from happening: When you can, run on softer terrain, such as a track or on soft trails. If you do have a stress fracture, you must stay off your feet until you heal.

This happens usually from overuse.

How to keep it from happening: Wear socks to keep your feet from rubbing too much on your insoles. Also, break in your shoes slowly. Don’t go out for a 20-mile run when you just bought a new pair. And make sure you have the proper sized shoes always.

Hyponatremia: What Is It?

Although summer doesn’t officially start until June, Memorial Day is considered the unofficial start of this season. This means temperatures will rise over the next few months and you will need to start including more hydration when running. If you live in a hotter area of the country, you need to understand hyponatremia and what it can do to your body.

What is hyponatremia?
Hyponatremia is a condition that can occur when the sodium level in your blood is too low for it to function properly. This can occur because you drank an excessive amount of water. Also, if you have an excessive sweat rate and you lose too much sodium.

When you become hyponatremic, your body’s water levels rise and your cells start to swell. This can even become life-threatening.

What are the symptoms?
The symptoms of hyponatremia include nausea, vomiting, headaches, loss of energy, constant fatigue, weakness, restlessness, spasms and cramps. Careful: these symptoms are similar to overtraining as well.

Who is at risk of hyponatremia?
Runners who drink too much water during marathons, ultramarathons, and other long-distance workouts can suffer from hyponatremia. Also, older adults and those taking medications such as thiazide diuretics as well as some antidepressants and pain medications are at a higher risk level.

How do you fix hyponatremia?
Fixing hyponatremia is quite simple: cut back on how much water you drink during a workout. Switch to a sports drink to keep your body full of electrolytes and sodium, but also don’t over do it. You’ll still find water in sports drinks. Also, be sure to replenish your body with sodium, adding in a sports drink during and after a long run. You may even want to add in salt tablets to your workouts if they last longer than an hour. Just pop a pill every hour or so to keep you from losing too much sodium.


Running through the trails

RunningInRainAs the weather gets better and the days are now almost at their longest, we like to turn our running to the trails instead of always heading to the track.

Here are a few trail running tips:

1. You might want to invest in a trail running shoe or a hiking shoe in general. Running through the dirt and mud can quickly destroy your expensive, beloved running shoes.

2. Always make yourself aware of the trail beforehand. With the Internet, you can most likely do the research of what to expect in terms of elevation and turns within the trail itself.

3. Always carry your cell phone. While we don’t like the extra weight when running, this is for safety reasons. Granted, you might not have cell service, but if you are out alone, it’s best to stay on a trail near civilization.

4. Run through the mud puddles. This may seem counterintuitive, not to mention dirty, but this helps with the erosion process as you will stay on the trail.

5. Keep one earphone out in case you like to listen to music. This will allow you to hear any other runners/mountain bikers who want to pass or any potential dangers.

6. Rehydrate when you return home. This is especially important in hot water. You lose one liter per hour of exercise. On the trail for three plus hours? You’ve got a lot of water to drink. You should also mix it up with sports drink to replenish lost electrolytes.

7. Let someone know you are leaving, where you will be and when you are expected home. A quick text to a friend is all it takes.

8.  This should go without saying, but keep the trash with you. We know how annoying it is to carry an empty gel package or empty water bottle, but it harms the environment.

Happy trail running!

Exercise Lowers Your Risk of Cancer

imagesExercise is even more beneficial than previously thought. We all know the benefits of running: stronger bodies, heart, lower weight, stay in good cardiovascular shape, etc. Now we have more reason to run.

The National Cancer Institute researched dozens of cancer studies throughout both the United States and Europe and published their review in JAMA Internal Medicine. They compared the people who exercised more than 90 percent of everyone else in the study to those who exercised hardly at all.

They found that participants exercised an average of 2.5 hours each week from the 1.4 million participants.

People who exercised the most had the following:

42 percent lower risk of esophageal cancer
27 percent lower risk of liver cancer
26 percent lower risk of lung cancer
23 percent lower risk of kidney cancer
22 percent lower risk of stomach cancer
21 percent lower risk of endometrial cancer
20 percent lower risk of myeloid leukemia
17 percent lower risk of myeloma
16 percent lower risk of colon cancer
15 percent lower risk of head and neck cancer
13 percent lower risk of rectal cancer
13 percent lower risk of bladder cancer
10 percent lower risk of breast cancer

The researchers hope this encourages people to exercise.

In addition, another study shows that those who exercise have brains that look 10 years younger than those who don’t.

In a study published in the journal Neurology, researchers showed that good exercise can extend your brain function by a decade. You do need to do higher-impact exercise. Walking, bowling and golf do not count. The findings are based on nearly 900 older adults who took standard tests of memory, attention and other mental skills at an average age of 71.

That’s good news for runners!




Overtraining: Running Too Much

cropped-cross-country_1As the weather starts to warm up, so do the level of the workouts. While you may spend the spring performing your workouts on the treadmill and with your gym’s hand weights, as we get closer to summer nicer temperatures allow you to work on your shape using nature’s obstacles. Because of the semi-winter hibernation you’ve put your body in, you must ramp up the workouts and not go full out right away. You risk damaging your body and overtraining.

It can’t be said enough, but overtraining is dangerous. If you feel the following symptoms, it’s best to slow down or take breaks with full days off. You should really be cognizant of this, especially as racing season approaches.

Constant soreness. Sure, the first couple of workouts back may make the muscles full of lactic acid, but soreness goes away after a few days. Chronic soreness, however, is your body’s inability to repair lactic acid buildup because of the increased workout volume. You need to stop and let your body fully heal.

No appetite. When you start going for longer runs and maybe hitting the trails after work, you’ll notice you’re hungrier. This is normal as you burn more calories. Not having an appetite when working out is not. Too much exercise actually makes your body constantly restless and unable to process foods properly; thus, making your appetite disappear.

Your heart races. When you’re under stress, from work or a school, you’ll notice your heart working overtime. Imagine if that was happening all the time. That is the case with overtraining; your heart is stressed from working at an elevated level too often.

You’re too tired to continue with training. If you take a couple of days off and still feel an excessive amount of fatigue, it’s a result of increased cortisol levels. Your body won’t maintain a good immune system, making you more likely to get sick. It’s best if you just do short 30-minute workouts for a while until you start to get your energy back.
Happy training!



Moves to Make You Faster

We all know speed work is the key to moving down the finish times. Doing at least one hard speed workout, even two, can help make you faster. To me, they are the hardest workouts of the week. Is there anything we can do to help give us more speed outside of running? Yes!

Here are some moves you can do to help:

Bridges: You see this more in yoga but they work for runners. Lie on the floor and put your feet flat on the ground and your hands over your head and then on the ground. Lift your body up. It’s the same as doing a backbend, without moving your legs over your head. This strengthens your glutes. Once you get more advanced, try lifting one of your legs up and holding it for 30 seconds, then switch legs.

One-legged squat jumps: Because running involves one leg on the ground all the time and basically jumping from one foot to the other, mirroring that movement can help build muscle. Stand on one leg, squat down and jump up. Do this for 20 times on each leg.

Foam rolling: After a run, lie on top of a foam roll–you can find these at any local sporting goods store. Slowly roll your leg over the foam roll and notice any pain. If you hit a hot spot –a spot where you notice extra pain–push extra hard on it for 30 seconds, no more. This helps remove the kinks that build up from running and keep your legs fresh. It’s basically like giving yourself a massage for free (although it’s a little more painful).

Side plank with leg lift. Lie on your side and then lift your body up so you are resting all your weight on your forearm. Lift one leg up, hold for five seconds, then move it back down. Repeat for 10 times and then switch sides. This strengthens your hips and posture for faster running.

Hydration for Runners

Marathon Hamburg 2006Did you hear what happened at the London Marathon this weekend? Someone passed away three miles from the finish line due to cardiac arrest, and another runner had difficulty with hyponatremia–a condition that occurs when the level of sodium in your blood is too low.

With the weather getting sunnier, it’s important to keep hydration top of mind. You don’t want to face all the challenges stemming from lack of H20 and electrolytes in the body from working out. Here are a few tips to consider:

1. Carry a water bottle with you at all times. You should aim for 60 ounces of water every day. I have friends that try to reach 70 ounces and noticed a big change in energy when they did this. It’s tough to do, but you can try.

I personally don’t like the taste of water. I find it bland and force myself to drink it. I’ve had better luck adding in fresh, cut up fruit and vegetables to water, such as sliced lemons, raspberries and cut up cucumbers. You can purchase water bottles in which you can infuse fruits and veggies for a more creative flavor profile.

2. For coffee and soda drinkers: For each cup of coffee and can of soda, drink eight ounces of water to even it out.

3. Try to drink a glass of water before each meal. This will help you feel full AND get you better hydrated.

4. Drink a glass of water with each meal to help with digestion. Try to stay away from ordering anything but water at restaurants–and this helps save money, too.

5. Watch your urine. You should strive for a light yellow color. This is especially important after you work out. You might notice a dark color and should immediately begin replenishing the liquid lost.

Staying hydrated will help you with energy, maintaining weight and your ability to run as hard as possible.

Boston Marathon

200px-BostonmarathonlogoToday is the biggest day for long-distance runners with the Boston Marathon. Ethiopian runners took the top places: Lemi Berhanu Hayle and Atsede Baysa won the men’s and women’s titles.

Here are some of the Boston Marathon tweets:


SportsCenter @SportsCenter

Honored to start wheelchair division of again. Best of luck to all the competitors!

Of the 30,000 runners in the today, nearly half are women. 💪🏾