Runners: Are You Overtraining?

imagesWe all have tried a little too hard in our training, given 100 percent for far longer than our bodies can properly handle. Mentally, we feel the need to push harder with each workout to get faster and stronger, but that is far from the truth. In actuality, overtraining leads to burnout–and you will end up without the ability to run and too tired to finish even your daily responsibilities. Below are some symptoms of overtraining. If you feel any of these, it’s best to back off and take at least two days of rest or perform some light cardio.

No appetite. When you are running hard and fast each day, you’d think that your appetite would increase. In overtraining, your body is too restless to properly digest food and thus, it doesn’t want nutrition. You really need to be careful if this happens because your weight can drop too low and you’ll be too weak to continue your sport.

Feeling sore often. If you wake up in the morning and your arms and/or legs are sore and tired, even after a good night’s sleep, what’s happening is your body isn’t recovering properly after your workouts. It’s best to keep your feet up for a couple of days and let your body heal.

Tired all the time. In addition to feeling sore, you’re tired all day long. Whether you sleep seven or 10 hours a night, it’s not enough to shake you out of the funk. This again is your body not properly recovering. Try eating more protein for muscle repair and not running for a couple of days. If that’s too hard, try light cardio with an elliptical machine or rowing machine and don’t push yourself.

Your heart won’t stop beating quickly. A racing heart means it’s stressed. Stop stressing your body and lighten up on your workouts. You’re doing more harm than good.

Happy (proper) training!


Foot Problems of Runners

thTwo weeks ago, I traveled out of state and ended up with severe pain I couldn’t walk. I tried to run for the first time this past weekend and no surprise, I spent the rest of the day in bed in tremendous discomfort. Runners suffer from loads of health issues, from IT band problems to bad knees, but feet are often overlooked. This makes no sense as it is the feet that strike the ground and always do the brunt of the work.

Here are three of some of the most common problems runners face with their feet:

Plantar fasciitis

The fascia, a band of tissue connecting the heel bone to the toes, can become inflammed. This makes your foot feel like its on fire.

How to help:
-Ice it with a frozen water bottle. Put the water bottle on the floor and roll the middle of your foot over it. Do this constantly throughout the day.
-Stay off of it.
-Be careful with how you buy your shoes. It is recommended you purchase them from a store with an ability to videotape your running. This allows the staff to analyze your gait and form and find the proper shoe to lessen injuries.

Heel spurs

Abnormal growth of bone on the bottom of the heel bone can come from inappropriate shoes and from running.

How to help:
-See a foot specialist for a heel pad or orthotics.
-Look for shoes with shock absorbing soles to lessen the impact on your heel.

Ball of Foot Pain

This is, quite simply, inflammation in the ball of the foot. Usually running or ill-fitting shoes is the cause of the problem.

How to help:
-Look for shoe inserts. See a specialist for this or a running store with experts. Do not look for over-the-counter options that you’d find at a drugstore.
-Ice it.
-Take anti-inflammatories.

Be sure to stay off your feet when issues occur or you can make the problem worse.


Try Adding Kettlebells to Your Running Workout

What are kettlebells? You may see these iron cannonball-shaped weights at your local gym. While they appear revolutionary—something more glamorous than your standard dumbbell—they are far from it. Since the 1700s, kettlebells were used by Russians to demonstrate strength by lifting and swinging them. Times evolved and now kettlebells are used by daily gym enthusiasts and endurance athletes to build necessary muscle.

Feeling a bit skeptical on this new lifting technique? This study may help sway you. The American Council of Exercise conducted a study with researchers at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse’s Department of Exercise and Sport Science. Thirty healthy, fit male and female volunteers were used to conduct the study—all were aged from 19 to 25 and all had previous strength training backgrounds. These 30 volunteers were divided into two groups: 18 were in the experimental group and 12 were in the control group.

First, researchers measured assessments in strength, cardio and balance. Then, twice a week for eight weeks, the experimental group took an hour-long kettlebell class with certified trainers. Results were measured at the end of eight weeks.

Results proved significant improvements in aerobic capacity, leg press strength, core strength, among other fitness gains. Aerobic function improved an average of a 13.8 percent increase. The greatest increase was in abdominal core strength—this increased 70 percent.

Runners need that strong core to keep their balance. Many runners just focus on their ability to run long distances or sprint at high speeds. In actuality, you must add strength training to your workout to maximize your body’s potential.

With kettlebell training, you receive greater results with the same amount of work as traditional strength training. Because you want to focus more of your energy running, this could be the perfect addition to your workouts.


Hydrating While Running

Marathon Hamburg 2006During hot summer months, runners will tend to drink too much water. Although you think you need to stay hydrated, overhydration can easily occur. When this happens, you are at risk of developing hyponatremia–low blood sodium resulting from too much hydration. A new study suggests endurance athletes should drink when thirsty.

Appearing in the June issue of the Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine, researchers convened at the third International Exercise-Associated Hyponatremia Consensus Development Conference, and published their recommendations. They revised their previous advice due to the two deaths of high school football players from dilutional exercise-associated hyponatremia in Summer 2014.

The newly-published statement now emphasizes a balanced approach to drinking water, especially during the hot months when hyponatremia is often more pronounced. Researchers suggest only drinking water when you are thirsty, rather than keep drinking throughout a tough workout. 

“The release of these recommendations is particularly timely, just before sports training camps and marathon training begins within the United States — where the majority of EAH deaths have occurred,” said Dr. Tamara Hew-Buter, PhD of Oakland University.

Why is it important to be aware of your hydration levels? If you cannot sweat or urinate excess H20, you are at risk of your sodium level interfering with normal regulatory processes. This spells bad news for your body. Symptoms of hyponatremia include vomiting and headaches, and even seizures.

Those EAH deaths were preventable and not forcing hydration can do more good than harm. Drinking when you need it and not when you think you do, can help runners at risk of hyponatremia.