Check out my video on the Altra youtube site. If I get the most views, I win a free pair of shoes!!!
Thursday, August 25, 2011
The back to school frenzy has officially started. Folders, notebooks and pencils explode from store shelves. Clothing racks are lined with the newest fall fashions so that your child can arrive at school on the first day with an outfit that is the envy of all the other kids. In this mad rush to wind up summer and get the school year started, one important “back-to-school” aspect is forgotten…your child’s exercise and nutrition.
In a recent study done by the Center For Disease Control (CDC), 17% (or 12.5 million) of children are obese. That’s an alarming statistic. Since 1980 Childhood Obesity has tripled. Mayo Clinic lists Childhood Obesity as the number one concern for children and teens. Childhood Obesity leads to serious health conditions such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol – all once considered exclusively adult diseases. Considering the fact that kids spend a minimum of 33% of their day at school and 32 million kids eat school lunch every day, I’d say that activity, exercise and nutrition should be a top concern for parents as they send their kids back to school.
There are many aspects that contribute to Childhood Obesity. More and more, life is sedentary – kids spend more time playing with electronic devices or watching TV than they do being active. Virtually all of a child’s free time is spent in front of one screen or another. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends limiting the time children over two years of age spend in front of a screen to 1-2 hours a day. For children under two this time should be zero. The AAP also recommends that kids over two years of age get at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity every day. The fact that more and more schools are eliminating PE doesn’t help this scenario. One study showed that on average PE classes offered 3rd graders only 25 minutes of activity a week! That’s a far cry from 60 minutes per day.
Another aspect that contributes to Childhood Obesity is nutrition. Or maybe a better way to say it is the lack there of. High sugar and high fat foods are marketed to kids. Families are typically busier during the school year as well and resort to prepackaged meals or fast food, which are both laden with excess sugar, fat, sodium, and many dangerous additives. Kids consume about 30-50% of their calories from school meal programs. These usually consist of many prepackaged foods as well. This means that most of what children eat is NOT fresh. It’s processed.
One final contributor to Childhood Obesity is the amount of time children have to eat their lunch at school. Elementary kids have about 25 minutes for lunch; middle school and high school students have about 30 minutes. That includes the time it takes them to go to the restroom, wash their hands, walk to the cafeteria, and stand in line for their meals. Many students have only 10-15 minutes to eat. Research shows that when people eat quickly, they consume more calories, enjoy the meal less, and feel hungrier sooner. It seems that healthier countries such as France may have a bit of wisdom to letting children have two hours for lunch. In recent years food service workers have been trying to make it easier for children to eat healthy foods. Many parents do the same when packing lunches for their kids. The problem is that it takes longer to eat healthy foods. It takes more time to chew a whole apple or eat an entire salad than it does to eat pudding, chicken nuggets, or French Fries.
So what’s a parent to do? First, you must lead by example. Make a healthy lifestyle a whole family endeavor. Let your kids help you prepare healthy meals, take them with you when you are grocery shopping, and teach them how to make good food choices. Do physical activities together as a family; play games, go for bike rides, or go swimming. The possibilities here are endless. Eliminate junk food from your house, and don’t ever use food as a reward. By making these few simple changes you and your entire family will be healthier. When packing lunches for your kids make healthy food easy to eat; cut up veggies into bite size pieces, slice apples, and cut sandwiches into pieces. This will allow your child to eat more healthy foods in the amount of time they have to eat lunch at school. If your child has after school activities pack them healthy snacks such as nuts, fruit, light string cheese, or Greek Yogurt. That way they don’t resort to a candy bar or a bag of chips when they are hungry.
Ok, NOW you’re ready to send your kids back to school!
Thursday, July 28, 2011
The first race I ever ran felt like a junior high dance. I wasn’t sure where to go or what to do. I wished I had headphones and sunglasses like every other runner so I looked cool and confident. 50 plus races later I’ve learned that races aren’t all I hyped them up to be. Anyone can race; it’s not for some elite crowd of people.
The Burn Your Lungs Run 5K, 10K and ½ Marathon is only 2 days away. Here is your race day survival guide so that you don’t have to relive the awkwardness of a junior high dance.
The day before the race is just as important as race day. Plan and visualize how your race will go in the early afternoon of the day before you race. Don’t stay up late fretting about the next morning. Lay out all your race day clothing, pin your bib number on the front of your shirt (if you have it), set out any special food or drink you may need for race day, and set multiple alarms. The irony of life is that your alarm clock will malfunction on race day; it’s happened to many a runner.
You’ll want to eat a normal dinner the night before the race. This is not the time to overeat or try sushi for the first time. Stick to the foods and portions you normally eat.
On race morning take a hot shower. It will help you wake up, warm up your muscles, and improve your flexibility. Eat something light 2 hours before the race. Once again, this is not the time to try something new. If you are a coffee drinker, drink coffee. If you are not, this is not the time to start! Don’t drink too much though. Over-hydrating the day of the race will leave you stopping at every porta-potty. Instead drink a little extra for 2 to 3 days leading up to the race.
Arrive at the race start at least 30 minutes early. Warm up with walking or a light jog. Vigorous stretching will wear your muscles out, save it for after the race.
The race start can be intense. It’s easy to run too fast at the beginning and end up dragging yourself across the finish line. Hold back a bit at the beginning so that you have enough steam at the end.
When you come to an aid station along the course, don’t stop directly in front of it while you take a drink. Others are coming behind you and they need room to grab some water as well. Instead, grab your cup and continue past the aid station before you stop to drink. It’s also courteous to thank the volunteers manning the aid stations.
If your race is going to take longer than 1 hour you need to eat and drink while you run. The goal is to consume 25 – 60 grams of carbohydrates and 8 – 16 ounces of fluid per hour.
There’s the scoop on surviving race day. If you haven’t registered for the Burn Your Lungs Run, now is the time to do it. Go to www.burnyourlungs.blogspot.com, or look for the registration booth at the Oyster Ridge Music Festival on Friday evening from 6:00-8:00 p.m. Remember, racing is not for an elite group of people – it’s for everyone, which includes YOU!
Thursday, July 21, 2011
On Saturday I ran one of my favorite races, the Wild Iris 21K Trail Race, a challenging race that winds through the foothills of the Wind River Mountains. It’s full of steep climbs and descents which thoroughly trashes a runner’s legs. After a race like that all I want to do is drink diet coke, eat cinnamon rolls, and lay around the house for days watching TV. If I didn’t know any better I might end up doing that, however I do know better. I’ve learned that recovering from a run is just as important as every other aspect of running.
So what did I really do after the race? I sat in a bathtub full of ice water, drank coconut water, ate a turkey burger, and forced my sore body to get up and go for a walk. Later I pulled on compression tights and went to bed early. I know that doesn’t sound near as fun as lying in bed eating cinnamon rolls, but it was worth it.
You may be thinking, “Awkward,” as you read about my “post-race” routine, but that’s ok. After reading this you too may decide to sit in an ice bath or drink coconut water.
The act of running actually breaks your body down. It depletes your energy, dehydrates your body, and inflames your muscles. The benefits you get from running come as your body recovers from running. This is why doing the right things AFTER you run is so important. Here’s what your body needs after that hard run.
You need to refuel and rehydrate within the first 30 minutes. Eating something with a 4:1 carbs to protein ratio is ideal. Drink water or something with electrolytes such as Propel or coconut water. Coconut water is loaded with potassium which will reduce muscle soreness and cramping. Within the first hour after your run try an ice bath. It constricts blood vessels and decreases metabolic activity, which reduces swelling and tissue breakdown.
Next, you need to keep moving. Laying around for the rest of the day will only make you more sore later, while walking forces oxygen rich blood to all those sore muscles aiding in their repair. Sleep is also vital to your body’s ability to repair itself, so go to bed a little early.
Over the next few days you’ll want to massage and stretch your sore muscles. Tools such as a foam roller or a massage stick can help with loosening up tight muscles and increasing flexibility. Athletic stores carry these items, and they are worth investing in. Compression tights also speed your recovery time by increasing circulation and reducing inflammation. A few brands to check out are CWX, 2XU, and SLS3.
Beyond that, the most important thing is to listen to your body and treat it well. If you’re extra tired and sore walk for a few days instead of running. Eat nutrient dense foods, drink plenty of water, and get good rest. Well, those are all of the Personal Trainer’s orders for today. Enjoy that ice bath!
I believe there are two kinds of people; those who ask questions, and those who try and figure it all out on their own. I suppose each has their advantages and disadvantages, but for me I’m a “figure it out on your own” kind of person. Which is great when I’m able to actually “figure it out”, but it’s a real bummer when my own attempts fail.
I have a twin brother who is definitely a question person. I never quite understood his need to ask so many questions, but I do have to give props to the guy for being bold enough to ask anybody anything. Questions that would have left me cowering in a corner were boldly declared by my brother.
When it comes to running there are “kosher” questions, and then there are questions that only my twin brother would dare ask. Both need answering though. The Burn Your Lungs Run 5K, 10K, and Half Marathon is only 9 days away so it’s time to tackle a few of those awkward questions.
Question 1: Why does my GI tract act up when I’m running?
When you run your intestines take a double hit. The jostling motion of running can irritate the intestines, and blood flow that's needed for digestion is diverted to your legs and vital organs which can result in cramping, gas, or diarrhea.
Question 2: Is it true that running can cause chaffed or bleeding nipples?
Yep, it’s true! When men run, their nipples are constantly rubbing against their shirts which overtime can cause painful chaffing or even bleeding. This shouldn’t keep you from running though! Band Aids, Vaseline or Body Glide, and moisture wicking shirts will all help prevent this painful situation.
Question 3: Why do my legs get itchy when I run?
The most common cause of itchy legs is caused by the millions of tiny capillaries and arteries inside our muscles expanding rapidly because of the demand for more blood. The brain often reads this sensation as an itch. The good news is that this problem should go away as you increase your fitness level.
Question 4: Am I supposed to wear my race t-shirt on race day?
No, your race t-shirt is a “been there, done that” t-shirt. So, until you’ve completed the race don’t wear it. Once you’ve completed the race you’re free to pull on that new technical t-shirt and flaunt your accomplishment.
Question 5: Why does my nose run just as fast as my feet?
An exercise induced runny nose is most likely due to the increased air flow. Cool or dry air causes an increase in nasal secretions. There is no need to feel self conscious about your snotty nose, its part of running just like sweat. Be a kid and either perfect your snot rocket technique or just let it run.
There you have it. The answers to questions you may have never even thought to have asked. And they weren’t even embarrassing because you didn’t have to ask them, you got to read them in the comfort of your own home!
Monday, July 11, 2011
My college soccer coach used to always yell, “Get your head in the game,” whenever things started to fall apart on the field. In my head I always responded, “Stop being a psychologist and be my coach!” After some years of running I’ve realized that “having your head in the game” is just as important as the physical aspects of running.
Runner and author, George Sheenen writes, “It’s very hard to understand in the beginning that the whole idea is not to beat the other runners. Eventually you learn that the competition is against the little voice in your head that wants to quit.” Running requires intrinsic motivation, or internal motivation. You won’t last as a runner if you are only motivated by outside, superficial influences. Sometimes others will push you, but most of the time you will have to learn to push yourself. It’s cold, raining, the grass needs mowed, you’re tired from work, it’s too early, and the question comes, “Will you still get out the door and run?”
In my last article I wrote about good running form. I hope you’ve been out practicing it. This week I want to focus on wrapping your head around running. Here are some pointers to get your head in the right place so that you have longevity as a runner.
First, don’t waste time and mental energy staring out the window at horrible weather trying to decide if you are going to run or not. Just put on your shoes and get outside. Think positively prior to a workout. Think about how you will enjoy the run. When negative thoughts start to creep in, replace them with the opposite.
Be confident. Don’t let other runners intimidate you. Running is an individual sport as well as a process, and no one improves without practice. You are on your own journey. Author John Bingham writes, “Believe that you can run farther or faster. Believe that you're young enough, old enough, strong enough, and so on to accomplish everything you want to do.” Remember that you are the center of your story. That includes running.
Create a “running mantra”; Something you can say to yourself when you want to quit. Effective mantras address how you want to feel, not the adversity you are trying to overcome. Olympic runner Deena Kastor’s mantra is, “Define yourself.” Elite Ultra Marathon Runner Scott Jurek’s mantra is, “This is what you came for.” Give it some thought and come up with your own phrase to get you through the rough patches.
When running gets monotonous, it’s time to get creative in your goals. Such as: run a certain distance, complete a distance in a certain time, run all the way up a hill, or take fewer walk breaks. It’s also good to try running a new route or at a different time of day.
You only have 23 days till the Burn Your Lungs Run. So it’s time to, “Get your head in the game!”