Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Go Down Running

I'm sure that if you've ever declared that you're running a marathon, someone has brought up the possibility that you might never make it to the end. And by that, they mean that you won't just hop on one of those clean-up trucks with your head hanging low -- they mean in a stretcher or body bag.

Yes, Phillipedes died on his 20-mile sprint long ago (the "marathon" as we know it is 26.2 miles due to logistical arbitrariness that happened much later). At least three people have died as a result of the Los Angeles Marathon, all of heart attacks. Some people have died in shorter races, such as the Bay to Breakers (8 miles?). And in that same case, some die young, athletic, and otherwise healthy.

Go to the doctor before trying to run a marathon. Even the cheesiest of workout videos tell you to see a doctor before beginning a fitness program. They might be able to detect a heart problem, or they might clear you only to find that you will over/underhydrate and succumb that way. There is only so much a runner can do.

Although it sounds cliché, I'm sure that if these runners could still communicate, they would say that they died doing something they enjoyed. I think I would say the same thing. People die of worse things every day, things equally as, if not more, preventable and far less fulfilling.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Just Socks

If you've ever tried putting your bare foot in a closed-toe shoe, especially a running shoe, you probably know the importance of wearing socks. Even after my second half-marathon, I was still wearing your everyday multipack socks, but due to paranoia and blisters, those days are gone. [Well, almost. I rotate a pair from a multipack, but it is super thick.)

The first "special" pack came from Wal-Mart, a 2-pack of Dr. Scholl's. I guess the purpose of these is to protect from blisters and minimize odor. The first thing I noticed when wearing them was the extra tightness/support. When running, I do notice less of that "I have wet crumbly cotton in my shoes" feeling, though after 10 or so miles, I get that anyway. I am still rotating the two pairs and think they are just fine.

Another pair I have is from A Snail's Pace. This was a Christmas gift, in case you're wondering. Anyway, these socks are slightly tighter than the Scholl's, a bit thicker, and seamless. They are great for really long runs because I never feel like I have crumbly cotton in my shoe, probably because I believe there is synthetic material in them. For shorter runs, though, I prefer to wear thinner socks because they really are quite binding at first.

I have another pair I got for Christmas, but I can't seem to find a picture of it. They are Balga's, and are super-cute because they have a heel-flap. I think it protects the back of the foot against the rubbing of the back of the shoe. They are thinner than the Feetures but still seamless and synthetic.

P.S. Apologies for the lack of posts. I've been a bit slammed at work and am also taking a small break from running (only 4 miles this week, 14 last week, 22 the week before... yikes). Hopefully things pick up again next week.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Heat Sequel

As another preparation for the hot summer that is about to drown us all, here's another article regarding heat relief, or should I say the lack thereof, for distance runners.
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Drinking Fluids Doesn't Cool Runners Study Sees No Link Between Runners' Body Temperature and Hydration By Daniel J. DeNoon

WebMD Medical News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

May 10, 2007 – Drinking fluids during a race doesn't keep long-distance runners cool, a study set in the steamy Singapore Army Half-Marathon shows.

Runners are often encouraged to drink lots of water during a long-distance race. Data from earlier studies have questioned that strategy. Proof has been elusive, however, as it's hard to measure runners' body temperature while they are racing.

To solve that problem, Christopher Byrne, PhD, and colleagues at Singapore's Center for Human Performance had soldiers swallow heat sensors before running the 2003 half-marathon. The sensors, about three-quarters of an inch long and about two-fifths of an inch in diameter, send temperature readings to a small recorder strapped to a runner's lower back.

The device worked in 18 of 23 male runners. All of the runners were trained soldiers well adapted to Singapore's hot, humid weather. During the 21-kilometer race, the temperature averaged 80 degrees Fahrenheit with relative humidity peaking at 90%.

The soldiers' water intake was measured before and during the race, and they were weighed immediately before and after the race to calculate water loss.

The soldiers finished the race with times ranging from 105 to 146 minutes. None of the runners suffered heat stroke, but they did get hot. At the finish line, half had core body temperatures of more than 104 degrees Fahrenheit. One runner ended the race with a body temperature of 107 degrees Fahrenheit.

How much water the runners drank, and how much lost fluid they replaced, had no effect on body temperature. In fact, the runner that had the 107-degree body heat was the one who did the best job of fluid replacement.

Byrne says it's important to be well hydrated before running a race but that it's not necessary to force fluids.

"Listen to your body and drink if you feel thirsty," Byrne says in a news release. "But drinking several liters of water [during a marathon] will not help you run any faster."

Byrne and colleagues found that core body temperature during the first 30 minutes of the race seemed to be the most important predictor of heat strain.

This suggests "that pacing in the early part of the race is an important strategy in the avoidance of exertional heat illness," the researchers say.

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The study appears in the May issue of the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, the official journal of the American College of Sports Medicine. Byrne is a sports scientist at the University of Exeter, England.

SOURCES: Byrne, C. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, May 2007; vol 38: pp 803-810. News release, University of Exeter, England.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Chafing... and Aquaphor

I have a small collection of Aquaphor samples that I obtained at various pre-race expos. I never bothered with them because I could have sworn that this stuff was meant for babies' diaper rashes. But getting past that, I only need lip balm when the humidity is really low, and before I started running, I never knew what chafing was.

First, a chafing occurs when your skin rubs up against something many times, even other parts of the skin (leaving you with two chafed areas). From my experience, I know when I'm chafing just when the area becomes raw. Often, there are streaks of red in the area, and very rarely, a miniscule amount of bleeding. It hurts when sweat, sunscreen, wind, or anything else hits it. And don't get me started on the post-run shower. The chafing improves on its own over time (a phenonmenon I like to call the "chafing callous").

After low mileage for the past two months, I started chafing when I kicked it up again recently. To protect myself, I finally decided to use some Aquaphor on it. The stuff feels like a thicker, less messy version of Vaseline. It is colorless and scentless but quite persistent on the fingers. I must say that this stuff really did work for me, but not in such a way that I felt the areas were slippery. I would not feel too great putting this stuff everywhere, but since I know I only chafe in a few areas, I can just target those.

I wish I had used some during the marathon, as I had slightly raw underarms after. I also made the mistake of stuffing a gel in my sports bra for the first half of the race and found that it skinned me right near the heart. A month later, I realized that the shorts I was wearing had a hidden pocket inside. D'oh! However, I will remember the Aquaphor if I ever decide to use it.

P.S. Men, I know you have a special problem with chafing, which involves a shirt rubbing against the chest while racing. I don't think Aquaphor will work for that, so stick with the band-aids.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Poem: Why Do I Run?

I could not make it through a 10k session yesterday without emptying bladder, in spite of what I said in the previous entry. I guess I'll just keep working at that; a tolerance will surely come in time, just as my muscles readjusted to the increased mileage and toenails to the abuse of pounding.

So that I don't make it sound like running is not a good thing for the body...


WHY DO I RUN? 'TAIN'T NO MYSTERY--
WANNA HAVE A GOOD MEDICAL HISTORY,
DOCTOR TOLD ME RUNNIN IS GREAT--
HELPS THEM BLOOD CELLS CIRCULATE,
GREAT FOR THE LUNGS,
GREAT FOR THE TICKER,
CAN'T NOTHIN' GETCHA
IN BETTER SHAPE QUICKER,
FEELS SO HEALTHY, FEELS SO SWEET,
PUMPIN MY ARMS AND FLAPPIN' MY FEET,
MOLDIN' MY MUSCLES, FIRMIN' MY FORM,
PANTIN' LIKE A PACK MULE,
SWEATIN' UP A STORM,
KEEPS ME YOUTHFUL,
KEEPS ME LOOSE,
TIGHTENS MY TUMMY
AND SHRINKS MY CABOOSE,
BEATS BEIN' LAZY--
WHY DO I RUN? MAYBE I'M CRAZY!


~ Ed Cummingham: http://www.fdlrc.com/nov01.html#Why

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Joggers' Hematuria

I almost moved this blog to WordPress until I realized how many strings were attached, so to speak.

Anyway, it is my hope that I can drive more traffic to this blog so that in addition to all the other things I write about, I can make Public Service Announcements (PSAs) like this one:

Don't run on empty.

If you've ever heard the Diana Fox song "Running on Empty" while doing your tenth mile, you probably thought about your heavy legs or some other "wall" that you have to push through. However, I'm not talking about energy reserves... I'm talking about pee.

It makes sense to relieve yourself before a run. After all, who wants to think about the port-a-potty on top of everything else a runner has to worry about? But unless you really need to, refrain. Or, get some liquid in you soon after.

Hematuria is the medical term for having blood in the urine. It can be caused by many things, including scary things like kidney disease, stones, etc. One less harmful cause is strenuous exercise, including running long distances, also known as "joggers' hematuria." Even if exercise is the culprit, the next question is: why? One possibility is that an empty bladder's walls can rub up against each other and cause capillaries to break. Many marathoners have the condition after races. Bicyclists can get it because of "impacts" to "that" area.

There are other specific causes/origins, so if you ever find blood in the pee, get it checked. Stay hydrated!


Source: http://thedevonshires.blogspot.com/2006/10/joggers-hematuria.html and other sites I found during a Google search, and possible experience

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Icy Hot Patch

One of the things that Santa dropped into my stocking this year was none other than a small pack of Icy Hot patches (not the "back" ones pictured here). As the commercials say, it's icy to get rid of the pain and hot to melt it away (or something like that). It was good timing, as January/February were heavy training months for me, and there was bound to be a time when I needed them, regardless of my natural hardiness.

That time came after my 20-miler. The outer side of my left foot felt bruised for some reason, so I was cutting the patches in half and putting them at my outer arch during/after runs so that I could keep going at such a critical time.

The smell is not as bad as some Asian variations of the patch (like Salonpas, which I will review one day once I've tried it), but it might also mean that it is less effective. I didn't think I got any more than some temporary relief (a few minutes), probably because it didn't stick too well to that area. So if I had to change this product, I'd make it stickier and remember not to stick it to hairy areas. I will use the remaining patches for pain in less obscure areas, though.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Lock Lacing

All this time, I've been using my good-ol' double-knot to keep my laces secure while running. That is somewhat of an upgrade from the single-knot that I've been using since I learned to tie shoes.

But after having runs that were slightly more/less pleasant due to lacing, which varied day by day, it clicked that maybe a different style would change the way shoes fit.

Upon looking at lacing sites, I found a variation I could try without undoing all of my laces. My lazy self decided to give this one a shot, since the description actually said it was for running shoes. So I only had to undo one eyelet on each side as shown. Then, I started off on my run.

What did I notice? Of course, I didn't feel like some miracle had just happened and running suddenly became more like flying. Rather, I noticed less heel slippage without my shoe being too tight. Interesting what a little change can do. I think I will relace all my running shoes this way, and even some of my non-running ones.

Check out the site below. You may find some cooler variations that you will have the guts to try. I will just stick to this one for now.

Source - Ian's Shoelace Site: http://www.fieggen.com/shoelace/locklacing.htm

Thursday, May 10, 2007

It's Gettin' Hot in Herrr

I've been meaning to post this as the weather in Southern California approached 100 degrees this week. Just reading the first sentence of the article below, I already feel better knowing that I'm not weird when I complain about the heat even in seemingly "overcast" conditions. Anyway, enjoy... and stay cool.


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Hot Weather Running
Posted Monday, 5 June, 2006

First, the bad news: When the temperature rises about 55 degrees F (10 degrees C), you’re going to run more slowly and feel worse than you will at lower temperatures. But by gradually preparing yourself for increased temperatures and taking action from the beginning of hot weather runs, you’ll get a welcome dose of the good news. You’ll learn how to hydrate yourself, what to wear, and when and how much your body can take in hot weather, all of which will help you recover faster and run better than others of your ability on hot days. While even the most heat-adapted runners won’t run as fast on hot days as they can on cold ones, they won’t slow down as much nor will they feel as much discomfort.

Until the temperature rises to about 65 degrees F, most runners don’t notice much heat buildup, even though it is already putting extra burdens on the system. It takes most folks about 30 to 45 minutes of running (with or without walk breaks) to feel warm. But soon after that, if the temperature is above about 62 degrees F, you’re suddenly hot and sweating. On runs and especially races under those conditions, most runners have to force themselves to slow down. It’s just too easy to start faster than you should when the temperature is between 60 and 69 degrees F because it feels cool at first.

As the mercury rises about 65 degrees F, your body can’t get rid of the heat building up. This causes a rise in core body temperature and an early depletion of fluids through sweating. The internal temperature rise also triggers the rapid dispersion of blood into the capillaries of the skin, reducing the amount of that vital fluid that is available to the exercising muscles. Just when those workhorses are being pushed to capacity, they are receiving less oxygen and nutrients. What used to be a river becomes a creek and can’t remove the waste products of exercise (such as lactic acid). As these accumulate, your muscles slow down.

Scheduling

The best time for hot weather running is before sunrise. The more you can run before sunrise, the cooler you will feel, compared with how you’ll feel later in the day. The second best time to run, by the way, is right after sunrise, unless the temperature cools off dramatically at sunset, which would make that time more favorable. In humid areas, however, it usually doesn’t cool down much after sunset.

Some tips on how to say cool at 55 degrees F or above


  • Slow down early – The later you wait to slow down, the more dramatically you’ll slow down at the end and the longer it will take to recover from the run. Walk breaks, early and often, help you lower the exertion level, which conserves resources for the end and reduces heat buildup.

  • Wear lighter garments – Loose-fitting clothes allow heat to escape. Don’t wear cotton clothing. Sweat soaks into cotton, causing it to cling to your skin, increasing heat buildup. Several materials will wick the perspiration away from your skin: Coolmax, polypro, etc. As moisture leaves your skin, you receive a cooling effect, and these types of materials are designed for this.

  • Pour water over yourself – Up to 70 percent of the heat you can lose goes out through the top of your head so regularly pour water over your hair (even if, like me, you are hair challenged). Regularly pouring water on a light, polypro (or a similar material) singlet or tank top will keep you cooler.

  • Drink cold water – Not only does cold water leave the stomach of a runner quicker than any type of fluid, it produces a slight physiological cooling effect – and an even greater psychological cooling effect. But don’t drink too much either.
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From Marathon You Can Do It by Jeff Galloway (Shelter Publications, 2001) pp. 171-172

Illness Takes a Toll?

Some @#$%& in the gym yesterday was using the elliptical half-@$$edly right behind me while I was running, and she was coughing and sputtering all over the place. I think I'm paying for it now, but I tend to fight off most colds before they ever become a real "cold."

Once, when I felt a cold coming on, I decided to run the 16-miler I had scheduled for the day. It went fine... no coughing, sneezing, or anything besides a slight burn when I breathed too deeply. Plus, I had sequestered myself to a corner of the gym. I think it was a wise choice not to skip the run. And if I don't feel any worse, I am going to do my scheduled run today. If it escalates, then I am not going to make some poor attempt at a workout and infect everyone else.

I hate to sound like an all-or-nothing person, but if you're too sick to pull yourself together for even the elliptical (not that I'm dissing the elliptical because it is good cross training), you shouldn't be working out at all. Germ spreader. I think I get so upset by them because I rarely ever infect others, even though I always (and I mean that) went to school no matter how bad I felt. Most recently was when I was a sophomore in college, and my roommates got a pre-cold because I was really sick. Keep in mind we were all studying for midterms for half the day in a stuffy (one of them never liked the windows open), sardine-can triple dorm room. And I warned them.

Anyway, here is what Running Times had to say about running while sick:

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Ask the Coaches: Training/Racing While Sick
January 1, 2004

Q: I know that you feed a cold and starve a fever, but what about training and racing when I'm sick?

A: There are a number of studies that show a decrease in immune function secondary to intensive training, increasing an athlete's susceptibility to infection. Overtraining certainly increases this risk.

If you feel too ill to work out, don't. If you are running a fever, you should also not work out; this could increase the risk of the infection affecting the heart.

Dr. Randy Eichner recommends the "neck check." If there is no fever and all of the symptoms are above the neck—congestion, sore throat, etc.—then an easy workout would be OK. If symptoms are below the neck—significant cough, muscle aches, etc.—then a day off is in order. Pushing too hard may prolong the course of the illness and increase the potential for complications.

If you pass the neck check and your temperature is normal, you might consider racing, but your performance may not be up to par. Pushing the pace may also cause protracted illness. This can sometimes cause symptoms similar to chronic fatigue syndrome, negatively impacting your training for a prolonged period of time.

To keep from getting sick, start with regular hand washing, eat a well balanced diet, and get plenty of sleep. During the winter, get a flu shot. Supplements may be helpful, but when considering taking any supplement, research it to make sure that significant side effects have not been reported.
--Dr. Cathy Fieseler

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see the article at: http://www.runningtimesmagazine.com/rt/articles/?c=62&id=4497

Monday, May 7, 2007

"Run" Songs

Everytime I hear a song with the word "run" in it, I get a sudden spurt of energy. I wonder what would happen if I smooshed all of those into a song, but that would probably involve lots of cutting/splicing mp3 files on Adobe. Plus, I'm sure someone could do a far better job than I can.

For now, I will list all the songs I have listened to that mention the sacred word in the chorus. Feel free to comment, so I can add more...

(* = submissions by others)

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"The One" - Backstreet Boys

"Runaround" - Blues Traveler*

"Water Runs Dry" - Boyz II Men

"Sometimes" - Britney Spears

"Run to You" - Bryan Adams*

"Run It!" - Chris Brown

"If You're not the One" - Daniel Bedingfield

"Something Happened on the Way to Heaven" - Phil Collins/Deborah Cox

"Running on Empty" - Diana Fox

"You Can't Hide, You Can't Run" - Dilated Peoples

"Run Rabbit Run" - Eminem*

"Escape" - Enrique Iglesias

"I'm not in Love" - Enrique Iglesias and Kelis

"Ran so Far Away" - Flock of Seagulls

"Open Arms" - Journey

"Runaway Love" - Ludacris and Mary J. Blige

"Run On" - Moby

"Running" - No Doubt

"Take it on the Run" - REO Speedwagon*

"The Animal Song" - Savage Garden

"Runaway Train" - Soul Asylum*

"Falls Apart" - Sugar Ray

"Runnin' Down a Dream" - Tom Petty*

"I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" - U2*

"Run to You" - Whitney Houston

Thursday, May 3, 2007

My Hair Tie

Normally, any hair tie I use is broken within a few uses. This one, which can be seen worn around my wrist very often, has lasted for at least a year. I found this on the floor on the way to campus to go to class and afterwards do a training run for my first half-marathon. I had forgotten to bring one and was agonizing about it as I was walking to class. Since then, I've worn it during nearly all training runs and at the LA Marathon and Long Beach half.

This has just the right elasticity to keep my hair in place, but not too tight where I feel like an onion. I guess that's all you can really say about a hair tie, right?

EDIT: In July 2007, it snapped one day while tying my hair. I was SO disappointed...

Run for Justice... and My Desk

About halfway through training for the marathon, I graduated from college and had to move my runs indoors. Likewise, the high mileage was exhausting, so I needed some motivation. Then came our law department with their fundraising for the Public Counsel, which offers free legal services for the battered and those who otherwise can't afford it. I personally prefer health-based groups, but since this was a company thing, I joined, raising over $100 (goal was $250, but oh well).

Above is the shirt I received. We were encouraged to wear it during the race, but the heat it would generate would have parched me.

A few weeks later, we had a celebratory luncheon, where I received this cute bobble-head trophy for getting the fastest female time (out of 2) in the company.

the stuff on my desk: trophy, plate frame

Also pictured on my work desk is a license plate frame I got in the Run for Justice goodie bag. It says "I'd Rather be Running." Unfortunately, I don't get to drive my car much, and my dad would not "rather be running" than driving.

I enjoyed this experience, but I think next year, I am going to raise money for cancer instead, considering all that has happened lately.

Running marathons is a good way to raise money. Anyone who runs one should capitolize on the chance to bug coworkers for pity money, because they think you're nuts for running so much.

Speaking of desk, I also have this picture that Kwi drew for me for Christmas hanging there. It is titled "Hurry and Run the Half-Marathon." If you can see the picture, you will see that my shoes are talking to me, ha ha.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Marware Sensor Pouch

Since I am not running in Nikes, I have to use this pouch to attach the senor to my shoelaces. Purchased at Amazon. It is extremely light, waterproof, and fits securely and is straight on the top of my shoelaces. Placing these flat and securely on your shoe is utterly important, less your mileage/pace will register slightly off. All in all, I'm very happy with being able to run in my usual shoes while using the sensor.

Nike+ iPod Sport Kit

Check out my new toy!! Now I will never have to worry about whether I am running enough when I am not on a treadmill. This thing will tell me when I've gone a certain distance and my pace. Plus, I can log all the miles on the Nike website. Purchased at Dick's Sporting Goods because I had a gift certificate.

Anyway, I had to run a few laps on the treadmill to calibrate it. I was nervous, because it was registering that I was running twice as fast as I was (which would be nice, if I could actually run that fast). But after all that, I did some test laps and found it pretty darn accurate. It would probably be moreso if I calibrate it on a track, which I plan to do the next time I'm at one.

I took it outside -- I felt like a marionette whose strings were just cut -- and did a mile (I was a bit tired because this was supposed to be a rest day, but oh well).

When I finished, they gave me my stats (pace, calories, time, miles), and Paula Radcliffe congratulated me for running my longest workout so far (ha ha...). Upon coming home, I hooked my iPod up and had this uploaded:



Yeah, pitiful mileage today, but this was just a trial. That dip in the graph I believe was when I forgot to pause at a light. If anyone wants to challenge me, my screenname on the Nike website is SlowJuj.

No more estimating distance by time! A push of a button tells me how long I've been running, how far I've gone, and my pace. You can even pause the workout at street lights. You can also see this information on the iPod screen if you care to look while running. Other features include: custom as well as set workout distances (these actually give you automatic feedback after certain distances, versus having to push a button to hear them), a powersong of your choice at the touch of a button, and storage of past workouts. You can choose to run without music, a playlist, or shuffled music.

Bottom line: this thing is everything I expected!