ALTHOUGH THE IMPORTANCE OF SLEEP DURATION WAS DISCUSSED IN A RECENT BLOG POST ON BONE HEALTH, reading about importance of sleep in general can add frustration to those already frustrated by sleep difficulties. As someone who regularly struggles with sleep quality issues, learning about sleep can be anxiety provoking and have a reverse effect on efforts to improve it. Especially when personal experiences line up with unhealthy situations described in scientific articles. Therefore, information that provides advice or suggests aids which can be implemented without turning life upside down offers the most hope; little tweaks rather than drastic changes.
The latest potential tweak that might help some with sleep challenges is a simple aid, a weighted sleep mask.
Weighted sleep masks for children with were discussed by psychologist Daniel Sher M.A. in a November 2019 article for parentingpod.com. He explained that the masks work to improve sleep by blocking light, like all sleep masks are designed to do, which helps maintain melatonin levels that promote sleepiness. In addition, the masks provide deep pressure stimulation that reduces the nervous system response which maintain alertness and a sense of anxiety. The ‘evenly distributed pressure” across the eye area stimulates the alternate nervous system response that assists with feeling calm.
Weighted blankets, also used as a sleep aid by some, are thought to trigger similar calming responses. Snuggly wrapped vests, modeled to perform like infant swaddling blankets, are designed to settle anxious pet friends by delivering "gentle, constant pressure" and likely fall into the same category. Sher, a clinical psychologist, reviews 10 weighted sleep mask products in this article, “A Psychologist’s Guide to Weighted Sleep Masks: Do They Work? And Why?”
I chose #9, the Gravity™ brand, to trial.
I found this mask helped when I was traveling and in an unfamiliar environment, or on nights at home when falling asleep was difficult. The weight really does have a calming effect on me. I put in on when I had a headache, but after taking headache medication too and can't say that it was an effective cure. I’m pleased enough with the results to keep it for just for sleep.
There don't seem to be any contraindications or side effects, so it is a relatively risk-free remedy. I am hoping it will reduce wake-up eye puffiness too but have yet to perform a thoughtful test.
Air travelers should be aware that the glass beads in the Gravity™ mask showed up like plastic explosives would on the airport scanner when I went through security! My carry-on luggage was wiped down and searched on my way out of town. Consider taking it out of your bag and placing it in the bowl to be x-rayed separately if you don’t pack it in checked luggage.
This type of product might be something to try for personal use or as a gift for someone else. Prices vary, but deals can be found this time of the year; the range might fit your gifting budget for a loved one who potentially might be helped, at least in some circumstances.
RUN & MOVE HAPPY!
NOTE: I happened across an interesting article from 2005 that explained the sleep-wake cycle from a unique perspective. Not sure the science is up-to-date, 14 years later, but the concepts described in this piece will serve as a jumping off point for my future searches on the topic.
NOW THAT YOU STARTED EASING BACK INTO TRAINING the relaxed nature of this plan should be apparent. The days of preparation between Thanksgiving and the December holidays are busy and may leave runners and walkers feeling uncharacteristically fatigued. That’s the reasoning behind the strategy of training on a “keep open” level of intensity.
In medical terms, life-saving fluids or medications might be delivered to a very ill patient through an intravenous (IV) tube or ‘line’ at a rate that is “wide open”, such that the valve regulating fluid flow rate does not obstruct the tube lumen at all. This high flow rate is used in emergencies like shock or hemorrhage to maintain adequate blood volume within the heart and circulatory system and keep the blood pressure at optimum levels.
Lower rates of flow can be achieved as well. Once there is no need to deliver meds or fluids intravenously the needle and attached tubing apparatus can be removed. However, because it’s not always easy to re-establish this body portal for delivery of IV fluids in seriously ill patients, one practice is to leave it intact a bit longer, until there is no possible need for emergency IV access. The fluid flow in this time is set at a “keep open” rate, just enough to allow the line to stay open and potentially usable.
In similar fashion, the ‘On To The New Year’ plans are intended to maintain running and walking fitness levels built during the previous 10 week+ Turkey Trot programs. There’s just enough running or walking to keep you in shape to comfortably run a 5k race again on New Year’s Eve or Day. It’s not designed to challenge you or help set a new personal best time (PR), but allow you to show up, have fun, and cross the finish line.
It’s also a way to avoid significant de-training over the holiday season, should you decide to pick up where you left off and begin working toward competing in a half marathon in Spring 2020, by following the upcoming “Saints Days” plan (checkout the 2019 plan on the RESOURCES page).
If you cannot locate a convenient nearby race to run or walk on these days, remember you can use your 2019 or request new 2020 Earned Runs Bibs for the occasion.
Believe that you became an athlete these past months by committing to a challenge goal, training according to plan, then competing, and that as an athlete can maintain fitness over the holiday season with a simple commitment to continue working at a ‘keep open’ rate.
RUN & MOVE HAPPY
RUNNERS 'On To The New Year' 2019-2020 5K
WALKERS 'On To The New Year' 2019-2020 5K
Updated December 6, 2019
gA RECENT JAPANESE STUDY REPORTED RESULTS THAT PROBABLY SURPRISED NO ONE WHO HAS EVER EXERCISED WITH HIGH INTENSITY IN THE COLD AND WET. IN THE ARTICLE “Rain exacerbates cold and metabolic strain during high intensity running” researchers describe how they simulated outdoor (wind) rainy conditions and had 12 men run for 60 minutes on a treadmill in a climate chamber with an air temperature of 5 degrees Centigrade (41 degrees Fahrenheit). In the experimental RAIN group, a continuous soaking with water was delivered via nozzles in front and above the runners. The “rain” water temp was about 2 degrees lower than that of the ambient air (~ 39 degrees F).
In CONTROL conditions participants did not experience the “rain”. All study participants were part of a university track team and previously exercised 6 days per week; ages averaged 21 years.
Runners performed each of the runs (RAIN and CONTROL) after a 12 hour fast, and wore identical 100% polyester running shirts and shorts.
Skin (chest, upper arm, thigh, and calf) and rectal (oh dear) temperatures were measured at 10, 40, 50, and 60 minutes. Oxygen consumption, perceived rate of exertion, and plasma lactate and epinephrine levels were also measured.
It was found that “rain increased heat loss during the early phase of exercise in the cold then heat production increased transiently and transiently suppressed cold stress”.
This has been my experience. I optimistically believe that by initially going out hard my body heat will keep me warm. However the study demonstrated that “with time, body heat loss intensified due to increasing wet area, and then energy expenditure and lactate increased due to cold stress”. The scientific results matched what experience has taught most any-weather runners: inevitably, cold and discomfort set in, which effects performance.
The study scientists concluded “therefore, rain may decrease exercise performance and affect sport safety”.
So, we now have science to back up the fact that we need to protect ourselves when exercising outdoors in cold and wet (rain or snow) conditions with gear that resists precipitation. [Proper pre-run nourishment would also help but the topic isn't to be covered in this post.]
Since the study participants wore only shirts and shorts in this activity, it does not take a complicated scientific theory to predict they would soon begin to feel the effects of the simulated cold and wet weather. Even pre-schoolers are likely to know that leaving the school building to play outside without extra covering won't be much fun after a while.
Outdoor exercisers know that taking simple measures like wearing a visor hat, adding a water resistant shell over a long sleeve tech-shirt underlayer, and donning tights that cover the legs can go a long way toward retaining warmth and comfort during sport. Still, if environmental wetness penetrates clothing layers and reaches the skin, misery is sure to set in. Now science shows us that performance is worsened and injury is risked.
The same can be said for wetness effecting the feet. Another item of GEAR that can make a cold and wet workout possible and even enjoyable are water resistant shoes. Might Gore-tex material keep out water and snow better than usual running shoe mesh uppers? I reasoned this would be true and decided to give Hoka One One Speedgoat 2 Mid GTX trail shoes a trial of Michigan's late fall weather.
West Michigan recently had the earliest dump of cold and snow ever in November, and my shoes arrived in time for a tough, preliminary road test. The high-top design and Gore-tex fabric kept my feet and ankles warm and dry on each of 3 walk/runs; I won’t need ankle gaiters wearing these shoes. The Vibram soles gripped the few icy spots I encountered. However, because winter has not yet fully arrived here a true test of slipping prevention will need to wait until much colder and snowier conditions prevail.
With such limited experience my personal trial of the HOKA's Goretex trail shoe is not completed, but going into the winter months, I feel better prepared than usual to enjoy the season during outdoor exercise sessions. There are likely other shoes that will serve the purpose, but since supplies often don’t last long of this type of gear, it seems like an earlier ‘heads-up’ notice about potential gear solutions to winter problems was needed.
Share your wet/cold fighting tips with Earned Runs!
RUN & MOVE HAPPY!
BUILDING ON THE PAST MONTHS OF TRAINING Turkey Trotters who wish to run or walk a New Year’s Eve 5k or a Resolution 5k event on New Year’s Day and who would like a bit of STRUCTURE to get them pointed in the right direction and ready for another fun event, this post is for you.
The RUN plan is adapted from the Earned Runs “On to the New Year” plans offered in 2017 and 2018 after the Thanksgiving Day weekend. It is for runners who followed the 10+ week plan over the past several months to prepare for a Turkey Trot 5K. The 4+ week program starts at about the level of intensity scheduled a month earlier in the Runners’ Turkey Trot 5k Training Plan. It is posted on the Resources page.
The WALK plan was introduced in last year, adapted from a VeryWellFit.com beginner 5K plan. Because walkers will have been training since September, the ‘On to the New Year’ 2018-2019 plan starts roughly at the level of the Verywellfit.com Week 3 plan. It is for walkers who followed the 10+ week plan over the past several months to prepare for a 5k or 10k Turkey Trot. It is also posted on the Resources page.
You will have just a week to recover from a Thanksgiving Day run or walk and to mentally rest up after 10+ weeks of training. The general rule is to avoid intense workouts for a length of time determined by the race distance: 1 day for every 1 mile of race. Thus after a Thanksgiving Day 3.1 mile (5K) race you would take 3 days to rest, with only easy short runs, cross-training sessions, or walking. Both plans start on today Wednesday December 4, 2019.
Neither plan is designed to improve runners’ or walkers’ finish times achieved in the Turkey Trot competition. The purpose of each is to continue running and walking activities that allow comfortable participation in fun events at the end/beginning of this/next year.
Alternatively, you can devise or find another plan to prepare for an event roughly 4-5 weeks after your Thanksgiving Day race. If a better performance is a goal, check online for free plans or advice.
If you haven’t yet thought about competing again, consider using the past several months’ Turkey Trot preparation effort to position yourself for a vigorous end to 2019 or a confidence-boosting beginning to 2020. You need only maintain training activity for a few more weeks.
Take time to rest and recover, then look ‘On to the New Year’.
RUN & MOVE HAPPY!
RUN: EARNED RUNS ‘ON TO THE NEW YEAR’ 2019-20 5K TRAINING PLAN
WALK: EARNED RUNS ‘ON TO THE NEW YEAR’ 2019-20 5K TRAINING PLAN
FOR ALL THAT WE CHERISH AND ENJOY... for gifts of relationship, nature, and experience.
RUN & MOVE HAPPY!
SEVERAL YEARS AGO, MY REASONS FOR BEING GRATEFUL FOR RUNNING were listed in a pre-Thanksgiving blog post. The 2018 Pre-T post included my reasons to be thankful for “not running” during a prolonged period of recovery from injury.
This year, after a return to running in a limited way, my perspective has again changed. I appreciate simply being able to exercise realizing that health conditions, time constraints, unforeseen circumstances, and emotional and mental stresses might, at various times, restrict my opportunities, ability, and desire to be physically active.
The worst situation, a change in physical health, arose after a soft tissue injury revealed osteoarthritis was the underlying culprit. My self-imposed running ban was to continue after rehabilitation had been accomplished, into the future. At the time it seemed to be the most prudent course to avoid further injury and eventual surgery. I resolved to stop running and find other means of obtaining fitness-building exercise.
Walking, biking, swimming, snow shoeing, working out on aerobic gym equipment, and strength training filled in for running for more than two years. I’m back running again because function and feeling have been wonderful with lots of hard conditioning work and research that suggests running won’t necessarily worsen the structural condition of my knee joints. But I understand that this most favorite activity will remain one small part of a well-rounded and balanced approach to physical fitness.
After becoming accustomed to relying on these other sport activities for fitness work while not running, I realized that, like with running, I would never wish to be forced to give up any one of them. Each one has provided enjoyment. And frustration because being new and not good at something is discouraging. But without running to fall back on as my exercise of choice, the only option was to continue and push ahead with these other forms of exercise. Not necessarily competitive at them, but at least comfortable such that the joy of exercise returned when performed.
Running has been like a close, lifelong friend to me. Now I have new exercises as friends and know that whatever issues arise in the future, all can be counted on to help achieve my fitness goals!
I am thankful this Thanksgiving for running and moving!
RUN & MOVE HAPPY!
WEEK OF THE RACE: TURKEY TROT 2019 Training Plan starts Monday. This will be a busy week for many non-race related reasons. Enjoy the pre-holiday rush. You may want to stretch, foam roll, and go through the MYRTL mobility routine before the race.
These activities can be beneficial in the days leading up to competition as well as after. If nerves leave you unable to relax during that time, their performance can help you “do” something other than just rest.
GOOD LUCK RUNNING AND WALKING YOUR RACE!
Enjoy the thrill of finishing, the pride of accomplishment, and the confidence of athletic performance. The remainder of the weekend will be spent in recovery.
RUN & MOVE HAPPY!
IN CURRENT DIETING TERMS, FASTING INVOLVES PURPOSEFULLY NOT EATING OR MARKEDLY RESTRICTING FOOD INTAKE AND ONLY DRINKING BEVERAGES like water, black coffee, and unsweetened tea.
Intermittent fasting (IF) defines a number of different types of willing behaviors that also require abstaining from food for specific periods of time of the day or days of the week. According to a Wikipedia entry (chosen as a reference for this post because the item explains, rather than promotes, defends, or criticizes, the practice in common terms) there are several types of IF: alternate day, periodic, and time restricted (most popular).
Numerous online posts discuss the pros and cons of IF. A longer scientific article that explains IF is available through this PubMed link: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5783752/
This Earned Runs post isn’t about the merits or effectiveness of not eating food but discusses a recent topic that has surfaced concerning allowed beverages. A June 2019 post on soberalley.com, “fasting + fitness for women” that was updated in early November 2019 takes on the subject of DIRTY V CLEAN intermittent fasting.
The post, “What Can I Drink While Intermittent Fasting” provides a lengthy discussion of “dirty” versus “clean” time-restricted IF in easy to understand terms.
Clean fasting, when it comes to beverages the piece explains, only allows ingestion of unflavored, unsweetened water, coffee, and tea during food-restricted hours. Dirty fasting loosens these restrictions and allows non-calorie beverages, non-sugar sweetened gum, and a small amount or “splash” of cream. The rationale behind the relaxation is that if lowering daily calorie intake to achieve weight loss is the goal of following such a regimen, adding non-calorie drinks should be okay. Especially if the inclusion makes fasting less odious and increases the likelihood of adherence.
However, this reasoning does not take into account the role of insulin in weight control, the article importantly informs readers. Or body composition, it seems.
As a response to sugar intake, after subsequent breakdown and absorption by the digestive tract as glucose into blood (blood sugar spike after a meal), the pancreas releases insulin into the bloodstream. Insulin helps move glucose from blood into tissues where it can be utilized as energy or stored as fat. When blood glucose levels need boosting, other hormones act to stimulate breakdown of glycogen in the liver (glycolysis) into glucose, and the synthesis of new glucose (gluconeogenesis) from other materials including those derived from catabolism of body structure protein (like in muscle and bone).
To athletes this means traditional, continuous calorie restriction dieting that does not include 12-pus hour fasts may lead to intervals in which these important tissues are broken down to be used to make glucose for fuel.
During a FASTING period of at least 12 hours duration, in the absence of food intake, blood glucose/sugar levels decrease. Because an insulin response is not stimulated during the fast, stored body fat is broken down to components (fatty acids and fatty acid-derived ketones) which can serve as a substitute energy source, indicates the 2017 publication in the journal Obesity (referenced earlier) explaining the health benefits of fasting.
This “metabolic switch”, the authors say, from glucose as fuel to fatty acids and ketones, is flipped after about 12 hours in order to “sustain the function of muscle and brain cells during fasting and extended exercise.” Research findings are increasingly showing, they say, that these fat-derived substances appear to be the “preferential fuel for both brain and body” at such times and act to preserve lean muscle mass, and even increase exercise endurance!
Insulin inhibits the breakdown of body fat stores (lipolysis) for this purpose and prevents the switch from glucose to fat as fuel!
While there are well proven risks of fasting, most harmful effects have been experienced by persons fasting for several weeks or longer and not by those on short-term, intermittent fasts.
The scientific article goes into great depth explaining the beneficial physiological effects of IF on muscle, liver, brain, cardiovascular system, and blood biomarkers of inflammation and oxidative stress (thought to be anti-aging effects). Changes include lower blood glucose levels, increased insulin sensitivity, and improved exercise efficiency and cognition, for example.
Most of these metabolic and health benefits, the scientist authors say, are thought to be “driven by reductions in weight and/or body fat” accomplished through lipolysis during IF, or what most of us commonly refer to as “fat burning”!!!
This metabolic switching, with preservation of lean muscle mass and burning of fat, has special importance to older populations dieting to lose weight for medical reasons. They are already at risk of sarcopenia due to aging changes. The muscle preserving action of IF compared with traditional continuous calorie restriction regimens may allow safe weight reduction in this group, the article proposes.
In the DIRTY versus CLEAN INTERMITTENT FASTING (soberalley.com) article the topic of artificial sweeteners comes up, which links to references for those who wish to check the popular website sources of the statements made (Diet Doctor.com weight loss advice, HealthLine.com and Diabetes.co.uk) about Sucralose, Stevia, and erythritol-based sweeteners.
So, what about non-sugar sweeteners? If they do not contribute calories to the diet (the reason they are called “non-nutritive”), can zero-calorie products containing them be consumed during fasting, especially if the purpose of the fast is calorie reduction? Do artificial sweeteners have the same lack of metabolic effect on intermittent fasting as water?
Some non-sugar sweeteners (sucralose, possibly saccharin and acesulfame) stimulate the release of insulin! Why is this important? Because insulin BLOCKS the flipping of the “metabolic switch” from glucose to fat burning for fuel.
How? The taste in the mouth provided by such non-nutritive sweeteners triggers what scientists refer to as the Cephalic Phase Insulin Release (CPIR).
In one study, the insulin response to ingestion of sucralose in solid foods (gelatin cubes) seemed to be more significant in a subset of overweight and obese study participants compared to its ingestion in beverages. Other research suggests insulin sensitivity may decrease over time with chronic use, one of the metabolic abnormalities associated with type 2 diabetes.
After wading through some of the many recent research articles on the topic, I couldn’t find answers to all my questions about non-sugar sweeteners’ effect on fasting. Reading more raised more questions. If the sight, smell, tasting, chewing and swallowing of food are by definition part of the CPIR, must all these everyday pleasures be avoided to prevent insulin release and allow flipping of the metabolic switch?
By the end of a couple days of investigating dirty fasting my head was spinning. I was ready to give up searching and begin formulating a plan to re-work the personal IF program I had started this fall 2019. I started it mostly for its health benefits (anti-aging, preservation of muscle and bone, and brain health) and only a little for weight maintenance purposes.
I realized I had been dirty fasting. Really dirty. I drank multiple diet beverages a day (3-4), chain-chewed sugar-free gum, and sweetened several tea and cocoa drinks each day with sucralose. But I avoided all simple sugars (except for those in whole fruits).
I decided to base my IF program going forward on a few common-sense principles rather than the multiple, confusing and sometime contradictory science factoids unearthed during my search:
That’s one perspective on whether to clean or dirty fast based on my personal goals.
The soberalley.com article’s author (not identified) lays out several other logical options and approaches to clean vs dirty fasting. The author’s personal experiences are recounted and form the basis for the advice given to readers. Check it out for an easy read. Importantly it and other pieces on the topic raise awareness that potential metabolic effects of non-nutritive sweeteners may not be healthy for all, under all circumstances.
Life without diet soda and gum chewing is rough but I’m giving it a try and looking forward to a Thanksgiving weekend splurge!
RUN & MOVE HAPPY!
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5634742/ CPIR humans to sucrose and sweeteners
http://siimland.com/what-breaks-a-fast-while-intermittent-fasting/ another pop rticle?
OFTENTIMES IDEAS FOR SPORTS GEAR THAT CELEBRATES A SPECIAL TIME OF YEAR OR DAY IS OFFERED ON A TIME-LIMITED BASIS. The interval between learning of a desirable item’s existence and shopping for it can be less than a minute yet availability is essentially zero when it comes to purchasing it. A “completely sold out” tag might already have been affixed or sizes, colors, other product options are so limited that buying won’t get you what you want or can use.
This is true for many products featured by the fitness websites, especially if the feature is a lead-up to an event in the near future. Sacony-Dunkin (Donuts) Boston Marathon special edition shoes come to mind, and 2018 Winter Olympics snowboard team sports apparel by Burton. Another sold out product that I and many others coveted several years back was a wine advent calendar sold by Aldi’s food store. Nowadays, customers who don’t frequently shop this chain know to check for alerts on the calendar’s expected arrival in stores.
That’s the explanation for the announcement of Goodr’s release of Its Limited Edition “Happy Festivus, Ya Filthy Animals” sunglasses. Earned Runs has blogged about this company’s decently priced, polarized lens, no-slip frame, and importantly FUN sunglasses a couple times. Costing only $25, a pair of these beauties with a red background/white snowflake frame and mirrored reflective lens is within the reach of a lot of budgets.
Whether you’re shopping early for gifts or for yourself, check them out NOW. Before they’re not available!
RUN $ MOVE HAPPY!
TRAINING STARTS MONDAY. Runner workouts will be cutting back in terms of mileage and time spent training this week, after 9 straight weeks of ramping up. But now you will be running without a scheduled walk break. Try your best not to walk during the 20 and 25 minute run-only sessions Wednesday and Saturday. If you feel the need to slow up, do so briefly. Imagine you are decreasing speed in advance of a water station during the race to grab a cup and take a few swallows and then resuming your planned pace.
This week will serve as a kind of taper which usually is not needed for a short distance race like a 5K. The Earned Runs plan was designed with a few extra days of training to accommodate unexpected days off, so that’s why it’s got this cushion. Those who are a bit behind can catch up missed days.
A taper helps you to rest your legs (you’ll do so with less mileage/time running this week) but maintain intensity (during the run-only sessions), in order to make a’ best’ effort on race day Resist the temptation to cheat by running longer/farther, than scheduled and accept the taper as a wise tactic. And resist the impulse to lower the intensity of runs.
Walkers reach the pinnacle of training at the end of the week, in which the long, moderate intensity session calls for 6 miles, followed by a 90-minute easy walk the following day! Hopefully, you’ll eagerly anticipate the relatively short 5K Turkey Trot event and relish the opportunity to move fast and finish strong on Thanksgiving Day!
Runners & walkers, if you have come to rely on a higher level of activity for weight control be aware that you might need to cut back a bit on caloric intake when your training slows (runners this week, 10; walkers next week, 11). As scheduled walking/running time decreases, use the extra time it to prepare for the upcoming holiday, feeling confident you’ll do your best.
If traveling to your Turkey Trot, double check arrangements and start packing soon, if you haven’t already. Get your costume together if that’s in your race day plans!
Enjoy the building excitement that comes with running a goal race.
You've EARNED it.
RUN & MOVE HAPPY!
MARY CAIN, A HIGH SCHOOL RUNNING STANDOUT ATHLETE, recently told her story in an opinion piece for the New York Times, also available as a video ("I Was the Fastest Girl In America Until I Joined Nike". In it she reveals her experience training under the direction of Alberto Salazar in the Nike Oregon Project. Regardless of whether her recounting of alleged abuse is accepted by readers/viewers, a health danger of training is highlighted: osteoporosis.
Female and male athletes (even Kenyan runners) are known to be at risk of this disease, especially those involved in endurance sports in which low body weight is seen as desirable and contributing to success.
Recreational runners, as well as cyclists and swimmers, who aren’t competing professionally don’t realize that they share this risk with elites. A number of factors influence bone health including diet, muscular strength, genes, and hormones.
A recent study examining participants in the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) indicates that sleep might also be included.
Sleep has been hyped in the news over the past couple years as essential for heart and brain health and the prevention of chronic diseases include obesity, type II diabetes, and depression. The CDC warns that short sleep duration is reaching epidemic proportions in the US.
Age does not offer protection; teens who require 8-10 hours each night and adults who should get 7-8 hours have similar problems with too little sleep. Neither does gender (men and women have similar prevalence of short sleep duration). Additional information about sleep in the USA is available on the CDC sleep statistics page.
Very recently, in early November 2019, a study on postmenopausal women’s bone health was published that examined the association between self-reported sleep duration and sleep quality of more than 11,000 women (average age 63.3 years) and whole body, total hip, femoral neck and spine bone mineral density (BMD) measured by dual-Xray-absorptiometry (DXA) scan. The participants were part of a much larger group of nearly 162,000 women enrolled in the WHI between the ages of 50 and 79. Each had received a baseline DXA scan and completed a sleep data questionnaire about the preceding 4 weeks.
The results, adjusted for multiple factors not limited to but including age, body mass index (BMI), alcohol intake, smoking, education, and race, showed that women who “reported sleeping 5 hours or less each night had on average…significantly lower BMD at all four sites compared with women who reported sleeping 7 hours per night”. Reporting sleep duration of 5 or less hours also increased the odds of osteoporosis.
So, there it is. Sleep is important for bone health in women over 50! It’s an actionable health measure according to experts.
However, this information can be disheartening to those who struggle with sleep issues. Sleep is another aspect of daily living that should be under our control, but some feel powerless to change. Like diet. Yes, it’s clearly important but frustrating when, after taking all recommended steps to obtain quality sleep, the body resists.
The hopeful news in this study is that while short sleep duration was significantly associated with lower BMD and higher osteoporosis risk, sleep QUALITY WAS NOT!
In addition to indicating how long they slept in the 4 weeks preceding the study, women participants answered 5 questions about sleep that concerned difficulty falling asleep, awakening during sleep, early waking and/or problems returning to sleep. A score of 0-20 was possible; the higher score the greater the insomnia (>9 was the cut-off for insomnia). Researchers could NOT find an association with BMD even though they had hypothesized it would matter at the start of their research effort. It was thought that perhaps increased physical activity related to insomnia was protective (getting in and out of bed for example) or the findings were simply due to chance.
My interpretation of this study’s results is that as long as I make the effort to sleep 7-8 hours each night, regardless of interruptions and disturbances, my total time asleep may be sufficient to be bone-health-friendly, and maybe generally health-friendly. That last part is probably a leap of faith, but until my own sleep quality is completely under my control, that’s the story I’m going with.
Others may take heart from these findings about sleep quality. Work pressures, relationship worries, looming deadlines, family responsibilities and other stresses may not be able to totally derail our attempts at improving health with sleep. Worrying about poor sleep quality isn’t likely to help matters. I plan to work at getting the hours in and forget about the rest for the time being. For the sake of my bones, heart, brain, mental health, and metabolism, etc.
The WHI study did not involve men, younger ages, or athletes specifically and the results may not apply beyond this particular demographic. But as long as scientific evidence continues to accumulate regarding the protective and potentially rejuvenating powers of sleep, the “fix” (getting adequate sleep) is not risky and seems only to be beneficial.
It seems easier to accomplish than diet manipulations or exercise prescriptions.
RUN & MOVE HAPPY!
https://www.cdc.gov/chronicdisease/resources/infographic/sleep.htm (tips to getting good sleep)
DARK HOURS EXERCISE REQUIRES ATTENTION TO SAFETY; NOVEMBER SAFETY MESSAGE (UPDATE from 2018) The days have more dark hours now that we are into the heart of fall headed toward winter, regardless of whether time is kep by standard or daylight-saving method. When people living in most areas of the USA were instructed to ‘fall backward’ last weekend it meant we would be experiencing more darkness in the late afternoon and evening than in morning time.
T’is the season for increased auto accidents, says a San Francisco Injury Lawyer blog post from 2015!
Going forward the dark portions of the days will lengthen until the middle-end of December. Running/walking/cycling outside on streets, sidewalks, and paths made poorly visible by cold weather precipitation or narrower by fallen leaves or snow will require taking extra care and paying closer attention to safety. Vehicles can’t see us all that well and we also cannot easily see our way. Outdoor exercisers can make themselves more visible, make their way more visible, or do both for protection from harm.
Wearing clothes, shoes, or accessories decorated with reflective material is one way to increase the visibility of our persons. Head lamps and wearable lights can do this too. Some devices perform double duty and illuminate the paths we follow.
A YouTube video titled “No White At Night Challenge”, by FlashBrite Reflective Products shows how wearing white to be visible isn’t always an effective strategy. Seven people are moving forward toward the camera and can be heard but only several wearing reflective strip material can be seen at first. Those wearing white aren't visualized until they move much, much closer. The conditions in this film are unusually dark; most of us would not exercise in a pitch-black area that doesn’t allow seeing where we are going! The demonstration is extreme but makes the point.
Considering the terrible view I get through a cold wet automobile windshield at night, HIGHER visibility is essential for runners, walkers, and cyclists this time of year. Even the act of crossing well-lighted streets can be dangerous, especially wearing dark clothing. Experience has shown me that when driving in the city, it is difficult to see pedestrians, often fashionably attired in black, who dart into the street between parked cars. It stands to reason that if we choose to share the roadway with autos while exercising it is in our best interest to take steps to be seen.
My warning is that tiny strips and dots of reflective material applied or sewn onto shoes, sleeves, hats, and pant legs are probably NOT going to help all that much in making you more visible. There won’t be sufficient time for a vehicle’s driver to see you and avoid a collision. The positioning of this material may render it visible only from the front as you move forward (on wrists, sleeves, hats, headlights) or from the rear (heel, pant cuffs, jacket backs). The ‘high viz’ material may be so small as to appear to be bits of light reflected off nearby objects. Be wary of apparel that has a few dots or dashes of the material on it but claims to be a safety purchase.
If you wish to be protected, employ multiple means and be inventive. An intense headlight that shows the way in the dark can be set on strobe/ flash and, when carried in the hand, can be shone in any direction to warn of your approach. Heel flashers can be clipped to the front of a jacket or the back of a hat rather than worn on the shoe. If relying on reflective clothing, make sure the materials cover a large enough surface area that the shine can be seen to bounce with your motion. A bright spot that is bigger and moving will more readily catch the attention of a driver than a small glimmer that seems to be stationary.
I walk in very quiet streets in the early morning when drivers are rushing to get to work and not expecting other cars, let alone people, to be on the streets with them. Even in low traffic areas precautions are necessary. You’ll want experiment to find what fits your needs, starting with items within your budget.
Nathan Sports has a variety of products that can help in this regard. Other reflective vest products are available that vary in price. Earned Runs reviewed the Noxgear Tracer 360 visibility vest, a device with colored light tubing that I now use on darkest runs near streets. I wearheel flashers on less dangerous runs and carry a headlamp in my hand to light the way.
While supplies last, Earned Runs will mail a complimentary sample of 3M Scotchlite Reflective Material reflective strips to those who request a bib set. The strips alone aren't enough protection, but will demonstrate how the material can make non-reflective apparel visible.
RUN & MOVE HAPPY!
NO WHITE AT NIGHT CHALLENGE
By Flashbrite Reflective Products Shows runners wearing 3M Scotchlite reflective materials
TRAINING PLAN STARTS MONDAY.
RUNNERS: The run: walk workouts this week are the longest in total time you will experience. If running at a 10-minute mile training pace*, 15 minutes of running + 1 minute of walking will very nearly mark a 1.5+ mile distance, the halfway point in a 5k (3.1mile) race.
At week’s end, the Saturday, November 16 schedule calls for three 16-minute run:walk cycles (each 15:1 minutes).
Try MENTALLY moving through Saturday’s training session as if it were race day to gain confidence for the upcoming real race. Consider the first 15:1 cycle (16 minutes) a warm-up. Move at an easy warm-up pace. After that, imagine you are crossing the race ‘start’ line at minute 17 as you begin the second 15:1 cycle. In your head (not legs), run:walk this next 16 minutes as if taking off after the starter’s signal, beginning the first half of a 5k event. Picture yourself in the company of other participants and practice taking small steps at a reduced pace as you make your way through the vitrually ‘crowded’ street.
Finally, mentally run:walk the third 15:1 cycle (in your head, not legs) as if you had passed the 1.55-mile marker, completed half the distance, and were headed at a faster pace to the finish line. Imagine that the crowd had dissipated, and you were able to move freely along the course at will. Visualize passing those who had made a faster start and sped ahead early in the race, fatigued struggling to continue now. Take regular refreshing breaths. ’Feel’ the energy you saved for this part of the race propelling you forward to the finish line.
Remember, this is a mental practice; you can pace yourself as you plan to during the race (slower start, faster finish) but DO NOT physically move at your anticipated race pace. Save your best for the Turkey Trot race.
Once you have completed that last long 48-minute training run: walk, look back over the past months and recognize the progress made. There’s no need to wait until crossing the finish line to acknowledge your accomplishment. You have demonstrated the perseverance required to arrive at this calendar mark.
In week 10 you will RUN continuously for the longest time periods in the plan, 20 and 25 minutes, without walking. The total time (and possibly total distance) moving will decrease but you will be maintaining intensity, so you’ll technically be on a taper!
Can you imagine telling the people who know of your running goal that you are cutting back on your timed workouts after the upcoming weekend to rest for best race-day performance? Like a pro!
WALKERS: YOU HAVE BEEN READY TO COVER A 3.1 MILE DISTANCE since week 5. After that point you’ve been building endurance to be able to cover a longer distance or walk a 5k a bit faster and easier. Because this is a beginner plan the focus has not been on building speed. Read the section that describes how runners might mentally approach this week’s long session to prepare for the event. Use the first third of the time as a warm-up (about 20-25 minutes of the total 80-90minutes), the next 25 minutes like the first 1.55 miles of a 5k race walking with moderate to vigorous intensity, and the next 25 minutes walking vigorously to an imaginary finish line. Use the final 10-20 minutes in a cool-down walk.
As with the runners, imagine starting the ‘race’ with a crowd, enjoying more space and freedom in mid-race, then focusing mental and physical intensity on the way to the finish.
Both runners and walkers, can use the long session this week to mentally practice staying the course, sticking with a strategy, and keepingieyes on the prize of a strong 5k finish.
What a terrific Thanksgiving Day it will be.
RUN & MOVE HAPPY!
NOTE: There's still enough time to request Earned Runs competition bibs (set of 4, free) AND TURKEY TROT STICKERS
TO REDUCE DOMS AND BOOST RECOVERY. A NEW COMPRESSION TECHNIQUE THAT PROMISES to decrease exercise-induced delayed onset of muscle soreness (DOMS) and speed skeletal muscle regeneration is referred to in the scientific literature as “tissue flossing”. According to a SHAPE.com article by Gabrielle Kassel, CrossFit and bodybuilding enthusiasts who have popularized the practice in recreational athletes, call it Muscle Flossing or VooDoo Flossing.
In her article, one of Kassel’s experts describes how flossing is performed. Joints or specific muscle groups are tightly wrapped with a special latex band, after which the joint powered by the muscles is moved through its full range of motion (ROM), for 30 seconds to 2 minutes. After the wrapping is removed the joint is again mobilized and taken through the ROM moves.
Kassel indicates that Rouge Fitness and WOD Fitters have products that have been used by bodybuilders and CrossFit enthusiasts for some time. These same products, which look like mini-resistance band material but are strips, have been used in the research studies.
The fitness experts in her SHAPE.com article are of the opinion that the process of flossing is less time consuming and more efficient at “boosting” mobility and accelerating recovery than foam rolling, which also works to compress muscles above and below joints but is not meant to be performed on joint tissues.
Researchers are beginning to investigate the benefits of this relatively new fitness practice. Scientific studies have examined the merits of this therapy for DOMS reduction (positive findings), ankle mobility and jump and sprint performance, (positive findings) and for recovery from endurance exercise (no significant effect).
In the DOMS research study, the short-term flossing therapy involved post-exercise wrapping of a muscle group with a length of the resistance band-like latex material, in the manner of an Ace bandage. The wrap was removed after the study participant spent 3 minutes actively moving the joint.
The DOMS study results were published May 2019 in the Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness article "Tissue flossing: a new compression therapy to reduce delayed onset muscle soreness. A comparison, controlled and double cross-over trial" by scientists from Brandenburg University of Technology in Germany. The authors concluded that compared to "gold standard therapy", whole body-cryotherapy (WBC) and cold-water-immersion (CWI), tissue flossing was lightly less effective but much more practical in lessening the discomfort and performance effects of DOMS.
Recent works examining self-myofascial release (SMFR), mainly by foam rolling, have discussed it's value as a maintenance and recovery tool especially in reducing DOMS. However one review indicated more clinical research is needed to determine the method's "efficacy and effectiveness" in treating myofascial pain. Perhaps flossing, as a newly recognized compression therapy, will be included in future scientific efforts?
After reading the full DOMS research article my impressions were that: 1) the placebo effect of wrapping vs not-wrapping has not been discussed and may not have been considered in these studies; 2) comparisons of the effectiveness of flossing versus rolling alone versus rolling accompanied by active joint mobility work haven’t been attempted; and 3) differences in ease of learning to safely perform flossing versus foam rolling has not been assessed.
To me, flossing seems to require more effort than foam rolling when it comes to routine whole-body self-care and DOMS relief after and sometimes before workouts, and possibly involves a greater risk of self-harm with improper technique. However, for specific joints or muscle groups needing special or extra attention or healing from significant injury, flossing may further boost recovery after workouts or injury! It may be deemed an appropriate alternative to blood flow restriction therapy, also a new but more extreme form of compression therapy showing promise for athletic training and post-injury rehabilitation.
The physiological mechanisms* responsible for benefits derived from various forms of self-myofascial release like are not yet completely understood. The addition of tissue flossing to the physical therapy toolbox for training and injury prevention and recovery is great news. Hopefully there will be additional insights into how, when, and where each of the types of compression therapy can be applied for the most good.
Check out Gabrielle Kassel's full piece on this topic to be in the know at the gym.
RUN AND MOVE HAPPY!
*NOTE: Self-myofascial release does NOT cause the breaking up of fascia tissue as explained by experts in the Kassel article. Rather its effects are "due to the activation of central pain modulatory mechanisms, through neural inhibition mechanisms (Cavanaugh et all (2017)" as referenced by a study of foam rolling. In other words, nerves activated by SMFR send signals to the brain to modulate the perception of pain, allowing improved movement. Evidence that the brain is involved comes from studies in which foam rolling of one extremity has shown a similar although lesser effect of decreased pain sensation in the contralateral (opposite side) limb. The brains neural 'message' therefore seems to be reaching a body site not directly stimulated by SMFR. A previous Earned Runs blog post discussed this topic.
www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28950149 ROM jump and sprint
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28254581 ROM and jump
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29401529 endurance and flossing
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30100300 foam rolling with active joint motion
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31609881 Blood flow restriction
Rogue Fitness VooDoo Floss Bands
(UPDATED) MEN: NO SHAVE NOVEMBER IS GREAT FOR FITNESS! WOMEN, SHOW SUPPORT FOR THE GUYS, especially if males in your circle of friends and family rallied for Breast Cancer Awareness Month this past October.
Not having to perform this grooming routine each morning leaves more time for men to work out, whether it be running, cycling, walking, or other forms of exercise! According to the organization’s website, “No-Shave November is a month-long journey during which participants forgo shaving and grooming in order to evoke conversation and raise cancer awareness.”
The non-profit organization behind this movement, now 11 years strong, says it is “devoted to growing cancer awareness and raising funds to support cancer prevention, research, and education”. NSN* charity partners include St Jude’s Children’s Hospital™ (charitynavigator.org score 91.4 of 100), Fight Colorectal Cancer™ (96.46 score), and Prevent Cancer Foundation™ (91.2 score).
The ‘story’ behind NSN is a personal one. Eight siblings of the Hill family in the Chicago area started it in the fall of 2009 to honor their father, Matthew Hill, who died from colon cancer in 2007.
The cancer awareness mission behind this movement is more necessary than ever, of importance to both men and women. WebMD.com indicates The American Cancer Society warns that although screening coloscopy is more common, the incidence of colorectal cancer in adults less than 50 year of age has increased by 51%, with a nearly 2% per year increase in new cases among adults 54 years old and younger since the mid- 1990’s. Most frightening is the fact that death rates in this group have also risen.
If someone is rude enough to suggest that having more facial hair is not a flattering style for you (or your man), righteously inform them that you are/he is doing it not for personal convenience but to benefit others who have suffered and will suffer with cancer.
Inform them also that moustaches are now an upward-trending fashion amongst the Millenial generation.
“The goal of No-Shave November is to grow awareness by embracing our hair, which many cancer patients lose, and letting it grow wild and free. Participants are encouraged to donate the money typically spent on shaving and grooming to educate about cancer prevention, save lives, and aid those fighting the battle.” Actually, trimming and grooming is allowed, so you don’t need to go totally native.
The website (99centrazor.com) takes a semi-serious but fun approach to explaining the advantages and disadvantages of joining the movement “7 Things No One Tells You about No Shave November”.
If you started November 1, strong work! If not; stop shaving now!
And consider using the time advantage it brings for exercise, and giving the extra bit of change saved for a donation to charity.
RUN & MOVE HAPPY!
*No Shave November is not listed by Charity Navigator but posts its financials on the website.
BRIDGE TO PHYSICAL SELF
Running, walking, and fitness activities enable us to experience our physical selves in a world mostly accessed through use of fingers on a mobile device.
EARNED RUNS is edited and authored by me, runner and founder. I began participating in road races before 5Ks were common. I've been a dietitian, practiced and taught clinical pathology, and been involved with research that utilized pathology. I am fascinated with understanding the origins of disease as well as health.
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