AUTUMN BRINGS WITH IT COOLER TEMPERATURES, WETTER WEATHER, LESS DAYLIGHT. There might be more reason to carry gear and protect it than in the summer. 10 ITEMS, featured in a Competitor.com slideshow article, are designed to help you carry ‘stuff’. Included are: a performance t-shirt with several zippered pockets, waist-pack that comes with a soft flask, running shorts with multiple pockets, packable jacket with pockets, ‘strappy’ bra with a front pocket, short running skort with side and back pockets.
Clothes with sufficient stowing capacity are much-prized apparel. Sometimes additional carry space is needed. The slideshow includes gear that offers more ingenious ways to address this issue. I would like to try each:
-Ultimate Direction Fastdraw 600 hand-carry water bottle with a small ’backpack’ on it to carry a good-sized phone and a few other small items.
-Oiselle Roga Hat with a small, head-hugging zippered compartment
-UnderFuse Plus iron-on small pocket, recommended for the front of tights or compression shorts or tights.
-Armband by Sprigs that stretches to accommodate a phone of any size!
The item I am most interested in trying (it is ordered) is the Amphipod Xinglet Pocket Plus that helps runners position a phone in front, mid-chest, to use the flashlight or video function via a clear window in a protective pocket. This also seems like an ideal place to simply carry a phone for easy access.
The image shown in the article pictures the gray/silver version. There is also a neon green “hi-viz” color. BOTH color models have a good amount of brilliant, highly reflective material on the adjustable straps, a BONUS SAFETY feature. If this product performs as advertised, it seems like a real winner for fall running/walking in low light conditions! See it BELOW, and on the GEAR LOVE page, as well as the Sprigs armband.
GALVESTON ISLAND IN COASTAL SOUTHEAST TEXAS has been threatened all week by Harvey in it's forms as a tropical storm and hurricane, This is one of my training sites. Hot and very humid in the summer, it is nonetheless a lovely island beach on which to run and walk all year round, on the Gulf of Mexico.. Not being in the area when weather trouble started, I'll need to wait to return. My heart and prayers are with friends and family who remained for the duration. And with everyone else affected. May returning clear bright skies jumpstart recovery. Hang tough, Galveston!
2017 FALL RUNNING/WALKING SEASON PREVIEW PLANNING
THANKSGIVING DAY IS THE NUMBER ONE most popular race day in the country according to RunningUSA.com post in 2016. Do you want to be prepared to join the fun and run a 5K race? If you’ve not participated before, the Earned Runs Turkey Trot with (optional) Track Day Training Plan for beginners will start Monday September 11 this year. It’s based on a plan developed by Mario Fraioli for Competitor.com. In 10 weeks, with a few travel days to spare, you will be ready. Look for it to be posted shortly before or after Labor Day, September 4
Halloween and Day of the Dead: Turkey Trot Previews?
Halloween is the second most popular day to run a road race! Some beginners training with the Earned Runs Turkey Trot plan would be able to perform the long workout scheduled for October 28, as a practice event (not raced), on a 5K course that allowed at least 60 minutes to finish. More details would be provided closer to race day. Thus, a Halloween 5k scheduled October 28 or 29 might be a chance to experience a preview of an upcoming Turkey Trot race on Thanksgiving.
That day (October 28) the workout session includes a 5-minute warm-up walk, then 27-minute run/walk (3 rounds of 8 minutes running followed by 1 minute walking), then 5 minutes cool-down walk for a total of 37 minutes. Trainees with previous experience walking at least 3 miles a session could make up the remaining distance by walking.
Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, will be celebrated in the USA from October 31-November 2 in 2017. Festivals are held in some locations in the US and may include 5K races. The weekends of October 27-29 and November 3-5 flank the official midweek ‘Dead’ holiday that festivals might be scheduled then. As in the case of Halloween, some Turkey Trot trainees may be able to participate with their scheduled workout.
On November 4, the workout session includes a 5-minute warm-up walk, then 33-minute run/walk (3 rounds of 10 minutes running followed by 1 minute walking), then 5 minutes cool-down walk for a total of 43 minutes.
Best to think ahead if you need a bit of extra time to train for a 5k on Thanksgiving.
INVESTIGATE BEFORE YOU GIVE UP ON RUNNING A GREAT FALL RACE
If you decided on a whim to run a fall race and fear that registration has closed, an article by Kristan Dietz for Competitor.com might be encouraging, “10 Fall Races That You Can Still Register For.” Surely there are other races that will accommodate late registration as well, so don’t give up without trying.
Investigate all possibilities.
If race LOCATION means more to you than race distance, remember to check out the entire list of weekend events offered by the hosting organization. Especially if the feature race is sold out. A marathon may hold an additional 10-mile race that will satisfy a distance junkie who is too late to gain a spot on the longer course. A half marathon may schedule an additional 5k.
DOUBLE-UP. Run both a 5k plus 10K if race scheduling allows such a CHALLENGE. Running festivals are capitalizing on participants’ eagerness to enter more than one race by holding races on separate days, rather than blasting the start horn to send off successive event waves.
FUN RUNS, that can range from 1 or more miles, could supply a reason to attend a weekend festival if a you or a running partner haven’t sufficiently trained to race the same long distance.
BUDDY-UP for huge races. It might be a way to ease logistics-anxiety, if each person on the ‘team’ runs an event on a different day. The non-racing buddy can perform support duties to lessen concerns that arise at the bigger venue/high attendance races. You can alternate who runs the BIG race at each event.
RACE EARNED RUNS EVENTS of any distance anytime and anywhere. Use bibs if you have them or REQUEST them now! Custom design your own race.
The 10 races identified in the article are provided below; Earned Runs has added the additional races held in that venue. Other helpful places to get information on local races include specialty running stores, which will often host an online page for organizations to post links to event information. Try the USATF website too.
The opportunities to enjoy fall weather races are still numerous, and UNLIMITED if you use Earned Runs bibs.
Medtronic Twin Cities Half Marathon, Minneapolis MN
October 1 (Also a 5k, 10k, 10-mile, marathon)
Rock ’N Roll Half Marathon Series, Various dates, cities, (some sites have other distances)
Brooklyn NY October 14 (Also a 5-miler)
Mount Desert Island Marathon Bar Harbor ME
October 15 (Also a Marathon and a Relay, which is at capacity/closed)
Halloween Half Marathon, Morristown NJ
October 21 (Also a 1 Mile Fun Run)
Jazz Half Marathon New Orleans LA
October 28 (Also a 5K)
Indianapolis Monumental Marathon Indianapolis IN
November 4 (Also a Half Marathon and 5K)
RunDisney Wine and Dine Half Marathon Weekend Orlando FL
November 5 (Also a 10K- it’s already sold out- and a 1 Mile Run)
Rocky Run 5K then optional 10-Mile to equal 13.1mile Half Marathon Philadelphia PA
THIS EXPERIENCE WOULD BE SO FUN!
California International Marathon Sacramento CA
December 3 (Also a 5K and a Relay Challenge)
BMW Dallas Marathon Dallas TX
December 10 (Also a Half Marathon, a 5K and 10K, and several ‘social’ 5K’s)
RUN-WALK ACROSS AMERICA WEEK 14
Segment 36 Speculator NY to Ticonderoga NY
Segment 37 Ticonderoga NY to Fairlee VT
Segment 38 Fairlee VT to North Conway NH
Traveling onward through the eastern Adirondack Mountains, the first day of this week takes runners and walkers through NY State from Speculator to the town of Ticonderoga. It’s near the site of the famous fort involved in both the French and Indian Wars and the American Revolutionary War. Before researching this route, I had no idea that Lake George and Lake Champlain were in some way connected.
A map and a Wikipedia entry reveal that these two lakes are longitudinally-oriented along a waterway that partially forms the borderline of New York State and Vermont, and that courses north into Canada. Lake George is southern-most and Lake Champlain lies north of it. The town of Ticonderoga and the two-mile long La Chute River represented a historically natural portage crossing between the large lakes, which combined with rivers, allowed a direct travel route between NYC and Montreal in Quebec, Canada. Ticonderoga is located on the route segment that extends from Lake George’s north shore to lower Lake Champlain.
Like the Trek Travel bicycle tour on which this virtual route was based, the Ticonderoga Ferry will transport us across Lake Champlain to Shoreham, Vermont. The route then makes its way into the Green Mountains through the Brandon Gap (elevation 2170 feet). This time of year, the autumn colors of the forested hillsides should be just starting to make an appearance. A check of a website that follows and attempts to forecast the New England Fall Foliage Season shows a few early signs of the color to come (in Maine) in late August.
The small town of Fairlee VT is near New York’s border with New Hampshire and is Lake Morey. It claims to have the longest groomed ice skating trail (4.3 mile network) in the US, when winter conditions permit its full operation. Next the route courses through the White Mountains to the village of North Conway, NH, which is about 60 miles from the last destination of the trip, Portland Maine!
You won’t be climbing it, but not too far north of the route is Mt. Washington, at 6288 ft. the highest peak in the NH and most the prominent east of the Mississippi River. The mountain summit is famous for its erratic and sometimes treacherous weather (highest wind speed recorded was 231 mph in 1934); a non-profit observatory there researches Earth’s weather and climate. North Conway is in a year-round, outdoor recreational resort area, well known to climbers and hikers.
Only one more day left of moving your legs!!!
Segment maps for week 14 are on the RESOURCES page
NAPERCISE? WHY NAPS MIGHT BE GOOD FOR FITNESS
MyFitnessPal.com says there’s an ‘exercise’ class in the UK that sounds too good to be true. Jodi Helmer introduces an article for the Under Armor blog with information about a fitness session that lets participants take a nap. The Davis Lloyd Clubs website says, “Our mid-afternoon studio sleep session is 45 minutes long and is designed to re-invigorate the mind, the body and even the odd calorie.”
Most of Helmer’s piece provides reasons why napping may be beneficial to health and fitness. She indicates it can be more effective than a caffeine boost in staving off afternoon fatigue, helps with heart health and weight loss, and may improve athletic performance and creativity.
Helmer references a research study for each reason. EARNED RUNS fully examined one of the studies several months ago that involved the Stanford University varsity basketball team. It described the improved performance of athletes who were instructed to add 2 hours more than their usual amount, with a minimum of 10 hours of sleep each day. Players were told to add a nap if needed to make up sleep lost because of game and travel schedules.
Another study found napping to be better at relieving mid-day sleepiness than caffeine or extending night time sleep by roughly 75 minutes. But the study admitted the level of sleepiness detected by the study’s sensitive measurements could reflect a need for more sleep or just as easily be in the range of normal.
The research on cardiovascular health showed that midday napping, especially of longer duration was beneficial to patients with high blood pressure (BP). The lead investigator concluded that it “is associated with lower 24-hour blood pressure, and enhanced fall of BP in night, and less damage to the arteries and heart”, with the possibility of decreased need for medication “to lower BP”. The fall in BP was low, only about 5-7 mmHg, but even decreases of 2 mmHg are thought to reduce stress on the circulatory system.
Research into napping and creative problem solving showed that naps in which the subject experienced REM sleep can improve this skill. Letting time pass between efforts to solve a problem, called incubation, also helped but not as much as the REM sleep napping. However, don’t expect naps to make you better at problem solving in general, they won’t!
It is possible that taking a snooze break during some afternoons will help achieve health, fitness, and career goals especially if the extra slumber time doesn’t interfere with getting a good night’s sleep. Famously, two of Britain’s PM’s (Prime Minister) Winston Churchill and Margaret Thatcher were known to regularly depend on such breaks at specific times of the day. Other historical dozers include Leonardo da Vinci, Albert Einstein, and Eleanor Roosevelt. Some were equally well known for sleeping very few hours at night.
Is napping beneficial? You won’t know its personal effect until you try. Having “fitness class” rather than “nap” written into a work calendar can help camouflage the real purpose of an hour away from the office. Many don’t have this degree of schedule flexibility however. Paying for a nap may seem like a luxury if you’re not a PM. But if it helps deal with significant health issues (weight control, hypertension, safe driving) access to a commercial or DIY “napercise” session would be wonderful. Thanks to Helmer and Under Armor for putting this piece together.
"DIRT-BAGGING" The contrast between the lives of elite distance runners and the rest of us has been highlighted in a feature item, “Dirtbagging” written by Liz Gill and provided online by Tracksmith™, a running apparel company.
“For a few elite runners, living out of their car or truck offers them the financial and geographical freedom to travel and race over the spring and summer”, explains Tracksmith’s introduction to the story. In it the unconventional on-the-road existence of four elite distance runners, David Laney, Stephen Shay, Tyler Andrews, and Anton Krupicka is described.
Author Gill explains that “dirtbagging” is a term that was originally used to describe outdoor sport enthusiasts who were “living the true dirtbag lifestyle” fulltime in pursuit of their preferred activity, like rock climbing. She says it is now applied more broadly and can include shorter seasonal stints or even weekend adventures on the road. However, Gill makes a point of saying that it is still a rare practice in the road running community. The subjects of her article give readers a look into their experiences, explain their motivations, and reveal a bit of their ambitions.
It’s an eye-opening article for those envious of professionals who devote their lives to training. Rather than discourage readers however, these roughing-it road-warrior tales may lure some into joining the world of vagabond runners! Especially faster runners who believe they have potential to compete at the highest levels of endurance distance running.
Janey indicates that while living in a truck and traveling around the country in pursuit of running glory might seem like a dream-come-true, there are significant disadvantages to this life. Yes, but such descriptions inspire daydreaming even in the most conventional runners (I confess).
One thing seems clear. The elite runners who endure the isolation and hardships of a dirtbag life to be able to line up just behind the headliners at races, deserve respect. Prize winnings are small. Several part time jobs may be required to support training: keep gas in the van, protein bars in the glovebox, electrolyte drinks in the mini-fridge, and shoes at the ready. Yet their performance in the lead pack at these events provides excitement to spectators and inspiration to up-and-coming newbies.
Gill’s article might inspire less-than elite athletes who remain anchored at home
to ‘live the dream’ on a smaller scale, to plan an occasional seasonal road adventure.
Who knows, maybe the “dirtbaggers” of the future will include not only elite athletes, but everyday folks who want to find seasonal adventures touring the country on a limited budget, in a move-able home, chasing lower-level competitions or personal goals.
Glamping (glamorous camping) and RV-ing are in style. Prior to reading this particular piece, I was stalking road adventure magazines on Barnes and Noble bookstore racks. A new one has caught my attention: ROVA, “The Magazine for Epic Road Trips”. The website says it “is about traveling the roads of North America: the insightful stories, the spectacular images, and the best of what this magnificent continent has to offer.
Although “Dirtbagging” is about physical and financial hardship, it is mostly about dreams.
IF YOUR GOAL IS TO FINISH A RACE, LEARN TO SELF PACE Author Amanda Loudin describes how to free yourself a bit from device dependence in an article for Competitor.com. In “How to Run the Perfect Pace Without a GPS Watch” she urges runners to use mile markers of a familiar route or a track and a regular chronograph watch (most mobile phones have this capability) to accomplish this.
Why learn to run by feel and know pace from body signals? It may seem like something only those interested in winning an age group or beating a previous personal best should be concerned with learning. Or for performing training drills. For placing well in a friendly competition with a running partner. Wrong. It’s essential for race participants whose goal is to CROSS THE FINISH LINE!!!
Loudin explains that pacing helps runners avoid a too-fast start. She says to “consider the fact that going out just six percent too fast in the first mile of a 5K is pretty much going to sink your race.” For me, sinking equals not finishing at all or walking too much, especially in a longer distance race. The risk is that by running too rapidly out of the gate you’ll have nothing left to make it to the end. The temptation is to follow the surging crowd, not stick to a planned pace.
An electronic device might fail, but a properly educated body clock will help you confidently hold to a strategy regardless of cellular coverage. It also may free you from having to look down to check a timepiece frequently. Personally, I need to have my eyes on the participants in front of and around me who are jostling for positions in the first few crowded miles. It is energy draining to check, mentally register the pace and calculate the needed adjustment, and then physically make the needed change in pace. It’s a more fluid effort to monitor the ‘feel’ and speed up or down as needed.
It takes practice to master this skill and the Loudin article helps you learn how.
"RUN HAPPY!": WHY? The History behind the Earned runs sign-off.
On the December 4, 2015 blog post Earned Runs explained why “RUN HAPPY!” appears at the end of each post. Rather than say good-bye to readers after each day’s feature with the words, “happy running”or some other farewell, it seemed more appropriate to end with an encouragement to enjoy our sport.
That original post shared a “Sports Illustrated/The Cauldron article ("Race Against Time") about late-blooming, 36-year-old Andrea Duke's difficult quest to qualify for the US Olympic Marathon Team, slated to compete in Rio the summer of 2016”.
Duke’s story suggested to Earned Runs that she could not, like "most non-elite athletes...FULLY ENJOY THE QUIET PEACE and joy of our solo runs, the CAMARADERIE of runs with friends and family, and the EXCITEMENT of an occasional local race". You may recall that Duke was not among the 3 women who made the 2016 US Olympic Marathon team.
This post again points out that the rest of us every-day runners can enjoy a road session without the pressure of needing to make a living at the finish line or retaining sponsors. And that we might recognize what a gift this is, every day, by deciding to ‘run happy.’
We appreciate the gifted and dedicated athletes who endure the rigors of a professional career, and rejoice when their sacrifices are rewarded by victory and accomplishment. They run for us too, providing inspiration and motivation to persevere, as well as excitement and wonder.
But it is appropriate to also hold onto the thought that EVERY RUN in which we are healthy enough to move at will, can be a HAPPY one.
EARNED RUNS BLOG POST DECEMBER 4, 2015
DIETARY CHANGES TO CONSIDER WHILE YOU'RE YOUNG “15 Easy Ways to Speed Up Your Metabolism” by Men’s Health for ACTIVE.com is a slideshow article that may help to increase your metabolic rate but at the same time points the way toward including a variety of nutritious foods into an eating plan. Most have read about or seen similar recommendations, so it’s not a breaking news item.
However, it can be helpful to be reminded, every so often, of what changes might lead to a healthier lifestyle especially if the change isn't likely to result in increased body fat mass.
Over the years I have been resistant to several of these dietary adjustments for various reasons, mostly with the thought of saving calories to lose weight. I skipped breakfast, did not drink milk, skimped on protein, constantly dieted ineffectively, and cheated myself of sleep. I wasn't paying attention to preserving lean muscle or maintaining bone strength.
I picked up these misconceptions while practicing as a dietitian! It wasn’t the fault of my training. The problem began with the belief that because I was educated in the field of nutrition I knew better than the ‘experts’. It seemed like every year there was a reversal in what experts considered to be “good for you”, so it seemed reasonable to believe I was smarter when it came to managing my own health.
As I become an older runner I also become more concerned about muscle and bone health. Frailty is a major contributor to morbidity (illness, disability) and mortality (death) in the elderly. I researched this area and found that providing adequate amounts of the nutrient building blocks regularly throughout the day and before sleep may assist in maintaining or increasing the strength of these tissues. After all, I plan to run into old age and easily perform everyday living activities. Strength training and exercise are also required.
As a result, this year I added more high protein meals, mostly from dairy sources. None of the changes contributed to significant body fat gain (my personal, not scientific, assessment), even though calories were added, more meals were eaten, and fat content was slightly increased. Some of the research information I read was featured in a SCIENCE FRIDAY post.
I also added more sleep hours, the time during which tissue building/repair occurs, and items rich in the amino acid citrulline - an arginine precursor that is not broken down by the body after ingestion, as is arginine - found in high amounts in watermelon. The word ‘citrulline’ comes from the Latin term for watermelon. Some of these nutritional changes were made when I was not able to run for exercise, due to minor injuries, which made me think more about health in old age!
Not being perfect, I still must work on eating breakfast earlier, drinking water with ice, consuming more types of organic fresh produce, and standing while working on the computer.
Check out the slideshow. Pay attention to the recommendations that pertain to muscle and bone health (not ‘dieting’ by eating less, sleeping more, taking in more protein, eating at regular intervals starting with breakfast, consuming foods high in vitamin D and calcium).
Perhaps there are a few changes to make in your diet to become stronger for healthier running and living into the future. Although much of the nutrition hype today is about being heart-healthy, don’t forget about maintaining strong muscle and bone too.
Protein intake in elderly women (Frailty)
BLOG POST science-friday-preserving-muscle
ADJUSTMENTS MAY BE NECESSARY For those who are able to remain in constant motion, running in place for nearly for the duration of a workout session, “The At-Home Cardio Kickboxing Workout That’ll Kick Your Butt” by Lauren Mazzo for FitnessMagazine.com may be for you.
Honestly, like most of these types of workouts I am challenged to perform them by my lack of coordination. HOWEVER, it’s a good reason to do them. Initially, stepping in place rather than running in place may make the coordination effort easier.
Side kicks are also a challenge; mine will never achieve the height demonstrated in the video by Jeanette Jenkins, The Hollywood Trainer. But with appropriate warm-up, dynamic stretching, and lots of practice I can become better at them. I know this because I took a kickboxing class several years ago and improved. Prior to the class and concurrently I was performing strength building exercises, which made it safer to attempt kickboxing.
This workout caught my attention because it incorporates body moves beneficial to bone health and can provide an opportunity for cross-training when swimming, cycling, or other cardiorespiratory-beneficial, aerobic exercise isn’t possible.
If you do try this routine, don’t be discouraged if everything about it seems strange. As mentioned above, a difficult initial experience may indicate that mastery at a low level will improve an aspect of fitness that will positively impact running, walking, or everyday activities. Take it slowly. Be sure to adjust the moves as needed for safety and have nearby support if balance is difficult. Start with the upper-body action sequences if combining them with lower body action at the same time is too awkward.
Best to check with a physician beforehand, especially one who has helped with previous muscle, soft tissue, joint, or skeletal problems.
Cardio-kickboxing will appeal to some. This routine looks reasonable to attempt.
RUN-WALK ACROSS AMERICA: WEEK 13
Segment 33 Bradford PA to Corning NY
Segment 34 Corning Ny to Caznovia NY
Segment 35 Cazenovia NY to Speculator NY
This week we will make our way from the Keystone State of Pennsylvania into the Empire State of New York, first to a city known for its manufacture of glass and ceramic products, Corning NY. The city is south of the Finger Lakes (FL) region, which is skirted on this trip.
The region is famous for beautiful woodland scenery, vineyards, and wine making. Officially there are 11 long, narrow, sometimes very deep lakes in this central part of the state. The Finger Lakes were carved by glacial action, as are many of the geographic features of the Great Lakes states. This area of New York is also a main part of the homeland of the Iroquois, a Native American nation that was one of the most powerful in colonial times.
The village of Watkins Glen NY, north of the route at the south end of Seneca Lake, is well-known by nature enthusiasts for the nearby State Park, with its beautiful rushing streams, waterfalls, and gorges. Race fans know it for the Watkins Glen International racetrack, which is on the MONSTER Energy NASCAR Cup Series schedule (winner of the August 6 ‘I Love New York’ race was Martin Truex Jr.)
The route passes from Corning through Ithaca, which lies at the southern end of Cayuga Lake, then east of the city of Syracuse to the historic village of Cazenovia in the town of the same name. Ithaca is the home of Cornell University, which is both a private Ivy League and a public land-grant educational institution. Syracuse is home to its namesake University. Cazenovia Lake lies at the northeast edge of the town, and although it is situated at the far eastern end of the FL region and not officially included with the 11 Finger Lakes, sometimes is called the 12th Lake because it seems to have similar glacial origins.
The last stop this week is Speculator NY, deep within the Adirondack Mountains. The route runs eastward from Cazenozia and enters Adirondack Park, the boundaries of which correspond to the dome-shaped area comprising the Mountains, about 160 miles wide and a mile high. If you stayed at an inn you might enjoy relaxing in wooden Adirondack reclining chairs that derive their name from the area. You will have earned it! Only a relatively few more days of effort remain, about 300 miles of road.
Click to link to the segment maps, which also can be downloaded from the RESOURCES page, as well as the Itinerary and Calendar.
CHANGE THE FEELING; WALK OR RUN THE BEACH
Eager to train on the sandy shores of a nearby big lake or ocean? If a move or a vacation stay brings you closer to this possibility you might read “Benefits and Dangers of Beach Running” by David Gonzalez for Runnerclick.com. In spite of the item’s overall positive vibe and longer list of benefits (which include less impact force, greater calorie burn, strengthening of some muscles) the author quietly concludes that the increased injury risk of beach running outweighs its advantages.
Gonzalez advises that runners not completely replace regular training but gradually increase beach running sessions. The dangers identified include stress on knees and ankles, exaggerated pronation, and creation of muscle imbalances with incline running.
An article from Competitor.com by Kelly O’Meara, “Everything You Need to Know About Running on the Sand,” mostly helpfully discusses how to get started doing it and provides three sample workouts. This piece also indicates that it takes more energy to run on this softer surface, with a good chunk of the effort expended to in mechanical stabilization.
WomensHealth.com takes another approach, pointing out the logistical difficulties associated with beach running, in the article “10 Things No One Tells You About Running on the Beach”. These annoyances may seem trivial but are worth noting for the purpose of maintaining realistic expectations and preparing for the session. Unrelenting exposure to sun and the possibility of encountering beach debris, human ‘obstacles’, and an unpredictable terrain are a few of the issues that surf-side runners might anticipate, as listed by author Mary Patterson Broome.
The reason such advice is written is that the combination of water, sand, and sun presents an almost irresistible draw to runners and fitness enthusiasts. What a fabulous environment in which to exercise! Especially at the times of day when the sunlight has a softer, golden, or sparkly effect on the surrounding landscape.
My personal experience with beach running is fairly extensive. I’ve trained regularly on the shores bordering the Pacific (Los Angeles), Lake Michigan (Michigan), and The Gulf of Mexico (Texas). I agree with all three articles! The most important message embedded in each is that there is an increased risk of injury associated with running on sand.
The mechanical challenges of stabilization and the increased work needed to power forward on the softer surface represent opportunities to create or promote existing muscle imbalances or to overtrain. The advice to advance workouts slowly and gradually, and not to replace all hard-surface with sand sessions is spot on. Consider using the beach to cross-train with walking high intensity intervals or moderately-vigorous paced continuous sets.
The beach is a tougher running venue than appearances promise. One of the greatest benefits of getting exercise on it is listed in the Gonzalez article; it will “change the space and change the feeling” of your workout and the day.
CALMING 3RD PERSON SELF-TALK; POTENTIAL NEW MENTAL TOUGHNESS TOOL Can studies conducted by scientists at two separate universities help runners become mentally tough? Earned Runs is asking this question, although it was not a focus of either research study.
An article in a Michigan State University newsletter MSU Today described the studies that were reported together and published as one paper in Nature.com’s Scientific Reports. Study 1 was conducted by Associate Professor of Psychology Jason Moser and colleagues at the MSU Clinical Psychophysiology Lab. Study 2 was conducted by University of Michigan Psychology Professor Ethan Kross and colleagues at the UM Emotion and Self Control Lab.
The researchers sought to determine whether the “simple act of talking to yourself in the third person during stressful times” may help individuals control emotions without the degree of effort needed in other types of calming methods like mindfulness and other meditation exercises. They compared the effect of self-talk in the 3rd person, in which the person’s own name was used, with the more common habit of self-talk in the 1st person using the personal pronoun “I”, on emotion-related brain activity.
For example, a person might self-talk in the first person by thinking “Why am I upset?”, and in the 3rd person, “Why is Mary upset?”, paraphrasing the article.
Thirty-seven undergraduates were recruited for Study 1 for which they received partial course credit. According to the article “participants viewed neutral and disturbing images and reacted to the images in both the first and third person while their brain activity was monitored by an electroencephalograph” for event-related brain potentials (ERP).
In this first study, when “reacting to the disturbing photos” (from an official set of images of the International Affective Picture System) “such as a man holding a gun to their heads, participants emotional brain activity decreased very quickly (within 1 second) when they referred to themselves in the third person”.
Fifty-two subjects were recruited for Study 2 via flyers and ads on Facebook and Craig’s List. The 32 females and 20 male subjects received $50 in compensation. Roughly 71% were Caucasian, 15% Asian, 8% African American, 2% Native American, and 4% ‘other’. This second study was designed to more closely simulate a real-life situation. Participants were asked to recall an autobiographical situation that would create a negative emotional response while their brains were studied using functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI).
Earned Runs thinks that for runners, this might be like recalling an embarrassing or painful incident in a race that caused them to not finish.
Findings similar to those of the MSU study were obtained; brain activity was less “in a brain region that is commonly implicated in reflecting on painful emotional experiences, when using 3rd person self-talk.” Again, results indicated there was no greater brain effort required to use 3rd person versus 1st person self-talk.
How does this affect running and athletic performance in general? One of the tips to help with acquiring mental toughness provided by author Dr. JoAnn Dahlkoetter in the 2014 Competitor.com article” Keys to Running with Mental Toughness” is to use power words. Suggested phrases in her article begin with the first –person pronoun “I” and include “I stay positive…”, “I project…” and “I am…”.
Marathoner Sara Crouch, a three-time Olympic Trial qualifier, in her “Conquering the Mental Marathon” article for ACTIVE.com, advised spending 5 minutes talking to yourself in front of a mirror each night “repeating specific positive messages”. The given examples include, “I am fit, I am fast”.
Earned Runs (ER) ‘take’ on the topic: If positive self-talk in the first person doesn’t work for some runners, perhaps using the 3rd person approach will do the trick. If there’s an emotional element interfering with the process of becoming mentally prepared for a race or task, removing or diminishing it may lead to the desired results.
To back up the thought, ER searched for real-person experience on the internet and found that ultra-endurance athlete Christopher Bergland delved into this mental preparation area earlier in the year. A very recent item in his “The Athletes Way” blog also commented on the MSU-UM research and revealed that he had performed extensive work curating neuroscientific research on the topic. He indicates he published a May 2017 Psychology Today blog post “Gutsy Third Person Self-Talk Utilizes the Vagus Nerve” as part of a 9-part series (Vagus Nerve Survival Guide).
BOTTOM LINE: You don’t need to read all the research to determine if this technique helps improve your mental game. Simply try it. “It will work for Mary!”
EARNED RUNS SUGGESTS AVOIDING DIY! Are you looking for some general advice about training when you are nursing a minor injury? Marty Munson wrote an article, “Here’s How You Can Stay Fit When You Are Injured,” for Competitor.com that provides loose guidelines for runners in this condition who are no longer able to continue full force on a training plan.
He distinguishes the type of ‘rest’ that might be prescribed for recovery from complete rest. There are still opportunities to maintain cardiovascular fitness with activities that won’t aggravate the problem.
A physician or therapist ordered ‘rest’ period won’t seem so dire a situation for runners who have previously established cross training routines that involve other exercise modes. Martin stresses that alternate forms of aerobic exercise should be ‘linear’. Movement in ‘linear’ activities will occur in a unidirectional manner, usually forward, in the swimming pool, on a cycle or elliptical machine, rather be multi-direction as with tennis, soccer, and other court or field sports.
Permission to continue running he says, should be not be taken as the go-ahead to resume full training. This is the section in which Martin provides the MOST IMPORTANT INSIGHT, in the opinion of Earned Runs. He indicates that an injury is most likely to have been caused by a biomechanical issue that might include poor form, a weakness, or an imbalance. To resume running after the pain has subsided without correction of the underlying causative issue will ultimately lead to a relapse/recurrence.
A physical therapist quoted in the article indicates that injured runners (walkers or fitness enthusiasts too) should find someone who can help identify and correct the biomechanical problem. The PT expert is not just looking for more business! Best not to attempt to DIY in this situation. You may face additional months of rehab after wasting months on self-care.
What’s a good first step? Earned Runs advises that you seek help from a medical professional with expertise, experience, or interest in the area of athletic injury. Physical therapy should be part of the care plan, and the PT should be geared toward resuming athletic activities not merely everyday tasks.
There are other bits of good advice in this article; it’s encouraging to those of us with injuries who hope to resume enjoying our sport without future injury.
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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