Fitness And Health: The Fashioning Of Wellbeing 2


Getting Fit And Slim

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FITNESS ADVANCES WELLBEING

RUNNING ACHIEVES FITNESS

FIT AND SLIM COMES BY RUNNING

40 OF THE MOST FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT RUNNING FOR FITNESS AND HEALTH -  PART 5

 The Proform 505 CST Treadmill-An Excellent Choice

Before getting to answering questions about running, it might be worthwhile to bring to the attention of readers, what appears to be a good buy for many fitness and health runners as well  as exercise enthusiasts. The reference is to the Proform 505 CST Treadmill.

For those who are thinking of getting in shape, but do not want to go running around the neighborhood, the obvious and logical choice is to get a treadmill. Even for dedicated runners, a treadmill is a good backup in times when they cannot get out on the track to train. In this category of equipment, the Proform 505 CST treadmill has become quite popular among users.

This treadmill is not just “run of the mill”, but in addition to the standard ones, it has many advanced and outstanding features, including a heart rate monitor. Included with this unit are also built- in speakers which allow you to connect your mp 3 player to the treadmill. If and when you use a headset, because you can plug your mp 3 player directly into this treadmill, you do not have to worry about dangling wires getting tangled.

There are many other features which you can investigate by looking at this device on Amazon, where it can be purchased for $699.97 which is in fact is $300.02 (30%) off of the suggested retail price. Amazon is undertaking to ship this product so you do not have to be concerned with extra shipping fees.

The Proform 505 CST treadmill will therefore be a great choice for you who would like to begin “walking” or “running” inside your own home. Go out and get one now. The opportunity might be too good to miss.

Q. Does Running Ever Get Easier? If so, When?

A. Many runners, especially those who have just started to run for fitness and health, ask this question, and, usually, it is with good reasons. In deciding to take up running as their exercise of choice for fitness and health, many have read, or, been told by other runners, that this is “serious business” and that running is an “arduous” undertaking They have heard much talk about “special” training and running routines, exercise regimens, “proper” running gear, goal setting, special diets, “no gain without pain” and the more than likely early pain filled periods that they will experience, the self discipline and dedication that must be developed, etc,

These new runners therefore, are then more than likely totally convinced – or at least, strongly believe it to be so! – that there is a “hard road” ahead and along which they must travel if they are to become “runners”. It is small wonder then, that they want to know where and when the promised “land” of being a “runner” will be reached and life will be easier and more “normal” again – where and when is that silver lining or that light at the end of the tunnel!

Others who ask this question are more than likely to have just started running with no “education” or “formal instruction” on running (they simply took up running because it is so easy to start up if you are looking for a fitness exercise), who perhaps have been running for several weeks, are grappling with their run/walk routines, still puffing and blowing away, with the pain and physical discomfort ever present, seeming to be worsening and showing no sign of abating. Their ability to freely move is decreasing, and there is fear of what might come next. Small wonder the question then!

A first answer is that this is a bad start to the whole thing. You should not see running as being an arduous task, and as having a very burdensome beginning from which later you hope some relief will be forth coming, and hence your question of what/when.

In these contexts, it is assumed that the answer being sought, mostly concerns, or is in relationship to, the time when the initial pain and discomfort will cease, and runners will begin to “feel” fit and well and begin to experience high energy levels. However, as is usually the case with many questions about running, the answer to this is neither simple nor easy and there is no one answer that will do for every body.

As has been described in previous posts (and which is briefly repeated here for convenience and clarity), “fitness” is a combination of:

Cardiovascular Fitness, which, during prolonged physical activity, determines the capability of our heart, lungs and vascular systems to supply blood which is enriched in oxygen, to the muscles where blood oxygen is being depleted.

Muscular Endurance which is the muscle’s ability to continuously perform certain movement activities over and over again, or, to remain in certain positions for lengthy time periods.

Muscular Flexibility which measures the extent to which a particular muscle can be extended.

Muscular Strength which measures the amount of force a muscle can develop to resist an external strong force.

Body Composition which defines the ratio of body fat to its lean mass (e.g. bones, muscle, organs, etc.)

These allow us to develop physical fitness routines around them and so achieve a high level of fitness and health. It does however require some time to develop these while running and for our bodies to make the physical adjustments and accommodations which are required to foster and maintain our running aspirations and goals.

Beginning runners do eventually reach that “moment of truth” when they can run for say 30 to 40 minutes without any seeming real “discomfort” such as pain, a racing heart, shortness of breath, a heaving of chest, tiredness, etc., etc. – and whenever that begins to happen, that will be the “easier” time for you! It is obvious that that “whenever” will differ for everyone not only in time but in intensity as well!

Although an exact answer has not been provided and you, as early runners might feel to some degree cheated by this, do not be too concerned. Your far greater worry is that, by asking this question, you are also in fact might just be beginning to doubt and to question your running ideology; self doubt and apprehension about your running “vision” might have begun to emerge – and some “cracks” might be showing up in your resolution!

For you, this should present a far greater worry than your not getting a definitive answer. So at this point what you really might be needing is not a precise answer to that question, but even unconsciously, you might be seeking some level of reassurance about what you are doing as well as needing a boost to your self confidence. Let me therefore hasten to help you in this respect.

Tips for New Runners Caught In Midstream

Right off the bat, you must take it unto yourself, to be PATIENT! It takes time to bring about physical changes in your body, and, the cardiovascular, muscular and body changes required to meet your desired “fitness” level are no exceptions. In the interim however, there are some very important things that you must be sure are in place, because these will make your running activities easier, more “comfortable” and actually enjoyable and will guarantee the “promised” later – that “easier” times will come!

Be sure then that:

You have a comfortable pair of running shoes (this cannot be emphasized enough!) and that your running attire is suitable to the conditions. Men's running shoesEveryone has an individual preference. However, a good investment in a pair of running shoes is the popular New Balance Men’s Running Shoes. Get yourself a pair, even as a backup. You can easily do this by clicking on the image or using the Amazon Search Banner in the sidebar.

§ You have started off your running by first walking. It is the mandatory rule for running that you walk first.

§ Running is being mixed with walking. Beginners as well as experienced runners alike, often alternate 3 – 5 minutes of running, with 3 – 5 minutes of walking

§ You gradually speed up your brisk walking to running. You can do this, say, by walking for a minute and then running for a minute, gradually working your way up.

§ You are not overdoing it. You are being moderate in mixing up your “hard” running with plenty of slow running. If you are out of shape, start slowly. If you overdo it, you will get sore and pick up running injuries.

§ The targets that you have set yourself, are within the level of your own physical fitness, and are therefore achievable.

§ You are not worrying at first about times and distances, especially those of others.

§ You are doing preliminary warm-ups. Groom your muscles for your planned run by jogging easily and slowly for about 10 minutes before starting on the “hard’ run.

§ Your running time is being increased in a measured manner- say by about ten percent each week.

§ The pace at which you run is being varied and an easy jogging pace is being combined with “hard” runs. An easy jogging break every 10 minutes is about standard.

§ Complement your running routine with some other forms of exercise (called “cross-training”) such as swimming, cycling, yoga, dancing, etc.

§ Wherever possible, you avoid very hard surfaces to run on, like asphalt and cement, and choose instead, softer surfaces as this will minimize shock to your joints.

§ You hydrate frequently since when you run, especially in hot conditions, your body loses a large amount of fluids which are essential and must be replaced.

§ You run in as clean an atmosphere as possible, since a polluted atmosphere, is hard on your lungs.

§ Your running course is varied since it can get very boring running over the same course every day.

§ You eat well balanced meals. Ensure that your diet contain greens (vegetables and fruits), essential fatty acids, a balanced intake of carbohydrates and proteins as well as fibers (cereals), non-fat milk or soy milk, etc. Some good dieting regimes are available here. Try them. They are well worth your while.

§ You do some hill running if you are lucky enough to live in an area where there are hills, as this is one of the most effective ways to build up both your strength and stamina.

§ Your running frequency is in keeping with your own physical condition and on what your aims are. Running too often could lead to embryonic disabilities.

§ You “cool down” when you are through running. Finish a “hard” run with at least a 10 minutes jog.

§ You are getting enough rest by taking time off to allow for recuperation as running can be very stressful on your body. Resting is an essential part of the running process.

You have the confidence and mental strength to push yourself to undertake longer distances and faster times.

If you are doing many of these, be assured that your running for fitness and health will SOON become EASIER!

Q. Can Seniors take on Exercises Such As Running?

A. The answer is a resounding yes! However, getting started on running routines in your “senior years”, requires particular attention to be paid to certain preparatory steps. These have been discussed at length in previous posts, as well as in several articles elsewhere, and therefore will not be elaborated on here. Instead, the more general question of “seniors taking on exercises” will be the focus of the answer and what in general applies to exercises for senior people, can in particular be applied to those who would become runners in their “senior years”.

Senior Fitness – Tips for Your Health

Getting older does not mean that you have to sit in a rocker and knit. The senior years are the times where staying physically active takes on even more importance for your fitness and health. The longer you remain active, the better you will be and feel. Here are a few tips for getting up and getting moving in your golden years.

Motivation will be a factor. Many view “exercising” as a task and getting motivated can be difficult when you think of a task as boring. When you exercise, you should not (as many do!) see it as a mere “task” which you are performing, but a “procedure” to achieve fitness and health. With this as a perception of the activities or “routines” in which you are engaged, exercise can be anything but boring! Join a senior aerobics or swimming class to combine exercise and socialization. This will ameliorate any “boredom” into which you think that you would be falling. Go on walks with your loved ones. If you can keep an excitement and joy about fitness and health, you will be more likely to keep at your exercise regime on a regular basis.

“Working out” with friends and family can be a great motivating factor. Having someone to exercise with will help keep you from procrastinating about your workout. It will drive you out of bed if you know someone is out on the track waiting for you. It also helps to have someone there to support you and whom you can support as well.

As you get older, the routines that you will use to increase your fitness and health levels, need to be altered slightly to keep you in good health and decrease the risk of serious injury. Low-impact exercises are much safer for you as you grow older. There are many fitness classes and routines designed specifically for seniors that take into account your specific needs. Check with your local YMCA, health spas, fitness gyms (if you can afford the membership fees for these latter!) or other centers, for what they offer for seniors. If exercising at home, look into getting exercise videos that are geared towards you.

Do not make the mistake of focusing completely on aerobics and ignoring your strength and flexibility needs. Weight training for strength is even more important to concentrate on as you get older. You do not want to try to bench press your body weight but you can do weight exercises that won’t tax your body too harshly. Consider making an appointment with a fitness trainer to learn some easy strength exercises that you can do. For your flexibility, take senior yoga classes which will help you work out stiff muscles and joints while making you more limber.

If it is hard to get up and get to the gym or pop in a video, or you don’t feel like exercising, simply undertake other activities (this will have an element of “cross training!) that people do not usually associate with the word “exercise” (exercise unfortunately is not thought to be an “enjoyable” pastime!) – but nevertheless, these activities do “exercise” your muscles. For example, go out dancing in the evening with friends. Head out to a local park and go on some calm nature walks. When the activity is fun, you won’t be thinking of it as exercise, but your body will still get the benefits.

Swimming and water aerobics are great activities for seniors, especially those suffering from joint or back pain, decreased muscle flexibility, etc. The water’s buoyancy helps make it easier to work out without putting a strain on your body. If you are having issues with pain or stiffness, swimming will give you a feeling of freedom that you don’t get on land.

As a “senior” you might not, for many valid reasons, want to go running around your neighborhood nor go to a gym or health club. If you have a preference for remaining in your home but are really bent on getting fit and healthy, a treadmill is a good option for you. An advantage here is that you can set the controls to your own needs and capabilities. A “special deal” worth investigating is the Proform 505 CST Treadmill which is discussed at the beginning of this post. Go and check it out. It might just solve all your special “senior” problems!

You will have to pay a little more attention to your diet and the amount of rest you get. Your body needs the proper foods to give it back theenergy you use up in your exercise activities. Some good guides and recipes on proper foods are available. Check these out. Your muscles need “rest” so they can recover from the added “stress” you are placing on them by your exercise routines. They get stronger in recovery and your “endurance” is enhanced. When you exercise therefore, you must eat well and sleep well. Read earlier posts for discussions on the need for proper rest.

You are also going to have to pay some attention to the “mental” side of things. Your mental powers will diminish as does your body, with age, so you have to pay them some attention too. No point in having an “unsupple” mind in an otherwise “agile” body! The Latin equivalent is: “mens sana in corpore sano” – an enviable combination of mind and body!

Look therefore to your mental “health” even as you work assiduously at the physical. There are “exercises” to keep your brain sharp and you should develop a “routine” for this just as you do with your physical routines. You might wish to try the MindToMind exercises. These will augment the outcomes of your physical activities and serve to balance levels of fitness in both departments. For some, this might prove to be a far less arduous undertaking!

If you take care of your body and keep it active and healthy, the rewards are endless. Getting in shape and staying fit and healthy will help not only your body, but also your mind. Don’t let age make you think it’s time to give up on your body. Get out there and get moving! Trust me, your body will thank you. Exercise, proper diets, and sufficient rest hold the keys to fitness, health and wellbeing. As a “senior” you can still do it! For you, the time is very much now.

Q. Should I Run Every Day Or Should I Take Some Days Off?

A. Taking days off from any exercise routine, including running, is not of the nature of something which you just decide to do or not to do, but is absolutely essential that you do! You take “days off”, not “as a matter of choice”, but because your body absolutely REQUIRES you to. Why this?

The short answer is that an adequate amount of rest is essential if your body is to remain in good health. Without adequate rest, you imperil and put at serious risk your health. Without sufficient rest (your “days off”!), you will be effectively undermining all you hoped to gain from your undertaking of running as an exercise of choice for fitness and health. There are several reasons for this.

Firstly, when you run, it is mostly about building up your bodily strength and your physical endurance. Running builds up your strength by building up your muscles. At the same time, your endurance is increased, by exercising your lungs. A “stress” is put on your muscle fibers which get broken down when you run (exercise) and are restored when the stress (running) activity ceases.

This “rest time” gives your body the chance to build more muscle and your lungs are given the chance to build up endurance. By giving them “rest”, they are able during this time, to repair and build up and when they do so, they actually build up stronger and leaner than before! Without this period of rest therefore, this build up and repair process cannot take place and a “debilitation” process will continue, which finally results in a break down in the capacity of your body to function physically, leaving you very prone to injury and disease.

Secondly, rest acts as an injury prevention mechanism. When you first begin to run, your body suffers great trauma. It is not prepared for the ordeal to which it is being put (it probably has been used to a “soft” and “cozy” life – or one of neglect!), or the “harsh” treatment which it is getting in the process of exercise. It is hard on your muscles and joints. As these can only take so many traumas, you must give them time to recover from each run.

The amount of rest period needed will depend on the “harshness” (intensity) of your running regimen. Taking a day or two of rest, will allow the muscles and joints to repair themselves for the next run (and a higher level of fitness!) becoming more agile and gaining strength in the process. Research has shown that taking at least one or two days off a week, reduces the frequency of injuries which arise from “overuse. You will notice also that taking this “time off” actually results in your feeling “fresher” and a lot better during your subsequent runs.

The “agenda” for rest is often different for beginners and for more experienced runners. Some running beginners start out by running every other day. This provides them with sufficient rest time to recover while still developing and maintaining a running “routine” or mode. Some beginning runners also undertake some “cross-training” activities instead of a complete break from exercising altogether. This is OK (and actually encouraged) and is based on the assumption that the muscles being “exercised” in these cross-training activities are not those primarily used in running.

For those more experienced runners, 2 -3 days a week time off is pretty well standard. There is no fear here that these “time off” days are being used by them simply as an excuse not to run since these runners have shown themselves to be in it for the ”long haul” by sticking to a consistent running timetable, have set training goals and are highly motivated to reach their desired fitness levels!

Apart from these “physical” benefits, it is good for you to take some time off from running as it provides an opportunity for a mental “break” from the “routine” of running. This way you will not lose motivation, which does sometimes happen if you run everyday

40 Of the Most Frequently Asked Questions in Running For Fitness And Health – Part 6

Q. What are The Most Common Running Injuries?

A. When you run for fitness and health, there will be many pitfalls along the way – both literally and figuratively! One of those you are sure to encounter, is injuries. At some stage in your life as a runner, you will pick up “running” injuries, either by carelessness, by accident or sometimes it seems to be “just in the nature of things” or, “just my luck”.

The kind of injury you will sustain, usually is caused by one of the following factors:
· Over training
· Trauma
· Neglect of personal biometrics or bio-mechanics.

Over training is probably the major cause of most running injuries. The usual way this is done is by:
o Increasing your distance too rapidly without allowing for the development of the necessary physical capacity (your body) to accommodate this;
o Increasing the intensity of your workouts too suddenly and thereby putting a greater stress on your muscles than they are able to accommodate then;
o Doing the same amount of mileage but undertaking other exercises at such a strenuous level that you tire and may then pull a muscle; and,
o The surface on which you run is ”harsh” and your body takes too much of a “pounding” for which neither running greater nor shorter distances is able to compensate or ameliorate.

Trauma can occur at any time, in any place and without any warning and cause you bodily injury. The cause of a trauma which results in injury to yourself, is usually an external factor such as twisting an ankle by stepping in a hole, or butting you foot on a stone which causes you to fall and break a bone, etc., etc.

Neglecting personal biometrics by, for example, using running shoes which are not only unsuited to your personal physical make up, but also is inappropriate for your running route and surface. Your running pace or individual physical style could also be at odds with your body characteristics thus resulting in a “biomechanical mismatch”.

Common Running Injuries
In spite of all the “personal” care you might have taken and the many preventive measures you have put in place, more often than not, you will come to grief, develop and experience the pains and aches associated with some form of the common “running” injuries.

Running injuries can be classified using very technical terms and be described at length in a language which would be unfamiliar to any but those in the medical or related fields. However the undertaking in answering the most frequently asked questions about running, was that the answers would be as non-technical and as brief as possible and this approach will also be adhered to here. For those who would understand or wish more technical treatment of the subject, there are many well known medical books and learned publications on the subject matter which you may consult.

The most common forms of running injuries are:

Tendonitis which is a severe inflammation of the tendons, and results from running too fast or too far when the muscles have not reached a level of strength and flexibility to accommodate this added stress. The pain, which begins with a dull ache, sometimes has an onset in the mornings when you get up, and worsens during the day.

Runner’s Knee which results from the fibrous fascia (which runs down the outside of the thigh and enters just below the knee) becoming tight and can rub against the outside of the knee. This causes an inflammation and subsequent pain to develop in the kneecap and is usually the result of inappropriate biometrics and overtraining;

Shin Splints which are pains that occur in front of the lower leg along the tibia or shin bone, located usually on the outer front portion of the lower leg or in the inside back of the lower leg. These pains result from an inflammation of the tendons and adjacent tissues in the front of the outer legs due to injury and are experienced respectively on the outside or the inside of the shin bone. Shin splints are usually caused by hill walking and speed work before your muscles and tendons reach the level of strength and flexibility where they can accommodate that amount of stress. Worn shoes, tight calf muscles and weak shins are also factors.

Plantar Fascitis which is an inflammation of the tendon at the bottom of your foot which connects your heel to the ball of your foot and which is stretched to absorb the shock of the impact of your foot on hitting the ground. Again, this is caused by overtraining and improper biometrics.

Stress Fractures which show up as cracks on the outside of a bone. These are caused by repetitive stress resulting from over training, (increasing mileage too rapidly, for example), and are exacerbated by wearing the wrong kind of running shoes. Hip stress fractures are very common among athletes who participate in” high impact” running activities such as long distance running.

Ankle Sprain which often is a result of running over pot holes on the road. It is caused by stretching and/or tearing of ligaments, the most common being where damage to the ligaments on the outside of the ankle occurs when the ankle turns over so the sole of the foot faces inwards.

Snapping Hip which (according to Wikipedia) is a “medical condition characterized by a snapping sensation felt when the hip is flexed and extended, This may be accompanied by an audible snapping or popping noise and pain or discomfort” as you run. This can either be external (lateral) or internal”. It is usually “due to repetitive and physically demanding movements”, the pain often “decreasing with rest and diminished activity”.

Pulled Hamstring which is an injury to the muscles called the hamstring which runs from the pelvis down the back of the leg to the bones of the lower leg. Injuries to these muscles, which can range from minor strains to complete rupture of the muscles themselves, is a running injury most often occurring in sprinters but also occur in other sports which involve running with sudden starts and stops.

Black Toenails which is caused by the toes rubbing up against the front of the running shoe and results in a blood blister forming under the toenail with the nail eventually falling off. These are usually prevented by properly fitting shoes, wearing non-cotton socks and trimming the toe nails regularly.

Blisters which are fluid-filled bubbles of skin on your feet and can be painful and keep you from running. Formation of these blisters are usually preventable by wearing properly fitted shoes and using socks of synthetic materials instead of cotton. Vaseline can also be applied on those areas with the problem.

Chafing which is caused by repeated motion and in particular where the skin rubs against loose fabric or other skin. It is a usual nuisance which can be treated by putting some gel, cream or vaseline on the “offending” spot.

Side Stitches which are sharp, intense pains occurring under the lower edge of the ribcage and are caused by muscle spasms of the diaphragm. These can be avoided by not eating too close to a run, drinking lots of water before running, breathing deeply in and out through the mouth (if the onset occurs when running) and breathing deeply from the belly.

Extensive discussions on common running injuries can also be found in The Stop Running Pain System which is highly recommended for runners.

Q. How can common Running Injuries be avoided?

A. As long as the collective memory of mankind can recall, running, as a form of exercise, has been regarded as one of the most perfect ways of getting and staying in shape. When most people think of starting on an exercise routine for fitness and health purposes, they very often as a first choice, turn to running.

But watch out! It is precisely because it is “so easy and so natural to do” that many aspiring runners (and sometimes even “seasoned” runners!) do not pay enough attention to some very basic practices that running requires, and when they do not, they become very prone to injuries. Yes, it is well worth noting that despite the fact that “it is so easy to do”, runners very often become injured in running, and this makes it necessary to observe certain practices (mostly simple in nature!), in order to reduce the frequency of these injuries.. The following provides tips on how runners might reduce the frequency and gravity of some common running injuries.

Tips for Runners To Reduce And Avoid Running Injuries

Train smarter, instead of harder is the common saying! This is imperative for all runners, but especially for older runners who often tend to compensate for decreased ability to perform with aging, by increasing time and intensity (overdoing it!). However, instead of increasing their “abilities”, more often than not, they tend to end up with injuries resulting from overuse or over training! As an older runner, you cannot train as ”hard” as when you were younger and as a younger runner, you can run the risk of overtraining by being “youthfully” overzealous. As most runners say, your body is the best “thermometer”. Watch your temperature!

Gradually build up your times and intensity. If your routine involves walking and running, there should be a slow transition between your walking times and your running times. Slowly increase the amount of time you are running, and decrease the time for walking. If you are an older person, you will have to do this more gradually than you would if you were younger. Remember that you are out there to get fit and healthy, and not to be competitive and necessarily win marathons. As much as possible, make it a fun process! You can make use of equipment such as treadmills for more control in this as they can be set to precisely facilitate different intensity levels.

Keep up your level of motivation. Running, although not the arduous undertaking that many people would make it out to be, still does not come easy, and if you are north of say 40, it is more difficult still. It is especially more so if you have not led a “physically active” life. With any level of “routine”, the initial soreness, pain and stiffness you are bound to experience, and the self discipline which running as an exercise activity requires, it is more than likely that your resolve to be “out there running”, could easily weaken.

Therefore, always try to bear in mind that it is a fun thing, that you are doing it for your health, fitness and wellbeing – you are running for your life. You are not in a competition with anyone else but yourself, and winning “against” yourself, is achieving your targets which you yourself have set! Do not let yourself down or fail yourself!

Do not overdo it. Running injuries are no respecters of age and occur at any age level of runners. With increasing age however, the probability for the propensity of all kinds of injury increases. At any age, but especially if you are an “older” runner, if you feel continuous pain as you run, or if there is a sudden pain which is unusually intense, slow your pace, drop it to walking or, if called for, stop altogether.

If soreness is really great and movement is impeded (which could mean that you have been “overdoing” it!), try another form of exercise which is less taxing (said to be “low impact”) and uses other muscles. This could include swimming, dumb bells, springs, cycling, etc. which you could do on days on which you do not run.

Increase your muscular strength. You can do this by doing some weight training exercises once ob twice a week for periods of 30 – 40 minutes. This is necessary as your muscle tone, strength, flexibility, etc. decreases and weaken with age and weight training does help to “maintain” your muscles. It is important that you include exercises for both your upper and lower body. However you have to be careful here that you do not “strain” yourself by lifting weights beyond your capacity. There are “formulae” to work this out but if you are not sure, ask a weight trainer about the size of weights you can safely lift.

Include in your “workouts” high intensity periods. You have to be careful about this, and especially if you are an older person, you should not do this for more than once or twice a week. You can use a method called “interval training” where your high intensity levels – which usually can last up to 90 seconds depending on the intensity and your level of fitness – are separated from each other by 4-6 minutes of less intensity. You can do this for example, by alternating running (high intensity) with jogging or walking (low intensity).

Watch your balance. Particularly as you age, you are inclined to lose your coordination and sense of balance and to “compensate” for this by holding on to solid objects for support, such as the railing when you are on a stairway, etc. Try to reduce this ”holding on“ tendency as much as possible and where it is safe for you to do so. Try even raising up one knee and standing on the other leg sometimes. Additionally, there are many balancing exercise routines available which can help to alleviate the situation by making you stronger and more lithe and thereby reduce the probability of injury, for example, through falling, as you run.

Be careful with the terrain on which you run. Your joints (knees, ankles, hip, etc) come under a lot of hard treatment when you run and their strength, durability, flexibility and ability to absorb shock, decrease with age or simply with overuse. You therefore have to watch very carefully, the surface on which you run as the very hard surfaces can easily result in ankle sprains, tendon tearing etc.

Try to avoid concrete or asphalt surfaces and find grass or dirt trails on which to run. You should ensure also that the surface is relatively smooth and not cluttered with numerous mounds of various sizes and heights as this will increase the risk of falling or sprains. Your course also should not have many (none if possible!) sudden, “hard” turns with steep grades. A sudden shift of your “running gait” to compensate for or counter this, can bring about some painful running injuries as many runners well know! “Easy turns” are the best choices.

Adjust your goals. Runners do this as a matter of course but as you get older, this is imperative. The best practice as you get older, is to concentrate more then on “times” rather than “distances”. Set up a routine with various times (minutes) for running, walking, jogging, etc., and intersperse these with some weight training and other”cross training” exercises.

Build up distances slowly. Do not increase the number of miles you run weekly by a large amount at any one time. The “best practice” for a weekly increase seems to have settled on a 10% increase in mileage, but choose what you can handle comfortably. A gradual approach is best since, by building up slowly, you not only reduce the risk of injury but you are better able to achieve your goals and targets with less pain and vexation. A commonsense approach is always best.

Take care of your feet. Ensure you have the right shoes for you. A highly recommended pair for many purposes, is the New Balance Running Shoes. You can click on the image for follow up purchase of a pair.
Men's running shoesYour shoes should not be worn out (a common “best practice” is to change them every 400 – 500 miles, but before, if they are badly worn!) and should be a model which suits your feet and running style. The wrong running shoes can very much shorten your running career as they can actually aggravate running problems, causing pain in toes, heels, feet, calves, knees or hips. You can get expert advice from specialty running shoes shops. If you are a new runner, you should ensure that your running shoes provide you with maximum cushioning. This will help reduce soreness and the risk of injury.

Keep a consistent running surface. Try not to change running surfaces too frequently. Being consistent is important as changing running surfaces too often and trying to maintain the same intensity level from one to the other, can cause injuries.

Stay limber. Stretching exercises are very critical in preventing running injuries. Ensure that you stretch both before and after your runs, especially in cold climates or, if you are an “older” runner This helps to improve your flexibility and thus prevents injury. Your calf muscles, or your lower leg muscles especially, benefit greatly from a good stretch after running. You have probably frequently witnessed the very “elaborate stretching” that some runners do just prior to their setting off on their runs! It might look like an “exhibition” or “showy” (and sometimes is!), but it is for a good cause.

Keep your training balanced. Do not concentrate too much on any one set of muscles (e.g., running) while ignoring the others, as this can sometimes cause injuries. A case in point is the development of knee injuries which occur because running strengthens the back of your legs more than the front of your legs. Initially, your relatively weak quads do not have enough strength to keep your kneecap moving in its normal channel and eventually pain develops. This however, will go away as soon as your quads become strong enough.

Be careful in returning from a layoff period. If for a relatively extensive period of time, you have been injured or have had stop training and so unable to carry out your usual routines, to prevent re-injury on re-entry, ease back into training slowly and include some other form of exercise than that which you usually do (running), such as cycling, skipping, swimming, etc. Overtraining is the most common cause of injuries, so gradualism is not only wise, but imperative if you are to avoid and mitigate the circumstances for many of the common running injuries.

Get adequate rest. This cannot be overly emphasized. No matter your age, as long as you run (exercise), your body needs time to “recover” itself. It you do not afford it the time (rest) to do so, you become not only very prone to injury, but your performance level will be stymied. Your body is the best judge of all and it will quickly tell you of any such abuse. You can monitor your heart rate, and if at any time after resting it has maintained a high rate compared to your average rate, you have not rested enough, so either take another day or two off until things “normalize/stabilize”, or “cool it” with subsequent, very easy workouts.

Hydrate very frequently. As you age, you are inclined to feel less thirsty. This means that you might be losing a great deal of fluid which you are not sufficiently replenishing. You therefore have to be very careful and watch your fluid intake. The desire to drink will not come from feeling thirsty, that is, a feeling of “being thirsty” will not trigger a warning, and therefore you have to regulate fluid intake yourself.

Proper dieting recipes and eating healthy foods is something that must never be relegated to second place consideration. The healthier your body is, the less likely it is to both sustain as well as maintain running injuries. The “healing” process will be quicker and easier. For this purpose, many runners “enhance” their diets with supplement (vitamins, minerals, etc). However there is an ongoing argument on several levels, about the efficacy of these.

The saying is that prevention is better than cure. Knowledge about injuries is one of the best methods of either preventing them or ameliorating their later onset. Being prepared means that not only are you in a better position to deal with them when they occur, but having foreknowledge of them, enables early recognition of their onset, and allows you to take early measures to lessen their later intensification and avoid conditions leading to further exacerbation.

In preparation for running injuries therefore (and they will come!), you might like to take a look at material (guides advice, tips, treatment, etc) which are available for this purpose. There are several but an excellent choice would be the series put out as The Stop Running Pain System. With this system, you will learn generally how to treat many if not all of the most common running injuries, the treatments for specific injuries, how to stop pain and effectively reduce swellings, rehabilitation and fast recovery exercises, etc. This will prove to be a very useful investment if you plan on running for the long future.
Secrets to Pain Free Running

Q. What are the best treatments for the various Running Injuries?

A. With the perhaps sudden onset of aches and pains during your running routines for fitness and health, you know injury time has arrived and treatment is immediately called for, especially with the more serious injuries. The treatment of running injuries has to focus on treating the cause, and not just the pain and other symptoms of injury. These injuries are mostly due to over training, over use through excessive repetition, and a biochemical defect in posture, inappropriate running shoes, etc. Many of these injuries require rehab, stretching and strengthening exercise, etc.

The short answer therefore, is that the “best treatments” for running injuries lie within the purview of the medical or related professions, or of trained specialists in the field of treatment of such injuries.

Some Self Treatment practices

The more serious running injuries require specialized medical attention and will not be discussed here. However, some of the more common running injuries can be treated by the runners themselves in a kind of “first aid” context, bearing in mind always that if the injury symptoms worsen or linger beyond reasonable expectation and experience during these “self treatment” practices, a doctor or a specialist in the treatment of injuries, must be consulted.

The usual “self treatment” practices for the more common running injuries, fall under the rubric of what is known as the ” RICE” program or technique, which when adequately applied, results in the reduction of swelling, relief of pain and the protection of the injury from further exacerbation. RICE is an acronym for Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation and these “platforms” will be elaborated on below.

Rest is more often than not, the best “cure” for the most ordinary injuries with which runners are beset. Taking a couple of days off from your running routine has proven to be the easiest, most convenient and efficacious form of treatment and often requires no further “treatment” – the physical “discomforts” gradually subsiding and finally disappearing altogether.

Ice the area which is troublesome. This can be achieved through the use of an ice pack. If this is not available, makeshift methods such as ice cubes wrapped in a towel, using frozen goods from the freezer such as vegetables, etc, can prove just as effective. Icing should begin as soon as any pain is being experienced and is usually done for some 20 – 30 minutes at a time and repeated every 4 to 6 hours.

If you are “carrying” these kind of injuries for which this method proves efficacious, then icing should be applied as soon as possible after you have finished your run. After the inflammation has decreased somewhat, the usual practice is to apply some heat, e.g. with a heating bag or hot towels during a period of 48 to 72 hours after. With a reduction in swelling but persistent inflammation, many people alternate ice and heat treatment after an initial period of treatment with only ice.

Compression of the area curbs excessive swelling. It is also claimed that this has a “soothing” effect, providing some temporary relief of the pain. “Compression” of the area can be done with the use of bandages which can be bought in a drugstore. However, it is important that the bandage be not applied too tightly, or this will cause some throbbing or excessive pain, or exacerbate the swelling.

Elevate the part of your body which has been injured. The common practice is to try to raise the “injury” to a level above that of your upper chest. This can be achieved in various ways such as lying down and using pillows, the head board, etc, to prop up the injured area.

The common dictum for every runner is: ’Do not run and you will be healed”. Most runners however do not take kindly to extended breaks in their running routines.

The treatment for some specific injuries are as follows:

Stress fractures

Consult a medical specialist for running injuries as the condition can worsen fairly quickly without the proper attention.

Runners Knee

Consult a medical specialist as this usually requires some level of physical therapy involving stretching exercises directed at strengthening the inner quad muscles.

Iliotibial band syndrome (ITB)

The legs are crossed with the injured one behind and then one leans away from the injured side, holding to something such as a table, door, rail, chair etc. This position is held for about 10 seconds and repeated on each side about 10 times. If there is great swelling, anti-inflammatory drugs are usually prescribed.

Ankle Strain.

Stop running immediately, particularly if the pain is intense because, under the conditions in which this kind of injury often occurs, there is the very distinct possibility of a fracture occurring. If the pain does not go away when you stop and if swelling begins, apply the RICE treatment previously discussed. You can also give your ankle some support by wrapping it with a plastic bandage. Consult a medical specialist if the pain and swelling persist after 72 hours.

Muscle pulls or strains.

Apply the RICE treatment to moderate strains. However, if the condition persists, it could be a muscle pull which requires consulting a doctor.

Plantar Fascitis

Decrease running distances but exercising such as cycling, swimming, etc., can be continued. The area can also be iced and gradual stretching of the Achilles tendon, the calf muscles and the plantar fascita will provide some relief. The pain should gradually improve and can be ameliorated by over the counter pain killers. See a doctor if this self treatment does not help.

Shin Splints

As this is an injury due to overuse, the first thing to do is cut back on your runs. Do not try to “run through the pain” as many runners want to do, but take some days off instead. You can use the “downtime” to strengthen the muscles of your lower leg and to stretch your calf muscles. An ice pack, a la the RICE treatment, can be applied to the lower legs after the run and this will reduce the pain.

Side Stitches
If this occurs during a run, the pain may be relieved somewhat by digging your fingers into the area where you feel the pain. Alter the pattern of your breathing by taking in quick, deep breaths and holding them in and finally exhaling with your lips pursed.

Secrets to Pain Free Running These injuries are extensively discussed in The Stop Running Pain System in which excellent guide material is available if you wish for more details and advice.

 

 

 

 

40 OF THE MOST FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT RUNNING – Part 7

Q. Is there a Special Advantage To Running Outside or is a Treadmill Better?

A. The fact that you are asking this question would seem to suggest that you are thinking of making a choice of one or the other. You should not see it this way. Both running outside and a using a treadmill for fitness and health, have their special advantages and the best way would be to make use of the special advantages offered by both options.

Running outside does put a greater demand on your physical capacities than using a Treadmill. When you run outside you have to push your entire body forward with every stride you take. On the other hand it is easier on a treadmill as the “ground” is literally being moved away from you as you move your feet and this requires less output of sheer physical energy on your part. All things being said, you then burn more calories, if this is your primary concern, although this really depends on how fast you run. At the same time on the treadmill, there is no wind against which you have to “push” as you must do when you are outside, which again means less energy expenditure.

If you are overweight and running for weight loss, you will find the treadmill an easier proposition compared to outside running. With this latter, your feet hit the ground real hard and there is a great shock to your legs and lower limbs. Treadmills on the other hand have a great deal of padding, and the shock of your feet striking the “ground” is very much reduced which makes the treadmill somewhat easier to deal with. This decrease in the force of impact is an important consideration if you are carrying a lot of excess avoirdupois and particularly if you have knee problems or are otherwise injury prone.

Many claim that running on a treadmill is very boring compared to running outside where you are constantly having a change of your immediate physical environment and therefore you can be more easily distracted. However to compensate for this and keeping workouts on the treadmill from getting somewhat drab, special techniques have been developed. These include such things as running with a friend beside you, interval training (mixing “hard” and “soft” runs), improving efficiency by increasing stride pace, blocking out your surroundings from your mind (you are safely inside a building – no need to worry about cars, animals, other runners!), listening to music (treadmills allow you to connect your MP3 player), moving to other machines, etc, etc.

A disadvantage of the treadmill is that if you are preparing for a road race, then training on the treadmill is inadequate as it will not allow you to train under the conditions in which the race is to be run. In this case t would be more appropriate to run outside as much as possible. An HTML Code with code for wrapping text around image for the 505 CST Treadmill


advantage however is that treadmills like the Proform 505 CST Treadmill, usually allow monitoring of heart rate. Using a treadmill also decreases the incidence of the many – often frequent and sometimes serious! – injuries sustained by runners in running outside.

There is one really great advantage to a treadmill which is that it allows you to be your “own boss” so to speak. You are in perfect control of your destiny. You are able to direct all the factors which sometimes are completely beyond your jurisdiction but which nevertheless, determine your outside running routine. You can run when you want, at any time you want (day or night), in any weather (sun shining or in wintery blizzards (outside). You are not tied down to any routine! Everything can be varied. You can even simulate outside and hill running by changing the incline of your treadmill!

Combined with outside running routines, all is beautiful for your running for fitness and health!

Q. What Are The Most Common Mistakes Made By Runners And How Must They Be Remedied?

A. The criterion for a “mistake” being made by a runner is usually identified by some form of bodily injury to the runner or something which threatens the normal body functions or “health” of the runner. We could equally ask therefore what is it that runners do which will lead to or cause bodily injury, or which impairs their health.

There are literally dozens of these so called “mistakes” which range from personal “style” to eating and which depend on various factors such as age, level of fitness, etc. and hence it will not be possible to ”itemize” all of them. Instead those which at sometime have come to affect most runners will be mentioned.

Mistake: Unsuitable Footwear

This is perhaps the simplest but is often the chief cause of eventual injury to runners. Injuries can come about either by the wrong pair being purchased in the beginning or, the shoes became worn out but continued to be worn. To reduce the incidence of this problem therefore, you have to pay special attention to your shoes.

Remedy: The running shoes that you wear as you run for fitness and health, should take the “hardness” of the surface in consideration and should serve the purpose of absorbing and ameliorating some of the “shock” experienced as your foot (heel or forefoot!) hits the running surface, cushioning each step and allowing the natural shock-absorbing action of muscles and joints to work better.

This is important for all runners, but is especially so for beginners whose muscles would not yet have “hardened” to withstand this shock. Note also that the running beginner needs more protection than the more advanced runners, as these latter have developed stronger muscles and therefore need less rubber interspersed between their feet and the running surface.

You should purchase a model which suits your feet and running style. Many favor the New Balance Running Shoes (you can click on the image for Men's running shoesdetails), but others are equally good investments. The wrong running shoes can very much shorten your running career as they can actually aggravate running problems, causing pain in toes, heels, feet, calves, knees or hips. An unsuitable pair of running shoes have drastically shortened the running “life” of many a runner! You can get expert advice from specialty running shoes shops. If you are a new runner, you should ensure that your running shoes provide you with maximum cushioning. This will help reduce soreness and the risk of injury.

Your shoes should not be worn out. A common “best practice” is to change them every 300 – 400 miles, but before, if they are badly worn! A common practice is to purchase a new pair during the “life cycle” of the one you are wearing and rotate them.

Mistake: Overdoing It

Over training is probably the major cause of most running injuries and usually occurs because runners are training for a particular race like a marathon. In doing so they tend to do the following:
· Increase their distance too rapidly;
· Increasing their intensity (of workouts) too suddenly;
· Take on additional exercises at strenuous levels.

Remedy: Where running is concerned, under these circumstances as the saying goes, more is not better. Your approach has to be more cautious and conservative than you normally think to be the case. Apply the usual 10% rule to distance and do not abandon rest days. They are probably more important then than ever before as, in addition to “upping” your distance, you would have been doing the same thing for your “intensity” as well! Take “strategic” ‘time offs” for this specific purpose and as well, decrease your “intensity” periods. If you run what is called “high mileage” by runners, decrease this by as much as 75%, every 4 to 6 weeks. This will vary for different people, but the principle and purpose will be the same for all.

Make sure to take off at least ONE day each week. Do not skip a week with this as it is during your “rest” time that your muscles are able to repair, build themselves and get stronger. Ignoring “rest” periods not only impairs your overall performance, but significantly increases the risk of injury! Some cross training should also be added as this will ensure that you exercise different muscles than your running ones, which will then be rested.

Secrets to Pain Free Running Here is a time too, that you must pay attention to aches and pains which, although normal in some circumstances, are definite warning signs in others. If these pains and aches are not only are persistent, but actually seem to be increasing, you must cease your run forthwith! Although in the normal “run” of things, we “run through” pain, here is one circumstance in which you should not do so and instead, get the matter properly attended to (you may click on the image for more information on this matter). Your body is the best diagnostic equipment. Heed its diagnoses!

Mistake: Not Rehydrating Often Enough

The amount of fluid intake is often a serious underestimation made by runners, particularly also where the runners are “older”. In this latter instance, such runners do not feel thirst as much and so do not drink often or enough. As a result, runners become seriously dehydrated, and this harms both their health and running. Many runners refrain from either eating or drinking a large amount too close to a run (or even during!) because of a “natural” fear by runners of getting an attack of shin splints.

Remedy: Adequate hydration is essential. Your body is composed of a very high percentage of water and therefore liquids, especially water, play significant parts in maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Running in hot conditions, and particularly if you sweat a lot, causes your body to lose a large amount of fluids which are essential for healthy living and which must be replaced. This condition is indicated by a dark yellow urine, which under healthy conditions should be a very light yellow color.You should therefore take as much liquid as possible It is suggested that your liquid intake range between no less than 4-5 liters daily. It should be higher for temperate climates.

It is suggested for your distance running that an hour or so before you start, particularly in temperate climates, that you drink a couple of glasses of water and another glass just before you start. This will ensure that you are properly hydrated before you start your run. During your run, when you become thirsty, you should drink a glass or so and maintain this about every 20 – 25 minutes. Some runners like to supplement this with sports drinks like Glucosade, Gatorade, etc, which serve the purpose of restoring and maintaining electrolytic balance.

You should also remember to rehydrate after your run!

Mistake: Doing too much too soon

Many runners after a “long” layoff, in many cases due to injury, attempt to “make up” for time lost by “going at it” very hard as soon as they are out running again. This will not only risk setting back their recovery period, but also risk re-injury or worse still, picking up serious new injuries.

Remedy: If for a relatively extensive period of time, you have been injured or have had to stop training and so unable to carry out your usual routines, to prevent re-injury on re-entry, you have to ease back into training slowly, almost (if not really so!), like a new beginner! Caution is the order of the day and depending on the length of time you have been “off”, gradualism is not only wise, but imperative if you are to avoid and mitigate the circumstances for many of the common running injuries.

Start with about 35- 40 minutes of walking about 4 times weekly. When you manage this comfortably, do some jogging extra. Beginners as well as experienced runners alike, often alternate 3 – 5 minutes of running, with 3 – 5 minutes of walking. Gradually speed up your brisk walking to running. You can do this, say, by walking for a minute and then running for a minute, slowly working your way up.

Increase your running time gradually. Mix up your “hard” running with plenty of slow running and take time-off to allow for recuperation. This routine will prove to be very satisfactory in quickly getting you back “up to speed”, especially as it reduces the chances of injury.

For all overall fitness and health build up, you should include some other form of exercise other than that which you usually do (running), such as cycling, skipping, swimming, etc.

Mistake: Starting too fast in a competitive race.

This is a very critical mistake made especially by long distance runners – starting out much too fast in a race and later “crashing out” or “burning out” as it is commonly described.

Remedy: The usual practice here is to “reign in” yourself at the start, and despite the almost certain strong temptation to the contrary, run the first mile more slowly than you have planned for the last mile. The conventional wisdom is that you lose double the amount of time in the last half of the race for the time for which you have gone out too fast in the first half of the race. You should also ensure that you commence the race at your most comfortable running pace as you can always adjust (speeding up or slowing down) this later as the situation might demand.

Running coaches suggest not starting beside runners who are likely to run faster than you as this will entice you to increase your own pace – which will be a disadvantage to you.

Mistake: Not “warming” up sufficiently or “cooling” down properly

If you are not “warmed up” before a run, particularly in cold climates, your muscles will be “stiff” and “tight”. If you set out on a “hard” run, you are likely to end up with running injuries such as a strain or a pulled muscle, particularly in the calves. If you are going to take a “hard run”, you need to prepare your muscles for this by increasing their flexibility.

Remedy: It is a good idea to first limber up by doing some warm-up “stretching” exercises. Groom your muscles for your planned fitness and health (non-competetive!) run, by jogging easily and slowly for about 10 minutes before stating on the “hard’ run. In cold climates, or if you feel “stiff”, walk first (about 10 minutes) before starting to jog.

Carry out stretching exercises also at the end of your run! Finish a “hard” run with at least a 10 minutes jogging.

Mistake: Starting as a beginner with too high an intensity

Running puts great strain on your muscles. If you are a beginner and particularly if you are not in good “physical” condition, your muscles will not be “prepared” to “tolerate” the new “stress” being placed on them, and you “run” (?) the risk of serious injury if you suddenly expose them to this kind of stress which is beyond their capability.

Remedy: Your initial running “intensity” therefore will have to be at a relatively “low” level. The mandatory rule for running at this stage, is that you walk first. It might seem incongruous to set yourself up for running by walking, which you ordinarily do in daily life. This kind of walking however is for “exercise” purposes and will get your pulse rate up. At the same time it will begin the process of flexing and strengthening your muscles.

At first, you walk briskly for 30 minutes at a time and then gradually increase this (but not to the point where you become exhausted!). This is to prepare your body for the increased stress of actual running. Your tendons will have strengthened and your muscles will be more flexible. After 4-6 weeks of this initial brisk walking, you will be in a much better position to actually start your running.

Mistake: Failing to eat the proper foods and at the right times

Many beginning runners as well as some among the more “seasoned”, underestimate or fail to give sufficient importance to their nutrition needs and this can have dire consequences for their performance as well as their health. When you eat and what you eat before, during and after your runs, have a profound effect not only on your performance but your recovery as well.

Remedy: Runners need to “fuel” their “active” muscles so these muscles can regain, store and have energy available when called upon to make an expenditure of “energy”, like when a running routine or a race, is embarked upon. This “fueling” is achieved when runners eat sources of “food fuel”. These are chemical compounds known as “carbohydrates” – or simply “carbs” to most runners- and are transformed and stored in the muscles and form the “sugars” which later produce the “energy” needed. Protein is also another food source of energy which is recommended to form part of your diet. The “common practice” combination ratio, is eighty percent carbohydrate to twenty percent protein. Some good diet recipes are provided under the MP3TRAINER program.

If you have enough time, say 21/2 – 4 hours before beginning your run (routine or race), you can have a “full” meal with the proper diet foods. The closer you are to your run or to a race, the less “solid” food you should eat. If you are 1 to 2 hours away from the start of your run, the best solution is perhaps to eat a “light” diet meal, or, if that is not possible, you should try to eat something which you can quite easily “digest”. After your running routine, your energy will of necessity be low and you therefore need to restore this supply as soon as you can. Conventional wisdom, as well as experience, indicate that you should eat to replenish your energy within the first 30 to 60 minutes after your running routines or event.

Quick energy from something easily digestible both before and after running, can be had from things like “energy” drinks, gels, “bars”, pastas, breads, fruits, etc. These are “high energy” foods (they contain high concentrations of carbohydrates!), and can help to keep up energy levels as well as serve to keep away hunger pangs.

Mistake: Improper landing of feet

When you run, landing on your heel first with your body’s center of gravity well behind the point of impact of your foot, can lead to injury such as shin splints. This is commonly called “over-striding” and as this gives a longer stride, runners often do this under the mistaken impression that it will lead to an enhancement of their speed. In doing this however, runners are actually “putting on the brakes” and at the same time unnecessarily wasting a lot of energy!

Remedy: The conventional approach to this is that as a runner you should instead, try to land on the soles of your feet, and try to keep your body directly above your feet with each stride. Running coaches advise that a smaller stride is preferable and you should try to keep your body as close to the ground as possible while taking quick and “soft” strides. Coaches also advise that a runner should curtail arm swing and make this as low as possible.

Mistake: An extremely poor running posture

Although I am not a proponent of a military precision type running style – hands (waist level!), elbows (at sides!), arms (90 degree angle!), shoulder (in front!), hips (under you!), etc., etc, – there are some styles which are so extreme that some correction is indeed necessary (for example, leaning too far forward or too far back ward, over-striding, etc) if runners, who thus engage themselves, are not to lose control and injure themselves, e.g., from over-balancing and falling, especially if they encounter a hilly terrain, or for one reason or another, have to take a sharp, sudden turn.

Remedy: These “extreme styles” should be adjusted for safety sake. While your posture and arm movements, etc., should be along the usually recommended positions, this is not to be undertaken at the expense of putting a special “stress” on yourself so you become “tight”, “stiff” and generally “physically” uncomfortable with yourself. Moving away from what comes “naturally” to you and which you have been doing for a long time, will not come easily however! In many cases you will probably begin to feel tension and tightness in your shoulders and around your neck and your back might even begin to ache from trying to make this correction – more so than happens from your “extreme” running style!

You therefore will have to make any such major “adjustments” in an incremental manner. With changes of such a “physical” (makeover?) nature you are going to feel “un- balanced” and be “unsteady” on your feet and this can lead to accidents and injury – which are what you are trying to avoid in the first place. Try to make these adjustments by all means, but do so judiciously. At all times try to run “free” and be “limber” and “physically” comfortable!

Remember you are running for your physical fitness and health and you have to be very careful about how you preserve these!

Mistake: Unsuitable running outfit

If runners do not “dress” sensibly for the conditions which exist in their running for fitness and environs, they are likely to not only suffer a great deal of physical discomfort as they run, but they can actually become vulnerable to illnesses which are associated with weather conditions, such as heat strokes, frostbites, etc.

Remedy: As clothes selection in running for fitness and health is critical to both comfort and health, the type of fabric from which your running attire is made is very important. In warm climates where you are more likely to sweat a lot, do not wear skin cover material made of cotton, as when this becomes saturated from your sweat – and even from a passing shower! – it does not feel great, it long remains wet, heavy and is most uncomfortable. This includes running socks.

Your wet clothes drying out on you in warmer climates, will cause a lowering of your body temperature and you become very susceptible to ordinary viruses such as the cold virus, while in cold climates, wet clothes can pose danger. Cotton material also poses the risk and likelihood of skin chafing. Skin cover garments made from “fabrics” such as Thermax, DryFit, silk and the like, are highly recommended, as these are far more likely to keep you dry. In warmer climates also, dark colors are to be avoided. Your running attire should not be “skin fitting”, but should be loose and airy.

In cold climates, you have to be careful not to “overdress” for purposes of keeping warm. You soon get pretty warm when you start to run anyway, and heavy winter attire can then become burdensome and most uncomfortable. A common rule of thumb to determine your wear for a normal winter’s day, is to add about 10 – 12 degrees centigrade to the ambient temperature and dress accordingly.

Mistake: Not planning motivation strategies

Most runners at some time in their running careers – especially if these careers are likely to be long and arduous ones! – lose motivation for running, thecauses and major factors of which have been extensively discussed elsewhere on this site. This not only negatively impacts performance levels, but overall, can have dire consequences for a runner’s future career.

Remedy: Motivation needs its own planning. Just as when as a runner, you set upyour future schedule and plan your future runs for fitness and health, in like manner, you have to plan how you are to maintain your motivation to run. When you are planning your running routines, you therefore have at the same time, to include plans and strategies on how to deal with those times of “low” motivation levels. Many tips on strategies which runners can use to keep their running motivational levels high, have also been provided elsewhere on this site, and these can be used to inform remedial measures to be taken by runners. Help with overall motivation for life can be obtained from the MINDTOMIND System which you can investigate further by clicking on the image below.


zoxpro

Mistake: Inappropriate target setting

As a runner, you will want to know if you are progressing, and if so, how fast. So you have to set some goals or targets over time. Setting short and long term targets, helps to keep you motivated and will lead to success in achieving great health and fitness. However when you do not achieve your targets, you do great damage to your psyche. If you do not attain what at first you set out to do, you have to adjust to doing less – and this might seem that you are retrogressing in your running, rather than moving forward!

Non-achievement of your first sets of goals, can prove to be very discouraging and de-motivating and have a profound negative effect on your self confidence! If you set yourself goals that are VERY far fetched, and if, as a result, you need to increase your energy level and range too rapidly for your body to accommodate, you will find that not only are you unable to achieve them, but you will find yourself on a very fast road to serious physical injury!

Remedy: Your goals must be realistic and achievable and be for your own standards, not for anybody else’s! Your goals should be both short term and long term. While your long term goals can have an element of wishful thinking or “fancy”, your short term goals cannot be fanciful! They must be set at levels that you can achieve, and hence these goals have to be in the context of your present physical condition, rather than your fancy. They have to be set for practice rather than caprice,

It is advisable to set yourself goals where you can have some “over-achievement”, rather than to “under-achieve”, ie., where you could have done better, rather than at which you have failed. In the first instance, you can easily “up the ante” for your target (and so gain a lot of confidence in yourself that you are actually at a better level than that of your goal!), while in the second case, you have to be reducing your targets (which you do not want to be doing – it is bad psychologically!) which then seems to be a kind of going backward, or at least, not progressing. Better to be picking up your mile posts and moving forward with them, rather than reversing that process!

Q. How Often Should You Run?

A. As usual with running for your fitness and health, there is no simple answer to this question. The matter is still one of controversy, because many of the components are tied up with individuality. You will get as many different answers to the question as there are responders. This suggests that there is no “universal” number which exactly quantifies this at any time in a runner’s life, and which becomes the accepted “standard” for running as an exercise to become fit and healthy. The reason is that there are several factors which determine this and they do not apply to the same level, at the same time and to the same degree for everyone.

How “often” one should run depends on such varying factors as the reason for your running (is it to be competitive or do you run for health purposes? Are you going to be running marathons or short/medium distances? Are you training as a sprinter?); your age and level of fitness; the time you have to devote to running; the intensity of your workout; the track, surface or route on which you intend to run (is it going to be hill running? Trail running?); your fitness goals; how your body adapts to your running training; Are you running for weight loss? Etc., etc. The frequency itself at which you run, will also change with time and what might be adequate for this year, might not be so for the next.

Although from this perspective it would appear that there can be no talk of “one size fits all”, the fact that injuries so frequently occur among runners from burnout, overtraining or overuse (of muscles) would suggest that there might be at least an upper limit beyond which runners should not venture, as in doing so, they would run the risk of serious if not persistent and nagging injuries, but as well, “debilitate” their bodies. On the other hand, you should not run so infrequently that your efforts fall below a minimum level of activity required by your muscles and tendons to strengthen and for your endurance level to increase, that is, you are not really indulging in “exercising”.

As with all forms of exercise, you become stronger and your endurance level rises when you run, especially with some consistency and routinism. However, as is also the case with any form of exercise, your body needs sufficient rest to recover from the stress which running puts on it. Consequently there will be a “delicate” balance between how often and how hard you should run and when you should rest or reduce frequency and intensity to allow your body to recover.

It is suggested that a good approach to take towards finding the best answer, is to adopt an overall training routine which includes running, but also several other forms of exercise and exercise equipment, (known as cross training), such as a Treadmill, etc. This last piece of equipment is very much worthwhile having around the house, in the garage, etc, if there is space, as you can “ratchet it up” to suit your fitness level or attain your endurance goal.

This “cross training” ensures that your physical development and strength take place all around and are not limited to those muscles you use when you run. You also thereby give various parts of your body at different times, the opportunity for regeneration. This is a rational, convenient and very attractive approach. It would mean for example that instead of running 5 days per week, you run 3 days per week and the other 2 days, say, you do your “cross training”.

Some however would prefer to spend 5 days per week, or even 6 with their running routines. Most runners do instinctively shy away from the 7 days a week routine – a matter I think of sheer self preservation – their bodies rebel against such harsh and inconsiderate treatment! Still others will argue that running every other day is best. Some suggest that running be alternated with jogging, fast walking, or similar low impact exercises for anywhere from 4 to 6 days per week. Still others run even twice per day for a varying number of days (3-4) per week.

My answer at this point, if you are still asking the question, is to experiment to find out what is best for you. You know (and set out to achieve) that you want to be fit and healthy, to build up the strength and endurance of the muscles of your body. You are also very cognizant of the fact that for your body to do this, it has to have sufficient rest.

You therefore have to find that balance of exercise, frequency and rest which facilitates this process and allows you to achieve your goals. It might be 3 days running per week, or it might be 6 days. You have to determine this – you have to find what is best for you, what maximizes your efforts and what takes you most readily towards your goals.

When you have found this balance, your body will tell you so as you will be seeing steady improvements in your physical capabilities (strength, speed, endurance, etc.) and you will not be suffering any undue physical discomfort, but instead, feel as though you are “on top of the world” (and indeed you are!). Heed this message from your body. What you are doing then, is the answer to the question of how “often” should you run – which brings me to what I wanted to say in the first place! The answer for you up front is that no one can tell you that! You have to find it for YOURSELF!

Go and do so – and long will you continue to run for your fitness and health!

40 OF THE MOST FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT RUNNING – Part 8

Q. How Do I go About Losing Weight If I take Up Running?

A. Besides the numerous general health benefits as an exercise routine, running is one of the most perfect ways to The Runners
lose that excess weight. Apart from anything else, it is most “natural” to run, very easy to do, can be done almost anywhere, at any time and is neither costly nor restrictive. It is one of the most vigorous, dynamic, intense and all encompassing activities in which you can engage, and is thus is a very effective exercise activity if you want to lose weight.

Much research and practice have gone into the matter of running to lose weight and therefore collective advice on this matter has become very “standard” and can be found in copious writings in magazines, books, research publications etc.– the words and “language” used being quite common, the same things being expressed perhaps slightly differently.

Weight loss is associated with “burning up “ calories and by the same token, weight gain is associated with “consuming” (taking in) calories, which we do in our intake of foods. When you run, you are “burning off” the fats Weight Loss Factors
your body accumulates from the foods you eat, and which contribute to your being over-weight. When running, the average person “burns” about 100 calories each mile, while for other exercise activities such as walking, bicycling, normal swimming, etc., the number of calories ”burnt off” is significantly less in a corresponding amount of time. Fitness running therefore provides, in many cases, a superior method of losing weight.

Studies show that the number of calories burnt during fitness running does not depend on the speed of the runner, the most important factor in weight loss being the weight of the runner. For a “lighter” person running a particular distance in a certain time, the “weight loss” achieved is less than that achieved by a “heavier” person running the same distance in the same time. It is worthwhile noting also, that as you lose weight, you are able to run faster, different people having different quantitative measures of this. Note also, that in the beginning, weight loss is relatively rapid, but over time, the rate of weight loss decreases, and the runner’s weight plateaus out, and is stabilized.

If you are running to lose weight therefore and become fit and slim, here are some helpful tips.

Develop and undertake a training schedule or routine.

The absolute need for this cannot be emphasized enough. Many people fail in their attempts to lose weight by running because they did not engage in or follow a training schedule! Having a training schedule serves, among other things, to “organize” you and your running activities and makes them routine – which is what you want to happen as this will make you develop the disciplined approach needed to succeed in your efforts at weight loss through running.

This way, you will know everyday what you are to do – what activities you will undertake – and you won’t be floundering around in an atmosphere of great uncertainty – essentially wasting time! You will be less likely to skip or postpones certain workout activities which by themselves, you might see as onerous. Having a schedule worked out before, plays the very important role of lessening your chances of sustaining many of the common injuries with which many runners become afflicted! It will prevent you, for example, from “doing too much too soon”, in distance, pace and intensity.

As setting up a routine initially – and it should be specific for you! – is so important for how it all goes for you, it might be best – particularly if you know nothing about the process – to get some advice on the matter from a professional. A very important consideration here also is that you should develop a schedule which is specific to you. Not every training schedule will suit everyone, and having one specially designed for you, allows you to maximize your efforts and results.

Many people therefore start with a personal trainer who not only will help you design a particular training routine tailored to your condition, but also who can help correct mistakes you make, who can be a visible manifestation of your “conscience” (and therefore you make that extra effort to get out of bed and start your training routine – you are paying for it!), and who can help with the motivation factor with which you most likely will have to deal, especially in the early stages!

Having a routine will also help to keep up your motivation to run, as it will allow you to really see your improvement at each step from day to day, week to week, month to month – even over the year! What greater satisfaction and “push” can you get than seeing your ‘distance’ and “intensity” increase steadily and your “stamina” and “endurance” levels climb?

Put Yourself On A Healthy Diet Formula

As stated previously, the loss of weight is associated with “burning up “ calories and on the flip side, gaining Weight Loss
weight is associated with “consuming” (taking in) calories, which we do in our intake of foods. Proper dieting with running exercises then is a must if your weight loss is to be achieved. The common assumption is that you will lose a pound for every 3,500 calories that you are able to burn off.

When you engage in regular running as an exercise to achieve fitness and health, it is very important that you have the energy to run. In order for this to happen, you must have sufficient food intake, but your calorie consumption must also be controlled Proper dieting therefore does not merely mean that you eat less, but allows you to eat regularly and only the foods permitted at moderate amounts.

You should concentrate on the more “nutritious” foods and avoid foods such as “fast foods” which contribute significantly to overweight, a condition which induces many people to start running in the first place. These foods usually contain substantial amounts of fat and sugar, the main culprits in many cases of obesity as they enhance cholesterol and fat building in the body. You can achieve this by reducing the intake of foods rich in oils and fats, junk foods, spicy foods etc.

Instead, eat a diet of healthier, low fat foods which are high in nutrients. These include foods with enough proteins, good cholesterol, vitamins and nutrients. You will do well in your diet if you choose whole foods and avoid processed carbohydrates and many of the recipes for dieting, ably provide for this

The number one food group for good nutrition is fruit and therefore in your health and fitness regimen, you should
Healthy Foodsinclude them as much as possible. Start your day with this, breakfast being a good launching point. In addition to fresh fruits, ensure that your everyday diet includes lots of vegetables, foods rich in proteins and fibers, freshly made fruit juices, milk, nutritious energy drinks etc. – your fitness and health depends on this.

Eating such foods as lean meats, nuts, and broccoli in your diet, will help provide the energy that your body needs Healthy Diet Foods
and allow for the burning away of undesirable fats. As suggested by many people, you may also want to try drinking green tea for its similarly beneficial effects. Cut down where possible, or, avoid red meat, junk foods, caffeine, soft drinks or canned fruit juices and foods which contain high levels of fat, salt, and sugar.

Liquids, especially water, play significant parts in maintaining a healthy lifestyle. You should take as much liquid as possible, particularly if you live in a temperate climate and sweat a lot. It is suggested that your liquid intake range between no less than 4-5 liters daily. It should be higher for temperate climates.

Yes – combine healthy dieting with your fitness and health running routines, and you will be well on your way to achieving significant weight loss, becoming fit and slim and attain true fitness and health.

Get sufficient rest

An adequate amount of rest is essential if you are going to run and lose weight by running, become fit and slim and Rest Period
maintain your fitness and health. Your muscle fibers get broken down when you run and are restored when you rest. Your body then gets the chance (rest) to build more muscle and your lungs are given the chance (rest), to build up endurance. By giving them rest, they repair and build up, replacing your “fat” with toned muscle.

In addition, rest acts as an injury prevention mechanism. Taking a day or two of rest, will allow the muscles and joints to repair themselves for the next run (and a higher level of fitness!) becoming more agile and gaining strength in the process

Be regular and consistent with your running

Consistency is critical if you are to lose weight by running, and hence the emphasis on a proper and personal training schedule. You do not want to overdo it, but at the same time, you will not lose weight if you only run only infrequently. You should not allow many days to pass without engaging in some routine running activity. Almost everyday activity (with the proper rest!) in the early stages is preferable, but if this is not possible, shoot for 3 – 5 days each week.

Exercise patience

Losing weight and especially so if you are very much overweight, will not come easily. Nor will it happen overnight nor even quickly. So do not try to hurry the process. Keep your expectations moderate. Set yourself realistic weight loss targets because if you try to hurry the process, not only will you not achieve your goal and become discouraged, but you can injure yourself in the process. For a “short term” weight loss goal, one half to one pound a week might be realistic, while for a” long term” goal (3 months, say), a weight loss of 6 to 8 pounds is achievable. Do not push it too much or your health will suffer and you will have a setback!

Do some strength training

Go to the gym and “pump” some light weights, pull spings, etc – there is a great deal of special equipment available Strength Training
for this purpose. Doing this kind of training will both burn calories at a higher rate and build lean, strong and solid muscles. A great benefit from this also is that the risk of the usual running injuries is significantly reduced.

Include interval training

Do some “speed” work in your running routine. This burns up a lot of calories quickly and can significantly contribute to your weight loss and becoming fit and slim achievement. It also increases your muscle mass, improves your metabolism and causes more calories to be burned throughout the day.

Keep records

Write down your physical goals and degree of achievement as well as a what you eat and drink. In the first instance you will be able to track your levels of physical improvement, while in the second instance it will give you a chance to see the effects of particular foods make adjustments in your diet regime if this is necessary.

Q. Are there “best” days and times for running?

A. My short answer to this is that the “best” time to run for your fitness and health, is that time which works best for you as the person you are. Your decision about what is the “best time” for you should be based on your own lifestyle, personal goals (do you want to lose weight and get fit and slim? Are you preparing for a race? etc., etc.) and running schedule. It makes sense to pick a time for your runs which you are able to maintain on a regular and consistent basis and one which you can make part of your daily, weekly and even monthly agenda. It you are a competitive runner, then to accommodate this, the competitive event start time should be factored into your training schedule as well as any warming up period you might need. Play it according to the uniqueness of your person.

Individual differences abound just as much with runners, as they do with non-runners. Some people refer to themselves as “morning” people, meaning, that in the mornings they are at their best. They are more “energized” at that time – both their physical as well as their mental capacities are highest in the mornings. For others, this is an end of day (evening) experience.

We all have preferences as to how we “start” a day. For some, it is just sitting around the kitchen and having a nice, slow cup of coffee. For others, the best way to get started is with a good run, or a few laps of the swimming pool – indications of our unique and individual differences.

For some runners, there might be the matter of aches and pains of arthritis and tendonitis. For some, their arthritis is at its worst in the mornings, and therefore for these, running later in the day is a preferred alternative. Similarly with tendonitis, which can be more painful at the time of waking, and therefore running later in the day produces less discomfort. For some runners hunger is a factor. Some are able to run very strongly when hungry, others, find themselves weak and near levels of exhaustion if they run while “empty”. Some runners claim to have less “hunger pangs” after running while still others develop a greater appetite!

Some argue that the best time to run for fitness and health, is in the morning. The “medical” justification is that at that time, your glycogen levels are low and so you have no carbohydrates to burn off. Consequently when you run at that time, you immediately begin to burn off fat. This is a controversial issue as some further argue that at this time, your body continues to burn fat and might have to turn to proteins as the energy source, which is needed more by your muscles and so in effect you are “burning off” your muscles too! Also, not having eaten for 8 -10 hours, your body has had no calories for that period at least, and so you might be low on your energy reserve – a factor which you will have to consider when you start your run as you might not have enough energy stores for long distances or high intensity workout!

Others argue that the evening is better because at that time, you have the maximum amount of your glucose stored up and you are able then to run better for a longer time or engage in higher levels of “intensity”. However, this timing has two opposite effects on runners. For one group, an extensive “workout” or a lengthy even run, has a calming and tranquilizing effect, leaving them feeling relaxed, serene, mellow and at ease. Because of this, when they go to bed, they are able to fall asleep relatively easier. For another group, a good run leaves them “strung out” or “hyped up”. Their bodies are taut, restless and fidgety. That restlessness usually carries over to bed and they are unable to sleep or get proper rest – a totally undesirable occurrence or consequence!

With respect to rest days, this will depend on the kind of running you do or events you are entering. If you do a great deal of running each week, including weekends, then Monday or Tuesday could be the best rest days. If you are a marathon runner for example, doing your long training runs on Saturdays and Sundays, then Fridays or Thursdays could be good rest days as this will allow you time to rest up your legs for your weekend training runs. If you are just out there enjoying yourself and running for your fitness and health, then if there are no special obligations for you on any day, then running on any day will do.

Having said all this however, it must be pointed out that a great deal of medical research has taken place and is still on-going on this matter. The “results” to date are also controversial and heated debates are still in progress Thus the “scientific evidence” for “best” time is still at the research level. However, there have been some research “claims” or “findings” which can be mentioned here. These include:

  • Injuries are best avoided if runners train in the afternoon
  • Running enables you to sleep much more soundly, but this can happen whether you run in the morning or in the evening
  • A more steady, uniform and consistent approach to running routines and exercises is maintained by those who do so in the mornings compared to those who run or otherwise exercise in the evenings
  • Low glycogen levels impact negatively on the level of our physical capacity and this is in turn determined by our nutrition and hydration schedule. Runners should then ensure that their food and liquid intake “are in sync” with their running routines
  • Both endurance and strength are at higher levels during afternoons
  • The body’s temperature is at its highest in the afternoon to evening periods, making late afternoons the “best” time to run
  • For women, depending on their cycle, certain times of the day (but which may also fluctuate at times on a monthly basis), may be better for running

It is to be also noted that running in general, will enhance your metabolism and this will happen whatever time of the day you run. Additionally, for all practical purposes, you will burn the same number of calories (for the same running routine – distance, pace, etc.) whatever your running “time” is!

Yes – from all of the above and from all I have heard and seen, it appears to boil down to the individual! But if you are out there trying to get fit and slim and to achieve a level of fitness and health which you have set yourself, it is far more important to worry about being consistent in your running routine than worrying about when is the “best” time to do so. Whatever day of the week it is – Sunday to Saturday – whatever time of the day it is – morning, noon, evening or midnight – getting through your running workout schedule so you can achieve your training goals, is of greater import that fitting it all to a “time train” because a particular time is said to be better or “best” with respect to other times!

Whatever the “best” running time turns out to be for any of us, we must not forget that it will not remain “best” for Resting

long if we do not support it with proper dieting and sufficient rest!

40 Of The Most Frequently Asked Questions About Running – Part 9

Q. Does running with music provide any advantage to runners?

A. An ambivalent position seems to prevail on this question! Although this is not intended to prejudice any decision by readers on the matter, it is worthwhile noting the position taken by at least one “official” body.

With refrence to the Cleveland Grandma’s Marathon, the following was a Press Release (quote):

New USATF Rule Prohibits Headphones/Music Devices on Sanctioned Courses
Rule Applies to All Grandma’s Marathon Races.

(Duluth, Minn.) USA Track & Field (USATF) recently adopted a new rule banning the use of headphones and other music devices at all USATF-sanctioned running events. USATF, the governing body for long-distance running and track & field in the United States, adopted the rule (#144.3b) in an effort to increase runner safety (unquote).

The following is taken from the Boston Globe (By Irene Sege, Globe Staff | August 20, 2007) (quote).

Competitors split on headphone ban at road races

As the owner of Marx Running and Fitness in Acton, Mark Coddaire sells Nike shoes with pockets for a transmitter that sends information about speed, distance, and calories burned to a runner’s iPod Nano….. “It would be hypocritical for me to sell a shoe to accommodate the music and have people enter a race and say they can’t use it,” says Coddaire. “It sends a mixed message to the running crowd. ……”

….Although the ban arose from practical concerns about safety and liability, it raises philosophical questions about how runners define themselves…….

The debate reverberates in cyberspace. Boston Marathon director Dave McGillivray reports on coolrunning.com that, of 62 runners he counted one recent morning, only seven — “the real fit and fast guys” — were headphones-free. ….. At the same time, runners post playlists online. Websites like JogTunes.com list songs’ beats per minute so runners can match their stride –

…..”Runners dig music,” goes Reebok ‘Easy Running’ campaigns ad, “but they know that it makes them lose touch with their environment, and lose kinesthetic awareness of their bodies, and that is something they simply cannot have.”

….”There definitely is a sort of tension,” says David Mak, 38, a software developer from Jamaica Plain who runs without music. “I’m there to soak in the atmosphere of the race. When you have a headset on, you’re there to tune everything else out. I kind of wonder why they’re racing.”

John Goldrosen, Massachusetts liaison for the Road Runners Club of America, sees both sides. “Runners who truly enjoy the time they spend running are irritated by the view that music is needed to make it bearable,” Goldrosen says. “On the other hand, I see some very fast runners wearing headphones. Some runners are using headphones not only to entertain themselves or make the time go by but also to reinforce their self-discipline…(unquote).

It is to be noted that the USATF later amended the ban to apply only to those vying for prizes in championships.

The above illustrates the continuing clash between headphone lovers and headphones haters.

The advocates for running with music argue that music:

  • acts as an external barrier to negative internal brain stimuli such as fatigue, tiredness, exhaustion, etc.
  • reduces the runner’s “consciousness” of these factors and hence the perception of the energy needed for response.
  • enables the runner to carry on and feel capable of running faster and longer because the “tired” messages from the brain are not received;
  • reduces “negatives” in human performance such as tension, stress, fatigue and those “negatives” normally associated with conditions such as depression;
  • can bring about a positive mindset in runners, getting them to perform at higher levels because it can put them in a “good” mood, put them on a “high” with excitement and happiness; and,
  • is a motivating “stimulant” which can decrease the level of “boredom” which many runners sometimes feel.

The antagonists to running with music argue that music:

  • serves as a “distraction” to runners
  • makes runners less conscious of elements in their running “domain” such as proper stride, foot-strike, breathing, efficient utilization of their energy, etc.
  • isolates runners from their physical surroundings and the lack of such awareness of their “whereabouts”, can lead to injuries, accidents. etc.
  • is unsafe as it makes runners pay less attention to “activities” taking place around them;
  • deprives runners of hearing dangerous phenomena such as thunder, moving vehicles, instructions from officials, etc; and
  • reduces reaction times

For some runners, as they run for their fitness and health, running is the “gateway” to their “inner sanctum”, that “spiritual” self, in which they find peace, bliss, and the glorious, ecstatic experience of “wellbeing” which gives a release and freedom from the “chains” which trap them in the “physical” world. For these runners, running takes them into a far deeper confines of “self” and hence a greater “unawareness” of their “physical” surroundings than music could ever do.

Running takes them to their “zone” of “self-consciousness”. These runners never worry about whether ‘to music” or not “to music”, because a greater “music” is always and already in them!– they will neither brook nor tolerate any “foreign matter” in their “room of quintessential being and into which their running takes them. At this level then it could be argued (a la the “antagonists”), that in the realization of its true “essence”, running itself poses a threat to runners. Here running itself would qualify for all the “negatives” imputed to music.

For many runners like myself, music would not be competing with running for my “attention”. Music is rather more of a source of “attraction” as running itself forms a much greater “distraction” than music could ever be! As a runner who also happens to be a music lover, I see no great “harm” in indulging myself simultaneously in two “activities” which I enjoy. It does produce for me a kind of “synergy” – having both, I am “more”.

If music is proving to be so much of a “distraction” from our “physical” surroundings, why do we have music in the “background“ for so many things we do? Does it detract from what we do to the extent that we would be unable to concentrate on what is going on around us? Well tell that to most producers of goods and services which they widely advertize with not very easily ignored music in the background! Tell them that it distracts us potential buyers from focusing on their products!

My own feeling is that running for fitness and health with music, in the final analysis is more of a “personal” preference rather than one of “scientific” dictate. The suggested lack of “awareness” of physical conditions by the runner is not an argument against listening to music, but rather should be an exhortation for heightened “consciousness”.

The whole exercise is really about elevated levels of “health” in our entire being! Beyond the physical, it resides in “consciousness”. For those who run with music, enjoy the sounds of music. For those who run without music, enjoy the sound of silence! It is all for your own fitness and health.

Q. I am in the 40+ age group and want to get back to a decent level of fitness. Can this be done without it being an arduous and disruptive undertaking?

NB. To answer this question constructively, requires that some extensive background be first laid so that relevant people can understand their situation and then acquire the desire and determination to move forward and adopt new strategies in finding a solution. It effectively involves a change of life which hinges on the restoration of self confidence!

A. You are not alone in this predicament – and welcome to this huge club of fitness seekers, who, as they got older, have found it very easy to forget about their fitness goals and to not focus on their fitness levels. With the pressures with which they have had to deal and which have arisen from the obligations of “normal” lives such as their jobs, familial responsibilities, societal exactitudes, etc., they found it very difficult to “find time” to keep fit and that the energy which earlier they could have used for their workout routines to remain fit and slim, has been drained away.

With all the accepted “activities” and “commitments” of modern societies taking place within the framework of their everyday lives and seemingly beyond their control, the chances are that they cannot now get into those slim-fit jeans or blouses. Bulges appear almost daily in places where they should not be for their good health and comfort – not to mention the almost disapproving look of those they knew in younger days and who have managed to keep off the pounds! With despair they look to clearing out their clothes closets next year and replacing them with items many sizes up!

With this inexorable slide into low levels of fitness and health, with the threat of worse to come, they now look to ways and means, if not to completely regain their earlier levels of fitness and health, to at least reach an acceptable level of fitness and slow the process of physical deterioration with all its attendant health problems.

With their lives having atrophied into “habits” which it would be now almost impossible to greatly alter (and indeed they should not undertake activities which would do so, as too great a change could be unsustainable and disruptive!), they must find ways to keep fit and healthy which must not substantially alter their lives, but rather reshape it (perhaps both literally and figuratively!). They must find “exercise” activities about which they can “wrap” their present lives without the risk of complete disintegration or disastrous consequences.

Simply “finding the time” to indulge in some form of “exercise” activity to arrest this inexorable slide into low levels of fitness and health, with the threat of worse to come, is often not the real issue! It is more of a mindset rather than a “reality”. It is a kind of an “apology” which is acceptable not only to everyone – but to themselves as well! They have made their “failure” to look to their own fitness, health and wellbeing, into sacrifices of “selves” for others – it was all for a “higher” cause!

Additionally, as people get older, they become more and more easily discouraged when they hear of formidable “exercise” routines, and of the high cost of joining fitness gyms and health clubs. They are bombarded with “fitness” magazines on which are displayed pictures of rippling muscles, “six packs”, etc., beside which are a formidable assortment of heavy weights, or are juxtaposed with huge, forbidding ”space age” looking pieces of equipment on which it seems they must “torture” themselves for extended periods everyday to get fit and healthy. This takes on the trappings of a grueling and punishing venture and can be very discouraging to the efforts which the over 40s are prepared to make to get back in shape!

Nevertheless, while this is the way for some, it is not the way for all – and it certainly does not have to be the way for the over 40s! As hopeless and despairing as you might feel about all this as you contemplate larger apparel sizes or become breathless from any sudden, extra physical activity, your desire and dream of reaching a good fitness level, nevertheless are very much achievable.

For those who of you who are not happy with the seemingly sudden and continuing deterioration of your fitness level, and particularly the gaining of weight on a daily basis, all is not lost! There are indeed easier, less daunting – more natural, even! – ways of regaining some amount of your fitness, other than what are portrayed in health magazines, ways by which the “slide” can be slowed, if you are prepared to implement some fitness exercise tips.

You have arrived at this stage of your life by being committed to duty and obligation and doubtlessly you have been successful at all of this. But what has gotten you to this stage? It has been due on your part, to your dedication, patience and strong commitment to the “sweat and toil” of hard work, to your devotion to a particular “lifestyle”. But now you want a different “life” – you want to get fit and healthy. At this point you must recognize that what you want now, is a different “lifestyle” – and this might appear to be a challenge for you.

You can be comforted however, by the fact that the required tools to forge a different lifestyle, are no different from those which you used previously to forge the present one, and are no different really from those necessary to succeed at any of the significant engagements you undertake in life. You are going to have to approach your new “lifestyle” with the same qualities with which you approached and succeeded at your present one.

Do not see your absolutely commendable desire – it can help save your life! – to become fit, slim and healthy, as an undertaking which is going to be totally alien to and distinct and separate from your present lifestyle! Rather perceive it to be a “broadening” and enrichment process of your present lifestyle. You are going to merge your present life with an element which will make it more complete and give it a fuller, richer wellbeing! One of the hardest things to do for many of us is to change long established patterns of behavior with which we are “comfortable”, into different behavior patterns!

If you perceive your urge to be fit and healthy as a totally “new undertaking”, you will hesitate, wonder about your ability to do it, lose confidence – and probably never change anything! Remember, you possess and have already successfully employed, those qualities which will be necessary to succeed in this venture. You simply have to reorient them to new fields of activity. Those qualities are dedication, patience and hard work!

Having said this, be assured that getting back near (you have go give age something!) to the kind of shape you were in when you were younger, is eminently possible with these “activities” which are to be suggested you undertake. Compared to those with which you have been bombarded as the means to getting fit and healthy, they might seem to fall far short, but they contain the essential element of all exercise routines – but more of this anon!

If you are feeling guilty about having let your body go, it is a good place to be now as it is the starting point on your “come back” trail! Try making the best use you can of the following exercise tips as they can go a long way towards bringing back some of that fitness level of which you were once proud and of which you could boast with confidence!

The real obstacle has not been the lack of time, but more of how you spend your time and what you do with it. It has been more often than not, the perception of what you should do to get fit and healthy – to be slim once more. The routines which it appears one is required to undertake, never seem to be “easy”, and in reality, if the truth be told, can often prove to be the hardest way!

The path to your present state has been directed by a mindset and this is what you have to now change (not your entire present physical life!) if you want to get back to a desirable level of fitness. Your present mindset most likely is directed by the following beliefs:

  • you are too “old” to take up “exercises” such as running;
  • exercise routines are going to demand too much of you both mentally and physically;
  • these exercise “routines” are going to prove arduous and painfully sore and uncomfortable at this stage of your life if you took them on;
  • others are going to mock your efforts to become fit, slim and healthy.

You have gone very wrong here and you must first get rid of this numbing and paralyzing mindset if you are to advance towards your goal from here! Get started on some of the activities which are suggested you undertake and you will soon see how mistaken are these beliefs on your part. Others might indeed mock but you will literally have the last laugh!

Simple Tips To Get Fit And Slim For Some Of The Over 40s

One of the first things that you have to do, regardless of your current schedule, is to set aside time for “exercise activities”. These can be “new” or can be activities which already form part of your daily routine. Many common routine activities are in fact “exercises” and you just have to see them as such. The time IS also there. You simply HAVE TO FIND IT. Look at your schedule as it is at the moment. Are the things you are doing at every minute, absolutely essential at that time and by you? Will a “tsunami” develop in your life if they are indeed not undertaken?

More often than not we start to do things in an “emergency” situation and continue doing them as though the “emergency” still existed! More often than not, it is we who need to do the things we do, rather than the things needing us to do them. Look at the management of your time. Find the time (emergency?) to begin your new ”routine”. Equally you will find that once you start, it seems equally important and necessary – like those other times! – that you should keep doing it!

Next, you are to understand and accept the fact that the occasion of “exercise” does not only equate to going to the gym! Many – if not most! – forms of physical activity count as “exercise”. It is just us with our brainwashing and mindset that make it otherwise – getting exercise means getting into heavy – almost mechanical! – routinized workouts!

If you can do this, all well and good. But if you cannot for example, go to a gym, you do not give up on “exercise”. What is it really but physical activity? Well, find other ways of getting some physical activity! If you cannot make it to the controlled conditions of a gym “workout”, find other ways to stay “physically” active. Always find time for “exercise” no matter how many time constraints you have!

Proper “warm-ups” are essential before any form of exercise but are going to be especially so for you who have not indulged in any form of exercise for a long while. Such “stretching” exercises are necessary to prepare your muscles and joints for the “workouts” to follow, as this ensures that proper blood flow and muscle elasticity are attained. So-called “calisthenics” groom your muscles for the “stress” that you are about to impose on them, by increasing blood flow and muscle temperature. You must therefore start your “comeback” periods with them.

Getting your body MOVING is the important thing. If you move your body every day, you will be well on your way to a healthy lifestyle without the need to make daily visits to the gym. This could mean such “exercise” activities like walking on your breaks, playing with your children, a family bike ride, or jumping jacks and push ups before bed. Do not let a day go by without getting some activity in. When you cannot afford to devote substantially long periods to “exercising”, you can mostly compensate for this with intensity and frequency!

A great way to get in shape is by running. A good run is one of the best exercises around. There are standard suggested methods of going about this, commonly referred to as “best practices”, and regardless of how you view such matters (regimen?), you should use these to control the development of both the pace and “intensity” of your run. This is critical to not picking up running injuries early in the game and thus putting your running longevity at risk.

The dictum here is, begin slowly and make 10% increases in your running routines. To get the most from your run and ensure the best and safest results, you should pace yourself in the beginning and increase speed as you go along, ending with the fastest pace you can maintain without overdoing it. You end your workout with a full speed run.

Running uphill is suggested as a very good form of exercise. There are many recognized benefits to hill running which are discussed elsewhere on this site and if this opportunity is available, it is well worth your while to take advantage of this. A good substitute under limited conditions, is to make use of staircases. Many of you work or live in high rise buildings where there are such. Forego the use of the elevators and walk rapidly – or run if it is safe to do so! – up the steps instead. You will be surprised at how quickly this begins to improve your fitness level!

Swimming is also an excellent way to get a full-body workout and is one which, if at all possible, you should include in your activities to get fit and slim once more. With this form of exercise, you can burn a lot of calories, build up, strengthen and tone your muscles and increase your endurance level, without having to worry about overdoing it and putting too much stress on your running joints and muscles. Visits to a pool can be a family matter. If a pool is not available in your home complex, it is not too difficult in most cases, to get a membership in a local nearby pool. Some gyms also provide for all-season swimming through the use of indoor pools.

A very useful and easily doable (it can be great fun with your children as well!) form of “exercise” that you can undertake is skipping. This can be done anywhere and at any time! You only need a skipping rope and some minimal space (backyard? garage? porch?) to do this. Among the several benefits to be derived from skipping is that of improving your cardio-respiratory fitness – heart and lungs. It also increases the flexibility of your muscles and co-ordination. It is a great exercise for building bones and for those of you who want to lose weight and become fit and slim, it is an excellent way to burn calories and trim off those bulging pounds from your hips, thighs and behinds!

You spend a lot of your time at your workplace. So utilize it all you can. Make it a launching zone for increased physical activity. Convert your “idle” time into fitness gain time! Use a few minutes each day for some “stretching” exercises instead of just sitting all the time. This will improve blood circulation and prevent stiffness and cramping and improve your mental acumen as well!

Discipline yourself to stand up and away from your desk once every hour or so and if possible, walk some way from it and back. The idea is to maximize your physical activity as much as the circumstances allow. When you have to move about in your office or building, do it with purpose. Make it a real ”physical” activity. It is not being suggested that you turn your office into a gym, but that you get the most movement out of your muscles and body parts in your essential or obligatory daily routines.

These tips show that getting back in shape does not have to be arduous. For the most part, you can accommodate these activities within the routines of your daily life. It fact, they can be relatively simple, easy and enjoyable undertakings, fitting seamlessly into your everyday life! You can make it all fun rather than an odyssey! You want to do it? Then get it done – become fit and slim. Be your younger self once again!

You cannot get to a gym? You don’t have to! Just be creative without one!

Q. As a beginner what should I concentrate on improving first? My speed or my distance?

A. Runners differ on this matter. The majority however seem to favor increasing your distance first. It is argued that starting with a focus on increasing distance first, is better because as you build up your endurance (by running longer distances), your speed will also automatically increase.

Many runners favor interval training and loudly tout its virtues. However, if you are a beginner, be very careful about this. It is wise not to rush into any such formal speed training just yet. If you run too often at too high an intensity, there is a great likelihood that you will pick up some of the injuries which often plague many runners.

Give yourself a “comfortable” platform from which to launch yourself into this. Try running first for two or three months so you can build up a strong base. After this you can start the process – slowly and carefully at first! – by adding strides into some of your runs. Some runners suggest that picking up pace is best done near the ends of your runs – that is, finish “fast”. Leave interval training (fartlek, tempo runs, etc.) for a much later date.

Q. When I am running and feel out of breath, am I overdoing it or doing something wrong?

A. You might well be doing something wrong! However, under normal circumstance when you run, and especially so if you are a beginner, some “huffing”, “puffing” and “labored” breathing are natural. Your chest appears to be “tightening up” and you seem to be not getting enough air so you try to take in more. Do not panic however. First, take a very slow and easy ‘warm up”. Next try to concentrate on breathing from as deep down in your stomach as you can and breathe in and out through your mouth. This will allow for a greater intake of air. An important benefit from this also is that this is the well recommended method for preventing side stitches.

Generally, and especially so at the beginning, you should try to run at a pace where you are not always panting and gasping for air, but one at which you can breathe with relative ease. A “best practice” is to run with someone else and employ what is commonly called the “talk test” to determine if your pace is really appropriate and not too rapid. This test will be your ability to hold a conversation, to speak full sentences without having to feel you are choking and have to gasp for air. If you are not able to do this, you should slow down a bit until you can comfortably do so, or even interrupt your running with a walking interval. As your fitness and endurance levels increase, your breathing will become more controlled and much easier.

If you find that after all of this you are still wheezing, your chest is tightening up and you are experiencing unusual trouble in “catching your breath” even when you slow your speed or walk, this may be a sign that you are an asthmatic. It will be then time to talk to your physician about this.

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40 Of The Most Frequently Asked Questions About Running – Part 10

Q. What Kind Of Gear Do I Need When I Start Running As An Exercise?

A. This is usually the first question asked by a beginner and rightly so as in most cases where different forms of Weight Loss
exercise are being promoted, expensive and expansive gear are usually associated with them. However, one of the good things about running as a form of exercise to lose weight and become fit and slim is that you do not need any elaborate or costly running attire. All you really need to get started in your running routines for fitness and health is a good comfortable pair of running shoes!

Your running shoes is by far the most important part of your gear and you must pay very special attention to this. Men's running shoesPaying special attention does not mean paying a high purchase price, but rather that the pair you get is the right pair for you. The wrong pair of running shoes can seriously affect your physical performance and the longevity of your running life!

First, resist the temptation to use old sneakers or tennis shoes which you find you had earlier abandoned around the house. Old running shoes are one of the greatest causes of running injuries so do not start with them either. Instead, invest in a new pair, one that is right for your foot type and personal running style. Particularly if you are a beginner, you will need a pair that is well-cushioned, is designed specifically for running, which fits well and in which you are comfortable in your running routines.

If you are a total newbie, you need to be smart about this. It is best to get professional advice, especially if you are going to be buying your first pair. Do not buy it online, but instead go to a shoe-specialty store. You should not be aiming to buy the most expensive pair in the store – price does not equate to right and is not going to make your running any more successful than if you bought a cheaper pair! – but rather, a good pair which are just right for you.

These stores have experts who can make a professional evaluation of your foot and running style and can make recommendations and advise on the right shoes for you. Put your trust here rather than in the size of your wallet! This is critical to preventing many of the common running injuries which beset runners. The matter of the right pair of running shoes and the factors which you should consider in making a choice, are extensively discussed under the heading “Outfitting” posted elsewhere on this site.

Similarly, if you are just starting to run, you do not have to rush out and buy the most fashionable running Fitness Clothing
clothes Running, even for the most serious runners, is not a dress parade nor a fashion display and hence, fancy running attire is not a requirement. You need to be comfortable when running and hence comfort is again the operative word here. You just wear clothes in which you are comfortable to do your running routine workout.

However, if and when you begin to take your running more seriously, you may wish to take a more “technical” view of the process and you might want to start to invest in running garb of the more “technical” kind. The technical fabric running clothes often cost a little more than the usual cotton clothing, as unlike cotton clothing, synthetic fabrics such as CoolMax or Dri-Fit, keep moisture away from your skin. They are therefore much more comfortable, particular if you sweat a lot and/or if you are in temperate climates and especially during your long runs. It is also a good idea to not wear 100% cotton socks. These should preferably be of a synthetic blend as they will help to prevent common running blistering of the feet.

Women runners are well advised to ensure that during their running routines, they wear sports bras. These should Fitness Instructor
fit you properly and comfortably and should not be too stretched out – wait until you are really fit and slim for smaller sizes! The common advice is that most of these sports bras should be replaced after about 72-75 washes, or when the elasticity is lost, or if your weight has undergone a material change.

You must also ensure that you do not overdress when you go out for your runs. You soon get pretty warm anyway when you start to run, and heavy attire can then become burdensome and most uncomfortable. When you have finished your warm up, the extra heat which comes from your body will make you feel about 8 to 11 centigrade degrees warmer. Hence for an ambient temperature above 32 degrees centigrade, you will feel quite comfortable in a T-shirt and shorts. In cold climates, you have to be careful not to “overdress” for purposes of keeping warm. A common rule of thumb to determine your wear for a normal winter’s day is to add about 10 – 12 centigrade degrees to the ambient temperature and dress accordingly.

Although it is not essential, some runners like to wear watches and see these as an item of their “running gear”. Sport WatchesSports Watches with heart monitors
Most runners want to be able to determine times and distances. The watches of today however, are really “hi-tech”. They do very much more than just measure times and distances. They provide a lot more information than just recordings of the “raw workout data”. They analyze and interpret the actual numbers. They help you to understand just what the numbers mean. They “tell” you not only your speed, but whether or not you are running too slowly or too fast. They determine your heart rate, letting you know whether or not you are attaining the heart rate you set as target. They even determine how frequently you should hydrate!

Runners are often exposed to the sun for extended periods of time. Although it is the common understanding that overexposure to the ultraviolet rays of the sun is overwhelmingly the most frequent cause of skin cancer and other skin problems such as melanoma, many runners still put themselves at risk every day. Some however, take this threat very seriously and equip themselves with various creams and sun block preparations.

Eyes are particularly sensitive to the harmful UV rays of the sun which are known to cause cataracts and do irreversible damage. Many runners therefore use Sunglasses which are specially tinted and reinforced for road and trail. Some of these glasses in addition to providing 100 percent UV protection, have venting designs that help whisk away condensation, which is a very useful feature particularly if you run in a very temperate climate and perspire a lot.

Water (fluids) is critical to good health and therefore proper hydration is a cornerstone of healthy diet regimes for runners. Running, particularly in the summer months, brings about a high rate of liquid loss from your body, particularly if you sweat a lot. Frequent replenishment of this water loss is therefore essential in your running routines. While in marathons there are numerous “water holes” along the way in the form of cup-wielding individuals to provide this service, for your own individual runs you are unlikely to be provided with such service.

Extensive research into this process indicate that even as small a loss as three-percent of body fluid, can have an adverse effect on your physical performance You will therefore have to develop a strategy and plan for your source of fluid intake. This must include a mid run strategy to avoid dehydration if you are going on long runs. It is not enough to just hydrate before and after your runs. You need to drink during your runs, and especially so in warm weather or if you live in temperate climates. A container for fluids is therefore an essential pare of a runner’s gear

The simple solution for some runners is to invest in a water bottle, flask, bag or pouch of some kind. How you Water Bottles
convey your liquid refreshment depends on the kind of route (road? trail? track?) and what kind of running (high intensity and short or low intensity and long) you will be undertaking. Some runners find it easier to utilize holders or waist packs to carry these. Others prefer to carry these by hand or on their backs. The latest technologies provide portable hydration packs for finding the best options for bringing the fluids runners need on the runs they want to do.

Seasoned runners often have as their just reward, the development of a fit looking and enviable torso. However their feet mostly never reach any such level of envy. Their feet often suffer painfully in the process and visually never present an image to which any level of the word “attractive” can be applied! This is usually due to the friction between running shoes and skin, such chafing usually ending up in ugly calluses and painful blisters even if you are careful about this. To minimize this effect and as a, many runners invest in relevant commercial products such as Blister Shields and Blister Dressings

Many runners like to listen to music when they run and you more often see runners wearing headphones than not. You Mp3 players“>Mp3 players
might be one of those who might never want to jog one step without your playlist. However there is strong opposition to this by some. A full discussion on the pros and cons is provided elsewhere on this site.

Q. Is There A Special Way To Breathe When Running?

A. In addition to exercising and stretching in advance, breathing is an important consideration in running. The conventional wisdom is that although success in running is highly dependent on having the right “running style”, that is, the right movements of the legs and arms, breathing properly is very essential when you are running and breathing techniques can also contribute significantly to your ability to run well.

Proper breathing techniques while running should therefore be maintained. Aside from preventing injuries, maintaining healthy breathing techniques while running can ensure a satisfactory run, giving you motivation for your next time out. However, improper breathing techniques can adversely affect your body, including for example, a shorter run that causes a quicker loss of breath as well as imposing a greater stress on the body.

Having the correct breathing techniques will help increase the efficiency of oxygen delivery by your body to your muscles. If you can breathe in a manner whereby you can inhale a lot of oxygen without negatively affecting your running efficiency, this will very much be to your advantage. It will help you to be more comfortable and improve your running performance. If you are able to properly breathe while running, you can improve your endurance and run longer distances.

When you are running, getting out of breath is very natural and there is a reason for this. Your body needs oxygen to operate and when you place an unusual stress on it, your muscles will need more oxygen. When you run, your body has to provide a constant supply of oxygen to your muscles so that they can acquire the strength and energy needed to keep you running. As a result, your lungs have to work extra hard to absorb more oxygen from the air which you breathe in. When this is not enough while running, you will get “out of breath” and have the feeling of being “stifled” or “choked”.

To ensure you body is sufficiently “oxygenated”, that is, it gets enough oxygen, some suggest that although under normal circumstances it is natural for you to breathe through your nose, you should instead breathe through your mouth when you are running. Doing this allows you to take in more oxygen as well as release more carbon dioxide. This is the best way to supply adequate amounts of oxygen to your muscles.

Others suggest that to facilitate this increased need for oxygen, you should breathe through both your nose and your mouth when you are running. The common wisdom here is that your nose alone cannot deliver oxygen in sufficient quantity to satisfy the amount needed by your muscles to keep moving.

At present there are many different breathing techniques employed while running. Here are some common tips about these.

  • Breathe more from your diaphragm or belly, rather than from your chest. This latter makes your breathing shallow. On the other hand, breathing deeply from your belly allows you to increase your air intake and gets more oxygen into your system. It is also a common advice about avoiding side stitches.
  • Concentrate on exhaling through your mouth. This will remove more carbon dioxide as well as help you to inhale more deeply.
  • Take short and shallow breaths when you are running long distances. This is considered to be the best procedure. Taking long and deep breaths will inhibit your ability in this respect.
  • Try to run at a pace at which you can breathe easily. You can determine if your pace is appropriate by using the “talk test” which is also known as “conversational pace”. This means that you should be able to speak in full sentences, without gasping for air. If you are unable to converse comfortably, you are probably going too fast.
  • Inhale and exhale at a steady rate no matter the pace at which you run, fast or slow. A usual way to determine and control this rate is to use running steps as a counting measure.
  • Try to breathe at a 3:2 inhale-to-exhale ratio. That is, each time you inhale, try to take three foot strikes; and for each time you exhale, try to take two foot strikes. This will fully oxygenate the muscles and clear the body of carbon dioxide.
  • When you run exceptionally fast your body may naturally switch to a 2:1 ratio. That means for every two steps of inhaling you only exhale for one step. That is alright, but you must understand that such a pace is unsustainable as the CO2 in your body will increase if your breathing patterns are short and hurried.
  • If you seem to be running out of breath, slow down on your pace or walk. This often takes care of breathing problems.

If you continue to have problems with breathing even after you relax, slow your pace down or walk, talk to your doctor about whether you might have asthma.

Q. Should Runners Eat Before And After a Run?

A. The short answer is that it is best to eat before and after a run. The questions are then: When, that is, how long should you eat before your run; and What, that is, what kinds of foods should you eat for your run?

Before beginning your run, especially if it is a long run, you should be feeling neither hungry nor “stuffed”. Running is going to require an expenditure of energy from your body and therefore this should be available, that is, stored. If none is in storage, running on an empty stomach may cause you to run out of energy. It is important therefore to eat before running and have a proper dieting program in order to ensure that there is “enough gas in the tank” and your body is properly “fueled up”.

However you should not eat “heavy meals” immediately before running as this can result in vomiting, nausea, severe cramping or what is commonly known as side stitches. Your food choice also should take in consideration whether or not you are plagued with any kind of gastrointestinal distress, commonly called “runner’s trots”. Let us look at When? and What?

When to Eat before Starting and Finishing a Run

If you have enough time, say 21/2 – 4 hours before beginning your run, you can have a “full” meal with the proper diet foods. This will allow the meal enough time to be digested, reduce the “discomfort” of a full stomach and ensure that you have enough energy. If your run is 1 to 2 hours away, the best solution is to eat a “light” meal. Failing this, eat something which you can quite easily “digest”.

As a common practice, you should eat less “solid” food the closer you get to the time of your run. Avoid solid foods altogether if you are too close to your run or race time. Instead, drink liquids such as the common “energy drinks”, as these will provide the “renewable” energy source you need. Additionally, they are more easily digested and thus the level of discomfort you might experience is reduced.

After your running, your energy will be low and you therefore need to restore this supply as soon as you can. The common practice is to eat within the first 30 to 60 minutes after your running routines or event, since it is during that period that your muscles are best at producing the chemical substances needed for energy store. Eating during this time also is said to have a”healing effect” by decreasing any soreness and stiffness you experience in your muscles.

What To Eat Before Starting And After a Run

The foods that runners eat before a run are critical to their energy levels, Runners need to “fuel” their “active” muscles so these muscles can regain, store and have energy available when called upon to make an expenditure of “energy”, when for example, a running routine or a race, is embarked upon. This “fueling” is achieved when the runner eats proper dieting “foods”.

The major sources of this “food fuel” are chemical compounds known as “carbohydrates”, or simply “carbs”. Protein is also another food source of energy which is recommended to form part of your diet. The “common practice” combination ratio is eighty percent (80%) carbohydrate to twenty percent (20%) protein.

The best types of foods to eat before a run both for energy and to avert any kind of gastrointestinal distress during or after running can be found in the many dieting recipes offered on the internet. They mostly include:

    • white foods, such as regular pasta, bagels (plain) with peanut butter, turkey and cheese on whole wheat bread. Such “processed foods are easy to digest;
    • Vegetables

    • vegetables and low fiber foods such as tomatoes, legumes, olives, zucchini, grapes, bananas, oranges and similar fresh citrus fruits and whole grain foods.

    Quick energy from something easily digestible both before and after running can be had from things like “energy” drinks, gels, “bars”, etc. These are “high energy” foods (they contain high concentrations of carbohydrates!), and can help to keep up energy levels as well as serve to keep away hunger pangs.

    Foods to avoid are high fat foods such as fried foods, hamburgers, or bacon; and coffee or other caffeinated beverages which often cause stomach problems or diarrhea.

    For many who suffer discomfort with a heavy food intake after running, the practice among runners is that of drinking chocolate milk, considered to be a good substitute as it contains high concentrations of carbohydrates and proteins as well as the “B” vitamins, known as the “energy” vitamins. Safe dairy products are soy, rice, and almond milks.

    However, since the conditions and results are different for every one, it means that you basically have to experiment and determine what diets and combination of foods are best for you. Throughout all of this, it should be borne in mind that constant rehydration is a must.


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