Last weekend I decided to try something new, shake up the winter running a bit by competing in a 25k in the snowy trails of Yankee Springs. The race was put on by Switchback Endurance http://switchbackendurance.com/ and sponsored by Gazelle sports. I was mainly looking for a fun way to get through my weekend long run, but ended up having a blast toughing it out with lots of runner friends. I will be the first to admit that the racecourse was challenging for me and my less than trail ready legs, but it felt good to feel the burn in my lungs and the ache creep slowly into my legs as the miles ticked on. More than once I had to remind myself to calm down and enjoy the beauty that is Michigan winter, and the pureness of testing one’s own abilities. Before I knew it I was flying around the mountain bike trails with just enough power in my legs to stay upright and finished with the sun shining and a sense of accomplishment. It wasn’t until later, while I was warming up with some hot chocolate and veggie chili waiting for results that I was told I had won the women’s division! In all, a great start to the 2013 racing season. Looking forward for what is in store for me and UR SPORTSWEAR this year J
I would encourage all of you out there to not let winter be your hibernation months, but a time to try something new that keeps you active and excited. Maybe snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, or entering a race even if you don’t think you are completely ready. Winter running is all about the effort, not necessarily the clock which can make it a nice change from your normal training as well. You just might surprise yourself, and at the very least you will break up the monotony that is winter running.
A recent article in Runner’s World Highlights Desi Davila as a favorite for the upcoming Olympic marathon trials (She subsequently got second, WOOT!). How does a small running club in Rochester produce some of the biggest distant running talent in the country? Maybe it’s in the water…
Well, probably not but there is a lot to be said for hydration. In fact, the human body is 70% water and even a 2% loss in body weight is enough to have negative physiological consequences for training and performance. Intense training decreases blood plasma volume which causes your heart to beat faster and limits your ability to cool off, thus curtailing aerobic capacity.
This is especially true in the winter when you don’t feel like you’re sweating as much because the sun isn’t beating down on you. However, even though it’s cold, we are still losing water through respiration, sweat and urination. Furthermore, don’t overlook the winter sports like skiing, snowboarding and even sledding which can be strenuous and deplete body fluids. Coupled with extra layers and over active thermostats, winter dehydration is more likely to sneak up on you and diminish your performance.
To ward off dehydration, you should aim to drink 2 cups of water an hour or two before exercising. As a rule of thumb, your weight in ounces divided by two is about how much you should be drinking per day. If that ice cold water bottle isn’t tempting after a run in the blizzard, try heating up some tea or hot cocoa to rehydrate, just be careful of caffeinated beverages which can have a diuretic effect. Also, just because fall harvest has ended don’t pass up fruits and vegetables. These can be an important source of hydration so look for fruits like oranges and grapefruit and root vegetables which are in season during the colder months. If you feel thirsty, have dry mouth, are light-headed, can’t focus well, feel tired or notice your skin is dry then you definitely need to drink more water.
It’s winter again and for many of us, that means running on the ice. Unfortunately, this is also the time of year when many of us struggle with a varying degree of foot pain, also known as plantar fasciitis. Winter running seems to increase our susceptibility because running on uneven surfaces (snow, ice, slush puddles) challenges foot stability.
So what does all the Latin mean? The plantar fascia is a flat ligament on the bottom of the foot running along your arch from your heel to your toes. Fasciitis is the inflammation that you feel when your plantar fascia is overstretched or overused (i.e. bumping up your mileage too fast). This is caused by straining the ligament and repeated strain can cause tiny tears which in severe cases, can lead to rupture. Some other factors that can contribute are a tight Achilles tendon or high or low arches.
Plantar pain can strike anywhere along the ligament. Usually, it starts as a sharp pain in the heel and as it gets worse, spreads through the arch. Symptoms include pain in the morning or after standing or doing intense physical activity. The pain can feel aching, burning or stabbing and your arch will be tender to the touch.
If ignored, plantar pain can persist for months so it is best to catch it early. Anti-inflammatories, an ice cup massage for 10 minutes twice per day, and reducing your mileage or taking a few days off will help with immediate pain relief. Rehabilitation exercises can also be helpful. Place a towel on the ground and from a sitting position use your bare foot to scrunch the towel toward you. Calf raises and stretches can also help to relive some of the tightness. Range of motion exercises will help loosen up some of the stiffness and a deep tissue massage can ease out some of the crepitus, that crunching feeling you get along the bottom of your foot.
Check the mileage on your shoes as well, sometimes running in shoes that are not supportive can contribute to the tightness. Also, I have found that if you have high arches, adding some barefoot training can help strengthen your arches and reduce the occurrence of fasciitis. If treated judiciously, plantar pain can usually be alleviated within a matter of weeks.
Not how I wanted to end up today, icing the knee and watching HGTV. I slipped out of the shower this morning and banged my knee pretty hard. I knew about a mile into today's run that my 10 miler was not going to happen. Y'all let me tell you something, trying to work, move into a new house and run has not been easy. I'm not handling it as gracefully as I thought I would. Luckily, I have a great husband and supportive friends. If you need me, I'm hanging out on the couch eating a chocolate Easter bunny..…