Newsletter Archives: December 1999
When you make running mistakes, write them down and make changes
in your running which will keep them from occurring again.
Picking your goal
The most important part of the speed development process (ed: or
any other area in your running program) is the very first step:
picking a goal which is realistic for you. It's okay if your goal
is slower thadn you are capable of currently running. This is a
strategy which has led to many personal records. By setting yourself
up for a performance that has some challenge but is realistic, you
will take pressure off, stay in your right brain longer, and often
achieve at a much higher level.
If your goal is too far ahead of your ability level, then you set
yourself up for disappointment and fatigue. By overestimating your
capacity, you'll force yourself to run the speed sessions too fast.
You just won't recover between speed days and long runs.
You'll be fine-tuning your racing form and technique after you've
run two or three 5K events. If the courses were hilly or the weather
conditions were adverse, you may conservatively estimate the time
you honestly believe you could run under better conditions. The
prediction table in (pp.122-123, Jeff Galloway's Training Journal)
gives equivalent performances for race distances, including the
marathon, which have been very accurate.
What a great reality check! If your 5K performances don't predict
the time you'd like, swallow your pride and select a less ambitious
time goal. This means that you'll be slowing down the pace of the
mile repeats and the early pace in the marathon.
Always be conservative in choosing your goal. If the 5K performances
predict a 4:30 marathon, shoot for 4:40 or 4:45. It's always better
to finish the marathon knowing that you could have run faster: you've
already started the momentum and motivation to do it.
Printed from Marathon! by Jeff Galloway with permission from Phidippides
Publication, 1996, pp. 70-71.
Ice Massage Works Quickly
(from the American Running Association's Running & FitNews, November
1999, p. 3, www.americanrunning.org)
If you want to cool down an injury in a hurry, use ice to massage
the area as opposed to simply placing the ice at the site of the
injury. At least that's the conclusion reached by researchers reporting
in the Journal of Orthopedics, Sports, and Physical Therapy. Fourteen
male and female subjects were randomly assigned to either ice massage
or traditional ice bag placement. A temperature probe was inserted
into the gastrocnemius (the big calf muscle) and temperatures were
observed. The muscles of both groups got just as cold and stayed
cold afterwards for about the same length of time. However, the
massage group achieved the low temperature a lot faster - 17.9 minutes
on average versus 28.2 minutes.
If you suffer an acute injury and want to cool things down in a
hurry, massage with your ice - it's more efficient than just holding
it on the injury. Freeze water in a paper cup. When it's ready,
simply tear off half of the cup and use the remaining part to hold.
The length of time you need to massage depends on how much fat tissue
covers the area. Ice a toe, for example, only a few minutes as compared
to your calf muscle, which would need more time. Ice should be kept
in motion and you can expect to feel - CBAN - Cold, Burning, Aching,
and then Numbness. Take care not to overcool the skin since you
can damage skin with frostbite. Ice massage should be repeated three
to four times a day for the first 24 to 48 hours following the injury.
(Journal of Orthopedics, Sports, and Physical Therapy, 1998, Vol.
27. No. 4, pp. 301-307)
Note: Please remember that this is not meant to be medical advice
but rather just information from one runner to another.
The Athlete's Kitchen
Copyright: Nancy Clark, MS, RD 11/99
Nutrition News from ADA
With more than 70,000 members, the American Dietietic Association
is the nation's largest group of nutrition professionals. Some of
the research completed by these members was presented at ADA's annual
convention (10/99). Here are some highlights that might be of interest
SPORTS SUPPLEMENTS: Creatine, a supplement reported to enhance
recovery during repeated bouts of intense exercise and help build
muscle, is particularly popular among sprint-type sports such as
rowing. Yet, not everyone responds to creatine. A West Point study
with 18 members of the crew team suggests that consumption of 0,
5 or 10 grams of creatine per day resulted in no significant differences
among the three groups. Everyone improved similarly with faster
rowing times, reduced body fat, and increasd body mass. This study
reminds us that hard work and good nutrition "works" and that athletes
can excel without ergogenic aids.
- Androstenedione, a steroid hormone, is a precursor for testosterone-the
male hormone associated with increased musculature. Andro has
been heavily marketed as an "all natural" performance enhancer.
A survey at the Student Recreation Center/Texas Tech University
suggests about 20% of the 121 males who completed the survey had
or were using andro. Unfortunately for the health of many of these
athletes,"all natural" does not mean "safe" or "without harm."
Altering testosterone levels is risky.
WEIGHT: Weight and body image are big issues among most people
who exercise. These issues can start at an early age. For example,
even fourth grade students have a preferred body type. A study of
166 African American and 55 white students from eight urban public
schools in the Baltimore, MD area suggests cultural preferences
exist. That is, black students preferred a larger (yet healthy)
figure as "ideal" as compared to the white students who selected
a smaller figure. The study points out the need to 1) learn more
about the factors that influence a young child's body size preference,
and 2) evaluate how these preferences can potentially influence
the epidemic of obesity (and eating disorders) that is plauging
ourselves and our children.
- Body image is a significant issue not only among women, but
also among men. A survey of 200 high school male athletes and
340 non-athletes suggests only 4% of the athletes but 10% of the
non-athletes struggled with body image. The athletes felt more
content and satisfied with their bodies. These results suggest
participation in sports may enhance body image in male athletes--and
provides yet another reason for us to keep our kids active!
BODY FAT: If you are very thin and have had your body fat measured
using bioelectrical impedence (BIA), you may have been given wrong
information. BIA has low accuracy compared to a highly accurate
research method (whole body potassium counting). Yet, because BIA
is inexpensive and easy to perform, it is very popular.
- A very low calorie intake can lead to energy conservation in
athletes. That is, in a study with 28 elite female gymnasts, the
gymnasts who reported the lower calorie intakes had the higher
amount of body fat compared to those who reported higher intakes
(1,300 vs 2,200 cals). Either the larger gymnasts underreported
food intake, or they conserved energy due to the perceived "famine."
The lower energy intakes were associated with lower intake of several
nutrients, including iron and calcium. What this means is, if you
are eating very little and maintaining your weight, you might want
to consider eating more--if not to better nourish your body, then
to boost your metabolic rate.
AMENORRHEA: Female runners who have irregular or no menstrual periods
often believe that running keeps their bones strong. Wrong! The
bone mineral density of runners with irregular menstrual cycles
is lower than that of runners who have regular menstrual cycles.
Hence, they are at higher risk for stress fractures.
If you are a woman who is amenorrheic (that is, lacks regular monthly
menstrual periods), you need to get good medical follow-up. Otherwise,
you may soon end up with stress fractures, to say nothing of depression
because of the psychological toll associated with injury. Plus,
you shouldn't ignore the long-term consequences of early osteoporosis.
MORE EDUCATION NEEDED: Nutrition education for athletes is important
both to enhance performance and to invest in future health and well-being.
A survey of college football players indicates 80% of 21 college
football linemen believed that vitamins were good sources of energy.
(Wrong! Vitamins function like "spark plugs"; they are not a source
of energy.) More than 70% believed that bread and potatoes are fattening
and should be avoided when trying to lose weight (Wrong! These carbs
supply the energy needed to fuel muscles. They become "fattening"
only when eaten in excess with too much butter.)
- Volleyball players also need nutrition help. Among nationally
ranked female volleyball players, only 8 of 21 met the recommended
protein intake, and 50% reported restricting energy to control
their weight. Five reported being amenorrheic and 12 reported
"irregular" menstrual cycles--both red flags for inadequate nutrition.
- A study of "vegetarian" college students suggests some may be
at increased risk for eating disorders. Eliminating meat can be
a politically correct way to eliminate calories and fat. True
vegetarians eat adequate protein via tofu, nuts, beans, peanut
butter and other plant foods. Non-meat eaters simply live on pasta
and bagels, with inadequate protein and fat.
Nancy Clark, MS, RD is nutrition counselor at Boston-area's SportsMedicine
Brookline and author of Nancy Clark's Sports Nutrition Guidebook,
2nd Edition. To order this best-selling book, send $20 to Sports
Nutrition Materials, 830 Boylston, St #205, Brookline MA 02467 or
Walk-Running is what we were
designed to do
Our ancient ancestors had to walk and run thousands of miles every
year to survive. Because they moved on to greener pastures and away
from predators, we're here to philosophize about walk breaks. So
it's a fact that each of us inherited an organism that was designed
to move forward for long distances. As often happens with behaviors
which enhance survival, a series of very complex and internally
satisfying rewards have developed, which relax the muscles, stimulate
the creative and intuitive side of our brain, and energize our spirit.
By getting out the door and moving forward three or more times a
week, even the most out-of-shape couch potato will discover this
enhanced sense of self worth and improved attitude.
While walking is our most efficient exercise pattern, we can adapt
to running and do well. Indeed, most walkers who add running to
their exercise say they get a better boost in their after-exercise
attitude. But running continuously can quickly push anyone beyond
the capacity of leg muscles. When we alternate between walking and
running, early and often, we are going back to the type of exertion
that brought our forebears across continents, over deserts and mountain
Is Soy a Smart Bet?
by Karen Collins, M.S., R.D.,C.D.N.
American Institute for Cancer Research
Sales of soy-based foods have tripled in the last five years as
research reports that soy might help protect against cancer, heart
disease and other health problems. Research actually offers more
support, however, for the benefits of an overall plant-based diet
than for those of any individual food.
A recent study in the Archives of Internal Medicine found that
high levels of LDL ("bad") cholesterol dropped six to ten percent
when soy was added to people's diets. This confirmed the results
of many other studies. As a result, the Food and Drug Administration
(FDA) is allowing a claim on food labels which says that soy protein
as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol helps
reduce the risk of heart disease.
Soy foods differ, however, in their content of isoflavones, natural
phytochemicals that seem to be vital for soy protein's cholesterol-lowering
effects. Some soy drinks and meat replacements are made from soy
protein concentrate that has been washed with alcohol, removing
most of the isoflavones. Also, studies in which soy lowered blood
cholesterol included 25 grams of soy protein daily. Since foods
can meet the FDA's approved claim if they contain only 6.25 grams,
you might need to eat anywhere from one to four servings a day of
these foods to achieve similar results.
Soy may help lower cancer risk as well. Some studies show that
when people consume soy daily, their colon cells divide and reproduce
in a manner much less likely to lead to cancer. One study found
that women who ate soy at least twice a week had more than 40 percent
lower risk of breast cancer than women who ate soy less than once
a month. Results vary considerably between studies, however. These
disparities in results possibly reflect the different effects soy
many have on cancer that occurs before or after menopause, effects
of how early in life one starts eating soy, or the effectiveness
of different types of soy foods.
Scientists believe that soy's protection against breast cancer
involves substances within soy called "phytoestrogens." These substances
have a chemical structure similar to our body estrogen. Because
of this similarity, they may be able to block estrogen's cancer-promoting
effects on breast cells. Scientists are concerned, however, that
these plant estrogens could also promote breast cancer growth in
those who have or have had breast cancer. Research is in progress
to solve this dilemma.
For now, it is certainly reasonable for most of us to include soy
foods as part of a healthy diet. People in Asia, who routinely eat
one or two servings of soy foods daily, suffer far less from heart
disease and many cancers than do Americans. If nothing else, soy
foods provide an alternative protein source as we decrease meat
consumption and increase our use of plant foods.
Since we know very little about the effects of very high levels
of soy or isoflavones, most health experts discourage people from
assuming more is better and jumping prematurely to supplements.
Instead, they say it is wiser for people to learn how to include
soy foods in their diets. This warning applies particularly to people
with a current or past breast cancer diagnosis. Some researchers
suggest that for them, eating a moderate portion of a soy food once
or twice a week would probably be safe, but that daily use (and
certainly soy supplements) should be avoided until research on this
question is concluded.
Meanwhile, the American Institute for Cancer Research says that
research is quite clear on the benefits of eating a mostly plant-based
diet centering our eating around vegetables, fruits, whole grains
and beans of all kinds. So if you're looking for a good bet, it
is to use soy as just one part of a balanced, plant-based diet.
The American Institute for Cancer Research is the only major cancer
charity focusing exclusively on the link between diet, nutrition
and cancer. The Institute provides a wide range of consumer education
programs that have helped millions of Americans learn to make changes
for lower cancer risk. AICR also supports innovative research in
cancer prevention and treatment at universities, hospitals and research
centers across the U.S. The Institute has provided nearly $50 million
in funding for research in diet, nutrition and cancer.
Editor's Tip: I've found that since tofu doesn't really taste like
anything, I can cut it up into small pieces and put it into soups
or anything else and never know the difference!
Injury of the Month: Black
Over my 40 years of running, I've had hundreds of black toenails.
The following is my advice in avoiding and treating this problem.
This is offered as experience passed from one runner to another.
You should always confer with a doctor who knows about running injuries
when you have a medical problem.
Almost everyone who runs gets a black toenail. Getting your first
one is a sign that you've moved your training into a higher level.
While most runners blame a shoe that is too small, this is often
not the primary cause. Certainly toe pressure from the shoe can
make the toe hurt even more, but pressure from underneath seems
to produce more black nails.
If a toe is under pressure from the shoe or a sock that is too
tight or too thick, the sustained pressure, step after step, produces
an impact or a friction problem between the toenail and the tissue
surrounding it. When the tissue gets damaged, fluid accumulates.
The red or black color is the result of a few blood capillaries
that become broken in the process. The more fluid that accumulates,
the more pain. The extra fluid, colored by some blood, accumulates
below the toenail. When the pressure gets too great, the existing
toenail will be separated from the "toenail in training," which
is located below the current nail. Even if it takes several months,
the blackened outer nail will drop off, leaving the new nail below.
Sometimes the pressure of the fluid, will warp the new nail, but
it will get smoother as it grows out.
But most of the pressure that results in this "toenail injury"
is produced by the regular action of the foot coming forward, thousands
of times every 5K. Each time your foot swings forward, a little
extra blood is pushed into the toe region due to the force of the
foot coming forward. If you increase your distance regularly and
very gradually, your toes will adjust to each new maximum distance
and only complain when you extend farther. In a marathon training
program, almost everyone gets at least one black toenail. Running
faster than you should be running, at any time during a long run,
will increase the chance of this injury.
Hot weather also improves your odds of getting one. When it's warm,
your feet swell more than they would on cold days. Because there
is more pressure, and more fluid, there are more black nails generated
during the summer months.
You'll reduce the chance of a black nail if you ensure that you
have enough room in your toe area when you fit your shoes. At least
half an inch is needed, when you're standing in the prospective
shoes (in the sitting position, the toes aren't all the way forward).
If you've had a history of black toenails and summer is approaching
(or here), you may want more toe room. When you add more room at
the end, ensure that the arch of the shoe matches up with your arch.
Also, run in the shoe before you buy it to make sure that your foot
doesn't slide forward as you're running, which can aggravate the
toe more than a tight toe box.
It's best to take no action on black toenails, if the pain is manageable.
About 24 hours after the long or fast run which produced the problem
toe, you can decide whether the pain is tolerable. It usually lessens
each day thereafter. About 80 percent of the black toe problems
are best treated by ignoring them. The damaged part of the nail
is gradually pushed out, and the foot slowly returns to normal.
If at any point you see the redness associated with infection, see
If the toe hurts too much, especially 24 hours later, you should
release the pressure underneath by one of two methods. It's always
better to have this done by a doctor, but I've heard from hundreds
of runners who've done this by themselves without any significant
problems. It's up to you.
1. If the edge of the fluid is near the tip of the toenail, a sharp
sewing needle can do the job. Sterilize it by putting it in the
flame of a match or lighter until the tip becomes red hot. Be sure
to insulate the end of the needle so that you aren't holding it
directly with your fingers. After a couple of minutes, when the
needle is cool, send it into the thin layer of skin, at the edge
of the toenail, where you see water underneath. Let the water come
out. Enlarge the hole slightly and insert some triple antibiotic
cream up underneath, squeezing it around to speed up the healing
2. If the fluid is in the center of the nail, sterilize a paper
clip by putting it in the flame of a match or lighter until the
tip becomes red hot. As in # 1 above, make sure that your fingers
are insulated from directly touching the paperclip. While it is
red, place the clip into the center of the fluid area. It will quickly
melt the nail, producing a nice round hole by which the fluid can
escape. As in # 1 above, squirt some triple antibiotic cream underneath,
squeezing it around to speed up the healing time.
These methods may seem like something out of a torture textbook,
but they don't have to hurt. Again, if you have any doubts, see
- A recent study on 18,000 men at the famed Cooper Institute for
Aerobics Research in Dallas found that runners and other highly
fit people live an average of six to 12 years longer than couch
potatoes. Even moderately fit people live an average of four to
seven years longer. (Alisa Bauman, Health & Fitness, Runner's
World, January 2000, p. 18, http://www.runnersworld.com)
- In Jeff's Runner's World article, November 1998 ("Personal Training,"
he says "Working a variety of runs into your routine will do more
than get you faster and stronger." He mentions several components
of a balanced training program, including long runs, fun runs,
hills, tempo runs, strides or gliders, and speedplay and tells
how to put them all together for a program that will work for
you. Something Jeff always stresses is keeping the fun in your
runs, regardless of where you are with your running. Group runs
with jokes, political debates, and games are all part of his plan
to keep you fit.
- True or false: When you stop exercising, muscles turns to fat.
False. Muscles that are unused gradually shrink in mass, but don't
"turn into" fat. Muscle and fat are distinctly different kinds
of tissue. But exercise (and its opposite, inactivity) does alter
the distribution and amount of muscle and fat. If you stop exercising
but continue to consume the same amount of calories, they are
banked as fat, with a fair share of them deposited over and within
the muscles. (from the University of California, Berkeley Wellness
Letter, Volume 15, Issue 8, May 1999, p. 6, 904/445-6414)
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