Newsletter Archives: June 1999
It's possible to completely turn around a non-productive attitude
during a run.
Why are so many people running
Overwhelming is the best way to describe the floodtide of entrants
into marathons. Each year, beginning exercisers by the thousands
are targeting a marathon instead of the safer choice of a 5K or
10K. Established marathons are filling their quotas earlier, and
the overflow of procrastinators has been absorbed by a mushrooming
growth of interesting regional and national 42K events. What started
as a once-in-a-lifetime achievement is now being renewed by former
couch potatoes every 6-12 months.
At the same time that a majority of the North American population
has been labeled "significantly overweight," marathon training has
been noted by many experts as the fastest growing activity in the
field of exercise. Surely some of the 2+ million who train for a
marathon each year start with the goal of losing some of the blanket
that has been accumulating around their midsections for a decade
or so. The overwhelming number of those who continue do so because
of the automatic positive attitude boost, significant stress release,
and creative enhancement due to right brain activity.
As the average age of the marathoner has increased to 40+, the
marathon has assumed the role of mid-life mission. While most of
these folks at this stage of life are accustomed to relying upon
key people and leveraging with contacts, income and other negotiable
items, the marathon stands out as one of the most esteemed of life's
achievements which has to be done by developing the physical, mental
and spiritual resources over an extended period of work. While it
is difficult, it is deeply satisfying to see these capacities increase.
Maybe the satisfaction comes from getting back to our roots. Our
ancient ancestors walked and ran for thousands of miles each year
to survive. In the process, they developed and passed on to us a
treasury of attitude boosts and stress-relieving benefits, which
reward us on every run. When we do the thing we were designed to
do, it unleashes some primitive connections to our identity as human
When we run slowly, regularly, and in a small group, it's fun.
But these recent couch potatoes realize that they need a mission.
By writing the marathon date on a calendar, one becomes more motivated
to get out the door on the early mornings or on days when the weather
Very soon, we'll be into marathon season. I want to wish the best
of motivation to all of those who are pushing back their endurance
barriers on each long run. Bravo! You will do it!
The Athlete's Kitchen
Copyright: Nancy Clark, MS, RD 5/99
SALT: Shake it or leave it?
"In the summer, I sweat profusely and my skin gets crusty with
salt. Should I eat extra salt to replace those losses?"
"I commonly eat processed foods that are loaded with salt. Are
they really bad for me???"
"I never use salt. I don't want to get high blood pressure."
Many athletes have a confused relationship with salt. They love
the taste of salty foods, but hate salt for its reputation of causing
high blood pressure. They crave salt after sweaty exercise, but
question if they should eat salty foods to replace it. If you are
among the many active people who has concerns about salt, or more
correctly sodium (the part of salt associated with health problems),
this article can help you decide whether to shake it or leave it.
Does restricting salt reduce blood pressure?
Blood pressure is the force of blood against artery walls. High
blood pressure (or hypertension) is a serious medical condition
that can lead to hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis), heart
attacks, kidney damage, eye problems, and heart failure. Eating
salt does not directly cause blood pressure to rise nor does restricting
salt automatically lower it. Only 40 to 50% of people with high
blood pressure and 10 to 15% of people with normal blood pressure
experience salt-related changes in blood pressure.
The best way to prevent hypertension is to choose the right parents;
high blood pressure has strong genetic links. Alternative ways to
controlling (if not preventing) hypertension are to be fit, active--and
responsible for choosing a wholesome diet abundant in fruits, vegetables,
and low fat dairy foods.
A recent study, Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (D.A.S.H.),
suggests a multi-faceted dietary approach can effectively control
blood pressure. In addition to moderating salty foods, the D.A.S.H.
research suggests you should also:
1) eat extra fruits, vegetables, and lowfat dairy foods for calcium,
potassium, magnesium, and fiber
2) lose weight (if you have weight to lose)
3) limit your intake of saturated fats (in greasy meats, butter,
cream, and cheese) and alcohol. How much salt does an athlete actually
Sodium requirements vary and depend upon how much sodium you lose
in sweat. For non-athletes, the National Academy of Sciences recommends
at least 500 milligrams of sodium per day for baseline health requirements.
In the D.A.S.H. study, the subjects averaged 3,000 mg per day, which
is slightly less than the 4,000 to 6,000 mg sodium most Americans
consume daily. Three thousand milligrams is the amount in 6 small
salt packets (such as you might get at a fast food restaurant) or
one medium pizza.
How much salt do I lose in sweat?
The amount of sodium you lose in sweat depends upon how much salt
you eat. Your body has an amazing ability to maintain a stable sodium
balance by eliminating any excess in either sweat or urine. Athletes
who eat lots of salt have saltier sweat than those who restrict
The amount of sodium in sweat also varies according to how much
you exercise in the heat. For example, the sweat of an unfit, unacclimatized
person may contain 1,600 mg sodium per lb sweat; a fit but unacclimatized
subject, 1,200 mg; a fit and acclimatized person, only 800 mg. As
a frame of reference, the average male's body contains about 75,000
mg sodium, the amount in 11 tablespoons salt.
If I crave salt, should I eat it?
Yes. Salt cravings are a sign your body wants salt. A rule of thumb
is to add extra salt to your diet if you have lost more than four
to six pounds of sweat. Too little salt can result in fatigue, muscle
cramps, and lack of thirst. Athletes who consciously restrict salt
by eating low-sodium spaghetti sauce, salt-free pretzels, and other
low sodium foods often benefit from adding sodium to replace sweat
losses if they sweat profusely day after day in the summer heat.
Sodium content of some common sports foods: Food
- Fruits and juices 1-5
- Meat, chicken, 4 oz 50- 70
- Powerade, 8 oz 70
- Gatorade, 8 oz 110
- Milk, 8 oz 120
- Fig Newtons, 2 120
- Saltines, 5 180
- Amer. cheese, 1 sl 260
- Bagel, 1 sm Lender's 320
- Pizza, 1 lg sl cheese 600
- Big Mac 960
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
In Volume One, 1999, we mentioned a Runner's World report on a
group of military school cadets who used a roll-on antiperspirant
on their feet to prevent blisters. This story has resurfaced in
the American Running and Fitness Association's June 1999 "Running
& FitNews." The group who used the antiperspirant did get many fewer
blisters but they also had a lot more skin irritation. The authors
suggest experimenting on a long training run before you use it in
a race. (Journal of American Academy of Dermatology, 1998, Vol.
39, No. 2, pp. 202-206).
ARFA also offers some suggestions on how to avoid blisters (from
Catherine Fieseler, M.D., an ultra runner from the Cleveland Clinic
Foundation, in a report to the American Medical Athletic Association
Sports Medicine Symposium at the Marine Corps Marathon in October):
- Work up some good calluses. Skin can adapt to repeated friction.
As you log in your miles, your skin is adapting along with your
muscles, bones, heart, and lungs. Keep calluses soft with lotions.
- Get good shoes with a good fit. There should be a thumb's width
between the end of the shoe and the tip of the longest toe.
- Wear synthetic socks with good wicking properties.
- Don't use drying powders. Wet talcum powder increases friction.
- Don't use lubricants for long distances. They may decrease friction
initially, but after about an hour friction increases significantly.
- Use orthotics if needed to improve foot mechanics. Well-fitted
orthotics reduce movement by keeping the foot in a neutral position.
- Experiment with lacing techniques to reduce rubbing.
- Neoprene insoles may help reduce friction.
- Stay well-hydrated, but don't run low on sodium. Hyponatremia
causes swelling, making feet more vulnerable.
- Taping can reduce friction by creating a barrier. Tape to protect
spots where blisters and irritation have already occurred. Use
duct tape (really), Elastikon, 3-M's Medipore, or 3-M's Microfoam.
Reprinted by permission from American Running and Fitness Association's
Running & FitNews, June 1999, page 3, firstname.lastname@example.org
Here is the Mayo Clinic's suggestions for blister care and treatment
(from Total Wellness, June, 1999, Volume VII, Number 6, page 5):
If it is small and "intact," just cover it with a bandage until
the new skin has grown over it. If it is painful but still "intact,"
use clean hands and use alcohol to sterilize both the blister and
the pin. Make several little holes around the edges and let it drain.
Leave the skin on there. Cover it with an antibiotic ointment and
a bandage. In a few days, you should be able to use tweezers to
lift the dead skin and cut it away with clean scissors. Clean it
and cover it again with antibiotic ointment and a bandage. Be sure
to watch for any infection.
Injury of the Month: Heel
Symptoms: Pain on forward inside or middle of heel, which unfortunately
may last a long time. When massaging, you can locate the pain area
and often a small lump. Bursitis is another common heel problem
(often from repeated impact) that is treated the same as a heel
- Ice and use arch support . If you can localize the spur, cut
a hole in a pad of felt and lay the hole over the spur. This supports
the area around the spur and reduces pressure on it.
- Massage the spur. Start gently with your thumb and gradually
increase the pressure until you're pushing hard directly on the
spur with your knuckle or another firm object. Even it if hurts,
it should help.
- Arch support: Build up an arch support system in your shoes.
Try to equalize the pressure of your body weight throughout your
arch and away from the plantar area. Use a "cobra pad" or other
device that supports the arch but releases pressure on the painful
area. If homemade supports do not work, see a podiatrist about
From Galloway's Book on Running, by Jeff Galloway (Shelter Publications,
1984), p. 220.
- From a study by Rondal Prior, Ph.D., USDA researcher at Tufts
University, the June 1999 issue of Prevention has information
on blueberries as a potent anti-aging food. Apparently, the pigments
that make them blue are also make them the number one source of
antioxidants, which naturally work against aging-accelerating
free radicals. One half cup, fresh or frozen, is enough to double
the normal daily antioxidant intake for most Americans. (Rodale
Report, May/June 1999, Vol. 18, No. 3)The Tufts University Health
& Nutrition Letter (May 1999, Volume 17, Number 3) cautions us
that these were preliminary results from laboratory tests. They
recommend that we should not focus on eating only one fruit but
instead should increase the variety of fruits and vegetables we
eat. If we concentrate on just one, we will lose out on the good
things that others have to offer.
- If you are just starting a walking (or running) program, take
your time and enjoy a comfortable pace. Remember that this is
the beginning of a healthy future. Take your time and push yourself
gently so that you will want to continue.
- Check out http://dawp.anet.com.
You can type in what you have had to eat that day, along with
some other simple information (age, sex), and this Diet Analysis
Web Page will give you the number of calories, fat grams and nutrients
you have taken in. (Runner's World, January 1999, page 22)
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Copyright © 2003, JFG, Inc.
Direct comments and questions to firstname.lastname@example.org