Sunday, January 31, 2016

How to Handle Side Stitches

Side Stitches. We've almost all experienced them. On a regular run they are frustrating. During a race they can ruin your day. But yes, with the right information you can stop side stitches.

The reason we get them remains open to controversy but most authorities suspect that it happens when the ligaments which run from your diaphragm to your your liver and other internal organs stretch.

The best way to stop them is to change your breathing pattern or alter your pace (slower, preferably). Of course the optimal situation is to prevent them before they happen. Different things work for different people but the usual recommendation is to hydrate well and not eat much before you run; the emptier your belly is the more room for lung expansion you will have.

If you want to impress friends at a cocktail party or when socializing around the post-hash keg, just tell them you've been experiencing ETAP (Exercise related Transient Abdominal Pain).

You might also be interested in stretches for curing runner's knee.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Are You Wearing the Right Running Shoes?

At the end of January there are still some New Year's Resolutioners hanging in there and losing weight. Good at you! But what do you have in common with many of us that have been running for years? You may not be wearing properly fitted running shoes.

Wearing the wrong shoes can result in injury and the medical costs associated with that, not to mention the depressing downtime. The best bet is to have an analysis done at a running-specific shoe store, not your typical mall outlet. These specialists can determine your special needs and perform a gait analysis.

You must determine whether you are a neutral runner, an over-pronator, or an over-supponator. You must take into account your foot width. Many manufacturers don't offer different widths. New Balance and Brooks are good bets for wider feet.

Once you have determined a shoe model that is right for you, you will know what to buy in the future. Since running shoe companies are notorious for retiring favorite models, you need to remember the key specs for your favorite. This will allow you to pick another model when your regular one goes away.

Don't be shy about asking the manufacturer about model changes; sometimes it is just a name change. For example, many, many years ago, my shoe of choice was the Brooks Chariot. The model didn't really go away, it was just upgraded and renamed the Beast.

How many miles should you put on your shoes before changing them out? That is largely a personal matter and you can't rely on looks. Knowing when you need new running shoes is a case of trial and error. I personally find 500 miles to be the right distance.

The bottom line? Don't gamble with your running shoe selection. Medical treatment is always more expensive than a new pair.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Supplements-- Are Getting a Bang for Your Buck?

As I see it, the main problem with supplements marketed to runners is that the industry is unregulated by the FDA, unlike drugs. And make no mistake, this is a huge industry. One source estimates that yearly sales hover at estimated at over $17 billion.

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With no real way to know what are in those supplements means you may be wasting money, not getting the results you expect, or in the worst case you could be harming yourself. If you decide to roll the dice you can only put faith in manufacturer's claims. Even if the claim is made that "studies have shown blah, blah, blah," in may cases the study has been funded by that very same manufacturer.

Many ads sound downright bizarre. For example, for a while now a supplement made from jellyfish claims to help brain function. By all rights jellyfish should be swimming Einsteins. But they're not.

This isn't to say that all the news is bad. Vitamins and some herbal supplements have undergone legitimate studies and do offer many benefits. Many have been independently tested and bear a label on the bottle. For example, says, "To further help consumers, allows manufacturers and distributors to use specific CL Seals to identify products that have met standards based on its product reviews."

The bottom line? Be skeptical and do your homework before shelling out that hard-earned money.