Sunday, December 31, 2006

2005 Total USA Marathon Finishers

2005 saw a record number of marathon finishes in the USA, with a 5.9% growth in the number of marathon finishers from 2004 to 2005. More than 382,000 marathon finishing times were recorded in the USA in 2005 - an increase from more than 361,000 finishes in 2004. The number of male finishers increased by 5.1%, while the number of female finishers grew by 7.6%, narrowing the gender gap to 60% men and 40% women. In total, we know of 314 marathons that took place in the USA in 2005, up from an estimated 302 in 2004.

2005 Largest USA Marathons

Both New York and Chicago did not increase their registration limits in 2005 and so continued with their respective ranking as number one and two marathons in the USA. The LA Marathon and Marine Corps Marathon each added more than 2,500 finishers - and the Nike 26.2 (which can't quite decide if it's a women's race or not) nearly doubled in size. Shaking up the top 25 rankings was the New Las Vegas Marathon, which as an inaugural event, debuted at number 8 and just missed the record for an inaugural event which was set by the Rock N Roll Arizona Marathon in 2004. In total, the country's 25 largest marathons, accounted for more than 70% of total marathon finishes in the USA in 2005. Theses statistics come from

Friday, December 29, 2006

From the Plains of Greece We Come

by Bob Schwartz

Just say the word with me. "M-a-r-a-t-h-o-n." To each of us it carries with it a certain emotion. Perhaps euphoria (or is that delirium) of completion or admission that once was, quite frankly, more than enough. Or maybe the bliss of recognizing that your racing distance goes no further than a 10K and the only time you want to hit the wall is when you accidentally exit from the wrong side of the bed.

But no one can deny that the surge in popularity of the marathon race has dramatically impacted upon the number of times the most inane question is asked by the non-runner. You know the one you've patiently responded to countless times with the answer that "It'll be 26.2 miles - - the same distance as the last one I ran" as your unathletic inquisitor responds, "Well what are the odds that would happen! Exact same length huh? Go figure!"

Though many of us know what it's like to run a marathon, not all of us know the history behind it. Perhaps you know that it has something to with a Greek battle but maybe you don't have more knowledge than it might have been Phi Kappa Delta versus Sigma Nu. Well I'm here to change all that. I'm the history professor in the microfleece tights and the reflective pullover. Let's begin today's lesson:

Legend has it that the first famous long distance runner (well before endorsement deals with shoe companies and guaranteed race appearance fees) emerged from the plains of Marathon, Greece in 490 BC.

After the Athenians had defeated the Persians at the Battle of Marathon (which has a better ring than, say, the Battle of Dhidhimotikhonopolis. You'd be hard pressed to get that on a race T-shirt) the Greek warrior Pheidippides was chosen to bring the news of the great victory to the citizens of Athens. Problem was the city was many, many miles off in the distance and the invention of the automobile or any form of mass transit was still a few years away.

So, young Pheidippides began running the approximately 26 miles from Marathon to Athens without the advantage of a big carbo-loading pasta dinner the night before. He also ran without the benefit of aid stations, course volunteers, energy bars, bands playing music or cheering spectators yelling, "You're looking great!" He also did not have advantage of air-cushioned shoes, polyester shorts or race directors at the finish line saying, "Here comes Mr. Pheidippides from Athens. Occupation is courier. Lets give him a nice round of applause!"

Pheidippides also fell victim to a common training blunder of modern runners. Apparently he'd recently completed, in two days, a little jaunt of 150 miles to Sparta from Marathon in the effort to obtain some military assistance. Clearly, he'd failed to read the overtraining section from Herodotus' Book on Running or he was simply trying to set a PR for a weekly mileage total.
Fact is, because of his recent ultra-event and his ongoing day job of warrior, he didn't allow himself sufficient rest prior to having to embark on his own marathon. (Of course he had the better excuse of not actually knowing someone had pre-registered him for the race.) He hit the proverbial wall around the large sign that read, "Six miles to Athens," and, tragically, he succumbed to exhaustion on the outskirts of the city.

But all was not entirely lost as, in his last gasping and panting breath, he heroically uttered those final words of, "Rejoice, we conquer! Got any sports drink?"

Tragically, it was then that the rigors of the marathon conquered him. For his tremendous effort he would become famous throughout the land. (Truth be known, Greek rumor has it that Pheidippides ran much farther than was necessary. Seems he got turned around slightly and despite not having the benefit of an AAA TripTik, he chose to be the initiator of that time honored male tradition - - refusing to ask for directions. Then again, what challenge would a marathon be if Athens were really only 7 ½ miles away.)

His legacy spawned the inclusion of the marathon race when the Olympics were inaugurated in Greece in 1896. Unfortunately, none of the 25 entrants seemed to have gained any lesson from the calamitous outcome of Pheidippides. The runners had pretty much no idea of what they were about to experience. A first time marathoner encumbered with a healthy dose of naivete is often not an attractive site.

The participants all struggled to get to the finish line, and only nine actually completed the race. Due to their fatigue at the end, only four were even able to remember their names, and three of them were delirious enough to jump into the Olympic pool thinking their next event was Synchronized Swimming. The good news was, in their derangement, they picked up a bronze medal for their impromptu pool performance.

As for the gold medallist in the inaugural Olympic Marathon, the story is that a local Greek peasant named Spiridon Louis entered the Olympic Stadium first and slowly ran toward the finish line that was in front of the King's throne. (However, until I see actual photographs of the finish I still believe that it was a Kenyan that won.) Allegedly he was covered with dust and running in tattered bedraggled worn sandals (state of the art though). He would cross the finish line (in 2 hours 55 minutes 10 seconds for 40km) and his dazed smile was for realizing he'd now qualified for the Boston Marathon.

His life would change forever. Everlasting glory was bestowed upon him (once he passed the rigorous drug-screening laboratory) as the host country went ecstatic. He was given 25,000 francs (perhaps thereby becoming the first athlete to lose his amateur status) and was finally given permission by his future father-in-law to marry his longtime sweetheart (purportedly a bronze medalist in the badminton competition). Ah, the romance of running.

At the 1908 Olympics in London, the marathon distance was changed from 24.85 to 26 miles to cover the ground from Windsor Castle to White City Stadium. You may then wonder where did that lovely 385 yards get tacked on. It was added so the race could finish in front of King Edward's VII's royal box. Thus, the present 26.2-mile distance. And many a present day marathoner wishes Windsor Castle were just a tad bit nearer to the King's box when they find themselves doing the merciless march over the last mile of a marathon.

With its rising popularity, marathoners all have their unique stories about their races. I've been know to tell the one where I had a severe calf cramp from two miles on; encountered gale force winds of sixty miles per hour in whichever direction the run was heading; struggled through hail, snow, thunderstorms and locusts at various times during the race; had a body temperature of 103 degrees and had just gotten over walking pneumonia; my feet were bleeding from blisters halfway through the race; there were no aid stations as the volunteers didn't show; I couldn't see my split times because my contacts popped out at mile three; I had Montezuma's Revenge requiring twenty two bathroom breaks and the run was dramatically uphill at all times. Yet, despite all these obstacles, I persevered in the face of seemingly insurmountable adversity and set my PR by 6 minutes. It's my story and I'm sticking to it.

If any other runner tells you a similar seemingly implausible story - - well, you just nod your head approvingly because you weren't there. For no matter what level of adversity a marathoner encountered, they did indeed achieve something that will change them forever.
Of course not in the manner of Pheidippides and how his marathon tragically altered things. Imagine if only he'd said, "Hey you Deiopholese, I've got a bunion. How's about you running back to Athens to tell them the good news of our victory!"

But he didn't and, as they say, the rest is history.

This story and more in Bob Schwartz's New book: I Run, Therefore I Am - NUTS!

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Running with a cold

Many people continue their training if they catch a cold or ‘flu. The danger is weakening your body further when it is already stressed by fighting the infection. I definitely advise you not to try and do your long run if you have a bad cold or ‘flu.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Remember This...

Don't let people who look like serious runners intimidate you. Many people look like they are about to race for a gold medal at the Olympics. But don't get caught in that place of thinking that everyone looks so strong and fit. Looks mean nothing. Only your own inner determination to do your best gets you to the finish line. This is your race.

Run from your heart! Do not get so caught up in trying to beat a certain time that you lose out on the truly amazing experience of running a marathon. It is a gift to run a marathon so drink it in and enjoy every minute of it. Also, consider running for your favorite charity! It will make you stronger. No matter what your time, this will surely be one of the best days of your life. Have an amazing run! Jonathan Roche

Friday, December 15, 2006


Use the holiday season to set goals.

Use the holiday season to set goals in different areas of your training: focus on strength and flexibility or other forms cross-training.

Don't be afraid to take a break from running every once in a while.

Don't be afraid to take a break from running every once in a while. As long as you maintain fitness and the right mindset, you'll come back an even stronger runner!

Running enhances mood and productivity.

Running enhances mood and productivity, so morning runs can help you to function better throughout the day.

Combine cross-training with running to maximize running fitness.

Combine cross-training with running to maximize running fitness with lower actual mileage. You can substitute 25 to 30 percent of your weekly "mileage" with cross-training.

Hit the beach for a workout that will strength your legs and incinerate

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Where To Run

By Josh Clark

Much of the beauty and appeal of running lie with the simple fact that you can do it anywhere and anytime. No matter whether you're a city dweller or a veritable hermit hundreds of miles from civilization, your exercise space is only as far away as the nearest doorway.

Particularly as a beginner, though, you should seek out a place where you can relax and be at ease, where the scenery will hold your attention and take your mind away from what your body is up to. When it is convenient, go for pastoral; the calmer the better. Even the busiest cities have parks and waterways that make for carefree running.

Do your best to stay off the pavement, or you may find your legs punishing you with shin splints If there's no way around it, at least stick with asphalt instead of concrete; it's softer and more forgiving. Trouble is, this may often mean running along the shoulder of a road. If that's the case, be very careful and run defensively.

Dirt paths or grass, though, are ideal surfaces firm enough to give you sure footing but soft enough to offer some shock absorption. A special bonus is that dirt paths often come packaged with forests, countryside and other assorted natural scenery. The aesthetics, as well as the terrain, are in your favor.

Less aesthetically interesting is the track. Many new runners seem to think that that big oval behind the local high school is the defacto place to run. In fact, you really never have to go there at all -- at least not until you begin doing speedwork, and you don't have to worry about that for a while yet. It can be monotonous going in a single short loop over and over and over again. Find somewhere more interesting and more relaxing, and make it your own.

Running the roads and paths of your neighborhood can be a wonderful way to see your community from a new vantage point. Explore and enjoy.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Walk Breaks?

Most runners will record significantly faster times when they take walk breaks because they don't slow down at the end of a long run. Thousands of time-goal-oriented veterans have improved by 10, 20, 30 minutes and more in marathons by taking walk breaks early and often in their goal races. You can easily spot these folks. They're the ones who are picking up speed during the last two to six miles when everyone else is slowing down.

The mental benefit: breaking 26 miles into segments, which you know you can do Even sub-three hour marathoners continue to take their walk breaks to the end. One of them explained it this way: "Instead of thinking at 20 miles I had six more gut-wretching miles to go, I was saying to myself one more mile until my break.' Even when it was tough, I always felt I could go one more mile.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Do you have the long run blues?

Everyone has a bad long run. These tough runs teach you how to deal with tough portions of the marathon itself. Try running in a group. It will help you get through tough times because others will be there to help motivate you. Also, by helping others through their tough times, you receive positive internal rewards. Keep up the good work, and as usual...let me know if you have any questions.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

The point is this: Your body won't get used to running long distances, unless it has run those distances on a regular basis. But, the body needs rest between those runs, which is why we suggest no more than two long runs per week and moderate distance on the other days. At the beginning of your training program, those long runs could be 6 miles each. Then, as the weeks go by, gradually increase them. Perhaps week two would see the long runs as 6 & 8 miles, week three 7 & 9, week four: 7 & 10, etc. Gradually increase these until your two runs are closer to 12 and 18 miles. At this point you have built an excellent base. from

Monday, December 04, 2006

Record Keeping

If you don't already do so, keep a training log. Use a notebook, calendar, running log, etc. to record at a minimum, the following information: miles run, total time run, and shoe model worn. Records can also be kept on resting heart-rate, weather conditions, running route, your perceived exertion level, and much more.

The central reasons for keeping a log are three-fold. First, the log provides a history of your running, crucial to finding the possible cause of a running injury. Second, reviewing a running log can help determine the training methods that have been the most effective in the past regarding your best race performances. Finally, keeping a log is highly motivating, as few runners like to leave too many black spaces! However, do not become compulsive about your running just to "fill in the blanks" or to reach a specific weekly mileage total. I recommend also keeping a shoe mileage chart. By keeping a cumulative mileage total for each pair of the shoes you own, it is easy to determine when it's time to purchase a new pair.

Friday, December 01, 2006

I know, I know.... It's been a long time. In my defence, the holidays have been crazy. I'm sure you can relate. Well, I will keep the articles coming, so keep checking in. Thanks, and keep on keepin' on with the marathon training.
Now that you’ve made the commitment to run this year’s race, it’s probably time to purchase a new pair of running shoes. “There’s plenty of tread remaining” you say while looking at the bottom of your current pair. But running shoes are different from tires! The part of the shoe you can’t see, the midsole, provides the cushioning and support and breaks down after about 350 miles and offers little protection after that. Many running injuries can be traced to using shoes that are either too old or those that don’t match your biomechanical needs. Here are some tips for purchasing and caring for running shoes.

Purchase shoes from a specialty running store as their staff have the expertise to outfit you with the correct brand/style based on your specific foot type, foot strike, and stride pattern.

Don’t wait until race weekend to make that purchase as shoes need a break-in period of at least 20 miles; otherwise you may find yourself in medical tent for the treatment of blisters or bruised feet.

Purchase shoes later in the day when your feet have swelled to their maximum size.

To insure an accurate and comfortable fit, bring the socks you use to the store when trying on running shoes. Synthetic blend socks (brands such as Coolmax, Nike’s Dry-FIT) rather than cotton are the best in keeping your feet dry and blister-free.

Be sure that there is about ½ inch of space (a thumb’s width) between your longest toe and the front of the shoe.

To avoid feet that feel numb or tingly, tie your shoes securely but not too tight.

To conserve their life, use running shoes only for running. After their retirement, their useful life can be extended for knocking around town, washing the car, gardening, etc.

Do not machine wash or dry your shoes. Rather handwash them with soap and water or commercial products.

When your shoes become wet, stuff bundled up newspaper inside to accelerate drying time. You may even want to consider purchasing a second pair to use while your other pair is drying.
By Art Liberman

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Strategy for Success

Back in January, like most of us, you were probably coming up with your goals for the New Year. Perhaps you want to lose 10 pounds, take 15 seconds off your 5K PR, or run your first marathon. So.... how's it going?

Setting goals is just the first step to accomplishing them. Along with taking action we need to develop some management skills. If we don't, we run the risk of our goals overwhelming us. They become just another source of frustration and cause us to give up.

Here are some tips to help you be successful:

Talk about it. This makes your goal real and powerful. Tell everyone what you are doing. Find people who will hold you accountable to continue moving forward.

Don't do it alone. Create support and collaboration with people who share your common interest. Join the local running club, go to a weight watchers meeting or sign up for a spinning class at the gym.

Be consistent and you'll reap the rewards. It takes time to incorporate a new habit. Give it 90 days before you decide to let it go. You must be willing to make sacrifices to get what you want.

If you slip, regroup and start again. Don't beat yourself up if you fall. This is a good time to check in with yourself, see where you are and change your goals if you have changed. Just get moving again soon.

Chart you progress. Many runners keep track of their runs and goals with a log. Anyone can write their planned and completed actions in a day planner or notebook. Keeping track of your daily effort and accomplishments keeps you focused and committed.

Believe in yourself and your ability to get where you want to go. Enjoy what you discover on your path to achieving your goals. Most importantly, celebrate and reward yourself for each milestone you reach on your journey. by Christine Hinton

Friday, November 17, 2006

Plantar Fasciitis

by Randall J. Brown, MHS, PT

A runner comes to me and says that a couple weeks ago he developed pain on the bottom of his heel which won't go away. It's worse in the morning, feels a little better if he heats it up or jogs on it, and it's especially painful when I poke it with my thumb. He may have arguably the most common foot injury that plagues runners: plantar fasciitis. Plantar fasciitis is a very common injury that can put a runner out of commission for a long time if it's not treated early.

Plantar fasciitis is the inflammation of the plantar fascia at its attachment to the calcaneus (heel bone). Often it is accompanied by calf (heel cord) tightness, which causes an overload at the plantar fascia's attachment, during weight-bearing activities. This leads to micro tears and local inflammation in the plantar fascia. The sometimes-excruciating pain is from the stretching of inflamed tissue.

What else can the heel pain be from?

I suppose it goes without saying, but I'll say it anyway: one should first rule out obvious things like a splinter, plantar wart or blister. There are several other items that we call differential diagnoses (other problems that may trick you into thinking that you have plantar fasciitis when you really don't). These include achilles tendinitis, a fat pad contusion (bruise on the bottom of your heel), plantar arch strain, tarsal tunnel syndrome, or a dreaded stress fracture of the calcaneus.

Maybe you have a heel spur?

A heel spur is a calcification that may occur at the attachment of the plantar fascia to the calcaneus. Sometimes it's called a traction spur. Although the heel spur may show up on an x-ray of the heel of a runner with chronic plantar fasciitis, the spur itself is rarely the cause of the pain. The pain again, is caused by a pull on the inflamed plantar fascia.


Okay, so even though you may not be able to pronounce it, you accept that you have plantar fasciitis. What do you do about it? Luckily, there are many things you can do for it. The most conservative means of treating plantar fasciitis is with relative rest (cross train for awhile), ice the painful area, wear supportive footwear though out the day, stretch your calf muscles, and maybe take some anti-inflammatory medications. Other appropriate treatment includes cross friction massage to the area, strengthening your foot flexors, and perhaps using a small heel lift to reduce the strain on your heel from the achilles tendon and plantar fascia. Plantar fasciitis isn't one of those injuries you can train through without treating. You may need a professional to assess your foot and biomechanics. Physical therapists often use modalities such as phonophoresis or iontophoresis to help reduce the inflammation associated with this injury. Find someone who knows how to do Low Dye taping for your arch, which decreases your pronation. Some people need custom orthotics to correct biomechanical excesses. Many tough cases respond to a resting night splint or the less flattering short leg walking cast. Less conservative means of treatment includes the dreaded corticosteroid injection to the area (this involves a needle).In a small number of cases for people with intractable pain that does not respond to anything else, there is the very dreaded partial plantar fasciectomy (which involves a scalpel).

For more information about plantar fasciitis, please contact a physical therapist, podiatrist, or an orthopedist. With this and all injuries that you deem significant, I recommend that you see a physician for an accurate diagnosis.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Middle of the Road

Here is an interesting article I thought everyone might like:

I run in the middle of the road. More specifically, on days when I run in the predawn hours, I take to the middle. Choosing this path has rewarded me physically, emotionally and psychologically. Here, I have rid myself of a nagging pain but, more importantly, I have found treasures aplenty that carry me through the day.

First, I go there to avoid camber. I once read that engineers who design roads are responsible for it. The camber of a road is the slant that ensures water drainage and thus helps motorists avoid hydroplaning. I reasoned that part of the pain I was experiencing in my left hip stemmed from running on this annoying slanted asphalt. Looking for a solution, I headed for the centerline. It seemed to work. Granted, the relief I felt may have been psychological more than physiological but, whatever the reason, there I was, following the yellow painted line.

My hip thanked me for the change. Then, on a morning not any different from most others, I began to experience some wonderful, unexpected results. I wasn’t looking for them; they found me. I became aware of new thoughts. At first, they were foggy and muddled and just out of reach. I welcomed them, though, and tried to nurture them. They made me feel good, faster, stronger and mentally tough. Finally, I took note. I was in the middle of the road! What in the name of shin splints was I doing? I didn’t belong there. I was wearing a pair of Adrenalines, not driving a Hummer. Yet, there I was, as if this territory were mine, all mine. I had stumbled into a wonderful and pleasing groove that whupped the pants off of an endorphin rush. The winter air I was exhaling felt better than ever. My ear had attuned to a voice that would begin calling me out in the wee hours, urging me to get dressed and go.

Don’t get the wrong idea. I live on the edge of a small town and the roads are mostly quiet and empty at 5 a.m. When I get the slightest inkling that a motorist is approaching, I scamper to the shoulder of the road like the scared rabbit that I am. But as soon as that menacing heap of machinery passes by, I’m back in my rebellious path, full of bravery and machismo. Bring it on! I give a little chest thump, confident that there’s no one around to snicker.

I enjoy the paradoxical twist on this tired old phrase – middle of the road. Describing something as middle of the road is not exactly high praise. Rather, it smacks of being ordinary, average, a lifeless yawn. If you’re middle of the road, you’re lukewarm on a good day. God warned us of this dreadful condition centuries ago. Better to be hot or cold than lukewarm or He would spew you out of His mouth. I avoid this terrible fate by putting on a pair of shoes and a reflective vest and literally going to the middle of the road, where I become unique and extraordinary and find my salvation.

I become a kid again when I’m there, streaking through the kitchen to grab a cookie before Mom knows. I’m a rebel, unshaven and ruggedly handsome, the envy of the ordinary white-collar worker making his way to a cubicle. I’m raging against City Hall, preaching to the applauding masses about the injustices that the establishment forces upon us. As Jack Black said in the movie, “School of Rock”, I’m sticking it to the Man. There’s nothing that the Man can do about it either, not while I’m in the middle of the road. I own all of this out here. And while I’m there, I right many wrongs and solve complex problems. I scold the person who was rude to me on the phone yesterday. I present an idea at work that is guaranteed to be a huge success. I compose in my head. Every thought is perfect and beautiful and needs no revision.

A full moon and the occasional streetlight induce the tall pine trees to create long and disfigured shadows. As I meet them, however, they straighten and come to life. They are my foot soldiers; I, their captain. They take up arms, fall in line behind me and obey my commands as we prepare to storm the dark, evil castle in the distance. Our brothers and sisters are held captive there. They survive only by the threadbare hope that we may one day come marching in a thunderous, dust-filled cloud to free them, make them human again, and slash the life out of the king and his hollow-eyed minions. Indeed, we free our loved ones and rid the world of this dastardly kingdom. Once again, our brave hearts and mighty deeds have made us heroes.

Eventually, common sense and fallen arches send me home to get ready for the day. A white collar and a work cubicle await me. There will be emails to answer, problems to address and dirty data to scrub. When I arrive at work, there he stands in the corner - the Man - waiting for an anguished look from me. No way. I subdued him hours ago, doing nine-minute miles, carrying a flashlight, running in the middle of the road.

By Gregg Bibb

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Maintaining Training When Out of Town

“I was going to run but…”

At one time or another, many runners have completed that sentence with any number of reasons for not getting their workouts done when out of town. While it’s great to have fun and break away from your normal routine when traveling, it’s important not to let your running go on vacation, particularly if you’re training for an event just a few short weeks away. Oftentimes, feelings of worry and guilt can accompany those blank spaces in your training log. If only you had done things differently!

Planning ahead greatly increases the likelihood that you will maintain your training while away. Long before your departure, your first step is to research all your options concerning both when and where you can run.

Whether traveling to a friend’s wedding or a business convention, it’s helpful to get an itinerary of events that you need to attend so that you can plan your runs around these commitments. Try to also anticipate circumstances that may arise such as dining with a client or a visit to see relatives that lasts much longer than expected.

Oftentimes, running first thing in the morning proves to be the best solution, particularly when your agenda is quite full. But it’s also important to be realistic. If you expect to be partying well past midnight at the wedding reception, will you have the self-discipline and motivation and follow through with your plan to run early the next morning?

If you’re traveling with family, it’s important to consider their needs. Are there things they can to do while you’re out running? And who will be watching the kids for the hour or so that you’re away?

Where you decide to stay can also have an effect on the likelihood that you will run when you’re out of town.

Hotels that have fitness centers equipped with several treadmills makes running easy. Some of the nicer ones in big cities have mapped out running routes of various distances that begin and end at their front door. If your hotel doesn’t have workout facilities on-site, ask management if they have special arrangements with a nearby gym for their guests to use at reduced rates or even for free.

If you prefer staying at an economical no-frills motel when away, select one that is located adjacent to residential neighborhoods or on a road with sidewalks and light traffic so that it will be both safe and convenient to run directly from your room. You can always hop in your car to run in another part of town if you don’t feel comfortable with your motel’s location.

If you will be staying at the home of friends or relatives, let them know in advance that you plan to run so that they will be supportive of your training. They might be able to suggest some great running routes nearby or may even have friends who would welcome you to join them.

Above all, make your personal safety a top consideration when running in unfamiliar places. Before heading out, tell someone where you plan to run and what time you expect to be back. Be aware of potentially dangerous areas and streets to avoid. While the first couple of miles of your route may be scenic and appear safe, you may quickly discover that it leads directly into the high-crime district. Always use common sense and trust your instincts. Turn around if necessary.

Leave your audio device behind so that you will be fully alert and aware of your surroundings. But do carry fluids, your ID, and a small amount of coin or cash in case an emergency arises.
If there is absolutely no way to fit in a workout during your weekend get-away, modify your training schedule so that you can get in those important runs before leaving. Be sure not to cluster too many days of running back-to-back as doing so could lead to injury.

Here are some other helpful tips:

Contact the local running club or specialty running stores in the city you will be visiting for information about safe routes, group runs, and area races. There are quite a few websites that provide this information such as

Check the forecast before you depart so you can pack workout clothes for all possible weather conditions.

If you are unable to determine the exact distance of your route, run for a specific amount of time, estimating your mileage based your typical pace. By Art Liberman

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Commitment Tools

Announce your Goal – Whether you simply want to complete your first Bridge Run or finish near the top of your age group, sharing your goal with others and putting it down on paper will reinforce your commitment and make you more accountable.

Chart your Progress – You will be more likely to maintain your motivation and stick with your training program if you record the miles you’ve run (along with any other data you wish) in a training log.

Just Say “No” – Depending upon the time you have available to train, there may be occasions when you have to politely decline a social invitation to fit in a run. Don’t confuse this with being compulsive but rather, invoking self-discipline as a means to accomplish an important goal.

Plan Ahead – Writing in your planner the day and time you plan to run oftentimes isn’t enough, particularly for runners with family responsibilities. Make the necessary arrangements in advance (childcare, cooking dinner, etc.) to insure that your workout gets done.

Be Flexible – If you are unable to run as planned due to an unforeseen circumstance, resort to “Plan B”. For example, if the babysitter doesn’t show up, take the kids to a gym that offers daycare service and run on the treadmill. Or make arrangements to run when your spouse comes home from work.

“Just Do It” - Use Nike’s famous catch phrase as a tool in developing the self-discipline and mental toughness to make yourself run, even on those days when your motivation is low. More times than not, after returning from your run, you will be glad you did! Over time, you will discover that working out will be a pleasurable experience that you look forward to doing regularly.

Ignore Distractions – Just prior to the time you plan to run, don’t let the computer, TV, telephone, etc. grab your attention. Don’t let that time you set aside to train slip away.

Unforeseen Glitches – Even the best-laid plans sometimes go awry. If a family emergency or personal illness arises, just resume your training ASAP.

Mother Nature - Don’t let inclement weather stop you in your tracks. By dressing appropriately, running in the rain or cold can be an exhilarating experience. Also realize that the Bridge Run will go on as scheduled, rain or shine, yet another reason to learn to face the elements!

Self-Doubt and Anxiety – The best way to combat these stressors is to make sure that you get those training runs completed. Knowing that you have trained properly increases self-confidence. Use mental strategies like visualization (seeing yourself in your mind’s eye cross the finish line) and self-talk (telling yourself during times when your motivation to run is low, that you will enjoy the race by training properly).

Be Resourceful – There are numerous ways to create and maximize training opportunities:- Will your boss let you come into work later in the morning to run if you make up the time at the end of the day? Can you run during lunch?- Can your spouse or kids help with chores around the house?- Can your kids join you while training? Examples: You can use a baby jogger, kids can ride their bikes, run on a treadmill while kids watch TV, etc.

Training Partner - Finding a friend to train with is both fun and motivating. Be sure that their pace closely matches yours. And above all, if they become a no-show, run anyway.

Reward Yourself – Treat yourself to a special reward (a new running outfit, massage, dinner at a nice restaurant, etc.) for accomplishing short-term goals along the way. By Art Liberman

Sunday, November 05, 2006

On the Surface

Treat your feet by avoiding rock-hard surfaces like concrete sidewalks; aim instead for grass or dirt trails. Find surfaces where the ground will absorb more shock, instead of passing it along to your legs, but try to be consistent. A sudden change to a new running surface can itself be a cause of injury. From Cool Running

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Running Movies

Here are some movies you can see if they have at your local Video store. They will help you get motivated and stay motivated to run. Take a look.... and enjoy!

Without Limits is a movie about the running life of Steve Prefontaine (a.k.a. Pre). Pre is known to many as the best American distance runner ever. This movie shows why. The records he broke are one thing, but his spirit and willingness to lay it all on the line every race is another. Starring Billy Crudup as Prefontaine and Donald Sutherland as legendary coach Bill Bowerman, this is a great, entertaining movie about the life of Pre.

Prefontaine is another film that provides a look into the running life of Steve Prefontaine. Much like Without Limits, this movie is entertaining and inspiring. Both are excellent and a must see for anyone who enjoys running movies.

Chariots of Fire is considered by many to be the greatest running movie of all time. Winner of the 1981 Academy Award for Best Picture, this film is a true story of two Olympic runners who won gold in the 1924 Olympics.

Running Brave is the story of Billy Mills, an American Indian and winner of the 10,000 meters at the 1964 Olympics. The win is considered to be one of the biggest upsets in Olympic history.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Sorry It's been so long...

Hey everyone... Sorry it's been so long, I was sick for a while, and then We just moved into a new place. It has been crazy. But things are getting back to normal, and I plan to get back to running soon...and posting great articles and tips too!!!! Keep up the training, and good luck to everyone who will be running in their marathon this week! Let me know how it goes!

Talk Soon,

The Marathon Professor

Monday, October 23, 2006

Why Run???

To feel better -- physically, mentally, emotionally. Running is among the best aerobic exercises for physical conditioning of your heart and lungs. Studies have shown the health benefits to be enormous, reducing the likelihood of everything from the common cold to cancer. Your stamina will increase. You'll lose weight; most beginners lose nearly a pound a week.

Just as important, running -- like many forms of exercise -- is a great cure for stress, emotional strain, even mild depression. You'll likely find yourself with fewer headaches and more energy, patience, humor and creativity. Studies have found that healthy adults who exercise regularly are generally happier than those who don't.

And running, quite simply, is convenient. You don't need any elaborate gear. No special playing field or apparatus. No need to juggle the schedules of others. Just a pair of shoes and the inclination to get out the door.

You've probably started running for the physical benefits, but you will quickly discover other, more metaphysical rewards. Yep, no kidding: Metaphysical. Health reasons may be why most start running, but it's the less tangible benefits that finally motivate us to persist, to become "runners."

While running can be a social activity, it is more frequently an opportunity to spend a little time with yourself and your thoughts, a chance to develop an increased self-awareness. As you become more aware of the nuances and condition of your own body, you also discover things about your inner self.

Many say they are at their most creative and lucid, even meditative, during their runs, as the worries of the day slip away. Confidence increases as you push your own limits, meeting goals and often surprising yourself by exceeding your own expectations. Running is a sport of discipline, sometimes of sacrifice, and always of self-reliance. You may surprise yourself with your capacity for all three. The personal rewards can be quite powerful. from

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Hot Weather Running

There’s good and bad news about running in the heat. First, the bad news: When the temperature rises about 55 degrees F (10 degrees C), you’re going to run more slowly and feel worse than you will at lower temperatures. But by gradually preparing yourself for increased temperatures and taking action from the beginning of hot weather runs, you’ll get a welcome dose of the good news. You’ll learn how to hydrate yourself, what to wear, and when and how much your body can take in hot weather, all of which will help you recover faster and run better than others of your ability on hot days. While even the most heat-adapted runners won’t run as fast on hot days as they can on cold ones, they won’t slow down as much nor will they feel as much discomfort.

Until the temperature rises to about 65 degrees F, most runners don’t notice much heat buildup, even though it is already putting extra burdens on the system. It takes most folks about 30 to 45 minutes of running (with or without walk breaks) to feel warm. But soon after that, if the temperature is above about 62 degrees F, you’re suddenly hot and sweating. On runs and especially races under those conditions, most runners have to force themselves to slow down. It’s just too easy to start faster than you should when the temperature is between 60 and 69 degrees F because it feels cool at first.

As the mercury rises about 65 degrees F, your body can’t get rid of the heat building up. This causes a rise in core body temperature and an early depletion of fluids through sweating. The internal temperature rise also triggers the rapid dispersion of blood into the capillaries of the skin, reducing the amount of that vital fluid that is available to the exercising muscles. Just when those workhorses are being pushed to capacity, they are receiving less oxygen and nutrients. What used to be a river becomes a creek and can’t remove the waste products of exercise (such as lactic acid). As these accumulate, your muscles slow down.


The best time for hot weather running is before sunrise. The more you can run before sunrise, the cooler you will feel, compared with how you’ll feel later in the day. The second best time to run, by the way, is right after sunrise, unless the temperature cools off dramatically at sunset, which would make that time more favorable. In humid areas, however, it usually doesn’t cool down much after sunset.

Some tips on how to say cool at 55 degrees F or above:

Slow down early – The later you wait to slow down, the more dramatically you’ll slow down at the end and the longer it will take to recover from the run. Walk breaks, early and often, help you lower the exertion level, which conserves resources for the end and reduces heat buildup.

Wear lighter garments – Loose-fitting clothes allow heat to escape. Don’t wear cotton clothing. Sweat soaks into cotton, causing it to cling to your skin, increasing heat buildup. Several materials will wick the perspiration away from your skin: Coolmax, polypro, etc. As moisture leaves your skin, you receive a cooling effect, and these types of materials are designed for this.

Pour water over yourself – Up to 70 percent of the heat you can lose goes out through the top of your head so regularly pour water over your hair (even if, like me, you are hair challenged). Regularly pouring water on a light, polypro (or a similar material) singlet or tank top will keep you cooler.

Drink cold water – Not only does cold water leave the stomach of a runner quicker than any type of fluid, it produces a slight physiological cooling effect – and an even greater psychological cooling effect. But don’t drink too much either. by Jeff Galloway (Shelter Publications, 2001) pp. 171-172

Monday, October 16, 2006

It Takes More Than Just Shoes For Proper Marathon Training

Hey everyone. .. This is a basic article, but it has some very good points that I very much agree with about training for a marathon (Eating right during marathon training. I.E. cutting out the caffine, smoking, etc.)

By Morgan Hamilton

If you are planning to start marathon training you should know that it is quite a bit harder than the actual marathon. In a real marathon, you run and after you finish you can enjoy a half year or even a year off. During that time the memories of the agony you've felt are fading away and one day when you've forgotten it you decide to go for it again. On the other hand, marathon training is much worse as you cannot take such long breaks. Actually you should run the allotted miles every single day and you should try to increase them every week, completely exhausting your body.

If you are serious about preparing yourself for a marathon, you will have to get up early in the morning and start running before you've even had the chance to drink your morning coffee. Actually, you should forget about drinking coffee if you are marathon training. For breakfast you are allowed to have orange juice, milk or plain water. In case you are seriously considering a marathon, then you should start jogging around the track for two hours early in the morning. Thus, you will need to change your diet if you want to succeed.

If preparing for the big race you should forget about sugar as well. You will not be allowed to have soda, candies and everything worth eating, either. If you are in marathon training you will need proteins and will start counting the grams of fat you consume. You will have to do many sacrifices, for example ordering a wheat grass shake at Starbucks than having your favourite latte. Let me be honest with you, marathon training completely changes your outlook on the world.

However, there are also some great things about marathon training. If you are serious with it, you will get into excellent shape. Of course, this won't happen if you are cheating with a box of chocolates under your bed. Everyone wants to have more energy. You can get that by marathon training. Apart from that, running around increases your lung capacity unless you are a smoker. Did I forget to mention you should give up smoking if you are serious with marathon?

If you have never trained marathon before, you might consider hiring a pro to give you a hand. However, you can also do it yourself. Hiring a trainer is quite an expensive thing but it is worth the money if you want to achieve something more than just crossing the finish line of the marathon race. Generally speaking professional marathon training will properly prepare you for the big day and to have someone to push you and hold you accountable is very useful in certain situations. For example, it would be easier for you to get up early in the morning if you know your trainer will be at the track waiting for you to show up.

As far as money matters are concerned, it is best to do it yourself in order to cut the costs. Maybe you can find a good friend of yours who will hold you accountable. This might be a valuable idea unless you are both too lazy. Just imagine you both don't show up at the track and miss training, would that do you any good? I suppose not. Of course, in case you both need motivation you can try to push each other but this doesn't work all the time.

Article Source:

Monday, October 09, 2006

Bathroom Issues

Hey everyone. I have had quite a few people tell me they are having some issues with having to go to the bathroom during long runs. Some men may suffer from this, but the condition generally happens to women. A high percentage of female runners will experience this problem at some point in their lives. Since I personally don't suffer from this problem, I can only tell you what I have learned from my own studies and from talking to other runners with the problem. Having said that, I still believe I can help if this is a problem for you.

***NOTE*** If you do have personal experience with this issue please feel free to post a comment to help everyone. I think you can post anonymously if you want.

***NOTE #2*** I am not a doctor. What I say below is just what I have learned over the years, not medical advice. I can't be responsible for anything you might try from reading this article. Please remember that.

Here we go...

First off let's start with the basics. If you haven’t tried varying my diet, cutting out ibuprophen, not eating anything for HOURS before, etc. That should be the first place to begin. Apply only one at a time so you can pinpoint what might be the cause.

If none of those changes seem to help, try taking Immodium AD an hour or so before your long run. You can also take along some Immodium AD chew tablets to take during the run. This seems to work for many people. Here is a quote from someone about this remedy:

"I read a few months ago in a forum about the Immodium helping some people with similar problems so I started taking one every morning (the chewable kind, not that it makes a difference). My situation DRAMATICALLY improved. From what I've read so far there's no ill side effects with this therapy. Now before a race, long run or dinner out I take two that day and it's done the trick. I realize this might not work for everyone, but it was a Godsend to me. I feel like I got my life back! To all of you who suffer with this, I'm right there with you and sympathize immensely. "

The next tip may be a little extreme for people, and should only be used occasionally (I.E) right before a race). If it is a problem with muscle control some people use an enema before running anything "important", they flush you out pretty well and there are no medicinal effects. But, you wouldn't want to use one too regularly. Many women have problems after childbirth, and this could be an option for them... although a little extreme.

Your next option is to visit a Gastroenterologist. They have the medical knowledge to handle specific situation when given the full details. They specialize in gastrointestinal diseases and disorders and should be able to give you stronger medications or treatments if the tips above don't help. Don't be even the slightest bit embarrassed; believe me, they hear stuff like this 20 times a day. It's how they make a living. Make sure you visit one who has treated runners before. I have heard about people who go to the doctor and just get the Immodium bit and pushed out the door.

Next, I have heard that it is somewhat common for runners who have Crohn's disease to experience a need to go to the bathroom while running. I know it sounds scary, but this might be an avenue to check out if nothing is working.

Here is a tip you might not have thought of: acupuncture. Some people claim it can do wonders for all sorts of IBS syndromes and other GI symptoms. I am just passing this along...I have never done it, so take this tip for what it's worth. Here are some websites to help you find a qualified acupuncturist in you area.

Basically in conclusion, you just have to try a bunch of different things and see what works. My personal advice is to try the basic stuff first. If that doesn't work go for the Immodium AD. If that still doesn't do it, consider seeing a doctor. I hope this helps, and remember you are not alone in this problem. Many people run into this issue, and for the most part it can be taken care of.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Treatment of Stitches

I have had quite a few people tell me they have been having problems with stitches. So for those of you out there that suffer from this, here we go...

A "side stitch" is a sharp, intense pain under the lower edge of the ribcage caused by a muscle spasm of the diaphragm. Such pain can occur during vigorous exercise, such as running, and seems to occur more commonly in novice exercisers who have not yet established proper pacing and who tend to breathe more quickly and shallow. However, about 30% of all runners will experience stitches at some point. What exactly causes them? On inhalation, we take air into the lungs, pressing the diaphragm downward. When we exhale, the diaphragm moves up. If the body has some trapped air/gas below the diaphragm, if we've eaten too close to exercise, or if we start exercising too vigorously, the diaphragm may cramp, causing pain under the rib cage on the right side.

As with any muscle cramp, the best immediate treatment is to try to stretch the cramping muscle as much as possible. How do you get to the diaphragm on the inside of your body?, Try altering your breathing pattern. Take a deep breath in as quickly as you can, to force the diaphragm down. Hold the breath for a couple of seconds and then forcibly exhale through pursed lips to restrict the outward air flow. You may also find that bending forward can help you expel as much air as possible. I have actually found that stretching up as tall as I could, even to the point of extending arms up over head, then alternating crouch-tall and tightening/flexing the abs, helped as well.

You may even have to stop and walk briskly for a few seconds while concentrating on deep breathing. Continue running after the stitch goes away. If you get a cramp in the middle of a race, you might want to try mixing up your rhythmic breathing/ striding pattern. If you always exhale when your right foot strikes the ground, try exhaling with the left foot strike. The organs attached to the diaphragm on the left side of the body aren't quite as big as those on the right side, hence there is less strain on the diaphragm. Another technique that may work for some is peaceful visualization--if you are feeling stressed from the day or race, try imagining you are elsewhere, and take deep calming breaths as you run. from runners rescue

I hope that helps.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Hello Everyone

I'm glad to hear everyone is doing great in their training! I got some good ideas from your emails and will be posting some great articles over the next few weeks, so stay tuned.

Talk Soon,

The Marathon Professor

Monday, October 02, 2006

Ankle Pain

Tips for diagnosing and treating ankle twists, sprains and breaks.

There's no missing it when this happens. You're running along, you step in a hole, and -- bam! -- your foot turns sideways, and pain flames through your ankle and lower leg. The pain may not be too extreme at first, but if the twist is serious enough, swelling follows and probably a few bruises, too.


Stop running immediately after the twist. You should take this seriously, even if the pain seems mild. Too many runners do a little obligatory limping then start running again only a minute or two after twisting an ankle. It's a big mistake, and it will make the pain and swelling a lot worse if you have sprained or broken the ankle. What might have been a mild sprain can become a chronic one if you try to run through it.

When you get home, elevate your foot by putting it up on a chair and then ice your ankle. This is the prescription for the next 24 hours: keep the foot up and ice constantly, ten minutes on, ten minutes off. When you go to bed, prop your foot up with a pillow or two.

The next day, if there is little or no swelling, it was probably only a mild twist. No worries. But if the ankle is swollen and painful, you have either a fracture or some torn ligaments (a sprain). See a doctor right away. If it's a break the doctor will put your ankle in a walking boot or a hard cast, but if it's a sprain you may get away with only a taped ankle or a soft cast. The idea here is to limit your ankle's range of motion to help healing. Do not run until all pain and swelling have disappeared. by Josh Clark from coolrunning

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Learn Everything You Can About Marathon Training

Read and learn as much as you can about marathon training. In addition to the large number of books on the topic, monthly magazines such as Runner's World frequently feature articles about marathon training and racing. Search the web for credible sites addressing the marathon.

Additionally, ask others who have previously run marathons for their advice. Join a running club or an organization that promotes marathon training and racing. With so much information and training philosophies available for you to consider, assimilate all the data and find a reputable program that you feel both comfortable with and that meets your needs/goals.

Finally, it is very important to consult with your coach on a regular basis so that your training program can be modified when necessary due to injury and/or fatigue.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Disney Marathon

Well, it has been a while since the last post...sorry about that. I was in Florida. But don't worry, I didn't forget you. So do you have a marathon picked out yet??? I have a great idea for you. Have you considered a Disney marathon (or any kind of race: 10K, 5K, triathlon, etc)?

One idea is to make a vacation out of your race. Think about it. You put in all the time and training for this race...make if a fun and rewarding experience. And what better place to do that, than "the happiest place on earth"...Disney!!! It is where dreams come true ;)

I was just in Orlando Florida for the Disney Triathlon. (Hence the tip I am passing on, that you should go and run a Disney race yourself.) It was a great race. Disney does a fantastic job of putting races on. You actually run right through the amusement park. It's great.

O.K. so go to this link for more info on the Disney races.

I hope all is well. I'm back and ready to run again... so there will be more marathon tips to come. Run Safe.

"The Marathon Professor"

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Walk Breaks?

Most runners will record significantly faster times when they take walk breaks because they don't slow down at the end of a long run. Thousands of time-goal-oriented veterans have improved by 10, 20, 30 minutes and more in marathons by taking walk breaks early and often in their goal races. You can easily spot these folks. They're the ones who are picking up speed during the last two to six miles when everyone else is slowing down.

The mental benefit: breaking 26 miles into segments, which you know you can do Even sub-three hour marathoners continue to take their walk breaks to the end. One of them explained it this way: "Instead of thinking at 20 miles I had six more gut-wretching miles to go, I was saying to myself one more mile until my break.' Even when it was tough, I always felt I could go one more mile.

Why do walk breaks work?

By using muscles in different ways from the beginning, your legs keep their bounce as they conserve resources. When a muscle group, such as your calf, is used continuously step by step, it fatigues relatively soon. The weak areas get overused and force you to slow down later or scream at you in pain afterward. By shifting back and forth between walking and running muscles, you distribute the workload among a variety of muscles, increasing your overall performance capacity. For veteran marathoners, this is often the difference between achieving a time goal or not.

Walk breaks will significantly speed up recovery because there is less damage to repair. The early walk breaks erase fatigue, and the later walk breaks will reduce or eliminate overuse muscle breakdown.

The earlier you take the walk breaks, the more they help you!

To receive maximum benefit, you must start the walk breaks before you feel any fatigue, in the first mile. If you wait until you feel the need for a walk break, you've already reduced your potential performance.

How fast should the walk break be?

When you walk fast for a minute, most runners will lose about 15 seconds over running at their regular pace. But if you walk slowly, you'll have lost only about 20 seconds.

Once we find the ideal ratio for a given distance, walk breaks allow us to feel strong to the end and recover fast, while bestowing the same stamina and conditioning we would have received if we had run continuously.

Don't get too rigidly locked into a specific ratio of walk breaks, adjust as needed.

Even if you run the same distance every day, you'll find that you'll need to vary the walk break frequency to adjust for speed, hills, heat, humidity, time off from training, etc. If you anticipate that your run will be more difficult or will produce a longer recovery, take more frequent walk breaks (or longer walks) and you may be surprised at how quickly you recover. By Jeff Galloway

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Why Do Runners Need to Monitor Heart Rates

Heart Rate Monitor Training:

Maybe you've heard the sound in a race: a high-pitched beep, beep, beep. Or maybe you've wondered about those straps that you've seen wrapped around runners' chests (usually shirtless males!) Whether you've heard them, seen them or just wondered about them, it's time you tried one yourself. What are we talking about? Heart rate monitors; other than a good pair of running shoes, they're the single most valuable training tool of this centuryor the last!

What will a Heart Rate Monitor do for Me?

Simply put, using a heart rate monitor will make you a better runner. Here's how it works: The monitor accurately measures the number of times your heart beats in one minute. Knowing that figure helps you gauge how your body's responding to training. And knowing how your body responds helps you plan your workouts to reflect your increasing fitness level.

"Yeah, but I've seen runners at the track stopping to take their pulse during a workout. Isn't that good enough?" you might ask. Unfortunately, the answer is no. Once you stop your heart rate starts to slow down. For instance, let's say you run a 400m interval, then you stop to take your pulse before you run an easy 400m recovery jog. As soon as you stop, your heart rate will begin to drop. By the time you've caught your breath, felt for your pulse in your neck and started counting, it might have dropped two beats or more from what it was in the last 200m of the interval. And coming to a complete stop after a hard interval can cause dizziness and even nausea, so you shouldn't forgo the recovery lap in favor of taking your pulse. Wearing a monitor is the only way to get a true reading of how hard your heart is working.

How do I Use a Heart Rate Monitor?

A heart rate monitor consists of two pieces:1. The watch/chronograph/display, which you wear on your wrist.2. The strap you wear around your chest. Monitors vary considerably in both price and features. If you're running or jogging solely for fitness and possibly to lose weight, you'll probably want the most basic model, one that simply displays your heart rate and nothing else. If you're planning on running intervals on the track, choose a model that not only displays your heart rate, but stores lap and split times as well as your heart rate during each interval. All the models above the two most basic designs feature alarms to signal you when you're in the correct target training zone (more about target zones later.)

Tip: Initially you may have to experiment with the tension on the chest strap. Although you may think it feels too tight, you'll be more uncomfortable and insecure if it starts to slip down while you're working out. Don't be afraid to tighten it, you'll grow accustomed to the feel very soon. It's important to remember that the plastic piece must fit against your chest, if it doesn't the beats will be sporadic or you won't pick them up at all.

Women should wear a sports bra designed so the strap slips through it, particularly if they're small-breasted and have a small rib cage. (Most women around here use the Polar Heart Monitor bra ). No one, male or female, should wear the chest strap over cloth, as transmitter can't transmit through a shirt or singlet. If you have trouble picking up the beats, try a little saline solution on the back of the plastic transmitter. Never use any other substance on the transmitter (like petroleum jelly or a sports cream.) You may also need an Electrode cream to get an accurate reading.

Tip: Don't be concerned if your heart rate starts suddenly jumps up during a run, say from 125 to 170, then back down again. Check out your surroundings. Sometimes when you run under high tension wires the transmitter will go a little "haywire" for a few seconds. You might also notice that if you're running next to someone who's also wearing a monitor, your monitor might start beating in time with theirs (or vice versa)! Run a little further apart, or move to the other runner's opposite side.

What do the Numbers Mean?

To understand what the numbers displayed on the watch mean, you need to know:
1. Your resting heart rate (referred to as RHR)
2. Your maximum HR (referred to as MHR or sometimes Max HR)

How do you determine your RHR?

It's easy! Measure your pulse when you wake up in the morning. Tip: Relieve your bladder first. Once you've used the restroom, lay back down in bed and rest quietly for a minute or so. Then place your index finger and middle finger of one hand against the wrist of your opposite hand. Tip: Always use two fingers to take your pulse, never your thumb! Measure the number of beats for 10 seconds and multiply that figure by 6. Voila! You now know your RHR.

My RHR is 70. What does that mean?

An average RHR for men is between 60-80 beats per minute (BPM). Women average slightly higher RHRs. A RHR of 100 isn't unusual for someone who's sedentary. On the other hand, world-class runners can have RHRs as low as 40 and even under 30 is not uncommon. It's important to remember that the more fit you are, the lower your RHR will be.

Tip: Keep a record of your RHR every morning. If it rises by even as little as two to three beats, you're probably over-training, you may be getting sick, or you're dehydrated.. Back off on your training, monitor your body for other signs of a cold or upper respiratory infection and cut back on your intake of coffee and tea. Also make sure you're drinking enough fluid during the day.

OK, Now that I Know my RHR, How do I Find Out My MHR?

Figuring out this number isn't quite so easy. There are several ways to determine your MHR:

1. Use the formula 220-(minus) your age. Unfortunately, this method can be off by as many as 30 beats per minute, depending on your sex and your fitness level.

2. Use the formula 220-your age if you're a man and 226-your age if you're a woman. According to longtime running coach, Roy Benson, this formula makes more sense because women (usually) have slightly smaller hearts than men. Smaller hearts make up for their size by beating faster. But again, this formula can still be off by several beats, depending on how long you've been running.

3. Use this formula: subtract ½ of your age from 205. According to Benson, this formula makes more sense than the previous two because of the "old physiological chestnut that states, if you use it, you don't lose it." In other words, if you've stayed fit most of your adult life you're younger biologically than chronologically. Still, even this formula might give you a number that's way off, depending on where you are on the bell shaped curve used to predict MHR.

4. Take a treadmill test. Wired to an EKG in a medical laboratory setting, you'll get an accurate measurement of your MHR. Unfortunately, this kind of test is very expensive and unless you're willing to pay for it yourself, your insurance company will undoubtedly balk at the idea of paying several hundred dollars for you to find out how you can train most effectively!

5. Wear a heart rate monitor in a 10K. Run as hard as you can the last .2 and check your HR as soon as you cross the finish line.

6. Coach Benson suggests this sub-maximal, low stress test. Strap on your monitor and go out for a comfortable run of three to four miles. Tip: The course should be flat. Start out by jogging slowly for ten minutes, just long enough to work up a sweat. Note your HR during the warm-up. Once you're warmed-up begin to gradually increase your pace. Don't run too fast. Coach Benson suggests that you run at a pace where you can easily say out loud: "Great! I feel as if I could run at this pace forever!" Continue running for another two to three miles. Eventually you will reach the point where you'll be able to talk out loud only in short sentences. At this stage of the run you will be breathing harder. It's important that you don't run so fast that you can no longer talk. This particular test identifies 80% of your maximum HR; it's not as stressful as a treadmill test or running a hard 10K. (And it's fun to run at a comfortable pace!) Check out your HR once you reach the point where you can talk only in short sentences. Use that number in the following formula to determine your MHR:

MHR = RHR (Resting Heart Rate) + (Measured HR - RHR) divided by .8For example, let's say your RHR is 70 and your HR reached 162 at the end of the test. Using the formula, your MHR would be 185. Here's the math:

MHR = 70 + (162 - 70) divided by 0.8MHR = 70 + (92 divided by .8)MHR = 70 + 115MHR = 185

Training by the Numbers

Once you know your MHR you can base your training on that figure. It's important to understand that to benefit from HR training, you don't have to be an elite runner who races every other weekend. HR training is for anyone, from a fitness runner who runs three times a week to stay in shape to age-group aces who are looking to set PR's. Here's how you use your MHR to set up a training schedule.

If you're a new runner, or someone who runs two or three miles a few days a week, your target HR training zone is 60-75% of your MHR. In other words, if you've determined that your MHR is 185, you'll be running the majority of your runs with your heart rate between 111-139.

On the other hand, if you're hoping to get faster, or want to try a race for the first time you'll need to do some of your training runs in the 80-85% zone (148-157). Here's how the training zones breakdown:

Easy, recovery jogs (should be the majority of your training) @ 60-70% of MHR
Long, slow runs (once a week, or once every other week) @ 60-75% of MHR
Steady-state runs* (once a week, depending on your fitness) @ 75-80% of MHR
Tempo runs** (once a week, depending on your fitness) @ 80-85% of MHR
Speed-work***(once a week, depending on your fitness) @ 90-95% of MHR

*Steady-state run: Help you achieve a sense of pacing. Ideally you should run each mile at the same pace. They can be as short as 2 miles or as long as 14-15. These aren't fast workouts; if you're training for a half-marathon for instance, you might run 4 miles at your half-marathon race pace.

**Tempo runs: These are also known as lactate threshold runs. They are run at a controlled pace: if you're a new runner they should be 15-30 seconds per mile slower than your 10K race pace (which translates to 80-85% of your MHR). More advanced runners might run only 10-20 seconds slower than 10K pace. Tempo runs aren't long, they should be anywhere from 2-6 miles.

***Speed-work: Speed-work can consist of timed intervals on a track, 400 meters to a mile, or fast, short bursts of speed on the road or a trail. Many runners prefer to do their speed-work on the road since road workouts more accurately simulate racing conditions.

A Real-life Testimonial!

Training with a heart rate monitor made a significant difference in my training, in fact I wish I would have started using one earlier in my running career. I tried a heart rate monitor for the first time in 1995, 14 years after I first started running and racing. I quickly learned that I was running way too hard on my so-called "easy" days. Because I had become comfortable running at a fairly quick pace everyday, I wasn't reaping the benefits of rest days. During most of my runs my HR was 75% of maximum, sometimes even 80%. I'm sure training at such a high HR everyday caused my immune system to weaken over the years. I was lucky, I never sustained a serious injury that prevented me from running, but I often had upper respiratory infections, colds and a slight fever. Once I discovered the joys of truly running "easy" most days, I was able to train much harder on my "hard" days, my racing times improved and I stopped feeling "under the weather" most of the time. By Claudia Piepenburg

Run Today contributor information: Claudia Piepenburg has been running for over 20 years and is the current editor of Peak Running Performance. She holds or has held state age-group records in Michigan, North Carolina, Florida, Tennessee and Virginia. In 1990, she was ranked 18th fastest master's woman in the world and 8th fastest master's woman in the U.S. in 1990 and 1991. She competed in the 1988 Olympic Marathon trials, placed 20th woman overall in the 1987 Boston Marathon and women's winner of the 1986 Virginia Beach Marathon. Claudia is also the editor of Running for the Soul.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

To Socialize or Not?

Oftentimes during the marathon, you will encounter other runners who will be running your pace and may wish to engage you in conversation. It's a personal decision as to if you wish to stick with them and chat along the way. The positive aspect of socializing is that many great friendships have been started this way, and that talking to others is a great way to take your mind off the physical discomfort you may face later in the marathon. On occasion, runners who are experiencing great difficulty in the later stages of the event make pacts with one another as a motivational strategy as a means of finishing the race.

The other view pertaining to socializing is that talking may rob you of valuable energy you may need later. The last miles of the marathon can be quite draining mentally. For that reason itself, you may choose to run the last miles without much conversation. Also, running with someone may slow you down. You'll undoubtedly finish the marathon, but sticking with someone slower may compromise your chances of achieving a personal goal.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Short Races To Big Races

Train for your marathon by participating in shorter races. Instead of seeking speed or personal records in the shorter races, think of them as structured long runs that help you to build physical and mental strength for the upcoming marathon. Keep up the training everyone, and be sure to let me know how you do when you run your first marathon!
Talk Soon,
The Marathon Professor

Thursday, September 14, 2006

"Every Breath You Take"

While most runners take notice of their pace and distance, many people do not give any thought to breathing. However, how you breathe during your run can sometimes make the difference between a good and a bad run, and perhaps enable you to run at a faster pace with less effort.

The most effective breathing method for runners is to breathe in and out through the mouth. This is because of two main reasons. One is that you can get more air in and out of your mouth, rather than your nostrils. And secondly, you want to maintain a relaxed composure while running. This is achieved by having relaxed facial muscles. Nose breathing will result in a clenched jaw and tight facial muscles. So forget everything you've heard in yoga class, because "this ain't no yoga class." During your run, the mouth should be held open just slightly, and this position is called the "dead fish" because that is what it looks like. The breaths are short and shallow, but comfortable, not deep and long, and you shouldn't be aware of anything in particular. However, every now and then if you need to take a deep breath to re-group, it's absolutely fine.

Belly breathing, also known as diaphragmatic breathing, is better than chest breathing. This is because you are breathing in more oxygen and expelling more carbon dioxide. You can see if you are belly breathing by lying on your back and placing your hands over your stomach. Your stomach should rise and fall as opposed to your chest rising and falling. In order to practice this, picture your stomach filling up as a balloon would. Every time you breathe in, your stomach fills up the balloon and rises, and every time you breathe out, your stomach flattens. During this time, your chest stays mostly still. And, as an added benefit, while belly breathing, you are performing an isometric contraction of your stomach muscles. This will result in a more muscular and flattened stomach.

You can count your footsteps in time with your breathing. If, for instance, you have a 2-2 breathing pattern, you would breathe in while stepping left foot, right foot, then breathe out while stepping left foot, right foot. Then, the pattern would continue. If you have a 3-3 breathing pattern, you would breathe in while stepping left foot, right foot, left foot, then breathe out while stepping right foot, left foot, right foot. Then, this pattern would continue. If you feel out of control, either because of your breathing or your pace, you can use different breathing patterns to calm yourself down. Practice different patterns such as 2-2, 3-3, 2-3, or 3-4 to see what works best for you, especially during different conditions such as steep hills or racing versus flat, easy running.

If you hear your breathing while running at what should be a comfortable pace, you are running too fast. This may result in an out-of-control feeling. Slow down until your breath is very quiet.
by Mindy Solkin
Mindy Solkin is the Owner and Head Coach of The Running CenterTM. She is certified by USA Track & Field (USATF) as a Level III Running Coach (the highest level) and by the American Council on Exercise (ACE) as a personal trainer. Known as "Coach Mindy" to her runners, she has coached thousands of people over the past ten years, helping them to achieve their goals on the open roads and the winding trail, whether it is running their first mile or pursuing their personal best in the marathon.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Marathon Goal Setting

Of all the distance running events, the marathon presents the greatest challenges both physically and mentally. Even after completing all the required training and making it to the race site rested and healthy, arriving at the starting line in less than the ideal state of mind can have a devastating effect on your performance. In this section, a variety of mental strategies will be discussed that will enable you to set realistic goals, complete the necessary training (in particular, the long runs), and be optimally prepared mentally for the challenges that await you in completing the marathon. Please be familiar with the following terminology (described with positive outcomes), as each will be mentioned later in this section:

Mental Rehearsal/Visualization - The process of creating pictures or images in your mind.

Imagery - Playing out/imagining in your mind the way you wish for an event to occur.

Self-Talk - The "voice" in your head that can be trained to provide positive affirmations during adversity and tough times.

Before You Begin

There are certain "prerequisites" or internal characteristic that a runner must possess in order to undertake the necessary training that the marathon requires. These include motivation, self-discipline, and effective time-management, all of which are inter-related characteristics.

A coach can be enthusiastic about the training program he or she designs/presents and show interest in the runner's development; however, motivation and self-discipline must be developed primarily from within. The best marathon training program in the world will not enable a runner to make it to the finish line of a marathon if he or she isn't internally motivated to undergo and complete the training and then finish the race.

Similarly, it requires a great deal of self-discipline to complete the long training runs while at the same time, cope with other daily distractions and manage all the personal responsibilities daily living provides. This is why it is crucial that the runner who wishes to train for the marathon be an effective manager of time. It is beyond the scope of this web site to discuss in detail strategies to enhance one's motivation, self-discipline, and time management strategies. There are a wealth of resources available featuring information relating to both these topics and sports psychology.

Short and Long Term Goal Setting

General Goal Setting Considerations

For most first time marathoners, goal setting is simple… To finish the race! Nevertheless, regardless of your experience level and race aspirations, it is best to be as specific as possible when setting goals. Be sure to write the goals down, perhaps tell others about your goals, and set a time frame for achieving the goals. These strategies will enhance the possibility of achieving both your short-term objectives as well as your big goal.

There are two basic types of goals: Process goals and outcome goals. It is important to set short-term objectives (process goals) on your way to achieving the big goal (outcome goal). The definitions and examples of process and outcome goals are listed below:

Process Goals - These types of goals involve activities that focus on mastering the task and increasing one's skill level (e.g., the knowledge and training needed to complete a marathon). Examples of process goals include: Following the training schedule as closely as possible; Improving your nutrition; Reading as much as you can about the marathon; Consulting with your coach on a regular basis; Getting more sleep to be as rested as possible, etc.

Outcome Goals - These goals relate to the finished product or stated differently, goals you hope to accomplish in the marathon. Examples include: Breaking 4 hours in the marathon; Running the second half of the marathon faster than the first 13.1 miles; Defeating a rival; Running a personal best in the marathon.

Marathon Goal Setting Considerations

In the couple of weeks prior to the marathon, think about three (outcome) goals you'd be interested in accomplishing for your marathon: (1) an easily obtainable goal, (2) a realistic yet moderately challenging goal, and (3) an ultimate goal. Determine a strategy to achieve the ultimate goal, but build into your plan flexibility to aim for less ambitious goals if things don't pan out the way you had planned. Above all, be realistic. For example, if you don't possess the genetic predisposition (natural ability) to run a sub-38 minute 10K, there's very little chance you can break three hours in the marathon, no matter how positive an attitude you possess!

Strategies for Completing the Training

Find a coach with the reputation for being both enthusiastic and positive. These traits can help inspire and motivate you.

Join a group or team whose members share your same goals. These individuals can provide you with the needed emotional support to succeed. Groups or a training partner can help make completing the long runs easier than doing these alone. It is essential to find training partners who run your approximate pace so that your workouts do not turn into races.

When doing your long runs, break the course into sections mentally. That is, mentally run from one landmark to the next instead of thinking of completing the entire 20-mile training course. When you reach the first landmark, then mentally think of running to the next and so forth.

Realize that the training will not always be easy. If running a marathon were simple, there would be no challenge as everyone would be able to do it. To enable you to cope with the physical and mental demands of completing the long training runs and the actual marathon when the going gets tough, there are several mental strategies you can utilize. These strategies and examples are listed in the next section.

Examples of Mental Strategies During Your Training

Self-Talk Thoughts

Think and say to yourself…

"If this was easy, then everybody could complete a marathon."

"Keep running . . . Maybe I'll feel better when I have some Gatorade."

"If I quit now, I'll be very disappointed in myself later this afternoon."

"I'm not really physically tired; I'm more fatigued mentally."

"Completing this important training run will give me confidence and enable me to finish the marathon comfortably."

"In just one more hour this run will be finished and I'll be in at home...showering, relaxing, eating, etc."



Imagine that you are a world-class runner and are in the lead of the Boston or Olympic Marathon.

Imagine that your running form is smooth and graceful.

Imagine that your a running effortlessly and very relaxed.

Visualization/Mental Rehearsal Strategies


Picture yourself running every mile of the marathon for which you are training.

Visualize what the finish line area will look like (e.g., with the clock displaying the time you're shooting for).

See in your "mind's-eye" the spectators who will be cheering for you.

Think of all your friends back at home who will be thinking about you and pulling for you while you'll be running.

Monday, September 11, 2006

The RICE Method

RICE stands for rest, ice, compression, and elevation. When you first notice pains from your injury, do the following:

Rest: Alter your running schedule and take time off. Running hurt only results in furthering your injury. You’ll thank yourself in the long run.

Ice: Applying ice to an injured area “helps decrease inflammation, allowing healthy nutrients to
reach the injured site and begin the rebuilding process.” When injured apply ice for 10-15
minutes a day, at least twice a day.

Compression: To reduce swelling in an injured area, apply compression as soon as possible after the injury occurs. An ace bandage available at CVS or the UMD convenient stores will do the trick.

Elevation: Elevating the injured body part, “encourages the flow of blood to and from the inflamed area. Damaged tissue is carried away. The nutrients and healing agents flood the area.”

Try using the RICE method for two-to-three days after injury symptoms arise. Feel free to cautiously resume training if pain subsides. If pain persists and hinders daily activity, a visit with a professional may be in order. "Treating an Injury"

Friday, September 08, 2006

Make Race Day A Great Day

Fellow Runners:

Are you getting close to the big race day? If you are, I have some tips for you to get the most out of the marathon running experience.

1. If you run one of the bigger marathons, there is going to be a lot going on. There will be bands, booths, balloons, etc. Make sure you are there early to take advantage of the fun atmosphere. Talk to all the people there. It is fun to meet others who have been training for the same goal you have, and hear their experiences. Plus you will also meet some interesting people. If you are not one of them, there will be people with funny shirts…strike up a conversation. If you participate it will be a party!

2. Wave to the spectators, they love to cheer for those who show a little bit of life. Consider wearing a T-shirt with your name on it so everyone can cheer for you by name! It will give you a big boost.

3. If it wasn’t for volunteers, there would be no marathon. Be sure to thank them. Also, thank your family and friends who come out to support you.

4. Smile when you cross the finish line, and then buy the photo. Training for and running a marathon is a lifetime achievement for most people. $15 is a small price to pay for good memories!

5. Celebrate with family and friends when you finish. I suggest you take everyone out to dinner. You should even tell the waiter/waitress you just finished running your very first marathon…they might give you a free desert.

You have been training far to long, and far to hard not to make race day a great day…have fun!

-The Marathon Professor

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Marathon Training Tips

Written by Randy Accetta

Most daily runs are meant to be done at an easy, gentle pace and a low heart rate. If you want to know if you’re running too fast, try the Brady Bunch test: if you cannot sing the Brady Bunch theme song (“Here’s the story, of a lovely lady . . .”) while running, you’re going too fast and should slow down.

Be patient when adding mileage: the time-honored rule for building a training program holds that a novice should increase mileage by no more than 10 percent each week. For instance, if you run 20 miles during one week, you could add 2 miles the next week for a total of 22. Experienced runners can get away with more, but be careful about overdoing it!

Be consistent with the long run. For example, if you’re a new runner planning on doing a marathon in December, by the end of September you should be able to do 10-12 miles comfortably; by the end of October, you should be able to run 15-16 miles, and by mid-November, you should be able to go 19-20 miles at least once. The same principle applies for novices in the half-marathon: 5-6 miles in September, 7-9 miles in October, and 10-12 miles at least once in November.

To get to the starting line, you need to be consistent with both your weekly mileage and your weekly long run. Alternate long runs each weekend rather than doing one each week. If your long run is over two and a half hours one weekend, come down to under two hours on your long run next weekend.

When you do your long run, practice your race day eating and drinking habits. The night before, make sure to get plenty of fluids and carbohydrates (rice, pasta, breads). Try a small breakfast the morning of your long runs to see what works. Also, practice drinking on the run and experiment with energy gels to help sustain your energy.

Keep a training log. Write down your workouts, how you feel, who you ran with, and your goals for the marathon. This will help you stay consistent in your training and give you a record of your incredible achievement.

As the marathon approaches, try doing something brisk. If you aren't doing so already, add a little spark to your program by turning one of your easy runs into what is called a "tempo" run. Once a week, simply pick up the pace for 20 minutes in the middle of an easy run. This will improve your fitness, make your program more challenging, and teach your body to better handle workout stress.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Ditch the Stitch

Every runner has experienced the dreaded side stitch, a sudden sharp pain in the side of the upper abdomen at the base of the ribs. The pain is caused by a spasm of the diaphragm, the muscle that controls your breathing. A stitch will usually go away quickly after slowing down or stopping, but even on the run, you can often make it go away by bringing your breathing into careful control.

Concentrate on belly breathing, pushing your belly out when you breathe in and relaxing it as you breathe out. Take deep breaths on the intake, and exhale suddenly, even noisily. To get the diaphragm to contract in rhythm with your steps, try to inhale and exhale as you land on your left foot. Thanks to Cool Running for the tips

Fun with Fartlek

As fun to run as it is to say, a fartlek workout is a kind of informal interval session and a great way to incorporate speedwork into your routine when you want a change from the track. "Fartlek" is Swedish for "speed play" and consists of bursts of speed in the middle of a training run. After warming up, run at an easy training pace, throwing in bursts of speed for various distances throughout the run. Vary the speed and times of the speed sections, from as short as 15 seconds to as long as two or three minutes. Between these bursts, allow yourself enough recovery time to match roughly 2/3 of the effort time. The recovery pace, though, should be faster than the recovery jog you might do during intervals on the track; keep it moving at an easy training pace. Thanks to cool running for the tips

Keep a Running Journal

The best way to know where you're going with your training is to see where you've been. Keeping a personal journal of your runs helps you track your progress, avoid past pitfalls and even inspire you to new accomplishments. Your journal can be as simple as a few dashed notes of the distance and time you ran each day, or more detailed with lengthier entries about your route, the way you feel, and the stuff you thought about on the run Thanks to Cool Running for the tips

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Did You Know...

The current marathon distance (26 mi., 385 yds.) was set for the 1908 London Olympics so that the course could start at Windsor Castle and end in front of the Royal Box. Not until 1921, however, was that distance adopted as the "official" Marathon distance by the IAAF.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Shin Splints

Sooner or later almost all runners experience pain in the calf or shin. There are several types of overuse injuries that may develop in this region as a result of the repeated pounding from running. Shin splints, stress fractures, and chronic compartment syndrome have a common mechanism of development. Understanding the circumstances that lead to these injuries is the key to preventing them.

The overall recurring theme that leads to overuse running injuries is excess training with inadequate recovery. Excess and inadequate are relative terms and must be judged against one’s usual training routine. The more that excess and inadequate deviate from the usual training routine the less time it takes for an overuse injury to develop. Keeping this theme in mind one can now examine the specifics for how shin splints develop.

A simplified view of the mechanics of running shows a foot-strike, then a loading/energy transfer phase, and finally a push off (“toe-off”) with the forefoot. Each foot-strike delivers a shockwave that travels up the leg. This energy must be absorbed by the musculoskeletal system. The harder the running surface the greater the shockwave. Soft grass, smooth dirt, asphalt, and concrete represent, in order of increasing “hardness”, the usual spectrum of commonly encountered running surfaces. Concrete is very hard on the body and training on this surface should be avoided.

Distance running shoes are specifically designed to provide padding and support for the biomechanics of endurance running. They help absorb shock and facilitate efficient energy (motion) transfer. Matching the type of running shoe to the athlete’s specific biomechanics, and proper shoe fit are important. Similarly, worn out shoes should be replaced early because of reduced shock absorbing capacity. Runners with high rigid arches tend to experience greater pounding shock, whereas those with flat feet tend to experience greater fatigue of the muscles that support the foot -- and push-off. Both tend to develop shin splints

The term shin splints refers to a painful condition that develops along the inside (medial edge) of the shin (tibia). The usual location is along the lower half of the tibia, anywhere from a few inches above the ankle to about half-way up the shin. The repeated running cycle of pounding and push off results in muscle fatigue, which may then lead to higher forces being applied to the fascia, the attachment of fascia to bone, and finally the bone itself. Respectively, this represents a spectrum from mild to severe. On the relatively more severe end of the scale the injury may progress from stress reaction within the bone to an actual stress fracture.

In the early stage of shin splints a runner will describe a pain that is present when the training run first begins, but then disappears as running continues. The pain will often return after exercise or the following morning. As the injury progresses the athlete will experience more time with the pain, and less time without it. There is frequently a tender zone along the medial edge of the tibia that one can map out by pressing with the fingertips as they “march up” along the bone. Eventually, if ignored and training continued, the pain may become quite sharp and may focus on a very small area of the bone. If this happens a stress fracture should be considered.

The treatment for shin splints is rest. Depending upon severity it is often necessary to completely stop running for a period of time. Generally this is done until day-to-day activities are pain free. When running is resumed – and this is where many injured runners make a mistake – it must be significantly different from the routine that lead to the injury. The concept of relative rest employs lengthening the interval between training as well as decreasing the volume and intensity of training. One can often substitute cross-training activities (e.g., bicycling) for running to help increase the interval between running days. There should be a graded and gradual increase in run training, keeping an eye out for the return of any shin splint symptoms.

Stretching and strengthening the calf muscles can help prevent the injury from returning. However the most important preventive strategy is not to repeat the mistakes that lead to the injury. Examine all the training variables – surface, shoes, training volume, intensity, workout type, hills, weather conditions, etc. Seek help from a qualified trainer or coach. This all takes time and effort, but it is well worth it. copyright 2003 © Mark Jenkins, MD