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.