Thursday, February 22, 2007

Will Running Cause Arthritis? The Results May be a Little Surprising

A topic of current debate is the controversy of whether or not running will eventually cause joints to become arthritic. The answer patients get when they ask their doctor varies from a definite yes to a definite no. Many runners also get unsolicited advice from many of their neighborhood pals ranging from complimentary to downright derogatory comments. My favorite comment came from a young male sporting a "Molson's Tumor" and smoking a Mexican pharmaceutical cigarette who told me that I was going to kill myself if I kept on exercising so much!

Many health professionals say that continued pounding will damage joints while others state that it is the stress running that will keep joint tissue healthy. Until recently, there was very little research to support either opinion. However, with the aid of my very elementary computer skills, I was able to navigate the internet and found a very interesting paper written by Dr. Lyle Michelli at the department of Orthopedics at Harvard medical school in Boston. Dr. Michelli compared the frequency of degenerative arthritis in 504 former collegiate long distance runners with that of 287 former collegiate swimmers. Swimmers were chosen as the comparison group, because doctors who try to discourage people from running often suggest swimming as an alternative.

Surprisingly, the frequency of degenerative arthritis was lower in former long-distance runners than in former swimmers ( 2.4% in swimmers versus only 2.0 % in runners). As an indication of the severity of the arthritis, Dr. Michelli also recorded the number in each group who had arthritis severely enough to have required surgery. The need for related surgery was 3 times greater in swimmers.

These findings lead Dr. Michelli to state, "There is no association to moderate long distance running and the future development of osteoarthritis." These findings do not indicate that running is for everyone. In certain individuals, running may be intolerable and just not fun for a myriad of health and other social or family related factors. The important fact is that some form of exercise such as running, swimming, low impact aerobics, brisk walking, bicycling, dancing, etc. is essential to good health. Each individual should choose the form of aerobic exercise which they enjoy and then participate regularly.

If you prefer a form of exercise other than running, that's perfectly acceptable. However, if you want to run don't be fooled the opinion that it leads to arthritis (especially if the advice comes from a person sporting a healthy Molson's tumor).

by Larry Smith, D.C., B.P.E.

Sunday, February 18, 2007


The track. While most elite runners get their start there, the great majority of runners came to the sport by way of local roads, sidewalks and forest paths. For the average runner, the track seems all too intimidating, almost scary. Fact is, though, the track is not simply the domain of the elites. Any runner at any level can improve her performance with a little help from the 400-meter oval. This is what intervals are about.

Interval sessions are the most formal of speed workouts in that the distances and target paces are precisely fixed before you run. The idea is to run a series of relatively short repetitions over distances from 220 yards to one mile, with rest periods of slower running in between. Because of their very nature, intervals involve a shorter period of effort than your usual run of, say, 45 minutes at a steady pace. This allows you to run much faster than you usually do, adapting your body to higher demands and your leg muscles to faster turnover. Over time, you become more physiologically efficient.

Because of the clearly measured distances, the track is an ideal place to do intervals, but some may find the never-changing scenery to be, well, maybe just a little dull. In that case, you should feel free to do your intervals on the road, using permanent landmarks to measure distance.

The various distances, as you might guess, are each best suited to runners with specific goals. The 220-yard run (1/2 lap, or 200 meters) is best for short-distance training (5K and under) to improve speed. The 440 (one lap, or 400 meters) helps improve overall conditioning at slower paces, and at faster paces is good final race preparation. The 880 (two laps, or 800 meters) is used to develop speed when training for races 10K and under and to condition form and pace when training for longer races. Finally, the mile is used most often to train for longer races, from 10K to marathon, to help improve pace judgment and overall conditioning. from

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Feeling tired all the time?

Long training runs or too frequent training can weaken your immune system, making you more susceptible to catching colds and contributing to a general fatigue. If you see this happening you know you are trying to do too much. The remedy is to simply cut back, and even skip your long run that week.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Training Tips from Runner's World

Are there other runners among your family and friends? Run together to stretch and strengthen the boundaries of your relationships!

Before beginning training for a race, work on developing a plan tailored to meet your unique goals and needs.

Bodies come in all shapes and sizes--instead of pining away for a different body type, accept your genetics and adjust your training to maximize the most you can get out of your own unique body.

Wear running clothes that make you feel attractive; thinking you look good will allow you to run with more confidence.

Incorporating speed training into your workouts will help improve your efficiency while burning calories.

Add hills to your workout (whether outside or on the treadmill): They help build strength and burn calories.

Running on a treadmill is the ideal way to avoid the hassle of nasty weather while still remaining fit.

Place your treadmill in front of a window, full-length mirror, or television to provide air, motivation, and relief from monotony.

Try running with a faster runner or group once a week, then twice a week. Your body will adapt to the faster pace and you'll see results at your next race.

Find more tips at

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Making Progress in Training

If you are finding yourself easily able to complete and enjoy training runs as you increase mileage, then that is a pretty good sign you are making positive progress toward achieving your running goals. Great job! However, what if runs feel like a struggle or you seem to be making little progress?

It is normal for there to be days when runs just are not as easy as others. Those days here and there should not be confused with lack of progress, rather should be expected at times. Your positive mental attitude will allow you to rise to the challenge on those days. If training for a marathon, it is not uncommon to experience a week somewhere late in training where you seem to hit a block. Again, just be aware of that and allow your mental stamina to push you through.
Areas of concern should be when you seem to be making little progress during the first quarter of a training program. Fortunately, often one little fix can make a big difference.

First, consider your pace. Are you trying to run too fast at the beginning of your training runs? If so, that could not only lead to a more difficult run, but over time can lead to overtraining. Be sure to ease into each run and ensure that you can breathe easily while running. You should be able to talk comfortably with a running partner (or imaginary friend if running alone) during the run. Run a comfortable pace that allows you to complete the run without gasping for air.

Second, take a look at your diet and recovery time. The diet can have a major impact on the performance of your training runs. Just like anything else in life, you get out of it what you put into it. Carbohydrates provide fuel, but protein is needed to repair muscle fibers. Be sure to have a carbohydrate and protein rich snack within thirty minutes following each run to help your body recover and prepare itself for the next run. Take into consideration the amount of time you are allowing between each run for recovery. Perhaps a slight change in your schedule may allow more recovery time and lead to better results.

Third, dedicate more time to developing the proper mindset and building mental stamina. One easy method is to take just 5-10 minutes to lay quietly with your eyes closed and visualize yourself completing an enjoyable run. If you expect the run or some part of it to be a challenge, then picture yourself in your mind approaching the obstacle and pushing through the finish. This simple practice will get your subconscious mind working for you, acting as a heat seeking missile to bring your vision into reality. I cannot stress enough the benefits of this simple exercise or in building mental stamina for distance running.

Again, it is often the little things that make a big difference. Whether you are already making positive progress or just trying to get started, always look at the little things and do the little things right.

By Brad Boughman