Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Videos on how to use a Foam Roller

Here are some great videos on using a foam roller from one of my favorite sites - Runner's World
There are endless possibilities of stretches and massages you can do on a foam roller, feel free to google more videos and get creative.



The Calves

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Trigger Point GRID Review

TriggerPoint GRID - Revolutionary Foam Roller - Black

My New toy, and its AWESOME!!!

My old foam roller was due to be replaced. I initially was going to purchase a high density roller, but figured might as well put in the extra $10 and get one that will last longer.

The Product -

Initially I thought the core was steel, but its actually just a very hard plastic core, (meaning if you really wanted to break it by running it over with a car, you could), but don't fret, its built to hold up to 500 lbs.

Its a great size, and easy to carry around. With the longer rollers, the length gets cumbersome. With this, it is the perfect size to target specific parts.

its covered by a thick hard foam, so its more comfortable than I thought it was going to be. The foam is pretty sturdy and shouldn't get bent out of shape easily. But if you did want to destroy the foam, you could stab it with a pen and puncture it, or roll over some sharp gravel. so unless you really want to destroy it, just roll on a regular carpet, floor or yoga mat and it'll stay in good shape.

I don't know why I'm focusing so much on how to destroy it, LoL,

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Pains and Aches

After a good workout, the next few days can leave you felling achy and tender. 

Common Scenario - we do a 100 lb lift, or a 20 mile run, then the next day, we can barely hold a pencil or walk up some stairs, (then the person in the elevator thinks, "what a lazy ass for taking the elevator to the 2nd floor!") 

What Happens? 

Usually around 24-48 hours, we experience a soreness called - Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness, or DOMS.
This is because we get tiny tears in our muscles when we have an intense workout, and the muscle is trying to repair itself. It sounds awful, but its actually a good thing. When our muscles repair themselves, new and stronger muscles are grown = a better, stronger body. 

Now the Burning sensation you get in your muscles During your workout is due to acid buildup. There are many different types of acid that gets sent to the muscle, but Lactic acid buildup is the one people mostly talk about. 

I don't like to get to "chemically definitive" about how things work because I feel the topics themselves are overwhelming enough, so in a nutshell, 

When we work a certain muscle, the body has to send 'Extra' nutrients to power that muscle being used. However when we're done, the body has trouble "flushing" out all the nutrients it has just sent to that muscle. Just like a traffic on a freeway, which will take some time for it to be back it its regular levels. 

Now the last 2 sentences are still debatable. Some believe what I had just written (which I believe) others believe that once you stop working out Lactic levels return to normal right away. 

But either way here is my favorite ways to recovery from a hard workout.

Some Like it Salty

 My favorite methods for recovery. 

The Cool Down
              If you've just finished a hard workout, never skip on the cool down, give yourself a really good 15-20 min stretch session. Stretch and Hold for 10 counts and repeat. Don't bounce because that does Nothing for you. A mini yoga session is a great way to cool down as well. You want to stretch and hold because that will help Flush out all the Lactic acid build up. You're signalling to your body that you're done working out and it doesn't need to "recruit" extra nutrients certain muscles anymore. 

*Note - Drink a protein shake or get some food and liquids in you. Protein will give the body what it needs to repair the muscles. My favorite is by Optimum Health Nutrition - Pro Complete 40  - don't be confused with Optimum Nutrition. (they are different)

The Epsom Salt Bath
            Epsom Salt is a great way to detox your body. It draws out all the toxins you have, alleviating your body of any extra lactic acid buildup. I like taking the bath because HEAT promotes circulation, so you get 2 birds with 1 stone. (if you have health or heart issues - consult your doctor)

*Note - Important!! have a 20 oz - 1 liter bottle of water (or Sport drink), (I usually like ice cold water) with you when you're taking your bath - otherwise, you might faint, and I don't want anyone to drown.

1- Hot water bath, make it hotter than you normally would have a bath, but not too hot where you burn yourself, (add oils, bath bubbles, whatever you like)
2 - Add Epsom salts -  around 2 cups in a bath, more if you have a larger tub.
3 - Soak for 20 mins, prep some music or tv to pass the time. You might be feeling light headed after about 5 - 10 mins. DRINK WATER. You will be sweating a lot. All the toxins are being drawn out of your body. Drink periodically every few minutes, so you don't have a belly full of water, and your body has fresh water to sweat out. 
4 - After the soak, dry off, while your body is still pretty warm, do a nice 10-15 min stretch, or mini yoga session. 
5 - the next day you shouldn't feel as sore as you normally would if you didn't do the bath. 

This bath helps me recover in half the time. I'm usually feeling great the next day. 

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Beat the Heat

I always love a good Summer run, The warmth keeps your muscles loose, and who doesn't love a nice tan?
But be careful because it can heat up really quickly and you don't want to put yourself in a dangerous situation.
  1.  Run in the early morning or late evenings. 
    1. Calculate your end time- Often time we focus on when we "start" our run, but forget to calculate the end of our run, and the last half of your run might be in the blazing heat. 
      • ex: 12 mile run (at an avg pace 10min) = 120 mins = 2 hours, warm up + cool down = 30 mins, so you'll be out for at least 2 hours and 30 mins. so if you started at 9am, you'll finish at 11:30, it gets pretty toasty, so just make sure you prepare yourself for the finish.
  2. WATER - Stay hydrated. A 20-24oz bottle will last about 1-2 hours of activity, depending on the heat and intensity. Plan ahead to find places along your route to refill your bottle if you'll be out there longer. Gas stations, 7-11, Starbucks, and Fast food places, are always kind to runner's who need some free H2O. Don't be afraid to ask. 
  3. If you feel yourself overheating, (colors are starting to fade, heart rate is pumping hard, light-headed), Pour water, or Hold something Cold over the major arteries, (Neck, Temples, Head and Wrists). It's a faster way to cool your body down. I usually squirt some water on wrists and neck. 
  4. Neutrogena Ultimate Sport Sunblock Spray, SPF 85 5 fl oz (141 ml) SPF - Don't forget the SPF. My favorite is the Neutrogena Ultimate Sport SPF Spray. It doesn't smell like sunscreen which I like, and its so easy and quick to apply. Spray and go.
  5. Ice it - Freeze 1/3 of your water bottle so by the time you need it, the last bit will melt and be cool, Ice works as well. The Nathan water belt I use has an insulated sleeve that keeps your drinks cool. Others also roll Ice into their hats or bandannas around their head and neck. 
  6. Don't Push yourself too hard in the Heat as you would on a Cooler day.  
    • A Rough estimate - Every increase in temperature 5-10 degrees over 60 degrees will make your pace slower by 1-2 minutes even with the same effort.
Be Safe out there. 

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Shin Splints

You finally get the motivation to start running. 3 runs in, you get the dreaded "SHIN SPLINTS" and then you're out and pretty much never look back.

As with most injuries Shin Splints are easily preventable, and treatable!!

Why do we get Shin Splints? 
There is a combination of factors that lead to Shin Splints but the main reason are weak muscles in the front of your leg which function to bend the foot upwards at the ankle.

Most Common Culprits- 
1: Weak Leg Muscles
2: Shoes
3: Form

Lets start from the feet up- 
Shoes - improper, ill-fitting, unbroken in shoes means your feet are not properly supported. Your feet have to work harder at an bad angle, causing your leg to compensate = inflammation = Shin Splints. 

Go to RoadRunner sports, or a local running store and ask them to fit you. I like Road Runner because you can run in the shoes and return them within 60 days if you don't like them. It takes a few runs to see if a shoe is right for you. Not all shoes or brands are created equal. 

Once a person becomes a stronger runner, their legs are naturally stronger and shin splints rarely ever happen at that point. 

But before you can get there, here is a GREAT exercise to prevent shin splints. Essentially Stronger legs = No Shin Splints. 

Shin Splint Prevention! 
Do this Before and After each workout. 

Step 1: Standing tall walk on your heels (without bending your knees). Aim to reach 100 steps. If you're first starting out the front part of your leg (shin) should burn after about 20 steps. 
Try to force another 10 steps after the initial burning sensation. Slowly increase your steps each time.You will see it doesn't take long to increase your steps = stronger legs

Step 2: Run backwards on your Toes, (the same length you just walked). Try to bounce as high as you can on your toes while you run backwards. This helps release and relax the muscle you just worked out. 

After doing this consistently for a few weeks, feel it out and see if your shins still hurt. You can slowly ween off doing this exercise as you body gets stronger. You can still do this exercise from time to time. It is really great. 

If shin splints still prevail after all this the problem lies in your Shoes or your Form. 

Form is a whole other monster that I will need to go in depth in with another post.

Here is a great video that shows the Heel-Toe walk. This video only walks backwards, but I prefer the run/bounce - but the visual is the same.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Open Water Swimming - Part 2


I'm just a little ecstatic because I had such a GREAT swim this time. My second time in open water and it was fantastic. My breathing was great, I didn't swallow nearly as much sea water as I did last time, I had great form and I made it to the second buoy! And Most of all it was "FUN".

Connie, my partner in crime, did fantastic as well. This was her first time ever being in open water, and she held it together really well.  We were going to head back to shore after we reached the first buoy, but the Meetup group said to try to make it to the second buoy, So we did. 

The water somehow seemed a lot clearer this time (maybe last time I was just too freaked out to see anything) I swear I saw a Sting ray swim underneath me, and I had a mini freak-out. 

Sammy, from the Meetup group, was so helpful. He gave us a great tip.
  1. Dont kick too hard - the wetsuit keeps your legs pretty close to the surface. If you kick too hard, you'll waste a lot of energy because you'll be splashing too much.
I hate to say it now, "I'm addicted to Open water swimming"

Monday, July 5, 2010

Road Runner Sports

I have a few posts where I mention  to find the shoe that is right for you.

They're having a deal where their VIP membership which gives you 10% off anything in the store Including Apple products, (usually a $20/yr fee) for only $1.99. You get Free shipping and 10% off. Not a bad deal.

I like Roadrunner because they have their system called "Shoe Dog" A foot/shoe fitting Analysis system.

1- The have you step on a platform which measure where you put all your pressure on your foot. Some people put all the pressure on the ball of their foot, others the heel, others their big toe or little toe.
2- they have you run or walk on a treadmill while they video your stride. They analysis how your foot strikes the ground, if you're an neutral, over or under pronator (if your ankle rolls inward or outward)
3 - they measure your foot, and do all other nifty things.
They then recommend a shoe that solves all those problems for you! Either a Neutral, stability, motion control, etc.

However, not all brands are created equal. They may feel great in the store, but once you try them on the road, they hurt. Not to fear! They have a 60 exchange/store credit policy. You can take the shoes back, after you've tested them a few times, and get another pair until you find the one that is right for you.

Its rare to find a place that will take shoes back, even after you've worn them.

Just Breathe...

Other than having legs (or prosthetics) the most important thing about running is Breathing

This is the Main reason why people think running is difficult. It's nothing to do with your legs. You walk miles each day. It is all about your Breath which is why you feel tired and fatigued when you run. 

How hard is it to breathe? We do it all the time without even trying. But it isn't that simple. 

During day to day breathing, we don't breathe with the full capacity of our lungs, (more like 2/3s).  
So while we run, we need to train our bodies to take deep, full breaths so our body can have the maximum about of oxygen to fuel our body. It takes a bit of getting used to and will feel very unnatural at first. 

Everyday, there is increasingly more research regarding VO2 max
  • The maximum capacity your body can transport and utilize oxygen during exercise. 
  • V - volume per time, O2 - oxygen, max - maximum
Your ability to improve your VO2 max can greatly improve your level of physical fitness. 

*How to Control Your Breathing*
  1. Take deep full breaths, (expand your lungs and your belly) while you breath. (tips on belly breathing)
  2. Cadence - 
    1. Breath in through your nose slowly as you count your steps, aim for 3 steps in, (some people argue nose vrs mouth - I prefer Nose because it's almost impossible to Suck in air through your nose)
    2. Breath out through your mouth slowly (3 steps out). (you can control the opening of your mouth to make sure you breath out slowly)
    3. You may only be able to start with breathing, 2-2, (2 steps in and 2 steps out), its ok, as time progresses your VO2 max will improve, aim to increase to 3-3, 4-4, etc. 
  3. Don't hold your breath. Often times we breath in quickly when we take our first step and then HOLD our breath for step 2&3, Then we quickly PUSH all the air out at step 4, and then HOLD our breaths during step 5&6. 
    1. You waste more energy doing this. Since the lungs have to work A lot harder to Suck in and Push out the air so quickly. You want to have a very fluid motion of your body and lungs, where the body has a constant supply for fresh oxygen (by breathing in slowly). 
  4. If your gasping for air every step, you're pushing your body too fast or to hard. Slow down, and relax. You can take quicker, smaller strides, and still cover the same distance in the same amount of time, without exhausting yourself. Your rhythmic breathing should be very quiet, gentle and smooth. 

When I first started training, for years, I couldn't push past the 5 mile mark, I was gasping and sucking in air, breathing hard, in and out through my mouth. People running next to me always stopped to ask if I was OK, because my breathing sounded like I was having an asthma attack. That was how I always ran, and "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" mentality. I was WRONG. 

Cycling is what really helped me control my breath. My Spin instructor would say, "Breath in, Breath out", If I didn't, I would pass out during Spinning Class. I took this new technique to the road and saw how quickly my running improved! It was SO EASY to push past 5 miles onto 10, 15, 20+ miles. It sounds silly or impossible, but it isn't, This is SO do-able.

Once you control your breath, everything else is just mechanical. Your body will run, and you wont even feel it going.