Runners Notes
By Heather Cass Erie Times-News staff blogger
If you want to know anything about the local running scene, ask Heather Cass. A member of the Erie Runners Club for 10-plus years, she is immersed in the local fitness culture, and she's taking your questions.   Read more about this blog.
Archive for the ‘Dangers’ category
Posted: November 5th, 2013

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Now that we’ve turned the clocks back, it’s likely most of us will be running or walking in the dark (or low-light conditions…which is almost worse)

Runners should always run defensively, but it’s even more important in the dark. Here are a few safety tips you should heed:

* Always run against traffic. Never run with traffic or you won’t be able to see potential danger and/or get out of the driver’s way. Don’t even think about getting into a battle over space with a 2,000 lb. vehicle — you won’t win — just get the hell out of the way.

* Never cross an intersection without making eye contact with the driver(s) waiting. I know of three friends who have been hit (on separate occasions) when they stepped into a crosswalk (they had the walk signal) and a car that was turning right on red failed to look right before they turned and nailed them. (In all cases the friends were OK, but…had weeks or months of healing).

* Be visible. Wear light colored clothing and put on lots of reflective gear. There’s no such thing as too much reflective gear (particularly if you run early in the AM when bleary-eyed drivers aren’t expecting to see someone running down the road). There are a reflective running clothesthat don’t look “dorky.” I own a couple Illuminite jackets, and two different kinds of vests (a mesh one for warm weather, a thicker one for cooler weather).

* Carry a small flashlight. Get yourself one of those little 6-inch Mag-lights or use your daughter’s Disney Princess flashlight…doesn’t matter what it looks like — it just needs to fit comfortably in your hand (flashlights with a wrist strap are great). Flashlights are useful to alert drivers to your presence (for instance, we turn ours on when running on a busy road or a road with a blind curve) and are also useful for determining whether that dark spot in the road is a shadow you can run through or a splattered raccoon you’ll want to run around.

* Carry I.D.  No need to stuff your license in your undies…just get yourself an ID (you could even make one at the pet store…who said pet tags are only for pets). Not into dog tags? Check out www.roadid.com. where you can buy ID tags that strap to your ankle or wrist or thread onto your shoelaces.

* Vary your route. Runners are creatures of habit, but it’s smart to vary your route and days you run. I realize you may not be able to vary the time, but…don’t let your morning routine become predictable. Potential attackers can easily find a place to hide in the shadows.

* Leave the music at home. I love to run with music, but once it gets dark, I often run without it. I’m just not comfortable having two of my five senses handicapped. If I can’t see, I need to be able to hear potential danger.

* Carry a cell phone. I don’t carry my phone when I run in the summer — shorts and tank tops just don’t offer much space to stash a phone, but once winter comes, the weather turns colder and the mornings are dark, I often carry it in my jacket pocket.

* Run with a buddy. No doubt there is safety in numbers. Not only are you less likely to be victimized if you’re running with someone else, but…if you should fall in a pothole or off a curb (cause it’s dark and you can’t see) — there’s a friend to help you hobble off the road and, then, run for help.

* Follow your instincts. Ladies — you have sixth sense and you know it. When something is not right…you feel it all over. Go with that. If you’re feeling creeped out some morning (or evening) — trust your gut and run on the treadmill.

Tags:
Posted in: Advice, Dangers
Posted: September 12th, 2013

Worth Reading

* A 23-year-old marathon runner recently collapsed and died at the 16th mile of the Brighton Marathon after consuming ibuprofen and supplements. I had no idea this was a dangerous combination. I’ve absolutely done it. Though, I will say that I quit taking IB in any form when I realized that it was stupid to suppress your body’s natural reaction to stress (to swell)…why interfere with that? The body knows what it’s doing.

* If you’re going to run 13.1 miles, you may as well do it somewhere gorgeous, right? Here are 10 Scenic half marathons for fall.

* Outside Magazine: Ultrarunning champ Tim Olson on how to run—and win—100 milers while making it look easy.

* New travel trend: Sightrunning tours. Oh….these are awesome! I’ve long said that the best way to really explore a new city is on foot (and you can cover more ground running!).

Funny Stuff

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T-shirt of the Week

My friend & fellow Erie Runner & blogger, Rhonda Berlin, is selling these cute T-shirts (and encouraging you to wear them to the upcoming Her Times 5K race) for just $15. More info here.

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Posted: June 20th, 2013

Worth Reading

* Are you big on post-recovery aids, such as ice baths and ibuprofen? You may want to rethink that.

* 5 good reasons to add some speed to your  life (and…a few easy ways to do so).

* Irunfar.com: Peak Performance and the Selfish Brain. This is fascinating insight into what’s going on with your brain and body in an endurance event.  Your brain will have the last word as its job is to regulate everything to keep itself..and your body alive, but there are a few ways you can trick it to avoid having it pull the plug on your efforts at the 20th mile (or 40th mile or 60th mile).

Funny stuff

* Runner’s World’s Mark Remy has revealed the scientific reason that some runners are total jackwads don’t wave. Read all about it.

Group runs — for safety

In America, we gather in large running groups for fun, but in Venezuala, they run in large groups for safety.
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T-shirt of the Week

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Available here in various styles.

Posted: June 6th, 2013

Worth Reading

* Planning to run your first 6.2?  Here are 10 Tips for Running a 10K.

* Runners, Yeah, we’re different. (I think I’ve done every one of these…you?)

* 4 ways to stop side stitches (from Shape.com)

* Tsk, tsk, NY Times, I think we all know the answer to this question: Is it Better to Walk or Run?

* Headed out of town? Tips for traveling runners

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Video of the Week

Your new cross-training routine? (I thought this was a joke, but…um….no, this is for real. And, if I see you doing it, I will absolutely laugh at you) “We’re going to really cut the noose, and let it loose with the Prancercise Gallop!”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o-50GjySwew&feature=youtu.be


 

T-Shirt of the Week

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Available here in various sizes/styles…on shirts and mugs, tote bags, etc. Buy something for your most loyal supporter!

Posted: May 31st, 2013

Heat-Exhaustion-and-Stroke

I received this question from a new-ish runner last week:

How do you deal with the heat? I am having the hardest time adjusting . I ran outside most of the winter but the dripping sweat in my eyes and steamed up sunglasses and what feels like one long hot flash  is really affecting the consistency of my runs.  I am stopping to wipe out my eyes and fiddle with sunglasses,  and then try to refocus. I am trying to get used to the water belt for hydration and I do the energy beans for the longer runs as I am up to 8 miles now. Do i just need to suck it up or are there some tips out there ?

I gave her the following tips, then…I put the question out there to veteran runners and asked for their best tips. You can read those below my tips.

It definitely takes some getting used to at the beginning of the summer.  Heat and humidity seem to suck the life out of you (or at least the energy out of you). That said, you will adjust to it. Here are a few things I learned:

* Hydrate ALL the time. Drink water all day, every day. You sweat tons of it in summer, so just keep drinking all the time.

* Become a vampire runner — run very early or very late — avoid the sun. If you must run in the sun, pick a shady route.

* Wear a ballcap and sunglasses and then you only have to put sunscreen below your eyes (never put it on your forehead..it will just drip into your eyes the whole time..and that HURTS!).

* Invest in real running/athletic sunglasses that don’t fog. You’ll pay about $40 (or more), but…they’re worth it. They won’t steam up.

* On super hot days, wet & freeze a washcloth and carry it. Laugh, but…it works…having cold hands seems to cool your whole body. Once it unfreezes, you can wrap it around your neck…feels wonderful and/0r use it as a sweat rag. Gross? Whatever…we’re runners…our bar for “gross” is set pretty high. :-)

* Plan a route that lets you refill your water bottle with cold water (Country Fair bathroom, friend’s house, etc.)

* Don’t be afraid to alter your schedule a bit. Don’t be so regimented that you’re doing 8 miles on Saturday when it’s 90 degrees if Sunday or Monday it’s going to be 70…you know?  It’s OK to miss a run or two, too. It’s really not that big of a deal.

* Dress in moisture-wicking, light colored running clothes. Real running gear (check Marshall’s & TJ Maxx for cheap, but good stuff), makes all the difference. Never run in cotton.

OK….now, for more tips from readers:

* You definitely won’t be able to run with the same intensity as you would in cooler weather. Dial down your pace a notch, hydrate,  run earlier in the day or earlier in the evening, wear a hat or a headband,  and don’t forget sunblock! — Ramon Patron, Jr.

* I love to run in the heat.  Wear a hat for the sweat and forget the sunglasses.  Wear loose fitting clothing, hydrate and enjoy!  — Tom Toale

* I struggle with this every year. The transition to warmer weather is difficult when temperatures are cool one day and blazing hot the next. I slow down and try to drink plenty of fluids throughout the day. Try to run early morning or evening. Shorten up the run on super hot days. Walk if you need to. It takes time to acclimate, some people take longer than others to adjust. Have patience. — Ginny Sackett

* I avoid afternoon runs when it’s hot. Just can’t do it during those hotter hours of the day. — Lisa Shade

* I run later and bring water to drink and dump over my head. Its works great. I did a half in 92 degrees and I was fine. — Amy Morrow

* Like the first few cold/dark runs of winter, I give myself a break on time and I focus and realize that it’s great I’m even able to be out there. — Christine Vassen

* When It gets this hot this fast, it’s really hard to adjust. When It gets cold you can wear more but the heat is tough until you can get some endurance. Just give yourself time to transition to it.  — Bill Page

* When it’s really hot, I wet my hair thoroughly with cold water before I go out in the garden. — Jenny Geisler

* Hydrate throughout the day, dress like it’s 20 degrees hotter than it is, look for routes in the shade or at least run on the side of the street in the shade, and run earlier in the morning or later in the evening. When you’re choosing clothes, find ones that breath well. If it’s really hot and you want to run right now, get your hair wet (or a hat) before you run. The evaporation of the liquid will cool you until it’s dry…and when it’s super hot, don’t be afraid to run a little shorter that day. — Greg Cooper (Editor’s note: Greg is the PSBehrend running coach…so the man knows of what he speaks!)

* The heat sucks the life out if me! Run early morning, like 5 to 6 a.m. before work. Hydrate and change up the venue — trail runs or park trails usually are more shady and cooler. — Suzanne Clickett

* I have put ice cubes in a bandana and wrapped it around my neck. — Sheryl Barner

ALSO…..I did just find this article advising you to drink a slushie before a hot run. It’s interesting and I think I’m going to try it.

Heat exhaustion/stroke

Watch out for the warning signs of heat exhaustion, including profuse sweating,weakness, nausea, vomiting, headache, light-headedness, and muscle cramps. Some say that nausea is the first sign of overheating and headache is the first sign of dehydration.  More info (including symptoms to watch for) here.

Stay cool, my friends!

~ Heather

Posted: May 23rd, 2013

Worth Reading

* Dogs get high, too, but ferrets don’t.

* 10 biggest running mistakes

* Does it seem like it takes longer to recover the older you get? Um, it does. Here’s why.

* For the ladies: Jezebel: If You Must Think About your Weight, Here Are 10 Things to Think About  Warning: there are plenty of f-bombs in this article, but this is probably the greatest thing I’ve read in…well, ever. I’m at that stage where I’m pissed off about this situation we’ve all bought into. I’m sick of women’s magazines and fitness magazines and women’s expos that are full of ways for us to fix ourselves — lose weight, fix your hair, get the whitest teeth, cook better….f@#$ you, I’m fine the way I am.  READ THIS. PRINT IT OUT. GET MAD.

Video of the Week

Hmmm….now this treadmill workout could possibly hold my interest:

Ultra funny

For all my ultra-running friends.  (This is a JOKE…though, you have to admit….it’s funny because most of it is true, right?). LOL.

 

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T-Shirt of the Week

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Available here for $19.97.

 

Posted: May 2nd, 2013

Worth Reading

* Genetically Modified Foods: 7 Things Every Shopper Needs to Know

* If you haven’t had a tick on you yet….it’s a matter of time, especially for those of you who run trail…(If this doesn’t make you itch, I don’t know what will): The Rise of the Tick & 9 tips for Avoiding & Treating Tick Bites

* Former Pittsburgh Steeler, Hines Ward, is not done being a bad#@$. He’s training for an October Ironman triathlon! Find out how his training is going.

* Runner’s World: Do Ice Baths Reduce Muscle Soreness?

Video of the week

T-shirt of the Week

This has absolutely nothing to do with running, but…man, don’t you miss Hills?

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Available here for $20 (but it would totally be like $6 if you could still buy it at Hills…and you could spend $1 on an Icee and popcorn on the way out).

 

Posted: March 7th, 2013

Worth Reading

* Who in your life has an eating disorder and what can you do about it? It’s more common than you think, especially among runners and, it’s not just women.

* Eggs got a bad wrap years ago, but they are seriously one of the best things you can eat (yep…eat the WHOLE thing, even the yolk, that’s where all the nutrients are!). Shape magazine gives you 20 quick & easy ways to cook them.

* 6 tips for running with your dog (I just bought a gentle lead to try with Sam. I will report back!)

* 5 things to do on a treadmill, besides run on it.

* What’s the optimal running cadence? Find out here.

Video of the Week

T-shirt of the Week

What every woman wants to wear to the weight room:

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Available here for $26.96

Posted: February 21st, 2013

Worth Reading

* One Tough Mother shares running wisdom from Bart Yasso’s recent Twitter chat (Don’t ask me…I don’t know what a Twitter chat is either).

* There is such a thing as waterproof winter running shoes. Who knew? Oh, right, this blogger who reviewed them. (Why don’t I get  cool stuff to review?)

* 8 Cardio Myths that are making you fat (If I had a dollar for every person who thinks marathon training will help them lose that last five pounds….)

* Slow cook some Buffalo chicken lettuce wraps

* Get off the scale!

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Video of the Week

T-shirt of the Week

This is the only way I’ll ever have six-pack abs:

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Get it here, but I have no idea how much it costs because it’s all Russian. I wouldn’t buy it.

Posted: February 6th, 2013

Did you happen to notice that an Erie native was quoted in the January issue of Runner’s World magazine (above)?

Tyler Travis is the executive director of the LECOM Wellness Center and he was quoted on “The Body Shop” page, in which he teaches us a whole new way to use every runner’s best friend — the foam roller.

Known to most runners to be a useful post-run stretching and massaging tool, the foam roller can also be used to build strength, as Tyler showed us in the magazine.

I talked to Tyler to find out more about his career path, his fitness philosophy, and how he ended up in the pages of Runner’s World magazine.

How did you end up the executive director of the LECOM Wellness center?

I was the past Fitness Manager of the Wellness Center. I was bestowed the task of hiring the Center’s fitness specialist and served on our facility management team. I worked with our fitness team to manage and implemented the launch of a New Medical Fitness & Wellness Center. I facilitated and assessed over 700 medical students in the first three months of operations. I helped develop the assessment and training system for incoming member population and was responsible for the development of the center’s safety policy and procedures.

I served in the Fitness Manager role for 2 years. The experience, teamwork and staff support was instrumental in my opportunity to interview for the Director position when it became available.

What does your job entail?

I provide leadership to center team through direct accountability of the development, programming marketing and operations of the Wellness Center. I provide direction and support to the management team concerning center policies and procedures and plan and conduct regularly scheduled management team meetings. I assist managers and the administrative/accounting coordinator in determining HR needs and job responsibilities. I am responsible for managing center operations and goals within the approved operating budget. I present a section on cardiac rehab and exercise physiology to 2nd year medical students annually.

I also facilitate annual preseason movement screenings and communication with coaching staff of NBA-D League Team, the Erie Bayhawks. A large portion of my role is to also help facilitate health fairs and promote community involvement. I also continue to serve with performing member assessments, personal training, and program design.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

I really enjoy the interactions and relationships of the people I serve. It is truly humbling to be a part of a team that is driven to empower others to improve health and wellness each day. I still really enjoy applying my education and teaching others how to improve their health and athletic performance through strength and conditioning.

What is your  educational background? And, how does it  help you in your current position?

I have an undergraduate degree in psychology from Penn State Behrend, 2001, and a master’s degree in exercise physiology from Minnesota State University, Mankato, 2003.

The fundamental requirements for anyone who wants to enter the health and fitness industry is education. The unique aspect of a medical fitness and wellness center is that we are balancing science with customer service. Our employees must have a passion for people. The health and fitness of one of our members can only be improved when the fitness professional/exercise physiologist knows how to treat the customer well.

My graduate degree in Exercise Physiology has provided me with the knowledge, skills, and abilities to evaluate and develop exercise programming for special population ranging from those with cardiovascular disease to the professional athlete. My psychology degree from Behrend served as the foundation that I needed to understand how to help new exercisers adhere to an exercise program and how our nervous system is crucial in understanding the way we think and move.

Are you a runner?

I run for leisure, but do not compete like when I ran cross country and track in college. I have a lot of fun participating in a variety of conditioning. I play ice hockey throughout the year and strength train on most days of the week. I also enjoy playing in a basketball league from time to time.

Any PR you want to share (any distance)?

My PR’s in college were 16:04 for the 5k and 4:12 for the 1500meter.

How did you end up with a feature in the January issue of Runner’s World magazine?

Nicole Falcone, a writer for Runner’s World, asked me to create a series of exercises using foam rollers. Nicole is a member of our Wellness Center and she approached me last fall and asked if I would like to be a resource for a future article. Nicole happens to be in Erie because her boyfriend is a LECOM Medical Student.

Is that you in the photos?

No. They took photos of me at the Wellness Center performing the exercises. The photos were then sent and duplicated by a model for the magazine.

Most runners are familiar with the foam roller as a way to stretch/massage sort muscles, but you say
it’s also good for building muscles?

Yes, and the foam rolling strength routine is a great way to get runners to do strength training. Most runners own a foam roller. The exercises that I suggest can be done anywhere from the beginning of the runner’s warm-up or at the end of the run. It can be done in the office or simply at the track. The foam roller is very portable.

And why should runners do strength training? Isn’t running enough?

It is well known in the world of strength & conditioning that runners are very asymmetrical. Many runners tend to be desk jockeys (let’s face it, our society as whole is moving less and sitting more.) The typical running pattern is what we call very sagital plane dominant. This plane is the same pattern we are in when we sit – hip flexed, knee flexed, ankle dorsiflexed.

Distance runners especially have weaker core muscles, glutes, tight hamstrings and hips flexors. Many runners unfortunately do not take time to balance their running with strength training.

A strength-training program can help improve areas of weakness commonly found in runners. The hips are the power source for runners. Hips should be strong and mobile. Any compromise in the hips can lead to low back or knee issues.

The next area that should be considered is the core, which supports the spine, and hips. Many runners have tight anterior deltoids/shoulders that need stretched and posterior deltoids/shoulders that need strengthened.

What one thing can a runner do to improve their performance?

Runners should make sure they are moving correctly. Moving repetitively, as a runner does mile after mile, can put their body in a compromised risk for future injuries if the movement is not correct. My recommendation is to be evaluated by having a Functional Movement Screen. The screen identifies the risk factor level for non-impact injuries. Corrective exercises can then be developed to improve movement and asymmetries.

What is your personal workout routine?

It’s much like what I suggested above. I am still guilty of having some of same asymmetries above. I like to strength train on most days of the week. I like to break up my cardiovascular workouts with circuits that utilize the ultra slide board, jumping rope, and kettlebell.

The slide board is a great tool that all runners should use from time to time. It helps open the hips and improve mobility and strength of the adductors and abductors (inside and outside of the legs.) I picked up ice hockey for that reason as well. It is a great high intensity workout that increases hip and glute strength.

What is your diet like (i.e. do you do the “paleo” thing or anything like that)?

I do not adhere to any specific diet and encourage balance. My family and I eat very clean. We focus mostly on plant-based food. The benefits of phytochemicals are tremendous. They help with combating oxidative stress that can be detrimental to the cells of our body. We balance the fruits and vegetables with lean meats such as turkey, chicken and fish. We avoid red meat except with the occasional buffalo burger. We really try to eat as little processed food as possible. Our favorite bread is Ezekiel bread.

Family (wife, kids?): My wife, Beth, is a 3rd grade teacher, and we have a son Matthew Dennis Travis, 8 months. We also have a yellow lab named Sidney who is typically by my side when I take runs or even when I’m simply working in the yard.

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