Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Electrolytes-Use Them and Abuse Them!


Electrolytes: what are they, how do you take them, how much do you take? People throw around all kinds of nutritional information that can be confusing and even contradictory. How does one decipher the code and figure out what is really best for your body when you are working out? The best way is practice. If you find something that works, practice with it. But finding out what to practice with, on the other hand, can be hard and confusing. So today we will talk about what electrolytes are and how to use them to your benefit.

An electrolyte is simply a chemical used by your body to conduct the electrical impulses that your body uses to function. Think back to Biology 101, you may remember that your body uses electricity to send signals across your nerves and your nerves make your muscles work. Some electrolytes you can watch for are: sodium, potassium, chloride, calcium, magnesium, and a few others. Having a balance of electrolytes in your body will help prevent cramping as well as dehydration. The three ways that people take electrolytes are through gels, through pills, and mixed into their water.

Taking Es through a Gel: If you look on the back of any energy gel, you will see a list of electrolytes that it has in it. Next to that, it will say how much of that particular one is in the gel. The dosage of Electrolytes in gels is very small compared to other sources. However, if you are not running in heat and are a very light sweater, this may be sufficient for you. Check out E-Gel for a good example of electrolytes in gel form.

Taking Es in Pill Form: A few nutrition brands make electrolyte pills. Depending on the brand you get, the kinds of electrolytes and dosage will vary. If you cramp up easily, this may be the best way to go. You can take up to four or six pills/hour (depending on temp and sweat rate). Check out Hammer Nutrition's Endurolytes for a good example of electrolytes in pill form.

Taking Es in Drink Form: Many people think of this as Gatorade. That is right, Gatorade is the original electrolyte drink. However, you may as well just make some koolaid and throw in some salt. There are better ways and this is likely the easiest way to take electrolytes because you can balance your hydration while you are taking them. There are many products that you can get that are pure electrolytes. After depositing this into your water, you have a personally mixed hydration concoction. Check out Nuun or Elete for good examples of drink based electrolytes.

Determining the dosage of electrolytes is the tricky part. When I tell people about electrolytes, I usually tell them, "I have never met anyone who has ended up in trouble because they had too many electrolytes. You usually just sweat the extra out. However, if you don't have enough, you can become hyponatraemic (water poisoned) or get muscle cramps. So use them and abuse them!

Monday, October 20, 2008

The Perfect Running Shoe- Do's and Don'ts

By: Rhielle

When shopping for the perfect running shoe, it is easy to get caught up in "overpronation," "underpronation," "neutral," "cushion," "lightweight," "stability," and all the other jargon that is associated with running shoes. It can all become very confusing very quickly. I have compiled a list of the essential dos and don'ts that every shoe buyer should know.

  • Buy your shoes with enough room at the end that you can bend over and push on the end of the shoe without pushing on your toe. For most women, this is a full size bigger than your normal size.
  • Buy your shoes like you buy your slippers. They shouldn't rub, bind, fold, twist or anything else uncomfortable. If you can feel it now you will feel it later because running shoes don't break in.
  • Buy your shoes so they fit snug in the heel, snug in the arch(this may require some arch support), and roomy in the forefoot.
  • Buy your shoes only after your gait has been analyzed. Each runner has a specific gait and a running shoe fitter will be able to help you determine which shoes are best for you based on your personal and unique gait.
  • Buy your shoes from a store with a good exchange policy. Time and time again, a shoe will feel good in the store but after 20 min of running, the feel good is all gone. Make sure the store will allow you to exchange the shoe for something different if it doesn't feel good after your first run.
  • Don't buy your shoes based on color.
  • Don't buy your shoes based on price.
  • Never buy the shoe that your best friend wears. He/She doesn't know how the shoe will perform for you and it could cause an injury.
  • Don't buy your running shoes from Foot Locker, Famous Footwear, or other Big Box Chain Stores. Their sales people are not trained to custom fit a shoe.
  • Don't buy a shoe just because the it is labeled as running. Not all shoes are equal. Many shoes that are labeled running are NOT designed to be run in everyday. Many of them are designed just for the person who wants an athletic looking shoe who likes to run as they participate in all sports. They usually weigh more, are lower quality in construction, don't fit as well and absorb less impact.
Because buying running shoes can make or break your running experience, it is important to find the right shoe for you. Don't be afraid to run on the shoe in the store or outside on the sidewalk in front of the store. Pick out the shoe that fits your needs the best. Remember, if your feet hurt, you won't want to run on them. So make a little investment and spend $100 on some good shoes. It is the best $100 you will spend on your feet.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Building a Base

By: Rhielle

'Tis the season for building a base. A lot of runners ask me what I am training for right now and normally I tell them, "Nothing, the winter is my time to rebuild my base." Building a base is designed to give your body the muscle strength and impact training needed to run harder, faster, longer, stronger throughout the racing season. Typically, runners will increase the number of times they run per week, and at the same time decrease the mileage that they run during each run. For example, during racing season, you may run 3x/week and do 6 miles/run for a total of 18 miles/week. During base training, you would start out running 5x/week doing only 3-4 mile runs. Then gradually increase the mileage of each run (5x/week but 4-5 miles/run, then 5-6 miles/run, etc) to build a strong foundation for speed and hill workouts done during the racing season.

Base training is really important because it allows the body to rest from the fatigue that comes with speed workouts and racing. At the same time you are being very productive in preparation for the coming season. Base Training also sets the stage for how many injuries an athlete will be prone to during the fast season. Just as with architecture, the stronger your foundation is, the better the house will stay standing when the pressure increases.

The key is to start with very low mileage and NEVER increase you mileage more than 10% over the previous week. This will help to insure you don't get injured during base training. Then, after about 6-8 weeks of low key easy running, you are ready to start running more tempo and speed workouts again. You don't want to leave that out of your training for too long if you want to keep getting better each year.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Treadmill Training


I went for a run this morning at 7:00 am and I realized that glove and long sleeve season is
coming into full swing. In talking with a lot of runners (I teach a running class), I have noticed that the biggest concern about running in the winter is the cold. If you want to stay outside, the better way to do it, investing in some good winter running clothes is a must. I like to use layers because as you warm up during the run, which you will, you can unzip or peel off unwanted layers and still stay warm. If you don't care to stay outside, the logical place to go is inside-to a treadmill. My tip for the week relates to this winter treadmill training.

Tip #1: If you want to train on a treadmill, but you plan to do events that are outside on the pavement, you must increase the incline of the treadmill 1-2%. This will insure that you make up for the work that the treadmill does for you by moving your feet while they are underneath you.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008