I’ve always liked chocolate milk -what’s not to like?? It’s cold, smooth, and full of chocolate flavor. But, did you know it’s a great drink for athletes? Stress fractures are a potential injury for runners. One way to prevent them is consuming foods high in calcium, like chocolate milk. Yogurt, cheese, and calcium-fortified products, like cereal and juice, are other sources of calcium. Milk is also a great way to get vitamin D, which is necessary for the body to absorb calcium.

Chocolate milk is also an excellent recovery drink. It has the perfect combination of protein and carbohydrates for recovery after a long run or workout. Protein helps repair damaged muscles and carbohydrates replenish stores that were depleted during your workout. It also replaces fluid lost via sweating. Several studies have shown that chocolate milk improved markers of recovery more than sports drinks. And it tastes so much better!

Several products are available and may come in single serve containers that are convenient for both portability and portion control. Several brands are making low fat versions.

So, listen to your mom and drink your milk!

Next week, nutrition on the course.

Happy running!

Once you’ve been running long enough, you start to learn the idols within the sport, like Dean Karnazes, Jeff Galloway, and Bart Yasso, to name a few. Bart Yasso is the Chief Running Officer for Runner’s World. His book, My Life on the Run, chronicles his adventures in running, including many marathons, the Badwater Ultramarathon, some Ironmans (Ironmen?!?). It’s a great read if you’re a runner! In the book, he explains how he discovered the miracle marathon finish predictor now known as Yasso 800s.

The general idea is that you can predict your marathon finish time, based on the time you are able to run ten 800 meter intervals, assuming the stars align on race day! He discovered that if he could run his 800’s in 2:40 a few weeks before the marathon, then he would finish the marathon in 2 hours 40 minutes. Even if you’re not planning on training for a particular time, it is a great workout to add to your training, and a great indicator of your fitness level.

Starting about now, a couple months before the marathon, do a set of four 800 intervals. Begin with a slow one-mile warm-up, then run 800 meters at full speed, jog for one or two minutes, and then repeat. Finish with a mile cool down. Each week add one additional repetition.

If you have a goal to run with the flag group (the macho Army guys planning to tote the Stars & Stripes for 26.2 miles) try to finish each 800 repeat in 3 minutes, 45 seconds. If you are just planning to finish, then run your hardest, but leave enough in the tank so that each interval is completed at about the same time. Hopefully each week you’ll be able to shed a few seconds off of each repeat!

Next week: Form

Happy running,

Have you ever jumped into the shower after a run, thought everything was great until the water hit your inner thighs – then you screamed like a little girl? If the answer is yes, then you have probably experienced chafing. Chafing occurs when persistent rubbing causes a red, irritated area of skin. This can occur as a result of skin on skin contact, like on the inner thighs or the underarms. It can also occur as a result of skin on clothing contact, like at the bra line for women or the nipples for men. So, what can we do to fix this?

Buy dry-fit clothing that fits properly. Clothing that is too tight may cause pressure points, where clothing that is too loose causes the extra fabric to rub. Also, try to find clothing that is tagless and seamless, if possible. There are several sports lubrication products available, like Body Glide and Lanacane. Other products, like Aquaphor or Vaseline are also helpful. Body Glide is sold at running stores everywhere and looks like a stick of deodorant. Simply apply it to the areas that are vulnerable or areas you have had problems with chafing in the past. For men, nipple protectors or bandages may be helpful. Most marathons will have Vaseline available on the course (you will see a person handing out what appears to be a popsicle stick with a big gob of goo on the end).

If you have chafing, it’s going to hurt initially when it gets wet. Clean the area with soap and water and apply antibiotic ointment, like Neosporin or bacitracin. And remember to keep your skin moisturized – dry skin tends to chafe more.

Next week – why you should drink your chocolate milk.

Happy and chafe free running,

So, it is pretty well understood that running, and training for a marathon requires you to strengthen your legs, and your cardiovascular strength (aka, your heart). What people seldom think about is strengthening your lungs. Proper breathing will allow for maximum oxygen intake, building endurance and reducing fatigue by allowing you to maintain a lower heart rate, and by removing more carbon dioxide from your body, thus reducing lactic acid build up, which is what will cause muscle soreness and leg cramps. It will also help with fat burn, which is how your body will be getting energy during the long miles of a marathon and your long training runs building up to race day.
There are a couple different approaches to maximizing the amount of oxygen you take in while running. One is belly breathing. It is usually natural to chest breath, meaning your chest will rise while you are breathing. Breathing into your belly will allow you to get a deeper breath, bringing more oxygen into your lungs. To practice this, watch your stomach as you breath. Your stomach should be rising and falling with each inhale and exhale. This is kind of awkward in the beginning, but practice it while not exercising and it will eventually transfer over to your running.

Another approach to help with breathing is rhythmic breathing. In rhythmic breathing, your inhales and exhales are timed with your steps. Many people will run a relaxed run at a 2:2 ratio, meaning they will inhale for the length of two steps, and exhale for the length of two steps. There is a theory that an unsymmetrical breathing can help prevent side stitches while running. In this 3:2 pattern, you would inhale for 3 strides, exhale for 2. Like this:

Left foot: begin inhale
Right foot: continue inhale
Left foot: continue inhale
Right foot: begin exhale
Left foot: continue exhale
Right foot: begin inhale
Left foot: continue inhale
Right foot: continue inhale

In this pattern, which is what I use, you find that when you increase to a fast pace, you will naturally switch to a 2:1 breathing pattern. If you are breathing in this faster pattern during a recovery or long run, you are going too fast, slow down! Learning this rhythmic breathing can be awkward at first. Try it out on short recovery runs first, then begin integrating it in your long runs.

It is also believed that this rhythmic breathing pattern can help prevent injuries. Your body will naturally foot-strike with more force at the beginning of exhalation. With this unsymmetrical breathing pattern, you will exhale on a different foot each time, distributing the impact equally between both feet. This can help prevent many foot, knee, and hip injuries.

Another way to support strong breathing, and the intake of more oxygen, is proper posture. It is natural to shrug your shoulders when you become fatigued in a run. Bending over makes it difficult to fill your lungs and use your diaphragm properly. This will cause you to take shorter breaths, decreasing the amount of oxygen you are taking in, causing you to increase your heart rate, build up lactic acid, get side stitches and cramps, and slow down. Proper posture while running, is the same posture your grandmother (at least my grandmother) always made you use at the dinner table. You should be running tall, with your head and chest up, your arms at your side bending 90 degrees at the elbow.

Which is better, nose or mouth? Both! In order to take in the most oxygen, you will actually breath using your mouth and nose simultaneously. Think about breathing through your mouth, and you’ll find you are also breathing slightly through your nose. The one exception to this is cold weather. In extreme colds, breathing through your nose will warm your breathe, causing less stress on your lungs.

Next week: Yasso 800s
Happy running,

Sorry about the little break in posting. I’ve been out of town for the last week in rural Texas, and with the hurricane in the gulf and rain throughout TX, the satellite signal for my parent’s internet was slow as snails! I’m sure you all missed me terribly! No worries, I’ve returned!

So during the little break, TEAM Red White & Blue had three athletes complete some great events. Matt Heisey (pictured to the left) and Zach Keefer completed the Western States 100 Mile Endurance Run in 28 hours and 45 minutes! If you’re dreading the hill workouts I’m about to suggest, just keep in mind that they ascended 6,200 feet during their run. Steve Burns also completed an Ironman in 11 hours 52 minutes! 140.6 miles in total. Congratulations to all three athletes! I’m in awe and a little jealous of all of you! So when you’re struggling to find the energy to go out for your long run, those dreaded mile repeats, or a hill workout, just be glad you don’t have 100 miles to go!

On to our training! Hills! I ran track and cross country in high school, and hills were always my favorite workout! Everyone hated me for it, but I just loved them. They give me such a sense of accomplishment at the end of the run. And usually you can feel it the next day, which is just affirmation that it was a great workout. They are great to strengthen your legs, and build efficiency as a runner. And you’ll have a great butt too!

There’s really not anything special to a hill workout. You can do them one of two ways. You can choose a hilly course and just go run it, pushing yourself to sprint up the hills, and allowing yourself to jog for recovery until you’re no longer hard of breath. Or, and my personal choice, you can find one big hill and run repeats up the hill. Go out for a mile warm-up then sprint up the hill and jog down for a recovery. Then run a mile cool down at the end. How many hills you choose to do is up to you. I usually do a hill workout in place of a stride or a pace run, and make the total run be equal in length or time to the workout I replaced. So if I’m supposed to do a 6 mile pace run, or approximately 45 minutes, I do that amount of time on hills.

A word of caution, hills are best at the beginning and middle of your training plan. Stop doing hill workouts around week 12 of your training plan. Also, be careful on the downhill. Many running injuries are caused by fighting the hills on your way down. Go with the pace of the hill, shorten your stride, and try not to lean forward or backward. You should stay perpendicular to the hill. For more information on running hills check out this article: http://www.runnersworld.co.uk/general/everything-you-need-to-know-about-hill-training/159.html

Next week: Breathing
Happy running,