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The treadmill is a safe and convenient means to getting in the miles during the cold, dark days of winter, however there is a significant difference between running on the a treadmill versus outdoors.  The treadmill isn’t bad or less than – its just different.  Mostly due to the  intensity and impact due to the wind resistance, elements and the fact that you keep up with the tread versus propelling yourself forward outside.  Runners tend to shift their workouts outdoors once the weather warms, but doing so too quickly can increase your risk for injury.

Here’s how to safely transition to the outdoors this spring… [click to continue…]

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How to Run with the Flow of Your Menstrual Cycle

by Jenny on January 31st, 2012

It took me several years to realize that my body runs in cycles. Every month, about 5-7 days prior to my cycle starting, running would get really hard. My breathing would be more labored, my legs felt like lead and I just felt down right tired. Then, like something out of Harry Potter movie, the spell would be broken and I could run and train almost effortlessly. Coincidentally, that magic would appear right after my cycle began and continue until the next PMS phase.

My inner wizard decided to begin to track the changes daily. I wrote down every workout, my effort levels, pace, heart rates, crabbiness level, and where I was in my cycle.  It didn’t take me but a few months to begin to notice a trend. There was no need for scientific data, it was all right there in front of me…

  • My heart rates were 5-10 beats or higher in runs during the 7-10 days prior to menstruation [PMS] and would drop to normal rates once I began to menstruate and actually lower 5+ beats during ovulation (aka – the Wonder Woman phase).
  • My breathing was more labored in my hard runs during PMS and easier during the rest of the cycle.
  • My motivation was much lower during PMS and I found it more challenging to get the runs in due to low energy levels.
  • I was much more fatigued during PMS and slept and napped more often.
  • I noticed I had more muscle soreness when I ran races in my PMS phase than any other time of my cycle.
  • Ovulation was the optimal training zone, with lower heart rate at faster speeds, faster recovery and the ability to leap small buildings in a single bound (really.)
  • And I bet you’ll be surprised to find out I craved sweets during PMS (shocker) but didn’t during the rest of my cycle . [click to continue…]

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Blisters form from a combination of moisture and friction.  Moisture builds from sweat and the elements (rain) while friction stems from a sock or shoe rubbing against your skin.  Here are three easy ways to prevent blisters from ruining your next run.

  • If the shoe fits…  The key to prevention blisters from happening is to start by getting fitted for walking or running shoes.  It is common to go with your casual shoe size when picking out athletic shoes, but that formula can leave you with ill-fitting shoes, sore feet and blisters.  Shop at your local walking or running specialty store to get properly fitted for shoes that will support your feet and your goals.  They should watch you walk in the shoes and their should be at least a thumb’s width of space between your longest toe and the end of toe box (front of the shoe).  It will make all the difference on your journey.
  • Sock it to ‘em.  While you’re at the store invest in a pair of socks that wick the moisture away from your skin.  You can also order them online – my go-to socks these days are Drymax.  You may also find great benefit with Injinji socks (toe socks) since your blisters are forming on your toes.  Injinji socks provide a sock layer around each toe to prevent friction between your piggies.  They take a little longer to put on, but they are well worth the effort.
  • Bag it.  If you’re still having blister problems consider lathering your feet with an inexpensive blister-relief product like Bag Balm or Body Glide.  I lathered my feet with Bag Balm while racing in the Eco-Challenge in the wet jungles of Fiji and never had a blister.  It works like a charm as it creates a waterproof seal between your skin and the sock and moisturizes your feet while you’re on the move!

If none of these strategies work, consider seeking advice from a foot doctor who can better evaluate what may be causing them.  You should also review your training plan as increasing mileage too quickly can cause wear and tear on your body, including your feet.

If you do develop a blister, remember the safest way to address it is to use a sterilized needle to drain it and cover with a band-aid to prevent infection.

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