Monday, September 28, 2009

Loving life at the pool with a record high of 103 degrees! Yeah, just the way I like it. HOT!! I just wish I could be IN the pool, not just working on my tan. Actually, I would rather be running in the 103 degrees, but let's not go there. This was on Saturday. Today is it cold and overcast. Go figure. I am off to the gym for a weight workout!

Wherever you are, be there totally. If you find your here and now intolerable, and it makes you unhappy, you have three options: remove yourself from the situation, change it, or accept it totally. Eckhart Tolle

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Going Nucking Futs

This is what I wrote in a text to my friend. "I am going nucking futs. Any questions?"

Seriously, I am serious! Being laid up is a total drag. I am not a daytime TV person and I hate to say that I am getting up close and personal with Dr. Oz and Court tv. Life is a drag when you are caged up.

Yesterday I went to the Doctor expecting him to give me the okay to start swimming. But no, he redressed my foot and didn't take out the sutures and said, I'll see you in two weeks. Wow, two more weeks of bathing in a bathtub with my foot in the air! Two more weeks of no swimming, no driving, no nothin honey. Oh, well, it's all good. I am trying to keep a good attitude and suck it up.

On a positive note, my diet is going well. I am not on a diet, but my eating is doing well. I haven't had any cookies, cake, frozen yogurt, or bars since the 17th. I have cut way back on the amount of nuts I eat, too. That was getting totally out of hand. Nuts are healthy right? But 2-3 cups a day? Crazy! I need to start drinking more water because that is really a problem for me. I don't ever drink enough water so that is my next goal. I am also going to start doing pullups and some bicep curls just so that I don't start to feel like a marshmellow.

I am just one of those people who doesn't like to sit still. I thrive on movement. I am like a hamster on a wheel. Always moving, always distracted. I sound like a spaz, and I guess I probably am. Now I am a spaz in a cage. Picture that. It's not pretty.

I had this surgery for a reason and I feel good about that. I know that I will be stronger from this layoff as my body never gets any down time unless I am sick or injured. This layoff will do me good. I have some exciting running goal for 2010, and I will be thankful that I had my toes operated on during that 10th hour of a 100 mile race.

Have a great weekend people, and make sure and get your shoes dirty this weekend. I will be trying to NOT get my bandages dirty this weekend. Wow, what a bore!

The Three Complaint Rule
Practice the "three complaint rule." When it comes to complaining, you are allowed to complain about something three times. After that, either change your attitude, change your behavior, accept the situation, or move on (and stop complaining)
. Lucy MacDonald

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

I am 5 days post op from foot surgery and things are going well. I feel good, but the staying down is a total drag. Tomorrow I see the Doc and hopefully I will get the dressings off and sutures and just maybe he will let me swim...I'm keeping my fingers crossed!

Up until the surgery, my running was going well. I was back to getting my diet on track and my motivation was returning. I can only think of this layoff as good. All my little aches and pains will have time to go away and my ankle is going to feel great as it has been just chillin in these dressings.

I heard the sad news yesterday about fellow ultra runner Dave Terry's unexpected death. I haven't heard what happened, but it is just a sad reminder to us all to live life to the fullest. Dave was 47 years old and a very fast runner from Oregon. He will be missed by all of his friends and the ultra running community.

"...In the end, people either have excuses or experiences; reasons or results; buts or brilliance. They either have what they wanted or they have a detailed list of all the rational reasons why not." (taken from Matt Erbelis, It Takes Time to be Good)

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face.
You must do the thing which you think you cannot do.
Eleanor Roosevelt

Monday, September 7, 2009

Running and racing with a happy heart

Yesterday I ran the Run on the Sly 50k in Pollock Pines, Ca. I ran the 50 mile there in 2003. For some reason they only have a 50k, 20 miler, and an 8 mile race there now. I wanted to run a 50k before my toe surgery that is scheduled for Sept. 18th. I am not in 50 mile shape and it was looking sketchy whether I could even pull off a 50k! The longest run I have run since July has been only 3 hours but I felt pretty good and thought....why not? The race starts uphill and continues with rolling hills for the entire course. Actually, that is my kind of race. It is a very runnable course with lots of little ups and downs. I wasn't able to run the entire course, but if I was in just a little better shape, it could have been possible. The weather was good, probably around 80 degrees and the trees provided lots of shade. Looking back on what I did right, and what I did wrong, I can say that I probably did not eat or drink enough. My energy level was fine, but it would not have lasted if I was running any longer. I wasn't drinking like I should have and I only took 2 succeed caps all day. What I did right. I ran confident, and positive the entire race. I enjoyed my ipod and sang along with my favorite songs. I had fun and I enjoyed myself. I was thankful for my health and for the ability to run with a happy heart. I finished 7th overall and 1st woman in a time of 4:57:12. I am happy with my time and my finish. I can now have my surgery and look forward to the time when I can run again with pain free toes. I also need to mention that I wore my Drymax socks and had no blisters or hot spots. I wore the new "hyper thin running socks" and loved them every step of the way.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Vitamin I

This article from the New York Times is interesting to me. It should be to you also. In 2006 and 2007, I got Rhabdo during my Wasatch 100 race. Both years I was hospitalized for over a week. Eight people (reported), suffered from this condition after WS100 this year (2009). Erik Skaggs, winner of Wheres Waldo 100k, just got out of the hospital after finishing the race in record time. He has been acutely ill with Rhabdomyolysis suffering with acute renal failure. This is serious stuff, people. We can't live without our kidneys and living on dialysis is no walk in the park. As we say at the hospital regarding life on dialysis, "just shoot me". Seriously, I can't imagine living while on dialysis. That being said, I have totally switched to Tylenol during all my races if I need to take anything.

Phys Ed: Does Ibuprofen Help or Hurt During Exercise?

Dan Saelinger/Getty Images

Several years ago, David Nieman set out to study racers at the Western States Endurance Run, a 100-mile test of human stamina held annually in the Sierra Nevada Mountains of California. The race directors had asked Nieman, a well-regarded physiologist and director of the Human Performance Laboratory at the North Carolina Research Campus, to look at the stresses that the race places on the bodies of participants. Nieman and the race authorities had anticipated that the rigorous distance and altitude would affect runners’ immune systems and muscles, and they did. But one of Nieman’s other findings surprised everyone.

After looking at racers’ blood work, he determined that some of the ultramarathoners were supplying their own physiological stress, in tablet form. Those runners who’d popped over-the-counter ibuprofen pills before and during the race displayed significantly more inflammation and other markers of high immune system response afterward than the runners who hadn’t taken anti-inflammatories. The ibuprofen users also showed signs of mild kidney impairment and, both before and after the race, of low-level endotoxemia, a condition in which bacteria leak from the colon into the bloodstream.

These findings were “disturbing,” Nieman says, especially since “this wasn’t a minority of the racers.” Seven out of ten of the runners were using ibuprofen before and, in most cases, at regular intervals throughout the race, he says. “There was widespread use and very little understanding of the consequences.”

Athletes at all levels and in a wide variety of sports swear by their painkillers. A study published earlier this month on the website of the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that, at the 2008 Ironman Triathlon in Brazil, almost 60 percent of the racers reported using non-steroidal anti-inflammatory painkillers (or NSAIDs, which include ibuprofen) at some point in the three months before the event, with almost half downing pills during the race itself. In another study, about 13 percent of participants in a 2002 marathon in New Zealand had popped NSAIDs before the race. A study of professional Italian soccer players found that 86 percent used anti-inflammatories during the 2002-2003 season.

A wider-ranging look at all of the legal substances prescribed to players during the 2002 and 2006 Men’s World Cup tournaments worldwide found that more than half of these elite players were taking NSAIDS at least once during the tournament, with more than 10 percent using them before every match.

“For a lot of athletes, taking painkillers has become a ritual,” says Stuart Warden, an assistant professor and director of physical therapy research at Indiana University, who has extensively studied the physiological impacts of the drugs. “They put on their uniform” or pull on their running shoes and pop a few Advil. “It’s like candy” or Vitamin I, as some athletes refer to ibuprofen.

Why are so many active people swallowing so many painkillers?

One of the most common reasons cited by the triathletes in Brazil was “pain prevention.” Similarly, when the Western States runners were polled, most told the researchers that “they thought ibuprofen would get them through the pain and discomfort of the race,” Nieman says, “and would prevent soreness afterward.” But the latest research into the physiological effects of ibuprofen and other NSAIDs suggests that the drugs in fact, have the opposite effect. In a number of studies conducted both in the field and in human performance laboratories in recent years, NSAIDs did not lessen people’s perception of pain during activity or decrease muscle soreness later. “We had researchers at water stops” during the Western States event, Nieman says, asking the racers how the hours of exertion felt to them. “There was no difference between the runners using ibuprofen and those who weren’t. So the painkillers were not useful for reducing pain” during the long race, he says, and afterward, the runners using ibuprofen reported having legs that were just as sore as those who hadn’t used the drugs.

Moreover, Warden and other researchers have found that, in laboratory experiments on animal tissues, NSAIDs actually slowed the healing of injured muscles, tendons, ligament, and bones. “NSAIDs work by inhibiting the production of prostaglandins,”substances that are involved in pain and also in the creation of collagen, Warden says. Collagen is the building block of most tissues. So fewer prostaglandins mean less collagen, “which inhibits the healing of tissue and bone injuries,” Warden says, including the micro-tears and other trauma to muscles and tissues that can occur after any strenuous workout or race.

The painkillers also blunt the body’s response to exercise at a deeper level. Normally, the stresses of exercise activate a particular molecular pathway that increases collagen, and leads, eventually, to creating denser bones and stronger tissues. If “you’re taking ibuprofen before every workout, you lessen this training response,” Warden says. Your bones don’t thicken and your tissues don’t strengthen as they should. They may be less able to withstand the next workout. In essence, the pills athletes take to reduce the chances that they’ll feel sore may increase the odds that they’ll wind up injured — and sore.

All of which has researchers concerned. Warden wrote in an editorial this year on the website of the British Journal of Sports Medicine that “there is no indication or rationale for the current prophylactic use of NSAIDs by athletes, and such ritual use represents misuse.”

When, then, are ibuprofen and other anti-inflammatory painkillers justified? “When you have inflammation and pain from an acute injury,” Warden says. “In that situation, NSAIDs are very effective.” But to take them “before every workout or match is a mistake.”

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

As Waistlines Widen, Brains Shrink

From US News & World Report

As Waistlines Widen, Brains Shrink

The obese and overweight have less neurological tissue, study finds

Posted August 25, 2009

By Amanda Gardner
HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, Aug. 25 (HealthDay News) -- For every excess pound piled on the body, the brain gets a little bit smaller.

That's the message from new research that found that elderly individuals who were obese or overweight had significantly less brain tissue than individuals of normal weight.

"The brains of obese people looked 16 years older than their healthy counterparts while [those of] overweight people looked 8 years older," said UCLA neuroscientist Paul Thompson, senior author of a study published online in Human Brain Mapping.

Much of the lost tissue was in the frontal and temporal lobe regions of the brain, the seat of decision-making and memory, among other things.

The findings could have serious implications for aging, overweight or obese individuals, including a heightened risk of Alzheimer's, the researchers said.

"We're all trying to protect our bodies and our brains from aging and this is just one factor that's accelerating that on top of all the other factors such as pollution, smoking, alcohol. We all lose some tissue as we get older and they're saying this is being accelerated," said Paul Sanberg, distinguished professor of neurosurgery and director of the University of South Florida Center for Aging and Brain Repair in Tampa.

According to the U.S. National Center for Health Statistics, 30 percent of American adults 20 years and older -- more than 60 million people -- are now obese, while another 36 percent are considered overweight. Either condition puts you at a much higher risk for type 2 diabetes, cancer and heart disease, as well as cognitive problems.

The findings seem to explain why heavier people are more prone to such cognitive conditions. "This is the first study to show physical evidence in the brain that connects overweight and obesity and cognitive decline," said Thompson, who is professor of neurology at UCLA and a member of the UCLA Laboratory of Neuro Imaging.

The researchers studied brain images of 94 people in their 70s who had participated in an earlier study looking at cardiovascular health and cognition. None of the participants had dementia or other cognitive impairments. They were followed for five years, and any volunteers who developed cognitive symptoms were excluded from the study.

Clinically obese people had 8 percent less brain tissue, while the overweight had 4 percent less brain tissue compared to normal-weight individuals.

Dr. Jonathan Friedman, an associate professor of surgery and neuroscience and experimental therapeutics at the Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine noted that the causal relationship here is not clear. Theoretically, he said, a smaller brain might mean appetite and weight-control centers of the brain are actually propelling the weight-gain process.

Thompson believes it may be a vicious cycle. "Each one is contributing to the other," he said. A person's genetics may be contributing to overeating and weight gain, which leads to less activity, which leads to a shortfall in the oxygen and nutrients that the brain needs to thrive and grow.

Overall, though, the findings really weren't surprising, added Dr. Mitchell Roslin, chief of obesity surgery at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.

"Obesity affects every system in your body. The body can't be splintered. It's completely linked. We are what we eat and we eat too much," he said. "The bottom line is that an obese, sedentary person is going to have a breakdown of every organ system, and that includes a greater chance of impotence and infertility and other things that people don't generally think are directly related to obesity."

Just one more reason to get out there and move. We must burn more calories than we take in. Simple math. Exercising allows us to burn calories and have fun at the same time. Give up the notion that you can be sedentary and still lose weight. Exercise teamed with good healthy eating burns fat and calories, improves circulation, defines muscles, builds strength, and detoxifies the body through sweating. Working out also tends to keep our junk food cravings at bay. It's a win-win situation. With that said, GET MOVING.

Efficient downhill running

The foundations of efficient downhill running are not unlike running on flat ground. In running, the foot hits the ground with a certain amount of force and the better the body is at scooping that energy back up as the foot leaves the ground and not letting it ‘leak out’, the more efficient, fast and powerful running can be.

In efficient downhill running, gravity is your friend. More often than not however the body is unable to handle the momentum, and in many cases, is forced to put on the brakes to maintain control down the hill. Double whammy! This means a runner will miss out on the advantage of gravity, and will actually have to use some of their energy to fight the force that’s could be helping them downhill!

There are a few factors I believe that come into play during efficient downhill running. It’s not about a different style of running than when on flat ground. Think about it as maintaining your running mechanics and “keeping your legs under you” as long as you can at the highest speed you can handle. To do so you need proper running mechanics, key muscles activated, stability through your joints and strong, elastic muscles.


As in all running, the foundation of running efficiently downhill relies upon maintain tall posture and a strong circular motion of the legs underneath the body which means, in its simplest terms, lifting the knees out in front, footstriking directly beneath the body and then pulling the heel back around to start again. In general, I see many people running lower-leg dominant instead of from their hips, with minimal knee raise. This alone would greatly reduce the ability to keep up with momentum while running downhill and certainly make it necessary to ‘put on the brakes’ very early on.


In any type of movement, including running, the abdominals and the glutes are so important to both force production and overall control of the body. Activating and utilizing them properly throughout running mechanics gives the body much greater control over the legs. It also minimizes the impact on the quadriceps and knees that so often take most of the beating on downhill running. Having that control is pivotal in taking advantage of gravity and keeping control over the momentum, especially while having to avoid obstacles if on the trail. Be sure to integrate core strength and stability work along with glute activation exercises in your training.


Your ability to maintain stability through your spine, hips, knees and ankles during each step will be key to controlling you body’s direction and forward speed as you hit the ground. Having strong muscles surrounding the joints that can coordinate efficient movements between the hips, knees and ankles is key. To increase your joint stability, combine single and double leg strength and balance exercises that challenge both linear and lateral movements. Especially for extreme trail running, being able to be stable during those quick changes in direction is not only great for preventing injury, but helps with quickness and agility.


Elasticity is one of the most overlooked elements of endurance performance and I would consider it like icing on the cake for downhill running. “Think of your body as a pogo stick. The metal framework is analogous to your pillar and the springs are like your muscles. We want our bodies to be able to store and release energy powerfully, just like that pogo stick. [Elasticity] is like your body’s shocks and springs.” writes Mark Verstegen in the book Core Performance. You can also think of elasticity as how fast your body is capable of changing the direction of force. In tennis it might be a lateral move to get back across the court. In running it would be how quickly you can get your foot off the ground once it hits, ideally while scooping up all the force you hit with and bringing it all with you into your next stride. It is pivotal to being able to “keep your legs under you” as mentioned earlier. You can train the body to be elastic with explosive exercises, like jumps and bounds, and specific running drills. Opt for fewer reps and make perfect form a priority.

The following video of Chris McCormack enroute to his win at the 2008 Wildflower Long Course Triathlon exemplifies great downhill running. Chris and Eneko Llanos were shoulder to shoulder, both with incredible running form as they approached the final 2km downhill to the finish line. On the downhill Chris easily pulls away from Eneko to win. If you watch closely (pausing the video from time to time helps) you'll see Chris continue to keep his running form intact. He keeps his knees high which allow him to maintain his long running stride down the hill while Eneko's stride shortens. Eneko's knees are not getting as high, so as he extends his leg in his stride, his foot hits the ground sooner than it expects to and there's a bit of a braking effect and definite loss of momentum every stride. What's interesting is that in the video Chris describes his mindset as he's running down the hill in that race and he mentions "forgetting about his technique." Yet you can see that doesn't mean "let the technique go". It's called being "unconsciously competent" and I'd imagine in this case it's due to not to luck but perfect practice making perfect...

Practice smart. Here’s to free speed! Enjoy.