Archive for December, 2006

Shocking Shin Splints

Shin splints – what a descriptive phrase! It conjures up images of a shattered bone loose in your leg. As descriptive as that is, and that *is* how it feels when you have the condition, in fact that isn’t what’s happening at all.

The term shin splints refers to multiple possible conditions, and although in severe cases a stress fracture of the bone is possible, in most cases the condition will be concerning the muscles and tendons around the shin bone.

It’s a condition affecting all types of sports, and for runners it is almost an inevitability, because the body is not prepared to take the pounding that comes from running unless it is properly conditioned.

When I turned 40 in 2006 I decided I would run the London Marathon to mark the occasion. I knew this would be a challenge as I was so unfit, and there have been plenty of times when I told myself what a stupid challenge it had been! None more so than when I first had shin splints.

I had got a good ten weeks into my training when I got a tweak in my groin muscle, ironically not sustained through running! I took a couple of weeks off, and when I had got back into my stride so to speak, I noticed aches in my left lower leg. I put it down to the aches of getting fit and carried on. Once the ache turned into the kind of sharp pain I would associate with the term ‘shin splints’, I decided I needed to research the issue.

There is a bucket load of information available online, but as is the case with most health issues, there is almost too much information! A lot of it contradicts itself, and what you do find is fragmented, so you end up flitting from one site to another trying to piece it all together.

Being an online writer and publisher, it didn’t take me long to realise that what I needed was the kind of thing I could write myself, with the facts presented simply and efficiently, so I proceeded to write my Coffee Shop Guide to Shin Splints.

In this I could present the information about shin splints, what causes them, how to treat them, and better still how to prevent them in the first place!

It may sound glib to say that to heal and prevent shin splints, you simply address the causes and then stop doing those causes, but in fact that is pretty much *all* it takes to do it!

There can be one or more causes, and any combination, but it only needs a few steps to correct the issues, and I can honestly say that I have now left shin splints in the past for good!

Read more about Gordon Bryan’s Coffee Shop Guide To Shin Splints at:

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Posted by The Running Guy - December 29, 2006 at 4:57 pm

Categories: Injuries   Tags:

5 Things You Must Know Before Running A Marathon

1. Proper preparation prevents poor performance

One of the biggest mistakes you can make before running a marathon is to assume that ‘it’ll be alright on the day’; ‘The crowd and adrenalin will get me round’; ‘How hard can it be to run 26.2 miles?’ Make no mistake, it is a very long way and people can seriously damage their health by underestimating the challenge. Proper preparation involves doing some consistent training and following a recommended programme set out by an expert. It also involves investing a little bit of money in good running shoes and other equipment.

2. Running a marathon requires a lifestyle change (sorry, it just does!)
If you are serious about running a marathon well it will require three major lifestyle changes, at least for most of us it will.

• You need to sort out your nutrition. What I mean is that no serious runner will put junk into their body and expect to perform well. I’m afraid that means MacDonalds and their likes need to be shelved for the duration of training and your intake of fruit and vegetables needs to increase dramatically.

• You need to sort out your hydration. Most of us are actually permanently dehydrated through a lack of water. Whilst training for a marathon drink much more water than normal and severely cut back on your alcohol intake. I’m afraid that alcohol is poison to a runner.

• You need to rest much more than you used to.

3. Your pre-race preparation can make all the difference between success and failure
The worst thing you can do is just swan up to the start line and start running. It won’t be long until you’re a dying swan if you do that! Without proper pre-race preparation your race can be over before it begins. Here are a few vital things to get right before the race begins:

• Think carefully about what you will wear on the day. Don’t wear anything new but only what you’ve already trained in.

• Don’t get freaked out by the starting procedure. Give yourself plenty of time and take some warm stuff in case you are held up. A bin bag is always good in case it’s cold. Warm up properly so that you don’t get any pulled muscles.

4. Get your mind sorted out for the actual race

• Prepare your mind. Visualize the course as much as you can.

• Visualize finishing and celebrating.

• Everyone has negative thoughts. When they occur just push them away and remind yourself of the good training days.

• Apply lubricant to areas that will chafe.

• As you warm up check that you don’t need a last minute toilet break. During the Race….

• Do not “race” during the first 20 miles of the marathon. Start slowly!

• Do not panic if the pace seems wrong. Many things can happen, it’s a long race and there will be plenty of time to make up early slow splits.

• If it’s windy stay behind other runners and shelter from direct head winds.

• Do not race through the water stations. Stop if necessary. Finally, and most important, HAVE FUN!

5. A good after-race strategy is crucial if you want a quick recovery
Many runners find themselves in great pain after a race. So much so that it puts them off ever running another race. Here are a few tips to help you get back to normal living as soon as possible.

• Immediately after finishing you should try to keep walking for 5-10 minutes to allow your legs to cool down. If the weather is cold, windy, or wet make an effort to get inside or back into warm clothing. Keep drinking small amounts of water or sports drink if your stomach will allow it, even when you feel you no longer need to. My personal favourite is ‘Complete’ from the Juice Plus+ organization.

• Ice any sore spots immediately.

• As soon as you feel like eating, begin with small amounts of easily digestible food that you know will agree with your stomach. Although carbohydrate replacement is vital, protein is important for rebuilding damaged muscle tissue immediately following the race and for the next few days. Drink a lot of water for 48 hours.

• Keep your legs elevated as much as possible for the 24 hours after the race. If you found this article at all helpful then please visit my blog which is updated regularly with helpful advice and my own personal take on marathon training and nutrition. Go to

William Milton is a 49 year old married man (27 years) with 2 children and a Jack Russell called Swizzle. He enjoys many sports but is particularly dedicated to running marathons. William lives near London, England.

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Posted by The Running Guy - December 23, 2006 at 7:46 am

Categories: Training   Tags:

How to Run Faster

When I trained seriously for marathon running, I thought that the runner who ran the most miles would be the best. I didn’t become a great runner, but I did become an expert on injuries. My patients seldom come to me with a running injury that I haven’t had.

Many top runners run more than 100 miles a week because their bodies have the genetic ability to withstand such abuse, but the vast majority of runners will never be able to run 100 miles a week without being injured frequently. Furthermore, running a lot of miles slowly will slow you in races. The ability to run fast in races depends more on how fast you run in practice than on how many miles you run each week.

At the University of Copenhagen, Danish scientists studied experienced runners who had been running 60 miles a week at a fast pace. One group was told to cut their mileage in half to only 30 miles a week, but to run a series of around 50 to 100 yard dashes as fast as they could. The other group continued running 60 miles a week at a fast pace. Runners who ran fewer miles at a faster pace had a 7 percent improvement in their body’s maximal ability to take in and use oxygen.

Runners who did not increase their speed in practice did not improve, even though they ran twice as many miles. Jogging slowly reduces your chance of injury, but it won’t help you to run fast. You can race only as fast as you run in practice.

However, every time you run fast, your muscles are damaged and feel sore on the next day, and it takes at least 48 hours for your muscles to heal enough to allow you to run comfortably again at a very-fast pace. After every workout in which you run very fast, take the next day off or run at a much slower pace. Most top athletes plan their workouts so they run very fast only two days a week. Try to run fast once or twice a week, never on consecutive days, and don’t run fast when your legs feel heavy or hurt.

Weight training should be part of your program also. Working against resistance or lifting weights makes you faster and improves coordination in all sports that requiring strength and speed.

Training is specific, so bicycle racers train for strength by climbing hills in very high gears; runners train for strength by running rapidly up hills; rowers and swimmers use pulleys with weights on their ends that mimic the way they use their arms when they swim or row.

Muscles are made of two different types of fibers: the red, slow-twitch fibers, used for endurance; and the white, fast-twitch fibers, used for strength and speed. When you strengthen a muscle, you train the white fibers that also make you faster, so strength training helps you move faster. Strength training also improve coordinations because stronger muscles use fewer fibers for the same task and therefore are easier to control.

Dr. Gabe Mirkin has been a radio talk show host for 25 years and practicing physician for more than 40 years; he is board certified in four specialties, including sports medicine. Read or listen to hundreds of his fitness and health reports at

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Posted by The Running Guy - December 16, 2006 at 10:38 am

Categories: Race, Training   Tags:

Hydration, Hydration, Hydration

Enough can’t be said of the importance of keeping properly hydrated during a training run or a race. All races, whether it is a 5km or a Marathon, have several water stations for good reason. During exercise, we lose fluids at a rate that even many seasoned athletes underestimate. On a hot summer run we can lose 2-3 liters of fluids per hour as our bodies perspire to cool our core and keep our blood flowing efficiently. Not replacing lost fluid can result in poor performance, and more importantly, hypothermia or dehydration. Signs of dehydration can be noticed in as little as ½ hour. Muscle fatigue, headaches and dizziness are all a result of not replenishing fluids affectively. The importance of proper hydration increases significantly with intense or longer runs. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends that individuals drink about 500 ml (about 17 ounces) of fluid 2 hours before exercise to promote adequate hydration and allow time for excretion of excess ingested water.

During a run, fluids should be consumed at regular intervals. 4-6oz of fluids every 15-20 min. will help replace water lost through sweating. We‘re all different and some of us perspire more than others, so what works for your running partner may not be adequate for you. For runs lasting more than 1 hour or intense workouts less than an hour, it’s also important to replace glycogen stores (carbohydrates used to fuel muscles) and electrolytes ( sodium and potassium important for proper muscle function). These requirements are in addition to proper hydration. Gels provide an easy to digest solution to carbohydrate intake as well as supplying modest amounts of sodium and potassium. Drinks like Eload, GO2, Cytomax or Gatorade are great for hydration as well as electrolyte replenishment. There are many other products on the market to help us in our quest for optimal performance, but remember that proper training ultimately is the key to success.

Nick Capra has over 25 year’s experience in the athletic footwear and apparel industry. His experience extends to amateur and professional athletes as well as special needs medical referrals. Nick is currently apparel buyer for and writes regularly on a variety of related topics.

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Posted by The Running Guy - December 12, 2006 at 9:28 pm

Categories: Race, Training   Tags:

The Importance of Running Training at Goal Pace

When you are seriously working towards a key race, you are using a focused running program. You do your long runs, easy runs, tempo runs and intervals. Great ! But something is missing in this picture: Goal Pace Running!

Why you need to run at goal pace during your training

Running a race is exciting. I always get nervous in the last half an hour before a race. Does not matter what race I am running. I need to run to the bathroom and feel uneasy about the race. Have I trained enough?

Suddenly I feel a little pain in my left knee or my right achilles. I stretch a bit more. Do a few strides. Run to the bathroom again.

After the race has started this uneasy feeling is gone almost immediately. I then focus on my pace. I know exactly how fast to go. Why? Because I incorporated goal pace runs in my running schedule, of course !

As you know, it pays off to run even splits (= run at a steady pace per mile throughout the race). You know those runners as well, who start off too fast and burn out well before the finish line. I know them too and I am certain of one thing: they should have done goal pace runs in their training !

So, one reason of doing goal pace runs is to make sure that you are able to run even splits during the race. So you know how fast to go and don’t burn out early. Or that you realize afterwards that you should have pushed it a bit more.

There is another good reason for goal pace sessions. If you are uncertain about whether you’ll be able to hold your pace until the end, then you can test yourself during training.

Suppose you want to do a 10K in 40 minutes. If you have severe troubles when performing a 5K in 20 minutes in your training, then you have got to wonder…

A race usually brings out a little extra in you. But when you can’t run half the distance in goal pace your goal is probably a bit too ambitious.

So the second reason for goal pace running is to find out whether you are ready for your goal race or not.

Goal pace sessions for different distances

When you are training for shorter distances upto 10K, your goal pace sessions are different from when you are training for longer distances (half or full marathon).

Intervals, Time Trials and Test Races at goal pace are all great for races upto 10K.

When you are training for the half or the full marathon, you are better off doing a prolonged effort of part of the race distance at goal pace.

A variation to this is to first do a part at easy pace and then do a number of miles at goal pace.

Goal pace running is an important part of your running program. Yes, you focus pretty much all your training on the traditional running training; your long runs, easy runs, tempo runs, and intervals. But you will want to put at least four to six workouts in your running schedule which are focused on running at goal pace.

After all, running at goal pace is a very good way to make sure that you find your right pace when race day comes and that you’ll be able to hold on that pace for the whole race !

Dominique de Rooij is an avid runner and founder of Best Running Tips is a website devoted to Beginner Running Tips, Training, Apparel and Gear.

Want to know exactly which goal pace sessions are most effective for a 5K, 10K, half or full marathon? Then visit =>

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Posted by The Running Guy - December 9, 2006 at 5:45 pm

Categories: Training   Tags:

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