Archive for August, 2008

How to Prevent Running Cramps

Knowing how to prevent running cramps should be a part every runner’s basic library of knowledge. Every long time runner, amateur or professional that I have either talked to or studied says that preventing running cramps already puts a runner ahead of most others. Why? A cramp is like a brick wall to a runner. It cannot only slow you down drastically, but completely stop you in your tracks, period. If you are competing or are looking to PR, it is of utmost importance that you not let a cramp develop. If you do, game over. The top 5 things that you can do to prevent yourself from getting a running cramp are listed below.

Hydrate Adequately

Even at sedentary activity levels your body needs plenty of water, about 64 ounces daily, to function properly. It uses water to help the transportation and utilization of nutrients and oxygen. An inadequate water supply can create inefficiencies in this process and cause you to have cramps. While running on a regular basis your body needs twice as much or more as the average sedentary person, about 128 ounces daily. However, click here to read the full guide on how to hydrate properly.

Eat Smarter

Eating habits go a long way to prevent running cramps. You must make sure that you are eating enough calories to start off with. Second, you need to balance your diet. Third, you need to eat at the right time. Make sure you eat 30-45 minutes before the start of your run, no more, no less. Running too soon after you eat will divert oxygen carrying blood to your digestive system when your muscles need it more. Running too late after you eat will lead to a lack of fuel. You need to have generous amounts of complex carbohydrates in your diet, 6-11 servings per day from foods such as cereals, breads, potatoes, and pastas. These are the body’s preferred source of fuel because they are the easiest to break down and provide a steady stream of glucose. Proteins and fats, on the other hand, are the hardest to break down and are therefore not the ideal source of fuel for running. However, eating 2-3 servings of meats and dairy per day will help you recover after your runs and stay strong throughout your training. Finally, eat 2-3 servings of fruits and vegetables per day. These will provide you with essential vitamins and minerals to help your body move things along more efficiently. In particular, these vitamins include A, C, D, E, K, and the B vitamins (thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, biotin, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, and folate). The minerals you have to closely balance are sodium, potassium, and magnesium, which aid in efficient muscle contractions. If you are unable to get in enough fruits and vegetables, consider taking a multi-vitamin.

Stretch / Warm-up

Your muscles will cramp up if you strain them. Keeping them limber will significantly reduce your risk of straining them, and therefore reduce your risk of getting cramps. Before your runs, do a five to ten minute walk or jog to warm up. After your warm up, stretch for about ten minutes to fifteen minutes. Devote most of this time to your lower body; hips, glutes, quads, hamstrings, groin, and calves. However, do stretch your upper body as well. I’ve seen people get back and shoulder cramps because they ignored this area. Do the same stretching routine after your runs.

Take Deep Breaths

You need to have adequate levels of oxygen to prevent running cramps. A cramp could be caused by a lack of oxygen. During exercise, your body has an increased need for oxygen to burn fuel and move waste. To avoid a cramp that is caused by a lack of oxygen, take deep breaths. The deepest breaths are always taken by utilizing both the mouth and nose to breathe.

Condition Your Body

Nothing can keep you safer from cramps more than good old fashioned conditioning. As you run more and more, you will gradually increase your body’s aerobic capacity and waste removing ability. You will be able to endure high levels of exertion for long periods of time and your muscle fibers will simply be stronger to withstand strain. However, this is a slow process and it takes several months to a couple years to develop. Take small gradual steps, never increasing your speed or distance more than 10% per week.

Ark Agpalza is a long time runner and at the time of publication of this article was working as a product expert in the running industry.

You may republish this article in it’s entirety and without changes if you provide a link to

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Posted by The Running Guy - August 31, 2008 at 11:28 am

Categories: Injuries   Tags:

Runners Knee – The What, Why and How to Recover

Runners knee or chondromalacia of the patella is a common but preventable condition.


-Pain around and (sometimes) behind the kneecap

-Pain running downhill or down stairs

-Reoccurring pain even after taking a few days off

-Stiffness and soreness after sitting for long periods of time

-Crunching and clicking when you bend and extend your leg

Basically, runners knee happens when your knee is not moving within its designed track and is rubbing on its sides. The grinding on the sides of the knee cap wears down cartilage and over time loses its cushioning effect. Then it gets painful.


-Weak quadriceps. Running really works, builds and strengthens the hamstrings. Unfortunately it doesn’t work your quads nearly as well. If you are only running for exercise, this muscular imbalance starts to create problems for your knee. It’s the thigh muscles that hold the kneecap in place. So an imbalance is enough to throw it off track and pull it to one side or another.

-Watch your feet for proper running technique. If you are rolling your feet in (overpronating) or rolling your feet out (supinating) you are at a greater risk of developing runners knee.

-Overuse. If you have drastically increased your mileage then you should cut back and take it slower. Runners are more prone to runners knee when they hit about 40 miles per week. Instead, work on speed, intervals and lower body strengthening before adding miles to your runs.


-Put ice on your knees after a run for about 10-15 minutes.

-Take an anti-inflammatory like Aspirin or ibuprofen after you run.

-Wear good shoes that stabilize your feet.

-Put heat pads on and around the knee when you go to bed.

-Do squats and leg extensions to strengthen your quads.

When I first started running I started to get a crunchy and sore knee. I started performing lower body strength exercises and I have not had a problem since! Definitely add strength training in to your workout regimen if you are a runner. Just don’t start when it already hurts!

Runners knee is not inevitable and can be prevented. It’s an unpleasant condition and if you happen to get it, despite preventative measures treat it as quickly as possible so you can hit the road again.

Run Safe!

Kaleena Lawless

Personal Training Specialist

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Posted by The Running Guy - August 18, 2008 at 7:27 am

Categories: Injuries   Tags:

Painful Blisters Are No Fun on the Run!

Painful blisters often plague distance runners. Blisters, as we all know, are caused by friction. Repeated rubbing of damp skin creates more friction than dry skin. Reduce dampness as well as the rubbing, and you’ll reduce blistering.

So we all know that to prevent blisters, you need to minimize friction. This begins with shoe selection. Shoes should fit comfortably, with about a thumb’s width between your longest toe and the end of the shoe. Remember that this is often your second toe, not your great toe! Narrow shoes can cause blisters on the great toe and little toe. A shallow toe box can lead to blisters on the tops of the toes, while loose shoes can create blisters on the tips of the toes. Shoes that are too big can cause sliding of your foot which can blister the soles as well as the tips of your toes.

Always try on shoes in the afternoon or evening, because feet tend to swell during the day. Walk or run around the store before buying them and then wear the shoes around the house for 1 to 2 hours to identify any areas of discomfort. It often helps to break in shoes by wearing them for 1 to 2 hours on the first day and gradually increasing use each day.

Socks can decrease friction between the feet and shoes. Coolmaxx or synthetic moisture wicking socks or even special double-layered socks can minimize shearing forces. These can wick moisture away from the skin more effectively than wool or cotton can, further decreasing the likelihood of blisters. You can also carry extra pairs of socks to change into if your socks become too damp on a long run.

Another preventive measure is to use padded insoles or moleskin to decrease friction in a specific area. Drying agents can also help. Foot powders and spray antiperspirants are inexpensive ways to decrease moisture. For severe sweating, there are prescription antiperspirants you can get from your physician that provide even more effective drying.

A study of West Point cadets revealed a more than 50% decrease in blisters in those cadets that used spray antiperspirant before running, but many experienced some skin irritation; so test the antiperspirant on a patch of your foot before trying this on the run.

A thin layer of petroleum jelly or Body-Glide can also be applied to the feet to decrease friction. Conditioning the skin by gradually increasing activity tends to lead to formation of protective calluses rather than blisters.

Blisters are a fact of life in distance runners. Almost one in three marathon runners experience blisters at some point in their training.

So how should a blister be treated?

1. If the blister is small and not painful, leave it alone! Place a small band-aid or piece of moleskin over it to protect it and treat the cause so it will not become bigger.

2. Large or painful blisters that are intact should be drained without removing the roof. This is a biological barrier and helps with healing. First clean the blister with alcohol or antibiotic soap and water. Then heat a pin over a flame until the pin glows red, and allow it to cool before puncturing a small hole at the edge of the blister. Drain the fluid with gentle pressure, then apply an antibiotic ointment and cover the blister with a bandage. Change the dressing daily-more frequently if it becomes wet, dirty or loose.

3. Once your blister has been drained, you should treat it as an open wound. Dress it daily with a bandage. Keep it dry and clean for a couple days and if you engage in the activity that caused it in the first place before it heals, take care to provide extra padding and secure the area to prevent any rubbing that may irritate the wound. Change the dressing anytime it becomes moist or soiled and keep an eye out for infection.

When should I see a doctor for a blister?
If you experience increased redness, swelling, pain, or green or yellow discharge you should take it to your physician immediately to make sure it’s not becoming infected.

Bottom line: blisters are a common annoyance for many runners. These tips should help you conquer this pesky problem before it slows down your run.

Pain slowing down your run? Dr Marybeth Crane is a board certified foot and ankle surgeon and a vetran marathon running podiatrist. For a copy of her FREE BOOK or more information on running injuries, she can be reached at her website or peruse her musing on her blog! She also offer doctor-approved foot care products for your health!

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Posted by The Running Guy - August 9, 2008 at 2:46 am

Categories: Injuries   Tags:

Fat Runners Get Personal

Some of us fat runners have a continuous battle we fight and that is the battle of the bulge. We take running seriously and at one time may have been a very competitive runner. However, if you are like me, you may have been athletic most of your life, but circumstances and life itself has changed the formula a little. I think the constant variable is the spare tire around my waist that Good-Year lost.

For me it was my wife’s wonderful cooking, a couple of rounds with the doctor cutting my back with a knife, with the last time leaving an artificial disc implant at L5-S1. Oh, and a bought with Graves Disease.

It is my belief that there should be more resources out there for people like some of us. There are people who love the sport of running, but are no longer competitive due to our weight and build. There are several 200+ pound runners out there, but no real resources for us. Remember back when road races had heavyweight classes for folks over 200 pounds? I do and I remember some of these people actually running sub 18:00 for the 5K.

It is my belief that with society today, we find the easy way out of things and follow the path of least resistance. I know I do at times. However, nothing in life is really easy and always comes with work, either on the front end or backend. For some of us, we take it at both ends. Fat runners need each other for running partners, motivation and morale support. There are places to find fat runners on the World Wide Web and all one has to do is search for terms like “running fat” or “running fat gets personal”

The bottom line is that you are not alone and some of us are willing to share, so come join us.

That said, I would love for you to share any comments you may have for this article. If you tried a
workout, meal or anything else you find, let me know what you think. Was it good? Did it stink? Please share, your comments are welcome.

Joe likes building websites and blogs. Most of which share information he finds around the web at various article directories allowing re-publishing of their articles. You can share more with us about your battle of the bulge at

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Posted by The Running Guy - August 5, 2008 at 10:21 am

Categories: Fitness   Tags: