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How to take care of yourself when running in hot weather

Running in hot weather can cause heat-related illnesses, zap your energy and diminish your performance if you are not properly aware of the dos and don’ts before heading out.  The consequences of being ill-prepared for the heat could lead to permanent brain damage or even death due to severe heat stroke and dehydration.

In 2002, while living in South Korea, I suffered from heat exhaustion after running 10km in the heat. I was quite ill and needed medical attention. From that bad experience I learned to hydrate enough before working out, not push myself like I did in the race, and not to race that same day for another 200 metres. I also learned that I don’t run well in the hot weather. My runs are done early in the morning or in the evening.

To keep you safe in hotter than normal conditions, here are my top five running tips that have helped me and are good reminders.

  1. Know the best time to run: Everyone has different levels of tolerance for running in hot and humid conditions. If your run is negatively affected by the heat, try to avoid running in the hottest part of the day, which is from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. If there isn’t an option, try to choose routes in the trails where shade will keep you cool.
  2. Clothing: Wear sweat-absorbing fabrics to help keep you dry and comfortable. Try to avoid moisture-absorbing fabrics like cotton in anything from socks to shorts to t-shirts.  The lighter the garment, the better off you will be. Wear sunglasses and running caps to protect your eyes from the sun year-round.  Your cap will also help shield you from the sun’s ultraviolet rays while preventing your scalp from getting burned. It comes in handy on rainy days too if you’re not a fan of the water beating down in your eyes.
  3. Sunblock: To protect your skin from sun damage and to prevent skin cancer, apply sunscreen before your run.  A very pleasant benefit to protecting your exposed skin is it slows down the natural aging process.  Wear the right SPF according to the pigmentation of your skin.
  4. Hydration: Drink plenty of fluids. Drink at least two to three liters of water a day. Runners need to drink at least two cups of water two hours prior to running and another cup thirty minutes before.  Invest in a water bottle to carry with you or plan your route where you know of multiple sources of water.  Anytime you feel the heat, take a few sips of water as needed.
  5. Slow the pace when running or cross training in the heat. Pool running is a great alternative to running. It can be done with or without a flotation vest and can mimic the running motion in deep water.  Another option is the treadmill, the advantage being if you need to stop early you’ll still be back where you started.  Many gyms provide fans and water fountains. If you feel more tired from the heat than normal, it’s best that you stop and try again later.

After your run, drink plenty of water or a sports drink to replenish lost electrolytes. Don’t forget to eat some cooling foods as well, such as watermelon or cantaloupe.

Remember to listen to your body as this is your guide to stay within the boundaries of not overdoing it. Being a good listener could save your life.

www.runwithit.ca

Stapedotomy surgery improved my hearing and ability to focus

Losing my hearing didn’t happen overnight – it’s like the volume was turned down gradually over the years.  Humans are incredibly adaptable and will find ways to deal with most situations. I was always too busy and too ready to dismiss hearing problems as something that came and went with allergy season and the occasional ear infection. The inevitable result was a loss of hearing that was slowly getting worse. It reached a point where I couldn’t hear what people were saying unless they were facing me. Add a little ambient noise to the room and I would have to lip-read to understand what was being said. Depending on the seriousness of the conversation, I would occasionally fake a smile or nod knowingly if I missed something rather than embarrass myself by asking for a repeat.

I finally made the decision to visit an ear, nose and throat specialist, Dr. Jane Lea. After a thorough examination and hearing test, she diagnosed me with otosclerosis, a genetic disorder that occurs when one of the bones in the middle ear, the staples, becomes stuck. In that state it is unable to vibrate, rendering sound unable to travel through the ear. If you think getting diagnosed with otosclerosis is a bad thing, think again. This was fantastic news because the condition was treatable.

At the time, I was speechless. I didn’t want to admit to having a hearing issue which I considered to be a nuisance. I had not allowed my diminishing hearing to direct me to a conclusion of having a health issue that needed to be dealt with. I actually believed myself to be in perfectly good health. Later, I researched Stats Canada to learn that more than one million adults across the country reported having a hearing-related disability, a number more than 50 percent greater than the number of people reporting problems with their eyesight. Other studies indicate that the true number may reach three million or more Canadian adults, as those suffering from hearing problems often under-report their condition, myself included.

To repair my hearing loss, Dr. Lea gave me two options, which were either get a hearing aid which was the safest, non-invasive route – or have laser stapedotomy surgery which included a negligible (two percent) risk of losing my hearing. I wouldn’t be able to have my hearing returned if the operation was unsuccessful. I was unsure about the ear surgery as I didn’t want to lose what I had left. After thinking about it for a few weeks, I decided to go for the surgery. I confess to being nervous right up to the surgery date because I really couldn’t imagine how my hearing was going to be almost magically restored. Yet Dr. Lea was confident it was my best option and there was a high success rate with this type of operation.

The day of the operation I was nervous because surgery of any kind was foreign to me. I was thinking, “What if the anesthetic doesn’t work and I’m still awake? Should I tell them?” And, “Are all those tools on the tray for me?” And of course, “You will remember to wake me up when it’s time, won’t you?”

The staff at St. Paul’s Hospital was amazing. Before going under, the nurse had a calming effect as she held my hand. When I woke up Dr. Lea was smiling and I could hear better already. What a feeling. The sounds were beautiful and no words could describe the feeling.

Even though you go in expecting the best result, it was still such a relief to learn everything went exactly as planned. There would be no more coping or struggling to hear.

When I came home that same day, I could hear my feet hit the floor for the first time in about two years. It was surreal. I could hear so well that my ear would ring. It spooked me at times being able to hear so perfectly. It was going to take some getting used to. I couldn’t work out for a few weeks so when run day finally arrived I could hear my feet hit the ground. By not having to struggle with my hearing, all of my other senses seem sharper too. I’m more focused on every task than I ever remember being. My overall confidence is no longer an issue. The benefits of having the stapedotomy surgery will last a lifetime.

www.runwithit.ca

Twitter: @christineruns

Clear vision, stay in the game

Improving body and mind through working out takes dedication and time. It takes commitment to get your self in gear, speaking rhetorically and literally.  The running boom has spawned a multi-billion dollar shoe industry, whose experts will help you achieve your goals in comfort.  Our feet are taken care of but what about our eyes?  This is what Alcon DAILIES TOTAL1® contact lenses can do for your vision.  Having your eyes feeling  uncomfortable during a workout will steal your focus and drain your energy.  With high quality contacts lenses you can concentrate on the task at hand. Conversely, your focus at work or school will diminish if your eyes become dry from wearing contacts longer than normal, with no solution in sight (pun intended).
From a sunset walk along the beach, to having coffee with friends, to getting away for the weekend, there is much in life we take for granted.  You end up foregoing it all if you are battling a constant irritation of your eyes.  You may learn to cope, however, without regular eye exams which detect the onset of disease, as well as making you aware of the best eye care available, your eye health could be at risk.
There is a solution for the every-day contact wearer.  ALCON®DAILIES® are daily disposable lenses offering sharper vision.  They are the world’s first water gradient contact lens, meaning they’re designed to offer more comfort and breathability for longer.  They provide more than three hours of additional comfortable wear time per day, compared to their regular lenses.
Taking control of your vision will improve your confidence in everything you do. You will never have to quit a long run because a lens had become uncomfortable.  Athletes will apply the latest information on supplements, diet and training methods to give themselves an edge.   It’s just as important to get proper vision care, which could be a difference maker.
Are your eyes ‘performance ready’? It’s never too late to have an eye exam. It is Vision Health month in May, which is a national campaign to bring awareness to Canadians to get regular eye check ups.  According to the Canadian National Institute for the Blind, (CNIB) seventy-five per cent of vision loss can be prevented or treated.  Preventive measures and early detection of eye disease significantly lowers your risk of vision loss. Keep your eyes healthy by getting a regular eye exam, eating healthy and exercising. You can protect your eyes from ultra violet damage by wearing sun glasses at work or at play.
Learn about some eye conditions such as presbyopia, which is a common eye condition that often occurs around age 40 due to a gradual loss of the eye’s ability to focus on close objects, affecting nearly 1.7 billion people worldwide – a number expected to increase to 2.1 billion in the next five years.
 Alcon Multifocal lenses can treat presbyopia. There will be no squinting to read the menu or blurred vision while looking at your fitness gadget.  Accepting less than perfect vision is no longer necessary with the advanced eye care that is available.
Seeing the world up close and personal is now possible. Please visit your eye care practitioner for further information.
Twitter: @christineruns

Top running tips for conserving energy with efficient style and form

When I first started running, I had  inadvertently adopted a few poor running habits that zapped my energy and caused me to run slower. To get the most out of my running performance and to stay injury free meant developing good running habits. This is always the key to healthy lifelong running.

I was new to the sport of running and had picked up poor running habits -which was easy to do. Having a busy schedule  led to my  thinking that stretching wasn’t important anymore, and neither was checking the weather conditions. The ramifications, however, can be substantial. By not stretching all of your muscle groups after a run, you are setting yourself up for injury that can shelve your running for six weeks or more. And being unaware of an approaching storm or sudden change in temperature can leave you unprotected from the elements at the worst possible time.

Here are my top five tips for adopting a more efficient running style:

  1. Stretching is not only a workout in itself, it’s an essential component to running that offers many benefits, such as improving your athletic performance through increased flexibility, while substantially lowering your risk of injury. Surprisingly, there are many runners that still don’t stretch. Stretching should be done after a 10-minute warm up jog, and again following your workout when your muscles are warm. Hold each stretch for 60 seconds or do two sets consisting of 30 seconds for each stretch.
  2. Carrying your shoulders high and swinging your hands across your body are counter-productive and will deplete your energy, resulting in poor running economy. To correct this you should run relaxed with your shoulders low. Focus on pumping your arms front to back, and your feet will follow. This allows you to conserve energy, especially while running uphill.
  3. Give yourself at least 90 minutes to digest your food before running, otherwise you may experience muscle cramps or an upset stomach. Always carry a water bottle for longer runs, or choose a route where water is accessible along the way.
  4. Avoid clenching your fists, especially as you become increasingly tired. Keeping your hands relaxed will help you to maintain control without cramping or side stitches.
  5. Always dress for the weather conditions – especially at night – for safety. Wear bright, neon, glow-in-the-dark garments with lights, so you can be seen by cars, buses, bikes, etc. For colder weather, wear layers that can be peeled off, carried, and re-deployed as needed. Older shoes lose their cushioning properties and can lead to injuries such as shin splints.

Before going for that run or participating in an event I always double-tie my laces to avoid losing time in a race or wasting time on a training run. I also wear sun screen, even when running on shaded routes. Suggestion-I wear a running cap with brim that will protect my eyes all year round from the sun and the elements.

Hopefully by following these tips your experience will be that much more enjoyable in the long run. Pun intended!

Twitter: @christineruns

YouTube – runwithit

Runners: what’s the deal with shin splints?

I’m not an expert runner by any definition of the word, but I run enough to know the intense and debilitating affects of shin splints.

I started getting them when I first ventured into the sport last year. The first few weeks were terrible, and as a new runner, I didn’t understand what I was doing wrong. Eventually, I fixed the situation by brushing up on my form and creating a stretching routine any professional athlete would be proud of! Sounds easy, right??

Well, a few weeks ago, they came back! I didn’t change my routine and yet, the pain shooting up my shins was unbearable.

Shin splints are common in high-impact activities that put a lot of stress on the feet and legs. It can also be caused by something called overpronation, when the arch of your foot is in constant contact with the ground due to ankle positioning. This limits the body’s ability to absorb the impact of that connection. Sometimes, stopping your activity and stretching out the area can quickly reduce this pain — but a lot of the time, if you continue the activity that caused the shin splints, it can cause serious injury.

So, what to do about it?

Stretch: This may seem obvious, but you would be surprised how little people stretch prior to a workout. Make sure to really work every area. Stretch your arms, your core, your neck, your ankles, and of course, your legs. Sure, the hamstrings are most closely related to shin splints, but if the rest of your body isn’t just as limber, it will cause muscle spasms that will carry down to those shins. I do at least 10 minutes of stretching before I put my shoes on. Try doing some yoga between runs to help keep those muscles stretched and toned.

Get new shoes: This is what I’m going to be doing in the next few weeks. My shoes are old and are loosing their support. This means there is less of a barrier between the pavement and my feet, causing more friction and more pressure on my shins/arches. If you don’t want to get new shoes, maybe try orthotic inserts to help support your arches.

Take a break: I know this isn’t what you want to hear. It wasn’t what I wanted to hear either. But if you are experiencing shin splints, continued stress on the legs will just make it worse and can lead to serious injury. Take one to two weeks off the activity that caused the shin splints. Also try to avoid any high-impact activities that would cause your weight to be placed on the arches of your feet.

Cross train: Just because you aren’t running, doesn’t mean you sit on the couch and watch TV all day! Go for a walk, swim, or hit the gym and use an elliptical or a stationary bike! As long as you avoid activities in which you jump, you’ll be fine! Maybe the better choice is to go for a long walk. Walking is just as good for you as running is, without the stress caused by having your foot hit the pavement with force.

Return slowly: When you do start running again, don’t pick up where you left off. Start slowly and work your way back up. Sometimes, increasing your speed or mileage too quickly can cause shin splints. So, when you do get back into the game, make sure not to over do it. After the run, if your shins are starting to bother you, stretch them out and ice it to reduce inflammation!

Best of luck!

 

What do you do to help ease the pain of shin splints? Let us know in the comments below!

5 Run With It clothing tips for novice runners and walkers

With spring just around the corner – Vancouverites are begging to retire their snow shovels – warmer temperatures can motivate some to take up running for the first time or inspire those determined souls who are trying to come back after a nagging injury.

Before starting a running program, it’s wise to invest in a good pair of running shoes. Your feet are essential to your well being and they deserve the very best that you can provide. If you’ve ever run in soaking wet, heavy, skin-chafing cotton, you’ll know the importance of choosing fabrics that are sweat wicking to help keep you dry and enhance performance while training.

Courtesy of Skechers Canada

Looking for something you can wear straight from a run to the office? Try Firma Energy active wear. Their stylish leggings are great for walking and the office. “Firma energy wear absorbs infrared waves that our bodies omit & re-emits them with far infrared waves , which penetrate the human body, increase blood circulation and stimulate muscle tissue to a depth of 5cm,” says owner Yvonne Hogenes.

Firma athletic-business wear. Photo Credit: Jeanette Brown

Here are the Top 5 Run With It clothing tips for participating in this year’s Vancouver Sun Run 10k, which annually attracts about 50,000 runners, mostly non-competitive; or any other event that may stoke your competitive spirit.

  1. Dress in layers. It is generally cool at the start of the run, so…. wear some clothes you can either throw away or give to someone to hold for awhile.
  2. Bring extra clothes for after the race to change into.
  3. Wear what you normally train in and are comfortable in for the race. New garments, especially socks, can sometimes chafe your skin. For best results, test run a pair of sweat wicking socks so you’ll know what to expect.
  4. Avoid cotton – wear lightweight, breathable sweat wicking fabrics to keep you dry and comfortable.
  5. Wear a runner’s cap to keep you dry and protect you from the sun.

Overall, these clothing tips will help keep you warm, comfortable and help you to perform at your best.

Courtesy of Skechers Canada

www.runwithit.ca
Twitter: @christineruns
Run With It on YouTube – runwithitcb1