Newsletter Archives: Volume 23, November 2000
Hills Build Strength
Everyone can benefit from doing some hill accelerations. Hill training
provides a gentle and effective transition between very slow running
and the faster speed play needed by veteran marathoners for faster
performance. If you're just starting to run, you shouldn't jump
into hill play. But those who've been running regularly for six
months or more can benefit from the strength increase which only
hill training can give. You don't have to have a time goal to benefit
from play on the hills.
If You're Doing Hill Training for the First Time . . .
Beginning hill runners should be conservative. It's too easy to
run too fast in the first few sessions without realizing it. DON'T
PUSH THE EFFORT! Run at a comfortable and non-fast pace on each
incline during the first few hill sessions. The grade of the hill
will be enough of a challenge to bestow a training effect. After
three hill play sessions, you may run the hills a little faster.
Hill Training Rules:
- Never run all out!
- Never go to the point that you're huffing and puffing and can't
- Don't run so hard that you feel significant tension or extreme
exertion in any of the muscles or tendons in the back of your
legs. If this happens, slow down immediately and shorten your
stride. (The lengthening of the running stride out of its efficient
range can cause injury, extra fatigue and long recovery.)
Marathon Hill Training:
- Take a very slow one to two-mile warm-up and warm-down.
- Pick a hill that is 200 to 800 meters long.
- The grade of the hill should be very gentle.
- Run up; walk down.
- Run with a smooth, continuous effort over the top of the hill.
- Never sprint or run all out. Just maintain an increased turnover
rate over the top.
- Start with two or three hills, and increase by one or two hills
per week until you can run eight to 12 hills.
- Don't feel like you have to increase the number each session.
Back off if tired or sore.
Remember to put the PLAY in Hill Play By picking an interesting
hill, you can improve your motivation and fun.
You may vary the cadence or turnover of your legs in segments of
the hill. When you have a hill play group, there is always the potential
for more fun. (Just be sure that you aren't running faster than
Holiday Weight Gain Adds
(From American Running Association's Running & Fit News,
December 2000, p. 1, http://www.americanrunning.org)
Most adults will tell you they gain about five pounds every year
between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day. In fact, according to a
recent study, Americans gain only about a pound due to holiday eating
and drinking. But before you celebrate with another helping of turkey,
remember that for most people, that one pound is probably not gone
by the time the next holiday season rolls around. Over the long
run, this may help to explain why our weight tends to creep up as
we age, despite an active lifestyle.
A surplus of only 3,500 calories above energy demands results in
a pound gained which, of course, requires a 3,500-calorie deficit
to lose. Over the holidays, when rich foods and high calorie drinks
are everywhere, 3,500 calories is easy to accumulate. To add to
the problem, researchers have found that drinking alcoholic beverages
tends to increase the amount of food you consume not only at that
meal, but also for 24 hours afterwards.
If you are a thirty-mile a week runner (which by the way is the
mileage necessary to burn 3,500 calories), you are probably not
planning to increase that mileage as a result of holiday eating.
In fact, most of us tend to cut back over the holidays to accommodate
travel plans, family time, and recovery from seasonal training,
not to mention inclement weather.
An ounce of prevention may be worth a pound of flesh, which can
contribute to high blood pressure, coronary artery disease, and
even osteoarthritis. Over half of the American population is significantly
overweight. For information on nutrition, calories, and weight control,
visit www.eatright.org, the Web site of the American Dietetic Association
or ask our Clinic Advisors.
(New England Journal of Medicine, 2000, Vol. 342, No. 12, pp. 861-867;
American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 1999, Vol. 69, No. 2, pp.
The Athlete's Kitchen
Copyright: Nancy Clark 3/01
Let's Go Surfing: Website Nutrition
Where can I get answers to my questions about creatine? Pre-exercise
eating? Sports drinks? The latest sports nutrition news?
The Gatorade Sports Science Institute (www.gssiweb.com) has an excellent
website that offers a whole library of accurate sports nutrition
information about all topics (not just fluids). You have to register
to have access to the information, but the two minutes needed to
do so are worth the effort. You'll find abundant information about
sports supplements, pre-exercise nutrition, and other topics of
interest. If your question has not already been answered in the
frequently asked questions section, you can even submit it to be
answered by an expert sports scientist.
The American College of Sports Medicine (www.acsm.org) also offers
good sports nutrition information. Click on Healthy Activity Update,
and use the Current Comments to answer your questions about chromium,
creatine, stress fractures, and other topics of popular interest.
If you are really into heavy duty sports science, you can get the
table of contents (with abstracts) of The Journal of Applied Physiology
(http://jap.physiology.org. Note, there is no www.) This information
may take some effort to digest, but you'll certainly know the current
"I've always wanted to have a nutrition check-up but feel at
a loss for where to find a good sports nutritionist. Help!"
You can get the names of local registered dietitians (RD) who specialize
in sports nutrition at www.eatright.org (the website for the American
Dietetic Association). Simply put your zip code into the Find a
Dietitian slot, and you'll get a list of names.
Contrary to popular belief, this nutrition professional will not
"put you on a diet" but rather will answer your questions about
food and nutrition, and help you reach a realistic weight goal,
if weight is an issue for you. With personalized, professional eating
advice, you can successfully enjoy more energy, delay fatigue, and
invest in your future health and well being. The site also has a
Tip of the Day and a Feature Article that can add to your nutrition
knowledge.sports and life.
"What about salt? Nutrasweet? Coffee? Bioengineered food?"
For answers to your questions about specific foods, go to http://ific.org/.
This website, sponsored by the International Food Information Council,
can answer your food questions as well as offer information about
nutrition for children, teens & older adults, food safety tips,
dental health information--plus more. Simply put a key word (such
as sugar) into the Search slot, and you'll get access to several
articles that address that issue.
"How many calories are in a Big Mac? A chocolate frosted Dunkin
Donut? A Taco Bell bean burrito?"
Fast food connoisseurs can find nutrition information about their
favorite foods at many of the major chain restaurants' websites.
If you tend to frequently visit a fast food restaurant, at least
educate yourself about what you are eating.
Here's a sampling:
www.dunkindonuts.com: a chocolate frosted glazed donut, 300
calories; a plain munchkin, 55 calories, a blueberry muffin, 490.
cheese personal pan pizza, 630 calories.
You'll have to look hard for the nutrition information on this site;
it's hidden under countries/usa/food/nutrition information. But
it's there: a Big Mac, 590 calories!
Best bet, a bean burrito with 370 calories. Remember: Even active
people who are trying to lose weight have at least 500 to 600 calories
per meal, and 300 to 500 for snacks. Fast food calorie information
can help you spend those calories wisely--and perhaps more healthfully!
For more complete calorie--and protein, fat, vitamin and mineral--information,
tap into the government's food data base at http://www.nal.usda.gov/fnic.
Click on Food Composition, then USDA Nutrient Database for Standard
Reference, then Search. Write in, let's say banana, and you'll get
41 banana options--more than you'd ever want to know!
"I struggle with food and weight obsessions. Do any websites
offer support to help me transform my food fears into better eating?"
Because the Internet offers anonymity, many people who struggle
with food and weight issues find safe places on the web that offer
help and support. For example, at http://www.somethingfishy.org,
you can participate in chats, find solutions to your food fears,
use the referral network to find professional counselors and treatment
centers in your geographic area, and learn clever mantras such as
"Scales are for fish" and "Don't fight your genes, change your jeans."
If your life is touched by someone who struggles with food, this
site can also teach you how to best help your loved one.
is another good site that can enhance the process of coming to peace
with food. This on-line book catalogue offers an excellent assortment
of positive self-help reading material. (I highly recommend The
Don't Diet, Live-It! Workbook.) This site also links to several
other self-help sites.
"My wife complains I spend too much time on the Internet..."
If you are addicted to the Internet--or for that matter addicted
to any other vice (alcohol, exercise, gambling, food, TV) www.HeadDocs.com
offers information to help you sort out what's healthy, what's harmful,
what's passion, what's obsession. Perhaps it can offer a perspective
that will help you better balance your life with appropriate exercise
and overall good health.
Nancy Clark, MS, RD, personal nutrition counselor at SportsMedicine
Associates in Brookline MA, teaches casual and competitive athletes
how to eat to win. Her best-seller Nancy Clark's Sports Nutrition
Guidebook, Second Edition is reputed to be among the best books
on this topic. It is available by sending $22 to Sports Nutrition
Services, 830 Boylston St. #205, Brookline MA 02467 or via http://www.nancyclarkrd.com.
Running Form: Part Two - Bounce
When in doubt, use less energy and stay lower to the ground, and
you'll run smoother and quicker with better leg turnover. The energy
spent in bouncing too high even by an inch is wasted - burned up
in the air. The higher you lift yourself off the ground, the greater
shock you have to absorb when landing and the longer it'll take
for your feet and legs to recover from that run. Excess bounce also
forces the legs to go through inefficient, extraneous motion during
the extra time in the air. A higher back kid, for example, is the
result of excess leg swing because your body is off the ground for
an extra second or so. Such a kick produces early fatigue in the
You can correct bounce by keeping your feet close to the ground
during sections of every run, especially when you feel the temptation
to bounce (during the first mile and when going downhill). Instead
of bouncing and spending energy, save your resources with a quick
and light "lift-off" of the foot. You'll run about as fast by staying
low to the ground with more steps per minute.
How to Run a Marathon Efficiently
Marathon form is most efficient when you don't feel any noticeable
effort, when running is almost automatic.
- Feet should stay low to the ground - no noticeable knee lift.
- Upright posture - Your body should be balanced with head over
shoulders, over hips, so that no muscle power is needed to keep
the body in position.
- Stay light on your feet. Those who want to improve times should
increase turnover rate instead of stride length. (Turnover is
the number of times your feet touch each minute.)
- The feet do not spring dramatically off the ground; they gently
"lift off" in a reflex action as the body rolls forward.
- During most runs, concentrate on eliminating discomfort and
noticeable effort in the exercising muscles. Strive to feel relaxed,
comfortable and smooth. Part Three (Overstride) will be in next
Part Three (Overstride) will be in next month's issue.
The Chill That Bites:
Windchill can nip noses or lead to frostbite. Here's what you should
You're packing for that long-awaited, late-autumn trip into the
Mule's Ear Wilderness (or just going out to shovel snow from the
driveway!). The Weather Channel says to expect 35 degrees F to 40
degrees F, with 15 to 20 mph winds, with a "windchill factor" of
5 degrees F. So what temperature should prepare for?
To answer that question, it helps to know the windchill facts.
- The windchill factor refers to the rate your body cools, not
to the temperature of the air.
- When the air is dry, the wind cannot lower your skin temperature
to less than the ambient air temperature. In other words, if the
thermometer reads 33 degrees F, that's as low as your skin temperature
can get, no matter how hard the wind blows. That means you'll
be uncomfortable if you're not dressed properly, but you won't
get frostbite. You will cool down much faster, however, which
is a setup for hypothermia.
- Wind blowing over exposed, wet skin can drop your temperature
to slightly less than the ambient temperature, making your body
cool even faster than when you're dry, and you may enter the frostbite
- When the mercury is at or below 32 degrees F, exposed skin will
freeze faster in the wind. For instance, exposed flesh freezes
in 30 seconds if the temp is -30 degrees F and the wind is blowing
30 mph. Just remember that when it's below freezing, limit the
amount of time skin is exposed. Gloves are essential, as is a
hat, and a face-covering balaclava is your best bet.
Bottom line: The effects of cold and wind can be subtle but devastating
to the unprepared. Always carry a good wind shell, layer your clothing
so you can easily adjust to stay comfortable and dry, and remember
that the physically fit and well hydrated are less prone to cold
Windchill and Winter Travel
What to do when the combined air and windchill temperatures reach:
32 degrees F: You'll be okay if you're properly dressed,
but be aware that there's the potential for cold injuries.
25 degrees F: Warm clothing is vital, as are hot beverages.
0 degrees F: Check and recheck exposed skin for cold injury.
13 degrees F: Cold is likely to damage exposed skin.
25 degrees F: Cancel the trip and stay home. from Rodale
Report (Rodale, November/December 2000), Backpacker: The Magazine
of Wilderness Travel, http://www.rodale.com
- Got the Blues? Run With A Friend (from American Running Association's
Running & Fit News, December 2000, p. 2, http://www.americanrunning.org):
Social connections in this fast-paced world can get lost in the
shuffle. communities in the past made more time for front porch
chats and backyard dinners - schmoozing with friends and family.
Those relationships do more for us than just pass the time: social
connections ease depression, reduce stress, and boost your immune
system, reducing your risk of cancer and infection.
- University of London researchers examined the effects of psychosocial
factors among women with chronic depression. In a randomized,
controlled trial, volunteer "befrienders" were assigned to women
with depression for one hour a week of friendly contact and supportive
conversation. There was a statistically significant effect resulting
in remission or partial remission of depressive symptoms. Combine
those results with the antidepressive effects of regular exercise
and a regular run with a friend can be a real spirit lifter. For
more information on depression, visit the Web site of Screening
for Mental Health, Inc. at http://www.nmisp.org.
(British Journal of Psychiatry, 1999, Vol. 174, pp. 219- 224,
- Grandma's Cold Recipe: New research may reveal why chicken soup
helps ease cold symptoms. Researchers from the Pulmonary and Critical
Care Medicine Section of the Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha,
Nebraska developed what they called "grandma's soup," made with
chicken, onions, sweet potatoes, turnips, carrots, celery stems,
parsley, and salt and pepper. Then they tested the soup's interaction
with different markers of immunity. End result: the soup had natural
anti-inflammatory properties useful in alleviating a stuffy, running
nose. (from Friday, October 20, 2000 edition of Runner's World
@xtra, Runners World Extra@list.runnersworld.com)
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