Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Don't Call It A Come Back

Don't Call It A Comeback, it may not be very quick but I plan to at least come up with a plane to test this knee out a bit.  As I have hung around the past few months...riding my bike...I've gotten to watch lots of other folks (all of which have been inspiring me- here are a few- thanks to my buddy Eric for putting together a nice recap of achievements this past weekend) run.  If I'm being's tough man.  To watch others do what you so badly want to, but can't.  Sob stories aside, there are always silver linings, right?  I mean...everything does happen for a reason, right?

Well, maybe someone or something knew a little better then I did and was trying to signal to me to slow down a little bit.  Maybe I ignored the smoke signals.  Certainly, a lot goes on in all of our lives and I really do admire those who know when to give in just a little.  I just don't seem to do that very well and many times a wheel or two has to fall off for me to get the point...yes i can be dense.  So maybe this chronic little ache was that wheel literally falling off!  Who knows?

In any event, it's time to at least set some sort of plan in motion to make an attempt to get moving on two feet again.

Here's the plan so far...

1. Giving myself the rest of September to maintain relatively little stress on the leg.  This means no running... and even means no long or brisk walks, etc.  It does mean I will continue to cycle, walk normal "community distances" (that's one of those PT terms that people always wonder about..."what the heck is a community distance they ask?") and most of all-- Don't do anything stupid.

2. Starting in October I'll begin a progressive walking program (I know it sounds very exciting) and see how I respond.  The key is to very predictably increase the dosage of stress (in this case walking) without overloading the system.  This is what any good training program does, but this will be at a level that should be very easy to follow.  So if you're looking for examples of properly dosing exercise to prevent overuse injuries it should be a good example.  I'll provide the specifics next week.

Until then Here's an awesome race and finish if haven't seen it.  Thanks to Julie Culley for sharing!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

What I Did This Weekend Instead Of Being Productive!

1. Tracked Irene

2. Took Lydia on her first Pony Ride (Picture) at the Hunterdon County 4-H Fair.

3. Prayed for a dry basement.

4. Tracked Irene some more.

5. Carried about 267 toys from the patio into the safe haven of the garage after comparing notes with my brother on children's toys that we might prefer to have blown away by the storm!

6. Extended a few downspouts.

7. Took Lydia to the park as Irene approached and hoped no one called child protective services.

8. Eyed the trees in my yard and tried  to calculate which room each would destroy if they fell on the house. Yes, that one is 3x bigger than my house!

9. Had tea time with Lydia...Best tea I've ever tasted!

10. Went out to eat with some great friends in Stockton, NJ as Irene began to bare down on Hunterdon County.  The car ride home began to get a little dicey!

11. Day dreamed about how awesome OhFar will be and if actually wearing lederhosen would be taking it too far!

12. Tried to figure out the best way to convince the dogs that going out in a Hurricane isn't that bad.

13. Laid awake in bed listening to the wind and rain...hoping I hadn't jinxed myself earlier in the day when I had that thought about the trees in my yard!

14. Walked to downtown Clinton and watched the South Branch of the Raritan River overflow it's banks.

15. Cleaned up water in the basement (Luckily it was minimal!)

All in all my family was extremely lucky as the storm provided us with only a glancing blow.  My thoughts and prayers are with all of the communities and families who have had their lives turned up side down by this storm.  I also commend and thank all of the utility workers who have been working tirelessly to restore those families and's truly a monumental task.  Thank You!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Yodelay, Yodelay, YodelayHeeHoo!!!






That's right my yodeling friends...take note- This year something a little different in the way of endurance racing and fall festivals is coming to Hunterdon County and it's sure to be Awesome!  The "O'er Hill & Far Away" Race and Harvest Festival will be held on October 8th, 2011.  The festivities will be kicking off Friday evening (10/7) with the O'er Hill & Far Away Event Expo held at BaseCamp 31 (1250 Rt 31, Lebanon, NJ 08833) where legendary track coach Frank Gagliano will hold a coaches clinic along with other elite coaches, professional athletes and health care professionals specializing in endurance sports.  It's sure to be a wealth of invaluable information for coaches, parents and athletes young and old.  
Event day will consist of three (3) races and is sure to hold a little something for everyone:                                                                                                         1) Spectator Dash & Fun Run...It is "O'er Hill & Far Away" after all so if you want to catch the "Elite" or Mortal's race this is your ticket for front row seats. 
2) Elite 8K- European style Cross Country course consisting of a 2K loop to be completed 4 times.  It will be sure to have all the fixings complete with a few ups, a few downs, unmatched beauty and a few hay bale obstacles to keep it interesting.

3) Mortals Race- We can't all be "elite fast" but we can still run the same course as those vying for a spot on the 2012 Olympic Team.  The Mortals Race will cover 3 full laps of the elite course along with a mystery distance section which will land them back at BaseCamp 31 where the Harvest Festival will be kicking off.
4) The Harvest Festival will be true to form with it's Oktoberfest Bier Garden, family friendly games/activities, vendors and food.  You'll be able to kick back, relax and share your stories and experiences from a day that's sure to be memorable.

 If you want to reserve your spot now check out to sign up.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Beware of Zombies!!!

1:57 AM, 2:23 AM, 2:44 AM, 3:02 AM, 3:10 AM...

I'm sure just about everyone has experienced insomnia at some point in their lives.  Yes, it's pretty miserable if you ask me.  Typically I have no trouble sleeping, just ask my wife, but this morning I started to believe that the clock is my nemesis this morning!  However in reality it's that thing between my ears that just won't seem to shut off.  The good news is that there are a lot of powerful strategies out there that may help us avoid becoming a zombie.  Since I'm not officially a sleep expert I won't get into the nitty-gritty research on this stuff, instead I'll try and keep it simple.  

One idea that has gained some pretty good traction over the past several years is that as a society for the most part we are mentally exhausted, physically however...yeah not so much exhaustion going on it that department!  This simply attests to all that physical activity the average American isn't getting.  We see this example all the time- An individual with a mentally high stress job/life who at the same time has a low stress life physically.  They get home at the end of a long and stressful day and feel exhausted.  They feel as though there's no possible way they could get some  physical activity in with how tired they are.  However, when they try and go to sleep what happens?  That's right...they don't sleep.  Instead they lay awake watching the paint peeling from the ceiling.

So why the heck can't I sleep when normally I could probably sleep through a bomb going off?  This isn't an official diagnosis, but I think it probably has a lot to do with it.  Here's a little insight...over the past 2 weeks my workouts have gone from consistent to zilch.  While at the same time the mental stress has probably gone up a little (I'm getting the feeling that trying to sell a house in the current times has a way of doing that to people).  There you have it...the recipe for nice helping of insomnia- a body and mind that are out of sync.

So the key is to get my butt in gear and come up with some activity that's not limited by a knee that's not 100%- cycling and walking seems to be a good fit.  Another key is to practice being mindful, something most of us could always use a little more of I think.  If you need a little help in doing so, here's a little excerpt from the "Recover" section of this months Pro-Activity Newsletter "Thrive".

Enough insomnia already...time to get out for a walk and to practice being mindful.  I'll let you know how it goes.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

So there's not much to update this week regarding "that knee thing".  After partaking in the ridiculous (#redrelay for you twitter folks) relay this past weekend the knee acted really consistently...when cycling- no pain or symptoms at all, it actually felt great.  When I threw on my running shoes to run (hadn't planned on doing this) a few miles with Renee down an unfamiliar trail the tell tail symptoms came on.  No, I didn't run again after this and the knee felt fine.  In any worth in continuing to dwell on it at the moment.  Heck there's plenty of other great stuff to dwell on...

With all that has been going on in the world know, that debt ceiling thing, dysfunctional government, war, uncertainty and the list goes on and on!  Take all of these external factors and throw them in with all the craziness of your personal life and you may have enough to make you go a little bonkers.  With all the debt the world and individuals seem to be bearing made me think about the idea of net worth.  In full disclosure I'm no MBA so this is certainly not meant to be a technical discussion on the matter, but instead more of a humanistic one.  In thinking about one's networth (an individuals net economic position) I began to realize that if I thought about it too long in the traditional (assets-liabilities) sense I would begin to get depressed pretty fast.  So interestingly enough just as I began to ponder what my actual net worth may be I came across an interesting blurb on "the new net-worth".  Ahh this made me feel better.

The idea is simple, instead of simply looking at financials in your life (which have not been tied very strongly to happiness or overall quality of life) take a more holistic approach and look at and evaluate 8 areas of your life...Mind, Body, Values, Career, Family, Social, Learning and Money.  Obviously this is not a new concept, but one I feel is important to come back to frequently...ensuring the balance of life in a time that can make us feel pretty uneasy.  So if you've got a few minutes give it a try and see if you are investing adequately enough in the areas that count.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

When a Plan Doesn't Come Together

“I love it when a plan comes together”

Yes, Hannibal Smith, we know you do.  Unfortunately, mine is not. 

Cue: Stage Left--- “nagging left knee pain”.

After spending what felt like an eternity on the DL (disabled list) while working to nurse my knee back to health from its previous state I felt like I was on the road to recovery.  Well, after easing back into activity…guess whose back?  That is CORRECT…left lateral knee pain which has ranged anywhere from mild to excruciating.

Cue: Long “Sighhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh” followed by “expletive!”

So, here I am…not exactly where I wanted to be, but non-the-less, this is where I have ended up.  That’s right, this is the point where I say to myself…you know those lofty goals of running a marathon in September and an Ultra in November (for the record that is in fact the 3rd revision of the original plan)… “Well, it’s just not going to happen as you had hoped.”

Well, I guess it wouldn’t do much good to sit around and feel sorry for myself.  It wouldn’t.  So what’s the plan moving forward?  Simple- Evaluate the next set of treatment options- this is going to happen over the next few weeks…but I figure I’ll keep you all in the loop as to how things go.  Until then, if you want to see something pretty this!

Here's hoping my come back looks like this!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

My Week of Heat

I think most “outdoor enthusiast” develop a love/hate relationship with the weather.  There are those perfect days when being out in the elements is pure bliss and then there are other days that simply (how should I put this?), Suck!  Well, the past week has been full of the latter which has given me a lot of time to ponder all the various types of heat I’ve experienced while spending time in the elements this past week.  During the dog days of summer, heat is more than just a sensation it’s a palatable presence almost continuously weighing on the minds of those whom it tortures.  It’s said that Eskimos have many words for snow.   I’m sure there are other culture’s who have just as many words for heat, probably living somewhere near the equator! So I decided to do a quick search of words which describe “heat” in some way and have a little fun with their definitions as they may relate to some of my own experiences this past week.  Here we go...

Sunday: approximate temperature 97 deg.
Experience: Taking the garbage out, forgot to put anything on my feet, stepping on black top.
Type of heat: Holy $#!@ my feet are melting hot.
Descriptive word: Searing- is a technique used in grilling, baking, braising, roasting, sauteing, etc., in which the surface of the food (usually meat, poultry, fish or in this case my foot) is cooked at a high temperature so a caramelized crust forms.  

Monday: approximate temperature 98 deg.
Experience: Getting into the car at 2:00 PM, had forgotten to crack the windows, wearing long pants and long sleeves, probably at least 130 degrees in the car.
Type of heat: Slow roasting heat which permanently sticks clothing to skin (recommendation: find a shower and change!)
Descriptive word: Measty- A hot, sweaty mess; a gross feeling.  Thanks to urban dictionary for this one.

Wednesday: approximate temperature 97 deg.
Experience: In a rush to get out of the house for a 1 hour bike ride…of course I walked right past my daughters sunscreen.
Type of heat: Who’s holding the magnifying glass on my neck type of heat?
Descriptive word:  Incendiary-capable of catching fire, causing fires, or burning readily. As in “I think my neck is literally on fire”.  Went out and bought my own sunscreen the next day.

Friday: approximate temperature 111 deg.
Experience: Running on a treadmill for 2- 1 hour stints, set up on the side of route 31.
Type of heat: So this is what a slow death feels like type of heat.
Descriptive word: Languid: drooping or flagging from or as if from exhaustion, lacking force or quickness of movement.

Hope you got a little kick out of my week of heat.  Until next week...Here's all the heat you need!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Sometimes "Others' Fight" Puts Things Into Perspective

So, I am happy to say that I have had 3 good runs so far this week:
  • Saturday: 5.5 miles
  • Sunday: 5 miles
  • Monday: 3.5 miles
I felt good on each of them and really didn't experience any symptoms to speak of.  So I'll be continuing to work on building up my mileage over the next several weeks and will just have to see how it feels.  I will probably be forgoing the "run with the devil" this weekend.  Pretty bummed about it, but at this point my body probably isn't ready to run a 2-mile loop consisting of 1000' ascent on mile 1, followed by 1000' descent on mile 2 and then repeated for 3 hours.  I find life seems to work in funny ways and although I may not be ready to tackle a 1000' ascent/descent yet, another running opportunity presented itself that holds more meaning.

Two amazing women, Wandy Bush and Michelle Cyphers, are working to raise money to participate in the Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cure walk.  Pro-Activity and the Fuel Good Cafe have signed on to help.  The Fuel Good Cafe will be donating 50% of sales to Wandy and Michelle's fund raising effort and for every $80 raised staff from Pro-Activity will run 30 minutes on a treadmill parked along side Rt. 31!  If our goal of $2000 is reached Nick, Eric, Mike and myself will each be plodding along for 3 hours wearing our most supportive attire (I PINK I Can).  It should be a sight to see!

So as I have been battling this injury, albeit on the grand scheme of things a relatively minor one, it has consumed me.  Yes, sometimes we all need help to regain a little perspective.  Others' have way more serious battles to contend with each and every day then I have ever had to deal with and sometimes it's good to be reminded of that.  Life is an amazing privilege, let's not take it for granted.  I was reminded of this as I flipped through the pages of Running Times Magazine and read an article about Grete Waitz.  If you have never heard of Grete Waitz...she was only the first woman to run a sub 2:30 Marathon.  Unfortunately she lost her own battle to cancer on April 19th of this year, but left a lasting legacy in running and life!

So as I am out there running on Friday, I'll be running for Ann Hand (my wife's grandmother), Wandy Bush and all the other women who battle and have battled cancer.  I'll be running with pride!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Where have you gone, Joe DiMaggio
A nation turns its lonely eyes to you
(Woo, woo, woo)
What's that you say, Mrs. Robinson Joltin'
Joe has left and gone away
(Hey, hey, hey...hey, hey, hey)

No, I'm no Joe DiMaggio (those who have seen me play baseball know first hand as I am more accurate kicking a ball then most folks are at throwing one-just one of those skills I never worked hard at developing I guess) but some have asked where my blog has gone.  It hasn't gone away, just on hiatus.  Since coming up lame 1.5 months ago I have been diligently working to get back and if I am being's taking longer then it's ever taken before.  This is not my idea of fun as running is something I LOVE to do and since I've been wrestling with this injury it's been tough to sit and write about.  All-in-all the symptoms are much better, but while running things are not 100% right, just enough so to keep my holding back a bit.  The big hurdle coming up is "time".  I am getting very close to the point where if I'm unable to get mileage back up I'll need to begin re-assessing my race plans for the fall.  I just won't be able to get the proper training  and mileage under my belt to compete safely.  So the next 1-2 weeks are going to tell a lot.  During that time, I will be out there working to log some long slow miles to see if after all this rest the ship can right itself.  

We shall see.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Remember, Children Aren't Just Little Adults!

Nothing makes my heart and mind feel better then seeing a smile on my daughters face.  It is after all infectious you know...her smile automatically causes me to smile.  This picture was taken after Renee completed the Princeton Health Care 10K this past weekend where she ran a great time and finished on the famed Princeton University Track.

Lydia celebrating Mommy's
great race this past weekend
with a victory lap of her own!
After looking at this picture for a while other thoughts entered my mind...Lydia loves to imitate mommy and daddy running, she loves to put her little tiny feet in our great big  running shoes and she also loves to scream "Go, Go, Go" to passing runner's just like mommy and daddy do when we watch others run!

Then my thoughts turned to thinking about Lydia's parents (Renee and I).  Man, we are pretty competitive...I wonder if that's going to wear off on Lydia in anyway (I think it already has)?
So, although she has only just ticked past the 1 1/2 year old mark in this picture it  leaves me with questions that I probably need to start coming up with answers for now.

How much exercise is too much?  What if when she's six she tells me she wants to run a 1/2 marathon just like mommy does, etc?

I'm sure many parents before me have asked themselves some of the same questions...among others.  So I hope to give a little guidance here today as well as give a little information on things to be on the look out for/aware of with the key premise in all of this "Remember, children aren't just little adults!"

Here's a list of considerations in no particular order...They're all important!

1. Most athletes report elite-level competition to be a positive experience, however early specialization leads to less consistent performance, more injuries and shortened careers vs. those who specialize after puberty.  Let kids be kids and try a variety of activities where the experience is the focus rather then competition.

2. Here's a very important one when considering activity in the heat.  The bottom line is that children do not adapt as well as adults to activity in the heat!  Here are a few specific reasons:
  1. Children produce less sweat from their immature sweat glands.  Evaporative cooling through sweating is the most powerful means for the body to cool itself.
  2. Children have a larger surface area/body weight ratio which causes the body to absorb more heat from the external environment, especially when air temperature exceeds skin temperature.
  3. At any temperature, children produce more heat per kg of body weight, meaning they have more heat to get rid of.
  4. Children take longer to adjust to being active in hot environments.  Typically a minimum of 14 days is required for complete acclimation.
  5. Inadequate hydration has a major impact on adults as well as children.  During exercise, core body temperature increases quickly which effects both motor and cognitive abilities.  Children must be taught to drink regularly (every 15-20 minutes) even when not thirsty.  Drinks with electrolytes like sodium and carbohydrates improve taste and fluid consumption.  Generally during the first hour of activity water is fine.  Following 1 hour switching to a beverage containing carbohydrates and electrolytes is recommended.
3.  If my child really wants to run, are there any guidelines as to how long and far can they run at a given age?
          Age                    Distance
         Under 9               3 km
            9-11                 5 km
           12-14                10 km
           15-16                half marathon
             17                   30 km
             18                   marathon

Training frequency for children up to 14 years old should not exceed 3 times per week.  Those aged 15-18 can train up to 5 times per week.

4.  Female Athlete Triad...Participation in some sports predisposes female athletes to developing the female athlete triad.  This consists of three conditions: disordered eating, amenorrhea (absent menstration), and osteoporosis.  This triad of symptoms has been directly associated with intense athletic training. Sports that place athletes at higher risk of developing this condition include those in which: 1. thinness is emphasized, such as gymnastics, figure skating, diving, synchronized swimming and ballet; 2. those in which leanness is believed to improve performance, such as long distance running, swimming and cross country skiing; and 3. those in which weight classification exists, such as wrestling, martial arts and rowing.     Marathon participation clearly is an activity which can lead to the female athlete triad.

5.  During periods of rapid growth, bone growth occurs first with delayed muscle tendon elongation and resultant decreased flexibility leading to an increased incidence of muscle strain and ligament sprain.  

Yes, there is plenty more where this came from, but this is probably enough to swallow for now.  Be sure and let me know if you have specific questions related to your kids or athletes.
A quick side note on my own training.  I took 2 weeks off from running after experiencing continued discomfort in my left leg.  I have begun gradually returning to running with the following workouts so far.

1. 30 minute symptoms
2. 4 minute walk/1 minute jog x 6 (30 minutes total) symptoms
3. 3 minute walk/2 minute jog x 6 (30 minutes total) symptoms
4. 2 minute walk/3 minute jog x 6 (30 minutes total) symptoms, generalized mild soreness not related to symptoms.

Overall I'm feeling good, but not about to begin rushing it.  I'll continue my progression to get back to a continuous 30 minutes of running before resuming a normal training plan.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

one step forward, two steps back

I would much prefer "two steps forward, one step back"!

This past week has been a test of patience and willingness to listen to and stick with my own advice.  The left knee pain that I thought was feeling better at the beginning of last week reared it's ugly head once again.  In the middle of last week after a few days of rest, rehab and recovery I ventured out to give it an easy test.  Within 2 minutes it was back! UGH!  So instead of saying "it hurts a bit, but I can run through it" as a younger me probably once would have done, I simply shut it down and walked home...dejected.

Pain and symptoms reproduced over the
soleus and peroneus longus
 insertion on the fibular head.
So as result of the pain and symptoms I departed from my training plan to work diligently on recovery.  It does me no good to train while goals are just too big. I initially had difficulty pin-pointing the precise point and structure causing me the pain and symptoms.  Typically during the initial phase of inflammation it's difficult to discern between various tissues as the whole area was inflamed.  Is it my meniscus?  The lateral collateral ligament (LCL)? The Calf?  Well after a few days and lot's of ice the inflammation subsided and I was able to get a better idea of what was going on.  you see I really never had pain when I wasn't running.  I could twist, turn, bend, walk etc without eliciting symptoms.  So when Renee (who is a physical therapist too...and yes it's nice to have a wife who is a physical therapist) and another friend of ours (also a physical therapist) were hanging around we investigated (this is what PT's do when they hang out sometimes...we discuss unsolved ailments).  After some poking and uncomfortable prodding...EUREKA!  This posterolateral knee pain I have been having looks to be consistent with a strain of the solues and perhaps peroneus longus attachments on the fibular head.  I spent much of the week applying ice, ultra sound, heat, electric stimulation, stretching, cross friction massaging, night splinting, strengthening followed by a little more stretching.

Over the past 3 days I have run twice, each time on a treadmill to simply test how my leg is feeling.  The first was 1 mile @ 6.0 mph at a 4.0 grade.  The pain or symptoms...I am encouraged, but cautious.  The second was 2 miles @ 6.0 with a few spurts @ 7.0 and @7.5 at a 2.0 grade.  The pain or symptoms.  I actually felt better following the run...whew!  Very encouraged, but not getting too excited yet.  I have continued my treatment each day.

Today, I'll be able to get out and try my first run outside and see how it feels.  Wish me luck!

Monday, May 16, 2011

No, I'm Not A Masochist...It's Just The Name Of A Race!

After a little blogger hiccup, blogger was down for service last week which I found out only after writing and trying to save a different version of this blog which unfortunately became lost in cyberspace somewhere...ugggh, in any event.

So here is my training plan for the next several months.  It took a while to compile and will serve as my guide during my build up the ladder eventually leading to the 2 races I am looking most forward too, the marathon and Mountain Masochist.

Last week I left the idea of a 50 miler up in the air.  Well, I can tell you that my failure to commit didn't last long as soon as Renee looked at me on Mother's day and said "why don't you go ahead and sign up for another ultra."

5 minutes later I was entering my credit card information to secure my spot in this years Mountain Masochist held in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia on November 5th.  There will be plenty of time to talk about the race in future posts.  What I can tell you is that Renee has already been very patient with my almost obsessive talk about it (ok, so it's obsessive, but sometimes I can't help myself!).

As for the training plan I have tried to balance the mileage in order to peak for a lot of different races along the way.  It was more difficult then I first thought.  Creating a training plan for a single race is definitely a little easier, but this was well worth it.  I am focusing on 3 primary workouts throughout the weak which through my research seem to be the important ones.

1. Speed work to increase VO2
2. Tempo/Pace work to increase lactate threshold
3. Long slow runs to gradually build my base aerobic capacity.

On some weeks I will be throwing hill work in to help build power into my running.  I have also previewed masochist's elevation profile and I can use all the help/practice I can get.  I'll also be working some consistent strength training into the week on my off days from running.

Here's a run down of my past week.

Last weekend I tackled the NJ trail series half marathon, although I think it may have tackled me with the way my left knee has felt since.  I bombed a few of the last down hill sections and came up a little achy the following day.  I've been doing therapy and is getting better, but I definitely took a step back following this weeks training with the speed work, tempo run and 14 mile long run.

This week is going to be about getting my knee right even if that means a departure from planned training.  The training plan is only serving as my guide and will be changed if need be to ensure I'm feeling 100% come race time.  Athletes struggle with this all the time and many times don't back off enough to get their body's right.  I'm struggling myself...half my brains says "just push through it" while the other half (the half I'm going to listen to) say's "get this thing right".

So we'll see where my training goes this week while I continue to rehab my knee.  In the meantime it gives me a little more time to focus on the other aspects of the training plan...the Fuel and Recover portions.  I've been known to skimp on sleep from time to time and my body just can't afford it if I expect to keep up the volume of training I have planned.  Along with recovery goes the fueling.  I'll be tracking my calories over the next 1-2 weeks (something I haven't done in a while) to see where I currently am.  My primary goal of this is to be sure that I do not lose too much weight in the early going.  So we'll see what the next 2 weeks show.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Time To Get A Little More Serious With This Thing Called Training.

What a great past few weeks it has been.  The Spring season has definitely lifted the spirits that a long Winter tried to damper.  Over the past two weeks there has been a lot of racing and planning going on.  I along with a group of fellow runner's ran the Clinton Country Run (a group of 3 races 1 mile, 5K and 15K) this past Saturday and an even bigger contingent ran in the Lehigh Valley 1/2 Marathon (I believe it is officially the St. Lukes 1/2 Marathon now, but old habits die hard I guess!)  It was a great weekend from both a intra... and inter...personal standpoint.  I felt strong during my own 15K on Saturday even with the light training effort I have put fourth over the past month, but more importantly I got a ton of inspiration from my wife, Renee, and the other amazing individuals I get to call teammates on our PACER Team.  I won't go back and recap the events, but if you are interested in more check out these blogs to get the run down...

"the timeline"
Getting back to the statement I made regarding my lackluster training, it has been exactly that since the bridge run over a month ago now.  Part of my dilemma, like so many of us, I didn't have a clear least that was until I sat down and sketched out my race schedule.  But like many things in life once you solve one dilemma you are often presented with another.  In planning out my event schedule (a very good thing) I came to realize that the races through September to November are pretty close together.  As for training this will make me have to sit back and think a bit in order to work out exactly how to advance my progression so that I can achieve a few key elements...

1. Stay injury free while holding as true as I can to "The Ladder".
2. Build speed work into ultra training.  (in my last ultra, I could run far, but I was slooooow!)
3. Peak for and run a PR in the marathon while being sure my mileage is on track to run a 50 miler.
***Note to self and to readers***  I am not committed to the 50 mile ultra just yet, definitely to the 50K, but many times I get ahead of myself and require a little talking down off the ledge from Renee who reminds me where I left the part of my brain with the  "reasoning" capabilities!  Need to see how the next month goes before I commit.
4. If the 50 miler is in the to best peak for it so that I can best my previous 50 mile ultra finish.

I haven't worked it all out yet, but will be completing the work on what looks to be a 7 month training plan this week and will hopefully have it for you all to peruse next week. 

In the meantime, I've got a trail half marathon this weekend.  Here's the info in case anyone wants to join me...NJ Trail Series: Lewis Morris Park.  I'm using this as a training run so it should be a nice relaxed day.

Before I wrap this up I just want to officially say "GOOD LUCK!" to Mike Eisenhart who is currently in transit to St. George, Utah to compete in his first Ironman Triathlon "Ironman St. George".  If you have followed his blog, you know he is ready!  Be sure and become a fan of Pro-Activity's Facebook page to follow his progress this weekend, It's going to be exciting!

Time to get back to work on that training plan!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Biting Off More Than I Can Chew?

Have you ever felt like this? You know..."your eyes
were bigger than your stomach!", "bit off more than you could chew!" or "in over your head!"

I know I have.  But to be honest I enjoy doing it!  Don't get the wrong impression, I'm not talking about food here, that's just in the proverbial sense.  Those who know me closely have witnessed some of these the time I thought it was a good idea to try and roll down a hill in a HUGE truck tire!  Not such a good idea after all...I still have the scar to prove it.

I think this quality lies somewhere in all of us (yes I think it's a quality, it adds a little spice to life!).  For me and many of my close friends (some of whom have blogged about their own experiences) the realm of choice has turned to endurance sports.  I'm not saying that anyone is taking uncalculated risks here, I assure you they are very calculated.  But as individuals pursue the limits of self (no matter in what realm, in this case human endurance) they may find that they can't control for every possible variable and this makes for when heck of an adventure.  You exciting or unusual experience that's usually a bold or risky undertaking, with an uncertain outcome!  The Cooper River Bridge Run certainly had some components of the unusual experience, not that it was bold or risky.

In the weeks following the Bridge Run, those closest to me who know my "Ladder Plan" have been inquiring about what's next after the 15K coming up on your schedule?  What 1/2 marathon are you going to do, what marathon are you going to do, etc?  Well, the rough plan is now in place and can be seen under "20ll Events" on the right sidebar.  Am I biting off more than I can chew?  Well, I don't know yet, but it's going to be exciting to see...hopefully not in the train wreck sense!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Eaten Alive At The 2011 Cooper River Bridge Run!

Have you ever felt like this? Well, Renee (my wife) and I did this past Saturday as we took part in the 2011 Cooper River Bridge Run, a 10K held in Charleston, SC. We literally felt like salmon swimming up stream only to get eaten by the bear lying in wait.

So here's an overview of our race experience and what we learned in our first "BIG" (sold out at 40,000 entries) race.
We arrived in downtown Charleston at 5:45 AM to get on line for the shuttle to take us to the start...Here are teachable moments 1 & 2! #1. If you can avoid taking the shuttle...avoid it. #2. When a race advertises a bag drop do everything in your power NOT to utilize it...Don't take anything with you...leave all the crap you don't need in the car (i.e. don't bring a back-pack that will end up with 15-20lbs worth of stuff in it because murphy's law says you'll be stuck to run with it!)!

So back to the line...the line we ended up standing in for the shuttle (you know the one that is meant to get you to the starting line) was stretched over 10-15 blocks and by the time we got on a shuttle and over the Cooper River it was already 8:15 AM and by the time we got to the area of the wave start it was about 8:24 AM (24 minutes after the race started). Renee and I were originally slated to go off in waves E and B respectively, we now found ourselves starting somewhere back between waves G and H about 26 thousand runners back...Awesome, I was so pleased! I hate to admit this, but my usually cool head had over heated into fits of profanity, but hey...we all have our moments, right? My next logical thought (at least I thought it was) was that the race would most definitely hold the bag drop longer since the shuttles getting people to starting line were so delayed...WRONG...yes, this was followed by more profanity. Renee, simply kept her cool.

There are mornings when we forget to put on our Big Boy pants (this had been one of them for me with my tantrum), but luckily I had an extra pair...yes that's right, they were in the back-pack along with all the other crap I had senselessly packed in there! Once I got them on (figuratively) and counted to 10 backwards the fog I was in began to clear.

This race was not going to be about PR's this was about participating in a pretty cool experience, heck I've never run with so many people before. This brings me to the salmon...

Over the next 6.2 miles, Renee and I both felt like we did more lateral movement then linear movement (the picture to the right should help make the point), yes our hip abductors and adductors felt it after the race. About 1 mile into the race I felt the contents of the backpack begin to shift, as I turned my head to look and not being able to see much, a fellow runner alerted me to the fact that the bag had busted open...once again, AWESOME! After a few on course adjustments I was on my way again. At this point it was just funny. My new on course goal had become to finish under 50 minutes.

My calculation is not an exact science, there is definitely some error built in there, but by my best conservative estimate we started about 28,000 runners back and ended up finishing #'s 2,854 (49:55) and 4854 (53:21), passing about 25,000 runners over the 6.2 miles. Not too shabby.

Renee and I checking out some of the latest (circa 1992) running fashions at the race expo!----->

So all in all it was a pretty cool experience. I met my on course goal, Renee felt strong through the whole race and knows she could have broken 50 minutes herself...bringing her to say that "I think the 10K might be my distance, I need to sign up for another!" But, best of all, after finishing the race Renee's dad and my parent's where waiting with Lydia to celebrate and live the experience with us! Following the race we even got to meet up with some great friends, play with Lydia at a park (although I think she was playing with me...if my father-in-law gets a certain video on the internet it could be viral gold!) and ended up finishing the morning with lunch at one of the best hot-dog (Hey! I never said I was perfect...only human) dive's in the country, "Jack's Cosmic Dogs", inspired by New Jersey's own "Hot Dog Johnny's". By the end of the afternoon, the events of the early morning were long gone and all I could think to myself is that "Life is Good". Although I did wake up with next morning with sore shoulders...maybe it had something to do with the backpack!

Until next time...Be Great!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Minimalist Shoe Dilemma

So you were "born to run", like the "idea of minimalism", want to "run free"...the way mother nature intended us to, or maybe you just had to have those minimalist running shoes because they came in that awesome color combination, etc.

If you say..."yup, that's me" (yes there are many of us out there), there's a good chance you've noticed an increase in aches and pains, probably an increase in injuries, maybe you've even given up on minimalist running shoes or even running all together. Maybe you haven't taken the plunge into this "brave new world" of running, but are interested in trying.

Regardless of where you shake out on the topic there are a few important pieces of information we should all know before we start in order to be successful. Here's the 500 lb gorilla standing there in the corner is this...The IDEA of running in minimalist shoes is more pleasing then the REALITY you may be left with if not transitioned to properly. And even then its not for everybody.

I'll begin the "what should I know" with a small piece of my own journey. I have watched the explosion of the "minimalist" movement over the last 2 years and have heard the passionate testimony of folks falling on both sides of the aisle (minimalist is the way to go OR it's for the birds). The debate continues, however that debate has given rise to some very good new research on running mechanics and injury.

Up until very recently, I myself have continued running in the same old shoes I have run in for years. For me (this is my opinion, but know it is strongly supported by lots of research), drum roll comes the big secret, it's not about the shoes! It's about developing proper mechanics which is done through proper practice and by building the necessary tissue strength (stability), flexibility and endurance along with a whole host of other factors. Most of us know this, but most of us are also too impatient to take the time to do it properly.

So before we can begin to understand how we need to adapt our bodies to a minimal shoe we need to first understand what a minimal shoe really is. A minimalist shoe 1)has less cushioning and therefore lower to the ground as compared to traditional shoes, 2)has a smaller heel-to-forefoot differential a.k.a. "drop" (i'll explain this a little more soon). 3) and tend to be much lighter.

These are a few of my current running shoes NB 769, NB 904, NB 101(all New Balance - not meant to be an endorsement, just what I gravitate towards), non of which are by definition a true minimalist shoe. I am still working on the transition to a true minimal shoe like the New Balance Minimus Trail or Road.

Beyond minimal shoes like the New Balance Road and Trail there are the ultra minimal shoes, like the Altra Running Adam shoe pictured here.

Here's how these shoes compare:

Alright, so let's see why the considerations of cushioning and drop are particularly important.

Typically running shoes have a great big sole of soft cushy material that allows the end user to slam the heel of the foot into the ground during heel strike which sends shock waves up the leg into the spine with forces typically peaking around 4-6 times body weight (for a 175 lb man we're talking about 1,050 lbs of force). If the same form was maintained in a shoe with less cushioning I think we all know we wouldn't be running very much longer. On the opposite end of the spectrum, during toe-off, all that cushioning actually inhibits toe extension. Over time this can result in limitations in toe flexibility. When transitioning to a minimal shoe many of us realize that we must give up our old heel strike for a more friendly mid-foot striking pattern however fail to realize how much stress will be placed on the toes during toe-off as the toes are now forced to fully extend. This can often lead metatarsalgia (toe pain) and stress fracture just to name a few. The toes can be conditioned to withstand this stress, but it takes proper instruction along with some time and patience.

Drop, the simple way to say "heel-to-forefoot differential" is just a way to describe the difference in height between the heel and forefoot of the shoe. A greater drop means the ankle is positioned into more plantar flexion (point the toes down) while less drop translates to a more dorsiflexed ankle (pull the toes toward the shin). What does this mean functionally? In traditional running shoes our ankles are positioned in plantar flexion with the achillies placed in a shortened position. When transitioning to a shoe with a decreased drop too quickly achillies tendonitis is a common outcome. Here's an example of what various drop distances (measured in millimeters) can look like:

The picture above demonstrates the differences between how a foot would be positioned in a 0 millimeter (mm) drop shoe, 10 mm drop shoe and finally a 16 mm drop shoe. In the the 16 mm drop shoe the ankle is positioned in about 10 degrees of plantar flexion vs about 5 degrees in the 10mm drop shoe vs 0 degrees in the 0mm drop shoe.

So here's the bottom line: Having run in traditional running shoes throughout your life (raised heel with lot's of cushioning), its very likely that the muscles in your feet, ankles, knees, hips and core are not conditioned properly to wean yourself off these shoes cold turkey. If you begin running all your mileage in a minimal shoe you are likely to experience aches, pains and injury. Studies in tissue mechanics have shown it takes 6-8 weeks to see changes in strength and in some cases 10-12 weeks to see increases in flexibility. So to transition properly takes some commitment, but it can be done.

If you have questions, you have resources at your finger tips...literally. Whether you need advice on how to make the transition, need input on what exercises to perform or are coming back from an injury and need some video analysis to pick apart your current mechanics I'd be happy to play a part. Leave a comment or reach out to me directly at

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Standing On Rung One And Looking Up!

This past Saturday morning Renee, Lydia and I packed into the car and headed up to Morristown for the St. Patrick's Day 5K. It was a great morning for running, cool, clear and perfect for shorts and t-shirt.

Lydia and I pre-race (she's whispering race strategy in my ear!)

I met my goal of running between a 7:00 and 7:30/mile pace. I actually just about split it right down the middle with a official race time of 22:36, putting me at a 7:16/mile pace. Definitely not my best performance, not too long ago that was my average for a 1/2 marathon, but hey I'm on my way back (one race at a time)! Their were definitely a few hiccups and I think I could have realistically come in right around the 7:00/mile mark, but then I remind myself...hey, it was a great morning to be up and running.

Cooper River Bridge Run Course Map

So now it's time to look forward to the next rung of my ladder, the 10K. Renee, Lydia and I will be heading to South Carolina to visit my parents in a few weeks and it just so happens that while we're in town there's a pretty big 10K. The race consistently sells out their 40,000 entries well ahead of time! The Cooper River Bridge Run is a 10K which takes place in scenic Charleston, SC. The race begins in Mt. Pleasant, traverses the newly built Cooper River Bridge (my father would be upset if I failed to mention that this bridge is in fact the longest cable-stayed suspension bridge in the Western Hemisphere!, this is the man who also introduced me to the worlds largest ball of twine and drove his family round-trip to Alaska amongst other great Bagley family moments!) and finishes in downtown Charleston.

A few more tid-bits about the bridge which should be of importance to participants like Renee and myself...the slope of the Bridge is 4%, the bridge is 2.5 miles long, so with a little very simple math we now know that's a decent 1.25 mile climb in the middle of the race. So in this case, although I am not a huge fan of treadmill running (nothing against treadmills, I just prefer to be outside no matter what the weather) I'll be putting in a little time on one for training specificity with mile long intervals at 4% grade.

Cooper River Bridge, Charleston, SC

Other important consideration for the 10K I have been thinking about include VO2max. If starting from scratch determining how to build this all important variable of endurance racing can be hard to grasp. But, with my 5K race time in hand I have a important piece of information to aid my training.

Most sources state that 95-100% of Vo2Max coincides with your current 3000 to 5000 meter race pace, or the fastest effort you can maintain consistently for about 8 minutes. Knowing this information allows you to set your training up effectively to work on improving your VO2Max.

So, based on my recent 5K pace of 7:16/mile I will make a few assumptions: 1. I ran this race moderately so its not reflective of all out effort. 2. I'll make an educated assumption that a more suitable pace to work with would be 6:45/mile (closer to my predicted all out effort i.e. 95-100% VO2Max). Now, we've got something we can train with.

Luckily, research has shown we don't need to sustain this pace for a long duration to see decent improvements in VO2Max. This is precisely what interval workouts are designed to do (I can hear some of you saying now..."Oh, that's what those things are for!"). The key is to sustain each interval for between 2 and 5 minutes at 95-100% VO2Max, in my case ~6:45/mile pace followed by an active rest (walking) and then repeated. A sample workout may look something like this: Ten 800 meter repeats with 1.5 minute rest interval in between.

Alright, there you have it...a little hodge-podge today on a recent race result, an upcoming race and some info you may be able to put to good use in your own training.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Getting Ready For The First Rung

As I mentioned in a blog a while ago, one of my running goals is to progress systematically through the usually race distances in ascending order, beginning with the 5K. This weekend represents the first rung of the ladder as I head over to Morristown to take part in their St. Patrick's Day 5K.

My goal for the race is simple...get back on the saddle and feel good finishing a race along with completing the first step of my proverbial ladder. I'm not heading out to set a PR, instead my plan is to set, stick to and complete the race at a comfortably moderate pace. At this point, that pace is not all that fast probably between 7:00 and 7:30 minute/mile. But as I found with a little research, speed is relative...

Think about these two feats of human performance for a second:

1. Sammy Kipketer of Kenya holds the world record for the 5K road race set in 2000 at Carlsbad 5,000 where it took hip a whopping 13:00 minutes to cover the 3.1 mile course. That comes out to a 4:11/mile pace!

2. Another interesting 5K record is one set by Dustin McClure who ran a 5K in 20:06 (that's a 6:28/mile pace) while wearing a 40 lb rucksack. That's pretty impressive.

So, as I look to come in between 21:45 and 23:30 I simply feel humbled by the above performances, but more importantly I am amazed at the capacity and potential of the human body!

Let's hope I don't pull a hammy!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

I'd Like A Mouse Treadmill Please!

I don't like to pick fights (I think of myself as a lover/healer...I am in the health care profession after all), but I do enjoy lively debates, especially when it comes to topics related to health and wellness. One such topic I often find myself engaged in lively discussion about relates to the general public's perception of the positive and negative health benefits of exercise, particularly endurance exercise. I would be a very rich man if I had a dime for each time I responded to the remark "I don't run because it's bad for my knees" or "isn't there a pill I could take, a procedure that could be performed, or anything someone else could do to make this (insert your preferred condition here)better for me?"

Let's pause for a minute while I step up on my soap box...Yes I believe that we have found ourself in a culture that for the most part expects/hopes/looks for someone else to improve their condition. An unfortunate state. On the other hand I do believe in the bodies amazing ability to remain healthy through the decades of life when it is taken care of properly. There is no magic here folks, it just requires a little hard work and discipline. I often say to people "what do you think would happen if you stopped changing the oil and rotating the tires of your car and drive it 100,000 miles?" Everyone looks at me like I am goofy and replies in a matter of fact way that it would surely "break down!" Well, that's what most individuals do to their bodies.

So when a study came out this past week that found "Endurance exercise may be the fountain of youth" (for mice at least)I was pretty excited! Here's a quick run down of the study findings which was conducted by researchers from McMaster University in Canada.

The investigators split mice that were genetically engineered to age faster than normal mice into two groups, an endurance exercise group and a control group (no exercise). Here's what they found...

Mice who ran on a treadmill (yes they really did build a mouse treadmill!) 3x/week for 5 months looked as young as regular mice. On the other hand, the mice in the control group who didn't exercise demonstrated socially isolated behavior, were less fertile and began graying and balding as well. The researcher's concluded that the exercise offered protection against premature aging. I can hear many individuals now asking "where's the pill for that?" Sorry to disappoint many of you, but the principle investigator, Mark Tarnopolsky, said in the paper's discussion that "Many people falsely believe that the benefits of exercise will be found in a pill." Tarnopolsky, went on to say "We have clearly shown that there is no substitute for the 'real thing' of exercise when it comes to protection from aging." The investigators even tried to treat these animals with an "'exercise pill' and have even looked at reducing their caloric intake, a strategy felt to be the most effective for slowing aging, and these were met with limited success."

So, there's a little more evidence that consistent exercise is at the roots of our health and can truly be the fountain of youth! Now, doing it properly to avoid overuse injuries and the all too frequent weekend warrior syndrome...that's another story all together.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Get Focused, Find Purpose, Be More Effective...Here's A Thought.

This week I'm going to depart from my discussion on endurance in the traditional sense and take some time to go in a little different direction. I think we have all experienced days where we can't seem to get focused and/or organized no matter how hard we try, the day just feels lost. Then there are days when everything seems to click, we have a feeling super efficiency and productivity...why can't everyday be like this? Well, we all have off days, even off weeks at times but there are techniques that can help "right the ship" so to speak.

I recently came across a new phrase (new to me at least) that re-affirmed an old concept, I love when the old is made new. The phrase was "day-righting". I have heard this before as "morning ritual", etc, but I just seemed to like the way "day-righting" sounded.

Whatever you want to call it, take your pick, "day-righting" is just a way to help yourself get your mind and body prepared for the day that lies ahead. I sometimes find that days have flown by that have lacked focus or specific purpose. This is not to say those days aren't incredibly busy, in fact I would love a day that didn't feel jam packed with one thing or another. I think a lot of us spend our time being and feeling busy, but at the same time we lack effectiveness, focus and purpose? I imagine that much fewer of us can say yes to the latter (yes we lack focus), but I bet just about all of us can say "yup, I sure was busy today". So I am challenging myself to be less busy from day to day while striving to be more focused and effective with my most precious items...time and relationships.

So my strategy is to employ this concept of "day-righting" to help my cause. As I mentioned above the strategies may be different for each of us, but hopefully have a similar outcome...leading to a more focused day even if it means waking up 15-20 minutes earlier. I am going to go back to something I did once upon a time and ask myself a few questions each morning I took from a Tony Robbins book in high school. I found they really helped me get focused and provided purpose each morning. Here's a quick overview:

What am I happy about in my life now?

What am I excited about in my life now?

What am I proud about in my life now?

What am I grateful about in my life now?

What am I enjoying most in my life right now?

What am I committed to in my life right now?

Who do I love? Who loves me?

(Who do you Love!?)

Some people may find "day-righting" effective in other ways like spending a few minutes journaling, meditating, exercising, spending a few minutes breathing or simply in silence. There is no right or wrong way/technique as long as the result is a more focused and effective you.

If you have read this post and have your own "day-righting" routine or are thinking of starting a new one please take a minute and share it with us by leaving a comment below.

Here's to the "Roots Of Your Health!"

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

How to Avoid Water Intoxication....a.k.a hyponatremia

There is on question that the popularity of endurance and ultra-endurance sports is on the rise. The health benefits of participating in such endeavors is hard to argue with, increased HDL (good cholesterol), decreased triglycerides, decreased blood pressure, increased feelings of well being, the list goes on and on and on...

However, there are considerations that individuals participating in and training for these events must be aware of in order to decrease the risk of bodily harm. One such consideration is proper hydration. A common consequence of participating in endurance sports is hyponatremia, otherwise known as water intoxication. Hyponatremia is a metabolic condition in which the concentration of sodium (salt) is lower outside the cells with in the body. As you may have read in past posts the word homeostasis has been mentioned. In short, it's the scientific word for "balance" and something the body is consistently striving for at the cellular level. So as a consequence of having less sodium outside the cell, water begins to move into the cell in order to balance the concentration of sodium on each side. When this happens the cells begin to swell.

Most cells in the body can handle some of this swelling, but the cells in brain cannot and it is the swelling of the brain that causes most of the outward signs/symptoms of hyponatremia. Mild/Moderate symptoms include: Confusion, headache, irritability, fatigue, muscle spasms and even hallucinations. If not treated and corrected in time more severe symptoms develop including: decreased consciousness, possible coma and death.

Obviously, we would like to prevent any and all of the above listed symptoms from occurring. With a little science and Know-how we can understand how it can be done, but I will tell you that it is easier in theory than in practice (just ask any seasoned ultra-endurance athlete). One of the main reasons why it's difficult in practice comes down to human physiology. As our bodies exert themselves, blood flow to the stomach and intestines decreases and makes digestion more difficult. Furthermore, the body's hunger and thirst mechanisms are inhibited so the body simply doesn't have the same drive to consume fluids and/or solids as compared to resting state.

So, here are some keys to success when working to avoid hyponatremia.

Determine your sweat rate: The sweat rate is simply the amount of bodily fluid loss/unit time. On average humans sweat 27.4 to 47.3 oz./hour of exercise. Obviously variables such as speed/intensity of exercise, environment (hot/cold) along with others will influence this number. Here is a pretty simply strategy to follow in order to zero in on your sweat rate (as adapted from Runners World Article).

1) Measure your pre-exercise weight (naked).
2) Exercise at race or training pace for one hour, keeping track of how much fluid (in ounces) is taken in during the activity.
3) After the activity, strip down, towel off any sweat, and weigh yourself nude again.
4) Subtract your post activity weight from your pre-activity weight and convert to ounces. Then add to that number however many ounces of liquid you consumed on your activity. (For example, if you lost a pound and drank 16 ounces of fluid, your total fluid loss is 32 ounces.)
5) To determine how much you should be drinking about every 15 minutes, divide your hourly fluid loss by 4 (in the above example it would be 8 ounces).
6) Because the test only determines your sweat losses for the environmental conditions you were active in that day, you should retest on another day when conditions are different to see how your sweat rate is affected. You should also redo the test during different seasons, in different environments (such as higher or lower altitudes), and as you become faster, since pace also affects your sweat rate.

I should tell you that even though you may be adequately replacing fluids you may not be adequately replacing electrolytes like sodium, without which can lead to hyponatremia. So we still have to consider salt intake during long bouts of exercise. This is where many questions arise! The American Heart Association recommends that we limit salt intake to 1.5 grams/day. Remember, this is for an inactive individual trying to prevent cardiovascular disease. This is not a recommendation for the ultra-endurance athlete.

Sweat typically contains between 2.25 - 3.4 grams of sodium/liter, and the sweat rate in a long, hot race can easily average 1 liter per hour. So, for a 12 hour race (like that of an ultra-marathon or triathlon), one could lose approximately 27 to 41 grams of salt. If the athlete only replaces the water and has little salt intake, hyponatremia can result. One study which looked at athletes completing a 160km race found that those who consumed more fluids had a higher incidence of symptoms associated with hyponatremia vs. those who consumed less fluid. Do not read this as saying that you should limit your fluid intake! Instead be sure you are ingesting the proper amounts of water and salt together.

There are no specific guidelines on salt intake/hour, but some sources discuss 1-2 grams/hour. If you were counting on sports drinks like gatorade to supply this amount of sodium you would be falling well short. For example, the nutritional facts state that gatorade has 110mg of sodium per 8 oz serving. So if we do the math and assume an individual consumed 32 oz of gatorade/hour (by the way...good luck trying to consume 32 oz of gatorade per may be seeing it on your shoes!) you would only be taking in 440mg of sodium.

This is not even 1/2 the amount your body may need. Other ways to increase salt intake are utilizing salt tablets or making salted boiled potatoes (the carbohydrates and high glycemic index of the potatoe offer a great energy source as well). Other strategies include pairing other foods that are high on the glycemic index with salt for that 1-2 punch of sodium and carbs that the body can quickly use.

So there you have it...a long winded guide to avoiding hyponatremia during your next ultra endurance training session or event. Good Luck and be sure to post questions, comments and feedback so we can continue the discussion.