The Stretching Debate

Many old-school runners feel that you should stretch before you go out for a run. However, research has found that it is actually not good for you to stretch cold muscles. Stretching muscles before they are warmed up can cause injury. The best way to warm up before a run is to go for a walk – or just run your first mile slowly for a warm up.

If you still feel that you want to stretch before your run, you can go for a walk as a warm up and then do your stretching before you head out.

Stretching is fine after you come in from your run. Your muscles are adequately warmed up. However, if you have been on a longer run (90 minutes or more) be careful with your stretching as your muscles are fatigued. Make sure you are gently stretching those sore muscles.

Runners who are advocates for stretching also say that running will prevent injuries. Studies have found that this is not necessary the case. The studies show that running injuries are prevented more by strength training and balance exercises. However, stretching will increase your flexibility. And, in my opinion, increased flexibility will help your overall running and make you a more efficient runner.

Many runners just like to stretch after running just for the simple fact that it makes them feel good. It also helps them to relax – so that can be a definite benefit.

If you do want to stretch after running, the important areas to stretch are the quads, hamstrings, calves and hips. Here are some quick stretching tips: stretch slowly and hold for 15 seconds, stretch both sides (not one leg and not the other), don’t bounce a stretch and make sure you are breathing – don’t hold your breath.

The stretching debate will probably continue on and on for years. I personally like to do some light stretching after my runs. That’s what works for me. Do whatever feels good for you. You may find that you love stretching or that you don’t benefit or all. As always, listen to what your body is telling you it wants.

Eating Before A Marathon

First of all, you should be eating and taking in carbs during your long runs when you are out there for more than 1½ hours. Under that time, you are basically using what has been stored up in your muscles previously. A great way to get carbs during your runs is through Sports Drinks or Energy Gels. You can even get Sports Jelly Beans little Energy Bites. All of these work – and some runners even eat gummy bears or other candies. But, you want to try anything during your training runs – not the day of your race. Find out what works for you and gives you energy and have it with you for race day.

The most important rule of eating leading up to race day is to not eat anything that you are not accustomed to eating. Carbs are important for energy on race day. You should be eating meals that are high in carbs during this time to be fueling up. Also important is to get some protein during this time. Another thing that you want to stay away from during the few days before the marathon is anything high in fiber or any food that you know gives you gas or any stomach distress.

Some good things to eat are pasta, bread, cereal, pizza, bagels.

Two days before the marathon is when you really want to make sure that you are getting fueled up. This may be the day of your big “carbo-loading” meal. Also, two days before you want to be making sure that you are drinking water throughout the day to start getting properly hydrated and getting a good night’s sleep.

The day before race day you want to make sure that you are still drinking water and eating some complex carbohydrates. This day about 75% of your calories should be from carbs. You should have your normal 3 meals plus a few snacks throughout the day. You should be finished with your last meal around 6:00 so that it can be digested before you go to bed.

On race morning you should have your meal about 1 – 1½ hours before race start. This should be something to get you fueled for the race – but nothing big or heavy. It should include carbs and a little protein. My suggestion is a power bar – that always works for me! Other suggestions are cereal, oatmeal or a bagel with peanut butter. Just make sure that whatever you eat is something that you have eaten prior to running in the past. It is important that you don’t experiment on race day.

When To Replace Running Shoes

You can take the shoes that you’ve been running in and look at them from behind. If they are starting to wear out, they will not sit flat. You can see the wear on one side. However, your shoes may be starting to break down from the inside even before the outer soles show signs of wearing out. The cushioning on the inside of the shoe which keeps your foot stable and protected will usually break down before the outer sole. Wearing shoes that are broken down can cause injuries if run in for many miles.

The general rule of thumb is to replace your running shoes between 300 – 500 miles. How soon they break down depends on your body weight as well as the surfaces that you run on the majority of the time. Also, how your foot strikes the ground can be a factor. If you are a heavier runner – you should be replacing your shoes around 300 – 350 miles. Lighter runners can usually get 450 – 500 miles from a pair of shoes.

Be aware of any aches and pains when you run. This could be a sign that your shoes are needing to be replaced. Another test is the twisting test. If you can twist your shoe, it may be breaking down. It should be firm.

Keep track of the mileage on your running shoes in your running log. Whenever you write your run in your log, in addition to the usual entries (weather, mileage, course, etc.), write down which shoes you ran in.

Also, you should have 2 pair of running shoes that you are running in at the same time. Rotating your shoes can also prolong the life of them. Wear one pair and then the next time you run – wear your other pair. This will allow each pair to thoroughly dry out on the inside before you wear them again. Even if it is not raining, your feet sweat and will make the inside of your shoes wet.

Gold Rush Marathons

Four cities born out of the gold rush of the nineteenth century. Today in each of these, one can run a marathon. Two centuries ago, prospectors went there in search of a different gold.

On 24th January 1848, James Marshall found a few tiny gold nuggets on the banks of the American River at Coloma near Sacramento. Thus began one of the largest human migrations in history as half a million people from around the world descended upon California in search of instant wealth. Dubbed the “Forty-niners” (they set sail in 1849), the gold hopefuls from the Americas, Europe, Australia and China, panned every inch of the streams and riverbeds in California. Gold worth billions of today’s dollars was recovered, which led to great wealth for a few. However, the majority returned home with little more than they had started with. Many more, didn’t.

On 19 October, 1872, the Holtermann’s nugget was found in Australia. It is the largest specimen of gold ever found, measuring 150 x 66 cm, weighing 286 kg and with an estimated gold content of 5000 ounces (57 kg). Entire shiploads of prospectors bound for California took a U-turn to rush down under. The resultant infrastructure and population boom shaped Victoria and especially Melbourne city. Bernhardt Otto Holtermann invested his wealth wisely, building a magnificent mansion in Sydney, complete with a stained glass window depicting himself and the nugget.

On a Sunday in March 1886, George Harrison stumbled upon a rocky outcrop in South Africa. He had indeed hit a reef of gold. But Harrison was a lot less lucky than Holtermann. Out of force or foolishness, he sold his claim for 10 Pounds, and was probably killed on his way back home. Undeterred, fortune-seekers from all over the world flocked to the area, and soon the dusty mining village of Ferreira’s Camp bloomed into modern Johannesburg. The “Golden Arc” stretching from Johannesburg to Welkom was once a massive inland lake, whose alluvial silt had formed massive gold deposits. Till date, it is the largest discovery of the yellow metal, ever.

In 1896, discovery of gold along the banks of Klondike river led to a major gold rush to Alaska. Miners of all shapes and sizes, called “stampeders”, were on their way to the gold fields, some of them not even knowing where they are going. Within six months, around 100,000 gold-seekers set off for the Yukon. Only 30,000 completed the trip. They were men from all walks of life from as far away as New York, South Africa, the United Kingdom, and Australia. Not just paupers or wild prospectors, but even teachers, doctors and a mayor or two who ditched their jobs to hitch on to the bandwagon. One such stampeder was William Howard Taft, who went on to become the27th President and later the 10th Chief Justice of the United States, the only person to have served in both offices.

Weighing over 300 pounds (140 kg) on average, Taft was physically the heaviest American president ever elected. Amply mustachioed, he was the last president sporting facial hair. As Governor-General of the Philippines, Taft once wired Washington, D.C:

“Went on a horse ride today; feeling good.”

Concerned, Secretary of War Elihu Root enquired: “How’s the horse?”

Out of the Alaskan gold rush was born Anchorage, the largest city in Alaska.

Fortune and tragedy are the two facets of gold rush. Wealth was bestowed upon a few. Death on many – by rowdy violence, scarlet fever, lung disease, mine collapse. Their shadows still roam those places, for spirits never die. The eerie, paint-worn, crumbling edifices of Bodie near Nevada desert host the hissing gold rush ghosts making nocturnal visits, the creepy silence broken only by their rustling white robes. Come morning, the sun peeps to scurry a hasty look at the dusty tables, flaccid armchairs and dangling portraits.

In the Fallon Hotel in Columbia, lights turn on and off in Room Nine.

In the Coloma graveyard that ‘lady in burgundy’ still beckons visitors.

Check into Windsor Hotel in Melbourne, only to spend a spooky night with banshee guests.

Dare not carry a loaded wallet anywhere near the robber’s grave outside Johannesburg.

For, as folk lyricist Robert Service said, “There are strange things done in the midnight sun: By the men who <i>moil<i> for gold.”

Running With Allergies

The pollen in the air is something that will make your runs not so enjoyable. So, run when the pollen counts are low. There are websites that can check that will tell you when the pollen is at the worst in your area. But, usually pollen counts are the highest in the morning between 6 and 10. So, try to not run during that time.

If you enjoy morning running – as I know I do – but, you suffer from allergies, you can always run with a bandana or some sort of mask to cover your nose and mouth. This will keep you from inhaling as much of the pollen.

Make sure that you are consistent with taking your allergy medications. Taking them regularly will definitely help. If you just take them when you think you are going to need them – take your medication a couple of hours before you have your run planned.

Windy days can really bother you will you have allergies. The wind makes the pollen go everywhere. On those really windy days, you will probably want to move your run indoors to the treadmill.

Running after a rain is a great way to run more comfortably outdoors for allergy sufferers. Pollen counts are lower after a rain and you should be able to run without any problems.

Make sure that you are showering right after your run. For many runners with allergies, you may not show any symptoms for a while after you were in a pollinated area. So, if you shower immediately after your run, you may be able to avoid your allergies symptoms.

Many allergy sufferers have itchy and watery eyes. If this is you, make sure that you are wearing sunglasses when you run. Any will help, but if you can find wrap around ones, it will protect your eyes even more. Also, try to find sunglasses with different lenses so that you can put in clear ones if you run in the evenings or for those days when it’s not sunny.

Running can cause discomfort for allergy sufferers. However, the above tips should help you to be able to get out there and enjoy your runs again!

Choose Right Running Shoe

STABILITY

Running shoes that are under the stability category are designed to control your feet from turning outwards when you run, balances your heel, and supports the arcs of your feet. These types of running footwear provide extra cushioning and excellent stability for your feet when you run. These shoes are for runners who lands on the outside of their heels and slightly turns their foot inward (pronates) when running. The arc of these shoes are not as rigid and may have varying degrees of support.

NEUTRAL

The shoes under the neutral category are usually designed with a flexible forefoot and soft but firm mid-sole. These are the best types of shoes when you tend to land on the outside of your foot. You can determine where your foot lands by checking the soles of your old shoes – if the outside of the sole is worn out, then you tend to land more on the outside of your feet. This may also be the best pair for people with a high foot arc. Check if the arc of the shoes you’re planning to buy has enough support or rigid especially if you have a high foot arc. These kinds of shoes support the arc of your foot more than your ankle or your knees. You can observe that this type of running footwear often has a curved sole.

MOTION CONTROL

The soles of running shoes under the motion control category are usually straight or flat. Some designs have slightly curved soles but the main goal of these running footwear is to keep the heel secure and minimize the rate of pronation when you run. These shoes usually have a wider landing base for your heels, and a strong, rigid heel counter. These are good for runners who have flat feet or low arches. Runners who tend pronate their feet and have unstable knees when running can benefit more from these types of running shoes. Check the soles of your old pair – if they are worn out on the mid-sole, then this category is for you.

Here are some tips when buying your running shoes:

  • Walk and Run in the store. Spend time with your chosen pair before buying it. I know lots of people who buys specific kind of shoes just because they discovered that some great runner used it to finish first place in a race. You have different needs and what works for others may not work well with you. Test out the running shoes in the store. Don’t be afraid to take a few steps on them and even run a couple of meters if possible. Some good running stores even have treadmills for you to run on!
  • Don’t throw your old pair – yet. Bring your old pair of running shoes to the store where you’re going to buy your new shoes. If the place where you are shopping for a new running shoes is specifically a running shoe store, they may have staff who knows about shoes and can analyze the wear pattern of your old shoes. Because you will want to try on walking and running on your new shoes, bring your socks with you and any orthotics if you have one. If the running store have equipment for foot analysis, do not hesitate to have your gait analyzed even if you already know your foot arc or foot type. Let the staff know your running history, goals, injuries and what type of training you usually do.
  • Know your soft spots. One of the main reasons why we need to wear shoes is comfort. Your feet should be comfortable enough while you walk or run in your new running shoes. Pressure spots or loose fitting shoes often leads to blisters.
  • Perfect Fit for your Feet. If your running shoes are too loose and your feet slides inside your shoes, you will lose energy on every push off that your feet makes when you run. It is okay to adjust and re-adjust the laces of the running shoes while inside a store. Tie your laces so that you have a feeling of security without discomfort.
  • Running shoes are special. They are designed specifically for forward motion (i.e., running forward), heel cushioning and arc support. If you have time to observe the soles of different types of shoes, you can see that they have horizontal line patterns on their sole. If you plan on using running shoes for other sports or physical activity, you will wear them out faster and you may even risk yourself injury. Cross-training shoes are designed for more lateral support (moving sideways, etc.) and toe flexibility. Buying a different pair like a cross-trainer for other activities is a good investment because your running shoes will last longer and you will reduce risk of injury.

Running With Flat Feet

Luckily, anyone with flat feet can live a normal and happy life. For the jogger, it is essential to take extra care while jogging. There are stretches and exercises that can reduce the suffering caused by having flat feet. These exercises certainly help and can be a part of a long term solution. Some people even find yoga helpful to strengthen their foot muscles and tendons.

Exercises can only go so far; people who run on a weekly basis, need to do more to avoid injury. Many joggers have turned to jogging barefoot, or wearing minimalist shoes such as Vibram Five’s. Many people do not like running without shoes as they offer protection from the elements and hazards. This makes running difficult for anyone who overprontates to run comfortably. Luckily, there is a way to run without pain without sacrificing pain. All of the leading shoe manufacturers make running shoes designed specifically for flat footed runners.

Stability shoes offer ample mid-sole cushioning, while still offering support and durability. The most popular stability shoe is the Nike Zoom Structure Triax + 15. The Asics Gel 2170 is also a reasonably priced shoe perfect for people with low arches.

Motion Control shoes offer more support than stability shoes and are excellent for heavier joggers and walkers. Some motion control shoes are too thick and heavy, but luckily there are a couple of great motion control shoes.. The New Balance 1226 is supportive while still offering flexibility, the design of the Asics Evolution 6 is perfect for anyone looking for superior motion control while not sacrificing comfort.

Anyone who has flat feet needs to take action to prevent injuries in the future. With ill fitting footwear, the jogger is vulnerable to injuries to the whole body, from the feet all the way to the neck. Anyone who stretches their feet properly, and who wears the correct shoes will alleviate most, if not all, of the symptoms and pains associated with having flat feet.

Tree Climbing Harnesses

Tree climbing harnesses are extremely important. In fact, they’re as important as your climbing rope. If either fails, you could be in serious trouble. Your TCH (Tree Climbing Harnesses) will support your body while climbing-both your upper and lower body.

Knowing how important TCH are, you should take great care when purchasing one. Here are a few pointers to help you make an adequate selection:

  • Make sure it fits-Sometimes people get so hung up on the safety aspect of a harness that they fail to check for comfort. The safest TCH in the world do you little good if you can’t stand to wear them. If a harness doesn’t fit you right, return it and get one that does.
  • Look for a quality brand-Brand names are important when it comes to tree climbing gear such as harnesses. Why? Because when you see a quality brand name you know you can rely on the product. Sure you may have to pay a bit more for a good brand name, but isn’t it worth it when the product keeps you safe?
  • Certified equipment-All tree climbing harnesses, as well as any other tree gear you purchase, should be ANSI and OSHA certified. Why should you care? Well these organizations symbolize safe arborist practices and products they certify meet all their stringent safety standards.

Remember, check for quality. If you have to pay a little more to make sure you get high quality equipment, so be it. Safety should always come first.

In today’s technological age you can practically do all your shopping without ever leaving your home. Such is the case with TCH and other tree gear. By going to Google or a similar search engine, you can type in the necessary keywords and find a plethora of suppliers with ease. The difficult part is deciding who to purchase from. Use a systematic approach and you’ll come across the right supplier.

First of all, look for a site that is easy to navigate. Online shopping is supposed to make your life easier-not induce stress. If the site is difficult to order from, move on to the next.

As stated above, you always want certified equipment. Pick a supplier that advertises their equipment certification. This should be noted by a badge on their homepage. This is the mark of a company that truly puts safety first.

Also, do business with a company that takes your private information seriously. That means they have a plainly stated privacy policy on their site, as well as a badge that indicates a secure, authentic site for purchasing purposes.

Finally, make sure they list a customer service phone number for you to get a hold of an actual person. Even though you’re ordering online, there are times when it will be necessary to speak to a live representative. It’s important that this option be available.

Maximalist Running Shoes

The maximalist running shoe is an idea developed by Nicolas Mermoud and Jean-Luc Diard, both are experienced mountain runners from France and former employees of the Salomon footwear company. They started Hoka One One running shoe for years ago and based its design on the oversize concept used in powder skis and full suspension mountain bikes. The design is all about having a bigger sweet spot which can aid performance. In addition, the high cushion concept is also about dynamic midsole foams and modern shapes.

It is a fact that maximalist shoes have been more commonly seen during ultrarunning events than any other type of races. Between 40 and 60 percent of runners are wearing Hokas during ultrarunning races. Why? Because that high cushion can withstand long hours of pounding during the race. This capability makes maximalist running shoes become more prevalent in half marathons and marathons as well.

As of now, there has been no independent study at all on the maximalist running shoes. The only studies available so far are conducted by manufacturers and not surprisingly, their results will only support their marketing pitches.

This is entirely depend on what you define as maximalism. Just like minimalism, the definition can be blurred between person to person. Generally speaking, these companies – Hoka One One, Brooks, Pearl Izume, Vasque, Puma, New Balance, Altra, Skechers – have at least one maximalist model. Adidas Boost foam can also be regarded by some runners as a maximalist model. You could also argue Nike’s Lunar Eclipse 4 as a maximalist type of running shoe due to its thick midsole.

Answering this question is difficult. Our advice to you is that maximalist running shoes cannot suit everyone. Just like other running shoes, you need to find one that suits and fits your foot and is suitable for the kinds of runs you regularly exercise. Maximalism, for us, is just another option. It will fit some runners and will not do the same to others.

Running With Spouse

First of all, if you run at different paces, it may be a good idea to only stay together at the beginning of a workout together or the end. If one of you is a faster runner, you may get irritated having to run at a slower pace. And, actually, it can be harmful to you. So, plan to just run the first mile (it will be the warm up for the faster runner) or the last mile together.

Another variation of this is if one of you runs farther than the other. You can run as far as one of you wants – and then the other can continue on their longer run. This can be done by doing a loop around your neighborhood and then dropping one of you back at the house. If you go somewhere to run – while one is running farther – the other can make a water run.

Don’t try to be your spouse’s coach during your runs. Barking orders at them can only cause them to roll their eyes at you and be silent the whole run. If they ask for your opinion – that’s one thing. But, if you are constantly trying to get them to run faster, breathe differently, etc; – you will end up running by yourself very soon. A better way is to wait until after your workout and then casually say, “it may help you if… “

If you run a road race together, you don’t want to compete with each other. Instead, you want to encourage each other and cheer each other on to their best race possible. Racing against each other will only cause resentfulness later on. Just be each other’s best cheerleader.