Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Questions and answers

First of all, thanks so much for all of the feedback and comments on my "bye bye Gluten" post. I can't believe how many others are dealing with digestion issues when they run! I have been gluten free for two weeks now (I am being SUPER careful - reading every label, and doing lots of reading on the topic so I know what to be careful about, etc.) I cannot say that things are all better yet (although today was encouraging), so I am not sure if this will be the answer for me or not, although I know I need to give it at least a few more weeks.

In case it will help some others out there, here are some things that I tried prior to going gluten free (and I am still doing) that have helped, although not fixed things -

-no eating after 6pm (or 12 hours before a run/race)
-no eating in the morning before a run (although for marathons I drink a bottle of my sports drink 2-3 hours before the start). I usually run at about 5:15am so it is easy to not eat first.
-get up an hour before I am going to run to give myself plenty of time to use the bathroom. I do my strength/core training before I run anyway, so this routine works well for me.
-no dairy
-avoiding foods I know bother me (onions, broccoli, etc.)
-avoiding high fiber foods before races/big runs
-not getting dehydrated
-avoiding products with sorbitol (a laxative) like Nuun
-smaller meals throughout the day instead of 3 large meals

Here are some things I have tried that did not seem to help at all -
-peppermint oil/herbal remedies
-two prescription meds for IBS

I also got a lot of great feedback on my running video clips post. Josh had a blast riding his bike along side me and making the videos and I really enjoyed his company. It was great! I got a lot of questions so I am going to answer those -

If you could give some tips on how you perfected your form that would be great!...or is it natural? I am wondering if you can comment on your foot strike sometime. I have always heard it is better to land on mid-front foot and it looks like you are doing that. In fact, it looks like you run a lot on the front of your feet. Can you tell us what your coach says about foot strike? I try to get away from a heel strike but I see myself doing it in video. How can I change this?

I had never had anyone evaluate my running form until I met Coach Rick and I ran for him at the MIT track in Boston (two days before the Boston Marathon this year). I was pretty nervous, because I wasn't sure what to expect or what he would say (and of course I wanted to impress him). He gave me a lot of great, very encouraging and positive feedback, which was really exciting. Rick gave me similar feedback after he watched the videos Josh took. In fact, his email made me feel so good that I saved it. When you put so much time, energy, and heart into doing something, it is really wonderful to hear that you are doing it well. :)

While I have spent countless hours running (and practicing my form!) I have never worked at changing my foot strike. I do run/land on my mid/fore foot, and that is how I have always run, even when I am tired. I have never been a heel-striker. I know that there are many out there that say heel-striking is bad and that everyone should try and change to a mid-foot strike. I do think there is merit in some of the reasoning behind that line of thinking, but with that said, I am also a big believer in "if it ain't broke, don't fix it". So if you are a heel-striker but are running injury-free, I would probably not try to change things. There have been lots of great runners who are heel-strikers. If you are a heel-striker and have had repeated injuries, then changing your form/stride may be worth trying.

There are things I have worked on with my form. I have worked to improve my leg turn-over (aiming for 180 foot-strikes a minute, always seem to be at 178!) and at being as efficient as possible and not wasting any energy with unnecessary movement. I also work on engaging my core and trying to keep shoulders, arms, hands, face, etc. nice and relaxed while I am running.  When I am very tired I have to remind myself not to let my shoulders round forward, and Coach Rick is having me work on having a slight lean forward from the ankles.

What goes through your mind to keep you going so strong, fast and steady?
What goes through my mind while I am running varies on my run and what type of workout it is. On an easy run I may chat with friends or listen to music, podcasts, or a book on tape. On easy runs (or during warmup miles) I often pray too.

But during a long run, especially a challenging one with lots of pace miles, or during a race or a track or tempo work out, I am pretty much concentrating all the time. I don't like to be distracted (I don't run with my IPOD) and I am very, very focused. (In fact I didn't even realize Josh was filming the longer clips until we were done and he showed me.) I focus on my breathing (keeping it rhythmic and relaxed), I focus on my form (going through a check list in my head regularly), I focus on my leg turnover, I focus on my pace, I focus on my energy and effort level, etc. I like to think positive thoughts, and I do have different mantra's that I use depending on what type of run (or race) it is.

 Also--silly but serious...the water bottle? I am trying to get off of wearing the belt. I just feel like its weighing me down but at the same time its sort of a security for me. How do you like holding the bottle? Does it annoy you at all?
I have always run with a handheld water bottle. I have used the Nathan 22 ounce handheld and lately have been using the Fuel Belt 22 ounce handheld. With my picky stomach, I like to carry my own hydration and fuel while I run marathons, so I know exactly what I am taking and can take it whenever I want/need it. The handheld has never bothered me at all, although it is fairly heavy when it is full. I am used to it though! In marathons I can't wait to get rid of it once it is empty (usually around mile 22-23) and if Josh or my Dad isn't close by then I just toss it.  (I have gone through quite a few water bottles....)

I have never liked or been able to stand any type of waist belt, fuel belt, or waist pack. They all just really bug me. And I wouldn't wear a Camelback for a marathon. So, the handheld is my best option. I know people that love them and people that hate them (just like the belts) so I think you just need to try them and figure out what works for you. more question...the shorts. Do you wear a lot of glide or is it just me that gets chaffing when I wear those kinds? Any secrets will help!
In the video clips I am wearing my most favorite Brooks Epiphany Stretch Shorts. I love, love, love these shorts (and Brooks has a sale on all of their shorts right now!) Although I don't have super skinny thighs, I don't have any problem with chaffing. That said, I do "lube up" before a very long run or a marathon though just to be better safe than sorry. My favorite lube product is 2Toms Sport Shield and I use that on feet, toes, inner thighs, under arms, etc. for my longest runs and marathons.

Did you get some snow this weekend too? 
Yes, yes we did. Here are two pics from my run on Memorial Day morning. MAY 28. Craziness! You just never know what spring time in the Rockies will bring. I actually love it. :) Our high temps are back in the 60's this week so it is great running weather.

Do you always wear the compression socks, or just for the super long runs? Do you find it makes a difference?
 I don't wear compression socks, but I have started wearing compression calf sleeves. (My favorite are these ones from SKINS.) I never used to, but starting last summer I had a shin that would get sore to the touch on and off. It never hurt when I was running at all, but it was tender to push on. I started wearing these calf sleeves and doing toe drops/raises on the stairs (along with the ankle drops/raises I was already doing) twice a day and it cleared up. I like how the sleeves feel so have continued to use them. I don't like how the compression socks feel in my shoes though so I wear my Brooks socks and use these sleeves.

And lots of you commented on my matching outfit/shoes in the video. I usually don't pay much attention to that stuff for training runs, but since all my gear is Brooks, it is easy to match. Plus, that is my favorite top this time of year and I wear it all the time, and I always wear my PureFlows. :)

Thanks for all the great feedback, questions, comments, etc. More soon!


Gracie said...

So with you on the "if it ain't broke don't fix it" view of gait! I hate to see good runners try to go minimal or Chi and develop injuries. I see why mid-foot strike is good, but it isn't the best for everyone!
Thanks for sharing the Q and A. Lots of good info there. Good luck with your new diet regimen - I hope you find a solution to your tummy troubles soon.

Karl Franck said...

I was a very heavy heel striker until a couple of years ago until I went more and more minimal with shoes and ran barefoot for most of last summer. My stride went from a very jarring one to a much gentler one which allowed me to enjoy running the way it was intended.

I totally agree with 'If it ain't broke, don't fix it' and I say that to people who are happy with heavier shoes all the time. I had to basically start from scratch with running but it's the best decision I made.

With a re-tooled running stride in place, I'm wearing the most minimalist shoes possible to ramp up my mileage and pace for a possible marathon this Fall.

Your blog is the best one I've read in a long time. Reading about your journey has opened my eyes about the possiblity of realizing goals despite a hectic life.

Jill said...

Well, I'm not sure if you knew me when I endured the foot from hell injury for two years. It all stemmed from an imbalance and improper gait and foot strike. So I'm a firm believer to change something to correct it before it gives you problems, otherwise you could end up dealing with it for YEARS on end, and ruining everything you worked so hard for. My paces are absolutely so far off from where I was post injury and I truly wish I'd have taken the time to learn how to run "correctly" a long, long time ago. 35+ years of running incorrectly eventually came to bite me BIG TIME and robbed me of my once easily obtainable Boston qualifying times. I'm so far from there now it's not even funny. Unless you've endured this type of intense pain for such a prolonged period of time, no one will fully understand how important it is to run "right".

Good luck on the Gluten Free! I did that for about 4 months. Read the book "Wheat Belly" if you can.

Cory Reese said...

Your Memorial Day pictures are beautiful and remind me of my days in Wyoming!

I really liked this Q&A. I also love my Nathan bottle...and am working on gait.

Shannon said...

I am curious about the shin problem that you had, as I had something similar that seems to have just recently gone away.... (fingers crossed). My shin was sore to press on, but it was relatively high up and on the outside - close to below the knee but a little lower. This plagued me for almost six months! What seemed to help was calf sleeves and rolling/massaging the area, my calves, the hamstring and the shin muscle itself. No one knew how to help it out. Weird. :)

Beth said...

Thank you for the Q&A, very helpful. I was a heel striker for years and was injured most of the time, so I've taken the last 2 years and slowly transitioned to a mid foot strike and more minimal shoes. It takes time and I still don't think I totally have the midfoot strike all the time, but it has been worth it. I've run 3 marathons in the past year (and hopefully my 4th this Sunday).

Nicole @nmh1970 said...

Thanks for answering my question about the compression sleeves. I wrote socks, I meant sleeves. I have a pair, and I think I should wear them more often. I also have issues with my shins, and am prone to shin splints, and even stress fx's. I am just a bit self conscious,and feel funny wearing them with shorts. I don't know why, they look great on you! I need to get over it!

Paul said...

Quick comment question about your GI problems during running..

You don't eat a lot of dried fruit do you?

If so, you might want to stop that.

Had a friend that had 'runners trots' and it turned out she was eating a bunch of dried cherries every day. (one of the worst for that)


Kayla said...

I just watched your running clips. Earlier in May I did a "Good Form Running" workshop at a local running store and your form is pretty much perfect, according to their theories! My stride turned out to be pretty good; I too need to work on the lean from the ankles and not letting my arms come in front of me, but my cadence was already fairly close to 180 bpm. One thing I did was find a sound clip of a 180 bpm tone, like on a metronome, and I downloaded it and put it into my running playlist several times. Every few songs or so I have two minutes of it to make sure that I am close to where I need to be. I try not to overthink my form too much; in the words of one of the guys who taught the clinic, "if all else fails, think 'light and quick'". That usually works pretty well for me.

Oh, and re: GI issues, mine are not so much while I'm running, but after. Once a race or long run is over, I have to find a bathroom pretty quickly...and then find one again....and again....