April 28, 2012
Instinctively, we know a balanced life of exercise and mental challenge is one to strive for, and a recent study from the University of Illinois confirmed that again.
It found that we should be running – not just for our bodies but for our brains as well. How many of us say we feel our minds are sharper when we run, that we’re able to solve problems that were unclear until we started moving?
Running, this recent study found, is better for thinking than thinking.
A group of researchers from University of Illinois last year conducted an experiment with four groups of mice, placing them in four very different living situations.
One group was placed in an environment with sensual pleasures – nuts, fruits, cheeses, etc. The mice were provided with beds that were colorful plastic igloos.
The second group had all of the above, and in addition, running wheels.
The third group had no toys, treats, or running wheels, and just dull food.
The fourth contained running wheels but no other toys or treats.
After several months all animals completed cognitive tests that they had also taken at the start of the study to measure changes in their brain structures.
The scientists found that the animals that ran, whether or not they had other “enrichments” in their cages, had healthier brains and performed better on cognitive tests than other mice.
So when you’re stuck on a problem or feel your mind’s a little muddled, clear up your mental “mud field” with a run. You don’t need any other toys!
April 22, 2012
“Running has changed my life — every aspect of it,” a woman told me today. In her late forties, she just started running a year ago when she felt her life was “in shambles”. Shambles meant that her husband told her a year ago that he wanted a divorce. Although she has a Ph.D., she had given up a career to raise their three children, age 10, 14, and 16.
To help her feel some kind of control, she started walk/running — running for 30 seconds and then walking for 1:30 seconds and repeating that unit. She committed to reserving an hour a day four days a week to building her fitness.
“Running has been my anchor,” she said. She counted on her commitment to running, and it rewarded her. She built up her mileage to 28 miles a week within 6 months and within 9 months she ran a half-marathon. “It was the best thing I ever did on my own,” she said. It gave her the confidence to get a part-time job.
“Running has also helped me build a network of friends,” she said. “I have a new way to connect with others, and never get tired of learning more about training, races, and places to run.”
For many of us, this story isn’t new. We know running can change our lives in a myriad ways.
This one story struck me today because it is such a clear, simple example of a key to renewal. (And I think she has a new boyfriend…..):)
April 14, 2012
So it’s going to be hot on Marathon Monday. Really hot – a high of 88 degrees is what they’re saying.
With the best temperatures for racing between 45 to 70 degrees, understanding the effects of heat and strategies for dealing with it can be helpful.
Studies of 10K performances in wide temperature ranges give an idea of the potential effects of heat in a marathon – although the effect of heat on marathons are most likely greater. Studies have shown that ideal temperatures for racing are 50 degrees and that, for runners in the 6 to 8 minute per mile range (runners slower than that are often affected even more by the heat, 10K race paces per mile are slowed by 5 seconds in 60 degrees, 10 seconds in 65 degrees, 15 seconds in 70 degrees, 20 seconds in 75 degrees, and 25 seconds in 80 degrees. In 85 plus degrees recommendations are to run, not race.
So what’s a marathoner to do this Monday?
1) Slow down – particularly through the first half of the race – and adjust original goals downwards. Racing a marathon in heat is a wholly different matter from racing a marathon. Focus on reaching the finish line healthy. Of all kinds of weather conditions possible heat is the toughest. (And most runners aren’t acclimated to these temperatures, as the weather’s been cooler in Boston over the past few weeks.)
2) Hydrate, but don’t hydrate too much. Start drinking early and at regular intervals to consume fluids at a rate sufficient to replace all the water lost through sweating (i.e., body weight loss). Dr. James Winger, author of a study on hydration and marathoning published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine has stated that “you should drink only when you need to, when you’re thirsty.” That is the best way, he added, to protect against dehydration and hyponatremia (water intoxication from consuming too much water). Thirst is a very reliable indicator of your body’s actual hydration status, Dr. Winger has stated.
Regarding hydration, know that water is absorbed more quickly – 50% faster – than sugar solutions, meaning water works faster than sports drinks to prevent dehydration or overheating. Anything mixed with water delays its absorption.
3) Watch for signs of heat exhaustion and heat stroke: headache, dizziness, disorientation, nausea, decrease in sweat rate, and pale, cold skin. Rather than trying to run through these symptoms, stop, walk, or rest. Find shade. Pour water over yourself, and seek medical help.
The Boston Athletic Association and all medical partners are prepared.
April 13, 2012
On April 19th in Portland there will be a special screening of the documentary We Grew Wings, which chronicles the growth of the women’s track program at the University of Oregon, from very humble beginnings to its rise to the status of national powerhouse. I would certainly urge anyone in the Portland area to come and see this important film.
One of my all time favorite running books is Kenny Moore’s Bowerman and the Men of Oregon. Kenny is a terrific writer, and Moore’s inside look at the legendary coach and the runners he influenced is a must read for any running enthusiast. I couldn’t, however, help but ask myself several times during the book, but what about the women?
For those of you who might also want to learn more about the history of the women’s track program at the University of Oregon, here’s your chance. There will be a new documentary released this year entitled We Grew Wings. The documentary will be first shown in its entirety at the McDonald Theater in Eugene on June 3oth during the Olympic Track trials.
But you can see a twenty minute capsule version of the film on April 19th in Portland and talk to some of the people involved in the project too. I have attached a promo for this event below.
“We Grew Wings” – Film Preview
A Documentary Film Chronicling the History of the Univ. of Oregon’s Women’s Track Program.
Thursday, April 19, 7:00
Lucky Lab Public House
7675 Southwest Capitol Highway
Portland, OR 97219
The Portland Track Festival is hosting a free screening and panel discussion for the documentary film – “We Grew Wings” on Thursday, April 19. Guests will see the extended trailer for the film and will be able to participate in a panel discussion and Q+A with former Oregon track greats, Leann Warren and Eryn Forbes, along with the film’s executive director and producers.
Film makers Sarah Henderson and Erich Lyttle have produced several running films including “Fire on the Track: The Steve Prefontaine Story”, “There is No Finish Line”, and “Builderman” and now, with the help of executive-director Ellen Schmidt-Devlin, they are taking a look at the history of the University of Oregon’s women’s track program. The film examines the relationship of two of Oregon’s NCAA championship teams, 1985 and 2011, and explores and questions the progression of women’s sports through an intimate lens—from training to competitions in a quest for a national title.
A trailer of the film can be seen here: www.WeGrewWings.com
For those of you who weren’t around then, Leann Warren was a world class runner in the eighties. She excelled at distances from the 800 meters to 10 kilometers, and would have been even better if injuries hadn’t cut her career short. One of the highlights of her years at Oregon was the 1985 NCAA championships, when the women won the team title
Eryn Forbes was a multiple time all American at UO, and later became a lawyer. Leann and Eryn were the first and second scorers for the 1981 NCAA runner up cross country team (2nd and 13th overall). Eryn also became well known for her flamboyant racing outfits that she ran in during her post collegiate days.
I would encourage everyone to see this film in one form or another as it explores an important chapter in the growth of women’s running.
April 2, 2012
While there’s little research about the effects of pregnancy and childbirth on running, we keep seeing terrific performances soon after childbirth.
Some theories on how it might help running include increased flexibility and blood volume, and the mental benefits of enduring physical challenges. (Blood volume increases about 60 percent during pregnancy, mimicking the effects of blood doping in which greater blood volume allows more oxygen to be carried to the muscles.)
Another strong American runner just enjoyed a major victory just five months after childbirth, following in the footsteps of great runners like Paula Radcliffe, who won the 2007 New York Marathon just over 9 months after giving birth to her first child.
Masters runner and member of the Adidas New England Team Kara Molloy, 41, just won the masters division of the New Bedford Half Marathon, having given birth to her first child, Ella, just five months before. Kara ran an impressive 1:21:41 – just about two minutes off her lifetime half marathon personal best of 1:19:41.
While she isn’t running Boston Marathon this year (she needs a qualifier), she still has lofty goals. “My main goal for this year is to try and squeeze out another lifetime PR or two,” she said. “I plan on focusing on the 5000 and the 10,000 and can hopefully dip under 17:00 and 36:00, respectively.”
All the best, Kara. We’ll look forward to following your races.
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