June 2008
"Easy Calorie Zapper"

April 2004
"Snow Blind"

January 2004
"Run Healthy All Year"

February 2002
"Stay Healthy Out There"

June 2001
"Self Taut"

April 2000
"Home Improvement"

December 1999
"Gym Dandy"

April 1999
"The Pilates Promise"

October 1998
"Gotta Try It: Kayaking"

sports & fitness clips — page 1

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page 2

June 2008

Easy Calorie Zapper

Fitness: Walk It!

Here's some motivation: Walking uphill increases your calorie burn by 10 percent for each degree of incline, says the American College of Sports Medicine. Try this routine on a treadmill — or any hill that takes at least 3 minutes to climb — to blast 207 calories* in 35 minutes.

Time (mins.) Treadmill Outdoors
0:00 - 3:00 Walk at an easy pace with no incline.
3:00 - 5:00 Walk at a brisk pace with no incline.
5:00 - 8:00 Increase incline to 5%; maintain speed. Head uphill; maintain speed.
8:00 - 10:00 Lower incline to 0%; maintain speed. Turn around; walk briskly downhill.
10:00 - 30:00 Repeat minutes 5:00 – 10:00 four more times.
30:00 - 33:00 Increase incline to 5%; maintain speed. Head uphill; maintain speed.
33:00 - 35:00 Lower incline to 0%; walk at an easy pace. Turn around; walk slowly downhill.

*Calorie burn based on a 150-pound woman.


April 2004

Snow Blind
Mark Pollock can’t see, but that won’t stop him from running 26.2 at the North Pole

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In 1997, Mark Pollock was 21 years old, a recent graduate of Dublin’s Trinity University and an avid rower. A year later, he was blind, having suffered sudden — and irreversible — damage to the retinas in both of his eyes.
But Pollock, now 27, didn’t spend much time mourning. Within months, he was rowing and competing again. And now, he’s set his sights on running a marathon in April. At the North Pole.

This is, of course, no small feat for any runner, let alone a blind runner. Competitors will be subjected to wildly changing wind and snow conditions — and springtime temperatures that typically start at 20 degrees below zero Fahrenheit and only go down from there. But Pollock is no average runner, blind or otherwise. So he met with fellow Irishman John O’Regan, a veteran of the 125-mile Marathon des Sables, and convinced him to join him as a guide and running partner. They agreed to sign up for the North Pole Arctic Marathon, which is operated by yet another Irishman, Richard Donovan, himself a veteran of the Marathon des Sables as well as seven other ultramarathons.(Why all the Irishmen in this story? Donovan notes that, including Pollock and O’Regan, roughly 1/3 of the competitors in his race will be Irish. “It’s probably because there’s so much word-of-mouth in Ireland,” Pollock laughs. “And people are more likely to commit to something like this after they’ve had too much Guinness.”)

Running in (Arctic) Circles
Both Pollock and Donovan seem like polar explorers: intrepid, inspired, and undaunted by extreme conditions, physical limitations or internal doubts. Donovan, 37, is the only person to have run a marathon at both poles (he won the inaugural South Pole Marathon in 2002, then zipped up to the opposite pole to run 26.2 miles, all by his lonesome, just ten weeks later). The following year, he teamed with a U.S. company to make the North Pole race an official event. (Donovan has since parted ways with the Americans; his company, Polar Running Adventures, will hold The North Pole Arctic Marathon on April 10; the other firm, Global Expedition Adventures, plans to run the North Pole Marathon, a completely separate event, a week later.)

“In 2002, I ran the course in 3:48,” Donovan says. “It was really cold — about –76 degrees Fahrenheit with the wind-chill — but the footing was good. The next year it was about 50 degrees warmer, but there was soft, loose snow underfoot, which was a real impediment.” That year, Donovan finished second (in a field of 12), in 5:20.

This year, Donovan says, he’s sitting out the race in the interest of fair play (“I’m race director, so my word is final on who wins or loses,” he laughs) but also because he’ll be busy running the show. On race day, he’ll fly with about 30 competitors and a small staff from Svalbard, Norway, to a floating Russian camp called Borneo, about 50 miles from the geographic pole, depending on the weather. “Unlike the South Pole, which is on land, the North Pole lies on top of about 10 feet of frozen sea water,” he explains. “So it’s always moving.”

Once at the Russian camp (which will also serve as the start and finish lines), the runners will hang out in heated tents while Donovan marks the course — a small loop, only about two miles around. “Yes, you have to pass the finish line 13 times,” he says, “but trust me: You want it this way.” For one thing, he explains, shifting polar ice makes a reliable point-to-point race (or even a bigger loop) impossible. There’s also the danger of encountering wide, water-filled cracks, or leads, in the ice. Besides falling into the Arctic Ocean, runners could easily add miles to their route by circumnavigating a big fissure.

There’s also a psychological benefit to keeping close to base camp, he says. “Running two miles at the North Pole seems like a whole lot more. There are no buildings or trees, no visual clues. When you head out towards the horizon, you really feel as if you’re running off the face of the earth.”

Looking Ahead
Meanwhile, back in Dublin, Pollock puts the finishing touches on his training — and plans his next adventure. “I love endurance events because they test the mind, and in my experience, the mind is the greatest enabler. If your attitude is wrong, your preparation is wrong — and so is your ability to compete or even finish.”

Not surprisingly, Pollock’s attitude spills over into the rest of his life, as well. There’s little doubt that going blind is a life-altering event, he says, but it doesn’t have to be life-stopping. After he lost his sight, he quickly returned to rowing, and won silver and bronze medals with the Northern Ireland team at the 2002 Commonwealth Regatta. And after that, he decided to take up adventure racing — and began his career with the six-stage, 150-mile Gobi March across China’s Gobi Desert, despite the fact that his running experience up until that time topped off at 10 kilometer runs during off-season rowing training.

Running with a guide, Pollock completed the Gobi course — which covers high plains, mountains and sand dunes — in 60 hours, 17 minutes, and the experience left him ready for more. “The Gobi race attracted me because of the very real possibility of failure,” he says. “Staring failure in the face and beating it motivates me. So when I got back to Ireland, I met up with John and we hatched a plan to run at the North Pole.”

Why such an extreme event? “I can’t change the fact that I can't see,” he explains, “but I can choose how I respond to it. I could lie in bed, or I could go and compete in some of the most challenging and rewarding races in the world. Not much of a choice is it, really?”

NOTE: Later this year, Pollock plans to compete in the Race the Rockies, a 30-day running, mountain biking and canoeing race across more than 2,000 miles in Western Canada. The race starts July 8—and he’s still looking for a race partner.


January 2004

Run Healthy All Year
Expert tips for running, eating and feeling better throughout the year

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For some people, staying healthy is actually pretty simple. It amounts to fighting off the smaller stuff (colds, flu, infections) and avoiding the larger stuff like cancer and heart disease. Call it a “two-point” avoidance plan.

Runners are different. Our standards are higher. We demand to be healthy on many fronts. We want to run well and consistently, to feel energized and to eat right. Here are 15 tips:

Love Your Spuds. It’s the poster child for carbohydrates and America’s favorite vegetable. Baked or roasted (not deep-fried or smothered in cheese), it’s also a nutritionist’s dream, delivering potassium (each packs more than 20 percent of your Daily Value), antioxidants and fiber (about three grams or 12 percent of your DV).

Get saucy. Tomatoes are the current darling of researchers, thanks to high concentrations of antioxidants (including lycopene, one of the most potent). To get the most disease-fighting benefit from your tomatoes, opt for cooked products, like spaghetti sauce (heating makes lycopene more available).

Learn Labelese. “Lite” foods sell like (reduced-calorie) hotcakes – but what, exactly, are they? The United States Department of Agriculture defines “Lite” (or “Light”) as containing at least a third of the calories (and half the fat) of comparable products — not necessarily “non-fattening” or even “healthy.” The bottom line: Read the label to determine exactly what’s in there.

Fill ‘er Up. Losing weight is a losing battle when you’re trying to ignore a rumbling stomach. Your best bet: Combining filling, high-fiber grains and vegetables -- leafy ones (salad greens, broccoli) and starchy ones (potatoes, corn, squash) -- with smaller amounts of stick-to-your ribs proteins and unsaturated fats.

Heal the Burn. Heartburn strikes millions — often during exercise — but antacids aren’t the only answer (and popping too many can cause other problems). To prevent it, skip protein- and fat-rich foods (or big meals) before workouts and drink plenty of water and diluted sports drinks (dehydration only makes things worse).

Make Olive Your Only Oil. Toss the margarine and butter. Olive oil contains heart-healthy unsaturated fat, not artery-clogging saturated (or trans) fat. And recent research shows that dipping your bread in olive oil instead of smearing it with butter means you’ll eat less bread (and fewer calories) overall.

Fight Trans Fat. Meet your new enemy: trans fat, which lurks in many processed foods, raises “bad” cholesterol and contributes to heart disease – just like saturated fat. But unlike saturated fat, it’s not listed on labels (it will be, starting in 2006). In the meantime, avoid it by avoiding foods containing hydrogenated oils.

Steep Well. Numerous studies show that green and black tea contain catechins, antioxidant compounds that may help prevent several diseases. To reap all those rewards, skip the instant powders in favor of old-fashioned tea bags or loose tea leaves – then add boiling water and steep for several minutes before drinking.

Save Your Skin. Cancer’s on the rise, but sunscreen isn’t enough (research shows it can actually increase your risk by encouraging you to stay out too long). The latest recommendations call for lotion plus some old-fashioned common sense: Use hats and clothing to cover up, and avoid the midday sun.

Stop Portion Distortion. Research shows that Americans consistently overestimate serving sizes — and underestimate how much we’re eating. Look at it this way: A serving of rice or pasta should fit into half of a tennis ball, and a serving of meat or fish is no bigger than your Palm Pilot.

Be Salad Smart. A new report from the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine found many fast-food salads, including McDonald’s Crispy Chicken Salad and Wendy’s Chicken BLT Salad, can pack more fat and calories than a Big Mac. Best bets: Au Bon Pain’s Garden Salad and Subway’s Veggie Delite.

Reach for Chocolate. New research shows that chocolate actually fights heart disease, thanks to antioxidant flavonoids in the cocoa powder. For maximum health benefits (and palate pleasing), choose dark chocolate (with more cocoa) and savor it at room temperature — on an empty stomach.

Catch up on Calcium. Nine in ten women believe that calcium is important — yet nearly half don’t get enough. Missing your daily 1000 - 1200 mg? Eat yogurt (up to 450 mg/cup), drink calcium-fortified orange juice (300 mg/cup), or add powdered milk (750 mg/half-cup) to soups or casseroles.

Count Calories, Not Carbs. Atkins fans may swear by the weight loss powers of cutting carbs, research shows that it’s the reduction in calories, not carbohydrates, that pare the pounds. Meanwhile, recent research at Southern Illinois University and elsewhere shows that limiting carbohydrates also limits your athletic abilities.

Conquer colds. Rather not catch one of the billion colds that’ll go around this year? Exercise (it reduces colds by 20 percent) and stay home (air travelers catch four times the colds as the average American). Gotta fly? Pack your own pillow, wash your hands and avoid touching your face.


June 2002

A Faster Metabolism by Friday
Rev your calorie-burning engine in a single daily workout

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Yes, you CAN supercharge your metabolism – and you can accomplish it in a single daily workout. The trick is to do high-energy cardio and strengthening moves that create an “afterburn” effect, so your body is still working even after you’ve left the gym. “After an intense workout, you immediately start to rebuild muscle tissue, a process that requires energy. This creates a metabolic boost that can last for several hours,” says Glenn Gaesser, Ph.D., an exercise physiologist at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville.

To keep your metabolism revved in the long term, you need to build muscle with regular resistance training (one pound of muscle burns about 10 calories a day; a pound of fat burns about three). And to jump-start your metabolism now, try these five workout strategies:

#1 Interval Training
Why it works: “High-intensity intervals – doing 30-second sprints while you run or doing a tougher-than-usual set in the middle of your strength-training routine -- burn more glycogen, which extends your post-workout recovery time,” says Bruce Craig, Ph.D., a professor of exercise physiology at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana. That longer recovery period translates to a higher metabolic burn rate for up to several hours.
Keep in mind: Add in your high-octane episodes wisely. As a rule, you shouldn’t let your super-tough intervals last more than one minute.

#2 Pumping More Iron
Why it works: Lifting heavier weights breaks down more muscle fibers than lighter training does. To compensate, the body must work harder to rebuild muscle after the workout is over, triggering an immediate post-workout boost. A study in the International Journal of Sports Nutrition, Exercise and Metabolism found that women who performed a single session of intense resistance training had in increase in resting metabolic rate that lasted a full 16 hours after they left the gym.
Keep in mind: Try to take long, deep, steady breaths as you lift and lower the weight, says Zack Barksdale, an exercise physiologist at the Cooper Aerobics Center in Dallas. This deeper breathing pattern will allow you to draw in more oxygen and eliminate more carbon dioxide with each breath,which further increases the metabolic process.

#3 Circuit Training
Why it works: Moving quickly from one muscle group to the next during a workout allows you to burn more calories – because you’re working more muscles in less time. The key is to minimize your total downtime between sets by utilizing muscle groups in sequence, such as going from a biceps move to a triceps one, or working your quads right after your hamstrings, or going from an upper-body exercise to a lower-body one.
Keep in mind: When you design your circuit, pick eight or 10 exercises that will challenge your major muscle groups, suggests Ed Burke, Ph.D., a professor of exercise science at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs. For each exercise, choose a weight that you can lift in sets that last about 30 seconds – anywhere from 10 to 20 reps.

#4 Eccentric Training
Why it works: The slower the eccentric, or lowering, phase of an exercise, the bigger the challenge to the muscle. That translates into a longer rebuilding process and a greater post-workout metabolic increase. One study in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise showed a 48-hour metabolic increase when the eccentric phase was emphasized.
Keep in mind: “Take gravity and momentum out of the equation,” says Barksdale. Control the weight as it reaches the bottom of the movement, then pause for a moment before lifting again.

#5 Eating Smaller Meals, More Often
Why it works: It may sound counterintuitive, but eating actually increases your metabolism, thanks to a process called thermogenesis. “Your body has to work to digest, absorb and process the nutrients you ingest,” says Kristine Clark, Ph.D., R.D., director of sports nutrition at Pennsylvania State University. “Eating frequently allows you to burn calories at a more steady pace by keeping the thermogenic effect going all day.”
Keep in mind: If you eat several small meals instead of three larger ones, limit them to around 300 to 400 calories each and choose foods that are high in fiber and low in fat (such as whole grains, vegetables and fruit). Portion size does count – and extra calories are always stored as fat.


February 2002

Stay Healthy Out There
Who among us hasn’t been hit by a turned ankle or a bout of dizziness? Then
there’s blisters, and stitches and—oh never mind. Here’s how to sidestep all that

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Sometimes, running is the simplest of activities — one foot follows the other, taking you from point A to point B. But other times, it can be fraught with mishaps, ranging from the mildly annoying to the downright dangerous. Here, we tackle 11 of the most common culprits.

Every runner wants feet as light as feathers, but what if you’re getting that ethereal sensation at the other end of your body? “Dizziness is often a sign of dehydration or oncoming illness,” says David Jenkinson, D.O., a sports medicine physician and director of a runners’ clinic at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. “Even slight dehydration immediately impacts performance,” he explains. More severe dehydration can lead to heat illness, which can be fatal.

Dizziness can also be caused by a shortfall in nutrients, especially carbohydrates. Ironically, feeling dizzy can even be a sign that you’re over-hydrated, adds Lewis Maharam, M.D., medical director of the New York City Marathon. “This isn’t nearly as common as dehydration, “ he says, “but it can strike a novice who grabs three or four cups of water at every aid station during a long race, or who chugs too much water on a long training run.”

Now what? Sit in the shade or go into an air-conditioned building and start drinking fluids. If you ’re far from home when dizziness strikes, make a phone call to get a ride. You may be so dehydrated or otherwise out of kilter that it’ll take an hour or two until you’re feeling normal again. If you’re still feeling dizzy when you get home, or if the feeling becomes more extreme, call your doctor.

Next time: Drink appropriately, which means 5 to 12 ounces of fluid – preferably sports drink – every 15 to 20 minutes you’re running. Bring along your favorite fluid along in a water bottle or stash it along your route. And sniff out all the water fountains along the way — and use them.

Side Stitches.
Sure, it’s just a temporary cramp in a small muscle, but when you get a side stitch, you know it. Ouch.

Stitches strike all runners, from the elite to the novice, but they are most common among new runners or those who are pushing themselves to run farther — or faster — than usual. They often occur when food or drink in your stomach pulls down on the ligaments that attach your stomach to your diaphragm, which controls your breathing. This causes your diaphragm to go into spasm.

Now what? Jim Spivey, three-time Olympian and track and cross country coach at Vanderbilt University, recommends a classic cure: When a stitch strikes, concentrate on breathing from your belly with every exhale, then pull your abdomen and chest in on every inhale. After four full breaths, visualize the cramp and try to direct your breath to it, as if you were massaging it away. If that doesn’t work after a minute or two, slow to a walk (or stop) and raise your arms over your head for several seconds. This should help the muscle to relax.

Next time: Ease into any increases to speed or distance. Also, wait 2 hours before you run, after you’ve had a meal or a very large drink. Or at least consume small amounts of food (or fluid) frequently instead of downing large portions at once.

Ankle Turns.
Turning your ankle midway through a run is, well, such a pain. Never mind that it hurts; spraining an ankle also ruins your workout, your mood, and sometimes your whole day. If it’s bad enough, it can knock you out of running for 2 weeks or more.

An ankle twist can run the gamut from mild to severe, says Nicholas DeNubile, M.D., an orthopedic physician in Havertown, Pa. If you turn it with enough force, you’ll stretch or tear ligaments, which produces dramatic, immediate swelling. Women are slightly more prone to ankle twists than men because of the sharper angle between their hips and feet, but any runner can turn an ankle. You can do it by stepping on an uneven surface, or just by not watching where you’re going.

Now what? First, assess the situation: Did you slightly roll your ankle — or did you really slam it and do some damage? “If it’s very sore and swelling, you’re done for the day,” says Dr. Jenkinson. Call a cab. If you must walk home, be sure to do it gingerly — and slowly — with both shoes on. “I’m always amazed at how many people take off their shoe to check the damage, then never put it back on,” he says. “Wearing your shoe will help keep the swelling down, and keep you from taking another bad step.” Once home, start the RICE routine: rest, ice, compression, and elevation. Apply ice three or four times a day for 20 minutes at a time.

Next time: If ankle turns are a recurring problem, find a podiatrist or orthopedic specialist who can evaluate your stride and possibly fit you with stabilizing orthotics, says Richard T. Braver, D.P.M., a podiatrist in Englewood, N.J. Add strengthening exercises to your regular exercise routine. Try rubber resistance tubing or “wobble boards,” which are designed to build balance and strengthen the muscles in your lower legs.

Shortness of Breath.
Wheezing or feeling short of breath are classic symptoms of asthma and its cousin, exercise-induced asthma (EIA), which affect roughly 17 million Americans. EIA is characterized by spasms in the airways in response to physical exertion, often occurring only under specific conditions (such as cold weather or polluted environments). Asthma involves bronchospasms plus chronic inflammation in the lungs.

But wheezing is not the sole domain of asthmatics. Anyone can feel short on oxygen if it’s hot or the air quality is very poor. In very rare cases, shortness of breath can be a sign of an oncoming heart attack, especially if you feel chest pain as well.

Now what? If you’re gasping your way through your run, slow down and cut it short, says Spivey. Whether it’s asthma or plain old pollution that’s interfering with your breathing, the result is the same: Less oxygen is being delivered to your muscles. And that translates into greater exertion (and longer recovery times) for the same workout. (If you’re also feeling some chest pain and dizziness, take it seriously. Stop running immediately and call for help. If it turns out to be a false alarm, so what?)

Next time: Pay close attention to the weather reports, especially air quality, heat index, and ozone warnings, and scale back both the duration and the intensity of your runs on problem days. Also, be sure to bring your inhaler on every run, and start slowly. Many runners find that a 10-minute warmup keeps them from getting attacks on the run. If you’ve experienced chest pain, schedule an appointment with your doctor right away. Meanwhile, don’t run.

There’s nothing like the sensation of fighting with your food — long after you’ve eaten it — while trying to finish a race or a workout. Some runners have more sensitive stomachs than others, and running has a funny way of turning those little sensitivities into full-blown crises — and always when you’re miles from home and that glass of ginger ale.

Now what? Depending on your tolerance for public vomiting, you might want to take the shortest route to relief (and take comfort in the fact that you’re neither the first runner nor the last to lose his or her lunch). Less dramatic options: Take a breather and walk for a while. Sit on a bench or on the ground for a minute. Pregnant women have been known to nibble on saltines to quell morning sickness, and some runners keep an energy bar on hand for the same reason: A little bit of food can help when nausea strikes.

Next time: Know your stomach’s idiosyncrasies— and obey them. “I’ve had to travel overseas many times, and I’ve learned to stick to familiar foods, even when they’re hard to find,” says Spivey. Don’t skip the prerun food entirely, he cautions. Eat at least a few bites of a bagel, banana, or energy bar before heading out. If you have a bigger meal, eat it at least an hour before you start your next run (experiment to find your own personal cutoff time).

While the medical and sports communities wrestle the age old question — to pop or not to pop? — runners have a more pressing concern: What to do when a blister appears in the middle of a run? Blisters form when the skin is exposed to repetitive friction, which causes the top layers to separate. Then body fluid arrives at the site to help protect the area from any more damage.

Now what? As soon as you feel a blister coming on, stop running and try to fix the problem. Sometimes, it’s just a matter of your sock bunching up or your shoe’s tongue slipping out of position. If it’s something you can’t solve, walk home. Once there, wash the area and keep it dry to encourage speedy healing, suggests Chris Hall, head men’s and women’s track and cross country coach at the University of Chicago. If the blister in in a spot that will be subjected to further friction, you should pop it — carefully: Use a sterile needle, make a tiny hole at the edge of the blister, and leave the top skin in place.

Next time: Make sure that your shoes and socks fit properly. Blisters aren’t part and parcel of an active life. They’re evidence that your feet and your footwear are mismatched. Always wear clean running socks that are made from a wicking, synthetic fabric. And consider carrying along a product called Blister Block, a gel-like, sticky pad that absorbs friction in problem areas.

Right up there with blisters are those painful little patches of raw skin that can appear after a few miles of running (and rubbing). Problem spots are the nipples (for men), along the bra line (for women), and under the arms and between the thighs for both sexes.

Now what? Rub on some ointment, either old-fashioned petroleum jelly or one of those new, non-staining products like Aquafor or Body Glide (even lip balm will work in a pinch). Then re-apply every half-hour or so.

Next time: Be sure you’re running in soft, broken-in, breathable clothing without any scratchy or uneven seams. If traditional running shorts tend to ride up on you, try tights or bike shorts. And always cover problem spots with ointment before you leave home.

Cold Appendages.
Usually, running in even the coldest of climates is much less chilling than our non-running friends believe. “Once I get moving, I’m never cold,” says Spivey, who lived and trained in ultra-chilly Chicago for many years. But every so often, disaster strikes: You soak your feet in a half-frozen puddle, your gloves get wet and lose their insulating abilities, or you have to walk the last mile or so sweaty, which leaves you hopelessly chilled. In those cases, your extremities — fingers, toes, and ears — are particularly vulnerable.

Now what? To warm feet and hands, try this old ski patroller trick: If your feet have gone numb, keep running and get the blood flowing again with a series of leaps and squats (pretend you’re skiing the biggest moguls on the mountain). If your hands are the problem, get centrifugal force into the game by swinging your arms, one at a time, in circles. Keep your arm loose and make each rotation as big and fast as you can; keep swinging for at least 20 reps per arm. (No, you won’t look dignified, but yes, it really does work.)
If your ears are feeling frozen, unfurl that hood that’s hidden in the collar of your running jacket. Or cover your ears with your hands for a hundred steps or so. If all else fails, head into a heated building for a few minutes, then head home.

Next time: Invest in good-quality, made-for-the-winter socks and gloves — and get yourself a hat. If it’s often wet where you live, look into waterproof or water-resistant outerwear, mittens and running shoes.

Bathroom Woes.
Who can forget the image of a recent Boston Marathon winner, sprinting toward the finish line while trying to remove evidence of what must have been one of the biggest “accidents” ever recorded on television?

Fecal incontinence most often strikes runners who are experiencing diarrhea (which, in turn, can be caused by a reaction to certain foods). Then there’s urinary incontinence, in which a small amount of urine leaks, often during times of exertion. This is a problem for millions of Americans, most of them women who have had children.

Now what? Find the facilities (or a secluded shrub, if need be) as soon as possible. And don’t worry about appearances: “I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gone into a fast-food restaurant, made a beeline for the bathroom, then walked out again without buying a thing,” says Spivey. “I used to feel awkward, but not anymore. Most people understand. And it’s much better than the alternative.”

If you’ve had to go au naturel, or if you’ve had incontinence of either type, it’s very important to wash the area as soon as possible. Both urine and feces will irritate your skin (think diaper rash).

Next time: Get into the habit of using the bathroom before you leave home, says Cathy Feiseler, M.D., a sports medicine practitioner at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation. Learn where rest rooms are on your route, and start out with the assumption that you’ll have to make at least one pit stop.

If urinary incontinence is a problem, talk with your doctor about remedies as well as exercises that you can do. If diarrhea is your downfall, take a close look at your diet. Could be coffee. Could be fiber. Could be milk. Don’t overlook anything, even if you never have a problem with it on non-running days.

Your Survival Kit
The well-prepared runner always carries a fanny pack stocked with:
• Water or sports drink, and an energy bar
• Money for a cab or a phone call
• Toilet paper
• Lip balm (does double-duty as a chafing remedy)
• Anti-blister bandages
• Sunscreen
• A compact fleece hat and gloves

Tweaks and Twinges.
Lets face it: Running occasionally comes with a few aches and pains. Most are normal by-products of muscle strengthening and endurance building, but others may be signs of damage to muscles, bones or connective tissue.

Now what? “If you’re running and you feel a slight pain or twinge, give yourself another minute or two to see if it goes away,” suggests Jenkinson. If it doesn’t, stop and try to stretch it out. Still no go? Then call it a day.
“Running often involves some discomfort,” says Maharam. “The key is to recognize when discomfort turns into pain — and react accordingly. If it’s affecting your stride, stop. Otherwise, you can actually damage another area along with the original injury.”

Next time: Know your body, says Spivey, and pay attention to little problems before they become chronic. If you’ve been having lots of twinges lately (or are recovering from an injury), run in a loop so that you’re never too far from home, and stop if things get bad. Never try to run through the pain.

Tiring Out.
So you’ve set out to do your weekly long run and you’re about a quarter of the way into it when suddenly you feel the urge to stop. Right where you are.

Now what? Assess the situation, says Jenkinson. “Are you truly, physically, too tired to go on? If so, then stop. There are certainly times when it’s smarter to quit.” If things aren’t quite so bad, walk for a few minutes, sip some sports drink or a gel, and get moving. Then take regular walk breaks the rest of the way,

Next time: The key to avoiding these situations is to plan ahead. Be sure to eat and drink properly before heading out, and start conservatively. Keep the pace down until well into your run. As time goes on, you’ll learn what you can and can’t do as a runner. “I know what I can expect, day to day, and that cuts way down on surprises,” says Hall. That confidence also lets you make the commitment to finish every run, no questions asked. And this helps eliminate all those mental battles along the way, which can be exhausting all by themselves.


June 2001

Self Taut

You want ripped abs, firm buttocks, and toned thighs— but you're not getting them from running alone? These exercises will do the job

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It's one of life's great injustices: Running — no matter how religiously you do it, no matter how far or fast you go — doesn't guarantee you a sleek physique.

Sure, we've all seen the rail-thin champions, and probably have at least one running buddy who's built like a whippet. But we also know runners who are carrying more than an extra water bottle around their waists. Or who wouldn't be caught dead in a pair of running tights.

“Runners are always amazed and frustrated when they can't get rid of those little stomach ‘pouches,’” says Bonne Marano, a certified fitness instructor and personal trainer in New York City. “Pouches”? Is this ringing a bell?

To banish those pouches, what you need is an overall conditioning program that improves your muscle tone as well as your endurance, strength and flexibility. “The only way to eliminate those problem spots is to lower your total body fat and increase your muscle,” says Marano. More muscle makes it harder for fat to settle because your metabolism is higher. This means you can burn more calories even when you're not exercising.

But fat cells can be stubborn. And the truth is, it's almost impossible to “spot reduce” parts of your body. Yet you can condition the underlying muscles, which will increase your overall lean muscle mass and morph that flab into toned, tight tissue.

Here, we'll show you how to do exactly that. For each of four common problem areas – the stomach, thighs, buttocks, and arms – we offer an exercise that you can do while running, one you can do at the gym, and one you can do at home. If none of these exercises work to your satisfaction, we've got a secret weapon, guaranteed to move the pudge that just won't budge.

Pudge Problem #1: A Paunchy Stomach
Many runners are lean overall, but have a roll around the middle that refuses to shrink. These rolls hang around our torsos because we tend to have weak lower-back and abdominal muscles. And like everybody else in America, we're sick of doing sit-ups. Here are some better options:
While you're running: Alternately tighten and relax your abdominals. Pretend you're clutching a dollar bill between those washboard abs, and hold it for a count of 10 seconds. Do this 10 to 20 times during one or two of your weekly runs.
In the gym: On the hanging apparatus for abs, do a knee raise with a twist. With your forearms on the pads, grab the handles and let your body hang straight down. Slowly raise your knees until your thighs are just parallel to the ground, and at the same time, rotate your torso and aim your right knee towards your left hip. Pause for a second, then slowly return to your original position. Repeat on the other side. Do sets of eight to 10.
If your gym doesn't have this apparatus, you also can use a physio ball on the floor to do a reverse crunch. Lie flat on your back with your knees bent and your calves resting on the ball. Let your arms lie flat at your sides. Slide your legs to the outside of the ball and squeeze it between your knees. Now lift the ball a few inches off the floor, rolling you hips up slightly toward your rib cage. This should be a very small and controlled movement – your hips should rise only an inch or so off the floor. Return the ball to the floor, relax, and repeat. Do sets of eight to 10.
At home: Try a crunch with a twist. Lie on your back with your legs slightly bent and your arms at your sides. Keeping your head and neck relaxed and in a straight line with the rest of your body, exhale and contract your abdominals to bring your shoulders slightly up and off the floor. At the top of the crunch, rotate your torso and reach your left hand toward the outside of your right knee. Hold for a slow count of two. Inhale as you lower yourself to the starting position. Repeat 10 times on each side, eventually working up to sets of 30.
Secret weapon: If you have access to a pool, try this “water torture” (yep, this one is tough). Float on your back while holding a kickboard under your head and shoulders. Now use dolphin kicks (toes pointed, legs together) to propel yourself the length of the pool. Work up to 5 minutes. Most mortals can't even get close to that at first, but eventually you will. And you'll have the ripped abs to prove it.

“Saddlebags” will stubbornly endure miles of running. That's why your hips and thighs need a secret weapon.

Pudge Problem #2: Flabby Upper Thighs (a.k.a. “Saddlebags”)
The bane of many women, fit and otherwise, these extra pockets of flab can stubbornly endure miles and miles of running. Why? Because running doesn't tone that area. When you run, you exercise your quads and glutes (the big muscles in the front and back of your thighs, which propel you forward), but not the smaller muscles that move you from side to side. To bust those bags, you'll have to pay extra attention to your hips and inner thighs.
While you're running: Make time for lateral hops. Find a safe place to stop momentarily. Pick an object on the ground to use as a visual marker, such as a pebble, stick, or leaf. Stand about a foot to one side of the object, with your knees slightly bent, back straight, arms relaxed. Quickly jump sideways over your marker, then jump back, landing as quietly and spending as little time on the ground as possible. Do this continuously for 30 seconds, then go on your way, stopping every five minutes to repeat the drill.
In the gym: Do leg lifts. Strap on ankle weights (start with 5 pounds or less), and lie down on one side with your bottom knee bent and your top leg fully extended. Lift your top leg about a foot off the ground, then slowly lower it until your toe almost touches the floor. Repeat 15 to 20 times, then switch sides. Work up to three sets for each leg.
At home: Try the boxer's sweep kick. Assume a boxer's stance, with your hands up in front of your chin, elbows at your sides, left foot a few inches in front of your right, knees slightly bent. Balancing on your left leg, lift your right knee up and kick your foot straight out in front of you, then “sweep” it around to the right and then back to the floor. Repeat 15 to 20 times with each leg.
Secret weapon: Buckle up those inline skates. Skating is a killer exercise for your thighs, especially if you squat down low. The lower you go, in fact, the more you’ll challenge your legs. Be sure to push out to the side with each stroke (not down or back). If you don’t have skates (or if the weather is bad), replicate the motion on a slide board at the gym. Make it a workout by doing 1-minute sprints with a 1-minute recovery between each.

Pudge Problem #3: A Big Backside
Glutes get a workout from running, but if you're genetically predisposed, they're still a gathering place for excess fat. Madding, to say the least. But if your derriere is bigger than you'd like, you can kick it into gear with some fancy footwork.
While you're running: Start skipping, which, unless you happen to be eight years old, is going to be harder than you think. (That tells you it's working.) Every mile or so, skip like a school kid for a few hundred yards. Squat down low and leap up high to get the most out of the motion.
In the gym: Do standing jumps, a plyometric (explosive) move guaranteed to trim your backside. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, about 10 inches in front of a weight bench or aerobics step. Hold your arms at your sides. Squat slightly, then jump up onto the bench. Focus on landing in the center of the bench, feet flat, as quietly as a cat. Then jump back down to the starting position. Do eight to 10 of these jumps at first, working up to 30.
At home: Do a ballet dancer's plie squat. Stand with your feet a few inches wider than your shoulders, with your toes turned out at a 45-degree angle. Hold a 10-pound dumbbell (or a similar weight) in front of your body, and keep your knees slightly bent. Bending your knees more, lower your pelvis as if you are going to sit down, and keep lowering until your thighs are parallel to the floor. Pause, then return to the starting position. Do sets of eight to 10.
Secret weapon: Try glute presses. Position yourself on all fours, then bend your elbows so that you're resting your upper-body weight on your forearms. Extend one leg behind you with your knee bent at a 90-degree angle, the sole of your shoe parallel to the ceiling. Tighten your buttocks as you push your foot up a few inches more, until your thigh is parallel to the floor. Return to the starting position and repeat 15 to 20 times. Switch legs and repeat, working up to two or three sets per leg.

Pudge Problem #4: Flabby Arms
Unless you're using your arms to carry gallon jugs of water, they're not getting much of a workout when you're running. Even super-skinny runners can have upper-arm jiggle. And especially annoying for women: that extra flab on your upper back that bulges over your running bra. Looks even worse than it sounds.
While you're running: Pick up a full water bottle in each hand and really pump your arms for 30-second intervals, several times during your run. Or use those same 30-second periods to consciously flex your triceps (the muscles that run along the back of your upper arms) every time your left foot hits the ground.
In the gym: Find the triceps pressdown machine. Set it at about 20 pounds, then stand straight with your back against the pad, facing away from the machine. Grab the handles with your palms facing the floor. Keeping your elbows against your sides and your upper arms steady, push down until your palms reach your thighs. Hold for a count of two, then slowly return to the starting position. Repeat 15 times, working up to 30.
At home: Do dips off a sturdy chair or low table. Or try some triceps extensions: Stand and hold one dumbbell (or another small weight) with both hands, straight above your head. Keeping your upper arms against your ears, lower the dumbbell behind your head to your shoulders. Slowly straighten your arms and return to the starting position. Do sets of eight to 10.
Secret weapon: Ready for a killer pushup? Here goes. Place your hands on the ground and your feet (or knees) on a low, stable bench or chair. To get your abs into the act, you can use a physio ball; balance yourself with your thighs on top of the ball, hands on the floor. Start in the “up” position, then lower your body until your upper arms are parallel to the floor. Exhale, then push yourself back up without locking your elbows. Work up to 20 reps, and we guarantee there'll be no upper-arm flab in sight. At least, not on your arms.


April 2000

Home Improvement

Tired of clunky gym equipment and complicated training plans? Here's a simple strength program, designed specifically for women, that you can do at home

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You know you should strength train and you've heard the reasons why: Strength training fortifies your bones, prevents injuries, speeds up your metabolism. So why don't you do it? Probably because strength training seems so doggone complicated. With running, you need only tie on your shoes, step out the door and put one foot in front of the other. In contrast, strength training can involve gym memberships, complicated equipment and a big learning curve.

This is why we searched for a strength-training workout that's just as simple as running. And we found one. You can do it at home in about half an hour, and the most important piece of equipment is your own body. "Working against your body weight is a great way to build muscle," says Michael Wood, a certified strength trainer, owner of Sports Performance Group in Cambridge, Mass., and creator of this workout. Unlike fancy gym equipment, your body allows you to perform real-life, multijoint movements that will condition you to run faster.

Do three sets of the following seven exercises twice a week. Complete one set of the exercises in order, followed by the first of the three stretches shown below. Then run through the exercises again and follow up with the second stretch. Complete the third set of exercises and finish with the final stretch.

Walking lunges.
Lunges strengthen your major running muscles —the glutes in your buttocks and the hamstrings and quadriceps in your thighs. Lunges also improve your balance, something that no leg-press machine can do.

Stand with your hands on your hands on your hips and your feet shoulder-width apart. Take an exaggerated step forward with your right leg. As you plant your foot, bend your left leg and sink down until your forward knee is directly above your ankle and your front thigh is parallel to the floor. Then rise up and start stepping forward with your left leg, bringing both feet back together. Continue to lunge forward, leading with your right leg, from one end of the room to the other (take about 10 steps). Then switch legs.

Make it tougher: As soon as you settle into a lunge, jump up and scissor your legs in midair, landing with your opposite leg in front.

We won't kid you: Chinups are tough. But once you've mastered the technique, this move (paired with push-ups) will tone and strengthen all of the muscles in your arms, shoulders, back and chest.

To start, secure a bar above your head in a doorway. Grab the bar with your hands shoulder-width apart, palms facing you, and pull yourself up until your chin rises above the bar. Lower yourself slowly. Aim for three to five repetitions.
What? You can't pull yourself up? Don't panic; most women can't at first. Simply secure the bar at a lower height or stand on a chair or bench so you can start in the up position and slowly lower yourself. As you grow stronger, work up two sets of five. Then try a full chinup without the chair.

Make it tougher: Do pullups — the classic military move, with your palms facing away from you.

Single-legged squat.
This move forces your quads to lift and lower your body weight s-l-o-w-l-y at the same time they keep you balanced. Think of it as an ultra-intense, slow-motion running stride.

Stand on a stable bench or aerobics step. Tie a jump rope to a stationary object that's roughly head-high (for example, try looping the rope around a door hinge). Stand with your left foot on the left edge of the step and your right leg hanging off the edge. Hold the rope (for balance) and drop your buttocks as if you were sitting in a chair. Keep your back straight and your head up. Once your thigh is parallel to the floor, push back up. Do a set of 10 to 12 squats, then switch legs.
Make it tougher: Get rid of the rope and drop into a one-legged squat on your right foot, with your right thigh parallel to the floor. Repeat on the left side.

Pushups on a decline.
This is a great variation on the classic pushup, a move that works your chest, arms and shoulders. Start with a traditional modified pushup (with your knees bent instead of straight). Once you can handle this, up the ante. Set up a small platform a few inches high. A folded exercise mat or even several folded towels will do. Kneel on the mat with your hands on the floor, and do 10 to 12 pushups.

Make it tougher: Make your platform higher — up to eight to 10 inches.

Crunches on a ball.
Balancing on a big, rubber gym ball adds an extra challenge to the classic crunch, forcing your muscles to make numerous small adjustments. You end up strengthening all of your abdominals, plus your lower back and even the muscles along the sides of your torso.

To do this exercise, sit on the ball so it's directly under your tailbone. Then lean back until your torso is parallel with the floor and the ball is between your buttocks and waist. Cross your hands across your chest, and exhale as you lift up your chest. Lean back down, come up again and rotate your left shoulder to the right. Lean back again, then rise and rotate your right shoulder to the left. These three lifts count as one repetition; do 10 to 12 repetitions in all.

Make it tougher: Allow your torso to sink below the horizontal at the start of each crunch. This extra extension will stretch the muscles you're working and make it harder for your abdominals to lift your body weight.

Russian jumps.
This plyometric exercise builds leg power. "Explosive moves like Russian jumps increase the strength in your fast-twitch muscles," says Wood. Those are the muscles you need for quick movements, such as sprinting. "Runners often develop the slow-twitch muscles, which they need for endurance. But when you work on both, you'll get results in both speed and agility."

Stand on a mat or thick carpet (to decrease injury risk). Start in a squat with your knees above your ankles and your hands behind your head, like a Russian folk dancer. Explode straight up, straightening your body but keeping your hands in place. Land as softly as you can, with your knees bent, then go right into the next jump. Do 8 to 10 more jumps without pausing.

Make it tougher: Throw your hands up over your head as you jump, like a volleyball player blocking at the net.

Upright row with a squat.
To gain even more from your squats, pair them with an upper-body move. "Combining a leg-building squat with an upright row teaches several of your muscle groups to perform effectively together," says Wood. This is exactly the kind of training you need to run with proper form.

To do this combination, stand on the midpoint of a five-foot-long piece of rubber resistance tubing. Hold the handles so the tubing is taut when your hands are beside your hips. From that position, squat, then stand up while doing an upright row—in one continuous movement. For the row, pull the tubing up to your collarbones, keeping your hands close to your body and your elbows out. Do 10 to 12 repetitions.

Make it tougher: Do these squats one leg at a time, alternating legs with each repetition. Hold your free leg straight in front of you, toe flexed, as you squat down. Stand on both legs to do the row, then switch legs for the next squat.

To find the equipment you'll need for this routine, try these online and a mail-order sources:
Netwell (www.netwell.com) sells resistance tubing, mats and exercise balls
Lifestyle Sports (www.lifestylesports.com; 800-666-9198) sells plyometric platforms, exercise balls and steps
N-R-G Fitness Equipment (www.nrg-fitnessequipment.com; 604-207-9190) sells chinup bars

That's stretching it
These stretches will complement your strengthening program. Do one stretch after each set of the seven strengthening exercises, in the order shown below:
Hamstring stretch. Lie on your back with one leg bent and the other extended straight up. Fold your resistance tubing a few times so that it's a manageable length and loop it around the ball of your extended foot. Gently pull the tubing to bring your leg toward your face. Hold the stretch for 30 to 60 seconds, then repeat on the other leg.
Hip-flexor stretch. This classic stretch helps loosen the muscles in the front of your hips. While standing, take a step forward with your right leg and sink down into a deep lunge so your right knee is directly above your right ankle. Keep your back and rear leg straight. Breathe deeply and slowly as you stretch. Hold for 30 to 60 seconds. Repeat on the other side.
Hip-abductor stretch. Sit up straight on the floor with both legs in front of you. Bend your right knee and gently bring your right foot across your left leg, resting it on the outside of your left knee. Hug your right knee to your chest as you gently twist your body to the right, pressing against your knee with your left elbow. You should feel the stretch in your right hip. Hold for 30 to 60 seconds, then repeat on the other side.

Our Own Pullup Champ
Runner's World nutrition columnist Liz Applegate, Ph.D. (at right) is a champ at a workout move that most women won't even attempt: the pullup. "Women generally can't do even one," she says. "My record is 57 in a row. You have to practice. I do them every other day, using a bar at home. My favorite workout is 10 sets of 15 pullups, with 15 seconds of rest between sets. It's a killer."

Unless you're already strong, you probably won't be able to do a full pullup right away (or even a chinup, the pull-up's tamer cousin). Plan to take a few weeks to build up to it. But trust us — it's worth the effort. Both moves build strength in your arms, shoulders, abdominals and back, typically all weak spots in women runners. "The pullup is an incredibly effective move for women," says Applegate. "It's definitely not just a guy thing." 

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