Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Post-race recovery tips

Thanks for running with us at the Eversource Hartford Marathon, Half Marathon, Team 26.2 Relay and Charity 5K on Saturday!  You may have met some of our League of Injured Runners support team in Bushnell Park after the race, this new community is available to help runners get through the mental and physical challenges associated with injuries - whether short-lived or a longer term issue (join us on Facebook too!).

Experts from Saint Francis Hospital and Medical Center were also available on Sunday morning to answer questions about the aches or pains you may have felt.  We wanted to share a summary of their insights with link to tips and demo videos should you ever be impacted by similar issues.

Lower Back Pain

Q) My lower back, right side only, keeps stiffening up when I run. Started hurting around mile 7 or so yesterday...any tips?

Back pain that localizes to one side – in your case the right – can indicate muscular spasm and irritation, possible problems with the sacroiliac joint (SI joint), problems with the hip, or a problem with the low back itself. It could also indicate some muscular irritation from core weakness. Heat and foam rolling are both great ideas. I would recommend a core strengthening and low back stabilization program. Make sure you are stretching your hamstrings. It may be worthwhile to consider a running evaluation to look at your mechanics. Finally, if your symptoms don’t improve I would recommend seeking a medical evaluation. Physical therapy may prove helpful. I hope that this helps! 
-Dr. Scott Bissell, CT Sports Medicine Institute at St Francis Hospital and Medical Center

Outer Knee Pain/IT-Band Tendonitis

Q) I was having a great run until mile 11 when the outside of my knee starting hurting. By the end of the race I could barely run. It's swollen. Can you tell me what happened and what should I do?

Pain on the outside of the knee is due to IT-band tendonitis. I would suggest rest and applying ice to the area. Stretching is often helpful. We have some great info on IT band tendonitis and stretches (video). If your symptoms persist you might want to see a sports medicine physician to make sure it is not more serious.
-Dr. Jay Kimmel, CT Sports Medicine Institute at St Francis Hospital and Medical Center

Leg/Calf Cramps

Q)  I ran the full and experienced cramping in both calves at mile 21 and could not finish the race. I’ve never had this before, how can I prevent it in the future?

If you were experiencing the cramping at mile 21, you may be dehydrated. Hopefully you have been drinking through the race, however you may be somewhat depleted in micronutrients such as sodium, etc. Water should be replenished after the race, but supplement with a sports drinks along with stretching and rolling will be helpful.
-Bud Gouveia Athletic Trainer, Mount Sinai Rehabilitation Hospital

More hydration tips here.
Q) I paced the marathon and there were few runners in my group that were getting cramps in their legs. I also experienced it in my calves. I use salt pills during the race to help prevent this and also made sure I stopped and drank water at each water stops. My calves are pretty tight and I've been rolling them to loosen them up. Any advice you can provide would be great.

Cramping can also be related to changes in your running form as the race progresses. Make sure your training includes good core strengthening and focusing on hip extension. Calf cramps in particular can be related to compensation for lack of hip strength – as your hips get tired your body recruits the calf muscles to maintain your pace. 
-Dr Scott Bissell, CT Sports Medicine Institute at St Francis Hospital and Medical Center

Ankle/Heel Pain

Q) Stiff ankles and the great debate: how often should running shoes be replaced?

Depending on whether you are a soft or hard pounder and you run on average 3 miles per day, you should change your shoes every 5- 6 months or so. Always check the shoes soles for excessive wear. Running with worn shoes may be the cause of this stiffness you’re experiencing and may lead to other issues. 
-Bud Gouveia, Athletic Trainer, Mount Sinai Rehabilitation Hospital

Q) I could not run this year because of an Achilles heel injury. Last year I did my first Hartford half. Around mile 9 my right arm and hand swelled and felt really tight and never found out why, anyone know? Thanks

That is a tough question about your arm swelling. There can be a lot of reasons for that but it would require a very thorough evaluation. If that persists I would definitely suggest seeing a primary care sports medicine physician. As for your Achilles I hope it heals up soon. 
-Dr. Jay Kimmel, CT Sports Medicine Institute at St Francis Hospital and Medical Center

Foot Pain

Q) I have pain in my left foot somewhat on top but lateral side almost a thumbs distance down from my left ankle. Putting pressure on the area is tender but makes it feel a bit better. Any thoughts what it could be?

There are a few possibilities as to what this might be. It may be tendon irritation from the long run. There are joints in that area that may be inflamed. Thankfully most of these problems should improve over the next several days with supportive care such as rest, wearing good supportive shoes, and icing (10-15 minutes on 3-4 times per day with the skin protected). If your symptoms don’t improve this could indicate a more significant injury and a medical evaluation may be necessary to rule out a stress injury. 
-Dr. Scott Bissell, CT Sports Medicine Institute at St Francis Hospital and Medical Center

Q) I experienced blisters on the balls of both feet. One blister popped at mile 13. I finished but had trouble walking after. I have a full coming up in a month. Any ideas on how to treat and prevent this in the future?

I have always left the torn skin in place for protection if possible, you can purchase some blister pads from your local pharmacy that can be applied to help reduce pain of walking. Going forward for your next race, I would make sure that you good cotton socks to help reduce the friction while running. 
-Bud Gouveia Athletic Trainer, Mount Sinai Rehabilitation Hospital

Preparing for the next race

Q) I have another half marathon 4 weeks from now...should I start right back into week 9 of a 12 week training plan or take this week off to stretch, crosstrain, rest, etc? And then back into training week 10?

Yes that sounds like a good plan, I would take the week as an active recovery week, with a focus on re-hydrationstretching and alternative exercise such as crosstraining, before you start back to training. 
-Bud Gouveia Athletic Trainer, Mount Sinai Rehabilitation Hospital

Q) How long do you recommend resting before jumping right back into running? I ran the half on Saturday, a little sore/tight today but overall feel great.

Today I would focus on re-hydration, nutrition reload, but may go for a walk, bike ride or do something active. This is always good to reduce any delayed onset muscle soreness. I would get back to running Tuesday maybe. 
-Bud Gouveia Athletic Trainer, Mount Sinai Rehabilitation Hospital

**Thanks to our experts, Dr. Jay Kimmel, Dr. Scott Bissell and athletic trainer Bud Gouveia from Saint Francis Hospital - we appreciate the insight. Please visit our League of Injured Runners community on Facebook and watch the full set of demo and tips videos HERE 

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Demos for dollars

While you are at the Total Fitness Expo, take two minutes to do some good for Connecticut Children’s Medical Center, thanks to Total Fitness Equipment, a great local company and sponsor of the expo.

Throughout the Expo on Thursday and Friday, hop on a piece of equipment for two minutes at the Total Fitness Equipment booth to earn a dollar donation to Connecticut Children’s Medical Center.  You’ll be guided on how to use the best in fitness equipment and help a great local cause. 

Fundraiser demos will be available on:
            Cascade Indoor Cycles/Spin Bikes
            Helix Lateral Trainer
            Precor Elliptical or Treadmill

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Race day essentials

While we don’t recommend trying something totally new on race day, being prepared and planning ahead for weather and race conditions can present some unexpected questions.  With more than 50 booths and countless experts available to answer those questions, the Total Fitness Expo is open Thursday and Friday at the XL Center in Hartford from 11:00 am until 7:00 pm (note packet pick-up runs until 9:00 pm on Friday).

We can’t tell you enough to hydrate, hydrate, hydrate (early and often!). Our friends at Fleet Feet West Hartford have put together an outline of other considerations for your gear, apparel and nutrition needs.

What to Wear
The current weather is calling for a morning low in the upper 50s with temps rising to the mid-70s, which means it could get a little warm out there, especially for marathon runners.  An old "Runner's Rule" says to dress as if it's 20 degrees warmer than the actual temperature. Therefore when planning your outfit, dress like you would for temps in the 80s and 90s – think singlet/sleeveless shirts and shorts. If you are chilly at the start, wear an old long sleeve shirt that you can toss once the race starts (all tossed clothes are donated), or make a pair of arm warmers by cutting out the toes in a tube sock.

A few of our other race day essentials:
BodyGlide: Whatever the conditions, BodyGlide can prevent chaffing and blisters. Use it anywhere that you anticipate irritation... it can save you some serious pain. Trust us.

Nip Guards: Men can avoid discomfort and embarrassing race photos by using these comfortable, specially-designed adhesive pads on their chest. The bonus over regular bandages is that they also come off painlessly after the run.

Lock Laces: During a marathon, your feet can swell up to one full size. These triathlete-loved elastic shoelaces stretch with your feet to keep them from getting squished.

KT Tape: Great for pre-race or during your run, KT Tape also works well for recovery because it helps to increase blood flow and decrease inflammation.

Compression Sleeves/Socks: There is a reason why many Olympic athletes wear compression - it increases oxygen flow to your muscles which acts like super-fuel for your muscles. They also provide shin and calf support which is really nice around Mile 19. Go with the sleeves if you are particular about your sock.

Hat: Shielding your face from the sun and UV rays protects your skin and eyes, but also helps conserve energy since you won’t be squinting.  Choose a hat with a dark underbrim to reduce the glare and need to squint even more.  Bonus: soak your hat at water stations to help keep your head cool!

Nutrition: Carry your nutrition if you have specific preferences - GU, Sport Beans, Clif Shot Blocks, Chomps, Swedish Fish etc. This way you can time your own nutrition with exactly what you want.  NOTE – on-source support details for MARATHON and HALF MARATHON

Race/Nutrition Belt: A race number belt can serve several purposes: Save your favorite running top by affixing your number without safety pins.  Keep your number visible no matter how many layers you have on (or take off) which is important because your official race photo is tagged with your bib number. Additionally, you can use a belt to carry your nutrition and hydration comfortably.

Salt Tabs: The warm, humid conditions mean an increased sweat rate. Replenish the sodium, electrolytes and other valuable minerals (potassium, magnesium, calcium and Vitamin D) you are losing with specially formulated salt tabs for runners (Salt Stick & S! Caps are two great options). This is actually the one “nutrition” product we recommend using on race day even if you’ve never tried it before.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

A little extra hospitality for military on race day

We’re always looking for ways to provide extra perks and benefits to race participants.  With Bank of America’s commitment to those who serve in the military, it was a natural fit to create a race day military hospitality venue with their support.  Freedom Point, presented by Bank of America, is a pre-race and post-race space to provide a little extra TLC to all active duty military, Reserve, National Guard and veterans and their families (military I.D. must be shown at entrance).

This year, two special employees will be representing Bank of America at the Eversource Hartford Marathon and the Charity 5K - Jason Arndt served six years in the Marine Reserves, and Ashley Lorenz spent 11 years in active duty in the Navy, ending her service this past winter. 

Connecticut is Ashley’s new home after being stationed overseas, she is excited to participate on race day as a way to learn more about the community. She’s appreciated the support of her colleagues (and is a little surprised that her dog hasn’t been a better training partner!).  She’ll be running the 5K with ambitions to take on the Eversource Hartford Half Marathon next year.

For Jason, the 26.2 marathon challenge will be his first.  Learn more from him below about his experiences training – both mental and physical.  

Please join us in thanking them and those who do or have served our country.

Jason Arndt

One of the toughest parts of this kind of feat is maintaining the long term vision and discipline - it takes months of conditioning to get your body prepared. Having this opportunity with Bank of America provides an additional layer of motivation and accountability, so that I know I need to maintain focus and not slack off.

I’ve always enjoyed things that are physically and mentally challenging. That was one of the reasons I chose to join the Marine Corps, I felt that was going to be the biggest challenge. When setting this kind of goal, it is extremely self-rewarding to overcome the challenges involved and I like that kind of self accomplishment.

It probably sounds cliché, but I really believe anything you put your mind to, you can accomplish, especially when it comes to endurance. Every challenge you face, every goal you set and overcome, builds mental toughness and prepares you for future challenges. Life isn’t always easy, being able to face adversity and overcome those challenges is a contributing factor to success. One of the things I draw upon when training for the Eversource Hartford Marathon is previous races or feats that I’ve accomplished - when your body wants to quit but you have to keep pushing through. Those experiences have prepared me for this race and the training that I’m doing.

Training has been a challenge in and of itself. Trying to find time to go for a 2 or 3 hour run when you have work and kids is not easy. I have been following a training schedule, and for the first time this past weekend I felt like I was finally getting stronger. I had to run 19 miles, and it wasn’t until about mile 16 that I finally started to feel the aches and pains. With only a few weeks left until the Marathon, that is certainly encouraging and hopefully puts me in position to hit my goal of 4 hours!

Friday, September 8, 2017

Join the League of Injured Runners

The new League of Injured Runners allows you to support and encourage each other through various stages of injury recovery – something we almost all experience at some point.  Nobody wants to need the group, but we hope it will help you stay motivated and engaged when you do. And, when you’re back out there post-injury, you can encourage others through their struggle.

With the support and expertise of the Connecticut Sports Medicine Institute at Saint Francis Hospital and Medical Center, we will bring you a video series of tips on injury prevention, signs and symptoms of common issues and recovery strategies.  The doctors will be available to provide general guidance and address questions through the League of Injured Runners Facebook group.  We’ll also provide those who JOIN the League with email updates on special events and opportunities and share stories from the community.

Community – that’s the most important part of this initiative.  Special thanks to Team HMF member Jeanne Corey and HMF Volunteer Ambassador Jackie Owens for their help in this effort and in rallying the community around each other.  You’ll see each of them at events and hear from them on the Facebook group.  Today, meet Jeanne and hear her story.  Next week, we’ll introduce you to Jackie and her story and we encourage you all to share with us and with each other – sign up to join the League and then talk with us on Facebook too!

When I had my first running injury, I was a new runner and signed up for every race I could find.  Back then, I didn’t own a Garmin, running sneakers or any fancy gear - I used to wear my lucky big hoop earrings during races and carb load the night before my 5Ks. LOL

I started having some pain in my hip when running, did my research, learned some stretches and diagnosed myself with a pulled hip flexor.  I read articles and advice to “run through the pain” so I kept running.  The pain got worse to the point where I started limping all of the time and it would wake me up at night.  I finally went to the doctor, got an MRI and eventually the bad news - a stress fracture.  

I made my list of questions for my 1st doctor visit.  
1.    When can I run again?
2.    What kind of exercise can I still do? (if the answer to 1 was not what I wanted)
3.    How long will this take to get better?

It’s funny, I can still remember that feeling of disbelief and some of the crazy thoughts I had:  “Maybe I can still run using my crutches”…“I wonder how many calories I can actually burn power walking with my crutches”.  

I was also haunted by horrible negative thoughts.  I felt isolated.  I remember crying when I received the automated text alerts about my friend running the Hartford marathon.  I think the worst was seeing runners on the road - I hated them!  I was in such a bad place.  I missed running.  It was like losing my best friend.   

A good friend sent me an article from Runner’s World - “How to cope with the 5 Stages of Injury Grief”, I recommend it and was so grateful to read something that made me realize I wasn’t going crazy!

I had a hip stress fracture and was not allowed to put any weight on my leg whatsoever. I was lucky enough to have a friend introduce me to “Pool running” (if you’re not familiar with this concept watch the video).  I tried it the first time and my legs were like rubber after - what a great workout!  It was probably the first time that I started to feel mentally good again. 

Finally, months went by and I was given the okay to run again!  I asked my doctor if I would be able to train for the Hartford half marathon that was in 8 days.  He just shook his head and said I’d only be able to walk/run the 5K, so I signed up and ran it – without stopping.  

I was given a very strict recovery plan but started up with my own over-aggressive routine again (not following doctor’s orders – bad idea!).  I began running, teaching classes and less than a year later had my second stress fracture.  

I wish at that time in my life I was involved with HMF to know that I could still be involved with the running community even though I wasn’t able to run.  I also wish that I had a support system that would listen to my craziness or even discourage me from doing too much too soon when I got the “okay” to run again.  

I’ve learned a great deal since then.  There is a lot that a new runner can do to avoid injuries; foam rolling, getting fitted for sneakers, warming up, not increasing miles too fast, and the most important – listening to your body.  If something hurts it’s time to slow down.  Not running for a couple of weeks sometimes can make the difference. The bottom line is we are runners, therefore we will get hurt one time or another.  The thing to remember is you’re not alone! 

Jeanne Corey
-Team HMF

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Marathon training: stories from the community

We see so many runners cross the finish line at the Eversource Hartford Marathon and Half Marathon, and we appreciate when we can get to know them a little more.  What made you start running?  How do you get through the toughest of your training days? Why is Hartford a goal race?  

We’re happy to bring you more of these stories over the next six weeks as we lead up to race day.  And below, please meet Devin Obedzinski, an employee at United Bank.  We appreciate United Bank’s continued support of the Eversource Hartford Marathon and are thrilled to have their employees run and volunteer with us on October 14.

Devin is taking on his first marathon in Hartford and he knows it’s all about the mental preparedness.  How can you relate to his story?

I have played organized sports since I was a kid, and I joined the Rockville High School track team my Freshman year. I had wanted to try long distance running, but Coach Dave Smith (I still call him Coach), wanted me to try out sprints, specifically hurdles.  I took to it pretty well and never ran more than 400 meters in high school. 
Devin and his training buddy Matt after 17 mile long run

I started running 5Ks after college as well as the Manchester Road Race to keep up my competitive drive and keep myself in shape.  In 2015 I ran my first Spartan Race and my first half marathon, the Hartford Half Marathon, finishing in 2:08:24.
Jokingly, I told a friend that I’d run the Eversource Hartford Marathon with him, and then he replied that he was serious. He asked if I would train with him.  I started logging miles with my training buddy back in April, because we knew that inevitably there would be distractions, vacations, injuries, etc.  

Running a full marathon is as much of a mental accomplishment as it is physical.  There’s not much I can do to make running for 4+ hours interesting, so it takes me a lot of mental toughness to fight through the boredom, the urges to quit, and the internal questions of why the heck did I do this to myself!  But those hurdles are what I see as challenges to overcome and add another accomplishment to my resume. 

I’m surprised by how much my body can change from day to day sometimes.  I can go out and run 10 miles and feel great afterwards, feeling like I could run another 10.  Then next week I’ll feel like dying after my first mile and wonder how I lost so much progress.  

Diet and sleep have been crucial, and I definitely feel the impact if I slack on my non-running training schedule.  Energy drinks are my guilty pleasure and one of my very few vices.  I’ve been much better at cutting them out of my diet.  About a month before any big races, I eat a much stricter diet, cutting out all 99% of all alcoholic drinks (maybe one a week) and focusing on eating the right foods.  

People usually ask me to see a therapist when I tell them I’m planning on running 26.2 miles.  Some don’t understand the 24 hour commitment to success and will try to pressure me into having a drink or eating fast food, but I keep the overall goal in mind when I stick to my plan. And, I still go to my old coach, Dave Smith - he helps keep me centered!

Check back for updates on Devin’s progress in the next few weeks!

Friday, August 25, 2017

Top 5 Ouches to Avoid

With seven weeks to race day, Eversource Hartford Marathon training calls for a 19 miler tomorrow.  Even if you're not training for the full, increasing mileage, especially while we're still enjoying great summer days, can wreak havoc on your body.  Our friends at Fleet Feet West Hartford provide 5 tips to avoid some of the common issues and annoyances that can side-track your training success.

Ah, the joys of training, especially as mileage increases and the heat is still a factor! Chafing, burns and blisters don’t have to be your bodily “badges of honor” – you just need to wear the proper gear. Here are a few tips to prevent common  ailments:

Friction & Chafing
The problem:
Seen in areas where skin rubs on skin such as the inner thigh and underarms. This can also be caused by your fanny pack, hydration belt, sports bra, or any new clothing rubbing as you run.
The solution:
Only wear technical fabric designed to manage moisture when you run. That means no cotton. Lubricate before you run with Body Glide or 2Toms BlisterShield.

Bloody Nipples
The problem:
Primarily seen in men and caused by friction of the t-shirt rubbing against the nipples, creating raw skin. Not a pretty site for those post-marathon photos!
The solution:
Since bloody nipples are really just a result of localized friction and chafing, the treatment for them is almost identical. There is a product called Nip-Guards that can help tremendously in preventing a bloody t-shirt.

The problem:
Also caused by friction, usually from shoes, sweaty feet, or cotton socks.
The solution:
Try lubricating your toes with 2Toms Sport Shield or BodyGlide, then use socks made with technical fabric designed to reduce moisture and prevent blistering. Don’t wait until the week before your race to get new shoes – that should happen 2-4 weeks BEFORE race day so you can do a few long runs in them.
If you do get a blister close to race day, drain it by running a pin or needle through alcohol or a flame then poke the blister. Let the fluid drain. Do NOT remove the skin. Protect it (and any hot spots on your feet) with special “bubble bandages” that are sold at your run shop.

Athlete's Foot
The problem:
This is a superficial fungal infection that thrives in moist, dark environments (your sweaty feet covered by socks and shoes). Athlete’s Foot typically manifests as an itchy, irritated, flaky rash on the sides of your feet and in-between the toes.
The solution:
Wear socks made of technical fabrics suitable for managing moisture (not cotton). This will help reduce the amount of sweat on your feet, and should prevent a repeat occurrence. Over-the-counter Lamisil cream works in most cases but some need prescription treatment. If persistent, see your dermatologist.

Purple Toenail
The Problem:
Also known as a subungual hematoma, this is basically a bruise under your toenail caused by friction and trauma to your toe, a result of ill-fitting shoes.
The Solution:
Prevent by making sure your shoes fit properly—should have ½ shoe size width space from toe tip to shoe tip. You might also look for a more square toe box in the shoe so that the shoe is actually deep enough to accommodate your toes. Lubricate prior to running and wear socks made of technical fabric that manage moisture. If you do get one, you will likely lose your toenail, which will regenerate and grow back, likely over the course of several months. Best to see a podiatrist or dermatologist.
As with any medical condition, you should always consult your physician. 

Run Happy, Run Safe and WEAR THE RIGHT STUFF!