Monday, May 21, 2012

Slowly. Shutting. Down.

Hitting the Wall or Bonking occurs during endurance sports such as running or cycling. It’s when your glycogen (stored energy) within your liver and muscles become depleted causing fatigue and loss of energy. Your body begins to slow down and you can’t force yourself to go any faster, further, or even at all. Brief periods of rest will not be enough to get you back up again. 
To avoid “Hitting the Wall” make sure your glycogen levels are high before you run (this is not right before you run but starting days or even weeks before a run/depending on the distance) by consuming carbohydrate-rich foods and drinks. You can consume carb calories during a run with gels to replenish but don’t rely on these only. A typical individual is able to store about 380g of glycogen or 1500kcal.  Intense running can easily consume ~600 or more kcal per hour and unless glycogen stores are replenished during exercise, glycogen stores can become depleted after less than 2 hours. To make sure you have an uninterrupted session, training and carb loading can help elevate these reserves.
How do you know you’re body has enough carbs to last you a run? 
VO2max, also known as aerobic capacity, is a measure of how much oxygen the body can transport to the muscles and consume during aerobic exercises. Those who have higher VO2max values can last longer and exercise harder. To find an estimate of your VO2max divide your maximum heart rate by your resting heart rate then multiply it by 15. To find your maximum heart rate simply subtract your age from 220 beats per minute.  The result  will state how many excess carb calories you would need to intake before a race. ~ Reuters
You can also avoid “Hitting the Wall” by progressing your weekly long run each week, allowing your body’s capacity to store more glycogen. By increasing your glycogen stores you are able to push more and learn to fight fatigue as well as teaching your body to utilize energy reserves from fat storage sites after the glycogen stores have been used up. Try training with your desired marathon finish time in mind. Have a goal when you run and focus on that goal during training. You don’t want to run your entire training run at marathon pace but do try to push it near the end of your run. Your body will become more efficient at running your goal pace even when already fatigued. Don’t start off too fast or you will burn through your glycogen stores too early. 
Even though I am sharing this all with you I'll admit that I personally have a hard time with this as I am not a big carb consumer at all, so I supplement, but supplementing can be very expensive. I am making more of an effort to consume more carbohydrate-rich substances. Too many times I've bonked way too early and it's dang frustrating. Days I've carbed up, I've noted to go harder longer. The next time you all of a sudden feel like your legs are like led, as though your body has shut down and leaves you feeling like a quitter, carb up! 

Friday, May 18, 2012

Runners Breath

I have a love/hate relationship with running. I absolutely love it but it have a hard time with it. I've learned to run around my knee pain and working out/running takes my mind off of my back pain. What I need to work on is my breathing.

Diaphragmatic breathing can help improve your endurance and help you become less fatigued as chest breathing can become very exhausting. Breathing from your diaphragm gives you deeper breaths allowing more oxygen to be fed to your muscles, thus allowing you to run longer.

Most runners are chest breathers. I am. I catch my self 10 minutes into my run huffing and puffing struggling for air. I have to slow myself down and start taking controlled deep breaths in and out from my diaphragm. To ensure you are breathing from your diaphragm, place one hand on your belly and feel it rise and fall.

Many runners practice yoga and/or pilates as it helps to strengthen your intercostal muscles and lengthen your spine, which in turns helps with better breathing. Better posture equals less effort while running.

Do exercises that help open up your chest allowing you to deepen your lung capacity, correcting shallow breathing. Too many people focus on training their legs and hearts to be better runners, and too often forget to train their lungs. Try deep breathing exercises, focusing on diaphragmatic breathing, and exercises that open up your chest and stretches/strengthens your intercostal muscles (muscles that lie between the ribs). Feed your leg muscles more oxygen and see yourself lasting longer and running better, with less effort.
 Here are some exercises to start:

1. You can do this one is either, standing, sitting or laying down. Place one hand on your diaphragm. Take a deep breath in for a count of 6 seconds and slowly breath out for a count of 6 seconds. I like to practice breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth. But when you are actually running, sometimes breathing in through your mouth helps to keep you more relaxed and allows you to take even deeper breaths. This is good for everyone, not just runners.

2. Stand up straight with your feet shoulder-width apart and your arms at your sides. Inhale and sweep your arms out to your side and up with your palms facing each other. Exhale and lower your arms back down to your sides. Concentrate on your breath. Do you ever get a side stitch when running? That may be caused by a lack of oxygen to those muscles.This exercise helps to open up your chest allowing for deeper lung capacity, thus allowing more oxygen to your muscles. If I get a stitch while running, I'll lift my arms up for a bit while taking deep breaths in, until the stitch is gone.

3. Lie prone with your palms flat under your shoulders. Face down so your neck is in line with your spine. Inhale and slowly lift your head, neck, shoulders, and chest as you press your hands into the ground. Keep a slight bend in your elbows. Some people call this The Swan or The Cobra. As you exhale, slowly lower yourself back down, chest first, then shoulders, neck, chin, and head. Repeat 10 times.

4. Lie supine, knees bent, and feet flat on the floor. Keep your arms at your sides, palms facing down. Inhale and lift your head, neck, shoulders, and arms off the ground. Lift your knees and extend your feet so your legs are straight, at a 45-degree angle. Take five short breaths in and five short breaths out. While doing so, pump your arms, moving them in a controlled up and down manner. Do a cycle of 10 full breaths-each breath includes 5 inhales and 5 exhales. This exercise is called The Hundred.

Breathe deeply! Happy trails!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Quote of the Day

"Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will."
~ Mohandas Gandhi

Friday, May 11, 2012

Quote of the Day

"If everything is smooth sailing right from the beginning, we cannot become people of substance and character. By surmounting paining setbacks and obstacles, we can create a brilliant history of triumph that will shine forever. That is what makes life so exciting and enjoyable. In any field of endeavour, those who overcome hardships and grow as human beings are advancing towards success and victory in life."
~ Daisaku Ikeda

Thursday, May 10, 2012

A Spartans WOD

I've been sick the past couple of days and all I can think about is when I can do my next WOD :s I get daily emails from The Spartan Race and I've been dying to do them. I will post a couple of WODs for you guys if you want to try them.

WOD #1

5-10K run near race pace
50-150 lunges
10-150 body weight squats
30 burpees
5 minute plank

WOD #2

Mile repeats.

3-5 one mile intervals with negative splits. This means you run a one mile split at 5K pace and then recover, planning on running your next mile split faster. Each interval you run try to push it a little bit faster. Recovery intervals should be no longer than half the time it took you to run one mile. Jog or walk your recovery interval.

An example workout would look like this:

Warmup: 10 minute jog with 4-6 30 second accelerations to race pace.
Main set:
1 mile in 7:30
3:45 recover
1 mile in 7:00
3:30 recover
1 mile in 6:45
3:22 recover
1 mile in 6:30

10 minute cool down walk/stretch

Hopefully I can try these workouts over the weekend. Let me know how you did if you tried :)


Saturday, May 5, 2012

My Kind of Therapy is Exercise

Yesterday I went to the doctors for my back pain, hoping I would get booked for an MRI. Instead I got a long winded session from a Nurse Practitioner on where pain can be derived from and how chronic pain can actually not be healed and that I may need to come to acceptance of the pain and start living a different kind of life...

I was told to go on modified work and not lift, push, or pull more than 10lbs, and not to twist or bend. I was prescribed massage therapy and hyrdotherapy even though he said there hasn't been much evidence to support that this will help. He asked me if I tried physiotherapy and when I said yes, he said physiotherapy doesn't really work... hahahaha!!! When I told what I did and where I worked was tried to cover up and say, "Well, sometimes it works".  He asked me what else I have tried that has helped or seemed to relieve it, even if just a little bit. I said yoga and he was astonished as though I was joking. What a funny practitioner. He just seemed a little negative. I know that chronic pain is hard to get rid of if at all possible but how discouraging. He tried to get me on a very mild anti-depressant that is used to aid sleeping and essentially relieve pain. I declined but said I would research it and think about it.

I walked away after an hour with a requisition for an x-ray, mention of possible booking for an MRI, script for Naproxen and "Message Therapy" (I'm sure he meant massage ;P) and a doctors note to go on modified for work.

Today I went to the gym anyways. I ran 1.5mi and did 3 sets of 10 reps of 10lbs Wallball, Situps, Pushups, and Planking. Throughout the whole time at the gym, I didn't feel any back pain. It's the only time I don't feel pain. It's hard not to workout when it's my only form of relief. I will go for massage therapy and I will do hydrotherapy as I know they helps as well.

Huron Park Recreation Centre and Mississauga Valley Community Centre are the closest to me and have heated (92 degrees) therapeutic pools. I will have to pay them a visit. And maybe even see if they are hiring for a part time pool therapist ;)

I will be more careful and not overdo it, but I won't stop. One of the things I teach my patients daily is to work through the pain. Rest can cause more harm than good. But I will listen to my body. If it says that's enough, then it'll be enough, for then.

My kind of therapy is exercise. What's yours?

"We must embrace pain and burn it as fuel for our journey."  ~Kenji Miyazawa

"If you break your neck, if you have nothing to eat, if your house is on fire, then you got a problem.  Everything else is inconvenience."  ~ Robert Fulghum

"Pain is inevitable.  Suffering is optional."  ~ M. Kathleen Casey

"The greatest evil is physical pain."  ~ St. Augustine

"10 minutes of genuine belly laughter had an anesthetic and would give me t least 2 hours of pain-free sleep."  ~ Norman Cousins

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

The Science of 8 Limbs

Muay Thai translates to the science of 8 limbs. This essentially means that one possesses 8 weapons: 2 fists, 2 elbows, 2 kness, 2 shins. Muay Thai is a stand-up striking Martial Art derived from Thailand, initially developed and used by the Thai people in order to defend themselves in battles. Today Muay Thai is being used as a form of combat sport worldwide.

I don't know much else about Muay Thai except that I really do enjoy it. I waited 3 weeks to return after injuring my wrist from the first time. I was splinted and was supposed to stay off of it for 6 weeks, but 3 seemed long enough ;) I tapped it and I wrapped it and I didn't punch too hard this time. Yesterday I learned proper stance, techniques, and combinations. Strangely enough learning to block was more difficult than learning the techniques and combinations, but I was partnered up with a very helpful and experienced person. I think I'll be keeping Muay Thai a regular part of my workout regime.  I'll talk more about it when I gain more experience.

I may look cool but I actually don't 
know what I'm doing :p

Til next time...