The Stitch

We’ve all had this one, a sudden sharp pain in the side of the upper abdomen at the base of the ribs. A side stitch typically happens when you’re really pushing yourself and fades quickly when you slow down or stop. The stitch is particularly common for new runners still adjusting to the rigors of running.

Likely causes:
The pain is caused by a spasm of the diaphragm, the muscle that controls your breathing. There are a number of possible reasons for this. If your breathing isn’t controlled and disciplined, the diaphragm may be complaining. If you are running too soon after eating, your heavy stomach may literally be tugging at the ligaments connected to the diaphragm. Or you may simply be running too fast for your body’s breathing machinery to keep up.

A stitch will usually go away quickly after just slowing down or stopping. If you’re in a race or you just don’t want to stop, however, you can often make it go away by bringing your breathing into careful control. Concentrate on belly breathing, pushing your belly out when you breathe in and relaxing it as you breathe out. Take deep breaths on the intake, and exhale suddenly, even noisily. To get the diaphragm to contract in rhythm with your steps, try to inhale and exhale as you land on your left foot. Strange but true, this can help prevent spasms by encouraging the diaphragm to bounce along in sync with your stride.

If the pain is just too much and you have to stop, try bending over and raising your knee on the stitch side while pressing your fingers deep into the painful area and tightening your stomach muscles. Or just walk while belly breathing.


Born To Run-Kenyan

I have had the chance to meet some of the Kenyan runners in the Philadelphia area.  Some told us by Kenyan standards they where a “slow runner” but then would run the race and easily win the race.  One year I ran a 5k race in North Wales , PA.  At the water stop was a new runner to the United States running scene named Cathrine Nderiba. She was cheering on all the runners and giving  out water.  A few years later she won Boston for the second time. Watching this video will make you think about how hard they work to get out of poverty. The hard work in why Kenya is a power house in long distance running.

Running When You Have Children Home All Day?

Every Tuesday from July until October I would help mentor a beginning woman’s running group for 10 years.  I gave me the chance to share my experiences and knowledge with women that where just starting to run.  The question  and concern I heard the most was how to run with the kids home all day.  Some used it as an excuse not to run others tried to get up before the sun or their husbands left for work.

In our prime years both my husband and I where very competitive runners.  My husband was ranked 24th in the US in the 20k and has trained as much as 150 miles a week.  While I was training up to 100 miles a week.  We where both sponsored by Nile and Adidas associated with the local running store.    Many would say impossible if you have kids.   But this is not true.  We often would “tag team” train.  One would go train, return and the other would train.  Not every day was that easy.   We had our days that one was stuck at work.  My husband and I where at the time foster parents to two seven old with special needs and behavior issues.  You can figure out the time we put in training and we had children.

My advise to the women that where home with children all day was to buy some sandcastle building stuff and go to the local track.  I often packed the buckets and shovels in the car and drove to the high school track.  The children could play in the long jump pit making castles while  I ran lots of laps on the track.  I could see them at all times and would close the gates leading to the track so the children didn’t go anywhere.  This may sound boring running circles but I got my workout in and had the children with me.  Later in life we had our own children.  We have three ages 9 ,7 and 2 years old.  I had days where I had to push my oldest two in a double jogger to get my run in.  Pushing a five and three-year old in a double jogger not only got my run in but also a “weight workout”.  Now the girls ride their bikes  as I push my two years old.  The weight load is lighter but having to keep an eye on two of them is harder but them Mom’s have eyes behind their heads right.  These are just a few ideas I would give to someone who has children home and can’t run because they are home.

GPS Running Watches- What Are They and Why A Runner Needs One

Today everyone talks about having a GPS for traveling purposes.  They help you find where you need to go without having a map all over the seat of the car or needing your passenger to read a map to find your destination.  But did you know they make GPS running watches?  These specialized watches are equipped with GPS making it seem like you have a computerized personal coach on your wrist.

GPS stands for global positioning system. The watch uses a series of satellites for navigation purposes.  The GPS tracks where you are and can help you find your way back.  This can be very helpful if you are running in an unfamiliar area.  In the past your watch only timed how long you where running/exercising.  GPS watches help runners monitor speed, distance, pace, and calories burned while they are training on the roads.  In years past you had to finish your run and calculate everything.

They are a great product for everyone from the novice runner to the elite Olympic runners.  More and more runners are getting GPS watches because they literally are like running with a personal coach on your wrist. They give you instant feed back allowing you to instantly adjust your training resulting in training smarter.  In the past your watch only timed how long you where running/exercising.  Some GPS running watches even track your altitudes.  They have a rechargeable battery that often last 12-14 hours before needing recharging.  The GPS running watches store your workouts (data) by the date.  This gives you the chance to review workout data through out the year.

How to keep your motivation high when you are tired of Training?

This is the million dollar question that has just as many answers.  Over my 28 years of competitive running I have not found any one trick that motivates me all the time.  You have to have a bag of tricks and see which one works for that given day, week, year or training cycle.  A marathon training cycle could take about 6 months and that is a long time to be focused on one thing.

Personally my motivation would get a huge pick up if I watched a race on TV.  ESPN is one of the few channels that shows running.  They use to have it on once a month for a 1 hour.  They summarized  4-5 races (usually the big races) with in the hour.  They showed the highlights of the race, and give stories about some of the non elite runners.  The stories about the non elite runners where my favorite because they where interviewing  people like you and me.  One year my husband taped the Hawaii Ironman- now that is a motivating one.  The year we taped the Ironman won several awards for the coverage.  Once again they tell stories about the elite and age grouper.  Many of the stories had you almost in tears.

I am fortunate that my husband is also a runner.   He was nationally ranked in the 20k and represented the US in four World Duathlon Championships.  Having a life time partner that competes is a motivator and help.  We often helped each other when our motivation was low.  When we went to races we wanted to place higher than the other.  In some cases we won money and the ride home was sweeter for the one that won more.

One way to keep your motivation going is to physically write down your goal.  The goal could be a specific race, time and any other details.  For example if you have a rival in your area and you hear they are running that race write down you want to bet them.  Put your written down goal in areas you will see it throughout the day.  Tape it to your bathroom mirror this way you will see it first thing in the morning and last thing before you go to be.  A study was done with students from Harvard.  One group physically wrote there goals down on paper and the other group just verbally told others.  The group that physically wrote them down where more successful at reaching the goals.

I have only mentioned two ideas to keep your motivation high when you are tired of training.  Talk to other runners and see what they do.  It is like raising children what works today may not work next time which is why you need a bag full of tricks.

Fitness Trails- what are they and how do they help you get fit?

The Fitness Trail is an exercise circuit designed to improve the aerobic and muscular fitness of men, women and children.  They were inspired by Swiss exercise trail called the Vita Parcours.  With the backing of the Vita Insurance Company more than 400 course have been built-in Switzerland.  The idea spread quickly to Europe.  When the Fitness Trails arrived in the United States they where originally  designed for the U.S. Forest Service.  The trails have become so popular that they have been constructed on city/ county park land as well as school grounds and made available to the general public to use.

The Fitness Trail consists of 7 dual-purpose exercise stations along a 1/4 miles jogging path.  Participants walk/jog between the stations, complete the exercise, and continue on until they have finished the course.  Signs at each station describes and illustrates how each exercise should be done.

The trail can fit on as little as 2 acres of land and cost less than $1000  in materials to construct.  The trail is ideal for everyone from the individual trying to get in a workout or a group training together.  It can be used by all ages.  You progress at your own pace and do as few or as many repeats of the exercises as you want.  It offers a physical challenge regardless of age or conditioning and the chance to improve fitness and health while having fun.

There are 14 exercise activities along the 1/4 mile trail.  Jog along the trail to strengthen your heart, lungs and legs.  Build muscle strength by performing the exercises.  Or do both the get an all around fitness.

Exercise Stations

  1. Chin-ups: Pull up till the chin is over the bar and return to hanging position.  Beginners can keep their feet on the ground.
  2. Log Hop: Face the length of the log, hop sideways across log, repeat hop back across the log.
  3. Squat Jump: Squat until legs are at 90 degree angle, jump high switch position of feet on the way down and jump again.
  4. Dips: Grasp bar and support your weight on your arms, lower body until elbows are at about a 90 degree angle and return.
  5. Hurdles
  6. Sit-ups: Curls up to a sitting position and touch right elbow to left knee and return. Repeat alternating right and left elbow touches.  More advanced individuals can raise the board to increase resistance.
  7. Bench Blast: with right foot on the bench, blast off.  Switch position of feet on the way down.
  8. Basket Hang: While hanging on the bar raise legs into “basket” of the your chest  and return.
  9. Log Walk: walk the length of the log, start over if you fall off.
  10. Push-Ups: Push up keep your back straight and return down until chest your chest almost touches deck.
  11. Bar Walk: Supporting your weight on your arms, hand walk the length of the bars or as far as possible.
  12. Vault: Vault over the bar of your choice
  13. Leg Lift: While laying on your back lift your legs slowly to 90 degree angle, then slowly return down and repeat.
  14. Step up: Step up and down on the bench as fast as possible, do indicated number (from sign) and change lead legs.

Super Bowl Champion Running A Marathon?

Timex Ironman Global Trainer w-GPS Technology

New York Giants and 2007 Super Bowl Champion Amani Toomer will be trading football cleats for running shoes on November 7, 2010.  Amani will be the first NFL player to run the New York City Marathon in 17 years.  The last NFL player to run the New York City Marathon was Pittsburgh Steelers great Lynn Swan.  Lynn Swan ran 4:26:11 in the 1993 New York City Marathon.  This is the time Amani Toomer wants to bet.  Amani’s only competitive running race was a Draft Day 5k with the New York Giants but that sparked the desire to run a full marathon.  He retired from football in 2008.  He holds New York Giants records for catches, receiving yards, touchdown catches and 100 yard receiving games.  He also had 5 seasons in a row with 1,000 yards.  But is this enough to get him through the marathon.

Timex is helping Amani train by providing him with the new Timex Ironman Global Trainer GPS watch.  The watch is Timex’s latest design and a top of the line-training instrument for endurance athletes.  The watch shows up to four windows of information, and advanced online training log software analyzes uploaded data.  The watch was only released for sale in August.  If you would like to see the newest Timex watches Timex Ironman Global Trainer GPS with Digital Heart Rate Monitor and Timex Ironman Global Trainer with GPS technology visit Web Warez Timex is also giving Amani  a personal coach (USAF Amateur Triathlete of the year and Times Multisport Member) Chris Thomas.

Amani will be starting in the back of the race and Timex will donate $1 to the New York City Road Runners Youth Programs for every runner he beats.  The New York Runners Youth Program currently serves over 100,000 children in hundreds of schools and community centers to promote children’s health and fitness, character development and personal achievement in underprivileged communities.

Timex Ironman Global Trainer GPS w-Digital Heart Rate Monitor