Category Archives: Womens Running

How to Prevent Ankle Sprains While Running

ankle sprainSprained ankles from running differ markedly from practically every other injury sustained while running.

Most running injuries are often classified as overuse injuries.  They result from your body not being strong enough to withstand a certain repetitive stress or action which often occurs thousands of times during a run.  In contrast, sprained ankles result from a single trauma.  Often, a runner who sprains their ankle has suffered a previous non-running ankle sprain (Bennett is prone to sprained ankles in part due to previous sprains suffered as hockey-playing teen).

Why does spraining an ankle once increase the likelihood of a future sprain? Depending upon the severity, an ankle sprain can damage muscles, ligaments and proprioceptors (PRO-pri-o-CEP-tors) – specialized nerves that control your balance and sense of position.  Proprioceptors are present in muscles and tendons.   Proprioceptors in a properly functioning ankle sense when your ankle is about to roll and instruct your tendons and muscles to fire and take corrective action, i.e. prevent rolling over.  When these nerves are damaged during the initial sprain, they often do not regain their full functionality.  Their ability to control the necessary firing of muscles and tendons is compromised.  It is this phenomenon that is the major contributor to chronic ankle sprains.

How Different Are Women Runners from Men?

DoctorWe regularly point out how women runners differ from their male counterparts. We’ve seen that due to lower body weight, women runners usually have lower caloric requirements and carbohydrate needs than male runners. Due to having lower testosterone levels, women frequently require greater recovery periods from hard training than men (testosterone promotes protein synthesis, which is critical in repairing the micro-tears that occur in your leg muscles during training).

How Your Menstrual Cycle/Menopause Affects Your Running

StressedSMConsider the following scenario:  Your training schedule includes a weekly track or hill workout.  One week, you hit your workout targets right on.  You are brimming with confidence.  The following week, the identical workout is awful with no apparent reason why.  You feel bewildered and discouraged.

Knowing where you are in your menstrual cycle can provide valuable insight into your performance. Let’s examine why and how to use this knowledge to your training and racing advantage.

The menstrual cycle is comprised of two phases.  During the Follicular Phase (Days 1-14), estrogen levels are low, except for a spike near Day 14.  Ovulation begins on Day 15.  The Luteal Phase (Days 16-28) is marked by relatively high but stable estrogen levels.  Also, progesterone levels peak, inducing a much-higher-than-normal breathing rate during exercise.

Science Has Great News for Runners Over 40

RunningInField2The common belief that we inevitably lose muscle as we age is being debunked by research. There is mounting evidence that muscle loss has to more to do with lack of use than age.  This conclusion is welcome news for runners (and other masters athletes).

A study by Dr. Vonda Wright at the UPMC Center for Sportsmedicine in Pittsburgh assessed the fitness and strength of recreational masters runners, cyclists and swimmers.  Her subjects ranged in age from 40 to 81.  Dr. Wright used MRI scans of the upper leg to measure muscle and fat content. She found no significant decline in muscle size or strength due to aging.  The MRIs of the quadriceps of her 40 year old and 70 year old subjects were virtually identical.  In comparison, MRI scans of a sedentary 70 year old’s quad show a shrunken muscle covered in fat. We use it so we don’t lose it!

What to Eat Before Your Run

EatingBeforeRun“What should I eat before running?” is a question that I’m frequently asked.

While looking through the “email bag”, I came across a query from a reader:

“I usually run 7-10 km (4-6 miles) early in the morning.  Do you have a recommendation on what to eat before I run?” Heather.

Thank you for writing in, Heather.

For runs up to an hour in duration: Assuming you do not have diabetes, a blood sugar problem or any other related medical condition, try running without eating beforehand.  Many runners find that they can comfortably complete early morning runs of this distance without taking in prior food.

Over 40 and Stealing the Show

WomanRacingsmMasters runners (runners over the age of 40) are fastest growing demographic in running. An article written by Gretchen Reynolds (that appeared in December 21st, 2011 New York Times Well Blog) quotes French research that studied New York City Marathon finishers.  Dr. Romuald Lepers, one of the authors: “The percent of finishers younger than 40 years significantly decreased, while the percent of master runners significantly increased for both males and females.”

Even more impressive – the French study also found that in recent years, the average finishing time of the fastest men runners age 60+ decreased by 7%; older women’s times dropped a  whopping 16%!!

On a related note, research has great news for older runners who aim to improve their running and racing!

Why Women over 40 Need More Rest Than Younger Women Runners or Male Runners

Take time to recharge your battery. You won’t get the Golden Egg without first taking care of the Goose.

Frank McKinney

Daphne was a 64 year old nurse who had started running at age 56. Bitten by the running bug, she began to enter local races, working her way up to the marathon. She was now running 5 days per week.  In addition, she hit the gym for two strengthening sessions and a spin class every week.  She did yoga too.  Her dream was to qualify for Boston.  Daphne needed to reduce her marathon time by 23 minutes to qualify.

She asked me: “What is the best way to improve so that I can qualify for Boston without killing myself?”

We redesigned her training program to include more rest and recovery.  We reduced her running from 5 days per week to 3 weekly runs; two faster paced runs and either a long run, race pace run or shorter recovery run.  She kept the spin, yoga and modified the strengthening classes.  She was running 40% less frequently!

She implemented her new program. The increased rest and recovery paid off big time!  She slashed a whopping 33 minutes off her marathon, qualifying for Boston with 10 minutes to spare – just 6 weeks shy of her 65th birthday! (from 5:08 to 4:35:39 at the Hamilton Road2Hope Marathon).

 

Why Are Rest and Recovery Critically Important for Women Runners Over 40?

How the Genders Differ in Nutritional Requirements

AsianWomanEatingSmallWomen runners differ from their male counterparts in both caloric and carbohydrate requirement. When running the same distance, men burn more calories than women due to their higher muscle mass and less fat.

In addition to burning more calories when running, men utilize more carbs as fuel than women, even when running the same distance.  Therefore, women runners need fewer carbs than men.

To find out exactly how much of each you need and precisely how to get it ……

The Depressive Edge? Going Downhill After the Race

Aren’t You Supposed to Feel Happy, Not Depressed, After Running a Race?!

(Published on September 8, 2014 by Kate F. Hays, Ph.D. in The Edge: Peak Performance Psychology. Republished with permission)

A few days ago, Susan completed a marathon. Her hard training paid off: she did well. Now, along with the expected body stiffness, why, she wonders, is she feeling so out of sorts? She’s cranky, snapping at people, has no appetite, can’t find a comfortable position for sleeping, can’t focus at work. If she didn’t know better, she’d say she was depressed.

Then there’s her good friend, Sharon, who also ran this same race. Coming back from injury, Sharon wasn’t even sure she could complete the race. She did, but had been miserable—and achieved a miserable time. She too is moody, unfocused, and irritable. She keeps re-playing the race in her head, thinking “If only…” and “I should have….”

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