Category Archives: Womens Running

Clear and Present Danger — Outdoor Running with Headphones

running dangerRunning with headphones results in a reduced awareness of your physical surroundings. Like it or not, all runners (esp. women) must run defensively at times.

Today’s Featured Article is not about nutrition, injury prevention or how to run faster.  It concerns a more serious matter – personal safety.  Many runners consider headphones a mandatory article of clothing.  You can’t run without tunes.  However………

Safety (a.k.a. proving a point to your teenager)

Running with headphones results in a reduced awareness of your physical surroundings.  If you are treadmill running, by all means, hit the playlist. Outdoors, being less than totally conscious of your physical surroundings compromises your personal safety.   Like it or not – all runners (especially women) must run defensively at times.  Headphone wearers range from being less attentive to totally oblivious of other people, cars and dogs – all of which are potential attackers that can pose real threat to a runner’s physical safety.

Should Your and Your Man’s IT Band Pain Be Treated Differently?

injury prevention running

Conventional studies on gender differences in running injuries focused on comparing injured women to their injured male counterparts. The research then concluded if certain injuries were more prevalent among women or men. Traditionally, the prescription for rehab for men and women suffering the same injury was identical.

That may no longer be the case!

Alex Hutchinson, in his Sweat Science column in the May 4th Runner’s World, wrote about exciting new research conducted by Dr. Reed Ferber at the University of Calgary’s Running Injury Clinic. Instead of comparing injured women to injured men, Dr. Ferber and colleagues have been comparing injured women to non-injured women; at the same time, contrasting uninjured male to non-injured male runners.

Should Women Runners Eat Like Men?

women runnersWomen 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 ……

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!

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