07 January 2011

Running Hurdles

No, I’m not taking up track and field.  I’m just trying to overcome the hurdles of being a new runner.  My biggest obstacle as I’m increasing the length of time I run is what I call side stickers (or side aches, cramps, or stitches).  I know if I want to continue to make progress I’ve got to learn more about this!  Right now my run-walk routine works well because when I get a side sticker during running I know that walking is in the plan soon and I just push through.  But some day I hope that walking will not need to be in the plan.  So what to do when the pain is debilitating?
Here are the facts* I’ve learned…
*Disclaimer:  These are just googled tidbits, so don’t quote me on any of this.
What is it?
A cramping pain, also known as exercise related transient abdominal pain (ETAP) that occurs in the diaphragm, typically under the right side of the rib cage.  Some individuals also have pain on the tip of their shoulder blade, a referred site of pain from the diaphragm, through the phrenic nerve. 
I’ve had pain in both of these places!  Usually it starts with a sharp pain on my right side and as I continue to run it transfers to my right shoulder.
Why does it happen?
The diaphragm, along with organs attached to it (stomach and the big liver), get pulled down as your right foot hits the ground during running.  Then your diaphragm is pulled up when you exhale and your lungs contract.  So if you exhale when your right foot hits the ground your diaphragm is being pulled in opposite directions and the stretching causes the pain. 
How do I cure it?
  • Reduce the intensity of the exercise
  • Take deep slow breaths
  • Exhale when your left food strikes the ground
  • Relax your mind and don’t focus on the stitch
  • Put pressure on the area
More importantly, how do I prevent it?
  • Warm up
  • Take full, deep, belly breaths to fully lower the diaphragm
  • Avoid short breaths that leave the diaphragm in a constant up position
  • Continue to improve cardiovascular fitness
  • Gradually increase running intensity
  • Exhale when your left food strikes the ground
  • Strengthen core muscles (lower back, abdominal, oblique)
  • Stretch lower back and abdominal muscles
  • Run on soft surfaces
  • Limit or avoid eating before exercising
  • Drink plenty of water
I shall put these prevention techniques to the test.  In particular I know I need to work on taking longer, slower, fuller breaths.  I’m not sure if I have the coordination to exhale as my left foot strikes the ground, but I shall try.  I am just picturing myself falling off the treadmill at the gym and flying back onto someone on an elliptical.  Embarrassing!  And potentially painful!  I also need to start to incorporate core strength training into my workout.  Perhaps a written plan is in my future?!  Of course I’ll keep you posted!
Does anyone else have tips that work for them to prevent or cure a side sticker?

05 January 2011

Resolution November

This year I decided that I needed to make a change in November.  Why wait until January?  If you want to be successful in making a change you have to value the change.  And if you value it, you think it’s important.  And if it’s important, why wait?  So I resolved to get healthier in November.
Of course I my resolution was not just to get healthier.  It was a SMART goal, just like I learned in school. 
Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Timely. 
I will go to the gym 3 times each week.
I will track the food I am eating 5 days each week.
I will eat at least 2 vegetarian dinners each week.
Now when I’m heading to the gym, logging my foods, stir frying my veggies, and making good choices I can be proud to know I’ve been doing it for two months!  There were some rough meals or even whole days over the holidays, but I made it through.  I figure, the holidays will come again year after year, so I better get used to making good choices despite the holiday temptations. 
And to top it off, this is the most successful with resolutions I’ve ever been.  I am happily training for my first 5K, devouring 3 or 4 vegetarian meals a week, and dropping the pounds without too much thought.  Best of all I don’t feel like its work.  I’m energized, happy, and getting ready to set more goals, because success feels good!

17 December 2010

Choc Bock Time

Samuel Adams Chocolate Bock…ale with cocoa and natural flavors.  How could you go wrong when a beer label says cocoa?   
This rich brown thick beer tastes like a dessert.  Especially when paired with Christmas cookies.  It has a light chocolate scent and flavor.  It’s a little bitter initially, but then finishes smooth and leaves a sweet taste in your mouth.  Because it was so think and rich I couldn’t finish even one whole bottle.  But half was just enough.
Overall very enjoyable. 

16 December 2010


It’s so easy to get off track.  It happens any time of year, but especially around the holidays.  I’ve been busy visiting with family and friends, baking, and shopping.  And it’s not even Christmas yet!  This hasn’t left much time to run or blog.  It’s been frustrating.  I was really beginning to fear that I would “fall off the band wagon” and not be able to get started again.  Wrong.  You can do anything you are committed to doing.  Don’t doubt yourself.  And especially don’t let anyone else instill doubt in you.  Nike says it best...Just Do It.
As far as eating goes I’ve been enjoying my holiday snacks, but really listening to what my body wants.  Do I really want that extra cookie or am I truly satisfied with just one?  Do I need to stop and get an Egg McMuffin or would oatmeal be just as satisfying?  When I listen, my body usually tells me what’s best.  And thanks to the listening I’m down 3 more pounds.  Hello 160’s!  I don’t remember seeing you since high school!  Now that I’m 168 pounds…it’s time to go treat myself to a new water bottle with a flippy straw.  Oh the little things that thrill me!
I think I’ll go with something like this.  Maybe in green.
Have a wonderful, inspired, productive, and maybe snowy day!


Last night I was finally able to push myself on my run and go a little bit further in the same amount of time.  What a great feeling to be racing youself and achieving a personal best.  And now I'm more motivated to keep pushing myself.  I'm really loving the positive domino effect.