Congratulations Former High School Florida Runner Mason Cathey!

Mason Cathey at USA Olympic Trials 2012 - Mike Scott Photography

Wanted to post a quick congratulations to former fellow Florida High School runner Mason Cathey, who is competing at the Olympic Trials this week and made the final in the 3000-meter Steeplechase event! The final is Friday evening so be sure to watch her on TV on your local NBC station then!

Here is a prior RunningTips101 post on her from a few weeks back: Vaulting to New Heights.

As I wrote before, Mason should be a reminder to all of us that it is never too late to reach your potential and work towards your dreams. She is achieving so much now…years after hanging up her spikes – for what I’m sure she thought was for good. Congratulations again and good luck Mason!

Recap from the race here on LetsRun.com.

Choosing The Right Running Shoe For You

With my Plantar Fasciitis in full effect, I started doing some extensive research on running shoes and which ones I should be wearing. In all honesty, I’ve never really focused on the type of shoe in terms of over-pronation versus under-pronation. Instead, I have always gone for the Asics running shoe that is on the higher end of their options and that looks pretty. Pretty sad huh? I mean who would have thought a serious runner would ever admit that? Well I just did.

I’ve been pretty lucky with the injuries – not having too many – especially not in the foot area…and that’s my excuse for letting these details slide when choosing a running shoe. Well, with the strain in my foot, this can no longer be the case for me. And I suggest you follow my lead to prevent any potential future injuries for yourself! For the past year I’ve been running in the Asics GEL-Kayanos – which are great shoes – but if you do the research you will find they are for overpronators or neutral runners – and not for me, the underpronator. Big mistake!

And with that, here are a few tips to keep in mind when purchasing your next pair of shoes:

1. Figure out what type of runner you are: Neutral, Overpronator or Underpronator. If you are not sure, do the “Wet Test.”

2. Based on your personal foot, choose the right running shoe for you. Options include:

  • Neutral Runner: If you don’t underpronate (your feet roll outward when you run) or overpronate (your feet roll inward when you run), then you’re a neutral runner. When the arch collapses inward, this “pronation” absorbs shock. As a normal pronator, you can wear just about any shoe, but may be best suited to a stability shoe that provides moderate arch support (or medial stability). Lightweight runners with normal arches may prefer neutral-cushioned shoes without any added support, or even a performance-training shoe that offers some support but less heft, for a faster feel. Here are some recommended running shoes for neutral runners: Asics Nimbus, Saucony Triumph, Brooks Glycerin, Mizuno Creation, New Balance 759. Shoes specifically engineered for the neutral runner include the Asics GEL-Kinsei. (I included a variety of brands depending on your preference. Try them all on and see which fits best!)
  • Overpronator: Common for runners who are overweight or large-framed, as well as those who have “flat” feet. What this means is that the ankle rolls too far inward during the breakover of a stride. This running gait fault can lead to severe stress and damage to the connective tissue of the lower legs and knees. You need either stability shoes, which employ devices such as dual-density midsoles and supportive “posts” to reduce pronation and are best for mild to moderate overpronators, or motion-control shoes, which have firmer support devices and are best for severe overpronators, as well as tall, heavy (over 165 pounds), or bow-legged runners. Recommended shoes for those that overpronate include: Asics GEL-Kayano, GEL-3030
  • Underpronator: Common for runners with high arches (me!) and those who have feet which roll more outward than inward while running. This means you’re likely an underpronator, or supinator, which can result in too much shock traveling up your legs, since your arch doesn’t collapse enough to absorb it. Underpronators are best suited to neutral-cushioned shoes because they need a softer midsole to encourage pronation. It’s vital that an underpronator’s shoes have no added stability devices to reduce or control pronation, the way a stability or motion-control shoe would. Runners who under-pronate may experience the following symptoms amongst others: Ankle rollover, Achilles tendonitis, Knee, hip, or lower back pain, and Plantar fasciitis or heel spurs. Recommended shoes: Asics Nimbus, Asics GEL-Cirrus

Still confused? Need more guidance? Stop by a running shoe store that knows their stuff and ask them to take a look at your foot and stride; Or check out this cool Runner’s World shoe advisor. I recommend the following local shops in South Florida: Mind Body Sole, Fit2Run, and Runner’s Edge. And of course the usual Sports Authority, Dick’s and Champs.

 

Plantar Fasciitis: What it is and what to do if you get it?

After a strong week of running consistently, long distance and at a good pace, I woke up Sunday morning with severe and uncomfortable pain in the arch of my right foot. My Saturday morning run went fine and nothing seemed to bother the foot the remainder of the day…so I was confused with the sudden pain on the bottom of my foot. Out of fear and because it’s often what us runners do…I ignored it for the remainder of the day…limping while walking, skipping my planned long run and hoping the pain would just go away. Well surprisingly enough – it did. By afternoon, the foot felt fine. I put my foot in an ice bucket filled with water and ice cubes that night and hoped it would all be a distance memory in the morning. Monday morning came and the pain was back. I iced it again and waited until mid-day when it had completely gone away. I attended my team’s evening practice and with all feeling good, went for the five-mile run with no problems. I asked my coach his perspective and upon the suggestion of a San Francisco-based running friend, started to do some research on Plantar Fasciitis.

After a quick read-up on the ailment and its symptoms…it was clear. I am suffering from Plantar Fasciitis.

Plantar fasciitis is inflammation of the thick tissue on the bottom of the foot. This tissue is called the plantar fascia. It connects the heel bone to the toes and creates the arch of the foot. Plantar fasciitis occurs when the thick band of tissue on the bottom of the foot is overstretched or overused. This can be painful and make walking more difficult.

According to experts, you are more likely to get plantar fasciitis if you have:

  • Foot arch problems (both flat feet and high arches). (For those that know me…I have a very high arch. Until now, I never knew there were potential complications that could result from having a high arch. More on that here.)
  • Long-distance running, especially running downhill or on uneven surfaces
  • Sudden weight gain or obesity
  • Tight Achilles tendon (the tendon connecting the calf muscles to the heel)
  • Shoes with poor arch support or soft soles

Plantar fasciitis is seen in both men and women. However, it most often affects active men ages 40 – 70. It is one of the most common orthopedic complaints relating to the foot. Plantar fasciitis is commonly thought of as being caused by a heel spur, but research has found that this is not the case. On x-ray, heel spurs are seen in people with and without plantar fasciitis.

My high arch that I've always been proud of but am now wondering if it is behind some of my recent foot pain.

The most common complaint is pain and stiffness in the bottom of the heel. The heel pain may be dull or sharp. The bottom of the foot may also ache or burn. The pain is usually worse:

  • In the morning when you take your first steps. (In my case – I felt the pain in the morning after a long sleep as well as after sitting for a while.)
  • After standing or sitting for a while
  • When climbing stairs
  • After intense activity

Signs and symptoms:

  • Tenderness on the bottom of your foot
  • Flat feet or high arches
  • Mild foot swelling or redness
  • Stiffness or tightness of the arch in the bottom of your foot.

Treatment: I am in the process of icing and stretching my foot as often as possible. Additionally, I plan on purchasing a new pair of shoes with better arch support – something I’ve been too casual about. According to my research, you health care provider will usually first recommend:

  • Acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) to reduce pain and inflammation
  • Heel and foot stretching exercises
  • Night splints to wear while sleeping to stretch the foot
  • Resting as much as possible for at least a week
  • Wearing shoes with good support and cushions

Other steps to relieve pain include:

  • Apply ice to the painful area. Do this at least twice a day for 10 – 15 minutes, more often in the first couple of days.
  • Try wearing a heel cup, felt pads in the heel area, or shoe inserts.
  • Use night splints to stretch the injured fascia and allow it to heal.
  • If these treatments do not work, your health care provider may recommend:
  • Wearing a boot cast, which looks like a ski boot, for 3-6 weeks. It can be removed for bathing.
  • Custom-made shoe inserts (orthotics)
  • Steroid shots or injections into the heel
  • Sometimes, foot surgery is needed.

Expectations (prognosis): Nonsurgical treatments almost always improve the pain. Treatment can last from several months to 2 years before symptoms get better. Most patients feel better in 9 months. Some people need surgery to relieve the pain.

Complications: Pain may continue despite treatment. Some people may need surgery. Surgery has its own risks. Talk to your doctor about the risks of surgery.

Prevention: Making sure your ankle, Achilles tendon, and calf muscles are flexible can help prevent plantar fasciitis.

Side note: As of late, I have been wearing out the toe area of my running shoes very quickly. It seems my big toe has been moving up and down more often and creating a hole in the top mesh are of my shoes. If you look at your foot when you raise your toe, you will notice that your arch and plantar fascia stretches or flexes. I am now wondering if this is all related…

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Happy Father’s Day To My Biggest Fan

My dad, Russ Perlman, and I at the Maccabiah Games in Israel (1997)

Looking back years ago at the hundreds of track and cross country races I competed in, it’s hard to imagine a starting line without his fierce look of confidence; a back stretch without his tips to drop my arms or relax; a home stretch without his loud cheers; a finish line without his smile and look of pride; or a weekend where I didn’t have the unique opportunity to watch a race on film and relive the moment.

It’s hard to imagine a time in my life that he weren’t there – because those times don’t exist.

My dad…my biggest fan.

No matter the day of the week (a workday or weekend), the time (morning or night), the location (Boca Raton, Gainesville, Alabama or Israel), the race (a dual meet or state championship), my dad was there. He fought for my best interest, he made sure things moved along smoothly, he gave me every opportunity in the world to do my best, he bragged about me to colleagues and friends, and he believed in me.

My dad…my biggest fan.

I often joke about the shoe boxes full of video tapes in my dad’s closet. Along-side of his most valued possessions, he keeps hundreds of hours of film of me running, competing and winning races. If you sneak to into his house without him expecting you – you’ll often find him watching the old races, the old relays, the old championships. He still cheers and smiles like he did in the actual moment.

My dad….my biggest fan.

I took his love, his support and his pride in my accomplishments for granted for so long. I assumed all dads had the same amount of enthusiasm and pride for their kids. But as life has gone on, I have realized more and more how lucky I truly was. And how rare my dad truly is.

My dad…my biggest fan.

Thank you dad, I love you!

Running Etiquette from “Run The Edge” Blog

I found this cool blog by Adam Goucher (Kara Goucher’s husband) and Tim Catalano dubbed Run The Edge. It is primarily utilized to showcase their new book “Running The Edge,” which I plan on ordering in the next few days. Once I do, I will write a book review on it to share with you.

However, in this post I’ll focus on a specific blog post. What first got my attention on their blog was a piece on Running Etiquette. As a runner, I thought it was both relatable and funny, so I wanted to share it here. It’s all about the rules of the road and provides us runners with directions on the “correct” way to handle some decisions that we face everyday, including: Should you smile, wave, say hello to the passing runner? Should you stop at the light and wait for the white sign to say cross? And so on.

Here is one of my favorite tips in the blog: 

Case #1: To Wave or Not To Wave

Are runners required to be friendly and personable on a run, or do they have a right to be in their own worlds, ignoring everyone else?

Prosecution: Runners should be friendly to each other. We all share the roads and trails. A simple hello or a smile with the wave of a hand can go a long way in contributing to a more friendly running community.

Defense: Sometimes runners are “in the zone” or running so close to their threshold that even a smile might put them over the edge. A runner in the middle of a hard workout, or just choosing to be alone with their thoughts, deserves a free pass on the wave and hello.

Verdict: Runners should wave or at least acknowledge one another. Do your best to be friendly even if you are too tired to smile.

Any other questions and/or decisions that you face when you are out on the road? Need an answer? Share here…

Some of the questions I always face while I’m out running are:

  • When in a pack and approaching another runner or walker going in the opposite direction, what do you do? Do you step off to the grass? Do you go single file? Who should step to the side?
  • When coming up behind someone and getting ready to pass them (I’m talking on a casual run and not in a race of course)…What is the right way to let them know you are there so that you don’t scare them? Yell as if you were a biker (they will sometimes use bells)? Quietly let them know you are there with an “on your left”? Go around them and run on the grass for a few steps without even letting them know you are there?
  • When you’re out on an early Sunday morning long run and you come across a table with drinks and gatorade displayed (obviously for some other running group) on the side of the road – and you are parched and thirsty – can you take a sip? Do you ask the person standing near the drinks if you can have someone? What if no one is there? Is it okay to take some water if you need it?
  • Bathroom stops. We have all needed them at some point on a run…I mean what should you expect when you are putting in the long mileage on the roads? So what do you do? Do you go behind a bush? Do you use a leaf or did you bring a few tissues just in case? Do you hold it, cut your run short and run home (if you can make it)? Or do you stop by a random house (or at least one that looks friendly) and ask to use their bathroom? (This last one may seem crazy…but one of my high school runners actually did this!!! I asked him how he chose the specific house to stop at and he said “there was a car in the driveway and a basketball hoop.” So I guess the car and basketball hoop makes the person at home less sketch?!) What do you think?

Be sure to check out the original blog at Run The Edge.

How Long Before Running Feels Good?!

After the High School track season ended in early May, I took some time off from running. It wasn’t so intentional – but rather – I had no races planned, I had no practice to go to, and I guess I just wanted the break. So three or so weeks later…and realized that I hadn’t stepped outside for more than one or two brief (yet painful!) runs.

Well, just last weekend, one of our runners on the Spanish River team (Ellyn) messaged to me to see if I’d start running with her – she is leaving for a summer internship in Chicago in a couple of weeks, followed by a competitive running camp in Texas for one week. The running camp asked that she was prepared for mileage ranging from 5-10 miles/day at a good pace before arriving at camp. Anyway – we met up on Monday for a 5-miler and I found myself out of breath and overall in pain desperately wanting to stop just a few miles in! Ellyn, in great shape, had no problem running at a nice pace in the Florida summer heat. Despite the pain, I forced myself to keep running – while of course telling Ellyn it was okay to run ahead at her own pace. I kept at it that first day and then again when we met on Tuesday morning, Wednesday morning and Thursday morning. I added an extra 4-miler with the South Florida Runs group on Wednesday night (in honor of National Running Day) and then we ran again on Thursday. Every single one of those runs last week was PAINFUL and hard. I was actually pretty bumbed by Wednesday night’s run…upset with how out of shape I felt. After a rough run on Thursday with Ellyn (where I ran my own shorter, slower route not wanting to effect Ellyn’s great progress), I jumped in the pool for a quick swim (I was pretty sore). I decided to take off Friday. Then Saturday morning, I ran with some of the guys from the Spanish River team for a quick 3-miler. I felt okay – not great but not as terrible as I was feeling the days prior.

And then today, Sunday morning, I woke up and headed over to my favorite South Florida Runs run on Palm Beach island. While I only intended to run five or six miles this morning, I was with Caleb and Bryan from the team and at the six mile turnaround point – we all decided to run the full Palm Beach route (8 miles). The pace was good throughout – nothing too fast but definitely not too slow. And I felt great. At the end – I was a little tired – but that’s pretty normal after an 8-miler, for me at least. But the point is – today was my breakthrough. After a week of tough, painful and at times frustrating runs…I had a great one that reminded me why I was out there, what I loved about running, and how good it can feel when you are in shape and prepared.

Coach Rothman has told me before: It takes about a week to get into shape where running starts to feel okay, even possibly good for some. And I have told new runners that countless times. Especially when they come out on their first day of practice and can hardly get through a 10-15 minute jog. I often tell them of my own experience as a freshman in high school. My first day of practice – Coach Rothman had me run around the back field for 15 minutes…and I nearly died. I, like most cocky high schoolers, started off fast thinking I was in better shape than I was…and at about 4 minutes in – couldn’t imagine running for another second. The rule is that the kids are not allowed to walk – no matter what. Coach Rothman says it really says more about their work ethic and drive than their running ability. I mean who can’t run for 10 minutes straight? It’s all mental for that short of a distance. But the bigger point is that if the kids can get through that first day or two of running – odds are that they will be fine. I still consider that first day of practice to be one of the hardest ever. Harder than 5 x mile workouts, 16 x 400 repeats, and so-on. Yes, when you are not in shape – a 10 minute jog can be that hard!

But back to my original story…with this week of “getting back to running” pain/work behind me – I have a new belief in the “week to get in shape” philosophy. It worked for me…and I say that after a few runs that were pretty darn frustrating and demotivating. Coach Rothman – pulling from his biology background – adds: “When someone is running, the body makes new capillary systems in the muscles to send red blood cells and oxygen, deeper into the muscles to allow more oxygen to produce energy. As more oxygen is needed through the stress of continually harder workouts, more capillary systems open. After 24 hours, these capillaries begin to close up, because the muscles sense they are not needed. After a week, many more of the capillaries are now closed, therefore, these need to open back up to get to the same level the athlete was at before.  That’s why it feels like it takes more work and time to get back in shape (than fall out of shape). It’s also the reason coaches say if you take a day off from running you are two days behind.  You lose some of the capillaries that you already opened, plus the lose of new ones that would’ve opened up if you ran.” Hence the reason that it could take a good week to open up those capillaries to where they are providing a sufficient amount of oxygen to the muscles…

So – if you are feeling like it is going to take forever to get back into running shape after taking off some time – do not despair. Get started right away and put in the work for one week straight – everyday. And it will happen…I promise. It will!

Question: How long does it usually take you to feel normal again after taking a break from running?!

National Running Day – June 6, 2012

Ever heard of National Running Day? Neither had I… Until someone on the South Florida Runs team mentioned it the other day and I was interested enough to look up the “holiday” to learn more. So I thought I’d share what I found with you…

National Running Day, held annually on the first Wednesday in June, is a day when runners everywhere declare their passion for running. Wherever we are and whomever we’re with, we run—fast or slow, alone or with others, all over town or just around the block. It is a coast-to-coast celebration of a sport and activity that’s simple, inexpensive, and fun. It’s the perfect way for longtime runners to reaffirm their love of running and for beginners to kick off a lifetime and life-changing commitment.

Nationally Running Day is promoted by a number of organizations around the country, including the NY Road Runners Club. It started as a grassroots initiative just a few years ago but has since grown into a worldwide day of fun and movement, according to Mary Wittenberg, New York Road Runners’ president and CEO. 2012 marks the fourth annual National Running Day.

So how to appropriately celebrate National Running Day? Go for a run of course! Need someone to run with? Join the South Florida Runs group tomorrow, Wednesday, June 6th at 6:30pm at the corner of A1A and Atlantic Avenue in Delray Beach. We meet there weekly and go for a run. The distance and pace are up to you. There are 2 mile, 4 mile and 6 mile routes. See you there!

Here is an article from the Huffington Post (2011).

Here are some fun facts to get you excited about National Running Day:

The typical American runner…

  • Is one of nearly 43 million in the U.S.
  • Is just over 41 years old and has been running for 13 years
  • Runs an average of 26.1 miles per week

In the last 10 years,

Additionally,

  • More than 500,000 people finished a marathon in the U.S. in 2010
  • More than half of the nation’s runners want to run a 5K, 10K, half-marathon, or marathon this year
  • The half-marathon is the nation’s fastest growing and most popular race. More than 5 million people finished a half-marathon in the last five years
  • Last year more than 1.5 million high school students ran competitively for their schools

Postrun Refreshments – And This Time I’m Not Talking Beer!

In all my years running – after finishing a run, hard workout or race, there were never many options. You could grab a water or an electrolyte-filled drink (i.e. Gatorade, Propel or Powerade). Sometimes I’d think of having a protein shake – if I was doing weights or a really strenuous track workout. So when I learned of athletes on the Spanish River High School Cross Country team running over to the local Publix supermarket post workout to grab a half gallon of chocolate milk and heard Coach Rothman approve, I was intrigued.

According to many experts, Chocolate Milk – with its combined protein, fat, and carbohydrates – may be one of the best post-workout refreshments. And apparently runners know! Following is a survey from Runners World of 5,000 respondents, which asked readers to list their favorite drinks to down after a race or hard workout. The responses were:

  • Water 31%
  • Chocolate milk 26%
  • Sports drinks 20%
  • Beer 15%
  • Other 5%
  • Juice 2%
  • Wine 1%

So getting back to choice #2 – Chocolate Milk…here are more reasons why:

For a high-endurance athlete, chocolate milk is described as a catch-all workout recovery drink. Compared to plain milk, water, or most sports drinks, chocolate milk has double the carbohydrate and protein content, perfect for replenishing tired muscles. Its high water content replaces fluids lost as sweat, preventing dehydration. Plus it packs a nutritional bonus of calcium, and includes just a little sodium and sugar — additives that help recovering athletes retain water and regain energy.

Downing a post-workout beverage chock-full of carbohydrates isn’t necessarily for the weekend, casual tennis player. A drink like chocolate milk is most useful to a cyclist, swimmer, or long-distance runner. These sports stress high endurance levels and constant, sustained movement. Competing athletes need high levels of calories, carbs, and protein to sustain that level of performance.

*Note that most of the research I’ve seen mentions Low-Fat or Non-Fat Chocolate Milk…

Benefits of chocolate milk:

Chocolate milk is also a source of other nutrients. For example,

  • Vitamin D and calcium in chocolate milk help build strong and healthy bones.
  • Calcium also helps muscles contract properly; aids in blood pressure management; may be helpful in losing body fat instead of muscle mass.
  • Riboflavin, which is a B vitamin found in milk, releases energy from protein, fats and carbs during metabolism.
  • Potassium helps with muscle contraction and aids in fluid and electrolyte balance.
  • When you exercise, you sweat. And when you sweat, you lose essential nutrients. But, you can replace all of these nutrients easily and for low cost. Drinking 16 ounces of low fat chocolate milk within an hour after working out will give you about 320 calories, 52 grams of carbohydrate, 16 grams of protein, and 5 grams of fat.

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