Monthly Archives: June 2013

Running Safety

As the summer heats up, people are more likely to run when they can find some shade and temperatures are cooler.  The problem with these hours, early in the morning or late in the evening, is they tend to be dark and shadowy.  Darkness and odd hours make running at these times especially dangerous, and even if the sun’s out, there are plenty of other risk factors out there.  One big factor in being prepared for any type of attack or harassment during your run is knowing that even though it’s sunny, you aren’t invincible.  Attackers strike at any time of the day, from early morning to late at night and every hour in between.  Here are seven tips to make sure you have a great run and get home safely.

Have a buddy.  The hands down best way to be safe on a run is to run with a friend.  Two people are harder to attack than one, just like four eyes are better than two.  If you don’t have a friend available for your run, bring your dog.  More alert to danger, your canine can sense it before you do.  Of course, your running buddy needs to be bigger than a microwave and capable of helping defend you.

Carry an ID.  While this may seem simple, most people forget to grab a form of identification because they aren’t bringing along their entire wallet.  You can even write your name and phone number inside your shoe, or use a small luggage tag strung through your laces.

Don’t wear headphones.  This, too, may seem simple.  If music is what you’re paying attention to while sweating out a tough day, you’re less likely to hear an approaching attacker, bicyclist or car.  The tunes distract and slow your reaction time, both of which can spell trouble.

Carry a phone.  Most phones have straps or cases that wrap around your arm, and some are slim enough to slide into a shorts pocket.  Many people use their phones to track their distance and time, but should stick to using it for these purposes only.

Vary your route.  Pretend you have a crazy ex.  They know exactly where to find you, especially if you announce on Facebook or Twitter that you’re heading out, and aren’t afraid to show up.  Stalkers and attackers work the same way.  They stake out routes, and on familiar ones, we tend to space out.  Dealing with new terrain helps keep us alert and more aware of our surroundings, which makes us less of a target.

Run against traffic.  Seeing oncoming traffic makes you much less likely to be hit by a vehicle.

Gear up.  Purchase and use reflector tape, vests or shirts.  Even the blinking lights usually associated with cyclists work, and stay off the roads altogether when it’s dark out.

Now you’re all ready to head for a great run and get home just the way you left it.  Need help finding a running buddy or a new route?  Ask us!

Stay Properly Hydrated

Your nutrition needs are going to be based on your training goals and training program.  If you are trying to lose weight, you will need to take in fewer calories than you burn.  If you are trying to get stronger and perform faster, you will need carbohydrate intake to match or exceed what you blast through during the day.  Regardless of your training goals, hydration is the most important element of any nutrition plan.

Constant dehydration affects 80% of all Americans, and the effects of dehydration can wreak havoc on your body without adding any additional stress from exercise.  Symptoms of dehydration include headaches, nausea and dizziness.  Losing even a small amount of body water, one to 2 percent of body weight, through sweating can begin to lead to dehydration.  If you are exercising for more than 60 minutes or at a high intensity, you want to make sure you are hydrating while you are working out from roughly the 30 minute mark on.  If you are going at it for less than an hour at a medium intensity, you can probably get by without additional hydration.  Watch out for sugary and carb filled sports drinks, especially if you’re trying to lose weight.

An integral part of proper hydration is electrolytes.  Electrolytes are nutrients that aid in absorption of carbohydrates and water, as well as working to maintain fluid balances.  Every athlete has to make sure they get electrolytes and maintain proper hydration for the duration of each and every workout.  The most important electrolyte athletes need is sodium.  Getting enough sodium ensures you won’t become overhydrated and dilute the concentration of electrolytes in your system, which can lead to increased urination as your body tried to release excess fluid.

Once you’ve ensured you are, and will stay, properly hydrated, you need to fuel your workout.  If you’re heading out for less than 60 minutes, you won’t need any additional carbs, regardless of your training goals.  If you are working to lose weight, you’ll want to decrease your carbs in order to burn more fat during your gym session.  This doesn’t mean fat slip away because you may not perform as well without fuel or will make up for the carb deficiency by overeating later.  If you’re going to exercise longer than 60 minutes, your needs will differ based on your training goals.  Weight loss athletes want to add roughly 30 grams of carbs per hour over 90 minutes, while performance athletes want to 60 or more grams per hour over 90 minutes.  These additional carbs should come from bananas or sweet potatoes for weight loss athletes and sports drinks, gels or bars for performance based training.

Questions?  Want help determining your training needs?  Ask us!

Strength Training Injuries

Strength training can hurt.  Not only can it leave you sore and stiff, you can seriously injure bones, joints, ligaments and tendons if you’re over using, or incorrectly using, heavy weights.  Being familiar with your body and having proper training supervision are some of the best ways to prevent strength training injuries.  Other ways to avoid becoming injured, such as using a spotter, knowing when to stop or properly pacing your workout, are also great prevention.

If you do become injured, you face the real challenge of recovering from that injury.  The first thing you want to do when you get hurt is determine how serious your injury is and whether or not you need medical attention.  Most strength training injuries are fairly minor overuse issues.  If there is swelling associated with your injury, use the R.I.C.E method to control it.  Rest, ice, compression and elevation all work together to jump start the healing process.  Be careful of taking pain medication, as often these result in a slowing of the healing process, rather than helping it along.  Consider getting a massage to help worn out muscles recover, and plan on getting one regularly as part of your injury prevention plan.  When your recovery has you ready to get back in the gym, there are a few things you want to modify for a while before returning to your normal routine.

The benefits of training through an injury are that the muscles don’t have a chance to atrophy, joints stay lubricated and by maintaining strength you lower the risk of making it worse.  There are several ways your routine need to be modified so you can train through the injury without more damage.  By modifying exercises with lighter weight your muscle will maintain strength without being strain on the injured area.  After decreasing the weight you use, determine your pain free range of motion and stay within it.  You can slowly increase the range of motion as your body heals, but going immediately back to full range movement increases risk of reinjuring yourself.

Being completely recovered before heading back to the gym isn’t always necessary, and without a physician’s guidance, full recovery can be a tough thing to judge.  Be cautious when training through an injury, and consider seeking the guidance of a fitness professional to help you safely recover.  Protect yourself from future injury by using sport massages, stretching after every workout, and using proper form and get back in the weight room!

Injured?  Need advice on recovering?  We’re here to help!  Email us at

Racing with Obstacles

Obstacle races are getting bigger by the minute.  Spartan Run, Savage Race, Tough Mudder, Metro Dash, GoRuck, the list can go on and on.  No matter how long the list gets, these ‘races’ all have something special in common.  Each event involves a lot more than simply running as fast as you can from point A to point B and often creates the need for you and your fellow participants to work together, rather than compete against one another.

You can train to run faster by running harder, longer, or both.  You can train to get stronger by lifting weights.  To be successful in an obstacle race, you need stamina, strength, coordination and maybe even a little strategy.  You need to maintain your strength for the given distance so you can be sure to make it over the massive cargo net or belly crawl through the mud.

To get ready for your event, look at the types of obstacles you might face.  Most races announce what you’ll be jumping over, running through, and sliding under, giving you the opportunity to be prepared the best you can after the start, and knowing you have the ability to complete each obstacle and a plan to cross the finish line are integral to success.

See a big wall you’ll have to climb on the map?  Practice pull-ups and hanging, find a jungle gym and use it!  Going to have to get on your belly and pass under barbed wire?  Get on the floor and start crawling.  Carrying something, or someone, with you?  Grab two heavy objects and walk around holding them.  If there are going to be jumps, hurdles or walls to scale, jump around.  Adding power exercises to your workout will help you clear these things without as much strain, and even though no one loves burpees, they’ll help you get ready.  These courses are meant to be unpredictable and are never the same twice, so have fun getting ready and don’t worry about a strict exercise schedule, you’ll want to keep your workouts mixed up.

The best way to prepare for success is to plan on going out to have fun.  You won’t be racing for a prize purse, so grab you friends and make memories.  Bringing a buddy or 10 with you will help you power through a tough course with a little laughter and lots of support, no matter where you are in your training.

Questions?  Want tips on preparing for your specific event?  Ask away at!