2014 Icebreaker Race Report

2014 Ice Breaker Report

I pulled up to the parking area and its always great seeing bikes lined up in the transition area.  I set up my stuff and spent the morning chatting it up with all my tri friends and acquaintances. Racetri events are great and if you do a few you’ll start seeing the same dedicated folks.  The commodore of a shared interests and a high level of respect for professionals to first timers.  Everyone had to start sometime and it’s great to see a smattering of mountain bikes and old ten speeds at these events.

dave-and-rob

Swim start  

Another great speech and pool dive by Race Director Aaron to start things off. I was glad that I picked a close swim start, this way I didn’t have to worry about someone walking in the pool in front of me. It was good to see James Lawrence helping volunteering, he is a local coach and the World Record Holder for accomplishing 30 Full Ironmans in one year. His job was to say “Go!” to every athlete. That’s one thing that I love about these events, people who could be on the podium will volunteer and help out in whatever way they can. Mandy Oscarson  volunteers before the race begins, she then races, and hang out and help after the race. Anyway, James said go and off I went.  The pool swim is always a great way to start a tri, no freak out and short.  I felt like I swam well, I had a few pulls where my mind started freaking out, but I just took a few deep breaths and pulled myself together.  I tend to have a “freak out” moment every race and I’ve done enough now that I’m able to work through it.  I got passed by two guys, who were drafting me, then they got ahead and I drafted them.  I got out of the pool, ran out of the bubble, and into transition on the baseball field.  I was surprised at how much I was breathing and feeling worked.

dave-swimT1

I sat down and thought to myself I need to bring a bucket to sit on.  Got the shoes on, the helmet, and off I ran with my bike, feeling dizzy.

Bike

The bike was tough for me; I’ve been spending a lot of time on the trainer but didn’t feel like that paid off much.  I was slow and breathing heavy.  I had a hard time getting my legs to go.  It was kind of frustrating.  I don’t mind being passed, but when everyone is passing me I get a bit grumbly with myself.  When I finally got to the top of the hill my legs were finally coming together. The downhill was better I just took the road and went hard.  When I came to the next loop I knew that I was supposed to go strait but I turned down and had to zip around folks and get back on the road to do the second loop.  My brain wasn’t in the game.  I lost a bit of time there but the second loop was better, felt like I had more power. The downhill section was fast and fun.

T2

I was so glad to see bike catchers! What a nice feature to have someone take your bike into transition for you, this allowed me to dash into T2.  Off with the bike shoes and on with the running shoes.  I almost forgot to take off the helmet, but didn’t want to be that guy.

Rundave-running-icebreaker-2014

The run was as I expected it to be – up hill for the first half.  I kind of plod along, slow little steps.  I am always in awe of the guys who just jam on the run, especially when the number on their leg tells me they are over 50 years old … respect!   I got to the top and tried to pick it up, but the legs go at their pace.  The downhill was better – I increased my pace and stretched out a bit more.  The finish line was my best part of the run.  Literally I found a good boost of energy as I approached the Finish Line party, with the music and cheering crowds and was able to pick up my feet and move.  It felt good to pass a few people and finish strong.

I almost knocked over a gal giving out medals because I was running full out and didn’t really have time to stop so I had to dance around her. All participants receive a custom die cast one of kind finisher medal. They are HUGE, and have some real weight to them which I display proudly at the office.  I have a co-worker who loves the medals as much as I do.  I do these races for the medals and the pictures. RaceTri has a few cameras out on the course capturing your race day and then they load them onto their Facebook page. While they are not Brightroom or Zazoosh they are free for all the athletes, a nice value add at all the RaceTri events!

dave-finishing

I was a bit bummed at my early season performance but I needed a good kick to help me up my game as I’m training for a full Ironman this year.  Overall it was well managed by RaceTri, enthusiastic volunteers, great finish line goodies, complete with Winder Farms Chocolate Recovery Milk.  It was great to hang out with friends and congratulate all the folks that passed me.  I hope to see you at the 12th Salem Spring Sprint, it’s going to be awesome!!!

http://www.racetri.com/salem-sprint/

So I Finished My First Triathlon – Now What?

So I Finished My First Triathlon – Now What?

By Morgan Johnson

It’s official – you’ve crossed the finish line, become a “real” triathlete and you are now (officially) obsessed. So what comes next? I have had literally dozens of athletes walk into our training facility and tell me, “I just finished my first sprint triathlon and it was so awesome I signed up to do an Ironman this summer!” While the spirit is great, one of the things I am always looking for as a coach is how I can help the athlete have a positive, healthy, long-term experience with the sport. This might mean a long-course competition, or it might be something else, so take a deep breath and let’s talk about what this looks like for you.

Finished a triathlon now what - Morgan Johnson

First, let’s talk equipment. There are some basics I recommend for every new triathlete – first, a road bike, either aluminum or carbon fiber in good working condition that fits correctly is, in my opinion, essential for a beginner. Road bikes are generally faster and more efficient, creating a more enjoyable workout experience for you, the athlete, without the more aggressive geometry of a time trial or “tri” bike, which can be uncomfortable for newer athletes who have not had the opportunity to build the strength and flexibility a time trial bike demands. Your bike should be accompanied by clipless bike shoes and pedals – avoid hand-me-downs if possible, and make sure the shoes are a proper fit – and, of course, a comfortable road bike helmet (ventilation is a must!) with no cracks or crashes to its name.

Second, when it comes to the swim, get a “real” training suit (tight with no extra material), and a good pair of goggles that won’t leak and create frustration or interrupted laps. I also have my athletes purchase a swim snorkel (front-loaded) for kicking and drills in the pool – in my opinion, if you only own one swim aid, this is the one to have.

Third, make sure you get a pair of running shoes that are right for your run form and body type – I recommend visiting a running store where the employees can evaluate your stride and recommend a comparable shoe.

The most important piece of equipment? A heart rate monitor, accompanied with heart rate zones (many field tests exist to determine these, and some USA Triathlon performance centers, such as Playtri, offer the option of blood lactate testing for an even more accurate determination of zones). Knowing your body’s limits and abilities will make your training healthier and more effective.

Once you’ve got the gear, it’s time to talk training. First of all, having a plan, any plan is always better than having no plan at all. If actual coaching is in the budget, this is always the first choice (USA Triathlon offers a list of certified coaches all over the country on the website), but if not, a group training program or online training plan or program is definitely a good place to start. The less interaction you have with an actual coach, the more conservative your plan should be. While online plans can be great, they do not necessarily adjust for injuries, sick days, family emergencies and other obstacles and interruptions. Always err on the side of caution when making choices regarding training to avoid injury and over-training or under-recovering – you’ll never be the fastest if you don’t make it to the start line. Want to take some risks? Invest in an actual coach.

The number one aspect of training most age-group athletes ignore? Recovery. Training hard is only great when it is paired with proper recovery. Never forget that fitness occurs during recovery.

So what about that Ironman? Again, you need a plan based on your athletic foundation and personal strengths and weaknesses. Some triathletes might be ready to tackle this goal their first year in the sport, but generally speaking a more moderate progression is recommended to build a solid foundation for the endeavor. Get some more sprint triathlons in that first year, then next year focus on the Olympic-distance, then maybe a half Iron distance the next year, and so on. A coach will also be handy here for evaluating your current fitness level in the context of their knowledge and experience of the sport.

Always remember that the goal is not just to complete the race, but to finish healthy and wanting more.

Best of luck in your new favorite sport! You have a huge, friendly community of fellow athletes and coaches ready and willing to help you have the best possible experience, so never be afraid to ask questions and ask for help.

Morgan Johnson is a USA Triathlon Level I and Youth and Juniors certified coach and a USA Cycling Level III coach. She coaches Team Playtri Elite, a USA Triathlon High Performance Team, at the Playtri Performance Center in Dallas, Texas. For more information, visit her bio at www.playtri.com/morgan.

Barefoot/Minimalist Running: Should You Do It?

barefoot-runningOver the last few years the idea of running barefoot or in shoes that offer minimal support has become increasingly popular.  Should we all change the way we run and do other activities to match this trend?  There are certainly those who would argue that we should.  Lets look at some of the ideas behind this style of running.

First, the foot is allowed to go through a more natural motion when running.  If you were to remove your shoes and socks and watch your feet while you walk around you might notice that your foot and toes spread out or “splay”.  When you wear typical shoes this splay is minimalized.  One of the major arguments in favor of barefoot/minimalist footwear is that this should be happening more.  Minimalist shoes have more space around the toes in the “toe box” to allow this motion.  This extra space can reduce the occurrence of bunions and other foot conditions caused from wearing shoes that are too tight.

Additionally, removing the cushioned sole of a typical running shoe may allow the body to follow its natural tendencies during gait.  Having the heel and the ball of the foot at the same level may also allow normal stretching of the Achilles tendon, which may decrease the occurrence of injuries.

The second major idea behind minimalist/barefoot running is that it forces the body to adapt and strengthen the muscles of the legs.  This may also prevent a variety of injuries.  Since the small muscles of the foot and the lower leg are used primarily to strengthen the long arch of the foot they should be allowed to do their job.  Having an unnatural support for this arch may weaken these muscles over time and result in injuries like plantar fasciitis.

These arguments make sense, but I hesitate to say they are valid in every situation.  Some people already have enough room for their feet to spread in a traditional shoe or they never have problems from the lack of foot splay.  It may also be the case for some individuals that the extra stretching of the Achilles will result in an injury.

In some cases the arch of the foot may be unusually high or low.  This might not be possible to resolve by strengthening the muscles of the foot.  It may require additional support from an orthotic or more supportive running shoe.

I like a lot of the ideas behind this new minimalist movement.  I personally wear a minimalist shoe for almost all activities now.  I like the way they feel and I don’t have any problems as a result of changing shoes.  However, if you are considering changing, transition slowly.  Start by walking in your new minimalist shoe (or barefoot) for just a few minutes at a time.  If this does not cause you problems then you can try running short distances.  If you still have no problems then this might be a great option for you.Researchers are looking into the benefits and drawbacks of these different styles of running.  So far the results seem to be inconclusive.  Some people have reduced injuries when they change their footwear, while others have new injuries.

Mild muscle pain that lasts only a few days may be a natural effect of the muscles being used more.  On the other hand, if you experience new pain that lasts more than a few days, minimalist shoes may not be the right choice for you.
Dr. Eagar
Dr. Eagar is a dual credentialed provider with degrees in sports medicine, chiropractic medicine, and exercise science.  Dr. Eagar owns Active Advantage, a private sports medicine practice with an emphasis on rehabilitation and chronic injury management.  He enjoys answering questions and can be reached at activeadvantagechiro@gmail.com.  For more general information you can visit his website http://www.activeadvantagechiro.com.

Weight Lifting and Triathlon Training

Incorporate Strength Training Into Your Regimen

weight-training-triathlon

By Matt Fitzgerald • Triathlete magazine
http://www.active.com/triathlon/Articles/Incorporate_strength_training_into_your_regimen.htm

Presumably, the majority of us triathletes have taken up triathlon because we enjoy swimming, cycling and running, or at least two of these activities.

People who, on the other hand, enjoy lifting weights more than they do swimming, cycling and running, generally don’t come any closer to doing a triathlon than spending a perfunctory 20 minutes on the StairMaster after a good pec session at Bally’s. And this is as it should be.

But while few triathletes feel any real pull toward the weight room, the fact that most triathletes want to race as fast as possible—and not just noodle around at an elevated heart rate for its own sake six days a week—is enough to get us to the gym right alongside those pec-session people. Infrequently. With a bad attitude. Which is not as it should be.

A great many tri-geeks are kinda convinced that strength training helps with triathlon and are therefore kinda committed to doing it. Can you blame us? There’s little enough time already for the pool, the road and the trail, and like we said, dumbbells just aren’t very exciting for birds of our feather. Trouble is, a half-assed approach to strength training does about as much good as going for a 10-mile run every 10 days, doing nothing in between.

As always, when in doubt, look at your heroes. The three individuals who together account for 20 Hawaii Ironman victories—Dave Scott, Mark Allen and Paula Newby-Fraser—all made strength training an important element of their triathlon training. All got exactly what you and I can get out of a proper strength-training program: enhanced strength, muscular endurance and power, and a higher resistance to injury.

“Weight training was the missing link for me,” says Allen, who began serious iron-pumping only in the latter stages of his triathlon journey. “I reached a point in my career where it didn’t matter how much I swam, biked or ran, I couldn’t increase my strength above a certain level. High-volume training and longer races break down your muscle fibers, and it really helped me to have a little extra reserve to draw on.”

Research proves it in the laboratory, and Ironman champions prove it in the proverbial pudding: Strength training is truly and rightfully triathlon’s fourth event. But you have to know what you’re doing. Keep reading.

I’ll Have What They’re Having

Of the three heroes just named, two, Allen and Newby-Fraser, received their strength coaching from the same source: Diane Buchta. If there is a strength training guru for triathlon, Buchta is she. Diane is a genius in her field, says Allen.

Buchta, the first strength coach of the United States Triathlon Team, taught strength training for 12 years at the University of California at San Diego, created the video Strength Training for Triathletes (featuring Allen and Newby-Fraser) and coaches at the Multisport School of Champions in Solana Beach, California.

One of her training legacies has been the development of a periodized strength training model whose five phases correspond to five specific sport-training stages in the triathlete’s calendar. The basic philosophy behind the model is to flexibly and unobtrusively support the triathlete’s swimming, cycling and running schedule.

When it was developed back in the 1980s, the model’s variability represented a major departure from strength training methods used by most triathletes. Each phase had its own goal, its own training method and distinct exercises. Even the speed of execution of exercises varied, explains Buchta.

The Program

The five phases of Buchta’s strength training program cover the whole year, save the one month you take off at the end of the season to focus on eggnog and napping. Phase I begins when you resume your event sport training around the New Year.

Phase V is reached shortly before your first race and is maintained (ideally) throughout the competitive season, except when you have a long layoff between races, in which case you can cycle through phases III and IV again. Buchta recommends that you cease weight training at least two weeks before any important race.

Each phase is distinct from the others in many ways, but the constant is a proper warm-up and cool-down book-ending each gym session. Buchta’s trademark warm-up exercise for triathletes is running arms, which involves simulating a running movement with your arms while holding light dumbbells (see full description below), and which we still see Mark Allen faithfully performing every time he pops into Powerhouse Gym in Cardiff, Cailfornia, for a workout.

Due to space considerations, we detail the correct execution of only half a dozen core exercises at the end of this article. Otherwise, the sample workouts offered here give you no more than the names of suggested exercises and guidelines for resistance, speed and number of sets and repetitions. Consult an experienced trainer to learn the correct execution for every exercise you incorporate into your training.

Phase I: Base/Acclimation (4 to 5 Weeks)
The Buchta method picks up where you do. “In December or January most triathletes want to get back into the weight room,” she says. During these first four to five weeks, the athlete is concerned with building a fresh endurance base, and the strength training component shares this goal.

“They need to retrain the neuromuscular system, relearn the skills and techniques, and develop a muscular strength and endurance base,” Buchta explains. You start off slow.
Begin by doing just one set of 12 repetitions (1 x 12) of each exercise, using 55 to 65 percent of your one-repetition maximum resistance (RM). Concentrate on maintaining good form and on taking a full two seconds on the concentric movement (lifting the weight) and four seconds on the eccentric movement (lowering the weight). Rest 30 to 60 seconds between sets. Build toward doing 3 x 12 and increase resistance for each exercise as necessary. Do three sessions per week.

Sample Workout:

Lat pulldown
Leg extension
Flat dumbbell bench press
Leg curl
Dumbbell pullover
Incline dumbell press
Biceps curl
Triceps pushdown
Prone raise
Abdominals (curl-up, reverse & oblique curl, crunch)
Roman chair
In week three, add:

Squat
Upright row
Side/lateral shoulder raise
Calf/toe raise
Phase II: Strength/Endurance Phase (4 to 5 weeks)
As you ramp up the aerobic mileage, your strength training goes with it. “What you’re trying to do in the second phase is go after the slow-twitch, endurance muscles fibers,” says Buchta. “The athlete tries to deal with higher blood lactate levels.”

Speed of execution remains the same in Phase II as in the previous phase, but each set should increase to 15 repetitions and there’s no rest between sets. At first do 2 x 15, then graduate to 3 x 15. Alternate between upper-body and lower-body exercises as in the sample workout below. You’ll probably have to decrease weights from the previous phase at first. Continue to do three sessions per week.

Sample Workout

Lat pulldown
Leg extension
Barbell bench press
Leg curl
Squat
Dumbbell pullover
Incline dumbbell press
Upright row
Rotated biceps curl
Triceps pushdown
Prone raise
Side lateral shoulder raise
Calf/toe raise
Abdominals
Roman chair
Phase III: Power/Endurance (4 to 5 weeks)
“There is a distinction between strength and power,” Buchta explains. “Strength applied quickly is the definition of power.”

Here, in Phase III, you begin to turn strength into power. This phase falls about two to three months out from your first race of the season, and involves the most intense and time-consuming strength training you will do all year. Buchta advises that you not combine hard event-training sessions and these heavy gym workouts on the same day.

Unlike the previous phase, the three weekly strength workouts of Phase III are different from one another. The first workout of the week is a swim-specific routine in which half the exercises are done for power and the other half for endurance. The power sets involve three sets of 8, 6, and 4 repetitions, performed with 85 to 90 percent of your 1-RM and performed to failure. Allow four seconds for the concentric movement and another four seconds for the eccentric movement. Cut these numbers in half for endurance sets, which consist of 15 reps each with no rest.

The second workout is a bike-specific routine involving the same structure. The third workout combines the exercises of the previous two routines in an all-endurance format.

Sample Workout (Swim)

Front lat pulldown
Dumbell pullover (power)
Triceps pushdown w/ strap or rope (power)
Upright row
Sample Workout (Bike)

Squat
Leg extension
Leg curl (power)
Barbell bench press (power)
Biceps curl

Phase IV: Peak Power (8 Weeks)
As the season approaches, you begin to incorporate high-intensity intervals into your event sport training. Accordingly, your strength training is modified to turn power into speed.

“I call this the Chisel Phase,” Buchta says. “All the exercises are dynamic. People love this phase, because finally they can feel the benefits of their strength work in their swimming, biking and running. Plus, they’re in and out of the gym in 20 to 30 minutes.”

Phase IV involves two workouts per week. Speed is the key. Do 2 x 12 sets at 55 to 65 percent 1-RM with no rest between sets.

Sample Workout

Bent-over row
Walking lunge
Flat dumbbell bench press
Pectoral pullover (with EZ curl bar)
Supine triceps press
Alternating biceps curl
Abdominals
Roman chair
Phase V: Maintenance
Phase V is your in-season phase. It is optional in the sense that you can reap most of the benefits of your past work without doing it and, in fact, “The majority of the pros I work with give up weights during the season,” Buchta admits. Nevertheless, for those who have time, maintenance is still recommended.

Hit the gym every three to four days during the competitive season. These sessions are quick and non-strenuous. Do just 1 x 12 for each exercise at 65 percent 1-RM. Allow two seconds for the concentric movement and four seconds for the eccentric movement.

Sample Workout

Lat pulldown
Stationary lunges
Barbell bench press
Pectoral pullover (with dumbbell)
Triceps kickback
Alternating biceps curl
Abdominals
Roman chair
CORE EXERCISES

Running Arms (warm-up): Stand in a runner’s lunge position: right foot one stride in front of the left, bending slightly forward at the waist, right knee slightly bent. Hold a 3- to 5-pound dumbbell in each hand and bend your elbows to 90 degrees. Beginning slowly, pump your arms in a slightly exaggerated running motion. Reverse your lunge position halfway through the warm-up.

Barbell Squat (quads, hamstrings, glutes, lower back): Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and a wide overhand grip on a weighted barbell that’s resting on your upper shoulder (not your neck!). Looking forward and slightly upward, squat until your thighs are parallel to the floor. Keep your back in a neutral position (maintaining its natural curve) and your knees over toes. Drive upright through your hips. Keep your weight on your heels.

Dumbbell Pullover (chest): Lie face-up on a bench with your knees bent and feet flat on the bench. Hold a single dumbbell by shaping your hands flat against the inside plate on either end of the dumbbell and allowing gravity to keep it snug. Do not bend your wrists during the movement. Hold the dumbbell directly above your upper chest. Slowly lower the dumbbell back behind your head, bending your elbows slightly. When the dumbbell is in line with the crown of your head, hoist it back to the start position. Avoid lowering the dumbbell too far behind your head.

Walking Lunge (quads, hamstrings, glutes, lower back): Stand with your feet hip-width apart and a weighted barbell positioned as in the Barbell Squat (or, alternatively, hold a dumbbell in either hand at your sides). Take a large step forward with your right foot and bend that knee to 90 degrees, then drag your left leg forward to join the right. Now lunge forward with the left leg. Keep your back in a neutral position by looking straight ahead. If your left leg extends fully during the lunge, you’re stepping too far. If your forward knee gets in front of your toe, you’re either stepping too short or lunging too deep.

Lat Pulldown (upper back): Seat yourself at a high pulley station with your knees secured under the padded braces and get a wide overhand grip on the bar. Lean back 35 degrees at the waist and pull the bar to your upper chest, then smoothly extend back to the start position.

Supine Triceps Press (triceps): Lie supine on a flat bench with a narrow overhand grip on a short straight bar or EZ-curl bar. Your shoulders, elbows and hands are in a straight line. Keeping your upper arms locked, lower the bar until it’s just above your nose, then extend back to the start position. Keep your elbows in as you push up.

Reverse Stomach Curl: Lie face-up on a bench or mat with your legs together and bent so that your feet are flat on the surface. Interlace your fingers behind your head and curl your trunk up just slightly, until you feel tension in your stomach muscles. This is your start position. Smoothly draw your knees up toward your face, stopping just before your lower back leaves the mat, then return to your start position without letting your feet touch down.

Relieving Plantar Fasciitis

plantar fasciitis

Plantar Fasciitis

You wake up first thing in the morning and you step onto the floor. Immediately you feel pain on the bottom of your foot close to the heel. You carefully step your way through your morning routine until the pain begins to fade. Later, you head out for a run. As you begin your run the pain in your foot returns, but you hobble along until it again fades. You repeat this routine for days or even weeks, but eventually the pain does not fade.plantar fasciitis

If this sounds familiar then it is likely you have experienced or are experiencing plantar fasciitis (perhaps better termed plantar fasciosis, meaning deterioration of the plantar fascia). Simply put, this is irritation to the connective tissue that crosses the long arch of your foot. When you stop walking and running (especially when sleeping) the tissue begins to tighten. Those first steps before the tissue stretches back out are the most painful.

Why do some people get this condition and not others? Lack of support for the arch of the foot is the simple answer. In the body muscles and ligaments support joints. Muscles should be our primary means of support, but when those muscles fail in their job ligaments are the back-up plan.

plantar fasciitis arch

The foot and lower leg are filled with muscles that support the arches of your feet. The plantar fascia is a band of tissue, like a ligament, that crosses the whole bottom of the foot from back to front. Its primary job is to assist these muscles in holding up the arch of the foot.

If the small muscles on the bottom of the foot and the longer ones from the lower leg are not strong enough then this may cause too much stress on the plantar fascia and cause pain with regular use. Some individuals may also have unusually high or low foot arches that cause increased stress and result in the same problem.

Ice/anti-inflammatories, stretching, and deep tissue massage can help plantar fasciitis. In order for the condition to be resolved, however, the support for the arch of the foot must be improved. Strengthening muscles can often be a simple solution, but in more severe cases a special shoe or an orthotic may be necessary to provide ample support.

If you are experiencing on-going symptoms of foot pain, don’t wait to get it resolved. The longer you experience the pain, the worse the injury will become. It’s always easier to fix an injury when it’s a small one.

Dr. EagarDr. Eagar is a dual credentialed provider with degrees in sports medicine, chiropractic medicine, and exercise science.  Dr. Eagar owns Active Advantage, a private sports medicine practice with an emphasis on rehabilitation and chronic injury management.  He enjoys answering questions and can be reached at activeadvantagechiro@gmail.com.  For more general information you can visit his website http://www.activeadvantagechiro.com.

Chronic Injuries and Sports Massage

For many athletes, the injuries that have the greatest long-term impact are chronic injuries or injuries that occur over time with no obvious incident.  Chronic injuries include things like patellar tendonitis (aka Runner’s or Jumper’s knee), Achilles tendonitis, “shin splints”, shoulder impingement, IT Band syndrome, and bursitis to name a few.

With the exception of bursitis, all of these injuries share one common element.  That element is scar tissue as a result of microtrauma.  Microtrauma can occur from repeated overuse as seen in activities like distance running, swimming, jumping, biking, weight lifting, throwing, or any other activity performed numerous times in succession.  It can also be the result of a single injury such as an acute sprain, strain, or bruise that fails to completely resolve and is exacerbated by continued activity.

Once microtrauma has occurred the body begins the cycle of inflammation and repair.  Inflammation on it’s own is not a bad thing.  It is the body’s way of removing damaged tissues and preparing the site for healing.  Inflammation can cause problems when poorly controlled or when the healing is incomplete.  One of the results of this is the development of excessive or bulky scar tissue.  As the body heals it lays down rudimentary scar tissue without concern for future use.  This scar tissue should eventually be removed and replaced by more refined scar tissue and eventually fully repaired tissue.

It is important that old bulky scar tissue be broken down and removed by the body in order to break the chronic injury cycle.  Anti-inflammatory medications can help break the cycle of bad inflammation and pain, but do not actively address the formation of scar tissue in chronic injuries.  Sports massage, or deep tissue massage, is an intense therapy used to assist the body in breaking down scar tissue so that it can ultimately be removed through the normal cycle of inflammation and repair.

In addition, the use of sports massage can help to re-align collagen fibers as healing occurs.  This re-alignment is important to establish future strength in healthy tissues.  Based on Wolff’s law (and the expanded idea of Specific Adaptation to Imposed Demands), which says that tissues will adapt to the stresses placed upon them, increasing tissue stress during healing (carefully!) will result in a better overall recovery.

The other significant benefit of sports massage is that it decreases the overall muscle hardness.  Muscle hardness might best be described as abnormally high tension within the muscle.  This increased tension predisposes the muscle and tendon to injury.  Post exercise stretching can help reduce this (see the post about cool down and stretching here), but once chronic injuries have begun sports massage may be necessary to decrease muscle hardness to the point where stretching can maintain normal muscle flexibility.

Is sports massage something every athlete needs or should have regularly?   Not necessarily.  Some people never experience these types of chronic injuries and many injuries never become chronic because they resolve on their own.  However, if you are experiencing on-going symptoms that fail to resolve, sports massage (along with rehabilitative exercise) may help speed your recovery and may help prevent a re-injury in the future.

Dr. EagarDr. Eagar is a dual credentialed provider with degrees in sports medicine, chiropractic medicine, and exercise science.  Dr. Eagar owns Active Advantage, a private sports medicine practice with an emphasis on rehabilitation and chronic injury management.  He enjoys answering questions and can be reached at activeadvantagechiro@gmail.com.  For more general information you can visit his website http://www.activeadvantagechiro.com.

Triathlon Training: Cool Down, Recovery, and Flexibility

Cool Down, Recovery, and FlexibilityTriathlon Training: Cool Down, Recovery, and Flexibility

I’m sure that for many people when they cross the finish line all they want to do is collapse.  I can certainly understand that desire.  Sometimes it’s exhausting just watching you race!  Try to resist the temptation to stop immediately.  A good cool down and recovery can make all the difference for how your body avoids injury and continues to improve performance.

When completing an endurance event (or any exercise lasting longer than 15 minutes) it’s important to have a proper cool down routine.  A cool down involves continued activity at an easy pace for about 5-10 minutes.  Some people like a light jog, while others prefer to walk.  Where available a low resistance, slow-paced stationary bike is a great option.  You can also hop in a pool and do some lazy laps.  This allows for proper transition of your heart and muscles from a highly active state to a resting state.  The bottom line is to keep moving until heart rate and breathing have mostly normalized.

The other big aspect of recovery is to get fuel into the body.  This should include fluids (with electrolytes) and calories.  For more about electrolyte replacement see my tip about hydration.  Calories may seem like a no brainer, but there is actually an ideal way to do it.  The first part is timing.  You should eat within a few minutes of completing exercise.  During the first thirty minutes post exercise you have a significantly increased muscle protein synthesis, meaning your muscles are trying to recover and giving them the fuel to recover will improve that recovery.  After thirty minutes you still experience an elevated muscle protein synthesis, but it is not as great and is gone within about sixty minutes of exercise completion.

The second part of calorie replacement is what kind of calories.  Some people think that if you are rebuilding muscle then protein should be important.  Almost the opposite is true.  Excessive protein intake can decrease recovery effectiveness.  What your body has really lost is carbohydrate calories.  It needs to replace glucose and glycogen stores in order to rebuild muscle.  Try to consume about 100g of carbohydrates (roughly equivalent to a peanut butter and jelly sandwich) within those first thirty minutes post exercise.  You don’t want to make yourself sick by eating too much too fast, but those 100g are a good goal.  After that you should eat a good healthy diet the rest of the day and don’t starve your body.

The final step in cool down and recovery is flexibility.  Much of the research relating to flexibility training is about pre-exercise stretching and shows little to no effect, with the exception of dynamic flexibility (a topic for another time).  However, a recent study shows potential for decreased injury with static stretching (see the abstract here).  Flexibility is something I consider to be part of overall health.  Poor flexibility may contribute to back pain, shoulder pain, risk of muscle strains, and generally decreased body function.  Stretching won’t stop delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS), but it may improve your overall well-being and help you avoid chronic injuries.

The best time to stretch is after you have been using your muscles.  Any muscle used should be stretched.  Since completing a triathlon involves heavy use of both upper and lower extremities you should be doing a full body stretch.  Include hamstrings, quadriceps, calves (both gastrocnemius and soleus muscles), iliotibial (IT) band, gluteals, piriformis, psoas, pectorals, and rotator cuff muscles.  Sounds like a lot?  You can do all this in less than ten minutes even if you hold each stretch for 30 seconds.

If you include these aspects into your recovery routine you’ll stay healthier through a long season and hopefully enjoy it even more.

Dr. EagarDr. Eagar is a dual credentialed provider with degrees in sports medicine, chiropractic medicine, and exercise science.  Dr. Eagar owns Active Advantage, a private sports medicine practice with an emphasis on rehabilitation and chronic injury management.  He enjoys answering questions and can be reached at activeadvantagechiro@gmail.com.  For more general information you can visit his website http://www.activeadvantagechiro.com.

Hydration and Electrolyte Replacement: Why and How?

hydration and electrolyte replacement - triathlonsThere is already some great advice about hydration here on the RaceTri site, but I wanted to give a little more information for those who are looking for an advantage as they move forward with their training and competition goals.

 When we talk about hydration we should really divide it into two categories.  First, is simply good old H20.  You need water to function.  Failure to consume enough water can elevate blood pressure, contribute to increased risk of heat illness (including both heat exhaustion and heat stroke), and decrease muscle function.  If you break down the biochemistry you’ll see that water is a key component to basically every process in your body.  So make sure you drink enough water.  A good rule of thumb is one half cup per 20 minutes of exercise.

The second category of hydration is electrolyte replacement.  For this I recommend becoming aware of what I call the Big 3: sodium, potassium, and calcium.  These three are heavily involved in the normal function of muscles and nerves in the body.  This includes skeletal muscle as well as heart muscle.  Unfortunately, normal electrolyte levels can require a delicate balance to function well.  In all three cases the electrolyte in question can have negative effects when the levels are too high or too low.

For sodium, not getting enough is not usually the problem.  Even if you consciously eat a low sodium diet you probably still get plenty of it.  However, there is a condition called hyponatremia that most commonly affects endurance athletes.  Despite having adequate sodium in the diet, consuming large quantities of water without any electrolytes can dilute the concentration of sodium in the blood.  This is a serious medical emergency and the consequences may be severe.  The purpose here is not to scare you, but to make you more aware of the need to replace those electrolytes as you go.  This is why I recommend using a sports drink (or sports gel and water) containing electrolytes while you are doing any vigorous endurance exercise, especially if the conditions are hot and humid.

Potassium is almost an opposite of sodium.  Where most diets have more than adequate sodium, they often lack potassium.  There are two ways to combat this.  You can take a supplement or you can improve your diet.  The concern with taking a supplement is that it may not be absorbed as well and it may be too much.  Unlike sodium where too little is dangerous, having too much potassium can lead to a condition called hyperkalemia, which can also have severe consequences.  So I recommend getting your potassium from food sources.  Many people think of bananas as a great source for potassium, but better still are sweet potatoes and dark, leafy greens.  Here’s a link to other great food sources of potassium http://www.health.gov/dietaryguidelines/dga2005/document/html/appendixb.htm.

Calcium is probably the least severe of the group since the body is very effective at regulating the concentration in the blood.  However, one of the ways this is done is by pulling calcium from bones when it becomes scarce.  This is one of the reasons female endurance athletes are more susceptible to conditions such as osteoporosis.  Dairy remains one the best sources for calcium, but can be accompanied by less healthy nutrients, especially if you think ice cream is the best way to get calcium.  In addition, many people choose to eliminate dairy due to personal choice or food allergies.  You can eat foods fortified with calcium (soy milk, some juices) or spinach and some other leafy greens.  The above link has tables for both typical dairy sources of calcium as well as non-dairy sources.

So what’s the bottom line for all this?  First, when hydrating during long exercise bouts, choose a sport drink (or gel and water) that contains sodium and potassium to reduce the risk of severe side effects.  Second, get enough calcium as part of your daily diet to prevent bone loss.  If you eat right and keep exercising you’ve put yourself in the best possible position to have a long healthy life.

Dr. EagarDr. Eagar is a dual credentialed provider with degrees in sports medicine, chiropractic medicine, and exercise science.  Dr. Eagar owns Active Advantage, a private sports medicine practice with an emphasis on rehabilitation and chronic injury management.  He enjoys answering questions and can be reached at activeadvantagechiro@gmail.com.  For more general information you can visit his website http://www.activeadvantagechiro.com.

 

Guide to Start Running Again

return to running againGetting into running again after a long break or even a short one, here’s a great article on some steps to take to get back running. Thanks to Christine Luff for the article.

Question: What If I Have to Take a Break from Running?
I’ve been sick, so I haven’t run in five days. I feel like I’m behind in my 5K training schedule. What should I do? Should I make up the runs that I missed?

Answer: Don’t worry, we’ve all been there. Sometimes an illness, an injury, or a hectic schedule prevents us from sticking to our running schedule.

Here’s how you can handle a break in your training:

If you’ve been away from running for less than a week:

It’s possible to take up to a week off without losing any ground. In fact, a few days of rest may even improve your performance, especially if you’ve been feeling exhausted and sore. But after a week of not training, you’ll quickly start to lose your fitness — a lot faster than it took you to build it up.

If you’ve been suffering from a cold or other short-term illness, make sure you’re healthy enough to get back to running. The general rule of thumb for running with a cold is that if your symptoms are from the neck up (sore throat, runny nose, etc.), then it’s OK to run with a cold. If your symptoms are below the neck (chest congestion, diarrhea, etc.), it’s best to wait until you’re feeling completely healthy.

If you haven’t run for less than seven days, do NOT try to “make up” the miles that you missed. If you try to squeeze all your missed miles into a short period of time, you could be at risk for a running injury due to overtraining. Just pick up your training schedule where you left off. You may feel a bit sluggish during your first run back, but it should only take one or two runs before you’re feeling like your old self.

If you’ve taken one to two weeks off from running:

If you’ve been out of your running shoes for only a week or two, start at about half the distance you were running before the injury. If you were recovering from an injury, go easy when you first return to running because if you run too hard, you risk re-injuring yourself. You should be able to build back to your former level in two to four weeks.

If you stopped running for more than two weeks:

With a layoff of more than two weeks, you need to be conservative when you return to running. Chances are you haven’t run for more than two weeks because you’ve been injured, so make sure that you’re definitely ready to come back. If you’ve been under the care of a medical professional, make sure you get cleared to return to running. If you’re not ready to come back, you could possibly cross-train in the meantime, if it doesn’t affect your injury.

Once you’re ready to run again, don’t assume you have to run your entire distance. Start with a run/walk approach. As you build your endurance, you’ll be able to extend your running segments and reduce your walking time.

In the beginning, take a day off after every running day. For your weekly mileage, you’ll need to gradually work up to your previous level. And don’t keep making jumps in your mileage. It’s good to get comfortable with a specific weekly mileage by staying there for a couple weeks, and then bump up your distance.

Article src: http://running.about.com/od/injuryrecovery/f/runningbreak.htm

Returning to Running After an Injury or a Long Break

running after an injuryGreat article on getting back into running after an injury by Susan Paul

Getting back on your running feet can be a challenge but it can be done. While you can’t just jump right back to where you left off, you will find beginning again, and re-building, easier than it was at the very start of your running career. In addition, your strength training background will also help you. Strength is a very important fitness component and you will have retained some of that conditioning as well.

The first step to returning to training is to have your physician’s approval. Once you are released to begin exercising again, start at the beginning, not where you left off. It is better to proceed slowly at first rather than to do too much and risk injury or set yourself back. Begin with walking briskly for 10 to 20 minutes and assess how you feel during and after the exercise session. Note any aches or pains, monitor your breathing and heart rate, and measure your perceived exertion level. If the exercise session feels hard, it IS hard. Listen to your body and back down the intensity and/or the duration of the exercise if it feels hard. At this point in time, keep a moderate to easy intensity level. Don’t wear yourself out; avoid feeling exhausted at any time. Limit yourself to no more than 20 minutes of exercise time at the beginning. If all goes well, and you experience little to no post-exercise soreness, add some short intervals of easy paced running in your next session. Always monitor how you feel during the exercise session and how you feel one to three days afterwards. This will be your gauge for how much to do the next time.

Gradually increase the length of your run intervals by 30 seconds at a time. Increase the run interval based on how you feel. Because you established your running base prior to surgery, you will find you can increase at a faster rate than a new runner; however, keep in mind that the general guideline for increasing mileage is 10 percent a week. Allow yourself six to eight weeks to return to your pre-surgery routine.

Remember, walking has incredible benefits too. Should you find you are not able to return to running yet, walk. Walking will re-condition muscles, tendons, ligaments and bones, as well as, improve your endurance and make your return to running that much easier.

All the best to you!
Susan S. Paul, MS

Susan Paul has coached more than 2,000 runners and is an exercise physiologist and program director for the Orlando Track Shack Foundation. For more information, visit www.trackshack.com.
http://www.runnersworld.com/beginners/how-do-i-start-running-again-post-surgery