Monday, April 27, 2009

How to become inspired again after a running injury

I had my last ITBS physical therapy session at Empire Health and Wellness Center before I get my running orthotics.

I ran an exhilarating 35 minutes on the treadmill, then worked on my balance with the bosu ball. I also did some lunges and learned how to do squats with the stability ball. I liked doing the squats, because the stability ball provided a little bit of a back massage!

I talked with Brendan about how my physical progress had outpaced my mental progress. I can run pain free but I am scared to run and potentially injure my ankle or knee or hip. The fearful feeling is stronger now that the orthotics are on the way. Like a soldier would say - "I'm short!" I just don't want anything to happen when a permanent cure to my running injury is so close at hand.

I'm working on getting the joy back in my running.

I had a great run in Central Park, NYC yesterday and went to the corner of 90th and 5th to visit the statue of Fred Lebow, the founder of the NYC Marathon. Seeing all the cyclists and runners passing the statue got me back in the mood to start training again!

If you need some inspiration and cannot get to Central Park, here is a funny video made by high school runners that really takes me back to high school track days:

These are my new track spikes!

How do you get inspired to run after a setback or injury?

What is your favorite cross country or track memory?

Want to run faster? Click here to get free running and nutrition tips by email.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Tips and advice on speedwork for intermediate runners

Once I get my orthotics, I am looking forward to getting back to speedwork!

Cool Running website has published tips and advice on speedwork for intermediate runners, separated into charts for 5K and 10K racers.

Intermediate is defined as a 5K time between 22:00 and 26:00, and 10K is between 44:00 and 52:00 for female runners. The chart offers schedules for 440’s, 880’s, mile intervals and hills.

Do you run speedwork as part of your 5K or 10K training?

Want to run faster? Click here to get free running and nutrition tips by email.

Running Orthotics will cure my ITBS, tibial torsion and pes planus!

I visited the talented folks at General Orthopedic at 1659 Central Avenue in Albany, NY last night to get fitted for orthotics. General Orthopedic also manufactures, and sells orthopedic shoes. After a thorough and fun examination, I was diagnosed with winking patellas, tibial torsion, ITBS and pes planus.

They made impressions of my feet in foam and will construct a custom orthotic that will fit right into my current running shoes and align my feet correctly. This means that my days of hip pain from ITBS are over, and I can start to run again without pain or the constant fear that I will injure my iliotibial band. I am so excited that I finally have a medical diagnosis and a cure for my running injuries.

I am still keeping up with my physical therapy, practicing yoga and running.

Want to run faster? Click here to get free running and nutrition tips by email.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Fish Oil can ease muscle soreness after running

Fish oil lessens post workout muscle soreness

I love getting email updates from Men’s Health. The article ‘17 Shortcuts to Perfect Health’ features advice from Mary Ellen Camire, Ph.D., a professor of human nutrition at the University of Maine. " Carmire advises that fish-oil supplements are just as good as fish, and the article states that fish oil eases post-workout muscle soreness.

I have been taking fish oil for years, and was surprised that the doctor prescribed fish oil supplements as part of my prescriptions for recovering from surgery earlier this year.

Do you take fish oil supplements?

Want to run faster? Click here to get free running and nutrition tips by email.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Inspiring profile of young Marathon Runner with Autism

Jerry Brewer writes a thoughtful profile of autistic runner Andy Bryant in the Seattle Times article 'Autistic runner is one of the guys — only faster.' Andy Bryant ran the Boston Marathon this year, and enjoys following a training regimen.

Although I am not autistic, I identify with Bryant’s feelings about following a training schedule. Having a defined workout and a purpose for every day’s run makes running easier and more enjoyable for me.

Want to run faster?
Click here to get free running and nutrition tips by email.

How to replace expensive post-workout protein bars with real food

I found today's early morning treadmill run unusually hard, and really relished my post workout drink. has published a cute article about sports nutrition by sports nutritionist Nancy Clark MS, RD of Healthworks, in Chestnut Hill, MA titled ‘Start Your Engines: The ABC's of Sports Nutrition.’

The information is presented in alphabetical order. My favorite tip is 'E' – Clark says that, “energy bars are more about convenience than necessity. Bananas, yogurt, fig cookies and granola bars offer convenient fuel at a fraction of the price.”

I do enjoy protein powder shakes after my workouts, but I will also try to pack fresh fruit for my post workout meals. A recent delicious addition to my hour long cardio workout at the has been a post-workout snack of a handful of salted almonds.

What do you eat after your workouts? Real food or sports beverages/bars?

Want to run faster? Click here to get free running and nutrition tips by email.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Running stretches and weight lifting exercises for runners

The running shoes are back on!!!

I am ecstatic to report that my Physical Therapist let me run for 2.5 miles yesterday.

I noticed that, after a week of non-weight bearing exercise, my ankles became sore during the beginning of the run. As I warmed up going into the second mile, everything calmed down and the wonderful rush of endorphins washed over me. I ran for fifteen blissful minutes with a giddy smile on my face.

I'd like to share 5 stretches and 6 strength exercises I use as part of my 10K (now ramped back to beginner 5K) training running workout. I have kept on stretching regularly in the past week, even though I haven't been able to run.

Debbie Pitchford is a physical therapist for Novacare and works at Medical Group Outpatient Rehabilitation in Michigan City, Indiana. She recommends the Quadriceps Stretch, Hamstring Stretch, Piriformis Stretch, Gastroc Stretch and the Soleus Stretch for runners.

The website has tips and photos of each stretch:

I do the stretches after each of my runs. I especially like the Piriformis muscle stretch because I can rotate my ankle and stretch my shins at the same time as I perform the piriformis stretch.

Cathy Vasto, a personal trainer with The Lodge & Club in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida recommends six strength exercises for runners, including the bench press, the row, the overhead pull, the curl, the crunch and the lunge.

Photos and advice on performing these strength exercises are here:

I like the arm exercises, which I perform as a part of my Firm workout at home. Vasto recommends lifting weights two or three times a week, after you run, not before.

What are your favorite stretches after running?

Related Article:
How to reduce injury on long runs and How to use a stability ball in workouts

Want to run faster? Click here to get free running and nutrition tips by email.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Should runners drink caffeine before races?

Gina Kolata explores the effects of caffeine on racing performance in the New York Times article ‘It’s Time to Make a Coffee Run.’ Dr. Mark Tarnopolsky of McMaster University in Canada explains that there is overwhelming evidence that caffeine has positive effect on running performance. Caffeine releases calcium that is stored in muscle and effects the brains perception of exhaustion.

I do not regularly drink caffeine, so when I do I tend to feel jittery. I may try to incorporate caffeine into my pre workout routines in the final training week before a race, so I my body will be accustomed to the caffeine on race day.

Have you tried adding caffeine to your pre workout or pre race nutrition?

Related article:
Why runners should drink Gatorade - even during short workouts and races

Why runners should drink Gatorade - even during short workouts and races

Alice Park writes about research that links swigging sugared drinks to improved athletic performance in the Time article ‘Study: Energy Drinks Boost the Brain, Not Brawn.’ Apparently, research has found that sipping and spitting out sugar drinks like Gatorade during a workout encourages our brains to increase athletic performance.

Knowing this, I may grab a sugar drink during my next race to swish and spit even if I am not thirsty at the time.

Related Article:
Should runners drink caffeine before races?

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Running and Cycling songs for your ipod

The Post Crescent reports that USA Track & Field, the governing body for track and field, long-distance running and race walking in the U.S., has ruled that iPods are allowed in road races.

I use my iPod on training runs, and I feel that the music distracts me from feelings of exhaustion. Now that I'm stuck on the stationary bicycle at the gym, concentrating on the music helps pass the time.

I get new running song suggestions from the website Running Music Mix, which lists running songs categorized by genre and BPM (beats per minute). Every song list has BPM counts for each song.

My favorite new song on my iPod mix is Viva la Vida.

Nicole Nichols ahares an excellent idea in her Daily Spark article '40 Upbeat Songs to Make Your Workout Fly By.' She exercises to songs longer than the typical 3 minutes, 'fooling' her brain into thinking she's running a shorter workout.

My favorites among her picks include:

Aerosmith, Sweet Emotion
Coldplay, Clocks
Jefferson Starship, We Built This City on Rock & Roll
Kanye West, Stronger
Madonna, Ray of Light
The Verve, Bitter Sweet Symphony
U2, Walk On

What are your favorite workout songs?

Related Article:

How runners stay motivated and improve motivation for running

Reviews: Born to Run; Spirit of the Marathon

Marjorie Brinton reviews the book ‘Born to Run’ by Christopher McDougall in the Durango Herald article, ‘Long-distance running reflects human nature.’ ‘Born to Run’ tells the story of the Tarahumara Indians of Copper Canyon, Mexico.

I watched the film Spirit of the Marathon last night. Spirit of the Marathon shows the stories of six runners as they prepare for the 2005 Chicago Marathon. As an injured runner, I really identified with how the other runners dealt with their injuries and persevered. I enjoyed this movie and would recommend it to other runners, especially those comtemplating the marathon.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Physical Therapy for my IlioTibial Band Injury

Last Wednesday I finished a tough but invigorating set of intervals, only to feel an all-too familiar ache behind my right hip. I had aggravated an old track injury to my iliotibial band.

Runners World reports that "studies show that anywhere from 30 to 60 percent of runners get injured every year," so I am not alone.

As a younger runner, I would have iced it and attempted to keep on running, but 34 year old Kathleen knows better. I made an appointment with Brendan Sullivan, a physical therapist at Empire Health and Wellness Center in Latham, NY. Brendan evaluated me and told me that I had hit the tipping point - all my running this spring had incrementally led up to this level of injury, not just one workout or misstep. It was time for me to get orthotics.

I was treated to an intense massage and a session with the muscle stim machine and sent home with strict instructions to NOT RUN. I can use an exercise bike.

Am I pissed off? Yes. Am I realizing how much I love running? Yes, especially when Saturday dawned sunny and warm enough to run in shorts.

No 10K race for me at the end of the month, but it is early enough in the season to regain my level of endurance in time for plenty of fun races this summer.

I'm keeping my head up high and looking forward to my next physical therapy appointment. Rest, for me, is just as important as a long run right now if I want to keep running for years to come.

What do runners eat before and after working out?

In the Pittsburgh Post Gazette article, ‘2009 PITTSBURGH MARATHON: Fueling for the long runs takes care,’ Gretchen McKay shares advice on proper pre workout and post workout nutrition for long distance runners. Recommended pre-run meals include a glass of milk with two graham crackers or a whole-grain waffle with a little bit of peanut butter and a glass of juice, or a half cup of cereal with milk and a few tablespoons of nuts and dried fruit.

Before a recent 5K I ate a breakfast of eggs and oatmeal.

The article states that post workout meals should provide protein and carbohydrates. Suggestions include a glass of low-fat chocolate milk or half a bagel with jam.

I drink a protein powder shake with blueberries and banana or a slim-fast type liquid beverage that provides a 4:1 ratio of carbohydrates to protein.

It is difficult to bring and store chocolate milk at the gym when my workout will be over an hour, but once I start running outside after work, I will definitely keep chocolate milk in my refrigerator for after workout refreshment.

What do you eat before and after running?

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

How runners stay motivated and improve motivation for running

Brom Hoban writes about one of the biggest challenges in running in the article, ‘Tips for staying motivated (even when you're not)’ for the Austin American Statesman.

Tips include taking a break from running, running at a different time of day or changing your route, running with a partner, crosstraining, and reviewing your running goals.

My running club, the Albany Running Exchange, offers group runs several times each day and can help runners find workout partners.

Taking a break from running is my most powerful motivator. I get antsy and after a day or two, and can’t wait to get back in my running shoes. For me, rest days are as essential to my training as the running itself.

How to taper before a race; what food to eat before a race

Marathon runner Patrick O'Brien shares some personal reflections on the practice of tapering before a race in, ‘Tapering helps body prepare for big race,’ a column for the Times & Transcript. With some help from his wife, a nurse, O’Brien explains the science behind tapering and dietary changes prior to a marathon.

I felt a similar withdrawal from the addictive practice of daily running before my 5K earlier this year. As someone who wants to eat healthful foods, I felt an initial resistance to the practice of ‘carbo loading’ before a race, but I did feel the positive benefits of giving my muscles enough fuel to be able to work constantly and powerfully through a long race.

Monday, April 6, 2009

My experience with Chi Running

Over the weekend I visited the Adirondack Sports and Fitness Summer Expo in Saratoga Springs.

I attended a standing room only presentation on Chi Running taught by Ann Margaret McKillop. McKillop explained the reasoning behind Chi Running and demonstrated the proper running form for this running style that borrows from the practice of T'ai Chi.

McKillop also teaches private Chi Running lessons. She covers how to achieve the Chi Running form, including the steps of posture, lean and lift; offers core muscle drills and exercises; teaches pre-run looseners and post-run stretches; and offers tips on how to run various speeds while conserving energy. McKillop describes Chi Running as a way to achieve injury free running that utilizes, not fights, the forces of nature. Her website is

I tried Chi Running on my six mile Sunday run. I did feel more relaxed on this run than previous runs and found that my mind wanted me to stop running, as usual on long runs, but my body did not have as much fatigue or come close to exhaustion. I will use Chi Running all this week and see if the benefits continue.

Here is a video explaining more about Chi Running:

Does Running Make You Smarter?

A funny take on whether running makes you smarter

In an article for the Asheville Citizen Times, Dr. Doug Milch, DPM provides some positive and negative effects of running.

Dr. Milch states that John Ratey, author “Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain,” believes that exercise increases several chemicals, including brain derived neurotrophic factor, which has a beneficial effect on brain cells.

DOES running make your smarter? Judging by the gentle humor in his article, running certainly makes Dr. Milch clever!

I agree with Dr. Milch that running is addictive. He writes, “Try not running for a week. See if your family doesn't push you out the door with your running shoes.” This statement reminded me of my childhood.

If I was restless inside our house, my father would order me to go outside and “blow the stink out of you.” No doubt, this was because my body needed to be active for my mind to remain positive. More than 25 years later, if I feel myself getting cranky, I lace up my running shoes and head out the door to “blow the stink out.”

Do you get cranky if you don’t run regularly?

Thursday, April 2, 2009

How to reduce injury on long runs and How to use a stability ball in workouts

I attended a seminar on exercise at the Honest Weight Food Coop in Albany last weekend. Physical Therapist Brendan Sullivan offered tips on exercise and dispelled many exercise myths.

I learned a lot from his presentation, but the most valuable thought for me was this – athletes tend to get sore after exercising for a while and think that the injury is due to the number of miles that they have run. In fact, the soreness may come from the fact that when runners start to get tired, their form gets sloppy and the injury or soreness comes from bad running form.

I did observe that on a recent 5 mile run, I started to struggle at the end to keep good form. I will remember to be aware of my form throughout my runs in the future to guard against this type of injury!

Brendan showed several videos and recommended the use of a stability ball in workouts to exercise core muscles. One of the videos is here:

Do you use the stability ball in your workouts?

Race Report: Peppertree 5K Albany, NY

Here are the results of my first 5K!

I followed the advice of my friend Kerrie, who recommended I run the race to have fun. I took the pressure off of myself to run fast and ended up meeting my goal of running around an 8 minute mile with a 5K time of 25:07!

I started out a little fast, but settled into a good pace and found a fellow runner to follow for the first mile. I pulled ahead of him before mile 2 and ran a bit faster to catch up to another runner, pacing him until about 2.5 miles. I passed him and followed another runner until mile 3, when I started a medium fast kick to the finish line!

I walked to my car to get some post race carbohydrates and protein, then returned to see the results, cheer on other finishers and chat with fellow runners Kristina and Nicole. I felt great about my run and about supporting Peppertree rescue!

How I train for 5K and 10K races in Albany, NY

Hello, my name is Kathleen Lisson.

I started running again at 34 when I joined Best Fitness in Albany. After jogging on the treadmill for a month or so, I felt that I would get more out of exercise if I had a goal. I chose to shoot for running a 10K race this summer. Though I had been on my cross country and track team in high school, I needed more training guidance, so I turned to the internet to find a proper training schedule for training for a 10K race.

I was very fortunate to find Hal Higdon’s website. Higdon, one of the founders of the Road Runners Club of America (RRCA), is a Runner's World contributor, author of the best-selling Marathon: The Ultimate Training Guide, ran eight times in the Olympic Trials and won four world masters championships.

Higdon offers sample training programs for several different distances, including 5K, 8K, 10K, 15K, half marathon, and a marathon training program for experienced runners that can only run 3 times per week.

I completed Higdon’s 10K novice program, which is available here:

I am now working my way through the Intermediate program, available here:

I like Higdon’s training plans because he gives advice on resting, tempo runs, speedwork, proper warming up before running, how to incorporate stretching and strength exercises into running training, what types of cross training will benefit runners and how to run long runs.

What 5K or 10K training plan are your following?