Yoga for Runners

Whether you are a competitive or recreational runner, tight and weak hamstrings can affect everyone and cause pain and injury among athletes. Yoga can be not only a relaxing and fun way to enhance your strength and release some muscle tension, it can also become a runner’s best friend. According to Katie Neitz of Runner’s World, “A simple yoga routine loosens tight spots, strengthens weak spots, and makes you a better, less injury-prone runner.”

The following pose provided by Kelle Walsh from Experience Life sets its focus on an athlete’s Adductor Magnus in order to “alleviate tightness, prevent hamstring injuries, and make it easier to activate the glutes.” This pose will allow runners to loosen up their muscles that are strained throughout their workout. Athletes can expect to see improvements both on and off the mat by participating in yoga. This pose designed specifically for runners along with many others can be a key component in bumping your workout performance up to the next level!

Target Area: Hamstrings

Pose: Standing Straddle Forward Fold 

When to perform: Post-workout or during recovery. 

 How to do it: 

  • Step your feet wide apart (about a leg’s length), with your feet parallel.
  • Walk your hands down your legs, and allow your torso to hang between your legs. You can bend your knees and rest your hands on the floor or a yoga block, if you choose.
  • Bend and stretch your legs a few times, and press down evenly through the bottoms of your feet to gently deepen the stretch. Then be still, and hold for five breaths.

Note: You can also perform this pose with feet turned inward about 30 degrees, internally rotating at the hips to deepen the stretch.

 

The next pose provided by Runner’s World aims at both stretching a commonly strained muscle as well as reducing the risk of injury.

Target Area: Shins and arches of feet

Pose: Toes Pose

Benefits: Prevention of plantar fasciitis—stretches out an athlete’s shins as well as the arches of the feet

How to do it:

  • Kneel on your mat with your toes curled under.
  • Sit back on your heels (you can place a yoga block or pillow between your heels and glutes).
  • Breathe deeply for 10 counts.
  • Point your toes, place your hands on the mat behind you, and lean back as you attempt to lift your knees off the mat. If your knees don’t come far up, don’t worry. You’ll still feel a nice stretch in your shins and arches.

CK

Works Cited
Neitz, Katie. Runner’s World. “Yoga for Runners.” http://www.runnersworld.com/the-body-shop/yoga-for-runners
Walsh, Kelle. Experience Life. “Yoga for Athletes: There’s a Pose for That!” https://experiencelife.com/article/theres-pose-for-that/

 

Running in the Rain

As runners, we have to be ready for almost every kind of weather situation.  This year, we have experienced almost every type of change in weather imaginable. Even though we keep our fingers crossed that we will have a dry and sunny run when we step outside, it doesn’t always work out that way. So, we wanted to remind you about a few things you can do to prep for a rainy run outside. Expect the unexpected, plan for the worst, and hope for the best! As they say in show business… The run must go on!

Tips for Running in the Rain:

  1. Wear the best ‘rain’ ready clothes – you have and say ‘NO’ to cotton. When shopping for running gear, make sure you purchase some items that are cotton free. Cotton tends to soak up water, and it will weigh you down when you begin running in the rain. Dress light! The clothes you use should be a bit tight or at least well-fitted because loose clothes in the rain and wind will become a bit uncomfortable as you get wetter. This will also reduce your chaffing. For your feet, treat them to the thinnest socks you have, no matter what your feet will get wet if it’s raining. If you have moisture-wicking socks, wear ‘em!
  2. Dress in layers if it’s cold, but be sure not to overdress. It’s important that you wear SMART layers. Wear enough to keep you comfortable throughout your run, but make sure you don’t get too hot as the run goes on. Wearing a wind shell made of a waterproof material as your top layer can be a great way to keep your core temperature up and hold in your body heat. This tip will be HUGE to consider if it’s raining or cold outside.
  3. Make yourself visible. Those “extra” neon clothes that you have been dying to wear might just come in handy after all. When it rains, it gets darker, making it harder for others to see you. Making sure you are always visible to cars and pedestrians is essential to ensure your safety during your run. Plus, when else are you going to get to wear those neon leggings?
  4. Reduce your chances of chafing excessively. Use bodyglide or petroleum jelly when you’re dry. Think about where you may have body parts rub against fabric or even against itself. If you decide to go with shorts, it might be a smart idea to throw on some compression shorts underneath to prevent the chaffing! Some places to consider: above the heel, toes, under arms, between thighs… we think you get the picture.
  5. Cover that head. One of the most annoying and distracting things is water dripping across your face while you are running. Keeping the water out of your eyes using a light runner’s cap or a visor will help you focus on the ground and the course ahead of you so you don’t stumble on anything or anyone.
  6. Get a grip! If the bottom of your shoes has a smooth, flat surface, you risk the chance of slipping while running. Having grooves in the soles of your shoes is a huge factor that can help you run faster, better, and safer. This will allow you to get a better overall grip on the road or sidewalk you are running.
  7. Glasses might not help you see. If you wear glasses, be sure to bring your windshield wipers. Just kidding, but be ready for them to fog up because of the rain. So, either wear your contacts or have something dry in your shorts (maybe inside of a plastic bag) to dry your glasses from time to time.
  8. Protect those electronics! Don’t forget to put that phone in a waterproof case or a Ziploc bag to make sure you don’t get water on your phone as you are running. After all, a damaged smart phone can make for a long rest of your run.

Stress and Its Effect on the Body

 

Stress affects all people in very different ways. Whether it be stress from your work, home, or relationships, stress can take both a physical and emotional toll on our bodies. It is important that we cope with stress in ways that are healthy and effective.

According to Mayo Clinic, stress can effect our body, mood, and behavior. Some examples of these include:

BODY

  • Headache
  • Muscle tension or pain
  • Chest pain
  • Fatigue
  • Change in sex drive
  • Stomach upset
  • Sleep problems

MOOD

  • Anxiety
  • Restlessness
  • Lack of motivation or focus
  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • Irritability or anger
  • Sadness or depression

BEHAVIOR

  • Overeating or undereating
  • Angry outbursts
  • Drug or alcohol abuse
  • Tobacco use
  • Social withdrawal
  • Exercising less often

 Your health and overall well-being are negatively affected by stress that comes from various aspects of your everyday life. It is important to become aware of these changes in your body, mood, or behavior in order to effectively cope with stress triggers.

Some activities for coping with stress:

Rest, meditation, yoga, spending time in nature, do something social with friends, take a walk, regular physical activity, deep breathing, etc.

While these coping techniques may be effective for many people in reducing stress levels, they may not work for everyone. If you have taken steps to reduce and better control your levels of stress and you still feel you need more, it is important to seek further help. High levels of stress can negatively affect our everyday lives, and it is important to take the appropriate measures in reducing it.

 

 

Works Cited:
Mayo Clinic. “Stress symptoms: Effects on your body and behavior.” http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/stress-symptoms/art-20050987?pg=1.

 

So…How Bad is Soda for You Really?

It’s no secret that anything consumed in excess is not healthy for your body, and soda is NO exception to this category. An intake of an excessive amount of soda, whether it be regular or diet, is unhealthy for your body. There have been numerous studies that show an evident link between high levels of soda intake and health problems. Some of these health problems include:

1) Weight Gain

2) Poor Dental Health

3) Diabetes

4) Cardiovascular Disease

The main issue that stems from high rates of soda intake is an excess amount of sugar. The calories from the sugar contained in soda are shown to turn into fat more easily as compared to calories from fat found in food. While you may get a temporary “sugar rush,” it is exactly that: temporary. Overall, there really is just no nutritional value from drinking soda.
Along with the issues of sugar comes the sodium and caffeine that is found in soda. These two components of soft drinks have been shown to increase a person’s risk at developing heart problems. According to Dr. Mary Ann McLaughlin, “caffeine can increase heart rate and blood pressure, and too much sodium over the course of the day can increase food retention.  This combination of caffeine and sodium has a dehydrating effect.”
So, while there is substantial evidence supporting the idea that soda is not recommended in a balanced and healthy diet, it is not necessary to cut soda out of your diet completely. By simply limiting your soda intake to 2-3 sodas per week, you can still enjoy your quick sugar fix without all of the added health problems that are associated with it. When it comes to consuming anything, whether it be food or drink moderation and balance are key. Anything eaten or consumed in small doses will not have a substantial impact on your health and well-being.

2017 Global Running Day Chicago – Information Center

Thank you for joining the Chicago Half Marathon/5K on Global Running Day! Global Running Day is a day to share your passion for the sport and inspire others to get moving! Below, you’ll find important details for today’s event.

About

Global Running Day

Million Kid Run

Event Information

Date: Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Location: The Plaza at Millennium Park (11 North Michigan Avenue)

Start: For the fun run, there are two options: 5 miles or 3 miles. We’ll start out in groups and ask that you gather in estimated pace. Don’t worry, we’ll have our announcer, the legendary Dave Kappas, help in gathering in your group. We’ll then have our beginners in the first start followed by our faster runners in the subsequent starts. Please be courteous to other runners and help anyone who may be new to running.

Schedule of Events

5:00 PM Check-In & Gear Check Opens

6:30 PM Start

7:00 PM Lagunitas Beer Garden and Snacks open at The Plaza at the Park

8:15 PM Gear Check Closes

 

Registration

You can still register online here or you can register, pending availibiliy, at the Registration tent inside the North tent starting at 5PM.

Bib Pick-Up

Please have your email confirmation and ID ready when picking up bib. This is a non-timed fun run. However, you will a custom event participant bib with your gear check tab, and ticket for complimentary beer. We ask that you wear your bib during the run.

Gear Check

The Gear Check tent will be located next to the New Registration tent inside the North tent. Please make sure to detach the your stub and tie it to the plastic bag provided.

Course Information

The Course is an out and back course starting at The Plaza at the Park heading to the Lakefront path to Museum Campus and back. With Global Running Day events occurring all over Chicago, please be courteous of the extra foot traffic on the Lakefront Path. Make sure to check out the course maps and accompanying turn by turn directions for your convenience. Turn arounds for both distances will be well marked.

Course Maps & Turn by Turns

Million Kid Run

In the spirit of Global Running Day, people of all different ages and abilities are encouraged to pledge to run. With these different age divisions comes one for the kids. The Million Kid Run is an aspect of Global Running Day that aims at getting one million kids from all over the globe to participate in running. The whole idea behind it is to get kids moving and keep them active. In 2016, there were over 600,000 kids who pledged to run (672,030 to be exact). Not bad for the first year the idea was introduced! This year, our goal is to increase that number even more.

While the concept of the Million Kid Run is one that was just recently introduced during Global Running Day in 2016, the initiative of getting kids to be more active was introduced years ago. In 2010, the campaign that aimed at reducing childhood obesity rates for the younger generation was introduced by President Obama. Leading this Let’s Move movement was first lady, Michelle Obama. The overall goal of this campaign sought to diminish obesity rates as well as raise awareness to this growing problem in a generation that our country was faced with. The health, fitness, and lifestyle of our youth is something that Michelle Obama has set out to improve.

“The physical and emotional health of an entire generation and the economic health and security of our nation is at stake.”

Obesity and health problems go hand in hand. A person who is obese faces the increased risk of chronic health problems including diabetes, cancer, high blood pressure, and heart problems. The Let’s Move initiative seeks to encourage a healthy and active lifestyle for kids all across the world in order to ensure that they are able to live their lives to the fullest potential. The Million Kid Run is no exception to this campaign. The Million Kid Run reinforces what Let’s Move stand for: a healthy and active lifestyle for all children.

Our event at the Grant Park Plaza is located in a family-friendly area, where we encourage people of all ages to come out and run. This day emphasizes the importance of running and staying active in a fun and carefree way. There is no winner or loser and no specified pace in which participants must run. This ensures that there is a simplified purpose behind the run: to see the fun side of fitness and a healthy lifestyle. We aim to inspire kids to celebrate a healthy and fun lifestyle with people from all around the world!

                          CK

 

“Global Running Day.” Global Running Day. N.p., n.d. Web. 31 May 2017.
National Archives and Records Administration. National Archives and Records Administration, n.d. Web. 31 May 2017.

Getting Back at It: How to Start Running Again Without Injury

Running has a reputation for being a high impact activity that can cause significant stress on the body. The risk of an overuse injury especially applies to those athletes preparing for longer distance events. Becoming more conscious in the training approach and taking certain preventative measures can assist with minimizing this risk.

Here are a few tips to consider when your runners’ high takes over:

Increase mileage gradually:

Amateur athletes are often overwhelmed by the distance. As an attempt to put their mind at ease before the big day, many will start running high mileage in training, months before their body is prepared to handle a lot of volume. Although this level of will and ambition is quite admirable, this strategy may lead to more harm than benefit.

Whether you’re a newbie, or are returning to your long-lost love for running, a slow progression will be the key to a successful season. To absorb the workload safely, you want to make certain the distance or intensity does not increase by more than 5-10% from one week to the next. For example, if the long run in week eight of a training plan was 10 miles, then in week nine it should not surpass 11 miles.


Hydrate ahead of time:

Unless you’re a sleep walker on a mission to keep your H2O levels in check throughout the night, chances are you will have fasted for at least 6 to 8 hours prior to waking up. This usually means that you’ll be in a slightly dehydrated state first thing in the morning. Even if you have a quick sip before heading out, this deficit is difficult to recover from, putting an additional stress on the body during your morning run.

Keep a glass of water within reach of your bed so that you can sip on throughout the night and another instantly upon waking up. Take in 6-8 ounces every 15-20 minutes of running, plus an additional 20-24 ounces within two hours of completing your workout.


Don’t just wait for your soreness to go away:

Running is a repetitive motion. Stressing the same muscle without much variation can cause uninvited soreness. A good way to reduce it is a simple rest and a full night’s sleep, but there are other helpful ways to enhance recovery:

  • Foam rolling to release tension and buffer out lactic acid buildup.
  • Taking a yoga class to help improve flexibility and increase range of motion.
  • Going for a bike ride to circulate the blood without the added impact.
  • Swimming laps to balance out strength deficiency and increase lung capacity.

Running Tip: How to Warm Up Properly

We can go back and forth about the pros and cons of stretching, undulating between necessity and pointless. One thing we can agree on is that stretching makes your body feel better – before and after! Here are some tips on how to warm up your body before your routine!

Don’t just jump out of your car and start stretching your legs. To minimize the risk of injury by activating the right muscles start with a walk or easy jog for at least 5 to 10 minutes and follow that with set of at least five full-body dynamic drills. This simple routine will allow your muscles, tendons, and ligaments to be more pliable (like a rubber band, not a brittle rope) when surging or putting out effort.

For an extra edge give the following a try:

LEG SWINGS (FRONT/BACK)
While standing tall on one leg, swing the opposite leg front to back while keeping it as straight as possible. Maintain a good posture while increasing range of motion of each swing. Use one arm extended to the side and hold on to a post or a tree for stability. (10 each)

LEG SWINGS (SIDE)
Face the post or tree and hold on to it with both arms for stability. You will swing one leg high across your body and using the momentum on the way down allow it to swing up in the opposite direction. (10 each)

BUTT-KICKS
Walk forward with a brisk back-kick so that your heels come up to your glutes. Alternate the kick with each step. (20 total)

WALKING LUNGES
Take a long stride forward keeping the front knee just behind your toes. Lower your body by dropping your back knee toward the ground, but just shy of touching it. Maintain an upright posture and keep your abdominal muscles tight with each step forward. (10 total)

LATERAL LUNGES
Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Step to the right and shift your weight toward the right foot, bending your right knee and pushing your hips back. Your left leg should be as straight as possible. Reach for your right foot with your left hand. Push off with your right foot to return to starting position and repeat in opposite direction. (10 total)

 

Photo courtesy of POPSUGAR Studios

Fit for Two: Exercising While Expecting

Olympic runner Alysia Montano competes in 2014 Track & Field Championship while 34 weeks pregnant

“Who Run the World?”

We have all heard the stories, passed down from generation to generation, of our sisters of old bearing children through everything from surviving the Ice Age and global epidemics, to colonization and traveling to new lands, to widespread industrialization and the chaotic modern career. Let’s face it, women are pretty resilient.

We understand, as with all things pregnancy, there are risks to placing exertion on growing life. Yet, pregnant women crossed the Wild West and spent weeks in jail for protesting for our right to vote (We see you, Emmeline Pankhurst.) So, why does there remain a stigma behind the contemporary fit and pregnant lifestyle?

The truth of the matter boils down to ill-informed word of mouth, misconceptions and outdated guidelines. There seems to have always been a dichotomy between what should or should not be done while carrying a child. “Pregnant women were traditionally told ‘don’t move’ and ‘eat for two,’” says Raul Artal, MD, chairman of the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Women’s Health at the St. Louis University School of Medicine.

Many myths and misconceptions about what is good and healthy for women and their unborn child have traditionally replaced information with trepidation: “There’s been a lot of fear, and that’s really been a disservice,” says Catherine Cram, MS, an exercise physiologist and coauthor with Tere Stouffer Drenth of Fit Pregnancy for Dummies (Wiley Publishing, 2004). Stories passed down from nosy neighbors to frantic, expectant mothers have perpetuated this cycle for years. Lack of accessible information coupled with archaic medicinal practices led to many misconceptions which have unfortunately carried over late into the 20th century.

New Age Information

Fast forwarding to the 1980’s, one forward thinking gentleman would embark on a journey whose work and studies continue to be analyzed and postulated to this day. James Clapp III, MD set out to study what he assumed would be the health risks associated with exercising during pregnancy. With his research many misconceptions, including the following, were put to rest:

  1. “Exercise can cause infertility, low birth weight, congenital abnormalities and preterm labor.”
  2. “Running and other forms of weight-bearing exercise can cause miscarriage.”
  3.  “Don’t exercise for more than 15 minutes at a time.”
  4. “Don’t start a new exercise regimen once you become pregnant.”

His work revolutionized the modern woman in a decade that was all about fitness (We see you Jane Fonda) and helped spread the word on a topic that had been, up until then, kept mum (pun intended).

With these misconceptions being put to rest, why do we continue to hear opposing advice from professionals? “Although the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) updated its guidelines in 2002, lifting most restrictions on exercise during pregnancy (including keeping your heart rate under 140), many healthcare providers still aren’t aware of the revisions” states Sheila Mulrooney Eldred for the Experience Life Magazine article, Fitness for 2.

Thanks to that other revolution of the 80’s (hello internet), this information became readily available and widespread. According to Clapp’s studies, which can be found in his book Exercising Through Your Pregnancy, there is a plethora of benefits to exercising while pregnant such as:

  • 50 percent less likely to need induced labor or to require Pitocin (synthetic oxytocin)
  • 50 percent less likely to need intervention because of abnormalities in the fetal heart rate
  • 75 percent less likely to need forceps or a cesarean section

Not to mention that these women tend to feel better about themselves during and after the pregnancy. In addition, Eldred continues: “Clapp discovered that the placentas of fit moms tend to function better, creating a better blood flow between mother and fetus. Exercising also increases blood volume in moms, preventing varicose veins and swelling.”

Now that you have the green light, what now?

We are not suggesting that you enroll in Extreme CrossFit with spiked boulders (please don’t) but you do have options on various exercise regimes from running to swimming in order to keep you active and fit while carrying your little bun in the oven. Release the fear of the past and embrace the possibility of the future. Eldred notes these following general guidelines:

  • Fuel up. Eat enough to satiate hunger, Clapp says – preferably in small, frequent meals balanced with proteins, complex carbohydrates and healthy fats, and preferably from whole-food sources.
  • Stay hydrated. Drink enough to keep your urine relatively clear (that’ll require approximately 91 ounces a day).
  • Be gentle with yourself. Expect to ease up here and there. Pregnancy, after all, will cause more dramatic changes in your body in a short period of time than anything else in your life. Your body is also putting a lot of energy and resources into making another body – not a trifling effort!
  • Rest as much as possible. Clapp suggests spending an extra hour at leisure for each hour you work out (in addition to your regular rest), and avoiding exercising to the point that you feel stressed out about it.
  • Adjust your athletic expectations. Regardless of your activity or fitness proficiency, it’s important to monitor the intensity of your exertion.

Pregnancy is a beautiful and cherished moment in a woman’s life. “I like to see women trusting their own bodies, and that’s what I generally advise them to do. There’s no reason to let everyone around you make you feel tentative about this really wonderful experience.” says Cram when asked for his best advice. While there are some changes that are forced upon us (until next time, Malbec…hello maternity clothes), exercise shouldn’t be one of them.

For the full article, please visit Experience Life, Fitness for 2 (Eldred, 2005).

Photo: Andy Lyons for Getty Images

2017 Chicagoland Series Medals

This past weekend, we unveiled the 2017 Chicago Spring Half Marathon and Chicago Half Marathon medals on their respective social media platforms to an uproar response! We are thrilled to see that you are just as excited for these events as we are. But, did you know that these medals are pieces of a whole? Check out the video below as we officially introduce the 2017 Chicagoland Series Challenge medal and see how they all come together to highlight the beauty and splendor of our beautiful city of Chicago! Will you take the challenge?

Official Medal Reveal Video

Chicago Spring Half Marathon

May 21, 2017

Chicago Half Marathon

September 24, 2017

2017 Chicagoland Series Challenge

The 2017 Chicagoland Series Medals