Bold Vigor

Be bold, become an active force of healthy growth. Find information and resources for fitness, health and positive habits on the Bold Vigor BLOG site.

Start on the right foot: Everything you need to get into running

Lela Moore writing for Today Health:

The place to invest is in your running shoes. "The most important piece of equipment for all runners is their shoes," said Michael Conlon, running coach and physical therapist at Finish Line Physical Therapy in New York City. Find a sports store that specializes in running shoes and apparel — some will even have you run on a treadmill while analyzing your gait to recommend the best style for you. 

Heeding the advice of his friend, Charlie plans to take a couple days off to rest and recover from his Shin Splints. He’s decided to put that time to use by doing some research to help him determine why he needs a new pair of shoes. He has been running in a pair of relatively new Nike training shoes. He likes them but his friend implied they could be contributing to his shin splints. He’s determined to find out why. While researching shoes, Charlie stumbled on this article. While it doesn’t offer much about specific running shoes it does provide some good information for beginning runners and stresses the importance of a good pair of shoes.

Charlie Gets Shin Splints

Pain flared with every step that Charlie took. Not dull pain, like that from overused, achey muscles. Sharp, hesitate and start to worry, pain. Charlie did just that. It confounded him. Yesterday he felt fine. A little lethargic on his run maybe but otherwise fine. He couldn't recall anything he felt or did that might have been a precursor to how he felt today. He reached down and gingerly rubbed his lower leg along his shinbone. It felt sore to the touch but otherwise seemed ok. No protruding bone fragments or anything. He exhaled relief and opted to see if it went away during the day. 

It didn't, though the pain did subside. He went from gimping around to walking gingerly to moving normally with a little pain as the day wore on. That encouraged him. He had settled into a nice running focused workout routine the past several weeks. His first worry had been that a prolonged injury would ruin what he'd accomplished. Now it seemed like a minor thing that he could work through. In fact, late in the afternoon he decided to sneak out for a run. 

At first it seemed like a good decision. He felt a little soreness but no worse than when he walked around. He settled into a comfortable pace. Before he’d gone a mile though the pain increased. He thought to run through it, but worry crept in. He considered consequences. What if he were making it worse with every step? He turned around and headed back to work.  

Head down dejected, he limped to the locker room, nearly colliding with a group headed out for run. The group included his friend Tim.

"Hey Charlie, you OK?" Tim asked from the back of the group?

It took a second for Charlie to spot Tim, he was one of about ten people heading out for a run. "Ya...well...I think."

"What's wrong?"

"I hurt my leg I guess. Not sure what I did though. Just woke up with it hurting."

Tim gave a little nod, "Where?"

Charlie reached for his lower leg.

"Shin splints." Another runner in the group said as soon as she realized he was moving toward his lower leg. 

"Shin what?" Charlie asked and looked at her.

"Shin splints." Tim repeated.

"I've had 'em." The woman who spoke earlier said. 

"Me too." Someone else in the group chimed in. He mentioned it as if it were a badge of honor.

"Yep, me too. They hurt." Another woman added. 

Most in the group started to move toward the door as if they were a group of interns that had just solved a medical issue and were on to the next one. 

"Wait," Charlie said to Tim as he walked passed. "What are shin splints?"

Tim stopped. "Oh, its pain in the muscle along the shinbone, usually from overuse. If you ice it and rest for a couple of days it should go away."

"You might want to get a new pair of shoes too," someone added as he moved passed Tim. 

Charlie and Tim both looked down. 

"And get a new pair of shoes." Tim said. "Those are awful for running."

They left him staring at his shoes. They were fairly new so he was left wondering what was so awful about them. 

***

One of the biggest challenges with starting something new is an associated lack of experience and knowledge. Tim and the other runners in his group where able to diagnose Charlie’s injury in a matter of seconds. Most runners have at least heard of shin splints and many have experienced them. But to Charlie it was something completely new. Shin splints are usually a result of overuse and often occur in runners that increase their activity. They can be painful, but in most cases can be treated with ice and rest. It’s an issue for Charlie but now that he knows whats causing his pain and how to treat it, he’s relieved. In his head he had jumped to worst case scenario’s and caused himself undue stress. He could tackle this problem. Of course his conversation left him with another concern for which he lacked knowledge. That is, the issue with his shoes. Next up we’ll help Charlie understand the problem and then find a better solution.

Could you write your shopping list in 2 minutes?

Jules Clancy writing on her Stonesoup blog:

If you’re used to planning your meals, writing a list and buying what’s on the list, I can imagine that shopping at the farmers market would be frustrating.

Traipsing from stall to stall trying to find what you need isn’t much fun.

I know because that’s how I used to shop. But over the years I found a better way…

To answer the question in the title, not a chance! If you’ve read any of the What’s Cooking posts on this site, you know about my trials and tribulations at the grocery store. I use apps that help me organize items to better navigate the grocery store and get frustrated if there is any inconsistency in the store setup. I can’t imagine just buying some ingredients and making a meal as Clancy suggests in her post. Still, it would be nice to be able to do so. Might be a good time to purchase her 2 Minute Meal Plan eCookbook. It’s 48% off for a short time after all.

The Sugar in Your Favorite Fruits

Lizzie Fuhr posted a helpful chart on the Popsugar fitness site. In her words:

Fresh fruit is a healthy way to satisfy your sweet tooth — either all on its own, as a yogurt topping, or blended to a smoothie or shake. If you're active and healthy, having too much fructose (the sugar from fruit) probably doesn't need to be a big concern of yours. However, if you're at risk for diabetes or trying to cut back on sugar in general, this handy chart will help you out.

It’s interesting to see the sugar amounts in the various fruits listed in the chart. Awareness is always good. None of this is suggesting that you should eat less fruit because it contains a lot of sugar though. Fruits contain important nutrients and tend to break down slowly compared to processed sugars, minimizing the negative effects as explained by Kris Gunnars in this Authority Nutrition post. 

Debunking 6 Health Myths Your Mom Warned You About: Gum Doesn’t Stay In Your Stomach For Years

Here’s some fun friday information from Lecia Bushak writing for Medical Daily:

Fortunately, your digestive system is pretty efficient. It's built to break food down within hours, so it's highly improbable that a piece of gum would somehow remain "stuck" in the lining of your stomach for years. Gum is made up of four main components; flavorings, sweeteners, and softeners are easily broken down in the intestines, while the gum base is a bit tougher. But that, too, ultimately goes down the route to waste once the digestive system recognizes it as useless to the body. However, in very rare cases, swallowing several pieces of gum in a short time period could cause digestive blockages. But this is incredibly rare.

Seven years. That’s what I remember about the length of time that gum will stay in your stomach. To this day I still get a shiver of worry if I accidentally swallow a piece of gum. Sure, I know it’s not true, but…On the flip side I am sad to report that I tell my family they are more susceptible to colds when chilled. When I think about it, I know it just isn’t true but I was told that enough myself growing up that it is ingrained. Habits are hard to make (and to break)…

What's Cooking! Change is Hard

So, I was out of town last weekend and thus had a reprieve from my weekend cooking duties and more importantly from the grocery store visit. Thank goodness too because my last visit to the grocery store wasn’t pleasant. Ok, so none of the visits are pleasant per se, but this was one had me feeling like I stepped into a scene from the Twilight Zone. I’m dating myself on that reference aren’t I? 

The point is I was all discombobulated. Lost. Confused. Like a bear that woke up in January. Why? Because since my previous visit they changed everything around. Complete aisles rearranged. Why would they do that? The main reason I shop at that grocery store is because I finally know where to find everything. Well, most everything. But not now. Now everything was…different. I felt betrayed. Jilted. This relationship was in serious jeopardy. How could I ever trust again. 

Ah, hell, where else was I going to go. If I left my store for another it would be just as unfamiliar. I was trapped. Forced to find my way. It took a couple criss-cross trips through the store and quite a few expletives but I muddled through. And you know what? I’ll go back to the same store this weekend. Habits are hard to break, but if they ever do that again…

Hey, how about some good news. It’s finally warming up! We even got to 70 one day this week. Seventy! You know what I thought about right away? Grilling. I like grilling. It’s so easy. None of this ingredient stuff. Throw some meat on one side of the grill and some veggies on the other and you have a meal. Perfect. Unfortunately the weather looks a little iffy for this weekend so I need a backup plan. 

With that in mind, for my first meal I’m going with this Lemon and Garlic Chicken With Spiced Spinach. Martha Rose Shulman posted this one on The New York Times Health page. I like it because I can grill the chicken if the weather permits but can cook it on the stove if not. Plus it sounds tasty.

As a second option I’m going with This Miso Soup with Enoki Mushrooms. This recipe came by way of Diane Henry on the The Telegraph site. We’re big sushi fans in our house and everyone loves the Miso soup so it should be a hit. But because we are used to it as an appetizer before sushi it feels like we need something to go along with the soup. I’m opting for this Lettuce Wrap recipe posted on the Food Network site by Melissa d’Arabian. 

As always, you can look for a review next week. Hopefully I can find everything I need in the grocery store.

Nope, Running Isn't Going to Shorten Your Lifespan

Erin Beresini writing for Outside Online:

A week ago, the Internet lit up with a headline that rocked runners. There were many variations, but it went something like this: Study suggests too much running causes shorter lifespan. The headline was wrong.

Anyone following the “how much is too much” debate might’ve thought the stories were reposted from 2012, when cardiologist James O’Keefe published an article in Mayo Clinic Proceedings claiming that long-term excessive endurance exercise—marathons, ultramarathons, Ironmans—may remodel the heart in a harmful way. 

O’Keefe’s revelation garnered a lot of press, but it was a hypothesis with little science behind it. In fact, O’Keefe’s line of thought resembled something like a DirecTV commercial: When your cable company keeps you on hold, you get angry. When you’re angry, you go blow off steam. And so on and so forth until you end up in a roadside ditch.

I saw a number of headlines related to this last week but truthfully didn’t pay it much attention. Some I noticed focused on the excessive endurance component. Fine. Common sense suggests that if you take anything to excess it could be detrimental to your health. This article doesn’t try to refute that but it does bring into question the studies around how much is excessive. 

The bigger issue are articles that spun this to suggest that even moderate exercise could be detrimental to lifespan. I saw more than a few headlines like “Jogging could actually be BAD for you” and “Running can shorten your life, study says.” You can search on these names to find actual articles but the links aren’t provided here because I dislike sites that spin things just to get traffic. 

The thing is, even if it were true; even if some broad and detailed study found that running, that exercise of any kind, lead to a shorter lifespan I wouldn’t stop. Why? Because it is about more than lifespan. It’s about quality of life. 

We know that for the vast majority exercise, including running, improves quality of life. Studies have suggested it but more importantly, common sense validates that it’s true. Have you ever heard someone suggest they are in too good a shape? Ok, and mean it. Unlikely. An awful lot of people talk about improving their health though. About wanting to exercise more. Because inherently we know it is good for us. 

Sure there are outliers. People that do all the wrong things and live long lives. They are exceptions. Lottery winners. It happens but it’s unlikely that it will for you and me. We need exercise to maintain or improve our quality of life. Most of us will probably never have to worry about excessive endurance exercise but if we do my guess is that most of us will have a good sense of how much is to much. Slighted studies be damned, I still want to run a marathon someday.

UConn NCAA Sweep

Congratulations to the UConn women's basketball team. They finished out the perfect season emphatically with a big win over Notre Dame. Great season. Great Tournament. And heck of an achievement. 

Don't Believe The Heel Strike Hype

James Dunne writing on the Kinetic Revolution site:

I’ve been banging on for quite some time now about my frustration with the running and triathlon media. Far too frequently I read yet another ill informed article describing running with a forefoot or midfoot strike as the universal solution to unlocking your most efficient, injury-free running form.

Many of these articles seem to paint a very black and white picture, that running with a heel strike is bad should be avoided to run to your potential.

I get it. There’s no doubt currently something cool for magazines to be writing about barefoot / minimalist / midfoot / forefoot running, and the technique encouraged by these styles. The influential running footwear manufacturers with minimalist products to sell, will of course also be keen for such pieces to be written!

Unfortunately though, life (and in particular running gait) isn’t ever about one size fits all solutions…

This is a good article and well worth the read. It is definitely focused more towards competitive athletes. Not necessarily professional athletes, but those competing on a regular basis. While weekend warriors might not worry much about strike patterns, the information on running style and the implications on the shoes we buy offers real value.  

I know first hand how the media can mislead. About a year ago I bought a new pair of shoes and nearly went all in on zero drop, minimalist running shoes. Luckily, though prodded by the media hype, I did my research before making the purchase. I’m a heel striker. I know this not because I’ve had any formal analysis of my running style but rather from the wear on the sole of my shoes. Switching to minimalist shoes would mean changing my running style. At this point in the game, I struggle to find an hour a day to get a workout completed. Changing my running style isn’t in the cards. Switching to shoes that encourage a forefoot strike would have been frustrating at the least and possibly caused injury at the worst because I would have forced myself into a change that I wasn’t prepared to make.

As the article mentions, there isn’t a one size fits all. I’m not saying that you wouldn’t benefit from the change. I’m just saying to do your research before you do. Just as important, consider where you’re at in your fitness life. For me, it just wasn’t realistic to think that I’d be able to rebuild my running style just because the media was ‘banging on’ about the negative effects of heel striking.

UConn National Champs

Congratulations to the NCAA National Champion UConn Huskies. It wasn't the prettiest game of the tourney but UConn showed their grit and determination in the win. Can the UConn women double up the NCAA hardware tomorrow and finish out the perfect season?  

How To Start Riding Your Bike

Elly Blue writing on the Bicycling site:

This isn’t the question I’m asked most often, but it’s the one I’m asked most timidly, earnestly, and in the quietest tones. And it’s been one of the most difficult to answer. Even though I began riding as an adult, the habits of bicycle transportation are so ingrained in my psyche and daily life that it’s hard to remember what it was like not to ride.

As someone that started riding a road bike for exercise within the past few years I can tell you that I went through some trepidation before starting. First, if you don’t have a decent road bike a new one can be costly. A good entry level bike will set you back between a thousand and fifteen hundred dollars. Then there are the accessories. Shoes, shorts, pedals, bottles and cages, it is costly to get started. 

Even if you have the equipment or know what you want and need, the actual riding can be intimidating. Once I had the equipment, my biggest challenge was finding safe routes either with light auto traffic or with wide shoulders for cyclists. Fortunately we have a lot of bike friendly areas in Minnesota but I didn’t know good routes and distances so felt insecure about riding alone. Luckily I have a friend nearby that has cycled for a long time. He was happy to have someone to ride with on occasion and showed me a lot of good and safe routes of varying distances. I still ride with him often but am now comfortable riding on my own as well. If you don’t know someone that rides, I’d suggest joining a riding group at least until you are comfortable with routes in your area.

Charlie's Fitness App Incentive

Charlie stepped outside into a bright, sunlit day. For a moment he just basked in the warmth. Face up, joyous, like a sunflower. He could have done nothing more and been content. Such is the power of a spring day after a long winter. Finally, he took a deep, relaxing breath. Focused. Then started walking. 

He fiddled with his running app. Lingered in the walk. He had plenty of time before his next meeting, perhaps that contributed to his lack of urgency.  He contemplated. Realized he felt comfortable in shorts and a long sleeved shirt. Not cold. Not even chilled. The porridge was just right. Charlie smiled then set his music to artist, Cloud Cult. Bright music for a bright day. He checked the GPS signal and pushed the begin run button, then tucked the phone into a pocket and broke into a happy trot. 

For the past week Charlie had used an app to track his workouts. Initially he just wanted to know the distance of his running routes. Ok, and pace too. He tried to convince himself that pace didn’t matter but he checked it after every run. It was kind of like checking a lottery ticket. He knew he probably wouldn’t be any faster than the previous day, but he still hoped. 

The interesting thing about the app is that it incentivized him. He knew he’d run five out of the last eight days. Knew that he had put in 13.62 miles in those five runs. He wanted to keep adding to the total. Thought about getting to 100 miles. One hundred miles. It seemed like a lot but watching the miles add up it now seemed possible. The app, or more appropriately, the feedback from the app motivated him. 

Charlie jogged along. The song Journey of the Featherless started playing. A happy, uptempo song that caused him to pick up the pace a bit. He wanted to sing along:

They say that I’m a lunatic
They say that I am full of it
I say that it’s worth dreaming
Just for the dream of it
It’s all about passion
It’s all about perception
Don’t call me on my cell phone
‘Cause there ain’t no reception when I’m gone

Before the song ended, the app interrupted to indicate he’d completed a mile. Current pace 8:14 per mile. What? As far as Charlie knew that was the fastest he’d ever run a mile before. He felt good. Strong. He tried to keep it going.

The entire route was mostly flat but it had a nice gradual downhill portion in the second mile. Charlie used that to his advantage. He kept pushing. Now that he was focused on the app it seemed like it took forever to reach the second mile marker. He started to wonder if the app stopped working. Finally it spoke. Average pace, 8:12 per mile. Even faster! Charlie kept pushing. 

He knew the route was just under three miles. He decided he wanted it to be a full three miles and so added on a little loop on a park trail. By the time he left the park though, the faster pace started to wear on him. He kept trying to push the pace but he could feel himself start to slow. With about a half mile left his legs felt heavy, like he was running through water. He considered walking. Tried to convinced himself to keep running.

The song Running With the Wolves started playing. Perfect. Charlie rumbled along. He knew his pace had fallen off but he kept going. All the way to the finish line he thought. He focused on the song:

We were running for a reason
For the burning in our veins
We were running for a reason
Just need to get away

Just as soon as the app started providing feedback at the three mile mark, Charlie stopped. He was nearly walking anyway. He bent over with his hands on his knees. Winded, almost gasping for air. Happy. Very happy. 

His last mile was significantly slower at 8:32, but his overall pace was just under twenty five minutes. Definitely a personal best for both miles and time. He was getting in shape. Making good on his New Years promise to himself. His expectations had changed a lot in the past few months but he was making progress. Building the habit. The new fitness app helped a lot. Provided a reference to his progress and an incentive to keep going. It took a few minutes to catch his breath but he didn’t mind. His body felt tired. He felt great.

Cardio vs. Resistance Training: Which is Healthier?

The Health Hub from Cleveland Clinic site asks the question:

You may have a favorite exercise routine. Or you may want to start exercising more. Wonder whether it’s better to purchase a gym membership, sign up for an aerobics class or buy free weights and resistance bands to use at home? We asked our exercise physiologists — who understand the mechanisms and impact of physical activity on health and fitness — whether cardiovascular or resistance training had the edge.

No real surprise in the answer, but the chart the breaks down key benefits of both cardiovascular and resistance training is helpful. Bottom line is that you should do both as they offer different benefits.

Does "mindfulness meditation" really help relieve stress and anxiety?

Dr. Anthony Komaroff writing on his Ask Doctor K blog:

Other research has found that mindfulness meditation may help treat heart disease and high blood pressure. It may alleviate chronic pain, sleep problems and gastrointestinal difficulties. And it may help prevent relapse in people who have had several episodes of depression.

Mindfulness is the practice of focusing attention on what is happening in the present. And — importantly –accepting it without judgment.

One of the goals of mindfulness is to enhance your appreciation of simple, everyday experiences. By learning to focus on the here and now, you are less likely to get caught up in worries about the future or regrets over the past.

I don’t know many people that practice meditation regularly, but the few I do know swear by it. This article implies that studies show that it does help. Either way, it seems, in this case anyway, that if you think it helps, it helps. There is no harm that can come from meditation and focusing on the present to help relieve worries of what has happened and what might happen. Like most things though, the challenge is in making the time to build the habit.

What Supplements Should I Take?

Steve Kamb writing on his Nerd Fitness site:

There is no magic bullet that will cure all of your problems.

Any advertisement or commercial that tells you their supplement will help you lose weight or build muscle rapidly without making any other changes is full of sh**!

They want to sell you the power up without bothering to tell you the importance of learning to play the game.

Unfortunately, this is what far too many people do: Eat like crap. Sleep poorly. Skip exercise. Then take a bunch of pills designed to ‘cure’ the issues associated with that lifestyle…instead of TAKING STEPS TO FIX THE LIFESTYLE!  They look for the quick fix with minimal effort.

This is a long article, but well worth the read. The bottom line is that most people don’t need to take supplements of any sort. As mentioned in the article, there is no substitute for regular exercise and a healthy diet. More work, yes but you're sure to improve your health. Most supplements will get you nothing but another bill to pay.