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Archive for May, 2009

Jumper’s Knee: Symptoms, Treatment, and Prevention (2 of 2)

Wednesday, May 20th, 2009

I’m back baby!  Back on the trail, the streets (check out this mapping tool to help you plan your street run), and any other surface you put me on, I’m going to run on it.  I ran yesterday for the first time in 2 weeks and felt like a kid on Christmas morning, excited with anticipation of presents but restraining myself from ripping through them (well, ripping through my knee).  I had to pace myself.  I only ran 4 miles.  However, I’m also like a kid in that my eyes are bigger than my stomach, or in this case, my mind is faster than my current conditioning.  I went ahead and ran at my previous 4 mile pace.  I did have some pain in my knees but nothing major.  Here’s how to get back to running like me after experiencing jumper’s knee.

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Once you’ve been diagnosed with jumper’s knee you need to treat it.

Ice: Apply ice to your knee for 20 to 30 minutes every 3 or 4 hours for 2 to 3 days until the pain and swelling go down.  Don’t have 2 or 3 days to sit around and ice yourself every 3 hours?  Then make sure you ice them after you run at the least.

Anti-Inflammatory Medication: Take some Tylenol or Advil to help the swelling go down as well as give you the ability to do knee exercises without pain.  Knee strengthening is important.

Wear a Band: Wear a band across the patellar tendon, called an infrapatellar strap, which will support your patellar tendon and prevent it from becoming overused.  You overdo everything.  I bought a couple of “Adjustable Knee Straps” at my local drugstore for about 15 bucks.  They really help.  Plus I think they look kind of cool.  Like a sweat bands for your knees!

Arch Support: Stop trying to do everything on your own and get some support, well, for your arches at least.  This is especially true for overpronators like myself.  Some running shoes already have arch support but you may need to add more support or even add archs to your normal chillin’ shoes.  Wait.  You have shoes that are made for other things than running?  Always chillin’.

Once you get back on your feet (I know, I’m funny) you don’t want to get patellar tendonitis again.  So how do you avoid it?  Well, patellar tendonitis is caused by overuse of the knee from jumping, running uphill, or biking uphill.  You aren’t going to avoid running uphills but there are some other things you can avoid doing such as squatting (we have toilets in America to help you avoid this), excessive bending, sitting “Indian” style (what an offensive term, have you ever seen a Native American sit like this?  I didn’t think so.), kneeling directly on your knee caps (unless you are “taking cover”, in this case go ahead and kneel or better yet, lay flat on the ground), excessive stairs, riding a bike with a low seat, or using the breaststroke when swimming.  See, its easy to avoid these painful activites.  Make sure you gently stretch before and after exercising too.  Lastly, probably the most important action you can take is to strengthen you thigh muscles.  This takes pressure off your patellar tendon.  Thunder thighs are so hot right now.  Jumper’s knee is lame.

Jumper’s Knee: Symptoms, Treatment, and Prevention (1 of 2)

Tuesday, May 19th, 2009

So my self prognosis was close, I don’t have runner’s knee, I have jumper’s knee.  It makes sense, even though I am a runner, I used to be a jumper when I was in the 82nd Airborne Division.  My knee was X-rayed and examined by an Orthopedic doctor who specializes in sports medicine.  He said he had dealt with a lot of runners and he seemed to know what he was talking about.  The thing that makes me the most confident in his prognosis though is that he listened.  Before he said anything he listened to my problem, asked me how I was feeling, and what kind of activities I had been doing before even touching my knee.  Anyone can go to school for years, memorize all sorts of facts, take out student loans, make decisions that affect other people’s health, and wear long white coats but it takes a true genius to listen.  More importantly, listen to me, I’ve got so much great stuff to say!  Wait.  If it takes a genius to listen, but I have important things to say…Here’s what Jumper’s Knee is all about:

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Jumper’s Knee, or Patellar Tendonitis for you scientists types, is the inflammation to the band of tissue that connects the knee cap to the shin bone.  Otherwise known as that long, skin colored piece on the right in the picture above going over the knee cap.  Jumper’s Knee can be developed from a number of repeated activities such as jumping (also see trampoline knee), running, walking, or bicycling.  Also, some people may develop jumper’s knee who have problems with the way their hips, legs, knees, or feet align.

Some of the symptoms of jumper’s knee include pain and tenderness around the patellar tendon, swelling in knee joint, pain with jumping or running, pain with bending or straightening the leg, or tenderness in the knee-cap.  I personally have three of these five symptoms.  The main symptom that lead me to go to the doctor, my knee giving out on an easy run, the doctor said is not a symptom usually seen in Jumper’s Knee.  Go figure.  This brings me back to knowing your body.  No two people’s symptoms are the same, even for the same injury, so no matter what, it takes some self-prognosis or self-awareness.

Click here to learn more about the treatment and prevention of jumper’s knee.  Overall, the doctor gave me clearance to begin running again which if nothing else, gives me the confidence to get back out there and run without severely injuring myself.  I’m going to take it easy, do some swimming and stationary bike to supplement my running.  I want nothing more than to lace up and run 20 miles right now but I have to hold myself back.  I will also be doing some physical therapy twice a week for 4 weeks which should help.  Before I start a training plan, I will be testing my knee this long weekend on a trail running trip and running a fun 5K in Raleigh, NC called the Skirt Chasers.  You’re lucky I have a bum knee ladies.

XTERRA Georgia Trail Run Series – Deep South 15K, Dauset Trails

Monday, May 18th, 2009

It’s time to get Dirty again with Dirty Spokes Productions, LLC’s next event, the 2nd Annual Deep South 15K at the Dauset Trails in Jackson, GA on June 7th.  It’s almost like you don’t need SeriousRunning.com to find awesome trails to run because Dirty Spokes Productions, LLC does the work for you by hosting trail races on all the best trails in Georgia and Alabama in their XTERRA Trail Race Series Georgia/Alabama.  Notice I said you almost don’t need SeriousRunning.com’s trail run listings.

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The Dauset Trail System is a 17 mile system that is a great trail run for all levels of trail runners from beginner to expert. This is a single and double track off-road running experience with beautiful scenery. The race will start in an open field (required for spacing) but will soon lead into the woods. The terrain is made up of a little bit of everything, rolling hills, climbs, single track, double track, roots, gravel and concrete drive along with some technical sections. The trails are well marked and fast with minimal climbing. This is a beautiful course that offers something for every runner. Variety and beauty?  I’ve been seeking that my whole life!

Make the Deep South 15K a family weekend trip!  The Dauset Nature Center has a lot to offer families of all ages.  There are farm animals at the barnyard exhibit, a “wonder room” with alligators, turtles, and snakes, or you can search for wildlife on your own by hiking the animal trail where you will find hawks, owls, raccoons, bison, and bobcats!  Like to view your wildlife in a more relaxed setting?  Perfect.  Sit at the picnic tables overlooking the lake while your children feed the large bream, catfish, turtles, ducks, and Canadian geese from the bridge.  You can even bring your own horse and hike the 10 miles of horse trails.  Stay the weekend in the campgrounds and have a family fun weekend.  Don’t have a family yet?  That’s ok, bring your significant other and get married or even re-married at the beautiful chapel.  How romantic.  You know what’s even more romantic?  Running a 15K trail race for your honeymoon.  Awe yeah.  You dog you.

Bottom line, you don’t want to miss this trail race.  I’ve run many of the Dirty Spokes produced XTERRA Georgia Trail Run Series Races and each one is superb.  The trails are great and the organization is like a well oiled machine.  There are always plenty of restrooms, post race food and drink, and quick race results.  I like to be able to brag about how fast I ran as soon as possible.  Always a good time and a lot of fun trail racers to socialize with post race.  Great race director, great racers, and great trails, what else do you want?  Sorry, only you can determine whether or not you run a great race.

Go ahead and register online or print off a registration form and send it in the mail.  The entry fee is $35 from now until May 27th so you have 9 days to get your significant other to want to re-marry you.  If you aren’t that smooth, you can register by June 5th for $40 or on race day for $45.  See, it pays to plan ahead.  What do you get for this entry fee other than the experience of running one of the best trail runs in Georgia?  A Zorrel Dri Balance Race Shirt; but those aren’t guaranteed for late registration so hurry up and register.  Want more?  Then run fast.  Awards are handed out to the top 3 overall male and female finishers plus the top 3 male and female finishers in each age group.  Here are the age group categories.

‘Ditch the city’ and run the XTERRA Georgia Trail Run Series Deep South 15K.  You’ll be glad you did.

Learning from the Running Techniques of the Tarahumara Indians

Sunday, May 17th, 2009

After being injured for the first time in 17 years of running I’ve been searching for ways to become a more efficient runner.  I am intrigued by the new movement to run barefoot like the human body was made to run, landing more on the middle of the front of the foot than on the heel, where most shoe manufacturers place most of their cushion.  It’s a bad economy, it’s time to get back to the basics, why not cut out buying running shoes and start running barefoot?  Because that’s just silly.  Go purchase some running shoes here.  When researching barefoot running I came across the Tarahumara Indians of the Sierra Madre Occidental in Northwest Mexico.  These runners have always been about the basics and guess what; they’ve never been in a recession.  Stop complaining, give up all of your worldly possessions, and never be in a recession.  Just be prepared for a 30% successful birth rate.

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The Tarahumara live in a rugged land which is often not able to be travelled by horse or wagon so traveling by foot is the best option.  They usually travel at 50-80 miles per day at “race pace” which I would guess is probably faster than your race pace.  Pretty much running two marathons a day is their job.  What did I tell you?  Marathons are recession proof and business is always good for the Tarahumaras.  Become one and you’ll no longer have to work at a bar or casino!  Don’t act like you don’t enjoy it.  The reason the Tarahumaras run about two marathons a day is because their job is to chase animals, often until the animals drop from exhaustion.  Humans were built for running long distances on trails.  Even Usain Bolt can’t outrun a cheetah or many other animals, but there is no species that can outrun humans over long distances.  Plus we’re better looking than any other species.  Well, some of us are.

So how do you run like a Tarahumara?  Only eat complex carbohydrates, don’t train, and smoke and drink before races.  See, you can do that.  To be exact, a diet of the Tarahumara consists of about 80% complex carbohydrates, 10% protein, and 10% fat.  They primarily use their livestock for manure to grow corn and other plants to eat.  Runners should remember that carbohydrates are our friends.  I eat tons of carbohydrates because my body needs them from running long distances.  After losing 30 pounds, I then began running longer distances and began feeling fatigued.  The nutritionist I was dating at the time told me I should add some more carbohydrates to my diet of canned tuna and chicken.  Genius!  So I ventured out to consuming cans of Spaghetti O’s to get some carbohydrates.  The point here is to feed your body what it needs.  Don’t worry about each and every thing you put in your body, counting calories and tracking which ones you burn, just give your body the energy it needs to work.  Get your energy from a can like me and Popeye!

Also, don’t train, like the the Tarahumara Indians.  More specifically, don’t over think your running.  The Tarahumara Indians do not teach their children at a young age how to run, they just begin running.  Running farther and farther as their life goes on, learning techniques and becoming more efficient every time they run.  You don’t need to over think about your technique or efficiency, just run.  Focus on that.  Simple enough?

Lastly, drink, smoke, and avoid contact with the opposite sex before a race like the Tarahumara Indians.  I know, usually the drink leads to your contact with the opposite sex but use your best judgment, or your best judgment at the time, and avoid this contact before a race.  The point here is not that you necessarily need to smoke or drink before a race, but that you need to relax before a race.  I once had a friend tell me that because a race start was pushed back 15 minutes he became de-hydrated during the race.  He was at a perfect hydration level for the normal start time.  Does that 15 minutes really matter?  Do those two beers you had 48 hours or even 24 hours before the race really affect your running?  Does that pack of cigarettes you smoked the day before a race matter?  Well, probably, but most likely more so because you already smoked a pack of cigarettes a day for a month prior to the race.  The point is, don’t sweat the little things.  Just run your best and don’t think about anything else you may have done prior to the race like the Tarahumara Indians do.  Just run your best.

Get back to the basics like the Tarahumara Indians.  They’ve survived for centuries for a reason, because they run.

Top Ten Running Blogs

Saturday, May 16th, 2009

Number 1-10 top running blogs all appear on  Serious Running Blog:  Running Down A Dream.  Weird.

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Well, the fact is, I’m awesome.  I realized just exactly how awesome I am the other day while I was going through all of my old blog posts.  I saw that there are some really great ones that you may have missed in the early days of SeriousRunning.com.  So I thought I’d give you an opportunity to read the top 10 running blog posts on SeriousRunning.com:

1.  Running Shoe Laces:  Does Longer Mean Better?

2.  Does Weather Affect Sore Joints from Running?

3.  What is a Runner’s High?

4.  Mental Race Tips for Competitive Running

5.  Effects of Alcohol on Running

6.  Nocturnal Leg Cramps from Running

7.  Running Outside your Comfort Zone

8.  Cheering and Yelling Encouragement to Racing Runners

9.  How I became a Serious Runner

10.  Let’s Do Lunch!  Healthy Socializing and Running!

Well there you have it.  Top 10 running blog posts ever.  I chose these blogs as my “best’ because they were inquisitive or pretty funny.  I also write about trail running, races, techniques, health issues, and so forth, but those posts are more informative than the thought provoking blog posts on this list.  I know there may be some discrepancies about what you think my best blogs are.  I really wanted to choose the top 100 but decided that would take too long.  Next time.

Seriously though, thank you to everyone who reads, makes comments, and learns from SeriousRunning Blog:  Running Down A Dream.  It’s all about learning and engaging.  Well, more engaging for me since I know everything.  I have a website.

Please feel free to contact me with any other topics you would like me to research or discuss.  SeriousRunning.com is for runner’s by runners.  Enjoy!

Runner’s Knee – Signs, Symptoms, and Treatment

Friday, May 15th, 2009

So as I sit here, not running, resting, waiting for my doctor’s appointment I decided to take matters into my own hands, by self-prognosis.  Nothing against doctors, they obviously have a greater understanding of the human body than I do, but I have a greater understanding of my individual body than they do.  The doctor is probably going to write down my symptoms and Google them anyways.  Why not I do it myself?  I know everything Google knows.  The prognosis?  I have runner’s knee (makes sense).  I am going to a specialist doctor on Monday to confirm.  When I do, I’m going to act like I’ve never heard of the Internet.  I don’t want to offend the delicate genius.  Here’s the deal on Runner’s Knee:

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Runner’s knee is also called chondromalacia patellan which is a general term indicating cartilage under the knee cap.  Some of the symptoms are:  if your knee hurts walking up stairs, hurts when sitting for long periods of time, or when you kneel on one knee (my knee hurts just thinking about someone telling me to ‘take a knee’).  It often affects young, otherwise healthy athletes, usually more so in women.  Also runners with knock-knees or flat feet are more susceptible to getting runner’s knee.  Also, really cool and radical individuals are susceptible to runner’s knee.  I’ll let you guess which category I fall in.

Runners with chondromalacia patella have abnormal patellar tracking toward the outer side of the fermur.  This off-kilter pathway creates friction in the undersurface which causes inflammation.  In order words, the deep cartilage in the knees is getting worn, leading to the bones in the joint to rub against each other more.  These changes in the deepest layers of cartilage cause blistering on the surface cartilage, giving runners the discomfort.

Don’t fret (I’m not) this condition is capable of repair.  When you feel the first signs of runner’s knee you need to rest and ice your knees.  Genius.  If this doesn’t work go see your doctor.  You may need to adhere to some physical therapy to built the cartilage back up in your knees.  You’re doctor has a brochure showing you how to do this.  In the worse cases surgery may be needed for definitive treatment.

We’ll see how it goes for me on Monday but until then I’ll continue to do what the doctor is more than likely going to tell me to do for treatment anyway, rest.  Doctors are experts and serve a purpose but no one knows your body like you do.  You just have to ‘Listen to Your Heart’ when you’re ‘Runnin’ Down a Dream’ even though ‘The Waiting is the Hardest Part.’  Thanks Tom.

Run to Lower Your Health Care Cost

Thursday, May 14th, 2009

Here’s a good reason to start running, it saves you money.  Brilliant!  Add in some trail running and a website that is free to access that information and you’ve got value while building your wealth; what a combination!  You’ve heard someone say, “Well, at least he has his health.”  That’s because being sick is so expensive.  I came across an article yesterday about President Obama praising REI for their employee health care practices.  President Obama is so extreme.  He said:

Besides offering insurance to part-time workers, REI, according to a statement from the White House, “offers employees support for outdoor activities ranging from outdoor gear and apparel discounts, free rentals, and outdoor challenge grants.  REI employees can earn extra healthy lifestyle dollars to put toward the cost of coverage by engaging in specific “good behaviors,” such as getting regular aerobic exercise.  REI also supports personal health goals and provides equipment support, discounts, and time off so employees can achieve their goals.”

This is a great policy and I, like President Obama, applaud REI.  They understand the extra time off or discounts on equipment actually saves them money in the long-run because of the decrease in health care benefit costs.  Large American automobile manufacturers are learning this lesson the hard way right now with high health care costs to retired employees contributing to their bankruptcy.  Companies must encourage a healthy lifestyle now so their employees will live healthy later in life.  For the general population, look no further than Jazzercise to remain healthy in your later years.  Jazzercise could be the answer.  It’s combines the power of Jazz with benefits exercise!

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REI is not the only company that encourages their employees to take better care of themselves, many organizations offer healthy meals and on site gyms in order to lower health care costs.  I am a big proponent of this.  Solve the issue before it becomes a problem.  It puts the ownership of caring for health back on the individual rather than relying on a program that incentivizes social loafing and well, loafing in general.  As a runner and an overall fit person I am not really into paying high insurance premiums to help other, less healthy people who can easily become more healthy, which would relieve the stress they are putting on the system.  Why isn’t there a “runner’s” health insurance policy available?  Because you don’t need it.  Reading this blog is insurance enough that you will healthy for years to come!

I commend REI for encouraging their employees to live healthier lifestyles.  A healthy employee is a happy employee; and costs less, which leads to a happy employer.  Everyone’s happy when you go running!

Trail Running Shoes Versus Road Running Shoes

Wednesday, May 13th, 2009

What’s the difference?  They’re both running shoes.  My brother wears trail running shoes both on the trails and on the road.  That doesn’t make it right though.  There are some types of running shoes that are in between the characteristics of a trail running and a road running shoe; they can run both ways.  There’s nothing wrong with that.  These type of shoes are so enlightened.

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If you run 20 miles a week or more, then you need to wear the correct shoe for the terrain you will be running on.   Trail Running shoes are built to be more rugged, like your chiseled facial features.  For instance, the soles are more rugged to not give way when you step on the roots or rocks.  Stepping on a root directly in the middle of your foot can cause serious injury, I’m not a podiatrist but I do use my feet a lot.  The toes in trail running shoes are reinforced to give extra protection from hard objects that may stub your toes.  Rocks are always getting in the way.  This extra protection lends trail running shoes to be generally heavier.  However, just like road running shoes you can buy trail running shoes that are built for performance, thus lighter, or you can go for a heavier shoe to control your pronation and give you extra protection.  Or you can buy some trail running shoes that are like me:  built for speed, but made for comfort.  You know it!

Trail Running shoes are also have different traction than road running shoes.  There are many different types of terrain and conditions you may encounter on a trail and you will need more traction.  Also, the treads on the bottom are built to prevent rocks from getting caught and to whisk mud away so it doesn’t stick to your shoes.  Stop giving mud a free ride.

Trail Running shoes are also typically more breathable and water proof.  When trail running most of the time you want to run straight through puddles and sometimes have to cross major streams.  You don’t want to run in soggy shoe for the rest of the trail so trail running shoes are built to dry quicker than road running shoes.  It feels really good to dry out.

Those are some of the major difference between trail running and road running shoes.  You can wear road running shoes on the trail, just like you can wear jean shorts to a wedding, but I wouldn’t recommend it; unless it is a wedding for University of Georgia graduate.  Then you may be a little overdressed.

Challenge your Body when not Running

Tuesday, May 12th, 2009

I injured my knee and have taken 7 days off of running with no improvement, so I went to the doctor to be referred to another doctor next week.  While I wait for my prognosis, I’ve begun to think about what I may do to take some of the pressure off my knees that the constant pounding of running creates; hopefully I will not need to.  Should I get on a bike?  I really don’t see the thrill in that.  Plus Pee Wee Herman loves bike.  Should I start swimming?  I’ve never felt like I can push myself to the limits in the water.  If you push yourself to exhaustion you drown, right?  What other things can I do to challenge myself and test my whole body instead of just pounding directly on my knees?  Adventure racing.

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I haven’t been on an adventure race challenge but have done most of the activities that they compete in when I was an Eagle Scout, outdoor loving teenager, and in the Army.  Shoot, I’ve “adventure raced” in enemy territory!  I thought about an adventure racer that I met not too long ago, Robyn Bennicasa, when she was promoting Project Athena.  I was able to find some races on the Project Athena website which look a lot like what I was thinking of, like the one coming up soon, the Mt. Whitney Challenge.  Hiking up a mountain for days?  That’s just like a long trail run, but with some climbing and more adventure involved of course.  Why stick to merely adding swimming and biking to running to do a trathalon?  I want to mountain bike, rock climb, and kayak, and everything else, all while blazing my own trail….just not in enemy territory this time.

$25 Dollar Gift Certificates On SeriousRunning.com!

Monday, May 11th, 2009

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I would like to give back to you, the user.  No, this isn’t a bailout, it’s a gift.  From SeriousRunning.com to you.   I know, I know, we already give you enough with our thought provoking blogs, over 650 National Trail Run Listings, extensive race listings, running shoe reviews, and running forum; but we still want to do this for you.  You are runners.  We are runners.  Cool.  Let’s hang out.

In order for SeriousRunning.com to be the best running information and trail running website we need your feedback.  Tell us what you thought about your last trail run, your favorite pair of running shoes, or the races you love to participate in every year!  Tell your fellow runners the best way to enjoy the sport.  I know, the feeling you get from helping others is gift enough, but we would like to offer you something more.

$25 Gift Certificate to Amazon.com or REI.com!

How do you earn a $25 Gift Certificate to Amazon.com or REI.com?  By participating.  From now until June 5th, the top four runners who add the most trail running information to seriousrunning.com will win a $25 Gift Certificate to either Amazon.com or REI.com!  Here’s how we will determine the winners:

Trail Run Listing:  3 pts

Trail Run Review:  2 pts

Trail Run Photo: 1 pt (max 5 pts per trail)

Running Shoe Review:  1 pt

Are you Serious?  We are, so for competition’s sake, I’m going to give you an additional $25 Gift Certificate if you score more overall points than I do, Chris Barber.  Remember all those blogs about mental toughness?  I wasn’t kidding.  Bring it.

In addition, I would like to offer you your very own SeriousRunning.com T-shirt!  You’ll be so hip.  Registered members are awarded points for their contributions to the running community here at SeriousRunning.com.  When you earn 150 total points, you have attained “Serious Runner” status.  Aren’t you proud?  Well, you’ll get your very own T-shirt that shows it, for free!  Want people to start taking you seriously?  Then wear a T-shirt that tells them you are serious…about running.  You’ll be so hot.

Help us, help you, help others.  It’s all about runners helping runners…and free stuff!