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Posts Tagged ‘marathon training’

Summer HEAT: How to Run, Train, and Race!

Summer Heat: How to Run, Train, and Race!

Ambassador Blogger: Meghan Kennihan

MeghanKennihan-bio_pic

 

Medi-Dyne Ambassador: Meghan Kennihan

@TrainWithMeghan

It’s that time again. The hottest part of the summer.  Heat is probably one of the worst uncontrollable elements runners face. The effects of heat and humidity on your training and racing not only cause suffering in the moment but also hinder your recovery.

The Problems with HEAT:

Sweat and Fluid Loss:

Running in the heat causes your core body temperature to rise which means you start to feel worse and worse just like when you have a fever. Heat impacts runners at a physiological level through dehydration, increased heart rate, and reduced blood flow/oxygen to the muscles used for running. Your body cools itself and maintains balance through sweat. Sweat has a cooling effect on the body because it removes excess heat through evaporation. However, the rate of evaporation and how well the body is cooled depends on the humidity. When humidity is low, evaporation increases and you will be able to cool yourself better but you will be losing fluid quickly. When humidity is high, evaporation decreases, less cooling occurs and you suffer even more. The fluid loss and dehydration from fluid loss also effects running performance, a loss of 2% of body weight leads to about 4-6% drop in performance.

Heart Rate and Blood Flow:

Another problem is that temperature and humidity increase your heart rate and amplify these effects. At 60-75 degrees your heart rate increases by 2-4 beats per minute. From 75-90 degrees it can increase up to 10 beats per minute and the humidity will make it increase even more. Rate of perceived exertion are much greater as temperature and humidity rise too. Making matters worse is that when you sweat your blood volume decreases which means  less blood returns to your heart, less reaches your hard working muscles and  you produce less energy. This will cause you to run slower at a given effort level.  For every 10 degree increase in air temperature above 55 degrees there is a 1.5-3% increase in average finishing time for a marathon. (i.e. An extra 3-6 minutes for a 3:30 marathon with every 10 degree increase).  Another issue is that when the heat needs to be dissipated, a lot of the blood also gets diverted to the skin.  Again, the oxygen is redirected via blood flow to your skin instead of your muscles, thus you have less energy for running and your heart and lungs have to work harder to make up for the loss. Higher heart rate at a set pace and higher perceived exertion are the result.

Slow Recovery:

Heat and humidity effect your recovery too! After you exercise in hot conditions, your body needs to spend more energy on cooling itself rather than delivering nutrients to your muscles who need the repair. The muscles have been damaged by the workout but  can’t get the nutrients they need to repair  and recovery is slower. Slower recovery can mean that you might not be ready for  your next hard workout or race.

Enough of the BAD NEWS! Let’s figure out what to do about it!

Train in the Heat:

Training alone provides a bit of an adaption because a side effect of running is an increase in total plasma volume and blood which plays an important role in the cooling process, so the fittest athletes typically have the highest plasma volume and can therefore adapt more easily to heat. Running in hot conditions can result in making it easier to maintain a faster pace, reduce rate of perceived exertion, higher blood plasma volume, increased sweat rate, decrease in salt in sweat, reduced heart rate at a given pace and temperature, and a quicker onset of sweating.  How about that for some great changes just from training? And bonus! it only about 2 weeks of heat exposure. Still, heat acclimatization can only take you so far…

Adjust Your Pace Expectations:

It is smart to adjust expectations when running in the heat… learn to adjust the level of effort or intensity based on what your body is signaling to you.  It’s important that you find ways to adjust your workout times and race paces to reflect how you’ll perform in hot conditions. There are plenty of “temperature” calculators for running where you enter your race times and the temperature and they will adjust your expectations for you. Thank you technology!

Hydrate Properly:

Staying hydrated is essential to your run performance and training.  Dehydration in athletes leads to fatigue, headaches, decreased coordination, and muscle cramping. In extreme cases heat exhaustion and heatstroke, can occur. Runners need to pay attention to what and how much they’re drinking before, during and after exercise especially in the hot summer months.

 Before Your Runs:

If you are training or racing for an hour or more it’s important to make sure you are well hydrated for a few days before. How do you know you are well-hydrated? You should eliminate pale urine at least six times a day. In days leading up to your long run, race, or hard training day make sure you drink plenty of water and nonalcoholic beverages. Alcohol Before your run drink about 16 ounces of water or electrolyte drink like Nuun or coconut water.

During Your Runs:

Drinking on the Run is EASY just drink to thirst. Scientific evidence says that drinking when you’re thirsty can help prevent underhydrating or overhydrating.

Research has shown that sports drinks enhance performance significantly more than plain water in high-intensity and long-duration runs and races.
Some good sports drinks are Nuun, Osmo, Skratch Labs, and Hammer Nutrition.

Your Unique Sweat Rate:

Everyone’s fluid needs are different. The above guidelines are general but some sweat more than others. If you want to get scientific about your hydration needs. You can determine your sweat rate by weighing yourself naked before one of your training runs, and then again after. One pound of weight loss equals 1 pint of water loss. Calculate your sweat rate and use this to determine your fluid needs during a run or race. For example, if you lose 3 pounds during an hour run, that’s 3 pints or 48 ounces. So having about 8 ounces of water every 20 minutes would be helpful to your performance. Weather conditions will also affect your sweat rate and hydration needs so doing this test in different temperatures will provide you with even more accurate results.

After Your Run:

Drink 20 to 24 fl oz. of water for every pound lost after your run. If your urine is dark yellow, you need to keep rehydrating. It should be a light lemonade color.

Dress the Part:

 Dress appropriately for the weather. Your running clothes including your socks should be light in color and made of a wicking technical fiber. Technical fabrics pull moisture away from your body, keeping you cooler. Try to avoid 100% cotton, these fabrics absorb sweat and do not dry quickly which weighs down the clothing and can cause chafing. Make sure you apply 2Toms to all possible chafing areas like toes, heels, nipples, between the legs to ensure a comfortable run.

Pre-Cooling:

Another technique is pre-cooling. Pre-cooling is a technique that is used to lower your core body temperature before running. This ideally extends the amount of time you can run before your core temperature raises so high that it hurts your performance. Recent studies have shown that pre-cooling can significantly improve performance in hot and humid conditions. One study reported that pre-cooling can boost performance by 16%.  The best way to pre-cool is with a cooling vest that you wear 10-20 minutes before your run or race. However, if you don’t have the money for a vest you can eat a freeze pop or frozen sports drink slushy 10-20 minutes before your run. Another option is using frozen towels on your head and neck on your way to the track or trailhead.

You can do EVERYTHING I have mentioned above but when it comes down to the bottom line. It’s YOUR ATTITUDE. Instead of getting discouraged because you have to train, run, or race in the heat realize that everyone is dealing with the same conditions and have faith in yourself and have FUN! Be grateful you are running!

 

About Meghan:

Meghan is a USA Track & Field coach and a RRCA (Road Runners of America) certified distance coach. She is a certified personal trainer through the National Academy of Sports Medicine and a level 3 USA Cycling Coach. She has over 12 years of experience teaching spin classes, weight-lifting, and group exercise. Meghan is also an experienced runner, ultrarunner, and triathlete competing, winning, and placing in 5Ks, 10Ks, half-marathons, marathons, ultra distances, and triathlons. She also holds multiple state Powerlifting records. Learn more about Meghan www.trainwithmeghan.com

Medi-Dyne is proud to have Meghan as an Athlete Ambassador.

RangeRoller: Hard to Reach Muscles

Chuck Swanson is a runner/athlete born and raised in Lincoln, Nebraska.   He runs a couple marathons and 3-6 road races every year, and he intends to run an ultra marathon (50 miles) in the near future.  Chuck’s training includes 30-60 miles of running each week, increasing during peak training times.

As a runner, Chuck has suffered many aches and pains. His list includes fighting issues with; illiotibial band syndrome (ITBS or IT Band Syndrome), plantar fasciitis, calf strains and tight calf muscles, as well as Medial Collateral Ligament (MCL) issues, to name a few. Chuck was given the opportunity to use and review the RangeRoller, for deep tissue massage therapy. Here is what Chuck said;

“I like the RangeRoller’s ability to help get those sore spots that need a little ‘TLC’.  The RangeRoller is easy to use and is easy to take to races, both close and far away.  It is easily cleaned up and is compact and effective.

massage stick for calf pain tight calvesI use the RangeRoller to get to those spots that my foam roller can’t reach or get to.  It is a great item to help with this because of the raised pieces [Trigger Treads] that allow for a more ART [Active Release Technique] type therapy.  I am able to get out the soreness and muscle trauma spots with ease.  I also use the RangeRoller at races to help get my muscles loose and warmed up before my races, in addition to dynamic stretches and jogging/running.

I use the RangeRoller at home, in my car (close local races), and at the hotel/motel (farther destination type races).  Outside or inside the product is easy to use, and can be used anywhere you want really.

RangeRoller massage for foot painThe RangeRoller can sometimes pull the hair out of my legs when I use it, but the rewards far exceed the pain!

This product is unique and I didn’t really have anything similar to it.  I use a foam roller and the RangeRoller together because they work similar but are great compliments to one another.  I was in the market and ready to purchase The Stick and saw a tweet that intervened, the rest is history.  I am glad I was able to get the RangeRoller to try and am definitely a fan.

illiotibial band massage rollerI would definitely recommend this product to a friend.  I would recommend it because I have ZERO doubts that it has helped me go through my first training cycle for a marathon injury free.  I have always encountered some type of injury that has caused me to miss at least a week of training in every marathon I have run (8 total).  This training cycle has been different and I have honestly never felt better health wise.

The RangeRoller has helped with my chronic ITBS issues and calf issues.  Paired with my foam roller and Bio Freeze, it works hand in hand with getting me out to train and doing it injury free. “

For more information on deep tissue massage therapy or to purchase the RangeRoller visit www.medi-dyne.com.

Aches and Pains of a Beginner Biker

Craig DiGiovanni. VP of Sales & Marketing, Medi-Dyne Healthcare Products. Avid Runner. Marathoner. Wannabe Triathlete.

The word beginner in the title is important, because that is what I am.   Of course I have ridden a bicycle almost my entire life, but not for very long stretches of time at a constant speed.   I have recently taken up more serious cycling, both to help improve my running and to allow me to possibly compete in some triathlons.    Quite frankly, I have really enjoyed the process of getting out and riding more.   There is something very therapeutic about riding a bike, in addition to some great exercise.    Based on some research, it also is supposed to enhance my running times.

What I didn’t fully expect when I started biking was that the muscles I used would be quite different than those I used while running or swimming.    After running the OKC Memorial Marathon, my quads were by far the sorest muscles post-race. Cue the need for biking, which helps to build up the quad muscles.  However, my quads weren’t the muscles that ached the most following my first long bike rides.    The muscles that ached the most were in my upper and lower back.  Big surprise?   Not really.   Being bent over handles bars for a couple of hours is sure to put a strain on your lower back and even my upper back, right between my shoulder blades.

The reoccurring back pain and lower back muscle tightness I experienced quickly brought on a need for some back stretches.   The good news here is that I have access to one of the premier back stretching devices available, the CoreStretch. The CoreStretch’s simple but unique design easily targeted the stiff areas including my upper and lower back.   There have been some great reviews from cyclists about the CoreStretch, but now I really get it.   Not only do I see the additional need for core strengthening when it comes to cycling, but also for core stretching as an integral part of biking.

There were a few stretches that really helped me get rid of my post-cycling back pain. These included; the crossed hands stretch and also the lower back/hamstring stretch.   Those two in particular seem to give me the most relief for the areas that take the most stress while I cycle.   My future biking plans will definitely include pre and post ride stretching with the CoreStretch to make sure I get the most out of each ride both physically and mentally!

For more information on the CoreStretch or for instructional videos or brochures visit www.medi-dyne.com.

Beat the Heat, Run Faster!

Craig DiGiovanni. VP of Sales & Marketing, Medi-Dyne Healthcare Products. Avid Runner. Marathoner. Wannabe Triathlete.

Sound enticing?   Let me assure you, it is.  Now, I am from Texas and beating the heat is something we deal with often.   However, it seems that this is becoming a bigger and bigger issue as more people move into the sun-belt areas, and summers everywhere seem to be hotter than normal.

So what do I do to beat the heat? Well, I have gotten on the quest to lower my marathon time which involves changing my training schedule and routine.   One of the suggested changes is to incorporate other activities to compliment my running.   The purpose of this is to continue working on cardiovascular strength but to also reduce some of the wear and tear that running causes the body to experience, while helping build some of the muscles that get neglected when running.   Some of the recommended activities are biking and swimming. (This is also why Triathlons have become so popular).

First, biking: I love riding bikes.   Riding bikes has been something I have enjoyed all my life, more as a kid than as an adult.   However, that is changing because I have started biking more seriously, and enjoy it just as much as when I was a kid.   The additional benefit now though is I not only get to enjoy it, but I am also making it work as good exercise as well.

The unique thing about riding a bike when it is hot out is that, because you are moving at higher speeds, you are able to keep your body cooler.    So, even though it is hot out, the heat is much less of a factor than when I am running.   The caution here is that fluid replacement is a bit deceiving.   Because you are having more air pass over your skin, the appearance of sweating isn’t as prevalent as running, however, fluid loss can still be significant.   So a word of advice is to be extra cautious about the rate of fluid replacement when riding a bike.  The good news is that drinking and riding aren’t nearly as taxing on my stomach as when I run.

Now swimming: a great way to beat the heat!   In the summer you have the option of indoor and outdoor pools, lakes and oceans can also be good resources.   I have personally joined a Master’s swim program which I highly recommend.  Not only do you get a better workout but you also get some good instruction that can significantly help your form.   By improving your form you improve your efficiency and time as well as your level of enjoyment.   I personally love swimming outdoors with the sun shining.   Something about being in the water on a sunny day makes for a great workout, no matter how hot or hard the workout.   If you do swim outdoors, I would recommend tinted goggles.   Looking into the sun on your breathing can be a bit of a problem!

So, incorporating either or both of these routines in to your running program will help you not only beat the heat, but may also help lower your running times!           

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Race Recovery

Race Recovery: Overcoming post-race aches and pains.

Craig DiGiovanni. VP of Sales & Marketing, Medi-Dyne Healthcare Products. Avid Runner. Newly Accomplished Marathoner.

Ok, it just goes to show: you REALLY don’t know what running a marathon is really about until you’ve run a marathon.   I thought I had a pretty good idea since I have been a runner most of my life, running some 5K’s, completing my first half, building my long runs up, etc.  Little did I know, 26.2 miles will really impact your body.   No matter how you shake it, 26.2 is a long ways and your body takes a beating getting it done.

There is a lot of information out there about what to do when preparing for and running a marathon, but not so much on what you should do following the race.    I heard some people say things here and there, but didn’t give too much attention to their suggestions since I hadn’t been there yet.   Now that I have been there, I certainly have a much better idea.

Here is my Marathon Race Recovery “To-Do List” that I will be using after my next race.  (Yes I said “next one”!  Painful as it was, I plan on doing it again!)

  1. Don’t Stop Moving!   I have heard people “joke” about that before, but now I get it.   If you stop, sit down, lay down, etc., plan on being there a while.   My body tightened up more than Scrooge at Christmas.
  2. Have Tools Handy! With regards to #1 – I will definitely have my ProStretch Plus available for after the race.  Nothing was tighter than my calves.   I couldn’t stretch them enough after the race.   My bet is you could almost make a living renting your ProStretch out after races for people to stretch their calves.  (Not a bad idea…will have to look into that one.)
  3. Roll Out! Muscle rolling is perfect for all the other parts of your body that were hurting. You will want a hand held roller available unless your personal masseuse is there to assist you.  My favorite of course, the RangeRoller, was great for hitting all my other sore areas besides my calves.   My quads were tight and my RangeRoller was ready for the job.   Not sure I would recommend a foam roller at that point; for starters laying on it after the race seems problematic (see #1 again) and not being able to control the intensity due to exhaustion may prove to be painful!
  4. Keep Drinking! Fluids are important during the race, but right after is just as important.
  5. Refuel!  For those people eating cheeseburgers right after the race…..not sure how you did that.   I am certainly not worthy.   Having some light food like bananas and yogurt seemed to get me headed in the right direction though.
  6. Cool Down After! Staying close to the race was nice.   Even my wife thanked me for that one.  A nice hot shower was great.   It got the sweat off and got me feeling normal again.  Bath might have been nice, but I am not sure I could have gotten out. J
  7. Take Some Ibuprofen! I am not a big proponent of medication, but a little ibuprofen after the race helped take the edge off of things.
  8. Be Comfortable! I had a long car rides afterwards, where I had my foot in an awkward position driving home for 3 hours. I paid for that one.  My foot hurt for 2 weeks afterwards from where I was resting on it.

Well, that is my new “To-Do” list for post race recovery.   I hope you find some of my tips useful and pain preventing!   Share with me some of your tips for race recovery by leaving a comment. Whether your training for about to finish a race, good luck!

Once Bitten, Twice Shy.

Craig’s Corner: “Wild” encounters on the running trails.

Craig DiGiovanni. VP of Sales & Marketing, Medi-Dyne Healthcare Products. Avid Runner. Wannabe Marathoner.

The sad story here is that I think I jinxed myself into getting bit.   Just yesterday, I was thinking about all my “wildlife” run-ins during my running and training this year for the OKC Memorial Marathon. I thought to myself, “I haven’t had an encounter with a coyote in a while.”  Well little did I know I would have more than one wildlife encounter in one morning.

Sure enough Sunnie, my running buddy and dog, and I started our run one morning and we weren’t 200 yards in when I hear this yipping and barking. We were close to where we head down to the trails we run on, and it sounded kind of like a dog but a little different.   Then…..the howling starts.  There must have been a pack of them and they were LOUD, PROUD and CLOSE.   Needless to say, our running route quickly changed.  (I was thankful at this point to have my Garmin GPS watch so it didn’t matter – we just forged a new path).

So change we did, and had a great run, although ultimately more than I bargained for.   The temperature was in the mid 50’s, no wind, the change in scenery was nice and ultimately my times were good. Of course, Sunnie managed to find more mud puddles to run in (she really is like a kid in that respect…almost magnetized to them) and post run she grudgingly readied for her bath.  You should see how pathetic she drops her head and tail and slowly walks over to her spot.   You would think she is on the way to her execution or something.  Now you are probably thinking this is where the “bite” comes in.    No, not yet. Sunnie only bites me when we wrestle and play.

After I had Sunnie cleaned up, I did my post run stretching and went inside.  I wasn’t inside but a minute when out of nowhere, Dracula (at least that’s what I named it) bites me on the back of the neck.   I quickly swatted Dracula, and then pulled what appeared to be a little spider (or something).   It fell off my hand onto the floor, keep in mind it is still early AM…and dark everywhere. Thankfully I have my head lamp on to hunt it down. Upon further inspection I realized that it was a tick!  Well that gave me the creeps, especially since it was still alive after being swatted to oblivion.   That didn’t last much longer though because I squashed it to beyond oblivion.

Anyway, I can only assume that my “alternate route” lead me to pick up a passenger—either running under a tree or from puddle-magnet Sunnie.    All day every little itch or prick I felt seemed to catch my attention. That particular spot where I was bit, well, I keep thinking about it and can almost feel it.  In the end, I think I can truly say that I better understand the saying “once bitten, twice shy”.   And shy I will be for some time wondering if I will jinx myself again, if I will soon be the victim of another “Dracula” after a morning training session.

Transitioning to Minimalist Running

This is the story of how Kabri became a runner, and the tricks and tools she used along the way. Read more about her running story in Part 1 and Part 2.

Part 3: Transitioning to Minimalist Running

Using Medi-Dyne during the transition to minimalist running.

Three years ago, I began training for my very first half marathon. Little did I know that my journey of becoming a “runner” was just beginning.

If you’re just tuning in, I am an advocate of stretching and massage for runners. How do I know all of the benefits of stretching and massage now? And why didn’t I incorporate these great Medi-Dyne products into my recovery and maintenance three years ago?

Well besides the fact that hindsight is always 20-20, I was recently able to put my newly-acquired ProStretch Plus and RangeRoller tools to the test while I was transitioning back to minimalist running. You see, the popular “barefoot” trend requires a runner to build up their foot, ankle and knee muscles. You must build up your muscles and expose them to the shock and stresses that a cushioned sneaker may have absorbed in the past. This transition takes time and patience to avoid injury, and is similar in many ways to the muscle development that takes place while trail running.

After moving to San Francisco over a year ago, I transitioned from running on mostly trails to road running. The city’s hills kept my leg muscles strengthened, but I was quickly losing the strong muscular protection I had built up around my knee and ankle joints.  In order to maintain the muscular support my joints had worked so hard to establish, I decided that I would slowly transition into a pair of popular “barefoot” style shoes. On my first runs I found that first, I absolutely loved being able to feel the road under the soles of my feet—my toes having to grab for the road. Secondly, by landing on the forefront of my feet, my calves were tightening up as quickly and as painfully as when I initially started trail running.

To promote healthy muscle growth and alleviate the soreness, I would do a concentrated stretching routine with my ProStretch Plus after each run, focusing on not only my calves, but also my Achilles tendons. I found that this newly experienced “tightness” would travel down my Achilles and into the bottom of my feet. By simply adjusting the angle and wedge on my ProStretch Plus, I was able to increase the flexibility of not only my calves and hamstrings, but also my arches and toes.

In short, I believe that injury prevention and muscle growth can be facilitated by the proper stretching of overly-tight muscles and by “combing” out the knots that develop in damaged muscle fibers, promoting renewed blood flow and muscle repair. I have found the ProStretch Plus and RangeRoller to be my two key tools for ongoing maintenance in my trail and minimalist road running interests. This year I look forward to setting a new road marathon PR at the Oakland and San Francisco Marathons! Finish strong!

For more information on the ProStretch Plus or RangeRoller visit www.medi-dyne.com.

Race Day Reflections

Craig’s Corner: Reflections from my first marathon.

Craig DiGiovanni. VP of Sales & Marketing, Medi-Dyne Healthcare Products. Avid Runner. Wannabe Marathoner.

Well, we did it. My wife, Courtney, and I successfully completed the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon this past April. We finished our first marathon.

First, I want to congratulate Oklahoma City on a wonderful marathon.   The race had excellent organization and communication, and the overall city-wide support was inspiring.   Not only was this our family’s first Marathon, but I also think it was so special because we were running to honor those 168 people who lost their lives in the OKC bombing. I’d like to give a special “Thank You” to all of those people who have selflessly rallied to help victims and their families.   The people of OKC have turned tragic hatred into a positive celebration of good and community.  They should be proud of that.

The 26.2 miles course was a nice course.   There was plenty of diversity and support along the way.  (Although, I do wish there were a few less hills…I thought OKC was flat!)   As I reflect on the marathon, I realize there are great parallels between life and running a marathon.

Here are my top 10 reflections;

  • Enjoy the journey. The journey of preparing for the race was just as rewarding, if not more, than the race itself.   Of course that is the story of life too isn’t it?   Don’t make the mistake of not enjoying and appreciating the journey.   It is the journey that prepares you and helps you to appreciate the ultimate destination, whether in life or in marathons.
  • Set goals, and see them through. To get the most out of life, it is best to have a goal and a plan to achieve it.  The same goes with running a marathon: have a plan, stick to it both in training and during the race.
  • The more the merrier! The more people you train and do the event with the more enjoyable the experience. Life is meant to be shared, that includes running marathons!  I am so grateful to my wife for training with me and running each step of the marathon with me.  The benefits of that are for another blog.
  • Be flexible, yet determined. You never know what life might throw at you, just like you never know what the marathon day might be like. Be prepared to run in any weather, and know ahead of time that you are running no matter what!
  • Stay hydrated. Water is a key element to our bodies.   During long runs and the race itself it is important to drink fluids…but as in life, be careful not to drink too much!
  • Early bird gets the worm. I think I said this one before but I will say it again, get to the race early.  Get warmed up and prepared, into the right “corral” and give yourself the time to enjoy the atmosphere!
  • Pace yourself. Life is not a sprint and neither is a marathon…at least not for common folk like me.  26.2 miles is truly a long distance to run.   Rely on your training and pace yourself!
  • Just do it, participate. There is so much to life and so many ways to enjoy it.  There are also many ways to enjoy running events besides running the whole 26.2.  There is the half marathon, the marathon relay, the 5K fun run and walk, and also volunteering to help support, cheer, or organize the race.  There is something for everyone at every level.
  • Stay Positive. Positive encouragement cannot be valued enough in life and in running. I really enjoyed reading the fun and encouraging signs of supporters along the race. One read, “Run total stranger, run!” Positivity is contagious. Don’t feel too shy to high five the cheering child, or wave at the supporting spectator along the way. Positivity can go both ways.
  • Overcome to succeed.  Running, like life, has its set-backs.  But just like life, there is always a new day just around the corner. Focusing on many of the following reflections (positivity, goals, flexibility, partners, the journey, etc.) are simple ways to overcome training or race-day set-backs.

There are certainly many more memories and reflections but those are my top 10.   There were some really funny and inspiring moments that I might have to write about later, but for now I hope you can use some of my reflections to get the most out of your next race.

ProStretch Plus: A True Innovation in Pain Prevention

Necessity Is the Mother of Invention

The ProStretch was originally developed by an auto mechanic who was rehabbing a knee injury.  Over time he realized that the brake shoe from a car was the best thing he could find for stretching out his calf muscles, while building flexibility and range of motion back in to his calf muscles and lower leg.   He became passionate about how well it worked, passionate enough to want to share his discovery. From necessity and passion was born The Original ProStretch.

ProStretch Joins the Medi-Dyne Family of Products

In 1998 Medi-Dyne acquired the Tuli’s product line.  In discussions with the original Tuli’s® Classic Heel Cup inventor, San Diego podiatrist Dr. Murray Davidson, we quickly learned how important stretching was to the health of the calf muscles and the prevention of the many injuries associated with the lower leg, including Plantar Fasciitis, Achillies tendonitis, calf strains, and  shin splints.  So we began to look for the most effective solution to provide the long-term relief and stretching that would complement the immediate relief provided by the Tuli’s Heel Cups and other Tuli’s products.  When we found The Original ProStretch in 2003 we knew we had found the best lower leg stretching device available then and for the next 20 years!

Building on Success

As is the case with all Medi-Dyne products, we constantly solicit feedback from medical professionals, professional and amateur athletes, and all users on ways we can improve the product, usage experience, and end results.  While the ProStretch (also known as the StepStretch in some retail outlets) was a great product, it had some shortcomings.

  1. One Size Doesn’t Fit All
    The Original ProStretch is great, but it is a “one-size-fits-all” product.  Unfortunately, people are not one size fits all.
  2. People’s Feet Are Getting Larger
    It’s true. Once, a man’s size 14 would have been considered the footprint of a giant. But what was seen as enormous is apparently becoming quite normal. The average man’s shoe has gone up a full size in the past five years. The Original ProStretch just wasn’t built to accommodate the growing majority.
  3. Room For Improvement
    Many people suffer from Achilles tendonitis, plantar fasciitis, tight calves or shin splints. These pain sufferers were in need of a solution that would maximize the stretch felt along the interconnective chain of the lower leg. We realized that we could improve the stretch by elevating the toes during stretch.

We went about re-engineering the ProStretch to be bigger, stronger, lighter, and customizable, while offering a deeper stretch.   When it was all said and done, the ProStretch Plus was born.   For a complete review of all of our ProStretch products visit: www.medi-dyne.com.

Trying is Believing

We have had more people fall in love with the ProStretch and ProStretch Plus than any other product, simply by standing on it.  Just check out these “before and after” user video reviews.

What makes the ProStretch Plus work so well?  A few things. It is biomechanically shaped to put your foot in the optimal stretching position to get the best results.   Combining that with the rocker bottom, you get the best calf stretch, along with progressive and constant pressure that gives you an unsurpassed lower leg stretch.

Nothing works better, not a curb, not a wall, not a slant board, nothing. The ProStretch has been medical proven to stretch the calf better than conventional methods – Please see the following study posted on our website, “Comparison of Two Methods of Stretching the Gastrocnemius and Their Effects on Ankle Range of Motion Karen Maloney Backstrorn, C Forsyth. B. Walden”.   You can also read unsolicited testimonials at www.medi-dyne.com.

For more information on the ProStretch Plus or ProStretch visit http://www.medi-dyne.com/estore/.

Running in the Wild

Craig’s Corner: “Hooters”

Craig DiGiovanni. VP of Sales & Marketing, Medi-Dyne Healthcare Products. Avid Runner. Wannabe Marathoner.

If you are thinking this is about a restaurant chain or anything related, you are seriously wrong.  I am referring to the original “hooters”—our feathery owl friends!   Yes, this is the next installment of my “wildlife” experience, sightings of critters while training for the OKC Memorial Marathon.

Last week my running buddy, Sunnie (my dog) and I stepped out into the garage, ready to head out for our morning run. Once in the garage, we were met by a very loud “Who, Who, Who, WhOOOOO”.   I looked down at Sunnie, and I think our eyes were probably as big as the owl’s! It sounded like the “hooter” was in the building.

A man’s best running buddy. My dog, Sunnie, runs with me every morning.

Realizing it was an owl, I opened the garage door fully expecting that the act would scare it away because it had to be really close.   To my surprise, no sooner had the door finished opening than we were covered with an even louder, “Who, Who, Who, WhOOOOO”.   This time the first “hooter” was followed by a second and then a third, “Who, Who, Who, WhOOOOO”.   It was a full blown “hooter” convention around my driveway!
I promptly got out my flash light and shined the light at the first and closest “hooter”.   The owl was sitting on top of my neighbor’s house not 20 yards from me.   It turned its head (eerily like owls do) and looked at me and Sunnie.    We didn’t seem to bother it much because it turned back and “Who, Who, Who, WhOOOOO’d” again. We watched the owl and listened to the others respond a few more times and then decided it was time to go run.

Ok ok, this may not be my neighborhood…but you get the picture!

The morning encounter with these “hooters” definitely had me on edge. I was a bit nervous because years ago, my wife was walking on our running trails and was attacked by an owl.   Not a good experience.   Think vice on the head.   Anyway, I turned on my head lamp, kept an eye on “hooter” number one and quickly “exited stage left”.   Thankfully, we didn’t have any other company throughout the rest of our morning. When we got home the “hooters” had left the building, the party was over.

That’s it for now until our next “wildlife” running experience. Seriously, if you don’t get to see enough wildlife, get out and run! What have you encountered while running in the “wild”?

Make the Most of Your 13.1

Craig DiGiovanni. VP of Sales & Marketing, Medi-Dyne Healthcare Products. Avid Runner. Wannabe Marathoner.

I thought I knew what to expect on my first half marathon (13.1 miles), but quickly realized that I was wrong.   In training for the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon, I had finally reached the half way mark: 13 miles. I decided to celebrate this milestone by running an official half marathon, and signed up for the Fort Worth Cowtown. The good news is the race turned out to be a far better experience than I expected, but I definitely learned some things that I feel are worth sharing.

Here are some before, during and after tips for making the most of your 13.1 half marathon.

Before the race

  1. Get there early: I got to the race early and was glad.  I didn’t stress about parking, had plenty of time to use the restroom and enjoy the atmosphere.
  2. Go to the bathroom: Using the restroom before the race is a must.
  3. Do what is routine: As per my usual morning runs, I drank a little but didn’t eat before the race. I was glad I didn’t, butterflies were enough for my stomach.
  4. Plan ahead or bring a buddy: Depending on weather, having someone to hand your clothes off to before the race starts is a nice bonus.  Otherwise, you are either cold while you’re waiting in the corals (because you don’t have them) or you are warm but then have to leave them at the start, and go on a crusade to find them after the race.

During the race

  1. Let ‘er rip: My adrenaline must have been way up, because my split times were about the same as my 5K and I held steady the whole race.   I was cautious the whole race about that, but next time I won’t be, and I will be more willing to push my times.
    Practice makes perfect: Running and drinking are an art.   I would try that before the race.   How you get the water in your mouth without showering you and everyone around you, and then how you get it down without coughing…well, it took a little practice.   I am sure I provided a laugh or two for those on the sidelines!
  2. Find flat surfaces: Looking for flat parts of the road are a must if you are prone to shin splints.   It took me about 1 mile to realize that an extra step or two to the left or right to get off an angle in the road was worth it.   The crown of the road or closest to the edges seemed to work the best.   13.1 miles at an angle could be problematic.
  3. Send some thanks: There are so many incredible people volunteering and encouraging runners during races, I wish I would have thanked more of them along the way.  If you have the breath, thank them.
  4. Snack smart: Energy gels really seem to work.  I like Gu and Cliff products because they taste good and go down easy.   Also, find a product that doesn’t produce large fluctuations in your energy; big highs then deep lows.

After the race

  1. Enjoy the moment: Give yourself time to take it all in, don’t rush out to leave so you can enjoy the moment.   I had to high tail it out of there for life’s next event, but wish I could have just hung out a few more minutes to enjoy the post race food and activities, and to let the accomplishment sink in.
  2. Run for fun:  I ran the race just to finish and I am glad that I did. I think it is great to measure your time, but if you aren’t enjoying the people, the scenery and the accomplishment, then it won’t last very long and won’t be much fun.
  3. Bring along recovery tools: If you have a roller, make sure you have it because you will surely need it.  Once you are stagnant your muscles will begin to tighten up. Having tools at the race (in your car, etc) to help stretch and loosen your muscles will help decrease future soreness. I of course am a RangeRoller guy, a must for any post race recovery.

That was my race experience.   Hope these tips help to prepare you for your next race. Let us know if there are any race tips that you swear by, leave us a comment. I hope you enjoy your 13.1!

Flexibility During Marathon Training: The Stink Scare

Welcome to Craig’s Corner: Running, Stretching, and Training Tips from Craig.

Craig DiGiovanni. VP of Sales & Marketing, Medi-Dyne Healthcare Products. Avid Runner. Wannabe Marathoner.

As I mentioned in my previous blog, being flexible helps you to stay quick on your feet… and may even keep you smelling better.   Yes, this is a bit of a tease, but it does have some relevance.

Just before dawn I was out for my morning run with my trusty sidekick Sunnie (my yellow lab and constant running companion).  About a mile into my run I caught a quick glimpse of something moving on the path ahead of me.  At about the same time that my eyes began to focus my brain began to register what I was seeing, the unmistakable white stripe on the black tail sticking up in the air.…..SKUNK!   A quick pivot put me into an immediate about face. Thankfully Sunnie hadn’t seen the skunk otherwise the chase would have been on and so would the STINK!

I am now running in the opposite direction. I get about 200 yards down the path when all of a sudden, Sunnie growls and takes off running toward the woods.  Yep, another SKUNK!    First, I yelled, “NOOO!  Heel!”  And then my fight or flight instinct kicked in… I RUN!!!!

Flexibility does not wait in situations like that.  You either have it or you don’t.   (Of course, the onset of a day’s worth of adrenaline didn’t hurt!)    A few strides later I smell that distinctive odor.  With miles ahead of me my only focus now was on an unavoidable tomato juice bath for Sunnie and the trashing of my favorite running clothes and shoes!   Not a happy runner at this point.

As I continue to run the smell seems to dissipate.    Not sure at this point if it is my wishful thinking or not, but I figured I might as well keep going.  Thinking the worst is behind me, I start to smell the smell again, and it’s getting stronger.   Putting two and two together I realize that it must be in front of me.   Thankfully the sun had begun to rise, bringing enough light to see the now too familiar, dreaded black tail ahead of us on the trail.  Cue the quick pivot change of direction again!

About a mile into yet another alternate route, I let down my guard and set in to enjoy the rest of the run.  But no!  Reminiscent (no pun intended) of a “B Horror” movie, the enemy kept popping up everywhere.  It was after this final sighting that I decided home might be the only safe place at this point.  Once I got there, I was pleasantly surprised to find out that neither Sunnie or I were casualties of the “Stink”.  All’s well that ends well.

But I did learn a few things…

  1. Flexibility is often needed when you may least expect it. This would include not only running from Skunks, but also avoiding things on your running path that come out of nowhere.  But you can’t rely on what you don’t have.  Therefore, flexibility preparation is critical.   If you don’t prepare, injury beware!
  2. As my grandmother used to say, don’t count your chickens before they hatch. There are many things that might affect your training sessions, so being able to adjust your plan is essential to success. Again, being prepared is key.
  3. If there is one skunk around, there’s a good chance there are more!
  4. Running isn’t just good exercise and mind clearing, it can also be a real adventure.

OK, enough about the “stink scare”.   Maybe next time I’ll take on less of a challenge.  How about Achilles tendonitis?

 

Let the Training (but not the pain) Begin

Welcome to Craig’s Corner: Running, Stretching, and Training Tips from Craig.

Craig DiGiovanni. VP of Sales & Marketing, Medi-Dyne Healthcare Products. Avid Runner. Wannabe Marathoner.

Now that I’m over 40, being healthy is much harder than it used to be.   I used to think it was cliché but now that I’m living it I get it.  There’s no time for pain or injuries, especially if it impacts my “day jobs” (father, husband, repairman, chauffeur, business person…).  You may be able to relate.

That is where my passion for prevention, and taking that pain away comes into play!

I mentioned my New Year’s Resolution of running a marathon in an earlier post.   Did I mention that I’ve dragged my wife along for the ride?  We decided to train for a half marathon first and then continue to build towards running a full marathon this spring.  It has been a lot of fun so far.   I highly recommend a book that my sister-in-law referred us to, The Non-Runner’s Marathon Trainer by David Whitsett, Forrest Dolgener and Tanjala Kole. It’s done a great job of breaking down the whole process of training for a marathon, giving you a plan, and providing encouragement.

Professionally and personally, I understand the many challenges running presents to the body (especially as you get older and as you add more mileage)!  I’ve always appreciated and used the ProStretch Plus, but maybe not as consistently as I should have.  As I continue the journey of marathon training, I am beginning to completely understand just how effective the ProStretch Plus is for not only decreasing pain, but also preventing pain from happening in the first place.

What I personally love about all of the ProStretch products is that they are simple and THEY WORK!  The first time I brought one home, my wife laughed at it, but of course that was short lived.  The laughing stopped and the “oo-ing and ah-ing” started right after she used it for the first time.   The ProStretch is one of those products where you realize the benefits it offers once you use it.   You can feel it working instantly and it feels good!

Lately, I’ve had a lot of “experience” with what we call the interconnective chain of the lower leg.  This interconnective chain starts with the calf, goes down to the Achilles tendon, and connects to the calcaneous (heel) bone and the plantar fasciia.  The calf muscles have to work hard when you’re doing something as simple as walking, but they work even harder when you are running, jumping, stopping and starting.  In fact, I’ve read that the second hardest working group of muscles we have in our whole body is our calves.   Because the calf muscles have to work so hard, they are also susceptible to overuse and injury.

I first started using the ProStretch to combat shin splints and the beginning symptoms of Plantar fasciitis.   After I began experiencing these symptoms, I was doing a long warm up and some basic stretching before I ran, and then pro-longed stretches (for 30 – 60 seconds per repetition) after I ran.   Adding ProStretch exercises into my warm up and cool down gave me immediate results. I experienced immediate relief, and over 4 weeks total healing.

The ProStretch and now the new and improved ProStretch Plus, are simply the best devices for stretching the calf muscles and the entire interconnective chain of the lower leg. Next week, more to come on injuries of the lower leg.

Thanks for your interest in our products.  We love to hear from “users” so please leave us a comment and let us know what pain or injury you are suffering from.

Overcoming Plantar Fasciitis, An Inspiring Story

We were sent this testimonial from Arielle; runner, triathlete, and soon-to-be Ironwoman. She recently overcame 10-months of pain and suffering, due to ‘nagging’ Plantar Fasciitis, with some truly inspiring perseverance and what she calls “Medi-Dyne magic.”

“As a highly competitive gymnast growing up I periodically had heel pain, but nothing that I couldn’t remedy within a few days. Fast-forward about a decade later, and I found myself completely in love with long distance running. Ever since I took up the sport in the spring of 2009, I had experienced intermittent heel pain on and off again. In all of my athletic history my feet and ankles have always been my weak link, and I’ve run the gamut of injuries from stress fractures to dislocation to neuromas and so on…
Fast-forward one more time to March 2011, just 6 weeks before the Boston Marathon. I had been training for over a year to qualify and prepare for the race in Boston. After my
first 20 mile training run my foot completely seized up, and nothing would remedy the intense heel pain and feeling of strain that I was feeling in my foot. I stretched 3 times every day, used traditional methods—ice and massage, but nothing would alleviate my heel pain and get my arch to loosen up. I was forced to stop training up until race day, though  even after over a month off my feet, my Plantar Fasciitis was no better than that first day it came on.

I limped my way through the Boston Marathon and afterward my injury was no better or worse than before, so I took another couple of months off from running to try and get the inflammation to cease.  In the mean time, I found triathlons, which helped due to less running, but I was dissatisfied with the solution. I was recently gearing up for the Seattle Half Marathon in November of 2011, my first race since April. I was having a particularly painful week, feeling like I would never be uninjured again.

Training was going well but I still had nagging Plantar Fasciitis and foot pain, a sign of not good things to come (given that I’m racing in the Ironman Canada next summer). During an evening of injury-related depression I was surfing Twitter and saw someone post that Medi-Dyne would be sponsoring #runchat. I went to medi-dyne.com and clicked through to learn more about you guys. I instantly remembered seeing you in either Runner’s World or Triathlon magazine, and pulled the trigger to have my ProStretch Plus rush ordered. From all of the stretching I’ve done I understood immediately what sets the ProStretch Plus apart, and hoped it would truly be the device to save me!

My ProStretch Plus arrived just a couple days later, and after 1 day I saw a huge  improvement in my Plantar Fasciitis (both heel pain and arch tightness). After 3 days my  heel pain was gone, my arch tightness had subsided, and I was noticing less arthritis pain in the outside edge of my foot. After 7 days I was able to go off my arthritis medication and I haven’t had any heel pain since!!

The foot is so interdependent on all of its moving parts that inherently many of my injuries have stemmed from compensation for other injuries. Regular use of the ProStretch Plus has really gotten to the core for me to work through many of my foot injury issues. I  haven’t been in pain for a while (finally!!) I’m still seeing active improvement in my flexibility and stride while walking and running. And I love that the product is so easy to use; I keep mine in my kitchen so that I can use it between cooking and cleaning in an area where we all congregate. The ease of use makes it easy for me to remember and more likely to incorporate it into my routine.So happy to have found you guys an looking forward to more of your magic!” – Arielle

Thanks to Arielle for sharing that amazing story and the fun photos with us. You can follow Arrielle’s training on her blog, “On the Way to Ironman” at www.onthewaytoironman.wordpress.com.  We are looking forward to hearing about her success at the Ironman in Canada this summer.

If you have a story about your injury recovery that you would like to share with us, or if Medi-Dyne helped heal your pain please email connect@medi-dyne.com. Read what others are saying about the ProStretch Plus at medi-dyne.com or order your ProStretch Plus today.

Introducing the New RangeRoller

Medi-Dyne Introduces RangeRoller Multi-layer Massage Therapy with Trigger Treads

Medi-Dyne Healthcare Products announced the introduction of the new RangeRoller line of multi-layer massage therapy rollers with Trigger Treads™, an advancement in massage therapy rollers that engages both upper and lower layers of muscles and connective tissue.

The new RangeRoller incorporates the most sought after attributes of massage therapy sticks and rollers with its light weight and convenient size and combines it with the ground-breaking new Trigger Treads™ technology to deliver perhaps the deepest massage available from a massage therapy roller.

“We are passionate about the importance of maintaining the health of the body’s interconnective chain,” states Craig DiGiovanni, VP Sales, Medi-Dyne, “Massage therapy and trigger point relief have always played an important role in this. The RangeRoller with Trigger Treads™ takes massage to a whole new level. Users will find that they are able to reach muscles and connective tissue that they simply cannot with other products.”

Designed to meet more demanding needs, the RangeRoller multi-layer massage therapy products provide a range of benefits, including:

  • Range of Depth
    The Range Roller’s exclusive Trigger Treads™ enable users to reach deep – massaging both the upper and lower layers of muscles and connective tissue to more effectively warm muscles, increase circulation, relieve knots, eliminate scar tissue, and increase performance.
  • Range of Sizes
    Three unique sizes allow users to custom-fit their needs: • Original – Medium stiffness and convenient size make it perfect to take anywhere. • XL – The longer size make this the right Range Roller for backs and legs. • Pro – The firmest Range Roller in the line provides the deepest penetration for those who need a little extra.
  • Range of Motion
    Non-slip grip handles and light-weight design enhance control, prevent muscle fatigue and maximize roller performance.
  • Range of Color
    Available in 12 colors, including: maroon, red, pink, orange, yellow, green, royal blue, pewter, purple, black, gray, and white. Range Rollers can be customized to match team, club, or favorite color combinations.

More information about the RangeRoller massage therapy line can be found at www.Medi-Dyne.com. The RangeRoller is made in the USA.

1-2 Punch to Knock Out Heel Pain

Suffering from Heel Pain? Heel pain is one of the most common complaints relating to the foot. Millions of people receive treatment for heel pain each year. In fact, many people live with it for a year or more before finding a solution. If you’re suffering from heel pain use this 2-step process to find immediate relief and long-term healing of your pain.

What causes Heel Pain?  The muscles, tendons, ligaments, and joints in your body act as links in an interconnective chain. These links work together to allow you to accomplish basic motions like sitting, walking, and running. If any one of these links is injured or not functioning properly the entire chain suffers. For millions of people each year the first breakdown that they realize in their lower leg “chain”, manifests itself as heel pain. When this happens, trauma often occurs in the plantar fascia (arch) and the pain is felt in the base of the heel. This heel pain is a condition known as Plantar Fasciitis.

Plantar Fasciitis usually develops gradually, but it may feel as though it has happened suddenly. Symptoms can be described as an incredible pain in your heel when you take your first steps in the morning or after getting up from being seated for a while. Or you may feel a sharp, stabbing heel pain, one that subsides after walking around for a while.

What is Plantar Fasciitis?  Your plantar fascia is a thick band of tissue which runs across the bottom of your foot connecting your heel bone to your toes.  Normally, your plantar fascia acts as a shock-absorber, supporting the arch in your foot. But, if tension becomes too great, it can create small tears in the fascia causing the fascia to become irritated or inflamed. Ignoring plantar fasciitis may result in a chronic condition that hinders your regular activities. Most importantly, any weak link in the interconnective chain of your lower leg can change the way you walk potentially leading to additional foot, knee, hip or back problems.

Is there a Solution?  A two-year study done by the American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society (AOFAS) found that 88% of those who used the world’s #1 selling Tuli’s Heel Cups combined with tendon and plantar fascia stretching exercises experienced relief from their symptoms.

Why is Deep Stretching So Important?  Maintaining good flexibility throughout the interconnective chain of the lower leg is the best way to heal and prevent the recurrence of plantar fasciitis. In fact, during the AOFAS study, researchers found that it was the combination of heel cups and targeted stretching exercises that provided the most significant relief from heel pain. Proper stretching and strengthening programs can correct functional risk factors such as tightness of the calves and Achilles tendon or weakness of the foot muscles, providing both immediate benefits and long-term healing. Making stretching and strengthening part of your daily routine is the best way to prevent the occurrence or recurrence of heel pain.

 A Medically Proven Solution. Unlike single-product solutions, this 1-2 punch offers a multifaceted approach that provides both maximum cushioning support for immediate relief AND deep stretching for long-term healing & prevention of further injury.

Immediate Relief- The bio-mechanically designed Tuli’s heel cups provide immediate relief by cushioning the area of pain and elevating the calcaneus (heel bone) to take pressure off of the Achilles tendon, lessening the tension and allowing for a regaining of flexibility. Tuli’s patented multi-cell, multi-layer “waffle” design bears down upon impact and rotates with the normal motion of the foot to absorb the shock of walking and running. And just like a spring, Tuli’s returns that energy back for maximum performance.

Long-Term Healing- The ProStretch Plus provides a deep stretch that increases flexibility along the entire interconnective chain, delivering the long-term flexibility needed for a lasting heel pain solution. The exclusive removable toe lift puts both the plantar fasciia and the toes in a state of tension that allows for a maximized stretch. The unique rocker bottom allows you to progressively deepen your stretch in a continuous motion. Far superior to using a curb or wall which requires you to stop, re-adjust your angle and lose the tension.

Order your Tuli’s Heel Cups and ProStretch Plus today to knock out heel pain.