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RUNNER'S NICHE

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Vol. 2 No. 11 November, 1997

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NOTES FROM THE EDITOR

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Mark Plaatjes was pushing hard, but I wouldn't give in. He was making me

hurt, all right, but I was determined to hang in there. I was sweating

buckets, and taking deep, cleansing breaths. He pushed harder, and just

when I thought it couldn't hurt worse, it did. Finally he relented. "Let's

take a little break," he said, and I agreed.

Those of you who know that Mark is the 1993 World Marathon champion

might think I'm having delusions of running at an elite level. Alas, I wasn't

running with Mark, and I most certainly couldn't stay any where near him

if I was.

Besides being an elite runner, Mark is also a physical therapist. A few days

ago Mark was giving me excruciating cross fiber muscle massage on my

injured hip flexors. After that he yanked on my ankle a few times to

straighten out a rotated bone. Finally he hooked me up to a device known

as "elecro-stim" that shot little pulses of electricity through my ankle while

an intern applied ultra-sound treatment to my hip.

How did I wind up in this condition?

AS I was getting treatment I recalled a time I asked a friend about her

sore leg. She told me she wasn't injured because it didn't hurt enough to be

an injury yet. The idea that there had to be a certain level of pain before

an injury could be "officially declared" caused me to chuckle. I always

advise folks not to push through muscle or joint pain. Sure, there are aches

the day after a hard workout and stiffness from time to time, but pain

beyond that level is a sign that something is wrong.

Runners are absolute masters at ignoring pain, though, and I am no

exception. I've alwyas had to stretch my hip flexors more than other parts

of my body. They get tight and sore before my other muscles, and I am

just used to that. This allowed me to rationalize the soreness in my hip as

"just a tight muscle." I finally realized, though, that I wasn't even able to

run an easy stride or accelerate for a fartlek surge without a sharp pain in

my hip. I had to admit to myself I was injured.

And what about that ankle? Well, gee, it was just a twisted ankle. I iced it

a few times and I was sure it would be okay in a couple of days like every

other ankle sprain I've ever had. A couple of days turned into six weeks

and I still had a sore ankle and added an aching Achilles tendon.

As I lay on the treatment table, Mark gave me assurance that I would be

as good as new. He indicated that there was no problem in the hip joint

itself, and that some exercises should cure the muscle imbalance causing

my sore hip flexors. The ankle should improve after treatment. But, I did

get scolded for letting things go so long.

I had already scolded myself. I'm about to turn forty, and I admit that I

was getting excited about the prospect of entering a new age category in

races. Now I'm just happy that I get to keep running. I'm vowing to pay

better attention to myself. I should have done the investigative work to

find the muscle imbalance that caused my tight hips years ago. If I had,

maybe I could have run better times. Certainly I could have avoided this

injury.

Yes, it did hurt enough to be an injury. I have to avoid floating down that

mighty "river denial." Today's workout isn't so important, but the one ten

years from now is.

- WG

 

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ARTICLE SUBMISSIONS NEEDED

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RUNNER'S NICHE needs more writers! Articles of up to 1500 words on any

and all running related topics will be considered. There is no monetary

compensation, but RUNNER'S NICHE is distributed to over 1500 readers on

every continent save Antarctica. You could become famous! Please send

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STRENGTH WITHOUT WEIGHTS PART TWO

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By Woody Green

Last month we looked at some ways to strengthen the upper body without

using weight equipment or machines. This time around we will look at

some ways to strengthen the legs.

Many runners go to the weight room and do squats, leg press, leg curls and

leg extensions in the hope of increasing strength and decreasing the risk of

injury. This is sound training, but it can be hard to keep up with if you

can't always find the time or location to do weight work.

One of the best things you can do to increase leg strength is to incorporate

hills into your regular running. By doing hard uphill running, you are

increasing the effective load that the legs must carry. In addition, by

running faster than normal, you are increasing the force which your legs

must exert. This is the same overload principal as lifting heavy weights.

Some people enjoy running up long flights of stairs, which has the same

positive effect as running hills.

Hopping on a bicycle and doing short, hard uphill bursts is another way to

increase leg strength. You can simulate the same thing on an exercise bike

by turning up the resistance and getting out of the saddle to really push it.

This has a particularly positive effect on the muscles on the front of your

thigh - the quadriceps. These muscles are important to strengthen if you

have any tendency toward knee problems.

Other simple exercises can prove effective. For your calves, try standing on

the edge of a stair step with just the front of your feet. Hold on to a hand

rail for balance. Let your heels dip below the level of the stairs, then push

up on your tippy-toes. Repeat this several times, but stop if you feel any

pain in your Achilles tendon.

For the quadriceps and gluteus (butt) try step-ups. Use a stable bench or

chair, and step up on it and back down several times. Alternate your lead

leg, since that is the leg doing all the work.

For your hip flexors a good exercise begins by hanging from a chin-up bar.

Pull one leg up with a bent knee until your upper leg is parallel with the

floor, then let it down. Alternate legs.

For inner and outer thigh, lay on your side. First, put your top leg forward

with the knee bent. Raise your bottom leg up, keeping it straight and in

line with your torso. Repeat until fatigued. Next, lay your upper leg on top

of the lower one and lift it up from the hip, leg straight. Repeat this until

fatigued. Roll on your other side and repeat.

If you do any of these exercises, start easy and progress slowly. If you do

too many early on, you will most certainly pay for it with very sore

muscles.

Next month we will have a look at how to strengthen the torso.

 

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WEB SITES OF INTEREST

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*Trail Running*

A great trail running site with stories such as "Mountain Bikes, Friends or

Foes," and "Dancin' In the Canyon."

<http://www.apin.com/dirt/>

*Humor*

Okay, so this one isn't a running site, but it is pretty funny. Check:

<http://alabanza.com/kabacoff/Inter-Links/cgi-bin/bard.pl>

 

 

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ODDS AND ENDS

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*Why Isn't New Balance Shelling Out A Cool Mil?*

Jerry Lawson ran a new American record for the marathon at Chicago on

October 19th. He crossed the finish line in 2:09:35. Many have heard about

the New Balance one million dollar challenge for U.S. runners to break the

American record for the marathon, and assumed that Jerry was about to

collect. Not so.

Jerry's time was an American record for loop courses -- a course that

starts and finishes at the same location. The American record for non-loop

courses, 2:08:47, was set at Boston, which is a point to point course. That is

the time that New Balance is using as their goal for the one million prize.

 

*Amazing Chinese Performances (or Another Elvis Siting)*

The recent Chinese Track and Field championships produced some very

good times. Leading the pack was Dong Yanmei, who set a new womens

world record for 5,000 meters in a preliminary heat. She ran 14:31, and

her record lasted two days before countrywoman Jiang Bo broke it in the

finals, running 14:28.09. Jiang Bo also ran 3:50.98 to win the 1500, which

was the fastest time in the world this year.

Sprinter Li Xuemei ran 10.79 to capture the womens 100 meters, and Dong

Yanmei ran 30:38.09 in the womens 10,000 to post a new world junior

record and the second fastest time worldwide. Fellow junior runner, Lang

Yinglai, won the 800 meters in 1:57.62, the third fastest time in history.

Naturally there is some skepticism surrounding these reports. The Chinese

made a weak showing at the World championships earlier this year, and

these athletes compete only very rarely outside of China. Many are

asserting that pharmaceutical aid is being given. Some even suspect that

these women may actually be men!

RUNNER'S NICHE suspects that singing legend Elvis Presley, long thought

dead, has surfaced in China and is secretly coaching China's top athletes

with the aid of aliens from another planet. Well, come on, that is just about

as believable as the Chinese declaration that these athletes are all drug

free!

 

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an emphasis on Colorado running.

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