Running therapy: lace up to boost mental health

Running affects your mood Do you lace up to feel better? Studies show that aerobic exercise can be as effective as antidepressants in treating mild to moderate depression. Not to mention, with side effects such as improved health and weight management rather than the bloating and sexual dysfunction associated with pharmaceuticals. Running therapy is the…

Running therapy: lace up to boost mental health was originally published on Self Evolve

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Running affects your mood

running therapyDo you lace up to feel better? Studies show that aerobic exercise can be as effective as antidepressants in treating mild to moderate depression. Not to mention, with side effects such as improved health and weight management rather than the bloating and sexual dysfunction associated with pharmaceuticals. Running therapy is the first-line treatment for depression in Australia, the UK, and the Netherlands. The US is a little slower on updating their guidelines. How does moving the body change the mind? It’s actually more than just endorphins. The emerging view of running’s ability to improve mental health also takes into account long-term structural changes in the brain as well as subjective states like mood and cognition. Science continues working to explain the theory behind what we runners already know from practice.

Running changes how you think

In any one year, about 10 percent of the US population would meet the diagnostic criteria for depression, and about 20 percent for anxiety. The incidence of these conditions in runners is likely similar. A 2017 review of research published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine found no difference in depressive symptoms between what researchers called “high-performance athletes” and non-athletes. All levels of runners are affected. But running helps you think and process things differently. It helps you think objectively. For me, it helps me realize that things I think are a huge deal aren’t in the scheme of things. When you focus on accomplishing a task like a 4 mile run, it kicks off a positive feedback loop that continues throughout the run and takes our thinking and emotions out of the trench of negativity.

Running therapy for everyone

You don’t have to be an ultra-marathoner to get the benefits of running. But research does show an added benefit to those who regularly run and/or exercise. The mood improvement and energy boost is higher for those who normally workout. This is because runners can hold a good pace for a long time without going anaerobic, allowing for the physiological processes that lead to improved mood, according to Panteleimon Ekkekakis, Ph. D., a professor at Iowa State University who is a leading figure in the field of exercise physiology. “If you’re a regular runner, you have the cardiorespiratory fitness to sustain an exercise intensity that’s associated with a feel-better effect.” Anyone can become a regular runner by simply adding in running or cardio workouts three times a week.

Do you run? Does it help you feel better?

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Running therapy: lace up to boost mental health was originally published on Self Evolve

Enjoy the great indoors: Bring your run inside

Standard treadmills are so yesterday.. Gone are the days of boring treadmill workouts. With the latest and greatest, indoor workouts for runners are actually enjoyable. Not only that, they are also helpful for runners to train smarter, recover faster, and prevent injury. Even though the weather is getting warmer, you still may want to bring…

Enjoy the great indoors: Bring your run inside was originally published on Self Evolve

Standard treadmills are so yesterday..

run insideGone are the days of boring treadmill workouts. With the latest and greatest, indoor workouts for runners are actually enjoyable. Not only that, they are also helpful for runners to train smarter, recover faster, and prevent injury. Even though the weather is getting warmer, you still may want to bring your run inside.

Sproing Fitness

Science shows that cross-training is a necessary component of any running routine. Sproing Fitness (Chicago) takes this to another level. They incorporate running, plyometrics, stability and strength work all into one 45-minute HIIT-style routine on an unique device. The Sproing is a treadmill-like machine that has an air bladder rather than a moving belt in order to customize the surface. You’ll cinch a waist-level harness which allows you to fall forward while running which lets you maintain proper form, land on your forefoot and avoid heel-striking. The class setup is intervals of 20 or 30 seconds of work, followed by 10 seconds of rest. The workout transitions through a mix of forward and backward running, strength moves, and explosive exercises.

This adds up to a sweat-filled session that targets and builds the important muscles that runners rely on for faster splits and more power. The low-impact component yields rewards such as protecting the joints and back.

Precision Running Lab

Equinox (Boston) has a new Precision Running Lab where despite running on a treadmill, it feels like you’re running outside. David Siik, senior manager of running at Equinox, wanted to bring the outdoors in with this experience. Even the music is scientifically-backed in providing motivation but not distraction. The music is nonlyrical, with driving beats. A Precision class has 90 to 117 four-second light changes that cue runners as they go. And the treadmill saves your speed once you maintain a pace for 20 seconds rather than have you push buttons while running.

Another important factor? The oxygen. The studio has a filtration system that purges nitrogen and raises O2, helping to keep your lungs full and your head clear. The result is an immersive experience, focused on the workout.

Have you tried these fitness studios? Do you run inside?

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Enjoy the great indoors: Bring your run inside was originally published on Self Evolve

Layer up: What to wear for your winter run

 Are you crazy?! This is the typical response I get when I tell people I went for a run outside, in the dead of winter in Chicago. Lately, the temperatures have been well below zero and running outside has been kept to a minimum (treadmill, anyone?). But for some of us, there’s nothing better than…

Layer up: What to wear for your winter run was originally published on Self Evolve

 Are you crazy?!

This is the typical response I get when I tell people I went for a run outside, in the dead of winter in Chicago. Lately, the temperatures have been well below zero and running outside has been kept to a minimum (treadmill, anyone?). But for some of us, there’s nothing better than a nice run outside. And if you’re crazy like me, you’ll need to know how to layer up for your next winter run.

Baby it’s cold outside

winter runKeep in mind that once you’re moving, your body heats up fast. Don’t overdress when you think it feels cold. The opposite is true as well: once you stop moving you’ll cool down quickly. Be sure to plan ahead to get out of your workout clothes as soon as you can after your run. Dressing in layers is key for winter running. They will keep you warm at the start, then you can shed some as you warm up. See below for a chart on how to dress according to the temperature outside.

50–59 degrees: short sleeve tech shirt and shorts (feels like 6079 degrees)

40–49 degrees: long sleeve tech shirt, shorts or tights, gloves (optional), headband to cover ears (optional) (feels like 5069 degrees)

30–39 degrees: long sleeve tech shirt, shorts or tights, gloves, and headband to cover ears (feels like 4059 degrees)

20–29 degrees: two shirts layered—a long sleeve tech shirt and a short sleeve tech shirt or, long sleeve shirt and jacket—tights, gloves, and headband or hat to cover ears (feels like 3049 degrees)

10–19 degrees: two shirts layered, tights, gloves or mittens, headband or hat, and windbreaker jacket/pants (feels like 2039 degrees)

0–9 degrees: two shirts layered, tights, windbreaker jacket/pants, mittens, headband or hat, ski mask to cover face (feels like 1029 degrees)

Once we get below zero like in Chicago, be sure to pay attention to your local weather information and warnings. Use your best judgment to determine whether you should run outside or hit the gym instead. Also, beware of ice and be sure that you’re visible if running in the dark!

How do you dress for your winter run?

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Layer up: What to wear for your winter run was originally published on Self Evolve

Running and keeping track: Maps and more

Map Your Run As a new or seasoned runner alike, it’s important to map out your runs so that you know how far you’re running. You can simply look at a map or utilize a device to keep track of your distance. No matter how you do it, running and keeping track of your distance is…

Running and keeping track: Maps and more was originally published on Self Evolve

Map Your Run

As a new or seasoned runner alike, it’s important to map out your runs so that you know how far you’re running. You can simply look at a map or utilize a device to keep track of your distance. No matter how you do it, running and keeping track of your distance is a good idea.

Running and keeping track

Back before there were smart phones or wearable GPS devices, runners were forced to use a paper map of where they were going to run in order to know the distance of their runs. If you didn’t plan ahead, you risked the chance of getting lost unless you were running a known trail or track loop distance multiple times. Being a runner meant that you had to know the areas where you ran pretty well. Over time, you learn how many blocks equates to a certain distance. For example, that two mile loop around your neighborhood that you run consistently.

Tracking devices

running and keeping trackNow that there are many different types of smart devices and running apps, you have more running freedom. Freedom to set out and run until you hit your distance (or rather half so you can run an out & back). Also, with technology, you have instant feedback in regards to your pace and timing. And sometimes, even heart rate. I wrote about tracking your fitness, but running is an exercise that you can improve upon with a proper tracking device.

The consistent and instantaneous feedback can help you learn how and when to change your pace and/or distance. Some runners focus on increasing their distance whereas other runners focus on increasing their speed. It’s important to choose either distance or speed to focus on since it’s difficult to work on both simultaneously.

Devices that help me run better

These are the devices and apps that I use to track my runs in order to run further. They also helped me get through Chicago Marathon training.
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What do you use to keep track of your runs? I also use the Nike running app in addition to the Garmin app to track my runs.

Running and keeping track: Maps and more was originally published on Self Evolve

Chicago Marathon 2017: Hydration

Marathon Hydration While the popular slogan is “Stay thirsty, my friend” you actually want the opposite when running a marathon. Even during training, while running those longer runs, you definitely want to stay hydrated (and not thirsty). The question is, how do you stay hydrated when running 15, 20, or 26.2 miles? Like how do…

Chicago Marathon 2017: Hydration was originally published on Self Evolve

Marathon Hydration While the popular slogan is “Stay thirsty, my friend” you actually want the opposite when running a marathon. Even during training, while running those longer runs, you definitely want to focus on running and Marathon Hydration. The question is, how do you stay hydrated when running 15, 20, or 26.2 miles? Like how do…

Chicago Marathon 2017: Hydration was originally published on Self Evolve

Running with the runs

If you’re a runner, you’ve likely either have heard of or experienced firsthand a case of runner’s diarrhea. I’ve been a semi-serious runner for about four years now and I can safely say that my running friends are the ones I know the most about in regards to their bowel movements. There’s a special level of…

Running with the runs was originally published on Self Evolve

If you’re a runner, you’ve likely either have heard of or experienced firsthand a case of runner’s diarrhea. I’ve been a semi-serious runner for about four years now and I can safely say that my running friends are the ones I know the most about in regards to their bowel movements. There’s a special level of friendship that you achieve once you spend hours running with someone. All modesty goes out the window.

I’m here to share some expert (or just witty) tips to avoid running with the runs. These may help you run further without having to pop a squat.

  • Pay close attention to what you eat before a run. Not just the day of, but also the day before. If you’re consuming a lot of fiber, expect a lot of poo to follow. Most runners learn what works best for them. For me, a light breakfast i.e. a banana and Clif bar does the trick prior to my long runs. Avoiding cheese, dairy, and lots of fiber the day before also helps.
  • Try your absolute best to poop before running, like when you first wake up. And for me, avoiding coffee until after the run helps me not have the urge to go.
  • You may be trotting along and get what I call bubble gut. Is it a fart? Or a poop? General rule of thumb: don’t trust a fart after mile 10. Some runners don’t trust a fart ever.
  • If you do have the urgency to go, please find a bathroom or port-a-potty. It’s not worth it to destroy your clothes and dignity just to get that goal race time. Just saying.
  • If you are gonna pop a squat and have no other option, come prepared with toilet paper or something similar to wipe the bum. No one likes chafing poo.

I hope these tips help you on your long runs and on race day. Let me know what works for you in the comments below! And happy running!

Running with the runs was originally published on Self Evolve

How to be stealthy

Are you a loud runner? Do you make a lot of noise when landing and everyone around you knows when you’re coming up on them? When being chased, are you super easy to follow? I’m here to tell you, you can change the way you run in order to run more quietly and make another…

How to be stealthy was originally published on Self Evolve

Are you a loud runner? Do you make a lot of noise when landing and everyone around you knows when you’re coming up on them? When being chased, are you super easy to follow? I’m here to tell you, you can change the way you run in order to run more quietly and make another step towards becoming a stealth ninja.

Runners can permanently reduce impact forces through biofeedback. In a study done by Irene Davis and Harrison Crowell, they used a form of biofeedback to successfully encourage runners to reduce their peak tibial acceleration by half. Peak tibial acceleration is basically a measurement of how hard the runner lands on the ground with each step. And Davis is known as one of the world’s leading pioneers in gait retraining for runners. Gait retraining consists of encouraging specific changes in the strides of runners that correct habits that are associated with increased injury risk.

All of the ten runners in the study started out as stompers. Davis placed an accelerometer to the lower leg of each runner to measure tibial acceleration as they ran on treadmills. The data collected by the accelerometer was displayed on a screen in front of the runners, which allowed them to see a simple graphical display of their impact force. They were told to adjust their running in order to reduce their impact force result by half, bringing it down to normal range.

All of the runners were able to do this. They weren’t told how to change their strides to reduce impact. Instead, they were given the freedom to adjust as they saw fit in order to comfortably reduce their impact force. Over time, Davis took away the “crutch” of the biofeedback until the runners were maintaining their new lower-impact strides on their own, in their own way. Then the runners were sent out into the world with the instructions to continue to run in this way. A month later on recheck, the runners were still maintaining their new strides with lower impact.

This study shows that you can change your gait and stride in order to avoid preventable running injuries. All you really need is some feedback on how much impact you’re creating while running. Since I started out initially as a martial artist and then became a runner, I feel like I’ve never really been a stomper. But that’s only because they train use to be quiet and light on our feet in Kung Fu.

Do you pay attention to your impact force? Do you try to land softly and quietly? Do you try to sneak up on people when you run?

How to be stealthy was originally published on Self Evolve