Monthly Archives: October 2016

Solutions for Shin Splints

Shin splints are an annoying injury that almost every runner faces at some point during their career.  Whether you’re a 2:45 marathoner or 45 minute 5k racer, it’s one problem no one wants to face.  Identified by throbbing shin bones when running, shin splints are a painful and hobbling nuisance.  Luckily, once you’ve ruled out a stress fracture, the solution can oftentimes be a simple and easy one.  Here are three simple fixes for shin splints that Team ECRP uses over and over again to keep runners moving.

Test your shoelaces.  Sometimes the quickest way to get to the root shin splintsof your shin pain is to check the things on your feet.  Connected to your ankle and therefore your shin bone, anything awry with your foot can lead to serious problems anywhere above it.  How?  Our feet shin splintsflex to absorb impact every time we land, they move around to help us balance and are how power goes from our bodies to the ground.  If our shoes are tied too tightly we take that away from them.

Fix:  Make sure you can fit at least a finger under all of your laces except the top one.  Try different lacing styles based on your foot type.  Kicking those shin splints could be as simple as letting your feet do their jobs.

Gait Analysis: OK, it’s not the laces.  You tried loosening them and nothing changed.  The next step is to have your gait checked out.  Serious heel striking or over striding with a locked out ankle can send shock waves right up those fragile shin bones every single step.  Have a qualified coach watch to help determine if the way you run could be causing yourshin splints problem.

Fix:  Work towards shorter, softer steps.  Not all heel striking is bad but all over striding is sure to cause some trouble.  Film yourself and work with a coach to treat the source, not just the symptom.

Strength Training:  Since we always want to treat the source of an injury so it doesn’t happen again that gait analysis mentioned above is a key component of healing your hurting shins.  Weak hips or poor posture can lead to lots of problems below the knee.  Proper strength training will help prevent the overuse that typically leads to torn up shin muscles.

Fix:  Work with a coach or trainer to develop a plan that includes runner specific strength work and a gradual build up of mileage.

A completely avoidable injury, shin splints won’t sideline you again when you use these tips.

Coach Meredith

Tin Foil Chicken and Vegetables

We all know nutrition is an important piece of building a better athlete.  I like to use the 80/20 rule, and this tasty tin foil chicken and vegetables makes it easy to save that 20% for pizza or cookies.  A fantastic week night meal that’s quick and simple, it’s also packed with muscle building protein, good for you fiber and lots of healthy nutrients.  Switching out one or two ingredients makes the dish easy to customize for multiple uses during the week.  With the ingredients below each serving is home to less than 300 calories and quite filling.

Tin Foil Chicken and Vegetables
Servings – 2-4
Prep Time – 10 minutes
Cook Time – 30 minutes
Difficulty – 1

Ingredients
2-4 boneless, skinless (antibiotic free) chicken breasts (to lower cook time, divide into sections)
1 cup frozen corn (thawed)
2/3 cup black beans drained and rinsed
2/3 cup halved cherry tomatoes
1/4 cup diced green pepper
1/4 cup diced yellow onion
1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2-4 Tablespoons taco seasoning
2-4 teaspoons cayenne pepper
2-4 large squares of tin foil

Instructions
Pre-heat oven to 375.
Add olive oil, peppers and onion to sautee pan and cook until onions start to become clear.
Place each chicken breast in center of one tin foil sheet.
Season chicken with taco and cayenne powders.
Top each chicken breast with tomatoes, corn, black beans, green pepper and onion.
Fold tin foil into packet around chicken with small opening to vent.
Place in oven for 25-20 minutes or until juice runs clear.
Serve by carefully opening foil packets and pouring chicken, vegetables and juice onto a plate.chicken and vegetablesThis simple tin foil chicken and vegetables recipe can be switched up by adding squash and carrots or swapping out taco flavors for basil and thyme.  You can see how the calorie count would change when plug in your choice of ingredients in or add a side of quinoa here.  Use fresh vegetables for a colorful and delicious meal that’s great all year long without pulling you away from family or training time.  Give this tin foil chicken and vegetables recipe a try.
I love it and know you will too!

Coach Meredith

Start Running: Time vs Distance

Many people each year get excited to run.  The supportive community, the free beer after a race, the fresh air and wonderful scenery all make more great people want to start running.  Unfortunately lots of these enthusiastic new runners will have their brand new running dreams derailed by injury.  With all the couch to 5k (C25K) plans available out there, it’s hard to know where to begin.  Here’s how to approach any program you choose with little stress, no injuries and lots of reward.start running

Start running for time.  Not per mile time or pace but chunks of time on your feet.  It can be as little as 30 seconds in the beginning.  Especially when you’re starting a new program spending time on your feet is more important than how far you actually travel.  Getting moving helps your body build aerobic capacity, the ability to use oxygen over a certain period of time.  The better your aerobic capacity is the further and faster you’ll be able to go.  Building aerobic capacity is done with long moderate efforts rather than short fast intervals.  Running for time allows you to find the zone you’re comfortable in while building your fitness without feeling pressured about how far you’ve gone.

By choosing to run for time rather than distance you also decrease the intimidation factor.  Adding another five or ten minutes to your workout is much more friendly than adding two miles.  Taking small steps toward your goal will help find success more often, keeping you motivated and excited to work hard.  Small increases are also key to staying injury free when you start running.

Since we all know injuries are the worst, doing all we can to avoid them is pretty important.  Suddenly putting lots of miles on legs that aren’t used to it can cause big problems.  From stress fractures to shin splints and IT Band syndrome, upping the miles too quickly is dangerous.  Gradually increasing the length of each timed running interval will help ensure your body adjusts to the additional load without fighting back.

Start running today with a few rounds of run-walk intervals and you’ll be conquering that 5k course in no time!

Coach Meredith

Off-Track Speed Work

Speed work is an important part of a solid training plan.  It helps you build strength, cardiovascular capacity and increases both speed and turnover.  So, of course, there’s no better place to do it than on the track, right?  Not always.  Here’s how off-track speed work can make all the difference.off-track speed work

But wait, isn’t that what tracks are for?  Yes, the track is a wonderful place to run fast.  Just don’t do it too often unless you’re going to race there.  The constant left turns can create extra torque on your inside leg, the surface might not be the same as what you’ll find on race day and it can be boring.  By choosing off-track speed work instead, you’ll reap some major physical and mental benefits.

Running hard away from the track’s smooth, steady surface makes muscles work on both sides of your body.  You learn to balance in all directions and deal with the variety a road or trail presents while strengthening your hips, ankles, core and legs.  Conquering race-like conditions during training goes a long way to helping you succeed after toeing the line.

To get started with off-track speed work find a place where it’s safe to run fast.  Ideally that will be a road, paved trail, park or sidewalk where you aren’t battling distractions from traffic or other outdoor recreation activities.  Hills are a great spot for challenging speed workouts and can be lots of fun.  Mark a one/two/three mile loop around your neighborhood to use as benchmarks for progress.  When you can cover the same distance faster with less effort, you’ll know your fitness if improving.

Remember, the track is always there when you’re in a jam.  If you don’t have somewhere safe to go instead or are working with a group, it can be the perfect spot.  But to get the most out of those fast sessions, opt for off-track speed work as often as possible.

Coach Meredith

4 Reasons to Trail Run This Fall

There’s nothing quite like going for a trail run in the fall.  Changing leaves, cool breezes and fresh air make for lovely running weather after hot humid summers.  Whether you head out on your own or take a pack of buddies with you, the peace of a trail can’t be beat.  Here are four great reasons to check out your local park this fall.

Scenery – The city and its lights are awesome.  They provide the opportunity to run at all hours in relative safety.  But even those attributes can’t beat getting lost in the woods.trail run  Of course, not actually lost.  There’s no better place than a nice long trail run to spend some time with your thoughts while admiring the foliage and animals packing away for winter.  The change of view will also do your brain good.  Check out this study on just how hitting the trails makes us happier.

Surface – The dirt you’ll face when on a trail run is a welcome break from the hard pavement most of us usually run on.  The decreased rebound you feel on turf means your race tired knees and hips take a little less pounding every step.

Strength – Running on an uncertain, uneven and sometimes covered surface means your ankles and feet have to work extra hard to keep you upright.  Not only do your feet have to quickly react to the challenges of climbing hills, hoping over roots, dodging rocks and splashing through streams, your calves, quads and core are also pushed to respond quickly to the constantly changing path.  A little extra work on the trail means better results on the pavement and a stronger, more durable running body.

Accessories – There’s no better time than a nice long trail run to try out new running toys.  Check out some new trail shoes (they’re comfy).  Want a brighter headlamp?  Perfect opportunity.  That old CamelBak need replacing?  Good timing.  You most definitely need a new lightweight reflective jacket.  Hitting the trails for fall is a great excuse to invest in high quality new gear.

**Trails are also dangerous places.  Wild animals are exactly that, wild.  Remember to play to safe with snakes, bears and even squirrels.  Wear some reflective gear, a headlamp and bring food and water.  Be sure someone knows where you’re going, what time you should be back and how to handle it if you’re not.**

Then go have fun!

Coach Meredith