My Boston Marathon: Plan the Run, Run the Plan

We love BostonA few years ago a seasoned marathoner and training partner of mine said these words to me: “Plan the run, run the plan.” We were discussing marathons and how so many people (including me) go out too hard and blow up. Phil’s philosophy was simple: if you have a reachable plan, and you follow that plan, you will run well.

Easier said than done. In every marathon, the adrenaline and people around me would get to me, I’d go out too hard for the first 5 miles and pay for it in the last 5. After discussing the Boston Marathon course at length with my coach, and reading this article, particularly the discussion on conserving energy during the initial downhill miles, I created my race plan as follows:

Miles 0 – 10: 8:30s

Miles 11 – 21: 8:20s

Miles 21 – 26.2: 8:00 or better

This would get me close to my goal of 3:40 without blowing up or reinjuring my calf. I realized I’d have to put up with a lot of people passing me in the first 10 miles, but was confident I’d be passing them back in the last 5.

And that’s exactly what happened. I started out conservatively for the first 10 miles: 8:36, 8:27, 8:27, 8:28, 8:33, 8:32, 8:28, 8:48 (pit stop), 8:20, 8:29

My mantra was “run the plan.” I didn’t think about much else those first few miles. Well, actually, I thought plenty about how I needed to pee but didn’t want to stop to wait for a porta potty. I finally found an open one at mile 8. It cost me a few seconds but was worth it.

“Run the plan” became even more important when I had to pick up the pace at mile 11, which was right around the time my hip flexors started to complain. “Kinda early to be hurting,” I thought, but I didn’t let it get to me, and I didn’t allow myself to think about running 16 miles in pain. I just focused on the plan. Pain in a marathon is inevitable. You have to prepare for it. Granted, I didn’t expect to be dealing with it this early on, but the game plan didn’t change because of it. In a way, it may have been good that the pain started early because I could stop wondering when it would start to hurt. I did not slow down. I focused on the fact that people were tracking me. I didn’t want to let my coach down, and, most of all, I didn’t want to let myself down. I had a little phrase – “DNF” – which stood for Do Not Fail.

Miles 11 – 21: 8:19, 8:21, 8:18, 8:18, 8:23, 8:19, 8:31 (start of the hills), 8:27, 8:19, 8:31, 8:49 (heartbreak hill)

boston elevation 560x345

There are three hills from miles 17 – 21, although it felt like there were twelve. But the crowds were with me on every one of them. My friends and family tracking me were with me. And thousands of other runners were with me. Early on in the hills one of my sister’s friends from college, Laura, found me. We both knew the other was running, and she knew what I’d be wearing, but it was still incredible that she found me! We exchanged a few words. I distinctly remember her asking me how I felt and I answered, “Great, really good.” Yes, that was a total lie. But I felt that actually voicing my pain would make it worse. Instead, I buried it deep down inside me as Laura and I passed back and forth on the hills. I found myself looking for her, which was a good distraction.

Finally, the hills were over and it was just the downhill stretch to the finish. I felt confident that I could pick up the pace, and I did. Mile 22 was an 8:07. What I hadn’t factored in was the difficulty I’d have in getting around people while maintaining this pace. A lot of people were walking. A lot of people were slowing. And I was trying to speed up. Just getting around all the bodies was hard. And of course I wanted to keep running the tangents, which I’d been working on the whole way.

Miles 22 – 26.2: 8:07, 8:16, 8:26, 8:13, 8:11, 7:30

I was really thirsty, too, so I wanted to get water at every mile. But the Gatorade always came first, so I’d have to skirt along near the tables and dart in when it switched to water, so as not to miss it. I think I shoved a few people out of the way to get to the water…

So the last 5 miles didn’t exactly go according to plan, but not for lack of trying. I believe that I left 100% out there on that course in Boston. I negative split, going through 13.1 in 1:52:20 and finishing in 3:44.

Finally, I ran the plan. Thanks, Phil.

If you would like to help the victims of the Boston Marathon bombing, please donate to The One Fund, set up by Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick and Boston Mayor Tom Menino. 

Boston One Fund

 

Why Boston Marathon Spectators Rock

If you would like to help the victims of the Boston Marathon bombing, please donate to The One Fund, set up by Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick and Boston Mayor Tom Menino. 

Boston One Fund

One of the things I planned to talk about in my Boston Marathon recap was the spectators. How they carried me 26.2 miles with their shouts, screams, signs, offers of beer, water, popsicles, oranges, you name it. The signs the Wellesley girls hold up provide a welcome distraction from the pain, their screams ear piercing, although I have to admit I prefer the boys of Boston College, who hang precariously over the barricades while they shout and cheer and offer encouragement. They appear at mile 21, right after Heartbreak Hill, when I find myself in most need of some crowd support.

And then some of these very spectators who stand for hours and shout themselves hoarse are injured or killed in an horrific and senseless attack.

And my memories of these people, of the little boy from whom I took water and the kids holding out their hands for high fives and the man who shouted out my number, are imprinted on my brain.

I am trying to remind myself that there is much more good in the world than evil. And it’s the people of Boston who have helped me remember that. Here are a few examples:

1. I dumped my fuel belt at mile 11. In hindsight, I never should have carried it. I hate wearing the thing. The water got warm fast, my back was baking, and the only reason I wore it was to carry my GUs, which my coach pointed out I could have just safety-pinned to my shorts. Yeah, he was right. Again. I’d pinned a business card to the belt just in case, but when I dumped it much earlier than planned (the plan was mile 21, when I’d pick up the pace), I never expected to get it back. But a couple from Natick found it, contacted me, and mailed it back to me. They are both runners, but they haven’t run Boston. I hope they get to run it next year, and either way, I plan to meet them so I can thank them in person.

Fuel belt

My fuel belt rinsed and returned, along with some beautiful artwork

2. There were two people behind me wearing Yankees caps. It was entertaining (and a good distraction) to hear the comments from the spectators, which of course poked fun but were never derogatory or unkind. I didn’t even hear “Yankees suck,” just good-humored, respectful fun.

3. When runners finish the race, they’re funneled toward the buses containing the gear they’ve checked. On the way there are two guys sitting up high holding a white board on which is written the top 3 finishers, male and female, as well as the top American finishers. It’s a really nice touch. Oh, and at the bottom of the board is listed the inning and the score of the Red Sox game. :)

4. I deliberately did not put my name on my shirt or bib, and I was grateful to The Boston Marathon for not printing it on there. Funny though it sounds, I get to a point in a marathon where I just can’t stand to hear my name shouted at me. I know the supporters are simply being encouraging, but what’s great in the first few miles becomes really old by the 20th. But that didn’t stop people from shouting out my number, all 5 digits of it, or “go PR!” – the initials of the store I run for, Potomac River Running, are imprinted on my shirt. And that was enough, and much appreciated.

5. At some races, spectators will come out with their “Go Dad!” sign, stand on the side of the road silently until “Dad” runs by, cheer for him, and then move on. I’m always amazed that they don’t cheer for anyone else. I’m sure it’s not deliberate, it just doesn’t cross their minds to cheer for strangers. I’m not saying spectators should cheer themselves hoarse for every runner, but once in a while, pick out someone and cheer for them. It’s really nice to have strangers cheering for you. At Boston, all the spectators do this. For hours. They line the streets and cheer on every runner. It’s a tradition. They have fun – or at least they look like they’re having fun. And the cheers get louder the closer you get to the finish. So by the time you get to Boylston street, the noise is deafening. And you feel like a rock star.

Boston finish kick

That’s me in black and white…literally being carried down Boylston street by the crowd

Thanks to Underwater Samurai, another dedicated spectator, and husband to RunWiki who also ran Boston, for taking this picture.

Many thanks to every single spectator at the 2013 Boston Marathon. You guys deserve a medal.

 

 

 

 

We Love Boston

I’m still trying to make sense of this tragedy at The 2013 Boston Marathon, where the only pain we usually talk about is what our legs feel at Heartbreak Hill. My heart goes out to all those people injured and their families, and the families of those who were killed. Boston is an amazing city with people who line the streets for 26.2 miles to cheer on thousands of marathoners and offer support. Kids hand out water and popsicles and put out their hands for high-fives. Adults offer beer. Wellsley girls offer kisses and more. ;) It is an event that’s unparalleled in every way. I know that runners will be offering their support by returning to the race.

I ran 3:44 flat to requalify. I will be back in 2014. I’ll be posting a race report soon.

Boston Finish line

We love Boston

 

Patriots’ Day

Boston and Kara Goucher

Among the many unique things about Boston Marathon (such as required qualifying times, later start time than most marathons, three start waves) is the fact that it’s held on a Monday. Of course, it’s not just any Monday, it’s Patriots’ Day, an official holiday in Massachusetts (obviously) and Maine (which used to be part of Massachusetts), and a public school observance day in Wisconsin (no idea why). Patriots’ Day commemorates the anniversary of the battles of Lexington and Concord, the first battles of the Revolutionary War. By the way, in case you were wondering, the Revolution is not covered in History classes in English schools. At least not in mine. We covered all the Kings and Queens, skipped right over the Revolution and moved on to the World Wars…

But I digress. Because Boston Marathon is held on Patriots’ Day, many Bostonians call the holiday “Marathon Monday.” In addition to the marathon, as is tradition, the Boston Red Sox will play (the Rays) at Fenway Park at 11am; marathoners will run through Kenmore while they are playing. I probably shouldn’t mention the Red Sox given that my husband is a Yankees fan. Baseball is another thing you don’t learn about in England. When my husband took me to my first baseball game (Orioles vs. Royals, I think), I couldn’t understand why the fans of opposing teams were sitting near each other. I am used to English football, where a fence or wall and even designated entrances physically separate the fans of opposing teams, lest they try to kill one another. Baseball, I learned, is much more civilized.

And April 15th also happens to be Jackie Robinson Day. Robinson, of course, is one of baseball’s heroes for breaking the color barrier when he entered the major leagues in 1947. Given that I’m running a marathon on Jackie Robinson Day I’m likely to be thinking about another hero, Kathrine Switzer, who broke the gender barrier when she ran the Boston marathon 20 years after Robinson’s major league debut. (Coincidentally, Switzer was born in 1947.) It was another five years before women were officially allowed to enter the Boston marathon, which just happens to be the year I was born – 1972. Kathrine Switzer will be signing copies of her book “Marathon Woman” at the  Marathon Tours Booth (#2335) at the Boston Marathon Expo on Friday April 12th from 2pm-6pm, Saturday April 13th from 1pm-6pm, and Sunday, April 14th from 1:15pm-3pm. I think I will have to stop by!

Speaking of marathon women, I happened to spot Kara Goucher’s Running for Women: From First Steps to Marathons, on my bookshelf this morning. I was looking for some nutrition tips for the last few days leading up to my race, and thought I’d see what she had to say. There’s a section of her book called “Your Can’t-Fail Prerace Eating Plan” that I found really useful and highly recommend for those wondering what to eat the day before the race as well as on race day. In the chapter “Running a Marathon” I found this quote, that I felt put things in perspective for me as I think about my race strategy:

Marathon

Whether you call it Patriots’ Day, Marathon Monday, Jackie Robinson Day, or just another Monday, April 15th will be historic.

Seven Years and Ten Days to Boston Marathon

On Patriots Day (April 15th to everyone who’s not a New Englander!) I’ll run my 2nd Boston Marathon. Boston is the first marathon I’ll run twice. I’ve run  five marathons (and two 50K Ultras), all of them on different courses. I guess I like different scenery…

Preparing for a marathon always reminds me of my previous 26.2 adventures. As I enter serious taper mode (my last hard workout was today, 5 miles alternating 6:45 and 7:15 pace), I thought I’d sit down and share my marathon experiences over the last seven years. I got into marathoning late, considering I’ve been racing since the Heinz schools’ marathon relay at age 11, way back in 1984. For a long time the distance and discipline scared me. Funny thing was, I’d happily run 20+ trail miles with Reston Runners, but the mere mention of the marathon gave me chills. It was a place that I wasn’t prepared to go, mentally more than anything, for some time. Until finally…

Marathon #1: Marine Corps Marathon (MCM), October 2006

The story of MCM starts six months earlier. Back in March of 2006 my friend Kathy and I traveled to Virginia Beach to run our first ever Half Marathon. Shamrock was a very small event back then, so small, in fact, that most restaurants had not yet opened for the season and we had a hard time finding somewhere to eat! On the way home from the race we stopped at a gas station and saw some other race finishers looking stiff-legged. We said hello and found out that they had run the marathon. One woman we talked to was so excited to have finished her first marathon in a great time. Kathy and I looked at each other and knew a seed had been planted. We signed up for MCM almost right away. (Back then it didn’t close in 2 hours!) MCM is my local marathon so it was an easy choice. It’s also a very crowded race, as I quickly learned.

MCM was an eye-opener, as most first marathons are! I went into the race feeling well-prepared, having logged the mileage, albeit all of it at an easy pace. I got carried away, however, by the spectators cheering and the surging of the runners around me, and ran the first 5 miles at an 8:15 pace, much faster than my planned 9:00. And of course I crashed and burned by mile 17.

MCM finish: 3:58

Marathon #2: Disney World Marathon, January 2008

Disney 2008

My training for Disney was very similar to that for MCM, except for the fact that the weather was much colder for my long runs. Of course, it was hot and humid in Orlando. I carried a water belt for the first time, had to ditch my shirt at mile 4, even though it was still dark, and ended up with “burns” on my skin from the friction of the fuel belt. Although I still started too fast, I paced this race better in the later miles, fueled better (switching the fuel belt for a hand-held at halfway), and didn’t crash.

Disney Marathon finish: 3:44 (BQ)

Marathon #3: National Marathon, March 2009

National was simply a training run for Marathon #4, Boston. I scored a free entry from Reston Runners and so decided it would be good training. I started out at the pace I should have started my other marathons: 9:15. I ran that pace for 18 miles, then picked up to marathon pace for the next 6, and cooled down for the last 2 miles. There was no pressure and it felt relatively easy. But did I learn my lesson?

National Marathon finish: 4:01

Marathon #4: Boston Marathon, April 2009

Boston 2009

Did I learn from National? Of course not. At Boston I started out at an 8:30 pace, convinced that was what I needed to do on the first several downhill miles, to compensate for the hills later on. I crashed badly at Boston, partly because of this strategy but also because of my disastrous fueling, or lack thereof. In the entire race I only at 2 GUs, enough for 90 minutes of running max.

Boston Marathon finish: 3:58

Marathon #5: Shamrock Marathon, March 2011

Shamrock

Shamrock was always meant to be a training run for Capon Valley 50K, my first ultra. But given that my training was going well, I’d run a Half Marathon PR in November, and Capon Valley was eight weeks away, I decided to race it. I had low expectations because I was only 8 weeks into marathon training, but that meant there was less pressure to run a certain time. I went out too fast at Shamrock, running low 8s for the first few miles, but it felt so ridiculously easy. I managed to slow myself down a touch, but was still surprised when the 3:40 pace group passed me at mile 8 (it was like being swallowed by a giant beast as I could see their shadows on the pavement, then being expelled out the other end), clearly well ahead of pace. At mile 20 I passed them back. Never has passing someone felt as good as that! I dug deep for the last 6 miles, fueled well the entire race, and felt tired but strong at the end.

Shamrock Marathon finish: 3:37 (BQ)

Marathon #6: Boston Marathon, April 2013

TBD…

Do you like to run a different marathon each time, or the same marathon more than once?

Are you training for a marathon right now? Which one?

If you haven’t run a marathon, are you considering running one in the future, or have I totally turned you off?!!

How to Write for Publication

I recently had an article published in Trail Runner Magazine’s online publication, Inside Dirt. Upon announcing this exciting news, I was asked how I went about getting published. I thought I’d share the process here for anyone who’s looking to write for publication. But first, a little background to set the scene:

Washington RR

I’ve dreamed of being a writer since I was a kid. My sister and I used to write stories for each other; I remember writing a series called “Sammy the Seal” and criticizing her stories because they had no pathos, no twist in the tale. As a young adult I wrote for my local newspaper, college paper, you name it. Then I graduated and got a job as an editor. Writing career over. Years of proofing, correcting, and modifying, ensued. My creativity was put on hold.

When I started blogging I realized how much I had missed the creative process, the art of crafting and revising my own work. As I’m sure many of you do, I wake up frequently with an idea in my head that cannot wait and I have to get up and write it down. I still use pen on paper. The physical act of writing is part of my process and I find that typing does not provide the same stimulus.

I came to the realization that I wanted to write for the publications I read: Trail Runner Magazine, Run Washington, Washingtonian, Outside, National Geographic.

I got in touch with the magazines’ editors and pitched my ideas. Some they liked, some not so much. After all, it’s a process. I wrote. I revised. I submitted. Sometimes I revised some more.

And then, I would see my article in print and be blown away. Every time.

Here are my tips for those who are looking to write for publication:

- Read the publication. (I’m assuming you already do, but just in case…) Get an idea of the types of articles they print, the style of the writing, the overall tone.

- Visit the publication’s web site and look for submission guidelines. Some publications have very precise guidelines, others are more relaxed.

- Have a clear idea of what you want to write about and why. No editor wants to hear, “hey, I’d like to write about running.” They want to hear, “there’s this race that’s not well known but is amazing because…”

- Stick to your word count. I once went way over, thinking my article was just too good to cut. It was hacked to pieces. No writer  likes to experience that. On the other hand, it was a great lesson and I’ve never gone over my word count since.

- Proofread. Or, if you’re not good at editing, find someone who is.

- Meet your deadline. There is no excuse for tardiness.

- Don’t expect to get rich. Payment for articles varies. Sometimes online publication doesn’t pay at all. You have to decide if the exposure and experience are worth it. I have written articles for no pay when I’ve considered the exposure from that publication worthwhile.

Do you have other tips for writers?

Do you write for publication?

 

Chocolate Cherry Chia Protein Nutella Nibbles

Nutella Protein Nibbles single

Ever find yourself without a recipe ingredient? I do, all the time. But I don’t like to drive to the store just to pick up one (okay, sometimes it’s two or three) things, so I substitute. No sour cream for last night’s crock pot cowboy chicken? No worries, greek yogurt will do. Soy sauce or tamari? Same thing in my house. Any vegetable is pretty much interchangeable with another. I’ve subbed so many things I can’t even remember. The results are, admittedly, interesting on occasion, but rarely disastrous.

Yesterday I came home from a 2 hr ride to find that we were out of Picky Bars, again. No worries, I would make my go-to protein bites recipe. Except there wasn’t any peanut butter to be found. In a house where only one person (my husband) eats peanut butter on a regular basis, this isn’t all that surprising, really. I looked around in the pantry (how did I wind up with six cans of chopped tomatoes?) and found the Nutella. I decided that would sub nicely. Looking down the list of ingredients, I noticed I didn’t have agave nectar. But I did have maple syrup so I went with that.

Seeing as I was already subbing two ingredients, I decided to come up with my own recipe. I’d been dying to use this Costco fruit & nut mix in something other than cookies, as it’s got a ton of cherries and cranberries in it along with almonds, walnuts, and pistachios, so I subbed that, too. Then it was just a case of adding the other ingredients in the right quantities, until I came up with the right consistency. The result was a dense, chocolatey, crunchy, nibble of which I am proud enough to share!

Chocolate Cherry Chia Protein Nutella Nibbles
Nutella Protein Nibbles

Makes 26 Nibbles

Ingredients:

1/2 cup Nutella
1 cup rolled oats
1 cup fruit & nut mix
1 tbs cocoa powder
I scoop Infinit Repair chocolate protein powder (can sub any protein powder, chocolate flavor preferable)
1/4 – 1/2 cup maple syrup
2 tablespoons chia seeds
1/4 cup shredded coconut

Directions:

Combine Nutella, fruit & nut mix, and oats in a food processor and pulse until fruit & nut mix is finely chopped and ingredients are well combined. Add the cocoa powder, protein powder, maple syrup (start with 1/4 cup) and chia seeds and pulse until combined. Add up to 1/4 cup maple syrup as needed to make the mix slightly sticky.

Take a tablespoon of the mixture and roll it in your palm to form a ball, then roll in coconut. Repeat until all mixture is used.

Place nibbles in refrigerator to harden slightly. Enjoy for up to two weeks…if they last that long.

Nutritional information per serving (1 nibble = 1 serving): 102.5 calories, 3.5g fat, 14.3g carbohydrates, 3g protein, 1.3g fiber, 9.6g sugar

How I won more than money in a #DietBet

Last month, I entered into a DietBet.

While most people would tell me I don’t need to lose weight, and while I would happily agree with them and take another cookie, the fact that my body fat percentage was 22 irked me. And I figured that if I could lose a few pounds I might find those abs I’ve been working hard on all winter, not to mention gain some running speed by carrying around a lighter me.

What exactly is a DietBet? It’s a four week online social dieting game. Anyone can sign up to play, and all the players compete for a share of the “pot” – the money paid to play. You win by losing 4% of your bodyweight. It’s not a competition to lose the most weight, just to lose 4%. If you lose 4% or more, you win. If you don’t, you lose. I entered the FitFluential January DietBet, which had just 4 players at the time I signed up but 582 and a pot of $14,550 by the time the game started!

Dietbet header

Here’s a short video explaining how the DietBet works:

 

So why a DietBet? Why not just lose the weight on my own? The answer is because I have no self-control. This may sound strange from someone as driven and competitive as me, but when it comes to food, it’s true. I don’t eat fast food. I don’t drink soda. But I have issues when it comes to the cookie jar. I needed motivation and accountability. I found both when I laid down $25 to enter the DietBet. I hate losing. To steal from Brad Pitt (as Billy Beane) in Moneyball, “I hate losing more than I love winning. There is a difference.” It’s true. I didn’t care about winning a huge wad of cash (although that would have been nice), but I didn’t want someone else to get my $25. To me, that would have been like handing $25 to a stranger on the street. I wouldn’t have it.

The other reason people enter a DietBet is because of the social aspect. They get to chat with other players, post their results online (facebook and twitter), and see how they’re stacking up against the other players with self-reported progress indicators. I chose not to post to facebook but did have twitter enabled, and was surprised every now and then to see I had posted an update! I also signed up to receive e-mails, which would tell me how other players were doing as well as remind me to weigh in. Players choose which of these tools to use so you can make it as public or as private as you like.

My husband (the sceptic) asked how people could be kept from cheating. Granted, it was a valid question. After all, no-one’s standing over you reading the scale. You have to submit a picture of yourself on the scale and then another of your feet on it with the readout visible both at the beginning and the end of the bet, but I guess as with everything there’s a way to fudge it. Not that I’m suggesting anyone did. But here’s the answer I gave my husband: if someone really feels the need to cheat, then they have bigger issues than losing weight. I’m certainly not going to waste my energy worrying about other people. I’m entering this for myself, because I need to motivation and accountability, and if I’m honest, with myself, well, that’s all that matters to me.

So I put down the money, stepped on the scale, and entered the bet.

I thought it would be easy. I just had to lose a little over 4 pounds, and I had 4 weeks to do it. I actually hit my target in 3 weeks. But it wasn’t easy. I had to work for it. What I hadn’t bargained for was how much I’d learn about myself in 4 weeks:

- I thought I was a “grazer” but I’m actually a chronic snacker. I snack all day long. Sometimes I don’t even eat a meal and so I think I’m not eating much, but all those snacks…they add up.

- I reward myself with food. Ran a few miles? Have something to eat. Swam for an hour? Eat. Biked for two hours? Eat, eat, eat. Yes, I know I’m supposed to refuel after exercise, but this was different. I wasn’t refueling as much as restocking as if the shelves had been emptied after a winter storm warning. I was a rabid animal loose in the pantry.

- I actually weigh more first thing in the morning. I would step on the scale in the morning and freak out. I would have breakfast, get the kids off to school, go for a run, come back, weigh myself again, and I’d have lost 2 pounds. I don’t think I was losing that weight on the run. I think I just wake up full of water weight or something. One night, I actually gained weight while asleep. And I’m pretty sure I didn’t raid the cookie jar in my sleep.

- I won’t pass out if I go for a few hours without food. In the past, I’ve gotten a little lightheaded or have felt nauseous if I didn’t eat every couple of hours. I always carried snacks with me “just in case I get hungry,” which, of course, I would eat regardless of my hunger. My body had become accustomed to being fed every couple of hours and simply needed retraining.

- I can say no. And I did. I thought I had no willpower. That wasn’t true. I managed not to eat the bad stuff at several parties and just focused on the healthy stuff. I knew once I started I wouldn’t be able to stop, so I didn’t start. And I found that the less I ate the bad stuff, the less I wanted it.

Dietbet winners

At the end of the DietBet, 277 people had won. That’s just under 50%. And many others posted on the DietBet wall that they’d gotten oh-so-close.

So, how did I do in the DietBet? I made the 4% goal and lost 2% body fat. I made twenty bucks. Yeah, no big payday. Still, the biggest payout was in the things I learned about myself.

Interested in DietBet? Just go to the website to join any game or start your own.

Have you played in a DietBet? 

How do you keep yourself motivated and accountable?

Klean Athlete, Banned Substances in Sport, and Me

Way back when I was a teenager running the English Schools’ Cross Country Championships, we had a very talented athlete on our team who didn’t ride the team bus with us to the meet. The reason for this was because the previous year, when he did ride the team bus, he had been selected for post-race drug testing but was unable to produce a sample. When it came time for the team bus to leave and he still hadn’t managed to pee, he was forced to ride in the drug van behind the team bus until said sample was provided. So the following year his parents decided to drive him to avoid a repeat installment.

The English Schools’ Cross Country was my first foray into drug-testing at a race. Needless to say I wasn’t in any danger of being tested, as far back in the field as I finished, but I did have to provide a doctor’s note for a prescription I was taking at the time. This was required for any medications any of us were taking.

20130211_191149

Milk was in vogue back then…

Fast-forward exactly 20 years and travel 3000 miles. I arrived in Virginia Beach for the Shamrock marathon….and discovered that spring had sprung earlier than in my adopted home of Northern Virginia and the Cherry Blossoms were in full bloom. No sooner had I stepped out of the car than I started sneezing. My allergies rapidly worsened to the point where my eyes were so itchy and streaming I couldn’t wear my contacts and I was so congested I could hardly breathe. The morning before race day, I dragged myself to the nearest drugstore in search of whatever meds would alleviate my symptoms. The pharmacy was closed and so I was forced to buy some over-the-counter meds. Turned out the pharmacy’s closure was a good thing, because in my histamine haze I probably would have taken as much pseudoephedrine as possible and not only potentially screwed up my marathon but would also have been under the influence of a banned substance.

Granted, I was not fast enough to be tested, and probably could have protested if I had, but there’s a reason that a stimulant such as psuedoephedrine is banned, and I wouldn’t want to think that my BQ had anything to do with taking a performance-enhancing drug. For once, I was glad the pharmacy was closed.

I was not wearing the sunglasses to look cool but to keep the pollen out of my eyes!

I was not wearing the sunglasses to look cool but to keep the pollen out of my eyes!

Since then, I’ve discovered that banned substances can actually be found in multivitamins, dietary supplements, and sports nutrition products. And that the banned substances are not disclosed on the product labels. According to the NSF, a study funded by the International Olympic Committee in 2004 found that 15% of 634 supplements tested contained steroids prohibited in sport, none of which were declared on the label.

So how do you know if your supplement or multivitamin is safe? If it has the NSF Certified for Sport seal, it has been screened for banned substances and reviewed for toxicology, contaminants, and label claims. You can visit the NSF site for a list of substances banned in sport as well as products with the NSF Certified for Sport seal of approval.

One such range of products that carries the NSF Certified for Sport seal is Klean Athlete. The seven Klean Athlete nutritional supplements were designed to maintain the healthy lifestyle and promote peak performance of athletes, from the weekend warrior to the amateur and professional competitor. I was recently sent samples of  their multivitamin as well as a D-Ribose supplement called Klean Endurance. In addition to being certified free of banned substances, Klean Athlete products don’t contain yeast, wheat, gluten, soy, corn, sugar, or starch and have no artificial coloring, preservatives or flavoring. I’ve been taking the products for the last two weeks.

Klean Athlete collage

Klean Multivitamin

The multivitamin contains all the usual multi stuff as well as a “proprietary blend” of wild blueberry, strawberry, and spinach extracts. You take two tablets daily; they are coated to go down more easily and have a interesting but not gross smell that I can’t quite describe. For someone like me who hates swallowing horse pills, they are great. Do I notice any difference after taking these for two weeks? Well, I can tell you that my nails are much stronger than usual and look really healthy. And I’m someone who chews them off if I’m not in range of nail clippers, can’t stand manicures, and never wears nail polish. I haven’t really noticed anything else, but I was taking a different multi before switching to Klean Multivitamin.

Better than my nails have ever looked! Short-lived though; 2 days later I cut them off!

Better than my nails have ever looked! Short-lived though; 2 days later I cut them off!

Klean Endurance

This chewable tablet intrigued me. Its primary ingredient is D-Ribose which, according to WebMD, is used to improve athletic performance and the ability to exercise by boosting muscle energy. I am training for the Boston Marathon and am running some of my highest mileage weeks right now. While my muscles have definitely felt fatigued after a hard effort or long run, I have been recovering well and am able to meet all of the times and distances set for me. On Sunday I ran 12 miles easy and then jumped into a relay race and ran 5K pace for 3 x 1.4 miles. This is something I would normally have trouble doing but I felt strong throughout the entire workout. I think my training leading up to this is much of the reason for my current performance and certainly wouldn’t say this is a miraculous supplement that is enabling me to run longer, faster, better, but I am intrigued enough to keep taking it and see what happens.  Note that D-Ribose should not be taken by people with low blood sugar.

Timothy Monk, Senior VP of Sales and Marketing for Douglas Laboratories, which makes the Klean Athlete line, is a multiple marathon and triathlon finisher, including the Ironman World Championships. Monk states, “Many of us are athletes who are passionate about competing at our very best in a natural way and we recognized a need to create products which support – rather than enhance – peak performance.”

What’s nice about these supplements is that I know they’re safe, they are easy to take and don’t taste gross, and I haven’t experienced any side effects from taking them. I am not under the illusion that supplements will suddenly make me a better athlete, but if I am going to take something to support my performance and recovery, you bet I’d rather take something that carries the NSF certification. You never know, maybe that drug van will be looking for me one day…

You can purchase the range of Klean Athlete products, which included the two I sampled as well as Klean Antioxidants, Klean Cognitive, Klean Probiotic, Klean Isolate, and Klean Electrolytes, at kleanathlete.com.

FitFluential LLC compensated me for this Campaign. All opinions are my own.

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Lactate Threshold Training and the Dreadmill

This morning I ran 6 miles on the treadmill and did not try to kill myself. This is a record for me. I am renowned for my intense dislike of both the treadmill and the W&OD. Not actually sure which I hate more. Both suck the life out of me and the enjoyment out of my running.

I have a treadmill because it’s a necessary evil. This morning school was delayed by 2 hours and I had to get in my scheduled 6 miler before my 9:30am massage apppointment. (I know, you no longer have any sympathy for me now that you read that “m” word!) So down to the basement I went.

I am rewatching the Jason Bourne series because 1) Matt Damon is in it and Matt Damon can make me run on the treadmill longer than any other actor… Oh and 2) I like watching fast-paced stuff when I’m on the ‘mill. Armaggeddon also works well. I once watched the entire Lord of the Rings Trilogy on the treadmill (not in one sitting) although the pace of that is not quite fast enough.

So the treadmill run went well, which was good. It was a recovery run so the pace was slow, because I learned last week that I’m not spending enough time in proper recovery mode. How did I learn this? From a little thing called a lactate threshold (LT) test.

What is lactate threshold (LT)? Darned if I know. My sister’s the one with the PhD in microbiology. I was too busy blowing stuff up in chemistry and failing every biology lab to actually learn anything, so don’t ask me science questions. Fortunately, I learned to use the Internet and, according to Lactate.com, LT is “the maximum steady state effort that can be maintained without lactate continually increasing.” Once your lactate increases, you are forced to slow down and, eventually, stop. So the idea is to find the point (effort level) at which lactate will remain constant (once your lactate reaches 4 mmol/l that is considered threshold) and then train appropriately to raise your LT. What’s more, “the lactate threshold (or anaerobic threshold) is the best predictor of athletic endurance performance.” Two other factors – VO2 max and economy of movement – are highly correlated with performance in endurance sports, but apparently the LT is the most trainable of the three.

The test was done on the bike, and went like this: My coach took a blood sample from my finger before I began biking, to see my at rest
LT. Then I hopped on the bike and kept my cadence at 85rpm while he increased the power (watts) and took a heart-rate reading and blood sample every 3 minutes. It got harder and harder to maintain the cadence because the power was increasing. Then, just when I thought I couldn’t ride any more my coach told me to go as hard as I could for 3 minutes. Serious toughness was called for in those last 3 mins. He then took another heart-rate reading and blood sample. Seven minutes after stopping he took my heart-rate and one final blood sample. I am apparently “a bleeder” because there were no problems getting those samples. Or maybe I was just gripping the handlebars too tight.

For those who like pictures (I do) here are my results:

Lactate Curve

 

Okay. What does all this mean? Yeah, that was my question. Right after I asked if I failed. Basically, my take-aways from my LT test are:

1) I wasn’t fully recovered from my easy run the day before, given that my initial reading before I even started pedaling was 2.3. Therefore, I need to do recovery runs/rides at an easier pace/lower heart-rate.

2) I reached lactate threshold at a heart-rate of 152 and relatively early in the test. After that, I accumulated lactate at a rapid rate, topping out at 9.7 mmol/l and a heart-rate of 171. In order to increase my LT, I need to do my hard intervals above LT, which is above a 152 heart-rate. Doing those workouts below that, in the 130s and 140s where I’ve probably been doing them, is ineffective for improving my performance.

3) After reaching LT I continued to accumulate lactate and was at 10.1 mmol/l seven minutes after finishing the ride. This means I am crap and need to train harder. OK, that’s not what the coach said but basically my recovery sucks. I believe that making sure my recovery intervals are at a really low heart-rate will help with this.

I would highly recommend that all athletes (not just triathletes, runners too) get an LT test. I did the test on the bike because that’s where I’m looking to improve my performance the most, but the zones can be manipulated for running as well. It’s a relatively easy and inexpensive test, and gives you data you can actually use right away to change your training and improve your performance.

My LT test was performed by Coach Brian Crow of Team Tri Performance Racing at Bicycle Outfitters in Brambleton, VA.

Have you had your LT tested?

Would you consider getting your LT tested?

Are you “a bleeder”? 

Don’t forget to enter my Infinit Custom Nutrition Giveaway! Winner will be announced on Valentine’s Day!

Infinit Custom Nutrition Review and Giveaway

It’s no secret that my nutrition during Ironman Austin 70.3  was a disaster. After exiting the swim, I had some stomach cramps but assumed they would settle on the bike. However, my plan called for consuming a package of energy chews every hour, along with drinking an electrolyte drink. But the more I ate, the more my stomach cramped. By the time I headed out on the 13.1 mile run, I couldn’t eat a thing and was in a lot of pain.

A painful run at Ironman Austin 70.3...

A painful run at Ironman Austin 70.3…

At the USAT National Championships in Vermont last year, I exited the water with the same stomach issues. Gotta stop drinking while swimming… However, I had a different nutrition plan this time. For the first 20 minutes I only drank water to give my stomach some time to settle before bombarding it with sugar, then I switched to a custom nutrition drink called Infinit. Infinit is different from other energy or electrolyte drinks in that it contains all the carbs required for endurance training and racing, meaning that you don’t need any supplemental nutrition, and it is completely customizable to the individual athlete.

Using Infinit meant that I was able to stay in aero much of the ride and had no packages to fumble with, open, or drop on the course. I got off the bike feeling great, and followed that by running my second-fastest 10k ever.

You can develop your own customized drink on Infinit’s website. You answer a series of questions on topics such as your racing personality, sweat rate, length of races/training, whether you suffer from cramping or GI issues, plus basic items such as your age, weight, and sport. After answering the questions, the Infinit OSMO-FIT system creates your customized nutrition solution. It’s fast, easy, and painless.

This is how I developed my drink. After Infinit came back with their suggestion, I couldn’t help playing around with the sliders a bit, increasing the caffeine, etc.

Infinit Alison formula

When I approached the guys at Infinit about doing a giveaway on my blog, they agreed right away. They also suggested I do a phone consult to check my formula was correct and to enable me to describe that in this post. The questions asked on the phone consult are the same as in the online questionnaire, but the fact that you’re talking to a human being makes things a little different. Ryan pointed out that I really need two formulas, one for long bike rides and/or Half Ironman races where I’ll need protein, and one without protein for shorter rides, Sprint and Olympic triathlons, and running. I’d been using one formula for everything… Ryan also pointed out that I had the protein set a little too high for someone my size, and moved a couple of the other sliders around based on information I gave him. The entire process for two formulas took 20 minutes!

Infinit run formulaInfinit bike forumla

 

When I hosted our club run today I put out some Infinit at the water stop for people to try. Good thing I did, because I grabbed a gallon of water from the garage that had been sitting around a little too long and had some furry items in it…probably just protein but no-one was willing to try. That meant they all got to sample the Infinit, and it received great reviews!

Infinit is giving away a phone consult and a bag of custom formula to one of my readers. All you have to do is enter below to win. The winner will be selected randomly on Valentine’s Day. Good luck! And if you don’t happen to win, you can get a 10% discount on Infinit at any time with the code ‘racingtales’.

Disclosure: Infinit Nutrition provided me with two free bags of custom formula and will provide the giveaway consult and formula. The opinions stated in this review are my own.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Back in the Saddle

We’ve had some crazy weather here in the DC Metro area this week. Monday, schools in our county were closed because of “ice.” On Tuesday, the high was 69 and on Wednesday it was 72.  Thursday night it snowed and right now it’s 28 but feels like 16.

When the weather’s that changeable, you’ve gotta pretty much grab the bull by the horns when it’s nice out. Wednesday morning I texted my biking partner, “T”, to see if she wanted to ride. Her response: “Sounds good. 8am?” I was so glad she was up for an outdoor ride in January. Not everyone subscribes to the same craziness as me, but T is one of the few who does.

At 8am, after finally finding my bike shoes (buried in the laundry room after the last outdoor ride, probably back in October), I set off to meet T on the road. Our houses are about 3 miles apart so we ride towards each other and generally meet in the middle. Once we hooked up, we headed out on our usual route. The roads were dirty and gritty and soon we were, too. I noticed that T wasn’t riding as close to me as usual; in the past we’ve had a habit of very close drafting, given that we ride about the same speed. On one stretch of road she moved in front of me and I realized that if I hung on her wheel I got a nice spray of mud and dirt in my face; oh, that explained her lack of close drafting.

Here I am post-draft, with mud on my face:

Back in the Saddle

Seventeen muddy, windy miles later we called it a day. I turned toward my home, T turned toward hers. I got home, cleaned my dirty bike, took a shower, and settled in to work for a few hours.

And then, all of a sudden, it hit me. This was T’s first outdoor ride since breaking her collarbone back in September. Her first time back in the saddle since we crashed on a training ride much like this one, minus the mud, that left her bruised and battered and her collarbone broken in four places. I got off lightly with some road rash. That was four months ago, and it’s the first time I’ve written about it. At the time, I didn’t want to write about what had happened. It was hard enough looking at my friend with her arm in a sling, knowing it was party my fault. I blamed myself for the incident. I missed a turn that we usually make. I was on the inside, so when T turned, she T-boned me and went down hard. I wobbled around and crashed a bit further away, my bike breaking my fall. At the time, I wished I had been the one to break my collarbone as I didn’t have a Half Ironman the following weekend.

In an instant, everything T had trained for was gone. I’m not trying to be dramatic. It was heartbreaking. She had trained hard all summer – I had done many of the rides with her – and was in great shape. And then, instead of racing her first half, she was having surgery to piece back together her collarbone. Fortunately she is a tough chick and has recovered amazingly quickly. And I think part of the reason that I didn’t realize it was her first ride outside since that day was because, aside from the part where she was keeping her distance from me a little more than usual (that makes sense now!), she rode strong and with her usual confidence.

It takes a lot of guts to get back up and carry on. T never backed off and I know giving up wasn’t an option for her. She came to strength training with her arm in a sling. She rode the trainer. She and I went for a walk very soon after the accident…I did my usual bang-up job of making a wrong turn and turning a 3 mile walk into 4 miles. Thank goodness I made her change out of her flip-flops.

I’m looking forward to riding again with T this summer. We’ve made some changes to our riding etiquette: top of our list is, of course always calling out every turn.

Speaking of being back in the saddle, I feel that I’m finally in marathon training mode now. Boston is just over 10 weeks away and I’m up to 40 miles/week. This may seem low for some but I’m not a high-mileage runner, what with all the biking and swimming that I do. This week’s workouts have made me realize my potential and recognize my strengths and weaknesses. I am enjoying working closely with my coach and that added accountability doesn’t hurt either!

My coach will often say something that sticks in my head during a workout. Yesterday he said, “If your body gives out that’s one thing; if your mind does, I have no sympathy for you.” Training the mind is such an important part of endurance training and I think I finally get it. On Tuesday I had a hard track workout lined up. Monday night’s swim had been a killer workout and I hadn’t slept well. I had a nasty cough, too. I started making my list of excuses. Then I stopped. I went and found my ipod. I only use my ipod on the track and only for tough workouts. I found some Nickelback, cranked up the volume to where I couldn’t hear my raspy breathing and couldn’t feel the pain, and I ran.

Getting back in the saddle isn’t always easy, but it sure feels good.

By the way, if you’re in the DC Metro area, stop by any Potomac River Running store through Saturday evening and enter the Super Bowl contest. There’s over $4000 worth of prizes and all the money raised will go to charity (Girls on the Run and Team Red, White & Blue). Pay $10 per square; there will be 4 winners at each store! Prizes are as follows:

Quarter 1: Two entries into ANY =PR= Race Series Event
Quarter 2 (Half): FREE entry into the sold out Nike Women’s Marathon Half DC ($180 value)
Quarter 3: Voucher for any =PR= Training Program (up to $159)
Quarter 4 (FINAL): FREE SHOES!!! Any style, any price!

How to Find the Perfect Training Partner

North Face Great Falls
When my running partner moved to California I was at a loss. We had spent countless hours running together, mostly on the trail, talking about everything but running. What we discussed and what made our runs so rich and fulfilling was our lives and the trials and tribulations that we faced as mothers, wives, daughters, sisters, friends, ourselves. We weren’t solving the world’s problems, but sometimes we did solve our own, or one another’s.

I knew it would be impossible to replace a running partner like Lisa and so I didn’t even try. I didn’t even run on the trails. I took to the roads which, for me, is a far different experience from trail-running and one where I can feel numb. The trails literally make me want to pour out my heart and soul. I’m not an earthy or flowery person as those who know me would agree, but trail-running evokes a visceral, emotional response in me. I actually feel the connection as soon as my feet make contact with the dirt; I feel a change occur from within. It’s hard to describe but it’s like happiness, weightlessness, and complete absorption in the moment. I guess it’s like meditation, although I’ve never tried that so can’t really say for sure.

Manassas Battlefield deep cut

I’ve had some good runs, though, with great friends. I’ve been back to the trails where I feel the familiar pull and enjoy chatting with whomever I’m running alongside. But it hasn’t felt the same. Until last Saturday.

Funnily enough, it was a road run, not a trail run, where I found the connection to running that I thought I’d lost. And I realized it was all about having the right training partner. I was with a running partner I’ve known for years and run with many times, but in this instance we took a wrong turn (I was in charge of the directions…) and found ourselves separated from the group. Once we got back on track we had tacked on a mile and so were far behind everyone else. We ended up running the rest of the 11.5 miles alone, together (like Frog and Toad…love those books).

It was a wonderful hour and 45 minutes. We talked about our families and discovered that we have a lot in common. We kept running and found out all sorts of interesting things about each other, things that define us and things we feel strongly about, experiences we’ve had and events we wish we could change.

I still miss my runs with Lisa but I am glad to have found another training partner (who also loves trails!) with whom I have a similar connection. I can now look forward to my long Boston Marathon training runs!

Here are five ways to find a running partner:

  1. Run with your local running club. There are always a lot of runners at club runs and you can usually find someone your pace. If it doesn’t work out the first time, keep going back. The good thing is that most clubs don’t require you to join right away so you can try them out for a few runs before deciding if it’s a good fit for you.
  2. See if your local running store has group runs. Potomac River Running has organized runs from each of its stores once a week; a great way to meet new running friends!
  3. Local gyms often have running programs.
  4. Sign up for a race. After the race, talk to the people you finished with (your pace!) about where they run.
  5. Just go out and run! While running hill repeats at Manassas Battlefield yesterday, thinking I was the only crazy person running in 18 degree weather, along comes another runner, doing the same hill as me! Turns out she’s training for Boston, too. Now we have a standing date with that hill!

Do you have a training partner?

Do you have a preference for road or trail?

 

 

 

Professional Athletes Aren’t Heroes. THIS is a #Realhero

My friend and training partner “Mzungu” posted the following message on facebook this morning:

If you want a hero, stop looking for them in professional athletes. They live in your neighborhood. They are your friends, teachers, your triathlon teammates. I am proud to count Brent as a friend as he donates his kidney to a friend in need.

This morning, as many of us were still tweeting on the #Doprah hashtag about Lance Armstrong’s confession interview, Brent was preparing for surgery in which one of his kidneys would be removed and donated to a close friend, Mary, who has been suffering from kidney disease for 13 years and in complete kidney failure since 2011. More here.

Brent and Mary prior to surgery. As of this posting, both surgeries went well and they're recovering.

Brent and Mary prior to surgery. As of this posting, both surgeries went well and they’re recovering.

Brent is one of my training partners, too. Well, sort of. He runs and swims much faster than I do, and I’m pretty sure he’s faster on the bike. He’s the cross-country, boys’ lacrosse,  and swim coach at our local high school, an all-around nice guy and amazing athlete. He gets up to run at 5:30, teaches Health and Phys Ed all day and coaches after school. I’ll often see him coaching at the pool late into the evening. He always has a smile and a positive attitude. One time I was out running on the trail and saw him leading his (huge!) cross-country team on a training run, going in the opposite direction. He said “hi” as we passed each other and then made sure his runners moved to the side so I could pass. He didn’t yell at them, but simply said “stay right!” using an authoritative tone that said “get the hell out of her way!” He’s humble, too. He only told our group last week that he was donating a kidney, so they’d understand why he would be missing a few workouts.

Mzungu’s hero comment resonated with me because he’s right. We need to stop worshipping celebrities and putting professional athletes on pedestals. Sure, there are plenty of good professional guys and gals who work hard and earn their titles legitimately, but at the end of the day, that’s their job. They do no more (and perhaps less) than a guy like Brent who’s working full time while training for an Ironman and then makes the selfless decision to help another human being simply because it’s the right thing to do.

That’s a real hero. This is the person we should look up to, admire, tell our kids about, and consider our role model. It’s time to put an end to the trending of #Doprah and #LieStrong, titillating though they are, and start using #realhero. I hope you’ll join me. And of course please send prayers, thoughts, good vibes, whatever feels right to you, to Brent and Mary as they recover.

And while we’re on the subject of heroes and heroic deeds, let’s start thinking about what we can do, such as joining Kyle’s Krusade to help a 6 year old with cancer. This is a virtual 5k, 10K or half marathon; simply donate $10 per distance you plan to run. You can even win prizes, although I think just the sense of helping out is reward enough.

Do you know a #realhero?

Don’t forget to use the hashtag #realhero on Twitter!

If you have other suggestions for charitable events people can participate in, please let me know and I’ll add them. 

I Feel it in my Fingers, I Feel it in my Toes…Raynaud’s Disease

Sometimes, when you give something a name, it makes it seem more scary. Case in point: after running in cold weather or skiing, even when wearing gloves, my middle finger on both hands turns white at the top. (While it makes it more fun to give someone the finger…it hurts!) Once I warm up, usually by taking a shower or warming my hands, it tingles painfully as the blood returns. Lately, my fingers have been staying white for longer. On Thursday, after a 6 mile run in 40 degree temps (i.e., not that cold!) I changed out of my sweaty clothes and went straight to a strength class. It wasn’t until I arrived at the class that I noticed my fingers were whiter than ever. One of my training partners, who happens to be a nurse, said, “Oh, you have Raynaud’s Syndrome.”

What’s Raynaud’s?

Yikes. There’s something wrong with me! That was my first reaction. But my friend said that it’s not a big deal; she has it too, as does about 5% of the U.S. population, according to an NIH fact sheet. Basically, Raynaud’s is a narrowing of the blood vessels that reduces blood flow to the fingers and toes. The fingers are most commonly affected, although in about 40 percent of people with Raynaud’s, the toes are affected.

raynauds

Photo Courtesy of National Institutes of Health

How do you “get” Raynaud’s?

According to the NIH web site, there are two types of Raynaud’s: primary and secondary. The cause of primary Raynaud’s is unknown, whereas secondary Raynaud’s is caused by a disease, condition, or other factor, and is more severe than primary Raynaud’s. In both types, Raynaud’s “attacks” are triggered by cold temperatures (even mild or brief temperature changes) or stress. Most people find that they can manage the condition with minor lifestyle changes; in some cases, people with secondary Raynaud’s require medication or even surgery to treat the disease. It’s important that you see your doctor immediately if you develop sores on your fingers or toes as these can lead to tissue decay or death, commonly known as gangrene.

Risk factors for primary Raynaud’s:

- Gender. Women are more likely to be affected than men.
- Age. Primary Raynaud’s usually develops before age 30.
- Family history of the disease.
- Living in a cold climate.

Risk factors for secondary Raynaud’s:

- Age. Secondary Raynaud’s usually develops after age 30.
- Diseases that directly damage the arteries or damage the nerves that control the arteries in the hands and feet.
- Injuries to hands/feet.
- Exposure to certain workplace chemicals, such as vinyl chloride (used in the plastics industry).
- Repetitive actions with the hands, such as typing or using vibrating tools.
- Certain medicines, such as migraine, cancer, cold/allergy, birth control pills, or blood pressure medicines.
- Smoking.
- Living in a cold climate.

What can you do about Raynaud’s?

While there’s no cure for Raynaud’s, lifestyle changes can prevent attacks. The primary change is to protect yourself from cold temperatures. You can do this by:

- Wearing a hat, mittens (rather than gloves, as keeping your fingers in contact with each other keeps them warmer and aids in blood flow), warm socks, and layering your clothing.
- Using hand and foot warmers.
- Wearing gloves or mittens before taking food out of the freezer (if cold temperatures severely affect you.)

You can further prevent attacks by:

- Learning ways to handle stress.
- Avoiding medications (listed above) that can trigger attacks.
- Limiting your use of caffeine and alcohol.
- Quitting smoking.

And finally, great news! Include physical activity as part of your healthy lifestyle. Physical activity can increase your blood flow and help keep you warm.

Next time I run in the cold, I’ll be wearing my mittens!

Do you have Raynaud’s?