Last summer I was running 5 days a week — mostly on trails– and feeling great! Being on the trails gives me the ultimate runner’s high. I just wanted to keep running forever! And suddenly I couldn’t. I had no energy. I was fatigued and my endurance started declining. Until one day, I was so tired I couldn’t lift my foot high enough to step over a root, and I did a belly flop into the dirt. My first thought was “I want a steak!”
Does this sound familiar? If so, you could be suffering from iron-deficiency anemia (IDA). IDA is typically seen in the very young, the very old, pregnant women and -unfortunately- runners!
Iron is critical to running because it is responsible for effectively transporting oxygen to your muscles, and helping to produce energy at the cellular level.
Runners lose iron in a number of ways- through sweat, the destruction of red blood cells caused by the impact of running on muscles and organs, and minor bleeds that can cause you to lose iron through your urine. Women lose even more iron than men because of menstruation.
Some of the most common signs of anemia in runners include fatigue and low energy. You can also look to a few physical signs: sores by the side of your mouth that are not healing well, pale nail beds and inner eyelids and getting out of breath with minimal exertion.
If your training has left you low on energy and you can’t seem to figure out why, consider changing your diet. Some foods that contain iron are green leafy vegetables, red meat and beans. Even cooking occasionally in a cast iron skillet can boost your iron.
If this doesn’t do the trick consider talking to your healthcare provider about IDA. Preventing and treating IDA will keep you at your strongest!
by Coach Jenni Nettik
As urban dwellers, many of us run several days a week on the city roads–even if it’s just so we can make our way to a park. There are a few things that all road runners should keep in mind to stay safe around the town.
1. Be alert: It always important to pay attention to your surroundings. Use your eyes and your ears to predict possible danger. Be particularly aware of blind alleys, driveways and curves–cars will always win.
2. Run against traffic: Many road runners prefer to run on the road rather than on the sidewalk because of ice, snow, people and the smoother surface. When running on a road, one should run against traffic so that oncoming cars are visible–that is, unless there’s a blind curve or something else that makes it safer to be on the other side. Remember, drivers aren’t expecting to see pedestrians in the street, so be alert and have a plan of how to get off the road quickly if needed. Also, keep in mind that roads are slanted for drainage, if possible, run far enough from the edge that you’re on a flat surface to avoid foot, knee and hip injuries.
3. Make eye contact: Drivers are often distracted behind the wheel or in hurry to get somewhere. Even if you have the right-away, make eye contact with the driver before stepping in front of a vehicle. As you’re crossing, a friendly wave doesn’t hurt.
4. Be seen: Wear bright colors, reflective gear or a headlamp when running in dim or dark conditions.
5. Follow traffic signs: It’s a bummer to get stopped at light when you’re in your groove, but getting hit by a car is worse. Cross streets at designated spots where vehicles are expecting to see pedestrians. Even if you have a green light or walk signal, give a quick glance over your shoulder to make sure a distracted driver hasn’t missed you.
What are your tips for running in the city?
Winter can be one of the hardest times to find your motivation to run. Frigid temperatures, dark nights, and icy conditions can all be running buzz-kills. Here are a few tips to help you keep fit in those long winter months:
1. Make a plan: Staying snug in your bed in the morning, or curled up on your couch after work may feel more inviting than stepping out into the cold. Picking out a spring race and planning a specific time and route for your daily runs makes it easier to follow through.
2. Find a buddy: A running partner can help keep you motivated and accountable. When you know someone else is counting on you to run, it is easier to lace up those shoes and head out the door.
3. Dress for warmer weather: One of the biggest mistakes in winter running is overdressing. A key thing to remember: running creates heat. If you step out the door and you feel warm, you have on too many clothes!
4. Hit the gym: For those of you who are truly cold intolerant, hit up the gym! You can log miles on the treadmill and get your strength-training in all at once.
5. Stay safe: Make sure you wear reflective gear and a headlamp to make yourself seen. And take it easy on the ice- small short steps will help prevent falls.
What other advice do you have for running in the winter?