Running Right: 10 Tips for Physicians

Physician's Money Digest, February15 2005, Volume 12, Issue 3

To get started on your journey intothe world of running, take timeto review the following tips fromthe Running Doctor:

1. Establish your own schedule. Intraining, stress is applied, theorganism reacts, and time is given toreestablish equilibrium. Then stress isapplied again. Each of us can stand differentloads and need different amountsof time to adapt. So don't follow anyoneelse's exercise schedule.

2. Eat to run. Eat a good high-proteinbreakfast, and then have alight lunch. Run on an empty stomach—at least 2 hours, preferably 3, after yourlast meal. Save the carbohydrates forafter the run to replenish muscle sugar.

3. Weigh yourself regularly. Initiallyyou won't lose much weight. Whatyou lose in fat you will put on in muscle.Running consumes roughly 100 calories amile, and there are 3500 calories to apound. So weight loss will be slow unlessyou do heavy mileage.

4. Exercise daily. The more you run,the more muscle imbalance occurs.The calf, hamstrings, and lower back musclesbecome tight and inflexible and mustbe stretched. On the other hand, the shinsand the quad muscles become relativelyweak and must be strengthened.

5. Drink plenty of fluids. Consumesugar-free drinks up to 15 minutesbefore running. Then drink 12 to 16ounces of easily tolerated juices, tea withhoney or sugar, or defizzed Coke beforesetting out on your run.

6. Find good running shoes. High-archedfeet do better with narrowheels. Runners with Morton's Foot (ie, ashort big toe and long second toe) mayneed an arch support in their shoes. If ashoe works, train in it and wear it to work.

7. Know your fitness equation. Thebest fitness equation is 30 minutesat a comfortable pace 4 times a week.Your body should tell you what is comfortable.If in doubt, use the talk test—run at a speed at which you can carry ona conversation with a companion.

8. Run economically. Don't bounceor overstride when you run.Lengthen your stride by pushing off, notby reaching out. Run from the hips downand keep your upper body straight; yourupper body should be used only for balance.Remember to relax.

9. Belly breathe. This isn't easy todo. It must be practiced and consciouslydone just prior to a run or race.Take air into your belly and exhaleagainst a slight resistance, eitherthrough pursed lips or by a grunt orgroan. This uses the diaphragm correctlyand prevents the runner's stitch.

10. Learn to read your body. Be awareof signs of overtraining. If the secondwind brings a cold, clammy sweat,head for home. Loss of zest, high morningpulse, lightheadedness on standing,swollen glands, insomnia, and palpitationsare some of the more frequent harbingersof trouble. The health benefits ofexercise are endless. A regimen includingrunning may help to reduce stress, gainenergy, and maintain well-being. Formore running pointers and a collection ofDr. Sheehan's writings, visit www.georgesheehan.com.