Category Archives: Health

Reaction: Runners World on Lyme Disease

I read the June article in Runner’s World on Lyme Disease and found myself agreeing with most of it, reliving the crazy few weeks of uncertainty with knee trouble, and understanding a little bit more what the $1,500 an hour expert meant but was unable to explain.

You may recall that in 2010 I was diagnosed with Lyme Disease (after a false negative).  In my opinion I first contracted it in 2009 when I had an un-diagnosed fever, that the doctors attributed to H1N1.  Almost 9 months later I had a swollen knee with no physical damage, but was eventually tested and diagnosed with Lymes. Several of my veterinarian friends said that if a dog came in with a swollen knee they’d check for Lyme disease right away!  Fortunately, I haven’t suffered any relapses (at least that I know of)!

This was me:

Because Lyme symptoms tend to come on gradually, many people don’t initially notice the signs. And when they do recognize something’s amiss, Dr. Green says the early indicators–sluggishness, fatigue, muscle aches, joint pain–can easily be mistaken for the flu.

Or if you’re a runner, you may think you’re simply overtraining. “I’ve had athletic patients, runners and Nordic skiers, who thought their fatigue and aches were due to periods of hard training, but they were really suffering from Lyme,” says Bill Roberts, M.D., a sports-medicine physician at the University of Minnesota.

This is why the specialist said to not talk about my past history of Lyme Disease:

Instead, the CDC-recommended blood test is indirect–meaning, it looks for the presence of Lyme-specific antibodies fighting the bacteria. And that makes it quite easy to get a false negative (early in the infection, before your body has produced antibodies) or a false positive (detecting antibodies because you have been exposed to the bacteria at some point in your life).

I’ve definitely been more cautious when I see ticks.   Trail runners are the most prone to get them, but really they are becoming more and more present in suburban and urban areas.  It would be nice if there was a way to kill them off, especially during the annual mosquito treatments…

Clearing the Mind While Running

Physical Training on Exercise Jordan Express

(Photo credit: Defence Images)

Got a problem that needs solved, go for a run.  When I was in shape and running on a regular basis I could feel the difference if I skipped a workout.  Not only did my body feel different, but my mind didn’t seem as sharp.  Now that I’m out of shape I don’t feel that same weirdness when I don’t run, but oh when I do workout my mind and body feel so much better.

A recent example, I was struggling to figure what to write about for my upcoming blog post on the YNPN-TC blog.  Those posts have to be high quality and relevant to young non-profit professionals (unlike my sometimes randomness here).  My last three posts were about Nonprofit Cross-training, Take a Leap: Tips for Changing Your Career, and Strengthening Your Work and Reputation During Times of Change.  What should I write about next?

I’ve been feeling a little overwhelmed lately with my various commitments and the workloads related to them.  On a recent run my mind wandered and started thinking about my blog post and then later about feeling overwhelmed and then BAM!  Information Overload (read my post and get some tips).  I get too many e-mails, am subscribed to too many RSS feeds, too many Facebook and Twitter friends, etc.  If I could figure out a way to clean some of that up, I’d feel like I had more mental space.

The blog post is forthcoming, but going out for a run helped clarify the idea.  I think working out is a great time to clear your mind and to solve problems that are happening in your life.  I don’t think you’ll want to say, I’m running 3 miles today and by the end of the run I’m going to solve X problem.  But it might work for larger issues.  Think back to the series I did on the Sacred Art of Running and Warren Kay’s ideas about contemplation and meditation.  He talks about using mantra’s to seed or focus our mind. I think if you are dealing with a big issue your subconscious will bring it to top of mind and you’ll think about it during the run.

Do you have a story about how working out solved a problem?  What other mental benefits do you see from running?

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Twin Cities Fittest in USA

Minneapolis SkylineThe Twin Cities surpassed Washington DC as the fittest city according to the American College of Sports Medicine’s 2011 list of America’s fittest cities. WebMD provided a great summary of the report which included this paragraph:

Even though the Twin Cities reduced park-related expenditures in 2011, the area’s percentage of parkland is still above average, and so is its percentage of recreational facilities other than swimming pools, according to a report from the American College of Sports Medicine, which was made possible by a grant from the Indianapolis-based WellPoint Foundation.

It is no surprise that Portland made the top 5, since Minneapolis and Portland swap the best biking city designation.  And actually none of the top 5 are that surprising.  Here is the list (with their score and 2010 rank):

1. Minneapolis-St. Paul 77.2 3
2. Washington, D.C. 76.8 1
3. Boston, Mass. 69.1 2
4. Portland, Ore. 67.7 5
5. Denver, Colo. 67.6 6

If you want to see a pdf of the Twin Cities data you can click here. Other cities are available at the American Fitness Index website.

Here is a list of the Twin Cities strengths:

  • Lower percent unemployed
  • Higher median household income
  • Lower percentage of households below poverty level
  • Higher percent of any physical activity or exercise in the last 30 days
  • Higher percent physically active at least moderately
  • Lower percent currently smoking
  • Higher percent in excellent or very good health
  • Lower percent with asthma
  • Lower percent with angina or coronary heart disease
  • Lower percent with diabetes
  • Lower death rate for cardiovascular disease
  • Lower death rate for diabetes
  • Higher percent of city land area as parkland
  • More farmers’ markets per capita
  • Higher percent using public transportation to work
  • Higher percent bicycling or walking to work
  • More ball diamonds per capita
  • More dog parks per capita
  • More park playgrounds per capita
  • More golf courses per capita
  • More park units per capita
  • More recreation centers per capita
  • More tennis courts per capita
  • Higher park-related expenditures per capita
  • Higher level of state requirement for Physical  Education classes


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A Look at Heart Rate Training

After a scare on a run in January where it felt like my heart was in my throat the doctor encouraged me to start wearing a heart rate monitor and to keep my workouts under 60% of my Maximum Heart Rate.

Note: The doctors said my heart appeared to be very healthy and they assumed I had had a cold (weather) induced asthma attack.  The heart rate is more of a precautionary tool to monitor my pulse during workouts in case it happens again.  They prescribed an inhaler and wearing something to cover my mouth/nose to help warm up the air.

Remember the conversion?  220 minus your age equals maximum heart rate.  So my current max is 220 – 29 = 191.  60% of that is 114.  If you’ve followed my workouts you know that I’ve not been anywhere close to that.  That is super low. I used an online calculator to determine my training zones and came up with these zones:

  • Fat Burning: From 128 to 141 beats per minute
  • Aerobic: From 141 to 153 beats per minute
  • Steady State: From 153 to 166 beats per minute
  • Anaerobic: From 166 to 178 beats per minute
  • Maximal: From 178 to 191 beats per minute

There is some variation in terms and the number of training zones.  For example, Polar share three – light, moderate, and hard. So here is how the web calculator breaks it down:
Fat Burning (50 to 60%) In this range you are developing your basic endurance and aerobic capacity. This zone is great for burning fat compared to the effort you put in. Other zones will also burn up your fat but you will have to work harder to burn up the same amount.

Aerobic (60 to 70%) This zone is great for your cardiovascular system. This helps your muscles become stronger and more efficient and you develop your bodies ability to transport oxygen to (and carbon dioxide away from) your muscles. You should be spending the majority of your training time in this zone.

Steady State (70 to 80%) Think tempo run.  This is not an easy workout but not super hard or stressful.

Anaerobic (80 to 90%) Entering this zone is a sign that you have become serious about your sport. In this zone your body develops its ability to handle lactic acid. An anaerobic workout takes place when you are working so hard that your body cannot keep up with the production of fuel and oxygen and so you need to dip into your reserves. When you dip into your reserves you produce numerous waste products – principally lactic acid.

Maximal (over 90%) Develops maximum speed and should only be used for short bursts of activity.

I’ve started listening to a podcast produced by Jeff and Diane Kline of PRS Fit and they are huge proponents of heart rate training.  It seems like they would concur with my doctor and that I should spend a lot of time training at the Fat/Aerobic training zones.  They say it will feel really slow at first but over time my speed would come back and my splits would drop.   What do you think about that?

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Most of my experiences with massage were the post race variety where a student (most likely) gives your legs a 5 minute rub down to help with recovery.  The first post-race massage I remember was after the Bears of the Blue River 5/10k.  Having just raced hard and placing in the overall standings I was quite tired.  My calves and lower back were in a fair amount of pain, so I lined up outside a white tent with a lone masseuse.

On this particular occasion she owned a local private massage therapy business and was donating her time to help sweaty runners recover.  Surely there has to be a less dirty form of marketing. Nevertheless, I got up from the chair feeling much better.  I thanked her and she gave me a business card and told me to call and schedule an appointment for a full body massage.  I laughed to myself knowing that I wouldn’t be driving an hour just for a massage.

Fast forward a few years and I’ve now had quite a few professional massages at a few different places. I always felt a little nervous about the idea of massages, the idea of taking all your clothes off and laying in such a vulnerable position was a little scary.  My YWCA offered massage so that seemed like a safe place to start! I haven’t regretted getting a massage since.  They actually helped me get through both marathon training cycles and help to make life a little more enjoyable.

Here are a few tips I’ve gleaned along the way…

Make sure you get a sports masseuse. There are a lot of different types of massage techniques, but for an athlete you want someone who knows sports massage techniques.  Just like a sports doctor, they will know a little bit more about sports related injuries and muscles plus the techniques to loosen them out.

Try a few places out. Don’t be afraid to try out a few different places before settling into one.  Unless of course you feel the first place is a perfect fit! They are providing a service and like any service provider you should feel comfortable and well taken care of. Each place does things a little differently and have different feels to them.

Each masseuse is different. My wife and I both started out at the YWCA, same building, different masseuses, and very different experiences.  Mine was excellent – he made me feel relaxed throughout the entire time I was there.  Her’s not so much.  He made her feel a little awkward and wanted to talk to her the whole time – not the most relaxing experience.  I went back to the same guy throughout my first marathon training cycle.  I let a few months go by and when I went to schedule my next massage he was gone, so I tried out the new lady.  She was fine, but not quite as good.  So I  moved on!  Again, they are providing a service to you and should make you feel comfortable.  Massages should be a relaxing experience!

If you are nervous go somewhere like the YMCA/YWCA.  If the idea of a massage make you feel a little nervous then get one from a place you already know and trust.  Some place like the YWCA or your chiropractor’s office.  You could also talk with your doctor or physical therapist and see who they recommend.

Hydrate.  As with everything in sport (and life) proper hydration is important.  You’ve got to be careful with this one, you don’t want a full bladder while laying on the table.  Holding it doesn’t create a relaxed body!  But after a massage they will have released a lot of toxins that your muscles were holding onto into your bloodstream.  Drinking lots of water will help flush them out.

Be prepared to TIP. I never tipped at the YWCA, maybe that’s why the guy left.  Every place else we’ve gone there has been a suggested TIP sheet next to the counter/cashier.  Plan on 15-20%.  Remember a TIP is based on the service provided.

This article from answers a lot more questions about massages.

I’ll leave you with this story from my first real massage.  I was chatting with the YWCA Associate at the front desk when I checked in for my first massage (30 minutes).  We were chatting about how it was my first one and she’d never had one before.  After my massage, which felt amazing, I walked back out and she was still sitting there.  She noted that I looked super relaxed.  I felt almost like a new person I was so relaxed!

Go, get a massage.

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