Saturday, June 22, 2013

Changes To The WOOT Blog

Jannine Myers

Hi all,
In an effort to reach a wider audience and make some improvements to this blog, we have moved over to a new platform and have re-named the blog. The new blog is called Run With WOOT, and as with all things new, there will undoubtedly be a transition period which may involve slower-than-desired progress. With that in mind, we ask for your patience and hope that you will continue to follow our posts.

Thank you!

image provided by

NOW go check out the new blog:!

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Don't be Fooled by Quick-Fix Diets and Exercise Plans

Jannine Myers

It's around this time of year that people start to frantically look for ways to quickly drop some weight and tone up saggy looking muscles. With nothing but hot summer days ahead and inevitable weekend trips to the beach or pool, there's no more hiding behind winter "cover-up" clothing. The lax, and often poor habits that many fall into during the festive season and colder months, result in unwanted excess weight and sudden panic when it comes time to shed the layers of clothing.

I'm all about taking steps to get active and lose excess weight, but not the way that so many people opt to do so. You know what I'm talking about right? The quick "Lose 20 lbs of Fat in 30 Days," or "How to Tone Up Your Body in Two Weeks." There are so many of these programs out there, all promising amazing results if you'll follow their instructions to the letter.

The five-day Bikini Blitz diet

The amazing diet that lets you eat as much as you want
 ..and you still lose 14lb in less than a week

The Bikini Workout

Get Beach-Ready with 10 Exercises

But how long do their promised results actually last? I know people who have followed "quick-fix" diets and exercise programs, and I've seen them lose weight rapidly, but I've also seem them months later either at their original weight or heavier. Heck, I remember my own bouts of yo-yo dieting when I was much younger, and I also remember how wonderful I felt when I dropped several pounds, and how miserable I felt when I regained them.

Even so, with all the evidence stacked up against these diets, revealing them for the shams that they are, people still search for them online in desperate attempts to lose weight. Worse still, is the abuse of diet pills and laxatives as an ongoing means of losing weight. None of these strategies are going to provide lasting results or health benefits; on the contrary, they may even harm your body.

So come on ladies, if you, or someone you know is searching for that quick-fix weight loss remedy, try to divert that focus onto a more sustainable and long-term strategy that looks instead at healthy lifestyle changes. Sure, it may take longer for the weight to come off, but you can at least take comfort in the fact that you will be losing weight safely, and more effectively, since the weight loss is more likely to be permanent.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Meeting Awesome People Through Trail Running

Jannine Myers

Topic: Tell About Someone Awesome You've Met Through Trail Running

I've met some great people over the years, and some even greater folks through running, but there's one person who immediately came to mind when I saw the topic for this month's Trail Runner Blog Symposium - her name is Virginia Winstone and she is a trail runner who lives in New Zealand.

Virginia - Tarawera Ultramarathon 2013

Typically, when asked to think of someone "awesome" you know, through a sport, there's a tendency to think initially of those who have won awards, or those who have competed at some distinguishable level. I've met one or two trail runners who would fit that bill, but Virginia embodies other traits that I feel are far more inspiring.

I met Virginia a little over two years ago, while running the Tarawera Ultramarathon in New Zealand. We struck up a friendly conversation while running, and what I most admired about her was that she took the time to slow down, chat, and offer encouraging tips. We didn't see each other after the race, but we later became Facebook friends and have kept in touch ever since.

Virginia began running just five years ago, in 2008. She has set an exemplary example of what can be achieved when one finds a goal and purpose. In the book, The Runner's Devotional, one of the authors makes the point that goals with a reason or purpose are those most likely to be achieved. Virginia found her purpose for running after reading the book Running Hot, written by Ultrarunner Lisa Tamati.

Inspired by Lisa's amazing return to running after a crippling back injury, Virginia wanted to break free of what she claims had become a satisfactory, but routine life. She set some running goals, starting out with just a few evening walks and progressing to a 5k race, and in 2010 she ran her first 20k trail race, followed by a full marathon. Those latter two races marked the beginning of a very avid pursuit of trail running and a subsequent active involvement in New Zealand's trail running community.

In 2012, Virginia attempted her first 100-mile race, the Northburn100. At the 90k mark, she took a wrong turn down some slippery turf and wound up fracturing a bone in her foot. Instead of feeling defeated, Virginia says she felt "empowered," and stirred in that moment by a deep desire to not only run more races but to also help others in their quest to do the same.

Just a little more than a year has passed since she experienced that "epiphany," and already her dreams are being realized. Her new business, Thir, which specializes in trail running apparel and gear, was established in March 2012. While not all of the products in Thir’s line-up are currently available, their headbands are on sale in more than ten sporting stores throughout New Zealand. Thir donates a percentage of all product sales to athletes needing assistance with race fees and/or training expenses.

Virginia's interest in helping others within the local trail running community is so genuine that when she met Lisa Tamati at the Northburn 100 in 2012, Lisa instantly took a liking to her. Also dedicated to supporting fellow trail runners and ultramarathoners, Lisa recognized the same zealous spirit in Virginia and in an interesting twist of fate, she asked Virginia to write the introduction for her new book Running To Extremes.

I was able to take a sneak peek at Lisa's book on Amazon, and also read Virginia's introduction. In it, she shares about her rather extraordinary childhood and how she sailed the Pacific with her father, experiencing, she says, "one adventure after another." Virginia credits Lisa for helping her rediscover, through trail running, the adventurous spirit she enjoyed as a child.

I love Virginia's story; it's a story of hope for anyone who dreams of one day doing something that seems impossible. But beyond the victory of setting and achieving life-changing goals, Virginia also reminds us that greater rewards come in the form of helping others, and those who know her, including Ultrarunner Lisa Tamati, will agree that that is something Virginia does very well.

To find out more about Thir, check out their Facebook page here:

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Don't Compete With The Heat - You'll Lose!

Jannine Myers

I don't know about you, but my runs this past week have been exceptionally hard. The increase in heat and humidity caused my ego to take a furious blow as I unsuccessfully tried to maintain my usual pace. But seriously ladies, it's not worth fighting the heat; you're only going to be a victim of heat exhaustion or some other heat illness if you don't deliberately slow down and reduce the intensity of your runs (and even the distance if necessary). 

Here's a list of great tips to follow, as you continue to train throughout the summer:

Tips for Running in Hot Weather

How to Run Safety in the Heat and Humidity

By , Guide Updated May 03, 2012

  • Stay hydrated - The easiest way to avoid heat disorders is to keep your body hydrated. This means drinking fluids before, during and after exercise. The body's fluid needs vary with exertion, climate, humidity, terrain, and other factors. The new fluid recommendations for runners say that they should "obey your thirst" and drink when their mouth is dry and they feel the need to drink. In training, drink before workouts and make sure you have access to fluids if exercising longer than 30 minutes. During longer workouts, some of your fluid intake should include a sports drink(like Gatorade) to replace lost salt and other minerals (electrolytes).

  • Choose clothing carefully - Light-colored, loose-fitting clothing will help your body breathe and cool itself down naturally. Tight clothing restricts that process and dark colors absorb the sun's light and heat. Wear synthetic fabrics (not cotton) because they will wick moisture away from your skin so cooling evaporation can occur.

  • Run Early or Late - Try to avoid running between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., when the sun's intensity is at its greatest. If you must train during those hours, try to stick to shady roads or trails. Morning (before sunrise or right after) is the coolest time of the day to run since the roads have not heated up during the day.

  • Wear Sunscreen - Protect your skin with a waterproof sunscreen that has an SPF of at least 15 and offers broad spectrum protection, which means it protects against both UVA and UVB rays. Stick formulations are good for runners' faces because the sunscreen won't run into your eyes. 

  • Don't Push It - On a race day (or during any intense workout), take weather conditions into account. Brutal heat and humidity mean you should scale back your performance goals. Don't try to beat the heat. Hot and humid conditions are not the time to try to push your pace. Slow down, take walking breaks, and save your hard efforts for cooler weather.

  • Make a Splash - Use water to cool yourself during runs. If you are overheating, splashing water on your head and body will cool you down quickly and have a lasting effect as the water evaporates from your skin.

  • Be Educated - You should be very familiar with the signs of heat problems so you recognize them in yourself or in a running partner. If you feel faint, dizzy, disoriented, have stopped sweating, or your skin is cool and clammy, slow down or stop running, and get some fluids. If symptoms continue, sit or lie down in the shade and seek help.

Keeping It Safe on the Trails

Jannine Myers

Highlights from last weekend's Trail Safety and First Aid Event

Last week we were briefed on trail safety (by Red Cross CPR and First Aid Instructor, Erik Myers), and shown what to do in the event of an injury or illness. So that we don't forget some of the essentials, I've highlighted below what types of first-aid and survival items might be useful for trail running. First up though, there are three critical principles of first-aid that everyone should know:

  1. Preserve life - your own first, and then others, with an added emphasis on remaining calm. 
  2. Prevent deterioration - treat the injury and prevent the situation from getting worse.
  3. Promote recovery - do whatever you can to help the injured person/s. The Good Samaritan law offers legal protection to persons (in most Western countries) who offer reasonable assistance to those who are injured, ill, or in danger of losing their lives. 
Memorize these three principles ladies, and take your first-aid bags with you on those longer trail runs. Here's a recap of some of the items:

  • A mask - to protect from bloodborne pathogens, or other infectious bodily substances. A runner having to administer emergency rescue breaths will be grateful for the extra protection a mask provides!
  • Two baby safety pins. Safety pins can be used to re-secure items of clothing that might get torn during a nasty fall, or to secure a sling or bandage, or to dig out splinters.
  • Five feet of cord. Keeping a stash of cord in your first-aid bag can come in handy for any of the following reasons: to replace a torn shoe lace; to immobilize a broken arm; to secure a splint; or as a last resort, to use as a tourniquet (click the following link for instructions on how to tie a tourniquet:
  • Three feet of duct tape. Perhaps one of the more versatile items, duct tape can be used in the following ways: it can be used as makeshift moleskin to prevent blisters, or provide relief to blisters which have already formed; it can be used as a bandage to support a dressing or splint, or to restrict a part of the body, or to slow heavy bleeding or blood flow in the event of a snake bite (athletic tape does not adhere as well as duct tape when the skin is wet or sweaty); duct tape can also be used to write on and stick to a tree, in the event that a runner wants to leave a distress message for search and rescue workers.
  • A seemingly insignificant item, a pencil could potentially save your life. As noted above, messages with pertinent information left on trees for search and rescue teams could mean the difference between life and death. Pencils are the most viable writing instrument, as markings from pens and markers will fade much quicker than that of a pencil. Pencils can also be used to record information that might assist emergency crews; information about allergies for example, or descriptive details about a snake, or a record of signs and symptoms. 
  •  Cue tips, and neosporin in a 2 inch soda straw (sealed at both ends). The neosporin (stored in a 2 inch soda straw for the purpose of "compactness"), is obviously useful for treating skin infections, and to prevent infections in burns, minor cuts, and wounds. The neosporin can be applied to a cue tip, which in turn can be applied directly to the wound. Cue tips are also useful for cleaning wounds; they can be dipped in water and then used to sweep away dirt and debris.
  • Mylar blanket, also known as a first aid, or emergency, or thermal blanket. What's so great about these blankets is that they can be folded up and stored in a small snack size ziploc bag, and they weigh  next to nothing (less than 2oz.). Useful in a sudden downpour, or to keep you warm if the temperatures suddenly drop, a mylar blanket offers warmth and protection from cold weather elements.

In addition to these essential items, first-aid bags should also include: alcohol pads, various types of gauze, bandaids of different sizes and width, and antibiotic ointment. Also recommended, as items to carry in either a camelbak or on your body (in clothing pockets), include: a cellphone, a whistle and compass, a small amount of money, baby wipes, quick-energy snacks and electrolytes.

Always remember, your best form of defense is to always be prepared.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Do This, Not That!

Jannine Myers

You've probably heard of or seen the book series Eat This, Not That. It's a great reference for those who want to make healthier food choices but don't know where to start. It's fairly obvious by now that not all foods are good for you, and so in this case, we can all agree that choosing to "eat this, not that," is good advice. In other instances however, where health and fitness is concerned, the best choices are not so discernible.

In a day and age where nothing stays the same for too long, and where today's trends get left behind by tomorrow's trends, we're frequently forced to consider new training methods, new running shoes, new strength routines, and new diets. It's difficult keeping up with them all, and even more so trying to weigh up each of their pros and cons.

Trail running anyone?

Or how about crossfit?

I read a blog post a few days ago about an ongoing "tit-for-tat" argument between two elite athletes, each a staunch advocate for their choice of sport. I don't need to go into detail, except to say that one of the athletes made negative claims about the other's style of training, and a retaliatory confrontation ensued. The author of the blog post pointed out that all this bickering is unnecessary, and that any type of sport or exercise which promotes greater health and fitness should be celebrated rather than criticized.

I have to agree! Given that more than one third of U.S. adults are obese (according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), I think that athletes in general, and collectively, should set the example for the non-exercising population and encourage them to find an enjoyable form of exercise, whatever that may be.

I admit that in the past I have recommended, or not recommended, certain sports or workout routines, based on my own biases and what has worked or not worked for me. The problem though, is that it's not about me, it's about the other person and what might might work for him or her. In that respect, I think a more admirable approach to how we view the workout choices of others, is to recognize that their chosen sport or training method keeps them from living sedentary lives.

One thing we athletes understand, is that we are dedicated to being healthy and active because we love what we do. But like other things in life that people feel strongly about, there are always opposite schools of thought; in the fitness world there will always be people telling you to train this way, not that way, or to wear minimalist shoes, not support shoes, or to follow a paleo diet, not a vegan diet.


Versus Vegan?

As long as the recommendations are given in a spirit of goodwill, then the recipient can gratefully receive the advice and act on it if they so wish. It's when a person's choices are violated by the cutting remarks of someone who thinks they know better, that arguments like the one I mentioned above spiral out of control. Why can't athletes, regardless of their leanings towards crossfit, or veganism, or barefoot running, simply support one another's training methods and dietary preferences?

Getting back to the point made earlier, wouldn't it be better to shift the emphasis from one which reeks of superiority (i.e."do this, not that!"), to one of respect, and then ultimately to one which applauds any type of lifestyle that moves a person towards greater health and fitness?

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Dealing With Injuries: Exercise Guidelines

Jannine Myers

I've been running seriously for several years now, and while I wish I could say that I hardly ever deal with injuries, the opposite is actually true. It's as if every time I start to make progress with my training I suffer a  setback in the way of minor but persistent muscle pain, or a full-blown muscle strain or tear. My most recent (and current) injury is a right hamstring strain, or at least I think it's a strain. 

One of the most frustrating things about any type of injury is not knowing exactly what it is you're dealing with, and then of course, not knowing how to proceed with training. In my search for answers on what might be causing the pain in my hamstring, I came across an article (by running expert Jenny Hadfield), which suggested some useful guidelines on dealing with injuries. 

If you're like me, and prone to injury, please take the time to read Jenny's advice:

Photo courtesy of

For endurance junkies, an injury is a tough pill to swallow. The good news is the old-school prescription of “rest, rest and more rest” has been debunked by recent research. Evidence now suggests that a modi ed exercise plan helps you heal faster than staying off your feet completely.
The key is to catch an injury at the onset, evaluate the ache and modify your workouts accordingly. Follow the guidelines below to assess the gravity of your particular pain—we’ve separated the stages of injury into four different zones—and to see which exercises are safe for you.


Symptoms: Mild discomfort only after a run.
Exercise Rx: As long as there is no pain mid-workout, you can continue to run. Stick to  at terrain, avoid speed work or tempo runs and cut your mileage in half. Swap every other running workout with low-impact cross-training, such as yoga, weight lifting, elliptical, biking and swimming. Stretch lightly and perform self-massage daily with a foam roller or similar device.
Symptoms: Very mild pain while running that does not cause you to alter your stride or limp. The discomfort may be present (but does not worsen) post-run.
Exercise Rx: Cross-train with low-impact activities for five to seven days. If the pain subsides, gradually incorporate running back into your workouts. For example, if you were biking for 30 minutes, bike for 20 minutes and run for 10. Slowly add more running minutes over the following week or two.


Symptoms: Pain is present during and after a run and restricts activity. You can no longer run without altering your stride.
Exercise Rx: Cross-train at easy-to moderate efforts with activities that do not cause pain. Consult a doctor or physical therapist to develop a recovery plan with exercises that build strength and flexibility.


Symptoms: Acute, unrelenting pain.
Exercise Rx: Before you hit the gym, you must visit your doctor. Depending on your diagnosis, you can begin to exercise with non-weight bearing activities (e.g. swimming, aqua jogging, rowing) as tolerated. Work with your doctor to develop a recovery plan tailored to your injury. Listen to your body and you’ll prevent overuse injuries from worsening. Remember: If it hurts, don’t do it. If your pain is ever in the orange or red zones, it’s time to make a doctor’s appointment.


The location of your injury will dictate which  exibility, strength and cardio exercises you can perform safely.


Flexibility: Massage and stretch your hip flexors and glutes.
Strength: Perform bodyweight planks, as well as lunges and squats if they do not cause pain.
Cardio: Rowing machine, aqua jogging and swimming. Elliptical trainer or cycling if you have no pain.


Flexibility: None until you can walk pain-free. Then, gently stretch and massage quads, hips and glutes.
Strength: Once pain-free, perform bridges, hip extensions and hamstring curls.
Cardio: Rowing machine, aqua jogging, swimming and ab work.

IT Band

Flexibility: Massage the IT band using a foam roller.
Strength: Focus on exercises for your glutes and hips (squats, single-leg squats, hip raises and lateral band walks).
Cardio: Elliptical trainer, swimming, rowing machine and cycling.


Flexibility: Gently stretch calf. Roll tennis ball under the foot and massage calves.
Strength: Foot and ankle strengthening exercises, including heel raises, single-leg balances and lunges.
Cardio: Rowing machine, aqua jogging and swimming. Elliptical trainer if you have no pain.
Jenny Hadfield is the co-author of Running for Mortals and Marathoning for Mortals. You can find more of her training programs, tips and running classes at

Saturday, May 11, 2013

How WOOT Gave Me Back My Mojo

By Marie Lewis

In 7th grade, I had a friend whom I credit with forcing me to discover my hidden potential. At this point in my life I could run around a soccer field, but I huffed and puffed my way through the one-mile fitness test during gym class. I did not consider myself a runner—merely a second-string player on the JV soccer team.
I promise this story is not about my awkward middle school years, but a little background is necessary to understand how WOOT did something special for me.

My new middle school friend, April, invited me to go running with her one day. She was so darn friendly I didn’t have the heart to turn her down. I made it about half a mile before I had to stop and walk. I felt self-conscious about it, but April seemed all too happy to slow her pace to a brisk walk for the rest of the “run.”
After that, I didn’t expect to be invited out to run with her anymore. I was wrong. April asked me to go with her every day that she ran, and despite my trepidation, I enjoyed her company and didn’t feel like she judged me for being slow.

The first time I completed a mile without walking, I felt like I was floating. April quickly became one of my best friends, and she created a running training schedule for me the summer after middle school. By fall, I had made a decision to quit the soccer team (where I’d always felt like a bit of a misfit) and I joined the cross-country team.
Marie is in the back row, third from the right

That was probably the best decision I made during high school. I was never one of the fastest girls, but I enjoyed competing against myself. More than that, I savored the encouragement I received both from my coach and especially from the other girls on the team. I felt a confidence I’d never experienced before.
Fast-forward 12 years and I’ve completed more 5K races than I can count and two half-marathons to boot. Running remained a constant part of my life throughout college and in the years that followed.

There was something missing, though. I never had a running buddy quite like April after we graduated high school. She was always there, always holding me accountable and always game for a run no matter what her schedule looked like. I’d since found that if I didn’t hold myself accountable, no one else would.

If you’re still reading, you can stop wondering when I’m going to get to this WOOT business. When I arrived in Okinawa, WOOT was my first experience really meeting anyone on this island. Our sponsor, Melissa, invited me to run with some ladies she called “Women on Okinawa Trails,” and I was immediately intrigued.

That first day, the women gathered in a circle and each introduced herself before our group run. Their smiles and easy laughs put me at ease, and they made me feel at home in this strange new place. I’d be lying if I said that I faithfully drag myself out of bed every Saturday at 6:00 a.m. to join every single WOOT run, but on the days I do show up, everyone remembers me. They know the last time I was there and they ask me what I’ve been doing since. They ask me about my life and they share stories with me about theirs. They tell me when I need new running shoes. They push me to run faster than I do alone.

They remind me of April.

If you’re a woman—or if you have a pulse—you probably know that women are not always pillars of support for one another. We compete, we gossip, we sometimes behave in ways we wouldn’t want our daughters to model. But too often, we do not hear about women lifting each other up.

WOOT lifts me up every time I hit the trails with them. When I lace up my running shoes, I step into a judge-free zone full of encouragement. We share parenting tips (those who are moms), nutrition advice, and laugh at ourselves. I know I belong here.

If you’re new to Okinawa and struggling to find a niche, I encourage you to come meet the WOOT and see for yourself why I love this group. There is no fee, no commitment requirement, no catch. We would just love your company.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Social media: Bane or Boom to Trail Running

Jannine Myers

Each month Trail Runner magazine invites bloggers to write about and share their opinion on a chosen topic - this month's topic pertains to social media and it's impact on trail running.

I'm going to go ahead and admit right off the bat that I know zilch about social media, well maybe not zilch but very little. I'm also somewhat unenlightened when it comes to technical gadgets of any kind, so much so that it's getting kind of ridiculous. I don't know for example, what the difference is between my daughter's ITouch and my husband's IPhone, nor do I know how to capably use an IPod or an IPad, or even how to take photos with any of these I-thing gizmos.

As for social media, I know about Facebook since I have my own account, and I know a little about blogging, but if you hadn't noticed already, this is a basic, no-frills blog. I also know about twitter, google +, LinkedIn, and various other types of information and photo-sharing sites, but my lack of knowledge deters me from using them. Pathetic, I know, but before you all feel the need to start firing cynical comments my way, let me assure you that I don't plan to stagnate in the land of "unknowing" forever. Until then however, let me share with you my archaic views on how I believe trail running fares without the intrusion of social media.

For starters, let's take a look at trail races and the use of race websites and forums to help runners better prepare. Traditionally, I have turned up to races relatively ignorant of what kind of course I might be running. Details that other runners would need to know in advance, such as the degree of course difficulty or elevation, or expected weather conditions and temperature, have ordinarily not been a priority for me.

I appreciate that for some runners, race preparation can be greatly enhanced with access to online sources of information, but there is something liberating about running in a race with little prior knowledge about it. Rather than noting each hill or bend in the trail as a mile marker to be mentally checked off, the runner is free to truly capture the beauty of the course. It's difficult to be cognizant of your surroundings when you've cued yourself to be looking for certain landmarks along the way.

I also believe that trail runners who use social media regularly, might develop more of a propensity, in general, towards planned and organized runs. Trail runners tend to seek adventure and challenge, and spontaneity often adds to the excitement. The internet, with it's wealth of information on the "best" places to run trails, and the "best" trail running gear and apparel to buy, makes it easy to forego any desire to be spontaneous and succumb instead to online recommendations. The downside, as I see it, is that the element of surprise is lost, much like when a runner turns up to a race already knowing what to expect.

Social media has also played a huge role in changing the scope of all sports, including trail running. It has enabled mass dissemination of information that at one time, would have been exclusively available to much smaller populations. I asked a few trail runners what their thoughts were about this, and how this will likely cause a significant surge of interest in trail running, and though their answers varied, most were skewed towards one of favorable acceptance.

My thoughts, on the other hand, were not so embracing, but they also reeked of selfishness and immaturity. On a very simplistic level, I compare my thoughts to that of my favorite vegan cafe here in Okinawa, and how I am reluctant to tell too many people about it because it's like a best-kept secret. I realize though that some secrets should be shared, and as one trail runner reminded me, there are enough trails in the world for everyone to enjoy.

None of my arguments are obviously very compelling, but I do have one final thought to add. Unlike other sports, such as football and baseball, which are steeped in years of nationally-observed traditions and a staunch public following, trail running is much more intimate and hardly reliant on enormous crowd support. That's not to say that it isn't popular, or that I don't wish for it to be popular, but trail running is so close to nature, that attaching it to various media platforms and social networks somehow seems to diminish it's raw appeal.

It's a little like Wii bringing sports indoors and masquerading as a "close-to-the-real-deal" experience. No matter which way you slice it, playing imaginary tennis in front of a television screen is never going to be the same as hitting an actual ball, with an actual tennis racket, on an actual tennis court. With that said however, Wii brings immense enjoyment to those who use it, and I think it's safe to say (despite my resistance to using it), that social media offers the same; it too, can bring enjoyment and other benefits to trail runners who choose to use it.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Running Vs. Inactivity - Which Is Worse For Your Knees?

Jannine Myers

I met with a lady last week who had some questions for me regarding a private matter, and as we greeted each other and shook hands, the first words out of her mouth were, " So you're a runner?" Now when someone asks me if I'm a runner my first inclination is to get all excited and expect to commence a dialog about a mutually-shared passion. In this case, my enthusiasm was quickly shot down, as the lady proceeded to tell me that running was not "her thing." In her opinion, running plays havoc on the knees and she hoped to avoid knee problems as she aged.

I found her stance on running particularly interesting, because I had just read an article not so long ago by lifelong runner Bob Wischnia, who proposes that running may actually slow the process of wear-and-tear on the knees. Read his article below:

The Planet Wave: Is Running Bad For Your Knees?


How many times have you heard this one from some well-meaning, non-runner: “If you keep up with all that running, it’s going to ruin your knees. Pretty soon, you won't be even be able to walk.” If I had a breakfast taco for every single time I’ve heard that, I could compete with Taco Bell.

Heck, I’ve been running since fourth grade and my mother still insists on telling me before every marathon that all this running around I've done has trashed my legs and makes me too skinny. Not that I’ve ever listened to her. (Sorry, mom). 

Gotta admit though, intuitively it does make some degree of sense that the longer you run, the more wear and tear you place on the knee. One of these days it’s just gonna wear out, right?

Actually, no. Nor, does running lead to the onset of osteoarthritis or any other crippling disease. In fact, just the opposite. Inactivity is the crippling disease of millions of Americans, not running.

A study at Boston University School of Medicine looked at the continuous impact of the foot with the ground and the commonly accepted belief that running causes degeneration of the knee and can lead to all sorts of arthritic conditions. Said lead researcher and epidemiologist David Felson of BU: “We know from many long-term studies that running doesn’t appear to cause much damage to the knees. When we look at people with knee arthritis, we don’t find much of a previous history of running, and when we look at runners and follow them over time, we don’t find that their risk of developing osteoarthritis is any more than expected.” Felson added that recreational running doesn't increase the risk of arthritis.

Yet another study—this one conducted in Sweden—found that exercise, including running, may even be beneficial. In this study, researchers took one group of older people at risk of osteoarthritis and had them engage in exercise, including running. The other at-risk group didn’t exercise at all. After looking at the joints of the participants in both study groups, they found that the biochemistry of cartilage improved in those participants who ran.

Multiple studies have shown that movement boosts the knee's cartilage. Running also helps people to maintain their weight which is another key to slowing arthritis. Lack of movement is the killer. The one caveat is if you already have knee osteoarthritis—a slow, steady loss of the knee's cushioning cartilage—running is not recommended. Especially if you're already overweight. Running won't cause arthritis of the knees, but it may hasten or worsen the condition, once it started.

Without question, your muscles sustain some minor damage when you run, but, say researchers, exercise (or running) stimulates cartilage to repair much of the damage. It is theorized that the impact of your body weight when the foot contacts the ground, increases production of certain proteins in the cartilage that make it stronger in the same way that running increases bone and muscle mass.

This is especially good news for older runners who naturally lose some cartilage after the age of 40. But, says researcher Nancy Lane of the UC Davis Center for Healthy Aging,“If you have a relatively normal knee and you're jogging five to six times a week at a moderate pace, then there's every reason to believe that your joints will remain healthy.”

Lane, who has done long-term studies of runners of the 50-Plus Running Club when she was at Stanford University, adds: “We wanted to answer the important question of whether, if you continued to run into your 50s and 60s and even 70s, do you also ran the risk of damaging the knees?” Her answer, based on years of studying older runners: Regardless of your age, running will not damage the knees.

But, there are a few caveats. Lane says that if you have suffered a knee injury, especially one that required surgery, running can increase your risk of knee arthritis. So can routinely running really fast — at a five- or six-minute-mile pace — or running a marathon.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Do Your "Runners Legs" Tend to Swell on Planes?

Jannine Myers

Here's a post for the traveling runner. A couple of years ago I noticed that my ankles and calves started to swell during long flights, so much so that the swelling would sometimes warrant a visit to the clinic and/or massage therapist a day or two after landing. Feeling a little nervous about these recent bouts of travel-induced swelling, I decided to search the internet for tips on how to prevent this from happening on future flights. The following brief article offered some great information and advice:

Runners could be more prone to leg blood clots on planes

Posted Nov 21 2008 10:04am
Crowded plane
The latest thinking goes like this:

"Runners’ bodies adapt to running by making their leg vascular system more efficient: larger veins and arteries. So if you sit for a long time and are scrunched in an airplane seat, the blood can pool in your larger leg veins, and clot. That—coupled with the edge of the seat's pushing on the back of your knee, preventing or slowing venous return—could be all you need to set up a clot."

This according to Dr. Lewis G. Maharam one of the world’s premier running physician. He is also medical director of the New York Road Runners, ING New York City Marathon.
So what can you do to prevent blood clots on long airplane flight?
Dr. Maharam has some advice:
On flights of three hours or more:

  • Do not sit in one position for more than an hour. Get up and walk every so often.
  • Do calf stretches once an hour, standing and leaning against a bathroom wall.
  • Stay well hydrated. As I always say, check your urine color: you want lemonade color; not clear, and not brown like iced tea.
  • Avoid crossing your legs at the knees and ankles.
  • Wear graduated-compression stockings (the so-called TED stocking you can buy at your local pharmacy).
  • If your doctor permits, take one baby aspirin  four to six hours before your flight. It mildly prevents clotting as it does for heart patients.

FYI: I ordered a pair of these stockings from Amazon, and within just a few hours of traveling from Naha to Narita, my legs had ballooned! I had to rush to the bathroom at Narita airport and pull them off. I then spent the next half hour or so walking around the terminal to get my blood re-circulating, and then a further half hour massaging my calves and lying on the floor with my feet up on a chair. Anna suggested that the stockings may have been a size too small, but I had purchased a size larger than usual, to err on the side of caution. Maybe they were still the wrong size, but I won't be trying these again.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Boston Marathon 2013

Post by Jannine Myers

Still reeling from the aftermath of yet another cowardly terrorist attack, I sit here thinking about those who were at the Boston marathon last Monday, and I grieve for them. As runners, this tragedy has hit us hard, but that's not to say that we grieve less for the victims of other mindless attacks. It was not so long ago, for instance, that we ran in silence and mutually grieved for the children who were massacred in Connecticut. They were just babies, whose violent deaths shook us to our cores and caused us to feel the pain of their loss as if they were our own.

No, it matters not who the victims are, we will always grieve. But last week's attack came at us from an angle that particularly hurt. Many of the victims were runners, and metaphorically speaking, they were all members of one large global running family - a family that runners everywhere, us included, are a part of. When the explosions were detonated, sending deadly pieces of shrapnel and ball bearings into the path of approaching runners (as well as supporters standing near each of the bomb sites), the grim, emotional impact was also felt by all of us at home.

As we try to make sense of it all, no answers come. We continue to mourn for those who were killed, and for those who are still fighting for their lives, and for those who lost limbs. And we recognize that among those who lost lower limbs, are some who are runners. We realize that the loss of life, and the possibility of death are the worst possible realities, but for a runner, losing a leg may seem worse than death. Many runners would rather die than live a life without being able to run.

But we also know that runners are fighters; they're resilient and courageous, and they don't stay down for long. We know that our fellow brothers and sisters who were affected in some way by this tragedy, will one day rise up from this terrible ordeal and most likely stand again at the start of the Boston marathon, ready to run it again, but next time with an attitude that promises to smack of defiance and a triumphant return.

They won't be alone either; I'm willing to bet that next year's Boston marathon will be overflowing with both runners and supporters. You might think this is an odd comparison, but runners are a little like cockroaches. Watch what happens when you try to stomp them out - they seem to multiply and come back at you with a vengeance. Well guess what, that's what you see happening in the running community all over the world right now.

We took it personally, and now we want revenge. Not the kind of revenge that reeks of sub-human abominable behavior, but the kind of revenge that makes a statement and tells those who assault us that we won't scamper away and crawl into little holes, never to be seen again. On the contrary, we're coming out in force and showing them instead, that we'll run even more, and we'll run in greater numbers, and we'll run against opposition, not from it.

If you wish to make a financial contribution to help the families of those most affected by this tragedy, the City of Boston has set up a fund - just go to

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Run Free - Lose the Garmin

Jannine Myers

It's been several weeks now since my last major training cycle ended, and also several weeks since I last ran with my garmin. I confess, there was once a time when I would almost forfeit my run if I woke up and realized that I had forgotten to charge my garmin! Of course I could never bring myself to skip my run for that reason, but I would most definitely experience a certain amount of frustration, which I now realize was really quite silly. I mean, garmins have not been around that long; people ran just fine without them!

But getting back to why I am currently running without my garmin, it's simple really - I'm in my off-season and have no need for it. And it's an incredibly liberating feeling, one which I plan to enjoy while it lasts.

Here's a few more reasons why occasionally ditching your garmin might be good for you:

  • It's inevitable that at certain times of the year, most runners will hit a motivational plateau, where running is no longer enjoyable and training becomes a chore. When this happens, strapping on a garmin may be counterproductive to overcoming the lack of motivation. The garmin, for the most part, does not lie; it has no qualms in telling you that you did not hit your target paces and times.
  • Garmins force us to try and meet certain training goals, even when our bodies would prefer not to. That's great - except, when you're sick, injured, or over-trained and should not be running at all. But even when the symptoms are slight and running can be tolerated, it might be best to let your body dictate the run, rather than your garmin.
  • Conversely, wearing a garmin can inhibit your true ability. When following a generic training plan that you have found online, with recommended paces, it's likely that you will do your best to run at those paces. If your garmin starts beeping because you're running faster than the set pace, you'll quickly slow down to get back on board with the plan. But, what if you're actually capable of running faster than the recommended paces you've been following; you won't know though because your garmin will control and determine just how fast you can go.
  • Runners tend to be creatures of habit and perfection, and when it comes to training runs, the need for perfection manifests itself in the form of "exactness." If, for example, Jane has a six mile run and she sees on her garmin as she turns the last corner to her house, that she is only at 5.85 miles, you can guarantee that Jane will run beyond her house until her garmin reads "exactly" six miles. Why? Because Jane thinks it's critical that she follow exactly what her training plan instructs. Losing the garmin will help you to be less rigid and far more adaptable, and adaptability is a skill that every serious runner should want to acquire.   
  • Most runners can tell you what they believe is their "easy" pace. If Jane believes that her easy pace is an 8:30min/mile, then Jane is going to make sure that on her easy run days, she runs no slower than an 8:30 pace. Running without your garmin sets you free from such expectations of yourself, and an easy run can actually be an easy run.

If you're in your off-training season, try leaving your garmin at home and enjoy running without any pace or time goals. It's a great way to renew your love of, and motivation for running, because without the goals, there is no disappointment and every run is therefore a successful run.

Run Free

Saturday, April 6, 2013

100 Miles - Do or Die!

Jannine Myers

Who on earth runs 100 miles, all at once, and voluntarily? WOOT member Paula Carrigan, is who!

Paula has never actually run with WOOT, but her love of trail running, as well as a family background with ties to Okinawa, compelled her to become a WOOT sister in "spirit." I don't recall exactly how Paula found us, but I do remember feeling an instant sense of connection with her once she explained who she was and why she wanted to "virtually" follow our group.

Paula at the Hashawha 50k, just a couple of weeks before the Graveyard 100

As the months have gone by since our first internet meeting, I've learned a lot about Paula, and yet I also suspect that I've barely scraped the surface of who she really is and what she's capable of. What I do know though, is that she is a talented ultrarunner, and gifted in so many other areas that she's basically one of those all-rounders who intrigue people and cause them to say, "Is there anything you can't do?" And after reading her account of the Graveyard 100 (a brutal 100 mile ultramarathon along the outer banks of North Carolina), I'd venture to say there really is very little that Paula can't do.

Paula - at the HAT 50k in Maryland, a couple of years ago

Graveyard 100 - March 9th 2013

Part of the Graveyard 100 course 

Definition of "do or die" - exert supreme effort because failure is close at hand.

Ultrarunners are a unique group of runners; they differ from the "rest of us." For starters, they are a relatively small community, at least when compared to marathoners. Their motivation to run exceptionally long distances, often over rugged and difficult terrain, is probably less inspired by the potential to earn awards, money, and accolades, and more likely due to a deep-rooted need to be one with nature, followed by a desire to test the limits of their strength and endurance.

Utrarunners are also, some might say, fearless. They expose themselves to conditions which sometimes threaten grave injury, or severe illness, and in some cases, even death. There are no, or very few limitations that ultrarunners will set for themselves when it comes to running, and that's how it was for Paula when she ran the Graveyard 100 several weeks ago.

"I always start these events with very lofty goals,
 like I'm going to do something special. And after a point 
of body deterioration, the goals get evaluated down to 
basically where I am now - where the best I can hope for is
 to avoid throwing up on my shoes."

- Ultrarunner Ephraim Romesberg, 65 miles into the Badwater Ultramarathon

Staged along the outer banks of North Carolina, the Graveyard 100 is a point-to-point race from north to south, and is deliberately set in March when the weather is at its worst and runners can expect to face strong headwinds for the entire 100 miles. This year's race had all the weather elements of what the race organizers were hoping for, and more. Compared to a severe migraine and nausea however, this was the least of Paula's concerns, and as she nudged up to the starting line on race morning, her only thoughts were to try and make it to the first aid station without losing her previous night's meal.

Alas, no such luck! At miles nine and eighteen, Paula gave in to the growing nausea and threw up on the side of the road. Still feeling terribly ill, and no longer confident in her ability to run the full 100 miles, Paula decided she should pull out of the race once she reached Aid Station 1 (AS1). That is, at least, until her good friend (and captain of AS1), persuaded her to "hang in there" and try to make it to AS2.

Moving on, Paula began running along Highway 158, a long stretch of flooded and obstacle-ridden road which forced her to carefully watch her footsteps and also stop four times to rinse and remove sand from her shoes. Seeing other runners stop to meet their "crew cars" on the side of the road and change into warm, dry clothes, was difficult to bear, but since Paula had registered to run the Graveyard 100 without a crew team to support her, she had no choice but to continue running in wet clothes and focus instead on reaching the second aid station, where her first drop bag was waiting for her.

Along the roadway, Paula weaved her way around kids toys and other carnage, as well as old boards with nails sticking up out of them.

Besides the challenges Paula had encountered up until this point, she was also becoming more and more aware of pain developing in her right IT band. During the weeks leading up to the race, Paula was hit with a bout of pneumonia and had to halt her training for a period of time. In an effort to make up for lost miles, Paula ran the Hashawha Hills 50k trail race just two weeks before the Graveyard 100, and aggravated her right IT band in the process.

At AS2, Paula's headache and nausea had tempered and despite the increasing discomfort of her IT band, she felt more confident about staying in the race. She changed into some dry shoes and socks, removed a layer of clothing, and grabbed a veggie burger and boiled bag of potatoes before making her way towards main Highway 12. By this stage of the race, the runners were so vastly spread out that they were now mostly running alone. Paula's only companion between miles 40 and 54 was a four foot black and slimy snake.

The third aid station was a welcome reprieve, like seeing an oasis in a desert. Awaiting the runners was warm food, heated sitting spots, and in Paula's case, an 18-gauge beveled syringe. Blisters had formed on three of her toes, and she was desperate to treat them. The corpsman on duty seemed hesitant to do the job, so Paula did it for him. Having served in the Navy as a corpsman some years ago, she knew exactly what to do.The release of fluids as she thrust the needle into each blister provided instant relief, and by the time Paula left AS3, at mile 54, she was feeling much better.

The next twenty five miles to aid station four (and mile 79), took Paula through the darkness of night, closed roads due to flooding, a climb up some sand dunes to avoid freezing cold water, a narrow escape from a sudden rush of strong surf, and a lucky encounter with some kind folks who informed her that the other runners had been diverted to the safety of the main highway. It was in a shivering, and slightly anxious but joyful state, that Paula reached the final aid station.

The remaining twenty one miles took runners into the small township of Corolla, and it was here that another female runner caught up with Paula and asked if they could tackle the darkness together (it was well into the night by this time). It was also not long past this point that Paula had her first hallucination; a building with smoke coming out of the top of it. If not for Paula's new running partner, she would never have known she was hallucinating.

The second hallucination occurred during the final two miles, as Paula tried desperately to stay focused on reaching the finish line. Paula was just minutes away from earning the prestigious silver belt buckle (awarded to runners who finish the race in 24 hours or less), when she began to see dark colored blocks popping up from the ground on the left side of the road. She was coherent enough to know however, that the blocks were a figment of her imagination, and she managed to steer her thoughts back to the goal at hand.

With fifteen minutes to spare, and after a long and hard "do or die" fight, Paula finished the race in a time of 23:44:14. Yes, she received a well-deserved silver belt buckle, but the real prize I'm sure, was in the challenge itself, and the greater sense of self-discovery made as each and every obstacle forced her to tap into a deeper part of herself.

Graveyard 100 Silver Belt Buckle

Well done Paula! Few women could run 100 miles in less than twenty four hours, and even fewer would ever try.

[If you would like to read a full account of Paula's race experience, including her tips on how best to prepare for a 100-miler, please email me for a copy -]