If you’ve been in the running world for some time, you’ve surely noticed what the typical road race winner looks like, right? Tall, toned, and thin. It’s fair to assume that this is what it takes to be fast. Unfortunately, many of us, and especially females, go about improving our performance based on looking like these elites. Many female athletes are under nourished in relation to the amount of energy they expend. Truth is, this common behavior is actually very dangerous and can cause serious damage to a female athlete’s body.
I have been running since 2006. In 2010, after my sixth marathon, my doctor raised his concerns about my weight, my bone health, and something called the female athlete triad. I had never heard this term before, but I was quickly learning that I was in serious danger of falling into this condition.
Loyola University defines the female athlete triad as being characterized by disordered eating, irregular periods, and osteoporosis. I sat listening to my doctor explain the condition and knew that my periods were not regular, however, surely the other issues didn’t apply to me, or so I thought. He proceeded to perform a dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry, or DEXA scan, to check my bone density. He didn’t like what he saw for a female in her late twenties. But then he got to the eating. I was in complete denial. I was thin, but I was a runner and I needed to keep my calories low so I could stay light for performance. So I thought.
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We asked fans of the Wichita Prairie Fire Marathon Facebook page to post their biggest running questions. We received several great questions as these runners prepare for their half and full marathons on October 14. We have collected the best questions and better yet, gathered the best answers from our team of experts, which include Mary Hartley, RD for nutrition, Holly Perkins for fitness, Dr. Josh Umbehr for fitness and nutrition, and Jill Lawson for stretching.
These runner questions were so great and so common that any runner could benefit from hearing these expert answers.
Digestion issues, sore muscles, stretching inquiries, and diet conundrums were just a few of the topics we were able to cover. If you’ve ever had a running question, chances are it’s answered by clicking below.
Running is a learning process. I’m far from the runner I was two years ago, and unrecognizable from the one I was when I first started. There are so many mistakes to learn from and so many trials and errors to experience. It’s been six years since I put on my first pair of running shoes and began my journey. As I prepare for my long run this weekend, I can certainly say I learned one lesson the hard way: The issue of refueling during runs. This took a lot of trials and even more errors on my part. But today, my pantry is stocked with my fuel of choice and I hope my days of struggling with mid-run fuel is over.
Recently, NPR’s food blog “The Salt” reported on the issue of using real food as athletic fuel. That is, real food instead of the many popular gels, chews, and drink mixes. The title alone made me laugh at my former self. I recalled my early days in training for my first marathons. I was so convinced that I needed all natural foods. On long runs, I toted around the most cumbersome bags loaded with fresh fruit, honey, or even nuts. I was trying so hard to live up to this uber-natural standard I placed on myself. Furthermore, all awkwardness aside, these methods weren’t working. I wasn’t feeling any energy from my fuel and even worse, I was having such a hard time digesting these foods while on the run. Come marathon day, there was no way I could run a strong, fast race with these issues and a pantry in my shorts.
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If there’s one thing we love sharing, it’s stories of health and personal triumph. But love stories take a close second. So any time we hear about a story that combines the two, we get downright giddy.
Caitlin Donovan is a friend of our Diets in Review staff, and when we caught wind of her unlikely engagement story, we knew we just had to share it. Her then-boyfriend, Dan, popped the question immediately following one of the biggest ‘mountaintop moments’ of her life: Her third marathon.
Caitlin and Dan have known each other their entire lives, literally. “We were sent to the same babysitter when we were the tiniest of tots,” she said. “And we’d been dating for about nine years when we started talking about getting married.”
The pair looked at rings together and came to a mutual understanding that they were going to tie the knot, but as weeks passed, talk of the subject subsided.
“In the midst of all this I was training for my third marathon,” said Caitlin. “When marathon Sunday rolls around, things are always exciting to begin with, so the last thing I expected at the end was an engagement ring!”
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Marathons are always memorable. The grueling task of traveling 26.2 miles on foot leaves permanent marks on our mind. While the thrill of crossing the finish line is often a favorite moment for all marathoners, those 26.2 miles can leave us with many other flashbacks as well. Marathoning can get messy, brutal, and downright embarrassing at times. Here are some of the most unique marathon moments from fellow runners across the country.
One of the most uncomfortable moments in my marathoning career occurred just feet after the 2011 Boston Marathon starting line. Runners had been lined up in corrals for some time with no bathrooms in sight, the first chance to go was in the brush just off the street before mile one. The brush was shallow and the runners were in a hurry. I’d never seen so many bare backsides in my life. Men and women alike were squatting and some very boldly doing more than number one right in plain sight. All I could do was look straight forward because they were everywhere!
April Reed of Wichita, KS was honest enough to admit being in a bad situation at the San Diego Marathon. “I peed in downtown San Diego right off the street in some low lying bushes. I think I came out of the bush before I really had my pants up.”
Jenny Poore of Chicago, IL explained how her bladder got the best of her at mile 22 during the Chicago Marathon. She could have stopped but she was having a great race so she just let nature take its course, down her legs. “I’m not ashamed. It was exhilarating. Just glad I don’t have a photo with water spewing everywhere. hahaha!”
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