Don’t Be A Fair Weather Runner

By: Amy Watson ATC,PES
DMC Rehabilitation Institute of Michigan

You don’t have to be crazy to be a winter runner! Keeping your fitness level up during the winter months is very beneficial. It helps maintain a base level that makes spring events so much easier and helps to avoid overtraining problems for the main season. There are many things you can do to be comfortable and safe in order to make winter running part of your training.

But its just so cold!  Get over it by doing it right! Most important to make your run comfortable is dressing correctly. As a rule of thumb, always remember you will feel 20 degrees hotter while running than what the thermometer says.

You must wear layers, and most importantly wear a wicking/tech type material. Cotton will hold moisture from sweat making you wet and cold. Your inner layer should be a wicking material, your second layer can be the same weight or a thicker material on colder days, and the outer most layer should be a windproof nylon/Gortex type material.

Also, don’t forget about those undies! They should also be of wicking material. For those extra cold days also keep in mind the undergarments should be insulated, especially for men.  Frostbite can occur!

Clothing Guideline

40-60º -1 layer shirt/shorts or pants

30-40º – 2 layers shirt/shorts or pants

10-30º – 3 layers shirt/pants and/or tights

10-0º   – 3 layers shirt with coat and tights/windproof pants

Don’t forget we lose approximately 30% of our body heat through our hands and feet. Always wear gloves or mittens and shed them if you have to. Keep feet warm and dry by wearing thicker and taller socks. Wool socks work great by keeping feet warm and dry.  Headgear is also vital as 40% of our body heat is lost from our head.
Staying safe in the winter is key. The cold, dry air can trigger chest pain and asthma. Bring your inhaler with you, and keep your mouth covered to warm up the incoming air to avoid bronchospasm. The wind is also a bigger factor this time of year. Consider running into the wind first, that way when you are fatigued the battle is less and you can also stay warmer on your way home.

Hydration is still very important. Colder air has a drying effect which increases dehydration. You are also still sweating and will lose fluid from that as well. Bring your water with you as if it were any other time of year.

Don’t let the snow keep you in either, there are several types of cleats to slip your shoes into that give great traction.  They only help a little on icy surfaces, so still take extra caution. Always look ahead and take shorter and wider strides on bad terrain.

You do have to consider some training changes.  There is slightly more risk for muscle strains this time of year. Because it is colder, it takes longer for those muscles to warm up. Spend a few extra minutes with your warm-up routine and start your run at a slightly slower pace. Keep in mind your usual pace will decrease in the winter. Your overall miles should decrease slightly and you should try to continue running about 3 times per week.

After using all these tips you don’t have to be a fair weather runner! Cold weather running can be enjoyable, invigorating, and rewarding!

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Plantar Fasciitis: A Giant Pain In The Foot!

By: Amy Watson ATC,PES
DMC Rehabilitation Institute of Michigan

Ever been stopped in your tracks by a pain in your foot? Maybe it was more by your heel?  Plantar Fasciitis can seemingly come out of nowhere and ruin your training.

Plantar fasciitis is an inflammation of the plantar fascia which is the strong connective tissue that acts as a rubber band starting from your heel and stretching to the ball of your foot. This “band” loads your foot for the “push off” during gait. Most often this injury has been quietly building, until one day it knocks you right out of your shoes.

This pain is located underneath your foot, typically near and/or on your heel.  It is typically sharp pain, most often worse in the morning, or after prolonged inactivity.  Symptoms usually subside to achy and dull while active.

There are several risk factors that can predispose you for plantar fasciitis. Some are being overweight, diabetic, on your feet a lot, or from starting a new program. Your foot itself could be over pronating (flat foot) or over supinating (high arch).This  can alter the gait pattern enough to cause constant strain of the fascia.  Lack of motion of the ankle and great toe can lead to faulty movement patterns which can increase irritation. For proper running motion we need our ankle to dorsiflex (toes upward) 20 degrees and our great toe to extend (toe upward) about 65 degrees. If we have these issues, irritation and inflammation can stiffen the fascia which further affects normal motion and the ability to absorb shock.  This then continues a vicious circle leading to possible chronic  inflammation and even heel spurs.

So this giant pain in the foot has slowed you down and maybe even stopped you all together. What do you do?  First, and most important, is to decrease the inflammatory process.  Ice that foot! Commit to 5-10 minutes of icing a few times per day. Also take an anti-inflammatory like Ibuprofen.  Next most importantly, is to massage and stretch. We need to lengthen that fascia back to normal. Massage by rolling on a small hard ball, or a frozen water bottle which kills 2 birds with one stone!   Don’t be afraid to dig your fingers in there as well. You may notice the bottom of your foot feeling crunchy.  Smooth it out with massage. We must stretch, a lot. Gastroc (outer calf) stretching, soleus (deep calf) stretching and great toe extension stretching are vital.  Hold the stretch a minimum of 30 seconds and repeat 3-5 times to allow the body to relearn its normal motion.  This too should be done several times per day.

We also need to make some changes to eliminate symptoms.  A heel cup will help cushion the heel irritation. Check your shoes. Are they the right type for your foot?  An over-pronator needs a motion control/stability shoe and a high arch needs a cushion/neutral type shoe.  Your shoes may have too many miles on them. Please go to a reputable running store for help getting into the correct shoe.  You may also need an orthotic to control the motion.  Again most running stores can guide you to a good over the counter brand.

If the problem does not subside with these tips, it’s time for the doctor. They may send you to a physical therapist. Also at this point you may need custom orthotics which can be done by a physical therapist or podiatrist. They may also try a night splint to keep the foot in constant stretch. Your doctor may have to attempt steroid injections, or potentially be placed into a walking boot.

To avoid the pain in the foot problem all together, make sure you have the right shoes and always stretch.  Keep a good strong core with strong hips  to help keep you on the run!


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How to set and reach your running goals

By: Amy Watson ATC, PES

                   Running is hard work. It takes a lot of time and dedication. It makes you sore, it makes you stiff, it makes you energized, and it makes you healthier in so many ways.  How do you make all those things work well together? And keep at it? You have to set some goals.

Goals can come in all types; running a certain number of times per week, mileage, a certain time, a certain race.  The funny thing about goals is that you have to stick to them to achieve them.  So how do you make goals that you can stick with?

First, goals should be achievable.  They should start as something that with a little effort, you can achieve.  If you start with the bar set so high that you fail at the first few attempts, it’s just too easy to give up. Running has good days and bad days.  There’s pain, discomfort, and maybe injury.  There are a lot of really good excuses to stop.  Making an attainable goal makes you feel encouraged and accomplished.

No one said you can’t have multiple goals. Make the first one easy. Next, a goal that takes some effort. After you have kept on track without quitting make a more long term difficult goal. My personal favorite is to have a secret goal that you keep to yourself.  That way only you have to be disappointed. I also find that this secret goal is the one I’m most eager to achieve.

Sometimes it helps to let others know what your goals are. That gives you a little check and balance system.  It also can help to have someone be a part of your goal. That way you have a teammate, someone that helps you get out that door when it’s cold outside with three inches of snow.  Maybe there is even a little friendly training competition between the two of you.

Keep a log of your miles and your times. The free RUN with DMC mobile app works great. That way you can track what you are doing. You can see yourself improve or where you need to get back on track. This helps you be more accountable.

Don’t get discouraged if you don’t achieve what you want right away.  Be determined for next time and work even harder.  It’s supposed to be enjoyable and fun. It’s supposed to be good for you and your health. Keep at it!

For more information on our mobile apps, visit:

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What To Eat When You Run

By Laura Ramus, PT, ATC
DMC Sports Medicine

Endurance exercise, like running a marathon is characterized by one simple requirement – the necessity to sustain repeated muscle contraction. This criterion is fulfilled through two basic functions – the ability to consume enough oxygen and adequately fueling your body.

During aerobic exercise, such as running a marathon— your body initially uses carbohydrates as fuel.   The preferred carbohydrate is in the form of complex carbohydrates or complex sugars.

Before Your Run

  • Eat carbs

Whether you’re engaging in aerobic or anaerobic activity, foods rich in complex carbohydrates, such as whole-grain pasta, rice, and bread, and fruits and vegetables, are the best sources of energy.

  • Have a small meal an hour beforehand 
About 30 to 60 minutes before your workout, eat a small, easily digested meal composed of complex carbs. You will train longer and harder and you won’t experience low blood sugar jitters and dizziness.
  • Drop that candy 
Also, avoid simple sugars, such as candy, high-fructose corn syrup and table sugar up to 60 minutes before working out because they can lead to low blood sugar levels during exercise. This negatively affects the circulating energy supply.
  • Hydrate your body
 Most people don’t drink enough water when they exercise. Water is an essential nutrient that is critical for optimal physical performance, resistance to injury, and maintenance of normal body temperature.

Drink large quantities of water (20 ounces) one or two hours before exercising to hyperhydrate your body and allow enough time for adequate hydration and urination.

After your Run

  • Keep drinking

Drink three to six ounces of water every 15 to 30 minutes during exercise.


  • Get an extra boost 
During prolonged periods of intense exercise (1½ hours or more at an intensity of over 50% of heart rate reserve), sports drinks can also be useful. Most sports drinks are composed of simple carbohydrates (sugars) and electrolytes. Drinks containing up to 10% carbohydrates enter the bloodstream quickly enough to deliver glucose to active muscles, which can help to improve endurance. However, drinks that exceed 10% carbohydrates, such as fruit juices and sodas, can cause cramps, nausea and diarrhea. Avoid these during exercise.

By following these simple guidelines, you’ll find that your performance, energy level and results will vastly improve.

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Just Breathe

Anyone who has taken a yoga class can contest to the fact that most instructors tell you to “breathe through the exercise”, it’s what gets you through the class. That same theory of breathing can be applied to running. If you match your breathing pattern to your run, you’ll find that your run will be much more enjoyable and comfortable both physically and mentally.

First of all, you need to learn to become a belly breather. Breathing from the belly allows you to expand your lungs fully, thus sucking in more vital air. You can practice belly breathing by lying on your back and placing your hands on top of your stomach. Keeping the chest area and shoulders still, inhale for three to four seconds and focus on raising the belly. Likewise, exhale for three to four seconds and feel your belly collapse. This exercise helps strengthen the diaphragm, one of the larger muscles needed for lung expansion and contraction.

Once you feel confident with belly breathing, I suggest trying to find a breathing pattern that feels comfortable for you. Some runners inhale for two steps followed by exhaling for two steps, the 2:2 ratio. Others feel more comfortable with the 3:3 ratio, inhaling for three steps while exhaling for three steps. This breathing pattern, known as rhythmic breathing helps to maximize inhalation while slowing down the breathing rate, making your breathing pattern feel much more controlled and relaxed. This pattern also causes you to exhale on alternative legs during foot strike which is important for injury prevention. 

When it comes down to it, you should be just as conscious about your breathing as you are about where you’re running to and from. Any time your breathing pattern becomes inconsistent or irregular, your body is not receiving a steady flow of oxygen at a consistent rate which makes you feel as if you may need to gasp and flail for more air. Having a set pattern of inhales and exhales will help your mind focus and allow you to more easily fall into a running Zen. So before your next run, become accustomed to belly breathing, determine your breathing pattern, get running, and then just breathe.

Erica E. Hirsch – MPH, CPT

The Detroit Medical Center

Rehabilitation Institute of Michigan

Fitness and Aerobics Program Coordinator

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Who Needs Extra Energy?

We have all seen the Gatorade commercials that make us yearn to be an athlete. But who really needs the Gatorade, and more importantly, when do they need it? The average gym go-er will never need to use any form of energy replacement drink, gel, GU, or chew during a workout, and those who do are typically training for an endurance event like a marathon or triathlon. Unless you are someone who is exercising continuously at a high intensity for over  

75 – 90 minutes, water is all you will ever need.

Our bodies are great at storing excess sugar a.k.a. glucose a.k.a energy.  Our primary use of glucose comes from our muscle cells – they can store a significant amount of glucose for quick use. As the muscle glucose supply diminishes our system pulls glucose from our blood stream, but after about 90 minutes of vigorous activity the body can’t keep up with the rate of use of glucose to the rate of replenishment from the liver. Therefore, in order to insure healthy blood sugar levels, external replacement of glucose and electrolytes is needed in order to increase the duration of physical activity and maintain proper muscle function. While potassium and magnesium are important, sodium is the main electrolyte that is lost with sweat and really the only electrolyte that is recommended to be replaced during aerobic activity according to the American College of Sports Medicine.

So which do you choose from – the energy replacement drink, gu, or chew? Some is trial and error. There are many different flavors and consistencies. Most importantly you want something that your taste buds and tummy can tolerate. The drink provides a much quicker blood sugar increase, but may be hard to ingest while moving quickly. Some gels contain caffeine which has been shown to help decrease rate of perceived exertion for some, and increase the rate of upset tummy for others. If you’re more of the au natural type, you may opt for a banana, a zip lock baggy of table salt, and water – but that may require that to carry a small back pack with you rather than a pocket size gel packet. My suggestion is to try some flavors your taste buds tend to like; your stomach and your body will then let you know if you need the drink liquid, gu consistency, or something you can munch on like a chew.

Erica E. Hirsch – MPH, CPT

The Detroit Medical Center

Rehabilitation Institute of Michigan

Fitness and Aerobics Program Coordinator



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Tips for running when its hot outside

By: Amy Watson ATC,PES

      DMC Rehabilitation Institute of Michigan


It’s finally warming up! Running while its hot outside can bring many challenges. How do you make the transition to stay safe and comfortable? 

To start, it takes about 2 weeks to acclimate to running in warmer temperatures.  Give yourself time to adapt if you have an upcoming event. You may notice increased fatigue, difficulty breathing, and slower times at first. It is much harder on your body to maintain your previous pace with increasing temps. Run at a comfortable effort level, not necessarily last months pace. As you acclimate, this will improve again, but the hotter the day the more careful you should be. Make sure you are running outside to prepare as well. 

  As the summer heat rises make sure you are staying safe by running earlier or later in the day when it is slightly cooler.  Watch the heat index and humidity! Consider your route, and try to make sure you can be in the shade as much as possible. 

Clothing makes a difference.  Make sure to wear light colors and loose wicking fabric.  This allows for air to move through the fabric and evaporate faster leaving you cooler. Regular cotton just holds the sweat and gets heavy. Always keep in mind that while you are running, your body will feel 20 degrees hotter than the actual temperature due to exertion.

Most important is to stay hydrated!  Prepare for your run and hydrate early. Start 2 hours before your run by drinking 8-16 oz of water, within 15 min you should another drink 4-8 oz.  Hydrating during your run is also important, consider 3-6 oz every 15-20 minutes.  For those extra long runs also consider electrolytes.  This helps maintain your body’s fluid balance to help maintain hydration and energy.  Electrolytes are sodium, potassium, calcium, and magnesium. This can be your sports drinks or Enduralyte tablets. You will know if you need to replenish electrolytes if your sweat has left dried salt on your skin.

After the run continue to rehydrate. Drink 8-24 oz to replenish fluid and avoid post workout cramping. You should notice your urine running near clear if you are properly hydrated.  Another good way to replenish electrolytes post-run is with chocolate milk which contains sodium, potassium, and protein.

Also try on those super hot days or long run days to drink slushy drinks. Ice cold fluid will help decrease body temperature which will allow you to exercise longer and with more comfort.  And nothing beats running through every sprinkler you can find to keep cool!

What happens if we don’t follow these tips? Running during extreme temps and not properly hydrating can lead to dehydration which is a serious health risk.  Feeling dizzy, lightheaded, nausea, or cramping are the early signs of heat exhaustion.  Stop, rest, and hydrate immediately.  If you are getting goosebumps or you stop sweating altogether get medical attention ASAP! This is potential heat stroke and can be deadly.

Don’t take the risks! Keep cool and hydrated to enjoy summer running!

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