Happily Hydrated

With temperatures around the country soaring above 30 degrees this summer, its timely to consider hydration and take a closer look at how water actually gets inside your cells!  What does that mean?… and how you can maximize your health and performance with simple hydration methods?

Interestingly, your gut plays an important role in the hydration cycle.  The question is, how do you move water from the intestinal lining into your bloodstream and more importantly, into your cells!?

About two-thirds of your body is composed of water, and a majority of that water — about 66 to 70 percent — is within your cells and lymph system.  (1)

Female water composition illustration

With age, your body tends to lose its ability to get water from the vascular system (the extracellular environment) to the inside of your cells.  Why is that important?  Because, water is an important mechanism by which you remove toxins and naturally produced oxidants from your body. (1)

So, the key is to hydrate your cells, BUT simply drinking water is not typically the most effective strategy to achieve this.  Athletes in particular need to be aware of drinking too much water and potentially suffering from hyponatremia.  This is when you drink too much water and the sodium level in your blood becomes too low which has serious consequences! (2)

More often, the water you drink will simply be urinated out before it has a chance to get into your cells. And, without proper intracellular hydration, your health and performance suffers.

Now this is where cellular hydration gets a little more interesting….

Dr Zach Bush (triple board certified MD) explains this below:

“The obvious thing around hydration is the inflammatory processes. Chronic inflammation is the accumulation of oxidative compounds within our cells and then, ultimately, within the bloodstream. That is largely the result of a lack of interaction of hydrogen that’s within the water system. Water is one of the main carriers of hydrogen. This affects every signaling system in your body, and perhaps most notable, beyond the [cleansing] part, is actual fuel production.

Your cells run on ATP, adenosine triphosphate. ATP is produced by the mitochondria, which look like bacteria, but they live inside your cells. They’re about 100 times smaller than bacteria. These mitochondria take the sugar and fat out of your food system and turn that into ATP. They do that through a series of enzymes. The respiratory chain is a series of enzymes in the wall of the mitochondria that is the one that will ultimately result in the production of ATP.

Interestingly, the F1F0 [ATP synthase] pump, a tiny molecular structure at the end of this enzyme pathway, is what will convert one adenosine diphosphate to one molecule of ATP. That last step requires four hydrogens, two oxygens and two electrons …

When you think about the structure of water, which is going to be a combination of two hydrogen [molecules] for every oxygen [molecule], you basically have two H2O molecules, and their concerted electrons are going to be necessary for that last step of fuel production.

The clinical manifestation of aging and inflammation is ultimately one of the loss of fuel production at the mitochondrial level. As you get dehydrated, as you fail to get oxygen and hydrogen in the form of water inside the cell, you lose the ability for those mitochondria to be cranking out all of that energy … used for cellular repair and replacement.”

3D illustration of mitichondria, the energy powerhouse of our cells.

 

In aerobic respiration that occurs in the mitochondria, the ultimate electron acceptor is oxygen.  A common belief is that oxygen is derived from the air we breathe.  However, Dr Zach Bush contends that oxygen is also derived from hydrolysis of intercellular water into hydrogen (H2) and oxygen (O), and that to consistently get the proper ratio of oxygen to hydrogen, you need to liberate the oxygen from the water (H2O).  (1)

“[T]he H2 molecule is now recognized to be one of the best selective antioxidants for the hydroxyl free radical. What that means is that the hydroxyl free radical, which is the most noxious to the cell membrane and our ability to do cell maintenance, can be scrubbed or picked up by the H2.

In this way, the water you’re drinking is a delivery of both oxygen and hydrogen in a nice ratio where you can release the O’s with their electrons. They become O2. They release H’s in the form of H2. They become a scrubber of inflammation and substrate for the ATP pump.”

It is interesting to consider then, that the health of your cellular membranes influences your ability to properly hydrate! (1)

Dr Bush has done a lot of work on cellular tight junctions .  These are Velcro-like proteins that create macromembranes which hold the cells together.  The break-down of these cellular tight junctions leads to what some of us know as ‘leaky gut’.

One of the  tools used to measure the health of these macromembranes is transepithelial electrical resistance (TEER), an ohmmeter with microscopic filament attachments that allows you to measure both the inside and outside of the membrane, giving you an indication of the resistance across the epithelial layer. (1)

Dr Bush explains:

“That epithelial layer is acting as a resistor, if you will, just like the rubber on a copper wire. That plastic or rubber coating on the wire is insulating it so that the electricity stays inside the wire and doesn’t short out. In the same way, your macromembranes, the barrier systems of your gut lining, of your blood vessel tree, the blood-brain barrier, all of these create an electrical gradient across them at the macrolevel.

What we’ve shown, with regard to hydration, is that the higher that electrical charge across that membrane, the more likely you are to pull water across … You’ve got over a billion cells forming your gut lining. If you just take one of those cells … the electrical charge across that [cell], when you’re healthy, … that charge is above 10,000 volts.

Imagine the electrical energy of a lightning bolt being held across a barrier that’s just a few microns in space. It defies our normal understanding of Newtonian physics. It’s absolutely down in the quantum physics realm that a cell membrane that tiny is able to hold that enormous electrical charge. What builds that electrical charge is ultimately the mitochondria.

We talked about the mitochondria cranking out ATP. In the process of taking glucose or fat and turning it into ATP, the electron transport chain, Krebs cycle — all of these mechanisms of fuel production — create electrons. You’re creating this high electrical force within the cell through mitochondrial energy production. That leads to a gradient. A high electrical gradient is going to pull water inside the cell …

[So,] you can’t talk about mitochondrial health or mitochondrial production or fuel production without talking about water. Those two are absolutely inseparable …

If you start taking a bunch of supplements but you don’t have that electrical charge across the membrane, you can’t get the [nutrient] to transit into where it needs to be, because you’re lacking all of that intracellular commerce that’s being driven primarily by the electrical charge that’s driving water that will pull the rest of it with it.”

 

So what does this mean? …..Improving Hydration, does not necessarily require drinking more water.

To actually improve the electrical charge across your membranes, and therefore improve your body’s ability to stay hydrated, Dr Bush recommends:

  •  Reducing environmental stressors, such as herbicides, pesticides and other chemicals.
  • Reducing alcohol and drugs such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatories.
  • Reducing electromagnetic (EMF) toxicity
  • Taking terrahydrite humic compounds, which helps support your macromembranes, allowing for greater intracellular hydration.  It also works on the mitochondria to ramp up the reactive oxygen species production in damaged cells, which takes the stress off healthy cells.  All of that helps shift the electrical potential of your mitochondria to increase the electrical charge, which allows more water to enter the cells.  (1)

Water, Electrolytes and Fiber all have an essential role in hydration.

  • Dr Bush recommends a good rule of thumb for water intake is 1 ounce (roughly 30mls) per kilogram of body weight.  (1)
  • Drinking electrolyte-rich water is also important, as it too helps build electrical charges, supporting your macromembranes.
3D Illustration of Sodium chloride rock salt

“The classic electrolyte in our diet is sodium chloride (table salt),” Dr Bush says. “Sodium chloride has a positive charge around the sodium and a negative charge around the chloride. That chloride anion, or negative charge, is one of the mega potentials there for hydration … Of course, there are many other important sources.For example, potassium chloride is a classic delivery system for chloride. However, potassium chloride can stop the heart at a certain dose. There’s a fine line between dose and overdose when it comes to just about anything in nature. But certainly, the electrolytes are one of these … The easy way to titrate your electrolytes is by your bowel movements. If you start to develop loose stools when you’re adding electrolytes, you’re probably adding a little bit too much electrolyte.

You can get electrolyte powders at any natural food store. Some of them are liquids. Some of them are powders. I don’t have a brand preference overall. I would say, think about mixing it up, and see what your body tolerates. Some of the liquid ones are so concentrated that they can cause nausea.

A lot of people will get diarrhea or loose stools on them … Find the dose at which your bowel is tolerating that electrolyte load. It’s important to note that you don’t only want to drink electrolyte water. You’d want to drink both free water and electrolyte water intermittently throughout the day …

  • Another important component is fiber. “Fiber is one of the most important mechanisms by which your fruits, vegetables and, ultimately, your body, are going to manage water,” (1) Fruits and vegetables also contain other valuable micronutrients,  which not only benefits your gut microbiome, but also helps improve hydration inside your cells.  (1)

Remember at all times – the objective is to maintain homeostasis whereby  electrolyte is balanced in the body.

So enjoy the summer outdoors and remember to hydrate – your body and performance will be happy for it!

 

References:

(1)  https://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2018/05/06/how-to-hydrate-at-the-cellular-level.aspx  06/02/2019

(2) https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/hyponatremia/symptoms-causes/syc-20373711   06/02/2019

Perpetuating Positivity

“Our thoughts become our emotions, our actions and our habits”.  Deena Kaster, three-time Olympian.

I love this quote.  It underpins the notion of our ability to cultivate a positive mindset.  The ability to choose our thoughts and to see adverse events as an opportunity to learn and grow.

The thoughts we choose everyday in our lives can make or break our mental well-being.   I like to think of it as a super power within us.  We all have it, but we have to harness the benefit by consciously choosing to use positive thoughts.

I like to think i’m using my super power more these days.

Instead of feeling disappointed after a race if I haven’t achieved a certain time, I choose to feel pleased that I completed it and that I can run at all.   If i’m injured, rather than viewing it as a set-back, I see it as an opportunity to focus on strength training or other areas of my life.

When I talk to other athletes, I realise how hard we can be on ourselves.

One day, when we can no longer run, or exercise the way we did, we will look back on our performances (even the bad ones) and appreciate what we were able to do (and that it was actually rather good!).

The challenge we face in the moment is our ability to choose our thoughts wisely and recognise what we did achieve and what we can do.  In doing this, we acknowledge our limits, celebrate our success, and relish in the opportunity to grow.

For me, the last few months have not been without any setbacks.  Since being diagnosed with Coeliac Disease and focusing on healing my gut, I managed to acquire an infection which required antibiotics.  Not ideal.

Re-balancing my gut microbiome has been a key part in my recovery.  Rather than dwell on this minor set-back, I decided to accept it for what it was and move on.  I recovered well and the opportunity to rest proved to have a positive effect when two weeks later I ran a personal best 10km time (post kids) at the Christchurch Marathon event.

Following the 10km event, I made the classic mistake of being slightly too eager to train and didn’t allow myself enough recovery.  I was also trying to fit training in around work commitments which included traveling.  This led to the development of a minor injury.  I was now three weeks out from the Gold Coast Half Marathon so I was going to have to adjust my training plan if I was to be able to line up on race day.

I decided to stop running for three weeks and cross train to let my injury settle down.   I used the opportunity to strength train three times a week to maintain and balance my muscles so they would be ready to run on race day, however  two days before the race I then caught a head cold from the kids.  I seriously considered not racing the Gold Coast half marathon, but the day before the race I felt slightly better so I made the decision to line up on the start.

The race was never going to be a personal best with the events leading into it, however I was determined to give it a go.  I finished in 1hr30min09sec and it was tough!  A long way off the sub 1hr24mins I was aiming for, but none the less, I had finished.  Now it was time for a decent break and time for the body to recover and heal.

Life is life and we will always be faced with challenges.  So next time you are faced with a challenge, make a conscious choice to think about the opportunity you may have instead.  If we continue to do this every time we face a challenge, I believe we start perpetuating positivity and being ‘positive’ is no longer just a once off isolated feeling anymore.  We begin to actively cultivate a positive mindset and that’s where the real opportunities lie……… and  when we can truly reap the rewards!  Enjoy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nourishing the Foundation

Maximum sports performance comes when the body is healthy and functioning as it should. Our general health provides the foundation required for wellness and we can add to that the building blocks such as training and nutrition to maximise our performance.  So lets take a step back for a moment and ask the question “how is my general health and well-being?.”

Inflammatory stress is unifying pathogenesis of chronic disease in the developed world.  We are witnessing increased dysregulation of our immune systems and a growing number of diseases associated with this including: cancer, autoimmunity, hormonal imbalances, spectrum disorders in children, and Alzheimer’s dementia in our adult population. (1)

I have pondered the question, why is this so?  Why are we seeing more disease now than ever before?

The answer to this question is no doubt multi-factorial but there is growing scientific evidence to suggest the bacteria in our gut (known as our microbiome) plays a significant role in our general health and well-being.  This makes absolute sense if we understand and acknowledge that 60-70% of our immune system lies within our gastrointestinal system. (1, 2)

Our gut microbiome should be diverse and plentiful, however with the introduction and widespread use of antibotics from the 1940’s in addition to environmental and lifestyle factors there has been significant change in what our gastrointestinal system is exposed to these days. (1)

One area that requires more research is the use of glyphosate-based herbicides (GBH).  Glyphosate is the active ingredient in agricultural herbicides, the most famously known one being RoundUp. (1)

RoundUp is sprayed throughout NZ  to control weeds and on many of our food crops, notably: wheat, corn, soybean and other staple crops.  A growing body of research is documenting the health concerns of glyphosate as an endocrine disruptor and that it kills beneficial gut bacteria. (1)

So what does glyphosate do in the human body?  This is where it gets a bit more scientific.  Glyphosate is a profound zonulin stimulator.   (1)  Zonulin is a protein that modulates the permeability of the tight junctions between cells of the wall of the digestive tract.   Research reveals that glyphosate damages the epithelial tight junction tissue on contact, weakening those barriers which protect us on the inside from the barrage of other environmental toxins we are exposed to, among other things.  Injury to the tight junction can lead to intestinal permeability. (1)

It should also be noted that gliadin (a protein found in wheat and is a component of gluten), also stimulates zonulin. (2)

When we have intestinal permeability with the collapse of the tight junction firewalls, all organ systems go under duress.  The acute inflammatory response becomes chronic inflammation and the system is overwhelmed with the outside world.  (1)

Interestingly, redox biochemistry (where oxidation states of atoms are changed via electron transfer) is increasingly being recognised as the fundamental communication network of cellular protection and repair. (1)

Endogenous sources of these redox molecules are produced by bacteria in the gut in the form of carbon-based fulvic molecules, and intracellular reactive oxygen species (ROS) and reactive nitrogen species (RNS) are produced by vascular endothelium and mitochondria. (1)

For this reason, it is becoming clearer just how important the bacteria in our gut, and what they produce,  form a key part of the process in our immune systems cellular network.

So what can we do to minimise our exposure to the growing number of environmental toxins and mitigate the effects of these on our gastrointestinal system?

-Be mindful of the food you eat.  Avoid processed and packaged foods.

– Eat whole food.  Buy organic and grow your own vegetables if possible.

-Avoid Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO).  GMO crops are engineered to be able to survive the application of glyphosate.

-Limit or remove consumption of wheat based products.

-Incorporate bone broth into your diet.  Bone broth is rich in nutrients that support gut health and immunity.

– Only use antibiotics when absolutely necessary.

-Use a probiotic after antibiotic use, preferably one with a diverse range of beneficial bacteria.

– Eat wild fermented foods to increase diversity of the gut microbiome.

– Interact as much as possible with the environment to increase the diversity of the gut microbiome.  Run/walk in different locations to breathe in different bacteria and fungi.

-Use vinegar as a weedkiller.

This is a huge topic and I have only touched on a small part of the science.  As part of my own healing since being diagnosed with Coeliac Disease, i’m doing more research, but for now I challenge you to look at your own health to ensure you have a solid foundation to build on.  Be kind to yourself and remember, your health and well-being is your foundation, so nourish it!

References:

(1) Zac Bush MD.  Peer reviewed journal article. Glyphosate, Root  Cause of Chronic Inflammation.  White Paper: Resore’s Repair and Protection of Tight Junctions from Glyphosate.   http://zachbushmd.com/

(2) Amy Myers MD. The Autoimmune Solution, 2015.

Further reading if you are interested:

http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PO1708/S00037/health-not-herbicides-time-to-phase-out-glyphosate.htm

https://www.thepaleomom.com/4-ingredients-avoid-2018/

 

 

Magic Minerals

Most runners, especially females, know it is important to check iron levels and maintain them to an optimal level, but how many of us regularly check our zinc levels, or consider whether we have enough magnesium?

Minerals can literally be the ‘magic’ that make us function properly, but many of us are deficient in them without even knowing it!

Zinc is involved in the regulation and reactions of processes and enzymes throughout your body. Without it, you simply don’t work properly.

Magnesium deficiency is the second most common deficiency in developed countries, right behind vitamin D.  It’s an essential mineral with profound effects on blood pressure and insulin regulation.

Magnesium is vital for keeping your muscles healthy and firing as they should. Energy metabolism also relies on adequate levels of magnesium.

Since being diagnosed with Coeliac Disease in December 2017, I  learn’t that I was incredibly deficient in zinc and magnesium.

Coeliac Disease is the most serious condition specifically associated with the consumption of gluten. The gluten triggers your body to attack the cells of your small intestine. This blunts the intestinal microvilli, which help to draw in nutrients from food while expanding the surface of the small intestine. Without a healthy growth of microvilli, your’re unable to absorb the nutrients you consume.  This can lead to multiple deficiencies.

Life-long removal of gluten from the diet is essential in management of Coeliac Disease.

I am now working with a nutritionist from the BePure team (www.bepure.co.nz) to correct my deficiencies and to find the best foods to heal and fuel my body.

The take home message though, is that you don’t need to have Coeliac Disease to be deficient in minerals (or vitamins!).   Many of our vegetables these days are deficient in minerals because the soil used to grow them is so intensely farmed.  I recommend all runners check their:

-vitamin D levels (blood test).

– zinc levels (start with a taste test from your pharmacy and follow that up with a blood test if necessary).

-magnesium levels (consider how your muscles feel and how well you recover.  If you experience muscle tightness or develop muscle strains and injury, consider magnesium supplementation and ask you doctor for a blood test).

-iron levels (blood test).

Nutrition plays a huge part in prevention of disease and optimal performance.  I can honestly say I feel 100 times better since removing gluten from my diet and improving my deficiencies.  For me, the magic truly is in the minerals!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Changing Pace

It is an irony of our modern lives that while technology is continually invented that saves us time, we use that time to do more and more things, and so our lives are more fast-paced and hectic than ever!

Life moves at such a fast pace and that makes it even more important to slow down sometimes.

Christmas parties, school concerts, Santa shopping, summer sports; just to name a few things that seem to put life into overdrive towards the end of the year!  Now that the rush is over and the the pace has changed, the boys and I have enjoyed some time out from our everyday routines.

Sunset in Akaroa January 2018

Spending time with the kids over the school holidays means more relaxed and flexible training.  It’s a great opportunity for family bike rides, swimming at the beach and exercising at the parks.

 

Slowing the pace allows for some much needed recovery and the opportunity to recharge.  Part of recharging is also knowing where i’m at with my nutrients and I often use this time to visit my doctor for a routine blood test.  I am a firm believer of keeping tabs on what is happening inside the body at a molecular level because I know first hand how this can provide so many answers in regards to the way our body is performing.

I had been maintaining my iron levels with regular supplementation but my zinc levels were low despite supplementation so I mentioned this to my doctor.  He politely asked if I had even been tested for Coeliac Disease? This was not something I had ever considered and therefore replied that I had never been tested.  He decided to include a coeliac antibody test as part of my routine bloods and a day later, to my surprise, he phoned me to say that I had tested positive!   Confirmation via biopsy was required.

I had my biopsy just before Christmas and it revealed classic Coeliac Disease in my small intestine plus a bacterial infection with H.Pylori.  Wow!  I had been feeling a little tired but wasn’t expecting this.  I am super grateful that my doctor ordered the correct tests for me.  Knowledge is power and after receiving antibiotics to deal with the bacterial infection and completely removing gluten for the past few weeks, I am starting to notice a difference!

I know I still have a lot of work to do in healing my small intestine but i’m looking forward embarking on a journey and sharing my learning for those that are interested.

For now however,  just enjoy a change of pace; whether that is speeding it up or slowing things down.  Oh, and if you haven’t been for a routine blood test for a while…. what are you waiting for!? #KnowledgeIsPower#

 

 

 

 

 

Use it or lose it!

Do you drive to work each day? Watch television in the evening? Or sit in front of a computer screen most days?…..Don’t worry, if you answered “yes” to all three of these questions then you are exactly like me!

Our modern lifestyle promotes many sedentary activities, meaning our bodies can become functionally weak and even simple activity can make us prone to injury!  Because what happens to muscle when we don’t use it?  Simple.  It shrinks.  It’s called muscle atrophy.  There is much truth in the saying that “if you don’t use it, you lose it!”.

Since returning to running after the birth of my second son, Logan, I have focused on functional strength as part of my running routine and I believe it is an essential component of injury prevention.

Functional strength training attempts to adapt or develop exercises which allow us to perform the activities of daily life more easily and without injuries.

In the context of running, functional training involves mainly weight bearing activities targeted at the core muscles of the abdomen, lower back and glutes.

One of the biggest challenges I faced after the birth of Logan was strengthening my core again.  I developed diastasis recti (separation of the abdominal muscles) during pregnancy and was also recovering from a subsequent cesarean section.  I eased back into running slowly and wore a core compression sleeve for around twelve months after Logan’s birth to support my core as I returned to running.

As part of my rehabilitation and return to running, I was fortunate to meet Shelly Stevens from Onelife.  As a personal trainer, Shelly helped me to activate my transverse abdominals (deep innermost abdominal muscles) using simple breathing techniques.  It became evident that simple breathing techniques were far more important than abdominal crunches!

All of my functional strength training is done at home when I get the time (usually twice a week).  No gym required!

This strength training provides the balance that my muscles need to recover from my running routine.  If I start to feel a niggle, I think of the muscles that feed into that area.  The niggle can often be a symptom of muscles becoming unbalanced.  For example:

  • Sore shins (shin splints) can be the result of tight calf muscles with weak muscles in the front of the shin.
  • Hamstring pain can actually be a result of tight hip flexors that tilt the pelvis out of correct alignment.
  • Plantar fascia pain can result from tight muscles in the calf and soleus.
  • Hip flexor pain can be caused by weak glutes and tightness through the quads.

By recognising the muscle imbalance and/or tightness, then addressing it, I can can often prevent an injury from occurring or getting worse.   This is something I have learnt the hard way, having had many injuries in the past!  These days, consistency with my running is the most important thing and prevention is ALWAYS better than a cure!

Whatever your routine, it is worthwhile to include some functional strength training.  So pick your time, put on your gear and do it; because one thing is clear: if you don’t use it, you will lose it!

 

Credits:

Shelly Stevens, Onelife personal training, Rolleston.

The following YouTube link is from physiotherapist Brad Beer.  I recommend hip stability exercises for all runners.

Image Credits: Adobe Image Library

 

Trust Yourself

It was the 3rd August 2011; my son’s first birthday.  However, rather than waking up in the comforts of our own home to celebrate the occasion, I was waking up in the isolation unit of the Christchurch children’s hospital ward.

My son, Luke, had been unwell for several weeks.  I had visited the doctor countless times with him and we had already been referred to the hospital once, only to be sent home several hours later.  After much persistence and eventually a chest x-ray, Luke was finally diagnosed with pneumonia and could be treated with intravenous antibiotics.

It had been a stressful few weeks.  I had been told by several doctors that Luke had a virus, there was nothing they could do and so they sent us home.

His health deteriorated and I wasn’t convinced it was just a virus, so I kept taking him back to the doctor.  My husband questioned “how many times are you going to take Luke back to the doctor?” ….I reflected and I questioned myself.

But, I knew in my heart that he wasn’t well, so I persisted.

And I am forever grateful that I did.

Bacterial pneumonia can be fatal if left untreated.  It is one of the leading causes of death in children under five years worldwide, but it can be successfully treated with the correct antibiotics.

Luke unwell in hospital on intravenous antibiotics and oxygen.

Luke recovered well, but then two months after this ordeal, he was again unwell.  His symptoms were exactly the same.  I knew he had pneumonia again so I took him back to the doctor.

We were referred to the hospital, only to be told by the doctor that “every time Luke becomes sick, we can’t just assume it is pneumonia.”

I questioned myself again.

But, I had learnt from previous experience to trust myself.

I work in healthcare and I am a Registered Medical Laboratory Scientist, so I wasn’t afraid to question the diagnosis.

I took Luke back to the hospital and I requested that he have a chest x-ray, or that he was prescribed antibiotics.  We were not leaving until he had one or the other.

The doctor finally agreed to give him a chest x-ray and the result confirmed my concern had been justified.  He did have pneumonia again, only this time it was in his other lung.  He was again treated with antibiotics.

This experience had taught be A LOT.

It reinforced to me that we have instinct for a reason, and that sometimes you need to challenge and question what you may be told.

I applied the lessons learnt from this experience more recently when I was referred to a podiatrist for foot related problems which impaired my running.

As you already know, getting the right running shoes for your feet is essential!

My podiatrist recommended I wear orthotics and so I had some made.  But, they didn’t feel right.  Instinct was telling me I needed to approach this differently.

I did my research based on what I felt worked for me.  I returned to the podiatrist, this time asking if we could experiment with a modified innersole.  He was open to the idea and willing to try.

I transitioned easily to the modified innersole, and they were super comfortable!  My suggestion had worked well.

Experience has taught me a few key things that are important to consider in regards to running shoes:

– Be guided by your podiatrist but assertive about what feels right for you. Working together towards a solution is essential.

– Always check the heel to toe drop on a shoe (even updated versions).  If you run in a shoe that has a lower heel to toe drop than the body is accustomed,  there is risk of injuring the achilles tendon.

– I always buy a running shoe half a size bigger that my actual shoe size because my feet swell when I run.

– The right shoes, in my opinion, should never give you blisters.

– When I have the opportunity, I always walk in bare feet to strengthen my toes as well as the stabilising tendons and muscles in my feet.

– I keep any calluses at bay by exfoliating/trimming them.  If they get too big, they can affect how my foot fits the shoe.

For me, finding the right running shoe (with innersole modifications) has created the foundation on which I am able to train consistently.

Ultimately, I think there are many facets of life where we can have successful outcomes via thoughtful questioning, collaboration and trust in our instinct; if only we allow ourselves!

As Albert Einstein once said ” The important thing is not to stop questioning” and  “Education is not the learning of facts, but training of the mind to think”.  So just remember, next time you question yourself, instead acknowledge your instinct; you know more than you think, all you have to do is Trust Yourself.

 

Flip Your Switch

Did you know there are approximately 100 billion nerve cells (neurons) in the human brain and approximately 13.5 million neurons in the human spinal cord!? ….. Or, that the nervous system can transmit signals at speeds of 100 meters per second!

The Nervous System includes both the Central Nervous System (CNS) and the Peripheral Nervous System (PNS).

The CNS comprises the brain and spinal cord (it is the command center of the nervous system).  The PNS comprises the cranial and spinal nerves (it servers as the communication lines that link all parts of the body to the CNS).

Essentially, the Nervous System is a complex network of neurons and cells that transmit signals around the body to coordinate our actions.

It is, in effect, our body’s electrical wiring and it is not until more recently that I really appreciated the importance of ensuring the spine is correctly aligned to maximise the delivery of these signals and therefore athletic performance.

Often when we get injured, we look at the muscle or tendon in isolation of the bigger picture. However; “there is vast difference in treating effects and adjusting the cause” (Dr D.D.Palmer).

The ancient Greek physician, Hippocrates (who is traditionally regarded as the father of medicine) also believed that we should “look well into the spine for cause of all disease.”

Following the birth of my second son, who was a month premature and eventually delivered via emergency c-section, it was recommended that I see a Chiropractor.  I took this advice on board and made an appointment.

During the visit, I learnt that my pelvis had shifted and my leg length was different by several centimeters.  Also, my weight distribution over both legs was uneven and the difference was approximately one kilogram.

By adjusting my spine and realigning my pelvis, my leg length equalized.  My visit to the chiropractor had got me thinking.  I could strength train all I liked to prevent injury, but if I was unbalanced in the first instance, how much was I actually achieving?…How much harder was I making it for myself?

I learnt that if the spine is not aligned, or the body is out of balance, it can impact the function of the Nervous System, causing chronic pain, difficulty in mobility, and potentially other health conditions.

I now understand that chiropractic adjustments open the pathways of the Nervous System allowing the signals to flow unobstructed!

In addition, my visit to the chiropractor reinforced the idea of looking at solutions to health and sports aliments holistically.

The Nervous System, Immune System, and Endocrine System are inextricably linked so when one is impacted, the others are impacted as well. This occurs because all three systems share certain molecules that carry message between them, allowing them to communicate or work together.

While the Immune System protects the body from disease, the Endocrine System is responsible for producing certain hormones. These hormones are responsible for regulating tissue function, sleep, metabolism, sexual function, mood, growth and development, as well as other vital functions.

I now see my chiropractor regularly every 4-6 weeks and consider it an essential part of my training plan!

Ultimately, the power is within us to function at our best.  Keep in mind, your chiropractor knows how to flip the switch, so now might just be the right time to get adjusted!

Illustration: Nervous System

Reference:  Human Anatomy & Physiology, 5th edition.  Elaine N. Marieb.

Acknowledgement: Inalign Health Rolleston, Chiropractor: Jude Moriarty.

Image Credits:  Adobe image library

Uniquely You

Have you ever been told to “Listen to your body”?

Many of us will often hear this but what does it actually mean and are we really listening!?

All of us are unique and what works well for someone else may not work out well for you.

Over the years, I’ve come to realise that acquiring knowledge is easy, but to acquire wisdom requires observation and the engagement of our senses.

If we truly listen to our body, we have the ability to unlock and maximise our potential.

Taking note of what works for you is really important. Don’t compare yourself to others; merely observe what others do. Decide on the bits that you believe are right for you and try them out for yourself!

In essence; Observe, Experiment, Learn and Grow.

For many years, even though I was told to listen to my body, I don’t really think I did.  Repeated injury and eventual surgery resulted in much frustration. It got to the point where every time I ran, I was in pain.  I no longer enjoyed it.

I realised that it was time to change my focus and for my husband and I, it was the right time to start a family.

I stopped running completely during each of my pregnancies.  An early miscarriage with a first pregnancy meant I didn’t want to put any additional stress on my body.

Once we had children, I had a slightly different perspective on things. A perspective where if I didn’t look after myself, I couldn’t look after anyone else. So, I started listening to my body. Actually listening.

I noted how I was feeling, prioritized what was important, planned what I could, but most of all, I realised and acknowledged my limits.

I also began to run again, simply because I enjoyed it!

On my journey back to running, these are some of the things I observed and noted:

– Too much running didn’t improve my performance, but a combination of cross-training and running worked best!

– Everyday 5am starts (to exercise) were too much for me, but I could manage 2-4 mornings of 5am starts each week.

– Orthotics didn’t help my feet, but a slightly modified inner sole in my running shoe worked just perfectly!

– I eat well, but I actually need more nutrients than I was able to get from my food to stay healthy. Supplementation is a must for me.

– Recovery is when “the magic” happens. If in doubt, I give myself more recovery, not less.

– My desire to train hard and my ability to cope with training hard are two different things!

– Strength training at least twice a week is essential for me to remain injury free.

– I’m yet to find a racing shoe that really suits my feet, so i’m still working on that one!

My challenge to you on your journey is to find what works for you!

My blog is aimed at giving you an insight of what works for me. From my posts; Observe, Experiment, Learn and Grow. Because you are Uniquely You!

Ready, Set, Go!

It was 2003 when I first lined up on the track at the NZ 5000m championships next to some of NZ top female athletes.   I ran hard and finished in a time of 16 mins 52 sec which placed me 6th in the field that day.  It was an experience I will never forget and from then on  I had officially caught the running bug!

I was fortunate to be able to train with a fantastic bunch of runners and triathletes while living in Auckland studying towards a Bachelor of Medical Laboratory Science.

I ran A LOT and I loved it!

I ran in many NZ championships,  representing NZ internationally in the under 23 Cross Country team, finishing 3rd place in the National  10km Road Championship  (2005) and 2nd place in the National Track 5000m Championship (2005/6).

However, unfortunately due to repeated injury, and eventually surgery, on my Achilles tendon I was forced to take time out from competitive running.

Fast forward 12 years and two children later, I have found and re-ignited my passion for running and racing.  In April this year (2017) I lined up again on the track at the World Masters Games in Auckland.  I felt nervous and questioned why the heck am I doing this?!  But, in my head I told myself “Don’t be afraid to fail, just go out there and run; enjoy it!”  So that is what I did.  I won two gold medals in the 35-39 age group for the 5,000m and 10,000m respectively.

The start of the World Masters women’s 10,000m race
During the women’s 10,000m race

Over the years, i’ve learnt so much about balance and listening to my body. Recovery and nutrition is immensely important and was probably my downfall in younger years!

So, I wanted to create a purpose from my passion for running.  I want to share my knowledge and things that I have learnt over the years.

Maybe it will help some young athlete to maximise their potential.

Maybe it will inspire some mums to go out there and run; to enjoy a moment to themselves, and be better mums for doing just that.

Maybe is will inspire families to go out and be active together; riding bikes or running with a buggy.

Maybe, it will help you to find your balance.

So if you are interested to learn, follow this page.  Ask questions, create your goals and get on board.  If your ready, i’m set, so lets go!

My boys and I
My husband and our boys