NEW BLOG LINK – NEW WEBSITE!

I have a NEW website at runcoachnick.com   Please go there for all future WordPress blog posts as well as all the old posts which have been backed up on the blog page.

THANK YOU all for coming to my site and learning about running and I hope that you all stay runners for a long time.  If you need a coach, I am here to help!!!

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Emulate Those that Inspire….

What are your future plans?  Not just your running plans but your goals and your plan on how to get there?  Do you have an idea or not a clue?

The Plan May Not Be Clear…

It’s ok to not have a clue at times, but you need to have an overall plan.  Whether it is to finish college and get a job, to get married or to buy a house, you need to have a path and plan to get through that path.  The path may be in the woods, in the desert or even in the mountains.  Rarely will it be across a nice even grass field with the goal in easy sight on the other side.

How does this help me with running?

So translating to running, unless you are a natural superior athlete, there is no easy way to almost any goal.  There will be obstacles in the way – weather, family commitments, vacations, injuries, sickness….  But stick to your goals and be patient.  Sometimes they may take longer to get to – and you may see the next people around you seemingly effortlessly getting every goal in their grasp.

Emulate those that inspire you…..

Remember – most of the time it is You vs You, so get the goals that are meant for you – not your friends on Strava!  Use others as inspiration, not as competition and don’t think you need to match other people’s workouts, although you can emulate them.  This is for all sports and workouts and all aspects of life, mind you.

Stay the course and plan your way……..

Coach Nick

 

On Stress Fractures….

We as runners have many foot ailments – one of the most common as caused by our continuous pounding is the stress fracture.  There are other breaks in the toes:  we should know about them also in order to be educated runners just in case we see symptoms so that we could treat them properly.  I once again turn to local podiatrist Dr. Nicole Hayward for advice on what to do:

“The structure of the foot is complex, consisting of bones, muscles, tendons, and other soft tissues. Of the 26 bones in the foot, 19 are toe bones (phalanges) and metatarsal bones (the long bones in the midfoot). Fractures of the toe and metatarsal bones are common and require evaluation by a specialist. A foot and ankle surgeon should be seen for proper diagnosis and treatment, even if initial treatment has been received in an emergency room.

What Is a Fracture?
A fracture is a break in the bone. Fractures can be divided into two categories: traumatic fractures and stress fractures.

 

Traumatic fractures (also called acute fractures) are caused by a direct blow or impact, such as seriously stubbing your toe. Traumatic fractures can be displaced or non-displaced. If the fracture is displaced, the bone is broken in such a way that it has changed in position (dislocated).

Signs and symptoms of a traumatic fracture include:

  • You may hear a sound at the time of the break.
  • “Pinpoint pain” (pain at the place of impact) at the time the fracture occurs and perhaps for a few hours later, but often the pain goes away after several hours.
  • Crooked or abnormal appearance of the toe.
  • Bruising and swelling the next day.
  • It is not true that “if you can walk on it, it’s not broken.” Evaluation by a foot and ankle surgeon is always recommended.

Stress fractures are tiny, hairline breaks that are usually caused by repetitive stress. Stress fractures often afflict athletes who, for example, too rapidly increase their running mileage. They can also be caused by an abnormal foot structure, deformities, or osteoporosis. Improper footwear may also lead to stress fractures. Stress fractures should not be ignored. They require proper medical attention to heal correctly.

Symptoms of stress fractures include:

  • Pain with or after normal activity
  • Pain that goes away when resting and then returns when standing or during activity
  • “Pinpoint pain” (pain at the site of the fracture) when touched
  • Swelling, but no bruising

Consequences of Improper Treatment
Some people say that “the doctor can’t do anything for a broken bone in the foot.” This is usually not true. In fact, if a fractured toe or metatarsal bone is not treated correctly, serious complications may develop. For example:

  • A deformity in the bony architecture which may limit the ability to move the foot or cause difficulty in fitting shoes
  • Arthritis, which may be caused by a fracture in a joint (the juncture where two bones meet), or may be a result of angular deformities that develop when a displaced fracture is severe or hasn’t been properly corrected
  • Chronic pain and deformity
  • Non-union, or failure to heal, can lead to subsequent surgery or chronic pain.

Treatment of Toe Fractures
Fractures of the toe bones are almost always traumatic fractures. Treatment for traumatic fractures depends on the break itself and may include these options:

  • Rest. Sometimes rest is all that is needed to treat a traumatic fracture of the toe.
  • Splinting. The toe may be fitted with a splint to keep it in a fixed position.
  • Rigid or stiff-soled shoe. Wearing a stiff-soled shoe protects the toe and helps keep it properly positioned.
  • “Buddy taping” the fractured toe to another toe is sometimes appropriate, but in other cases it may be harmful.
  • Surgery. If the break is badly displaced or if the joint is affected, surgery may be necessary. Surgery often involves the use of fixation devices, such as pins.

Treatment of Metatarsal Fractures
Breaks in the metatarsal bones may be either stress or traumatic fractures. Certain kinds of fractures of the metatarsal bones present unique challenges.

For example, sometimes a fracture of the first metatarsal bone (behind the big toe) can lead to arthritis. Since the big toe is used so frequently and bears more weight than other toes, arthritis in that area can make it painful to walk, bend, or even stand.

Another type of break, called a Jones fracture, occurs at the base of the fifth metatarsal bone (behind the little toe). It is often misdiagnosed as an ankle sprain, and misdiagnosis can have serious consequences since sprains and fractures require different treatments. Your foot and ankle surgeon is an expert in correctly identifying these conditions as well as other problems of the foot.

Treatment of metatarsal fractures depends on the type and extent of the fracture, and may include:

  • Rest. Sometimes rest is the only treatment needed to promote healing of a stress or traumatic fracture of a metatarsal bone.
  • Avoid the offending activity. Because stress fractures result from repetitive stress, it is important to avoid the activity that led to the fracture. Crutches or a wheelchair are sometimes required to offload weight from the foot to give it time to heal.
  • Immobilization, casting, or rigid shoe. A stiff-soled shoe or other form of immobilization may be used to protect the fractured bone while it is healing.
  • Surgery. Some traumatic fractures of the metatarsal bones require surgery, especially if the break is badly displaced.
  • Follow-up care. Your foot and ankle surgeon will provide instructions for care following surgical or non-surgical treatment. Physical therapy, exercises and rehabilitation may be included in a schedule for return to normal activities.”

Thanks again Nicole!  If you want to meet Nicole she will be at our event at FitU in Fair Lawn, NJ this Thursday at 7:30 PM.

Happy Running….

Are YOU on MY Trails?

One of my friends was complaining to me this week that she has barely enough room to run some days because of all these “summer warriors” who only run outside in the summer.  They take up all her trails and bring their dogs and walk, etc.  and get in her way…..  She asked me – “what should I do about these people”?  This is what I told her:
The summer can be a busy time on the trails and paths in parks, forests and protected areas.   People are suddenly wanting to get into shape and they flock to these places to walk, hike, road bike, etc.  What should people do so that they are not stuck in slow snaking lines in hot weather?
1)  Go to the trails at off hours.  Try to get there early when the park opens to beat the crowd and heat.  Try to get there after dinner before the park closes, although this would be the second option over morning.  If you get there at 10:00 AM on a Saturday, the whole world will be coming over the next few hours.
2)  Find trails less traveled in your ‘home’ park.  In most parks there are labeled trails with markers in color.  If you know from past experience that the yellow trail at a particular park is nice and wide but heavily traveled, go to the blue trail which may be narrower and less traveled.
3)  Find parks/trails that are further away.  Here in northern NJ, the parks closest to NYC are always busy in the summer.  As you go out further west and north, they get less crowded.  It may require some research and driving time, but you should be happier.
4)  Look at park calendars for events.  If there is some event going on such as a 5K or a food truck festival, odds are that there will be too many people and you can avoid those days (more people on the trails and less parking are not a good combo).  Every park usually has a calendar of events and you should consult it before you go.
5)  Think out of the box.  Some of the best trails are on old mansions or places that are not so obvious but are open to the public.  Again, do some research on this.
6)  If trails are too busy, find ‘roads less traveled’ – some small neighborhood streets may do the trick in a pinch…..
As you do go on trails, please be careful to bring enough fluids and be careful not to get lost.  Also, please obey the signs if the trail you are on is crossing private property.   Watch for roots and things that can get you hurt – a twisted ankle 5 miles away from the parking lot is not fun.   Above all, try not to go by yourself – for all the reasons mentioned it would be safer with a buddy or a small group.
Have fun out there and happy running.

On Having Fun…

I was watching one of my runners today and she seemed a bit tense.  Her shoulders were tight and she seemed a bit off when we started our track workout.  I told her to relax and tried to remind her to try to forget what was going on in life for a while and to try to run in peace.  She did relax a bit and had a killer workout.  Maybe it isn’t so easy to forget everything….but you can do your best.

Why peace?

Running is therapeutic.  It is relaxing.  It can be a place to retreat from life for a few minutes at a time when you need it.   There are days when life takes over and you get overwhelmed.  I get it – I have 3 kids, a business, I’m going to school for teaching – there are so many reasons not to run.  I try to get up every day and do it anyway.  The first step is the hardest – once you are out the door you are on your way….

Find some friends

Look around you – find a friend – find a local club – look on social media.  There are clubs that are looking for new members all the time.  For $25 or so per year you get running  companionship and maybe a few get togethers, etc.  It is totally worth it and helps you become accountable for your running and you end up running more because you are not alone.   Some like to run alone and that is their thing, but if you are tired of not having anything to go to while running, find people to run with.

Your troubles won’t magically go away – but for a few minutes you are allowed to forget about them.  I give you permission…  Sometimes when you get back you will be clear-headed and have a solution….

Running is a trial of many miles…. use it for yourself to try to relax and have fun….

Until your next good FUN run,

Coach Nick

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On Bunions…..

Here continues my series on foot problems, many of which are made worse by ill-fitting shoes and affect runners.  I surround myself with professionals that help me help the athletes I coach and that I run with.  Thanks again Nicole Hayward:

“Even though bunions are a common foot deformity, there are misconceptions about them. Many people may unnecessarily suffer the pain of bunions for years before seeking treatment.

What is a bunion?

A bunion (also referred to as hallux valgus or hallux abducto valgus) is often described as a bump on the side of the big toe. But a bunion is more than that. The visible bump actually reflects changes in the bony framework of the front part of the foot. The big toe leans toward the second toe, rather than pointing straight ahead. This throws the bones out of alignment – producing the bunion’s “bump.”

Bunions are a progressive disorder. They begin with a leaning of the big toe, gradually changing the angle of the bones over the years and slowly producing the characteristic bump, which becomes increasingly prominent. Symptoms usually appear at later stages, although some people never have symptoms.

Causes
Bunions are most often caused by an inherited faulty mechanical structure of the foot. It is not the bunion itself that is inherited, but certain foot types that make a person prone to developing a bunion.

Although wearing shoes that crowd the toes won’t actually cause bunions, it sometimes makes the deformity get progressively worse. Symptoms may therefore appear sooner.

Symptoms
Symptoms, which occur at the site of the bunion, may include:

  • Pain or soreness
  • Inflammation and redness
  • A burning sensation
  • Possible numbness

Symptoms occur most often when wearing shoes that crowd the toes, such as shoes with a tight toe box or high heels. This may explain why women are more likely to have symptoms than men. In addition, spending long periods of time on your feet can aggravate the symptoms of bunions.

Diagnosis
Bunions are readily apparent – the prominence is visible at the base of the big toe or side of the foot. However, to fully evaluate the condition, the foot and ankle surgeon may take x-rays to determine the degree of the deformity and assess the changes that have occurred.

Because bunions are progressive, they don’t go away, and will usually get worse over time. But not all cases are alike – some bunions progress more rapidly than others. Once your surgeon has evaluated your bunion, a treatment plan can be developed that is suited to your needs.

Non-Surgical Treatment
Sometimes observation of the bunion is all that’s needed. To reduce the chance of damage to the joint, periodic evaluation and x-rays by your surgeon are advised.

In many other cases, however, some type of treatment is needed. Early treatments are aimed at easing the pain of bunions, but they won’t reverse the deformity itself. These include:

  • Wearing the right kind of shoes is very important. Choose shoes that have a wide toe box and forgo those with pointed toes or high heels which may aggravate the condition.
  • Pads placed over the area of the bunion can help minimize pain. These can be obtained from your surgeon or purchased at a drug store.
  • Avoid activity that causes bunion pain, including standing for long periods of time.
  • Oral nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen, may be recommended to reduce pain and inflammation.
  • Applying an ice pack several times a day helps reduce inflammation and pain.
  • Although rarely used in bunion treatment, injections of corticosteroids may be useful in treating the inflamed bursa (fluid-filled sac located around a joint) sometimes seen with bunions.
  • In some cases, custom orthotic devices may be provided by the foot and ankle surgeon.

When Is Surgery Needed?
If non-surgical treatments fail to relieve bunion pain and when the pain of a bunion interferes with daily activities, it’s time to discuss surgical options with a foot and ankle surgeon. Together you can decide if surgery is best for you.

A variety of surgical procedures is available to treat bunions. The procedures are designed to remove the “bump” of bone, correct the changes in the bony structure of the foot, and correct soft tissue changes that may also have occurred. The goal of surgery is the reduction of pain.

In selecting the procedure or combination of procedures for your particular case, the foot and ankle surgeon will take into consideration the extent of your deformity based on the x-ray findings, your age, your activity level, and other factors. The length of the recovery period will vary, depending on the procedure or procedures performed.”

Thanks again Nicole!!  For more free helpful running information, please go to my FB page:  Click Here

On Ingrown Toenails…..

Unfortunately a relatively common injury due to the repeated stress of our pounding is an ingrown toenail.  It may be annoying and trivial at first, but it can get pretty serious and then as bad as requiring surgery later.  Again I turn to the pros who know more than I do on the subject.  According to local North NJ podiatrist Nicole Hayward:

“What Is an Ingrown Toenail?

When a toenail is ingrown, it is curved and grows into the skin, usually at the nail borders (the sides of the nail). This “digging in” of the nail irritates the skin, often creating pain, redness, swelling, and warmth in the toe.

If an ingrown nail causes a break in the skin, bacteria may enter and cause an infection in the area, which is often marked by drainage and a foul odor. However, even if the toe isn’t painful, red, swollen, or warm, a nail that curves downward into the skin can progress to an infection.

 

Causes
Causes of ingrown toenails include:

  • Heredity. In many people, the tendency for ingrown toenails is inherited.
  • Trauma. Sometimes an ingrown toenail is the result of trauma, such as stubbing your toe, having an object fall on your toe, or engaging in activities that involve repeated pressure on the toes, such as kicking or running.
  • Improper trimming. The most common cause of ingrown toenails is cutting your nails too short. This encourages the skin next to the nail to fold over the nail.
  • Improperly sized footwear. Ingrown toenails can result from wearing socks and shoes that are tight or short.
  • Nail Conditions. Ingrown toenails can be caused by nail problems, such as fungal infections or losing a nail due to trauma.

Treatment
Sometimes initial treatment for ingrown toenails can be safely performed at home. However, home treatment is strongly discouraged if an infection is suspected, or for those who have medical conditions that put feet at high risk, such as diabetes, nerve damage in the foot, or poor circulation.

Home care:
If you don’t have an infection or any of the above medical conditions, you can soak your foot in room-temperature water (adding Epsom’s salt may be recommended by your doctor), and gently massage the side of the nail fold to help reduce the inflammation.

Avoid attempting “bathroom surgery.” Repeated cutting of the nail can cause the condition to worsen over time. If your symptoms fail to improve, it’s time to see a foot and ankle surgeon.

Physician care:
After examining the toe, the foot and ankle surgeon will select the treatment best suited for you. If an infection is present, an oral antibiotic may be prescribed.

Sometimes a minor surgical procedure, often performed in the office, will ease the pain and remove the offending nail. After applying a local anesthetic, the doctor removes part of the nail’s side border. Some nails may become ingrown again, requiring removal of the nail root.

Following the nail procedure, a light bandage will be applied. Most people experience very little pain after surgery and may resume normal activity the next day. If your surgeon has prescribed an oral antibiotic, be sure to take all the medication, even if your symptoms have improved.

Preventing Ingrown Toenails
Many cases of ingrown toenails may be prevented by:

  • Proper trimming. Cut toenails in a fairly straight line, and don’t cut them too short. You should be able to get your fingernail under the sides and end of the nail.
  • Well-fitted shoes and socks. Don’t wear shoes that are short or tight in the toe area. Avoid shoes that are loose, because they too cause pressure on the toes, especially when running or walking briskly.
What You Should Know About Home Treatment 

  • Don’t cut a notch in the nail. Contrary to what some people believe, this does not reduce the tendency for the nail to curve downward.
  • Don’t repeatedly trim nail borders. Repeated trimming does not change the way the nail grows, and can make the condition worse.
  • Don’t place cotton under the nail. Not only does this not relieve the pain, it provides a place for harmful bacteria to grow, resulting in infection.
  • Over-the-counter medications are ineffective. Topical medications may mask the pain, but they don’t correct the underlying problem.”