Running in the snow? Don't forget these

Hat, gloves, layers...check. But what about sunglasses?

As year-round outdoor athletes we do well at dressing for the weather conditions. We're experts at getting moisture wicking socks, Buffs and tech clothing in the summer. In winter, we're pros at layering...base layer, mid-layer, outerwear and all that. And we're pretty good at year-round use of reflective material and headlamps.

But we often forget about our eyes.

UV Protection

Jyl with UV rated sunglasses. Simple, durable
Cold is not the only enemy we face when training in winter conditions. According to the World Health Organization, snow reflects as much as 85% of ultraviolet radiation. Compared to the measly 15% UV reflection from beach sand, snowy conditions are a formidable foe waging war on our eyes.

Solution: Remember your sunglasses!

Sunglasses should be an integral part of every outdoor athletes gear. They are vital in snowy and windy conditions even if there isn't much sun. Quality sunglasses help protect the eyes from direct trauma (dust/debris) and indirect damage from UV exposure.

The American Academy of Optometry suggest wearing sunglasses with UVA/UVB protection to guard against "strong exposure to snow reflection".  Snow reflection can lead to a condition known as photokeritits, commonly known as snow blindness - a sunburn of the eyes. Symptoms can include blurry vision, swelling, and watery eyes.

The Mayo Clinic states "UV protection matters". They also recommend choosing blue-blocking lenses to combat snow glare.

Jyl with a sporty look 
Another reason to protect your eyes with a quality pair of sunglasses is energy conservation.

Energy Conservation

Sunglasses for energy conservation? Yes.

Squinting against sun glare activates numerous facial muscles. The corrugator muscle allows you to furrow the skin between your eyebrows while the Orbicularis Oculi group participate in squinting.

Along  with many other muscles of the face, when activated, causes our face to tighten up - exactly what you don't want, especially when running!

Tightening of the face can progress to tightening of the shoulders, neck and upper back. Your run form can deteriorate quickly when these areas are not relaxed. Running tight also causes you to use more energy, leading to faster fatigue.

Keeping your eyes protected from UVA/UVB is important to keeping them healthy and keeping you active while maintaining good form.
Tifosi Podium. My pick. 

Pick your pair.

How do you pick sunglasses? Most quality sunglasses on the market meet the UVA/UVB guidelines. Many come with a variety of lens options with differing degrees of scratch and damage protection.

I train using different sunglasses. I'll wear a very durable, shatter resistant pair of glasses when biking. While running I appreciate a more sporty look as I don't need as much durability (I don't tend to fall as much when running compared to biking).  Most quality brands (like the Tifosi Podium pictured above) come with a interchangeable combination of lenses. Most specialty run/bike shops will have only quality sunglasses on hand. 

Your story

If you have a gear-related topic you'd like to share, feel free to email me.


Finally hit the combination

For the first time since July 2015 I have some relief from lower leg pain. The question is, will it continue?

It hot enough to be any desert and the asphalt road is shimmering with radiant heat. I can see the water station just ahead. I know it is there, its not a mirage. I remove my sun glasses and wipe the caked sand-salt combination from my head, my bandana dripping like the humid air we're all running in.

And pop. Stumble. Pain.

One misstep while approaching the water station at mile 8 of the Shoreline Half Marathon (July 2015) and my left hamstring is a knotted mess that has me limping (staggering, really). Hopes of a personal best (defined as under two hours) drift off and are replaced by hopes of finishing.

I did finish those last four-miles on that humid 88 degree day. The real problems started after crossing the finish line.

My left leg hasn't been the same since. The hamstring resolved after a week but the lower leg and knee pain persisted bad enough to keep me awake many nights and keep my training to a minimum. Although I've been able to complete two more half marathons since the injury, the times have not been what I should be doing. I've had some ups and downs but haven't been able to get back to the level of training I need to because of the pain.

That is until the other day...

I was doing some research for a client with a patellar tracking issue and referenced several taping methods. While looking over the use of compression for deep soft tissue injury (for a separate client) I had a crazy idea...combine the two...tape the joint between the original site of injury and compress the soft tissue below at the site of cramping and fasciculation. Since I've had some success with compression pants in the recent past, it made sense to try. My local specialty running store had a sale on compression sleeves, too!

Modified McConnell and KT technique
Using a modified McConnell taping technique along with a portion of the KT tape version of the technique seemed to help. (My apologies to both the inventors of the McConnell and KT folks for modifying/combining the techniques).

Here are the results:
Within the first 24 hours lower leg pain was reduced by 75% (note that I never had knee pain). Adding compression on a rotation basis for several hours during the day slowed the lower leg cramps and improved sleep as well. After one week the muscle cramping is nearly nonexistent. Lower leg pain remains intermittent but I feel as if I could run...soon.

Lesson learned:
Injured? Stop running, stupid. I've been dealing with this for nearly six-months. I should have backed off completely and did some research in July rather than the standard rest/ice/NSAID.


I've been a bad blogger...but good otherwise.

More than a month has flown by since the last LRW post. I'm feeling disheartened. My sights were set to make LRW as popular as one of my prior blogs (Mitigation Journal) and use it as a tool to interact with a larger community. I also planned to integrate one of my recurring main personal goals into this project. That is to write every day. To write every day either on this site or other writing works already in progress. There has been so much to discuss and share but seemingly little time to write about it.

That happens when you live an active life.

Lets think of this column as a reboot.

You see, this is not about writing alone. As the name, Living. Running. Writing. is about all of the things that make us go. Writing just happens to be the expressive media that I enjoy and share with others. I enjoy writing just as much as running but nearly as much as I enjoy time with my family.

And theres the conflict.

While I have been a bad blogger, I've been a good husband and father and a good coach.

I've had the opportunity to see my kids do some really good things athletically and artistically. I've been there to coach my track team and glow in the strides they've made. I've been able to focus on training some fantastic adults, too. I just haven't had the opportunity to sit down and write about it.

I'm going to make more of an effort to do that.

I've come to realize that this column has a readership; a following that wants to hear what I have to say. I appreciate that.

More to follow...soon.