10 Health and Safety Tips For Marathon Runners

Anna Boom

Keep fit! Follow these 10 points, provided by the Hokkaido Marathon committee:


As I attempted the 2013 Hokkaido marathon, this past August, I was paging through the marathon’s program. So many moments living and running here in Japan, make me smile and this is a moment I wanted to share with you.

The 10 points—

01) Make a habit of eating nutritious food and sleeping well.

We write about this often and it’s an important part of your running life. When you eat well, your body is ready and charged for your next challenge, instead of trying to recover from lots of extremely processed or chemical laden foods.

The same for sleep. When is the last time you woke up after a solid 8 hours of sleep? You felt fantastic, didn’t you? Sleep provides hormonal balance, weight management and is a key to a long, healthy life.

02) Don’t smoke. Not much to add to that one…

03) Have an annual medical check-up.

Jannine wrote about how this helped diagnose one of her clients with an iron deficiency. A check up helps you with the unseen factors.This is something I need to get taken care of, too.

04) See a doctor for any lifestyle related conditions…not exactly sure on this one. Anyone else?

05) Train systematically.

This is vital for long term running success. Much like yoyo dieting, which we know is horrible for our bodies, yoyo running or exercising makes it difficult to achieve your potential. Every time you stop for a long gap, your body goes back into lazy mode. That next run back will be harder than it should be, which may drive you to throw in the towel. Instead of stopping (with injury exception), try to get some type of workout in every day. Yes, I said it. Some type of exercise every day or train systematically.

06) Wear clothes appropriate for the temperature and humidity and drink plenty of water.

So often at races in the fall and winter, I see runners overdressed for racing. Instead they are dressed to keep warm before the race. When it’s chilly, bring a 100 yen rain jacket or large bag to wear to keep your body heat in. Before the race starts, find a trash bin and strip down to your racing gear. Keep your body’s air conditioners cool, i.e. arm pits and top of your thighs. Think tank tops and running skirts or shorts.

And hydrate! We all know this one. Drink to keep your air conditioners working optimally.

07) Stop running immediately if you experience chest discomfort, have chest pain, break out in a cold sweat or feel light-headed.

These are warning signs that you may be having a heart attack. Although uncommon, it’s not unheard of either. The stress you are putting on your heart to perform at a higher level, may be too much for those with a undiagnosed heart condition, or extremely overweight and out of shape.

08) Take early measures against pain in the feet, knees and lower back.

If there is a little thing that hurts you at the beginning of a run, stop and fix it before it becomes a bigger problem, causing more pain later. This also speaks to doing core strengthening, as it’s all connected.

Head, shoulders, knees and toes, anyone?

09) Have the courage to withdraw from the race if you feel unwell or may struggle to finish.

This is a tough one, no doubt. Some of us feel you should finish no matter what, others of us feel that it’s okay to quit and try again another day. I can tell you I have done both and feel great about both decisions.

During the 2012 Hokkaido marathon, temps soared to a very sunny 85 degrees with about 99.9% humidity. I ran by runners who were sitting on the side of the road and by mile 20, I started walking, wanting to quit too. Instead, my fellow WOOTer and dear friend Amy, stopped with me and told me to keep going and reminded me that I could do this. So I kept on and finished and although it was one of my slowest races, I am proud that I finished.

This year, temps started in the high 70s with a big sun beating us down again. Around the 15 mile mark, the clouds rolled in and thunder rolled (no rain, though until mile 26.19!). At the 40km mark, I saw that I was not going to hit my A time goal, so I had a mini-breakdown and started sobbing and walking. The crowd was incredible, cheering me on to finish. No one realized why I was crying, they just wanted me to finish my goal.

10) Learn how to perform cardio-pulmonary resuscitation.

This point works for all aspects of our lives, from our family to friends and work and play. It’s a skill you pray you never have to use, but thank God that if you must, that you did.


Protein Booster Muffins

Finally, success! There are two things my nine year old doesn’t eat enough of – vegetables, and protein! I’m currently working on both of these nutritional concerns, and trying to find ways to sneak extra vegetables and protein into her diet. With this being her first week back to school, I decided to try and make a relatively healthy protein snack to add to her lunch box. The result was a chocolate chip protein muffin (relatively low in fat and sugar, and with heart-healthy oatmeal) – AND, she loved them! You might enjoy them too, after a run too, or during the day as a quick pick-me-up snack.


Jade’s only complaint – not enough chocolate chips! Next time I’ll add 1/2 cup.


1 egg, 1 tsp vanilla extract, 1 single tub apple sauce (approx. 4oz.), 1/2 cup almond milk, 1 cup skim milk,1 ripe banana (mashed), 1/2 cup Old Fashioned rolled oats, 1 cup self-raising flour, 1/4 cup chocolate protein powder, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/4 cup dark chocolate bits


Combine all the wet ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Combine all dry ingredients in a smaller mixing bowl, then add to the wet ingredients and stir well. Spoon into lightly greased muffin pan. Bake at 350 degrees F for about 30 to 35 minutes.

Not Quite Full-Blown Eating Disorders, But Almost

Jannine Myers

I read an article recently in the July 2013 edition of MindFood magazine, written by Kathleen Alleaume, titled “You Are How You Eat.” I was saddened, but not surprised, to read the following statistics (Alleaume referred to a study published in the International Journal of Eating Disorders):

  • More than 70% of the middle-aged women surveyed were actively trying to lose weight.
  • 62% described eating as exerting a negative impact on their life either occasionally or often.
  • 41% of the surveyed women admitted to scrutinizing their body at least once a day

It doesn’t come as a big shock to learn that many women spend a significant portion of their time fretting over food and body image, but it is nonetheless, quite disturbing. Imagine if women could live their lives free of such worries, and learn to have a positive relationship with food and their bodies. Is that even possible? I don’t know – but in Alleaume’s article, she highlights four unhealthy eating patterns and offers remedies for each of them. If you can relate to one of the eating patterns described below, try applying the advice that Alleaume offers.

  • The Health Food Detective – ever heard of “orthorexia nervosa?” The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics defines this disorder as an unhealthy fixation on eating only healthy or “pure” foods. What starts out as a healthy pursuit, ends up being an unhealthy obsession. Priority is placed on eating the “correct” foods, so much so that social relationships with close friends and family members begin to suffer. What’s the cure? Try and return to a more balanced outlook and way of eating by allowing a little flexibility and enjoyment. Don’t allow food to rule your life, and ruin relationships – you can still eat healthy most of the time, but you can afford to indulge some of the time. Alleaume points out however, that there may be underlying emotional issues that also need to be worked through.


  • The Pro-Dieter is basically the yo-yo dieter, the person who goes all out to lose weight but eventually reverts back to poor eating habits. In many cases, women who go on endless diets end up weighing more than they did before the start of each diet. The Pro-Dieter would have more success by adopting a similar approach as that recommended for the Health Food Detective: follow the 80/20 rule – eat healthy 80% of the time, and eat what you like 20% of the time. Alleaume says that the Pro-Dieter tends to spend a lot of time thinking about all their favorite foods (that they are no longer allowed to eat), and it’s this fixation on restricted foods that inevitably leads to their downfall. The emphasis should be on a “lifestyle change,” rather than on a “diet.”


  • The Mayhem Eater – I think a lot of moms with small children will be able to relate to this one. The Mayhem Eater tends to eat whenever and wherever she can find time. Meals are often skipped, and when the hunger catches up it’s a mad dash to the kitchen to gorge on whatever is in sight. Over time, this pattern of eating becomes the norm (erratic eating habits play havoc with metabolism and make it hard to lose weight). So what to do? Try to set scheduled meal breaks, even if it means setting an alarm several times a day. Resist the temptation to eat “on-the-go,” as you attempt to continue doing other things. Make eating a priority, where you actually sit down and take your time (not always possible for moms with babies, but try to schedule your meals around their naps or play times). Alleaume says that a simple change such as this can make a huge difference in both the quantity and quality of foods chosen.


  • The Self Diagnoser – the number of women who fall into this category is growing rapidly; more and more women (and men) are jumping on the bandwagon of those who believe that their bodies are intolerant of certain types of foods. Alleaume says that food manufacturers have taken advantage of this recent move towards self-diagnosed food intolerances, by deliberately creating products that appeal to this group of consumers. Whether these new “alternative” products provide greater health benefits is largely debatable, and if some consumers have incorrectly diagnosed themselves, it’s possible that they’re omitting an entire range of nutrients from their diets. The simple solution, if you suspect you have a food intolerance of some type, is to refrain from making any drastic dietary changes until you have your suspicions confirmed by a trained allergy specialist.


So Many Forms Of Stress – And Symptoms You Really Don’t Want!

Jannine Myers

I had a deep tissue massage last week, and the massage therapist, who also studies reflexology, came to the conclusion (based on the knots in my shoulder muscles, my overly tight leg and lower back muscles, and the pressure points in my feet), that I might be suffering from stress! I actually laughed. Me, stressed? I told her that I had nothing to be stressed about. I couldn’t think of anything in my life at this time which is causing me to feel overly anxious or worried, and I told her so. 

Later, when I got home, I happened to come across an article in my email inbox, about stress! As I read the article, I quickly realized that my thoughts about stress had been naively limited to that of emotional stress. But there are other types of stress, including physical stress, which I could quite easily be exposed to, and most likely am. Physical stress refers to over-training, over-working, as well as trauma, injuries, infections, and surgery. I tend to over-exert myself in many ways, and more often than I probably should, so reading this article has motivated me to make a more conscious effort to reduce my workload and let myself enjoy more “down” time.

And guess what – did you know that stress not only breaks down your immune system, causing a rapid decline in health, but it also causes hormonal problems which result in a sluggish metabolism and consequent weight gain?

If you have a few minutes to read the following article by Fitness Trainer, Guy Lawrence, I highly recommend that you do:

[Note: Guy published the following post written by Naturopath, Tania Flack]


The adrenal glands help to give us our get up and go. But if you are continually surfing on adrenaline and running on empty they can eventually start to under function. So what is Adrenal Exhaustion and what can we do about it?

adrenal_glandsThe adrenal glands sit on top of the kidneys and are responsible for the secretion of adrenaline, cortisol, DHEA and other hormones that are required to help your body function during times of stress, whether it is physical, emotional or mental. Chronic stress causes the adrenal glands to become exhausted and so does the person. The whole body including the immune system becomes weak and vulnerable. Adrenal Exhaustion can be very detrimental to your over all health. It causes diminished cortisol and DHEA levels which can adversely affect thyroid and sex hormones.

Cortisol is one of the most important adrenal hormones. Normal cortisol levels are responsible for maintaining normal blood sugar levels, it mobilises fat and protein stores for mores energy and has an anti-inflammatory action in the body. Cortisol has an effect on most blood cells that participate in immune of inflammatory reactions as well as having an effect on blood pressure. It has an effect electrolyte levels in heart tisse as well, heart beat, and influences the central nervous system controlling mood and behavior.

During the early stage of adrenal stress, elevated cortisol levels contribute to weight gain, elevated cholesterol and blood pressure, altered brain checmistry (which causes depression and anxiety), it also has an effect on insulin resistance and osteoporosis to name a few. During later stages of adrenal exhaustion the once high levels of cortisol eventually fall to low levels where it is insufficient to adequately normal function and good health.

Another important adrenal hormone that declines during periods of stress is DHEA which is considered the “youth or anti-aging hormone”. DHEA’s main actions are through conversion into other more potent hormones such as estrogen and testosterone. It also appears to have its own action on the immune system and endothelial cells helping to boost the immune system and help protect against atherosclerosis.

If production of DHEA decreases under stress and is not rectified, a hormonal cascade can occur, resulting in a deficiency of sex hormones such as estrogen, progesterone and testosterone. If these hormones get too low then a whole range of other symptoms and problems can occur such as PMS, menopause, andropause and hypothyroidism.

Stage 1 – Alarm (fight or flight)

Fight or flightIn this stage the body launches into the fight or flight response by releasing elevated levels of noradrenalin, the “anti-stress hormone” cortisol and the”youth/anti-aging hormone” DHEA. In short bursts this is a healthy reaction and the adrenal cope well, but as stress continues the adrenals are put into overdrive to cover the early signs and symptoms of fatigue. The pancreas is also effected, blood sugar becomes imbalanced, resulting in low energy. Many use a quick fix of either sugar, carbohydrate or caffeine at this stage to over come fatigue.

Stage 2 – Resistance (fatigue & sleeping difficulties)

not sleepingWith chronic or severe stress the adrenals become unable to cope. Many people carry out their every day activities but really start to struggle with fatigue. The body needs more rest and is slower to recover. Anxiety starts to set in and people become more irritable and less able to cope with stress. Sleep difficulties are common and the body starts to show other symptoms such as hormonal problems and hypothyroid type symptoms like cold intolerance, sluggish metabolism and weight gain. Often the thyroid gland is effected at this stage.

Stage 3 – Exhaustion (shut-down)

burnt outAs adrenal function weakens further the adrenals are no longer able to keep up and cortisol output starts to decline. The body enters a survival stage where its main aim is to conserve energy in order to survive. This happen very gradually. The body starts taking energy from tissues, this stage results in muscle breakdown and protein wasting. Exercise tolerance is reduced and depression, chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia is common. Every major system of the body is effected including the immune, hormonal, neurological and metabolic systems.

Read the rest of the article here, to find out about symptoms and causes.


“Hip-Friendly” Cookies

I can’t lie to you; these cookies smell like the real deal as they’re baking in the oven, and they look incredibly tempting as they’re cooling off in the baking pan, but, you’ll know these are fraudulent as soon as you bite into them.


Not the slightest bit chewy, crunchy, chocolatey – or anything like the chocolate chip cookies everyone likes to buy with their subway meal – but they’ll satisfy that sweet craving without leaving behind any guilt feelings. And they’re cookies that you won’t mind your kids indulging in, so no need to yell at them to get their hands out of the cookie jar (well, okay – my 9 yr old didn’t like them so I didn’t have that problem – BUT – she didn’t care for them only because I added walnuts). Give them a try, you might find that the subtle sweetness really is enough to satisfy that sweet craving. You won’t know if you don’t try. Oh, and if you’re sensitive to gluten, these cookies are made with brown rice flour.


1 1/2 cups brown rice flour, 1/2 tsp baking soda, 1/2 tsp salt, 1 single-serve tub apple sauce, 1/2 cup brown sugar, 1/2 tsp vanilla extract, 2 eggs, 1/2 cup dark chocolate bits, 1/2 cup walnuts


Combine rice flour, baking soda, and salt in a small bowl. Beat apple sauce, sugar, and vanilla in a large bowl until well mixed. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually add rice flour mixture. Stir in chocolate bits and walnuts. Cover; refrigerate for one hour.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly grease baking sheets. Roll pieces of dough into small balls and place on baking sheet (they will feel very moist but they will hold together).

Bake for 8 to 10 mins; cool on baking sheets for 2 mins then move to wire racks to cool completely. Store in an airtight container.

Simply Delicious Hummus

I love vegetables! Raw, steamed, roasted, sauteed – any way they come, I’ll eat them. But with raw vegetables I really enjoy eating them with some good hummus. I was buying hummus quite regularly from the commissary, up until just a week or so ago, when a health report was released about the recall of contaminated hummus. I don’t recall the brand that was noted in the report, but I had some tahini and chickpeas in my pantry so I figured I’d just start making my own. I found a great recipe from this website, and today I made my first batch and just finished sampling it – delicious! Give it a go!



1 15oz. can chickpeas, 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice, 1/4 cup tahini, a couple of small garlic cloves (or more if you like garlic), 2 tbsps olive oil, 1/2 to 1 tsp sea salt, 1/2 tsp cumin, 2 to 3 tbsps water


In the bowl of a food processor, combine tahini and lemon juice. Process for 1 minute. Scrape sides and bottom of bowl then turn on and process for 30 seconds. Add the olive oil, minced garlic, cumin, and salt to whipped tahini and lemon juice. Process for 30 seconds, scrape sides and bottom and process another 30 seconds.

Open can of chickpeas, then drain and rinse well. Add half of the chickpeas to the food processor and process for 1 minute. Add remaining chickpeas and process for 1 to 2 minutes, or until thick and smooth. Slowly add water until you reach the desired consistency.

Serve with your favorite raw vegetables 🙂


Simple Hydration – Literally!

Jannine Myers

When I saw the link for the Simple Hydration Water Bottle posted on our WOOT Facebook page recently, I was immediately intrigued and interested in trying out this product. After contacting the company founder, Brian Hock, he was kind enough to send me a sample bottle to try and review. I used the bottle on three different occasions, wearing different clothes, and here’s what I found:

  • First Occasion: Hiking Expedition – A couple of weekends ago we went out on a family hike and I decided to test the bottle for the first time. I wore an Adidas running skirt, and secured the bottle on the back-side of my skirt. It was perfect! It was a hot day, so water was necessary, and since we were out hiking for approximately an hour or so, the 13oz. of water that the bottle held was sufficient. Granted, the bottle was empty by the time we returned but it provided an adequate amount of fluid. The greatest advantage of the bottle however, was that it freed up my hands as I grabbed hold of ropes to maneuver my way up and down the mountain trail.


  •  Second Occasion: WOOT Trail Run – Last weekend was my first attempt at running with the bottle, and on this occasion I wore a Nike running skirt. I was excited to try running with the bottle, which I secured once again on the back side of my skirt, but I was disappointed to find that the weight of it kept pulling my skirt down and I found myself having to constantly reach behind me to readjust it. After ten minutes or so of unsuccessfully trying to get my bottle to sit comfortably, I gave up and ran with it in my hand.

Uncomfortable! Wasn’t working for me – kept pulling my skirt down.

  • Then, about halfway into the run I decided to try positioning the bottle on the front-side of my skirt and it sat firmly against my hip without pulling down like it did on the back. This time it felt great, and I ran the rest of the way with the bottle nice and snug in the front of my skirt (we were out running for just over an hour).

Much better!

  •  Third Occasion: Solo Pavement Run – This was my most recent run with the bottle, and this time I wore it nested against my back, inside a pair of Nike shorts. As I left my house and began running up the road, I immediately felt frustrated as the bottle started bouncing all over the place at the back of my shorts. I was about to remove it and run with it as a hand-held, but I remembered reading the brochure instructions about tying your shorts drawstring (or adjusting your race belt) “to hold the weight of the water securely.” I pulled my drawstring and tied it nice and snug, and then slipped my bottle into the back of my shorts again, and presto – perfect! I ran for just under an hour, removing the bottle and taking sips as needed, and then easily slipping it back into place while running. I loved how I hardly noticed that it was there while running, and how easily accessible it was.

Cooling off after my run

Conclusion: This one’s a keeper! By far, my new favorite hands-free bottle for shorter-distance runs. It may also work on longer runs if I wear pocket-lined apparel that can hold a gel and enough money to buy extra water along the way. The only problem I see with it, is that I only have one bottle and that’s clearly not going to hold me over for the rest of this summer (thanks to the mold-favored conditions in hot and humid Okinawa). Bottom line: highly-recommended!

Thank you Brian Hock, at http://www.simplehydration.com/ – for allowing me to try and review your great product! I will be placing an order soon 🙂

Kid-Friendly Blueberry Bran Muffins

Let’s face it – what kid gravitates towards a “bran” muffin? Very few! But these blueberry bran muffins are made with plain flour versus wheat flour, so the addition of bran flakes is less noticeable in both appearance and taste. The blueberries and sugar/honey make these nice and sweet, but because the recipe only contains 1/4 cup sugar, they are not sickly sweet. These muffins are also low in fat, and a great energy snack for kids and us adults.



1 cup flour, 1 tsp baking powder, 1 tsp baking soda, 1/4 cup pure cane organic sugar, 3/4 cup bran flakes, 1/2 cup dried blueberries, 1/2 cup plain yogurt, 1 egg (beaten), 1 single-serve tub of applesauce, 1 tbsp honey (melted)


Sift flour, baking powder, and baking soda together. Add sugar, bran, and blueberries. Combine yogurt, egg, applesauce, and honey and blend into dry ingredients. Spoon mixture evenly into greased muffin pan to 3/4 full (I got 7 large muffins). Bake in a hot oven (400 degrees F) for 10 to 15 minutes or until muffins are golden brown.

Notes: Bran Flakes may be difficult to get here in Okinawa, but you can order them online here. I also used Trader Joe dried wild blueberries – a gift from Anna 🙂 – but you can use any dried berries.