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Winter Track: Finding a facility “Indoors”

It was not too many years ago that I jumped into a grassroots fight in our large school system to save “indoor track” from extinction. I live in one of the largest county school systems in the country and one with a large budget. One budget cycle was fraught with disaster from on high. The deficit would doom the schools and money had to be found. The “Rodney Dangerfield” of running competition is indoor track. Even though the participation numbers continue to climb in high schools nationwide, the lack of funding support is the wall that all of us need to scale to keep the sport thriving or basically competing. Now that we staved off elimination in that budget fight, many communities outside ours (Fairfax County VA) have the same obstacle: lack of indoor facilities for track and field.

Look at Birmingham Alabama. The city was suffering from urban decay and the flight of tourists and business development. What did the Mayor and city government do? They chose to build a world-class indoor track and swimming facility right smack dab in the middle of a decaying inner city core. The track is banked and operates on a hydraulic system. The banked curves rise up from the floor and have the track ready for action in less than 15-30 minutes. On days that the track is not needed, the surface can be covered for other events or sports. The international standard for indoor tracks is a 200m oval that is banked. Many of the banked indoor track facilities in the U.S. are fixed in place. They can be disassembled and stored outside the Indoor Track season, yet they do not operate on a hydraulic lift system.

The lack of facilities around the country is more due to a lack of need and understanding of how a properly designed indoor facility can accommodate multiple events when the competition season has concluded. A secondary floor could be rolled on top of the existing track if it had the hydraulic lift system in place in Birmingham. Summer months could focus on indoor Volleyball or Gymnastics. The track could remain in-place if it had the fixed banking design. Many cities and communities have the need for space for senior living communities to exercise.

This current indoor season showed many high school coaches and school leaders that the missing piece in the sport of indoor track is the physical plant or facility. The barren city parking lots and closed warehouses are ripe for opportunities like a destination track facility. One indoor track and field complex that serves communities not in its charter is the Prince Georges Sports & Learning Complex in Maryland, just outside the District of Columbia. Due to growth in the sport and a lack of a competition venue, high schools in Virginia and Delaware had to book space on weekdays to complete their high school seasons. Normally, high school track teams compete on the weekends. That was not the case in the 2014 winter.

Let’s join together and put teams together throughout the U.S. who sees the economic impact of a national standard indoor track facility. The famous line from the film, “Field of Dreams” is true for indoor track: “Build it and they will come”

Dan Lieberman - AMAA Boston

AMAA BOSTON 2014 – Our All-Star Lineup

The AMAA 43rd Sports Medicine Symposium at the Boston Marathon® is geared up for potentially one of the largest gatherings in AMAA’s history. Only the 100th Boston may exceed the number of attendees at AMAA’s annual meeting; not to mention the 2nd largest race field in Boston Marathon history. The reason as we know is tied to last year’s awful events on Boylston St mere yards from the finish line. We return this year with resolve and exuberance in both our desire to complete the race and to celebrate our running lifestyle.

Barbara Baldwin - AMAA Boston

The Symposium Speakers slated to present in Boston reads like a Major League Baseball All-Star Lineup! Our two cardiologists have made their marks on opposite coasts. Dr Paul Thompson is the one of the nation’s leading experts in cardiology studies involving runners and athletes. He will discuss the new cholesterol guidelines and how we interpret them in our practices. Dr Jamie Beckerman returns to Boston and AMAA from his practice in Portland OR. He has worked with athletes young and old and has some interesting insights into interpreting ECGs in athletes. World-renowned evolutionary biologist Professor Dan Lieberman returns to energize the hunter-gatherer in all of us. His talks are entertaining and inspiring. Dr Bob Sallis is like our cleanup hitter. He is leading the charge in the Sports Medicine community on several fronts, most notably “Exercise is Medicine”. Another of our All-Star Sports Medicine pros is Dr Amol Saxena. His talk on 25 years of treating runners and athletes will be fascinating. Some of his biggest fans include Olympians like Shalane Flanagan, our 2012 Olympic Bronze Medalist In the 10,000m. His discovery that Shalane had an extra bone in one foot led to her comeback following surgery and recover to her Olympic success. Our own AMAA Board All-Star is giving a first-ever talk from her own lifetime of experiences, Dr Cathy Fieseler. She will present the experiences of being an ultra-marathoner. Oh and she is our current AMAA Board President. The rest of the AMAA 2014 is outstanding. The AMAA Board and Staff are thrilled. We hope you enjoy this year’s event and weekend like no other.


Seen and Heard while Running this Winter

Is It Time To Put The Squeeze On?
Compression garments are ubiquitous, squeezing the legs of top flight athletes like Chris Solinsky and Meb Keflezighi as well as the average runner. The idea is that the pressure from the socks, tights and sleeves may improve performance and speed recovery time by increasing circulation and improving lactic acid transport. In addition, manufacturers claim compression garments can dampen muscle vibrations, reduce muscle oscillation, keep muscles warm and flexible and improve proprioception. But do compression garments deliver on their promises?

Studies to date have been small, and there isn’t conclusive evidence that compression garments improve running performance. However, there are indications that wearing compression during and after running can improve recovery.

In one study1, fourteen runners wearing compression socks experienced a statistically significant reduction in Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS) twenty-four hours after a 10K road race compared to control runners who didn’t wear compression socks.

In another study2, competitive trail runners completed a 15.6 km run in two sessions, with compression socks and without. Muscle oxygen uptake and muscle blood flow were significantly increased following the compression sock sessions.

Three versions of Compression socks were worn by ARA staff, SKINS®, CEP® brand socks and a pair of Nike socks. The one difference in the SKINS and CEP socks is that you are asked to provide either a measurement of your calf circumference (CEP) or find your size by using your height and weight in a matrix chart. Nike’s were labeled by the traditional sizes and left it up to you to select the size without measurements. Each pair was knee-length – they cover the calf and end an inch or two short of the knee. The socks are light-weight and designed to wick away moisture. The greatest compression is located in the lower part of the sock with decreased compression in the calf area. So far, we find them comfortable, easy to slide on and well-constructed. We’ll provide an update as we put them through some more rigorous wear tests. One wearer had had a DVT this past summer and compression socks or sleeves were worn while traveling. He noticed that his lower legs felt better after the travel.

Many athletes have been using and trying compression socks for post-exercise or running recovery. Friends have commented that they have less soreness on the days following hard track workouts or a tough long run. More study is needed on the added value of compression socks to the arsenal of apparel for competitive runners and athletes.

  1. Graduated compression stockings: Physiological and perceptual responses during and after exercise. Journal of Sports Sciences, Vol 25, Issue 4, 2007
  2. The influence of wearing compression stockings on performance indicators and physiological responses following a prolonged trail running exercise. European Journal of Sport Science, Vol 14, Issue 2, 2014

Is the Pasta Party or pre-race
Carbo-load fading out?
More runners and coaches are paying attention these days to what the elite athletes are eating and drinking in the days and weeks preceding a major track race or road race. What do you think we are seeing and hearing? Not so many carbo-load meals by the Kenyans, or some elite Americans. What I am hearing is a focus on such diets as the “40-30-30” plan; that is, 40 percent carbs, 30 percent protein and 30 percent fats. What you do is follow this diet or nutrition plan throughout training. The carbs are not the donuts and bagel variety, nor are they piles of pasta and marinara sauce. It might be scrambled eggs with spinach and goat cheese in the morning. On other days, it could be an omelet with black coffee. Lentil soup and a burger for dinner. I have yet to see some elite Kenyans go to a Pasta Party and pile on the spaghetti or ziti.

My observations are more anecdotal. I also have checked on what my daughter and several of her track & field teammates at Virginia Tech eat during training and competition. I know their coach preaches the 40-30-30 diet. Many athletes may find a nutrition plan that suits their wants but also balances it to what they have learned from experience. Like a training plan to compete, once you find a plan that gets you fit and leads to best times, you stick with it. Same thing goes with nutrition and pre-race or competition foods. As the saying goes, “you are only as good as what you eat”.

Avoid the mud from the melting snow and Enjoy the Run!

The Staff and Board of American Running

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