How Young is too Young?

kids-racing

Is there a minimum age limit for running marathons? Many races require runners to be eighteen years or older. If they don’t, they require their parents to sign a liability waiver. I have to admit, I’ve had some reservations about having kids out on the course for that distance because their bones are still growing.

There is a bit of a debate about this issue. In 2001, the International Marathon Medical Directors Association said, “It is in the overall best interests of children to make participation in a full marathon an adult activity, reserved only for those 18 years old and older.”

Their position is based on concerns for overuse injuries, psychological burn out, increased eating disorders in young athletes, and their lower tolerance for heat stress.  Here is the thing with that endurance running, like what you find in a marathon, is no more damaging to a child than the intense training adolescent athletes go through for basketball, baseball, American football, football (aka Soccer), and every other high school sport.

Some things to keep in mind when deciding if you child should run a marathon or even participate in intense athletics at a young age:

  1. Kid’s bodies don’t do as well in hot or cold weather as adults do. They also don’t notice when they are not doing so great because of the temperature.
  2. Their bones are growing faster than their muscles and tendons, which means they can get soft tissue injuries easier than an adult.
  3. Due to their shorter stride, kids hit the ground more often when they run, which can increase the risk of stress fractures.

You don’t want them to get injured when they are young and have that injury follow them through the rest of their lives. This happens with many people who played competitive sports in high school and even in college.

Don’t get me wrong, I think sports programs are wonderful for children, adolescents and young adults. There are so many benefits to the child such as social skills, healthy life style, following rules, being a leader, adapting to a changing environment, quickly assessing situations, and here is the big one working hard for what you want.

For children and young adults it’s very important to make sure you and their coaches follow the golden rules of run training: first, never increase miles by more than 10% a week; and second, every fourth week decrease miles by 20% to allow time to rebuild. It’s critical that they learn to listen to their own body and rest it when it needs rest. If they learn this skill early in their running or sports, it will benefit them throughout their active lives.

If you are going to allow your child to participate in marathons make sure it is their choice and that they can stop when they are no longer interested in running that distance. This one is always a balance because you don’t want them to walk away from a commitment just because it’s not fun anymore. Make sure they have all the information and know what training will look like and what the race will look like.

Thank You

thanks

It is easy to think of things that are not going right in our lives. It’s easy to lash out when we feel like we don’t get what we deserve. It’s easy to be angry and hurtful when we feel unheard. It’s during these times, when we have to remember all the simple good things in our lives, because so many people don’t have these things.

I’m thankful my body is strong enough for me to push my limits of endurance and strength.

I’m thankful for the ultrarunning community, who shares their experiences and lessons with one another.

I’m thankful for my friends who stand out in the wind and rain waiting for me to come into aid stations.

I’m thankful for my family who is supportive of all the goals I set.

I’m thankful for all my readers and supporters in the community.

I’m thankful for my education, which has given me a chance to give back to the vulnerable.

I’m thankful for healthy strong children.

I’m thankful I have a job that provides enough for my family to have their basic needs of food and shelter met.

I’m thankful my family has access to medical care and clean water.

I’m thankful I live in a country where I can express my opinions and build a future for my family.

thankful-happy

 

From Turkey Trot to Santa Run

turkey-trot

Maintaining your running schedule/training can be a challenge during holiday seasons. There are so many reasons and excuses to not get out there: family is in town, too much holiday preparation to get done (shopping, cooking, wrapping, decorating, house cleaning, it never ends), it’s cold (at least where I am), and travel time.

Holidays are very stressful for many people, sometimes they are tied to hurtful memories, sometimes it’s just getting everything done and looking perfect for those you love; sometimes it’s both. The holidays present us with an opportunity to get creative and to bring balance to our lives.

The most important thing to remember about training through this time, or just getting out there at all, is that you don’t want it to be another point of stress. Look at your daily schedule and decide where your run will fit the best and be less likely to cause disruptions or to be disrupted by other commitments you have.

Run what you can, meaning, if you only have thirty minutes don’t bag the run because well it’s “only thirty minutes.” Just get out there, thirty minutes is better than zero minutes and you’re a lot less likely to criticize yourself if you get out there for a short time rather than just not going.

If you do miss a run, let it go. Don’t beat yourself up over it and don’t try to cram it in somewhere else. You’ll have another opportunity to run the next day.

Explain to your family how important it is for you to be able to get your run in and see what they are willing to do to help you. You may be surprised by their giving spirits during this time of year.

I don’t know about all of you, but when I miss multiple days of running, things start to get ugly around my house. I get grumpy and frustrated with things that are normally not a problem. Obviously, grumpy and frustrated not within the scope of “Holiday Spirit.”

If you can stop your running from becoming a stressor, it will be an excellent source of destressing. Running can be your time to just decompress; to get away from all the hectic planning and preparing; to escape from overly involved family; and to compensate for the extra five pieces of pie we plan on eating.

 

santa-run

 

Run Safe

safe-running

I think it’s important to address runner safety periodically, just to remind us all to consider it, at least on occasion. Runners should be mindful of their surroundings day or night, road or trail. Bad and unexpected things can happen to anyone, anywhere. The number one threat, in my book, to runners is other people.

I know out on the trail there is the possibility of getting lost, falling and having a serious injury, or animal attacks, however, these are less frequent than attacks by other people.

It’s also my opinion that road runners are at higher risk, just because there are more people around them. The approaching winter always makes me think about these things because I’ll be on the roads almost exclusively since the mountains are covered with snow and ice to the point where both running and driving in the canyons become an issue, unless you snowshoe or ski/snow board, which I don’t.

Here are my tips for staying safe out there:

  1. Run with a friend
  2. Make sure people know where you’re going and when you expect to be back
  3. Carry your phone
  4. Run against traffic
  5. Wear lights (red flashing rear/front and a headlamp) and reflective gear
  6. Wear bright colors
  7. Carry runners mace: buy here
  8. SING: solar plexis, instep, nose, and groin. These are the places to hit in order to disable your attacker quickly and effectively.
  9. Change your routes and/or time of day that you run.
  10. Keep at least one earbud out at all times
  11. Have identification on your person. Road ID is great for this, you can find it here.
  12. Pretend you’re invisible, in other words assume drivers and others don’t see you and act accordingly. If a driver doesn’t make eye contact and waive you through, stop and wait for them to go.
  13. Be cautions around blind turns and hills.
  14. Use extra caution during the early morning at dusk. Lighting is strange and the sun can be directly in the face of drivers.
  15. Make eye contact with other people as you pass them.
  16. Call out when you approach others from behind (you don’t want to scare the shit out of them).

There are safety apps out there for both the iphone and android. Not only can you use them for running but put them on your kids phones and tell other people about them.

  1. Bsafe has an alarm you can sound with a touch on your phone. It activates your camera and starts recording a video, and broadcasting your location to your friends. The video, voice, location and time are stored on bsafe servers. You can set up a timer that will alert friends/family if you don’t check in by that time (you can update this as you move). Best of all this app is free! Android and apple.
  2. Glympse allows others to track you while you run. They don’t have to have the app on their phone to do it. Android and apple.
  3. RunSafe allows you to track your activites like any running app. It has a panic button feature which alerts your contacts and sounds an alarm, activates your flashlight and records sounds. This is free and has upgrade options for a $4.99 monthly subscription. Android and Apple
  4. RoadID has an app as well. It lets your friends and family actively follow your digital trail, sends an SOS message with your location if you stop moving for five minutes and don’t respond to the app’s alert within 60 seconds. This is free. Only for apple.
  5. Reactmobile alerts 911 or sends your GPS coordinates to your emergency contacts with a touch of a button. It’s similar to bsafe. Friends and family can also track you real time. Free. Android and apple.
  6. Kitestring is an app you activate when you enter a potentially unsafe situation. It checks up on you after a period of time and if you don’t respond or post pone the check in, it sends a customized emergency message to your pre-selected contacts. It’s free.

Be Safe out there and if you have other ideas please share them, we have to stick together.

Book Released Today!

book cover

I am so excited. After four and a half years, my memoir is being released today! This is the story that has given me the strength, passion, and ambition to become all that I am today, including an ultrarunner. The book is available on Amazon in paperback and ebook check it out here.

Here is an overview of the book

Nikki’s story is terrifying and heart wrenching, but most of all it’s full of hope.  Readers will move between Nikki’s life on the streets and her life in the courtroom representing the state in a trial to terminate the parental rights of a mother stuck in a cyclone of drug use, violence, and life on the street so similar to her own.

 

Nikki’s trials began at the age of thirteen when she decided drinking alcohol, sloughing school and having sex were her new path in life. She attempted suicide and began running away from home soon after. By fourteen, she had created a new identity within an alternate reality full of vampires, werewolves, elves and magic. She joined a vampire coven running the streets in the heart of Salt Lake City, Utah.

 

She was raped shortly after her fourteenth birthday by a rival coven member and in order to gain a sense of security and protection Nikki began a relationship with a man who was ten years her senior. He became controlling, intimidating and violent.

 

She latched on to hippy boy who freed her from the violent relationship by stealing a car and fleeing to California. They hitchhiked up the western coast selling drugs, using acid, and following the Grateful Dead. Sometime after her 15th birthday, she returned to Utah only to run again within two weeks taking her older brother along. She continued using, selling, and believing she was destined to change the world in some remarkable way.

 

Shortly after her seventeenth birthday, she realized she was pregnant. The tiny fingers and blue eyes of her son brought her back to reality and propelled her on the journey to becoming an assistant attorney general for the state of Utah, author, and ultrarunner.

The Ultra Marathon Crew

don't panic

Since I am heading into another hundred, I thought I would dedicate this week to helping your crew and pacers be prepared for the one hundred mile experience. I believe crews are essential and a gift to their runner. This is my guide fro my ultra crew and pacers.

THE ULTRA MARATHON CREW

By Nicole Lowe, Dark Voodoo Princess

Goal of the Ultra marathon Crew:

  1. Safety for myself and my runner
  2. Keep my runner moving toward the finish as quickly as possible
  3. Make decisions for my runner during later stages of the race
  4. Allow runner to DNF ONLY if serious injury is highly likely or death may result

Understand the Crew Experience

  1. You will be deprived of sleep
  2. You will be stuck in a car
  3. You will be tending to a possibly grumpy runner
  4. You will be bored
  5. You could be hot, cold, hungry
  6. Rushing from aid station to aid station
  7. You could be suddenly asked to pace: do you have running shoes and shorts?
  8. You get to see a new place
  9. You get to hang out in the outdoors and enjoy nature
  10. You get to meet new people
  11. Be prepared to help your runner: buckle, tie, zip, apply glide, and dress and undress.
  12. Handling dirty sweaty smelly clothing
  13. Cheer on other runners
  14. Support other runners who are in need of help
  15. Watch the amazing determination of human endurance

Things to discuss pre-race:

  1. Start and finish time
  2. Course/terrain/elevation/weather
  3. Time cut offs for the race
  4. Where meeting
  5. What will runner likely need at each meeting
  6. How things are packed and labeled
  7. What is packed (if need it early or later in race)
  8. Expected pace of my runner
  9. Injuries likely to flare up and how to deal with them
  10. How much electrolyte stuff to put in water
  11. What do we do if we miss each other at a meeting
    1. Check with aid station crew to see if runner came in
    2. Meet at next spot
  12. Is there cell phone service

Things to Know about Ultra marathon runners and races:

  1. Runners mood will to go up and down
  2. Runner may not be thinking totally clear
  3. Runner will be in pain eventually
  4. Stomach issues and mild dehydration are inevitable
  5. It hurts more to stop and start than to keep moving (ten minutes is goal in aid station unless we are changing or taking care of something like blisters)
  6. Where to get extra supplies if needed close to the course

Questions to ask yourself to help your runner:

  1. Have I planned for myself?
    1. Clothing
    2. Gloves/hat
    3. Food
    4. Water
    5. Entertainment
    6. Light
    7. Reflective gear
  2. How far until I meet up with my runner again?
  3. What is the temp outside, how is that going to impact my runner?
  4. What is the weather, how is that going to impact my runner?
  5. When is it going to get dark?
  6. When is it going to get light?
  7. What is in my runners gear?
  8. Did my runner go to the bathroom?

Visual Assessment of Runner:

  1. Limping
  2. Swollen hands
  3. Wet anywhere
  4. Shoes? Dry, muddy
  5. Light at night
  6. Reflective gear if on the road
  7. Sun burnt
  8. Walking or running

Mental Status check

  1. Confused or Disoriented
    1. Just tired
    2. Sugar low
    3. Electrolytes low: swollen hands, sloshing stomach,
    4. hypothermia: shivering uncontrollably, blue lips or fingers, mumbling, coordination issues
    5. dehydrated: pinch back of hand spring back slow or tents

 

Possible Questions for runner:

  1. Blisters or hot spots
  2. Too hot?
  3. Too cold?
  4. Stomach issues
    1. Pepto-Bismol for diarrhea
    2. Tums for stomach acid
    3. Ginger or pepto-bismol for nausea
  5. What do you want at the next aid station?

Cold/shivering:

  1. Was the runner warm when running?
  2. Keep runner moving
  3. Multiple layers
  4. Change clothing
  5. Wind proof outer layer
  6. Hand warmers
  7. Before you DNF: Out of elements for twenty-thirty minutes and all new clothing

Rain/snow:

  1. Sunglasses and hat
  2. Poncho
  3. Change clothes
  4. Rain proof /resistant outer layer
  5. base layer

 

Hot/swelling joints

  1. Some people just swell up but . . .
  2. S-Caps
  3. Visor
  4. Ice under hat
  5. Dunk shirt in cool water
  6. Slow down
  7. Frozen drink
  8. Before you DNF: Shade for 20-30 minutes

Before my runner comes in:

  1. Check with aid station crew about any updates or changes in race.
  2. Have gear ready my runner decided they will need at this stop
  3. Set out any gear my runner may need so I can get them quickly

 

What to do when my runner comes in:

  1. Let my runner know when I will see them next (see you in five miles)
  2. Send them out, ASAP
  3. Ask what runner will want at next aid

What to do when my runner leaves:

  1. Get to the next meeting point
  2. Stay warm
  3. Eat
  4. Sleep
  5. Have fun, enjoy the scenery
  6. Laugh at my runner
  7. Meet other crews, watch movies, read books, and take pictures.

What do I do if my Runner has/is….

  1. Vomiting/nausea
    1. Keep hydrating
    2. Suggest walking
    3. Give anti-nausea meds
    4. How hot is my runner?
  2. Diarrhea
    1. Keep hydrating
    2. Baby wipes
    3. Glide
    4. New shorts
    5. Anti-diarrhea meds
    6. Suggest walking
  3. Blisters
    1. Pop blisters with a clean pin
    2. Clean area with alcohol wipe
    3. Place second skin over blister if roofless
    4. Tape with elastiskin or KT tape
    5. May need mole skin around blister to top off that
    6. Double socks
    7. Dry socks
  4. Cramps
    1. Muscle
      1. Electrolytes
      2. Stretch slow
    2. Stomach
      1. Walk
      2. Stretch body (arms up)
  • No protein
  1. Water and electrolytes

Notes for Pacers specifically

  1. Do Nothing Fatal
  2. take care of your own needs
  3. If you fall behind, I’ll have to leave you
  4. Don’t carry anything for the runner, you can share water if needed
  5. Talk and tell stories to runner although runner may not respond with more than a grunt
  6. Keep an eye on food and water intake
  7. If the runner is going slow put them in front and prod them along
  8. Don’t let the runner crawl into a cave to sleep
  9. Be positive and don’t complain
  10. Don’t agree with complaining runner
  11. I don’t know what happened to Number 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  Dehydration Heat stroke Heat exhaustion Hypoatremia
Symptoms Thirst

Dry mouth

No sweat (clammy)

Lightheaded

Weakness

Less urine

Temp 105

Throbbing head

No sweat

Red hot dry skin

Muscle weakness

Cramps

Nausea/vomiting

Rapid/shallow breathing

Rapid heartbeat

Confusion

Disorientation staggering

Seizures

unconsciousness

Confusion

Apple juice urine

Dizziness

Fainting

Fatigue

Headache

Muscle cramps

Nausea

Pale skin

Profuse sweating

Rapid heartbeat

Craving salt

Confusion

Convulsions

Fatigue

Headache

Irritability

Loss of appetite

Muscle spasms or cramps

Muscle weakness

Nausea

Restlessness

vomiting

treatment Get out of the sun

Walk or stop

Drink water

Get out of the sun

Place ice on neck and groin

Get in cold water

Take to hospital if no improvement

Get out of the sun

Place ice on neck and groin

Get in cold water

Walk or stop

Electrolytes

Salty food or S-caps

No water

Take to hospital if no improvement

 

Run, Run, Reindeer

reindeer

Christmas morning before the sun comes up is one of my favorite times to run, which is saying a lot because I don’t like the winter (Christmas is in the winter in the western U.S.), especially, if there is snow on the ground.

But the snow makes everything so quiet and no one is out driving around Christmas morning. Everyone leaves their Christmas lights on all night and their bright colors red, green, yellow, blues, purples, and white reflect off the snow.

If the sky is clear, the moon light makes the snow look like diamond dust has been sprinkled across the ground. My breath crystalizes as it leaves my lungs, creating a cloud before me each time I exhale. My nose gets chilly as I move through the cold air, which has a slight metallic smell to it during the winter. My feet crunch and pack the snow down as I land and roll from mid foot to fore foot.

I do feel like a little bit of a creeper because I like to watch the lights come on in the houses as the kids wake up to find presents under the Christmas tree. I even look in the windows as I run by to share in the pure joy of children on Christmas morning. I don’t stop and peer through the glass panes, so I figure I haven’t crossed the line into suspicious criminal like behavior where people will start calling the police.

There is no other morning like Christmas morning. Christmas is not my favorite holiday, not even close, but this part of Christmas is the one part that has held onto that Christmas spirit I felt when I was a small child and saw on my children’s faces when they were much younger than they are now.

This year I may not get to run Christmas morning, due to the healing stress fracture in my right foot. But you never know, Santa could grant my Christmas wish even if it’s only a mile.

Merry Christmas Everyone!