Members of the Greater New Bedford Track Club offer expert advice to help runners train for the March 18, 2018 New Bedford Half Marathon.
I have struggled with Raynaud's syndrome for as long as I can remember, but it wasn’t until I started training for my first New Bedford Half Marathon in 2013 that it really started causing me concern.
Raynaud’s typically occurs with extreme temperatures and is a response from the body that causes capillaries to close off circulation to the skin’s surface. This results in fingers, hands, toes and feet that turn white or blue (or both) and become numb. To combat these symptoms, I invested in better gloves and warmer socks, and I ran with my feet in plastic baggies (inside my sneakers). But nothing would do the trick.
A few years ago, during a brutally cold winter much like this one, I struggled so badly that I ended up developing Chilblains in my fingers and toes. Chilblains is often correlated to Raynaud's phenomenon. It is an irritation under the skin that is incredibly itchy and creates swelling. I had to keep the affected areas taped when I ran so the skin wouldn’t get further irritated.
Desperate, and thinking I would have to stop running in the cold weather, I looked everywhere for a possible solution. That’s when I learned about dry brushing. Once the Chilblains healed, I gave it a go. I started dry brushing (hands and feet) before and (whole body) after going on long runs. It made an incredible difference in my symptoms.
To dry brush, take a medium-bristle body brush and using short light strokes, brush your entire body. Start at the toes and work toward the heart. Do the same for your arms — start at the fingers and work toward the heart.
The strokes should be light enough that your skin is not traumatized. It's a bit uncomfortable at first, but if you close your eyes when you're done, you can literally feel your skin responding. Then take a nice warm shower and moisturize when you're done.
Dry brushing stimulates your capillaries and lymphatic system. It also exfoliates your skin and, due to the increase in circulation, helps aid in digestion. In addition to dry brushing, staying well hydrated is key for proper circulation. Warm water with lemon and herbal teas are great choices to keep you warm and hydrated.
There are certain temperatures that are simply not safe for running outdoors, but don’t let the cold weather deter you completely. Dry brushing has played a vital role in my ability to continue running throughout the winter. It is arguably the most important step in my half marathon training.
Even if you don’t suffer from Raynaud's, you could benefit tremendously from adding body brushing to your regimen.
Run safe. Run healthy.
Lara Harrington is a member of GNBTC and Co-Owner of Boutique Fitness and Track + Channel, both located in Downtown New Bedford. She has been a coach for more than 14 years and will be running her 6th New Bedford Half Marathon (7th total) in 2018. Her training will consist of group runs with Team Owen, strength training at Boutique Fitness, and Trueform Speed classes at Track + Channel. To celebrate her 40th birthday this year, she has committed to also run the 10 Volcanoes 25k in Faial, Açores in May.
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For more information on the Greater New Bedford Track Club, go to: http://www.rungnbtc.com/
For more information on the New Bedford Half Marathon, go to:http://newbedfordhalfmarathon.com/