Thursday, June 24, 2010


By Sally Young

Summer kicks off a season of races in far away places for dedicated runners. While some soreness after the event is to be expected, it pays to be cautious when the return trip involves hours in a sitting position.

Deep vein thrombosis, a blood clot arising in the lower leg, is a rare but significant concern for traveling athletes. Being immobile for long periods can lead to venous stasis, a slowing of the blood flow. For most, this is not a problem. But certain people, unknown to them, have a genetic tendency to coagulate blood, or they may have injured the lining of a vein that can then form a clot.

Symptoms involve painful swelling of the affected leg, sometimes a palpable cord along a vein, and discoloration. Or it can be as subtle as increased warmth and pain only when weight bearing. In some cases, there is a lump or bruising behind the knee, which can be misdiagnosed as Baker's cyst. If the clot breaks loose, it will move to the lungs or another major organ and cause serious damage.

Consider taking a low dose of aspirin before heading back. Check your legs periodically for tender areas, and stay hydrated. Visit for more.

Elliptical Exercise Machine – What do we know?

Damien Howell PT, DPT, OCS – – 804-965-9990

For quite some time as a clinician I find making recommendations regarding the use of elliptical exercise machine a bit challenging because there is very little and often conflicting biomechanical or physiologic evidence regarding the use of this equipment.

An investigation by Lu in 2007 measured the forces across the joints in the lower extremity in a small group of young healthy males while using a particular elliptical machine. Data showed when using an elliptical machine the knee stays relatively flexed (bent); whereas when walking the knee straightens at two points in the gait cycle. Using the elliptical machine at the end of the back stroke there is a larger amount of force on the ball of the foot when compared to the same position during walking. There are smaller vertical pedal reaction forces and loading rates during use of elliptical machine compared to ground reaction forces of walking, and the elliptical machine places relatively greater demand on the hip, thigh, and calf muscles compared to walking. A limitation of this study is that it examined only one particular elliptical machine, and there is a wide variety of designs among elliptical machines. The question remains are the results applicable to different elliptical machines?

A more recent investigation by Burnfield in 2010 looked at the kinematics (joint movements) and EMG (electrical activity of muscles) in the lower extremity of health adults’ (male and female age range from 19 to 75) while using four different elliptical machines (SportsArt; Life Fitness; Octane; and True). The overall conclusions were that the SportsArt elliptical machine best simulated the movement of walking. The results across all machines showed significantly greater flexion of the trunk, pelvis, hip, and knee during elliptical training compared to walking. During elliptical training gluteus maximus muscle and thigh muscles activity was greater than walking and calf and shin muscle activity was less than walking. The data from these two studies provide a little guidance in answering two common questions. One question is an elliptical machine good for a runner to use to cross train?

Assuming the mechanics of running are similar to walking the result of these two studies provide some direction to answering this question. Motions on the elliptical machine have similar movements to walking. Of the four machines tested the SportsArt elliptical machine appears to most closely simulate walking movements. The ground reaction forces are less using an elliptical machine compared to walking. The amount of motion in the lower extremities in the direction of flexion is greater using an elliptical machine compared to walking. The pressure on the ball of the foot is greater using an elliptical machine compared to walking. There is greater demand of the hip and thigh muscles using the elliptical machine compared to walking. There is less demand on the foot and ankle muscles using the elliptical machine compared to walking.

Another common question is an elliptical machine good for an injured runner to use to maintain cardio-respiratory fitness while recovering from an injury? Given the above observations injuries which an elliptical machine should be beneficial include: patella femoral arthralgia; chondromalacia of the patella; IT band syndrome, stress fracture, shin splints; Achilles tendonopathy; heel pain (plantar fascosis); and low back pain which is aggravated by movement in the direction of extension (spinal stenosis). Injuries which an elliptical machine would not be beneficial include: buttock pain; hip/groin pain; patellar tendonitis; metatarsalgia (pain on the ball of the foot); low back pain aggravated by movement of the spine in direction of flexion (disc problem).

Often the cure for a problem is cause of the problem, or visa versa the cause of the problem can be the cure. Given the above list of injuries which would benefit from using the elliptical machine, depending on the circumstances use of the elliptical machine could actually aggravate the injury. For example, if you have a problem about the hip and the hip muscles are relatively weak for example piriformis syndrome, using the elliptical machine would place a significant demand on the piriformis muscle so you may want to avoid the elliptical machine in favor of a bicycle. However if you have weak hip muscles using an elliptical machine in a progressive manner can challenge and strengthen the hip muscles to help alleviate the problem. A healthcare profession can help provide specific guidance for your particular problem.

Elliptical exercise machines are readily available. Our understanding of the mechanics of using elliptical machines to simulate walking/running, and in the management of lower extremities is limited to very few studies with a limited number of subjects.

When deciding whether to use, and how to use an elliptical exercise machine there is little information to guide us. As it is with similar situations of uncertainty, you don’t know until you give it a try. You could take the approach of the classic TV commercial for Life Cereal “Give it to Mikey, he’ll eat anything”. One idea is have your running buddy use the new fangled elliptical machine with a high level of curiosity and attention to detail, see if he/she likes it and than make your choice.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Icelandic 8K Special Announcement

With an original goal of 500 entrants, the inaugural Icelandic Seafood Fest 8K Run and One Mile Fun Run has far exceeded that total, with over 700 entrants as of Monday, June 14. To ensure the high quality of this event, including preparations for the post-race seafood dinner provided to all by Bonefish Grill of Newport News, and the colorful T-shirts to all pre-registrants, it has become necessary to close off all registration as of 11:59 p.m. this Wednesday, June 16th, and to not allow race day registration.

The Icelandic Seafood Fest 8K Run, a Colonial Road Runners Grand Prix event, will be held on Saturday, June 19th at 7:00 p.m., with the one mile fun run preceding that at 6:30 p.m., all from the Icelandic Seafood headquarters, 190 Enterprise Drive , in the Oakland Industrial Park of Newport News, off of Warwick Blvd.

We will be accepting all registrations received up to Wednesday at 11:59 p.m., whether online, or received by Wednesday’s mail, or delivered in person to the security gate personnel at Icelandic Seafood. The race entry form can be downloaded from the Colonial Road Runners website:

with the following exact link:

and is available at the Icelandic Seafood race website:

Thereafter no registrations will be accepted, nor will day-of-race registration be accepted.

The race organizers are very appreciative of the tremendous support by all for this year’s event.

Michael P. Thome, CFO, Icelandic USA, Inc.

Rick Platt, President
Colonial Road Runners

Friday, June 11, 2010

First Colony Run

By Rick Platt

At Saturday morning’s First Colony Run for Shelter 5K, Lafayette High senior Patrick Cunningham won his third road race of the year, runner-up Stephen Chantry came within two seconds of his all-time Colonial Road Runners record for men 55-59, five-time CRR Grand Prix champion Jennifer Quarles won her umpteenth CRR event, and 77-year-old Bill Fenwick broke his own all-time CRR mark for men 75-79.

Cunningham, 18, won the men’s overall title in 16:58, with Chantry second (17:08), and Bruton High’s Ryan Canoy, 17, third (17:29). For the women, the top three were Quarles, 38, in a course-record 19:03 (breaking the previous mark of 19:25 by Linda Kidder), almost two minutes ahead of triathlete Connie Glueck, 46 (21:01), with Caroline Fornshell, 32, third (22:38). All six were from Williamsburg.

Cunningham just started competing last fall with the Lafayette cross country team, where he was hampered by a summer-training stress fracture, but was the alternate for the district and regional meets after a season-best 18:31. He trained for the Colonial Half Marathon over the winter months, running a 1:28:46, then interspersed road races and track meets this spring. On the track his bests were 10:34 (3,200 meters) and 4:59 (1,600 meters), but he much prefers the roads. He won his first road race, the Dorchester (MD) Crab Half Marathon in early April in 1:24:42, then was part of the six-man Lafayette High team that set a course record (212 miles total) at the Sandy Bottom Nature Park 24 Hour Relay. In May he ran a PR 16:46 for third place at the Queens Lake 5K, then won the Chick-Fil-A 5K in 17:02 the next week, before winning again at First Colony (16:58).

Fenwick has been breaking on a regular basis the all-time CRR mark for men 75-79. Virginia Peninsula Road Racing Hall of Famer Andrew Polansky had the previous record, a 26:51 at age 75 at the 2003 Queens Lake 5K. Fenwick, then 75, broke it for the first time with a 26:39 at the 2008 Vineyards of Williamsburg 5K (the neighborhood where he lives). He smashed that time with a 25:52 at the 2008 Heritage Humane Society 5K Run at Ford’s Colony, re-broke it with a 25:46, at age 76, at the 2009 Vineyards race, then came close again with a 25:52 at the 2009 Governor’s Land 5K. Saturday, now age 77, he placed second for men 65-69 with the new 75-79 record of 25:36.

Those four CRR courses, Queens Lake, Vineyards, Ford’s Colony and Governor’s Lane, are noted for being the fastest in Williamsburg, and First Colony now joins the ranks. The race has only been run twice, first in 1998 (as a Heritage Humane Society event) and last Saturday (as a Housing Partnerships event), but there are three all-time CRR marks there--Rob Hinkle’s course-record and men’s all-time 30-34 age-group CRR mark of 15:20 from 1998, and Polansky’s all-time men’s 70-74 mark of 21:56 from 1998. Other notable marks from that 1998 race included Steven Henn running a 16:28 at age 16 (his father, Ron, was the starter and finish line coordinator this year), and Tom Ray running a 20:18 at age 65.

First Colony race age group records this year included Greg Dawson (men 40-44, 17:56), Chantry (men 55-59, 17:08), Fenwick (men 75-and-over, 25:36), Quarles (women 35-39, 19:03), Delores Jones (women 65-69, 51:49, as a racewalker), and Pat Eden (women 75-and-over, 44:28, also racewalking). Eden’s time is close to her all-time CRR mark for women 75-79 of 43:53 from the 2009 Mental Health 5K.

Ann Hirn, 64, of Portsmouth (25:55) was close to Nancy Patron’s 60-64 record of 25:43. Two women, Robin Corson, 56 (24:45) and Rose Crist, 55 (24:56) had better times than the women’s 50-54 record (25:10). Jim Goggin, 56 (19:37) was one second better than the old 55-59 record of Bob Spencer (19:38), but Chantry got that record first. Two weeks earlier, Chantry broke the all-time CRR mark, and the Virginia state 55-59 record, with his 17:06 at the Queens Lake 5K.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010