Walk Breaks for Faster Running

No matter your running experience, slowing down (sometimes) can speed you up.

By Matthew Solan, Tampa Bay Fit

Seasoned runners often view walking as a sign of failure: You walk only when you can no longer run. But the truth is that periodic walking, in training and even in races, can help you run faster and better. “Walking reduces the impact forces on the muscles, joints, and tendons, and reduces breathing rate and heart rate,” says running coach Jenny Hadfield, coauthor of Marathoning for Mortals and founder of coachjenny.com. “So runners are able to cover more distance with better form and alignment, and a reduced risk of fatigue.” TBF2186

WALK SIGNAL: You’re fighting fatigue or leg soreness near the end of long runs or races. This often means you’ve gone out too fast, says Hadfield. To combat that tendency, walk early on. “Periodic walking can provide more overall rhythm with your pacing by making you slow down,” she says. Taking walk breaks also lowers the impact on your body, which may prevent cramping. In fact, a study published this year in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface found that a mix of walking and running (in the range of 9:00 to 13:20 minutes per mile) helped runners conserve energy.

WALK THIS WAY: During your weekend long run, briskly walk for 30 to 60 seconds after every mile, no matter the overall distance, says Hadfield.

WALK SIGNAL: You’re running fast intervals. Walking in between intervals instead of stopping to rest keeps your body ready to run. “Walking helps push blood back to the heart and muscles, which can reduce cramps and heavy legs,” says Terry Nicola, M.D., M.S., assistant professor of clinical rehabilitation medicine at the University of Illinois—Chicago Sports Medicine Center. If you usually jog between intervals, walking instead can help you recover more completely so you can do your repeats faster.

WALK THIS WAY: After a hard interval, slow to a walk. As your heart and breathing rates fall, pick it up into a brisk walk for the remainder of the rest period.

WALK SIGNAL: You’re tackling a giant hill. Whether your longest run or race is five miles or 50, taking walk breaks while going uphill can help you manage energy. “When you attack a hill, you often are exhausted when you reach the top,” says Hadfield. “Walking up helps you avoid the crash-and-burn.” You can make up the time on the downhill.”

WALK THIS WAY: Running downhill stresses your muscles and joints more than running flats. Train your body to handle it with reverse hill repeat workouts, in which you walk uphill and run downhill. Sub out your regular hill workout for this one every other week.

WALK SIGNAL: You’re taking in water or food. It can be challenging to eat or drink (and not spill) while you’re running. But taking in 30 to 60 grams of carbohydrates every hour, and drinking when you’re thirsty, can mean the difference between a runner’s high and a bonk. Walking while refueling helps ensure that you’re getting what you need to perform your best, says Hadfield.

WALK THIS WAY: During long runs, plug in brief walking breaks within 30 minutes of starting and every 15 minutes afterward, and use that time to either drink or eat. During races, take breaks at water stations. Practice good etiquette when downshifting: Run through the station and to the outside of the path, then call out, “Walking!” And thank the volunteers.

WALK SIGNAL: You’re tensing up, shuffling your feet, or otherwise falling apart. If you struggle to maintain comfortable form during long runs, weaving in regular walking periods can help you reset. “Your brain gets lazy during long runs, which can make your form sloppy,” says Tom Clifford, a Level 2 USA Track & Field Coach and owner of Without Limits in Wilmington, North Carolina. “You can begin to sway, plod, and scuff your feet.” Periodic walking breaks can help you run more efficiently, and more comfortably.

WALK THIS WAY: Schedule a 30-second to one-minute walk every five to 10 minutes during your long runs. This is enough time for your brain to reset, Clifford says, while noting to keep it short: “if you walk too long, your heart goes back to rest.” When you resume running, “practice your arm swing, a slight forward lean from your ankles, and a midfoot strike, and focus on relaxing your upper body.”

Cold Weather Running


By USA FIT Tampa Bay

 Yes, we run in ‘cold’ weather here in Florida. Though it doesn’t last long, here are some tips to stay prepared.

1. Always wear moisture wicking material. Even though it’s cold, you still need to wear good, technical fabrics. Cotton will retain your perspiration and will ultimately make you cold or keep you cold. Cotton can also cause skin irritation when worn during exercise for periods of time. Just avoid it.

2. Layer! Think about layering your (moisture wicking) clothing. Start with a tank or shirt then put a vest or jacket on top. As you warm up, you’ll probably want to peel some of these layers off of you while you’re running/walking. Then you’ll have them ready to put back on when you finish.

3. Cover your ears. Covering your ears when it’s cooler or when it’s windy outside, helps to avoid the dreaded ear ache some of us get while running. You’ll also feel warmer when your ears are warmer.

3. Cover your head. Our heads are a major source of heat release. If you cover your head with a beanie or hat, you can retain some of your heat.

3. Cold weather running socks. Want to avoid toe numbness? Try Drymax Cold Weather Running socks. There is nothing like them.

4. WARM UP. You should always do your warm up drills, skipping, etc before your run/ walk. Now you REALLY need to be diligent in performing warmup exercises before your workout. This will help relieve some tension and prep the muscles for your long workout. Say it with us now: “I wish to be INJURY FREE!”

5. Warm liquids. Some people find that drinking warm tea or coffee before their training run/walk will also help warm up the body. This does not take the place of your warm up drills. Be careful drinking caffeine before a run with no restroom access at the start.

6. Arm warmers, leg warmers, and vests do exist. They do work and they do look cool.

7. Apply chapstick. Helps protect your lips from windburn and dryness.

8. REFLECTIVITY and blinkies. Please be seen. We can’t stress this enough. Buy a blinky. Wear it. Be seen. Be safe. Simple as that. (Yes, blinkies are cool, too!)

9. Cover your fingers. Just like the head and ears, covering your fingers is optional. There are long sleeved shirts and jackets with a thumb hole and there are awesome moisture wicking (NON-COTTON) gloves available. Sometimes keeping your hands, ears and head covered and warm is enough to keep your body warm without extra shirts and jackets. Experiment and decide what works for you.

10. Stay hydrated. We are sweating less than before, but you still need to stay hydrated and keep the nutrition steady. When you feel thirsty, you’ve probably waited too long.

Adapted from USA FIT Galveston’s tips for cold weather running

Don’t Let Nature Interrupt Your Run


Advanced Hydration Lessons – Avoiding the Bathroom

By Coach Matt Conigliaro, Tampa Bay Fit Head Coach

We’ve all been there. You head out on a long run and soon realize you need to use the restroom. It’s not fun, and hopefully it’s not by design. Sure, there are emergencies where something goes wrong and you need a bathroom, but proper planning does not involve planning to use a restroom during a run. Especially in a race. Long training runs should be no different. Rather, they should be training for how you will handle races, including bathroom use.

Hydration is tricky. Your body should be well hydrated before you start, and on a long run, especially in Florida’s heat and humidity, you must hydrate along the way. If you get the amount or timing wrong, then you’re destined for a pit stop.

When you drink before your run, your body will require a certain amount of time (roughly a couple of hours) to flush out excess fluid. That’s normal, and it’s important to have a restroom to visit shortly before your run starts, whether at home or at the start location. With practice and attention, you will figure out your body’s patterns.

There is a critical window of time in which you should try not to drink because any excess fluid consumption will leave you headed for a restroom during your run. The window starts after the latest point when you can drink and still have time to flush out any excess, assuming you drink enough to have any excess. (If you recently woke, then a small drink topping off your fluid levels may produce no excess because your body utilized water while you slept.) The window closes some time after you start running, when your body heats up, sweat produces a drop in blood volume, and your body releases an anti-diuretic hormone (ADH) that tells your kidneys to stop sending fluids to your bladder.

Have you seen a crowd of people downing water or sports drinks at the start line of a race? Unless they did a serious warm-up, those fluids are going right through them, and they’ll need a break for the restroom soon. Expect the same with the person who stops to buy coffee (a diuretic!) on the way to a training run. If you wait to drink until ADH kicks in, you should not have to go. But don’t drink too much. Follow the guidelines previously discussed. Drinking too much is just as dangerous as drinking too little, and in Florida drinking too much is probably the more likely problem.

Part of finishing a race or long run happy is to avoid discomfort of all types, including the mental and physical agony of knowing you can’t ignore nature’s call. You’ll learn what works for you from practice. Use those training runs, talk to your coaches, and plan for a great run.

Plans are under way for the 2015/16 season!



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Tampa Bay Fit’s 10 Tips for Marathon Spectators

Whether you’re running the Disney Marathon for fun, or the Boston Marathon as a competitor, you’ve planned for this day inside and out. Don’t forget to give your spectators a plan, too.

To help get you started, here are 10 tips from Tampa Bay Fit’s alumni organizer, Tanya Baird-Repka:

10. Dress comfortably. This will be a busy day for you, too. Wear layers and clothes you can move in. You may need to run or walk the last mile with your athlete.

9. Bring supplies for you. A lightweight chair, a backpack with a blanket, drinks and snacks (coffee perhaps?), noisemakers (to save your hands – you’ll clap a lot!), a sign, and your cell phone in case of an emergency.

8. Bring supplies for your competitor. Whatever goofy things they ask for, from gummie bears or pretzels, to Body Glide, Tylenol, AAA batteries, and extra socks. Make room in that backpack and bring it. Don’t even ask why.

7. Know your competitor’s pace and what they are wearing. Do the math and know what time they should be passing through your area. If they arrive later than expected, please DO NOT SAY “Where the heck have you been? We thought you got lost! HA HA” Your athlete will not share your sense of humor. I hope you are near the aid station.

6. Be there, be seen. If you say you’ll see your athlete at mile 8, 10, or 16, then make sure you are there. The thought of seeing you, or whatever goodies you have in your backpack has kept them going for miles. You not being there will be very disappointing. Make sure they know what to look for; your bright colored shirt, balloon, banner, or flag.

5. Bring a sign. Inspirational, funny, or personal signs are a great distraction for the runners. Keep it simple and easy to read. “You are AWESOME,” “Pain is weakness leaving your body,” “We are proud of you Mommy!” or “Runners have sexy legs.” No Jungian philosophy, be POSITIVE.

4. Cheer for everyone. Spectators can make a big different to athletes. “Doing Great!” “Looking Strong!” “Alright Bob!” (or whatever name is on their bib) or “Whoo Hoo! You’re Awesome.” Do not say “You’re almost there!” unless you are 100 yards or less from the finish. Two miles away is still a helluva long way at the end of a race. Trust me on this one.

3. Be at the finish line. Bring your camera. Be prepared for tears of joy, pain, or sorrow. The marathon finish line is an emotional place. Be unconditionally supportive and proud regardless of the runner’s outcome or attitude. Whatever they want to do now, just do it. Guys, flowers here will win you big points. More than on Valentine’s Day.

2. Drive Home. Let your athlete put their feet up. If they want to stop for a double quarter pounder with cheese, let them.

1. Give your competitor the rest of the day off. Make sure they get to relax. Run their bath, give them a soft robe and pillow, a drink, their favorite snack, and the remote. Take the kids or the dog out, and answer the phone. And pat yourself on the back for being a super spectator!

spectators You selected the best training program you could find, trained for months, and the day is finally here. Let your friends, loved ones, or family know what they can do to help make it memorable!

TBF Takes Space Coast

TBFspacecoast2014Congratulations to everyone that participated in the Space Coast Marathon and Half Marathon last weekend. This was our Fall Fit program’s target race for the 2014 season and we had a BLAST! The race director and her family put on a terrific, entertaining, and well-organized event – well worth putting on your race bucket list.

Fall Recipe: Health Benefits of Butternut Squash


Butternut squash is composed of many vital antioxidants and vitamins. As in other gourd plant members, butternut too has very low calories; 100 g butternutsquashprovides just 45 calories. It contains no saturated fats or cholesterol; however, is a rich source of dietary fiber and phytonutrients. Squash is one of the common vegetables often recommended by dietitians in the cholesterol controlling and weight-reduction programs.

Butternut Squash Soup

2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 medium onion, diced small
1 large, or 2 pounds butternut squash, peeled, seeded, then cut into 1 inch cubes
2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
1 potato, Yukon gold or russet, cut into 1 inch cubes
4 cups vegetable stock or water
1 cup canned coconut milk
Salt and pepper as needed

1. In a large pot, heat oil to medium-low. Add garlic, onions and a pinch of salt, stirring until translucent, about 3 to 5 minutes.
2. Add squash, carrots, potato and stock, bring to boil, lower heat to a simmer and cook for 25 to 30 minutes or until vegetables can be easily pierced with a fork. Remove from heat and add the coconut milk.
3. Puree soup in a blender, working in batches so you don’t overflow. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
4. Garnish with a sprig of thyme or chopped parsley and a drizzle of good quality extra virgin olive oil.

Makes six 1-cup servings. Each serving: 219 cal, 13 g fat.

Resources: www.nutrition-and-you.com/butternut-squash

Post Run/Walk Nutrition for Maximum Recovery

By Victoria Vidal

One of the biggest deterrents for non-athletes when considering pursuing a training program is the fear of post workout pain. The sore and burning muscles caused by tough exercise are enough to make even the pros grimace; but athletes and their trainers don’t push blindly through this pain without seeking ways to alleviate it. Scientific advances in the field have uncovered preventative measures for athletes that assist the recovery process and allow runners and walkers to bounce back more quickly.

Some of the post exercise pain experienced, results from damage created by overworking muscles (another incentive for group training with knowledgeable coaches). Training mindfully and increasing intensity in moderation can, in addition to stretching, etc, help to avoid this kind of muscle soreness. The other type of soreness that is more difficult to prevent is the kind experienced when muscles are in the process of being strengthened. It is this variety of discomfort that often leaves those newer to the sport of running and walking feeling defeated because it can last for days. Not to mention, breaking through this mental and physical barrier can be difficult for even professionals. The solution to a portion of this however, can be found in every athlete’s post workout nutrition.

Glycogen synthase, a key enzyme in glycogenesis, is imperative to the conversion of glucose to glycogen and is active almost instantly after exercise. In order to stimulate glycogen synthase, athletes need to consume not only protein, but carbohydrates as well, which are said to increase glycogen storage and conversion by 2 to 3 times the normal amount. Insulin response, obtained from carbohydrates, also augments the transfer of glycogen to the muscles.

Why is the production of glycogen important to runners and walkers?
Glycogen is stored in the muscles for energy and is used to create fuel not only for prolonged exercise but additionally, for the reparative process as well.

According to Runners Connect, there are two windows for optimal recovery – two opportunities for the intake of proper nutrients to aid in the progression of healing, before the next workout. The first window occurs immediately after a training session. Some advocate that this time frame arises within the first 30 minutes, although if comfortably possible most now recommend consuming these nutrients sooner.

This post workout recovery nutrition can be obtained in various forms, as long as it follows the advice of dieticians’ and trainers’ – consume a carbohydrate with a protein in a 4:1 ratio. The correct amount of carbohydrates and proteins can be measured by dividing your weight by 2 (for carbohydrates) and then further dividing that number by 4, which results in the adequate amount of protein needed.

Weight Carbohydrates (Divide by 2) Protein (Divide by 4)
130 65 grams of carbohydrates 16 grams of protein
150 75 grams of carbohydrates 18 grams of protein

The second window occurs approximately 1 to 3 hours after a workout. At this point a recovery meal is suggested. Recovery meals need to include protein, carbohydrates and a healthy fat. Don’t fall into the trap of consuming more calories than are actually needed or of eating with abandon – ingesting the right foods in the correct combination is key in decreasing inflammation, increasing glycogen storage, and reconstructing damaged tissue.

Why is this reconstruction significant?
Aside from the fact that sore and achy muscles are painful, if muscles and energy stores are not carefully replenished it often results in over training and injury. This pain is more than just an inconvenience and hampers muscle adaptation, which ultimately affects your growth and overall ability to reach fitness goals.

And as always, no matter what type of workout or recovery you choose – hydration is essential!!

“Everyone is training hard, but the winners are recovering better” ~Shawn Talbott, PHD.

McMillan, M.S., G. (2014). The runner’s ultimate nutritional recovery routine (runrr) you’ll be amazed at how good you feel the next day. McMillan Running, Retrieved from http://www.mcmillanrunning.com/articlePages/article/7.
Reinink, A. (2009). Post-run recovery starts with protein. Runner’s World, Retrieved from http://www.runnersworld.com/nutrition-runners/post-run-recovery-starts-protein.
(n.d.). The two windows for optimal recovery after a hard workout or race. Runners Connect, Retrieved from http://runnersconnect.net/running-nutrition-articles/what-is-good-to-eat-after-a-run/.
Young, K. (2014). 10 best: Runner’s tips. Retrieved from http://fashion.telegraph.co.uk/beauty/news-features/TMG10741350/10-Best-runners-tips.html.
Talbott, PhD, S. (2014). The 3 keys to proper nutritional recovery. Competitor, Retrieved from http://running.competitor.com/2014/04/nutrition/the-3-keys-to-proper-nutritional-recovery_4109.

The Reasons why Marathon Coaches are a Game Changer

With an abundant amount of apps and interactive guides available to athletes, many runners and walkers are quick to shy away from a professional coach. While the cost can be intimidating, there are vast advantages to utilizing a professional in the training process.

Coaches are knowledgeable.
A coach has a level of expertise that goes beyond the average runner. Coaches know the ways that things should be done in order to keep you safe. They have studied and trained and perfected their craft. For beginners, a coach is especially useful. They have the familiarity with the sport to be able to guide you properly and if you have questions they are right there to answer them and lead the way.

They’ve seen it all.
And if they haven’t seen it, they’ve been through it first hand. This is invaluable to athletes. Instead of suffering through training blindly, coaches bring insight that alleviates many of the more difficult aspects of training. They know when to stretch, when to cool down, what to eat before and after working out, and they have probably learned it through trial and error (or by seeing other people make costly training mistakes).

Coaches keep it objective.
The hard truth is that people typically don’t train hard enough. It’s usually not because they don’t want to, but because they either don’t know how or are so attached to their workout method that they don’t realize it. There are countless scientific studies dedicated to this realization, and coaches help to make sure you’re actually exercising as hard as you think you are. They are your objective observer. They can see if you’re sweating too much, or if you’re lagging or limping, and have the ability to step in and tweak training methods in order to assist you in reaching your goal. They are there to help you maximize your potential, and minimize your risk of injury.

They keep you in check.
If you have a coach you are less likely to skip or skimp on workouts. You have someone to be accountable to, someone to help you stay the course, and someone who genuinely cares about your success and your ability to attain your goals. Additionally, having that one person that believes you can break through your own barriers makes a world of difference.

They’re the distinction between general and personal.
Other methods for training are great, but they’re dedicated to helping the masses. If you have a different set of circumstances, or a hiccup arises during a general training program, there isn’t anyone to help you ride out the wave. If you have a coach however, they provide guidance specific to your situation so that you don’t have to brave the current alone. Sink or swim works great for some people, but it leaves out everyone else. That’s where a coach becomes a necessity. They show you the techniques that you need in order to keep your training afloat.

Coaches take the guesswork out of prep work.
Participating in a marathon can be complicated. What do you eat before? Should you exercise before you run/walk a marathon? What are tempo runs?
It’s a lot to prepare for, and if the marathon description mentions hills, you don’t want to be left wondering about the MTV show. Acquire a coach! Coaches can give you advice on everything from what to wear for a run, to how much to hydrate and everything in between.
Entering a marathon ill prepared can be stressful, and runners and walkers with coaches have an edge over fellow athletes. Sure they’ll be working as hard as everyone else, but the difference is they’ll be better prepared!

Simple, basic tips on running form

This 3 min video explains why our program works

The film may have been shot in another USA Fit city, but any of our members will tell you – this is exactly who Tampa Bay Fit is!


Train yourself to fall correctly

Ensure a safe landing when the inevitable fall occurs. Click here to read tips from Runner’s World.

Summer Running (and Walking, too!)

By Victoria Vidal

With the arrival of summer creeping closer, the promise of ditching bulky winter clothes and enjoying the sunshine is just around the corner. The impending summer brings runners and walkers the opportunity to be outdoors a little more comfortably and enjoy the extra daylight hours at ease – that is until temperatures begin to soar above the 90s. Before long, marathon enthusiasts will be reminded of the challenges of exercise in steadily rising temperatures. While it can be intimidating to continue your workout as the forecast becomes more intense, there are ways to beat the heat while still training effectively and carefully.

Protect your skin: Generously apply sunscreen (broad spectrum, SPF 15 or more) over ALL exposed areas before you put on your running/walking gear (hats, visors, and fancy running monitors included). Applying sunscreen beforehand removes the risk of missing any important areas and will help to prevent not only severe sunburns but will also minimize your risk of skin cancer.

Wear appropriate clothing: Summer may be all about yellow polka dot bikinis, but marathon running/walking is not. Wearing too little or too much clothing can be detrimental to your workout and will either expose your body to too much sun or inhibit your body’s ability to cool down. The best summer exercise clothing is light in color, breathable, repels moisture (avoid cotton), and shows off just enough muscle to make other runners/walkers jealous.

Check weather advisories: Even though the weather channel can’t promote 100% accuracy, it’s still a good idea to keep an eye out for heat advisories and warnings. The forecast will give you a basic idea for what to expect and can help you plan appropriately. If a warning or advisory is in place, or if the heat rises above 98.6 degrees (with humidity above 70%) it’s a good idea to avoid possible injury and wait until the weather is more favorable. Remember, one day of exercise is not worth being out of commission and injured for several!

Adapt first: Work yourself up to longer runs/walks in higher temperatures. In many parts of the country temperatures can jump from one day to the next, so it’s essential to ease the extra distance in slowly.

Run at the right time: Try to plan your outdoor activity for early in the morning or late in the afternoon. Additionally, runners and walkers should avoid the hottest part of the day, which usually occurs between the hours of 10am and 4pm when the sun’s concentration is greatest. If you can’t get your workout in when temperatures are lower, adjust your route to include some shade for safer training.

Hydrate: Drink plenty of water before and during your summer workouts to avoid dehydration. Runners and walkers can lose between 6 to 12 ounces of fluid for every 20 minutes of rigorous exercise, so it’s important to compensate accordingly. Drinking 10 to 15 ounces before your workout and continuing to intake fluids at least every 20 to 30 minutes is a great standard, but you still need to monitor yourself in order to properly tailor hydration to your needs.

Replenish electrolytes: Higher temperatures = more sweat. As the sweat pours down, your electrolyte consumption should increase. Sports drinks can be consumed in combination with water to ensure not only proper hydration, but also proper electrolyte replacement.

Watch for signs of trouble: If you experience any of the following symptoms, go indoors or find a spot with ample shade and stop running or walking immediately. Sit or lie down and hydrate slowly until the symptoms subside. If symptoms persist, contact a medical professional immediately!

Heat cramps (usually in the abdominal area, quads and calves)
Nausea or vomiting
Feeling faint or dizzy
You’ve stopped sweating
Cool, clammy skin or extremely red, hot and dry skin

Cool down: If you feel like you’re beginning to overheat a little, splash water on your head, body, back of your neck and hands in order to help bring your temperature down. Drink cold water, consume ice chips if available, and use a cold compress on the back of your neck if you have one handy. If all else fails, find a little shade or go inside to allow yourself a few moments to acclimate before continuing your workout.

With a little preparation (and a great group of USA Fit workout buddies) summer marathon training can still be fun!

Stay Fit All Year Long!

Stay in shape during our pre/post season with free group runs.

During our offseason (February – July), some of our members just want to keep running and walking. They call them “Fun Runs,” informal gatherings of folks training for other half or full marathons, or just maintaining fitness, or battling the season weight gain that comes after the holidays.

To stay abreast of the meeting announcements, follow our Facebook page for postings by folks hosting the events. Fun Runs are a free way to stay in shape and connected to your fitness friends.

Basic Hydration for the Long Distance Runner

How do I know how much water or sports drink to consume during a run? The bottom line is, you need to drink just enough so you aren’t thirsty during your run. But for those who want facts, we compiled this article to help you get a better understanding of the definitions and science behind hydration for the average long distance runner.



What is hyponatremia? Hyponatremia is a low concentration of sodium in the blood

Most commonly seen in endurance athletes, hyponatremia is a potentially life threatening condition. Sodium plays an important role in water balance and muscle contraction and is a required element for normal body functions. The body has a remarkable ability to maintain its sodium and water balance. However endurance events, including marathons, challenge this critical survival mechanism.

Sodium is necessary to draw water through permeable membranes in the body and allows for distribution of those fluids throughout the entire body. Without adequate sodium, your body will no longer be able to move water across permeable membranes, causing dehydration. You can drink all the water you want, but if you don’t have the sodium necessary to move it from the gut to the bloodstream, you will become hyponatremic. Depending on the intensity and duration of exercise, hyponatremia can be life-threatening.

What causes hyponatremia? Fluid overload, sweating and medications

Drinking large amounts of fluids without replacing adequate sodium can lead to hyponatremia. Additionally, there is a relationship with the total volume of sweat lost during an exercise session and fluid replacement. Lost sweat (salt, other minerals and water) through prolonged exercise if replaced by water (with no salt) could produce diluted sodium in the blood stream which in turn can cause hyponatremia.

Climate also plays a role in the possibility of developing low blood sodium. In warm climates, like here in Florida, we sweat more per hour requiring an increase in salt replacement. The same results can occur in cool climates. The sweat rates are lower, but drinking too much fluid can decrease the concentration of blood sodium giving the same affect as if the athlete had sweat out too much salt.

Medications such as ibuprofen, aspirin, and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs can contribute to hyponatremia due to their interference with kidney function and their potential for masking heat exhaustion.

Who is at risk for hyponatremia? Endurance athletes and women

Studies have shown that endurance athletes are at risk for developing hyponatremia due to the fact that it is difficult to find a good balance between adequate hydration, over hydration and accurate sodium replacement during prolonged physical activity.

Women are at greater risk than men for developing hyponatremia. Women generally tend to be smaller in size than men and are more likely to develop fluid overload since it takes less fluid for small people to become overloaded/over-hydrated. Excess fluid retaining hormones in women have also been sited as contributing factors that prevent the female athlete from excreting excess fluids. The hormonal contribution to hyponatremia is still under debate.

Signs and Symptoms for Hyponatremia:

Slurred speech
Upset stomach
Hyponatremia in extreme cases can lead to convulsions/seizures, coma and death.
How can you prevent hyponatremia? Adequate fluid replacement with beverages containing electrolytes, determine individual rates of fluid loss and avoid using anti-inflammatory and/or pain relieving medications during exercise.

Anytime an athlete exercises for over 1 hour, electrolytes must be replaced to avoid hyponatremia. Although the exact amount varies it is generally advised that you should ingest 1 gram of sodium per hour during endurance activities. This varies by individual and can be difficult to accomplish. Athletes need to find a healthy balance and may need to increase their salt intake in the days leading up to a big race and know how much sodium is in their sports drinks. It is difficult to adequately replace lost salt during a hot race. It is likely that more salt will be lost through sweat than can be replaced, even when consuming sports drinks. Knowing your body and having a good balance prior to the event is key to avoiding hyponatremia.

Determining individual rates of fluid loss is a way to calculate how much sodium one needs to maintain a healthy system. You can do this by weighing yourself before and after a run to determine your sweat rate. The weight loss in ounces represents the approximate amount of fluid volume in ounces to be replaced by a sports drink. Though this method isn’t a completely accurate way to determine your fluids needs, it gives you a baseline to start.

Medications such as pain relievers and anti-inflammatory should be avoided during endurance activities, because they negatively affect our kidneys and can indirectly cause hyponatremia. One should always check with their physician prior to using these medications in connection with physical activity.

What is the treatment for hyponatremia? Inactivity and salt ingestion

Medical professionals will need to determine if an athlete has developed hyponatremia. In the event that no medical personal are available, inactivity is the first treatment. The body at some point will start to get rid of the excess fluid by increasing urine production. Salt will then need to be ingested over the next 10-12 hours. With medical staff present, diuretics are typically administered along with a high salt concentrated solution givenintravenously at a very slow rate.


What is dehydration? Dehydration is the loss of water and salts essential for normal body function

The basic premise behind dehydration is an inadequate intake of fluids resulting in the body losing more fluid than it takes in. The fluid/salt balance needed to maintain healthy cells and tissues can be seriously disrupted with dehydration.

Dehydration can occur in as little at 30 minutes of exercise, especially in hot weather. The body relies on sweating to dissipate the heat generated from working muscles. Sweating also helps to maintain our core body temperature. Allowing our core body temperature to be maintained within a safe range is a key element in preventing heat related injuries which may initially be caused by dehydration. The amount of sweating necessary to sustain heat loss during vigorous exercise inevitably will lead to dehydration unless adequate fluids are ingested.

Dehydration will diminish an athlete’s performance and can lead to death if not corrected. Dehydration is one of the most common factors for heat related sickness such as heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Both heat exhaustion and heat stroke cause numerous deaths each year.

Heat exhaustion is characterized by an increase in core body temperature and heart rate. People with heat exhaustion may also exhibit fatigue, weakness, dizziness, headache, nausea (sometimes vomiting), and muscle cramps.

Heat stroke is characterized by a very high core body temperature, reddened skin and the absence of sweating. Heat stroke is the most dangerous of the heat injuries and can cause a stroke and death if not corrected.

What causes dehydration? Not drinking enough fluids, strenuous activity, excessive sweating, vomiting, diarrhea and heat exhaustion

Strenuous activity such as running requires adequate fluid/electrolyte replacement or dehydration will occur. Excessive sweating due to climactic conditions and/or intensity of exercise can rapidly dehydrate individuals if corrective measures aren’t taken. Vomiting, diarrhea, fever, diuretics, illness, a variety of medications such as anti inflammatory’s, low fitness levels, sleep deprivation, lack of heat acclimatization, staying in the sun too long, not drinking enough fluids, and alcohol can all be contributing factors to dehydration.

Who is at risk for dehydration? Athletes (adults and children)

Adult athletes are at risk for dehydration, especially during the summer months, for any activity lasting longer than 30-60 minutes. Without proper hydration, the body can quickly lose water and other essential elements running the risk of kidney problems or even death. Children, due to their smaller stature are at an increased risk of developing dehydration. For all athletes, once dehydration starts, the deterioration can be quick.

Signs and Symptoms for Dehydration:

Excessive sweating
Thirst (this is not a good indicator, usually when the thirst mechanism is activated, dehydration has already occurred)
Dark colored urine
Reddened skin
Weak irregular rapid heart rate
Low blood pressure
General weakness
Rapid and shallow breathing

How can you prevent dehydration? Drink when you are thirsty before, during and after exercise. Wear proper clothing, be heat acclimatized and avoid certain medications.

The best preventative measure to ward off the possibility of becoming dehydrated is to stay hydrated. An indicator of hydration is not always an output of large volumes of clear, dilute urine. The only good indicator is not something we can easily measure – the concentration of your blood plasma.

Runners vary individually in what their body requires to stay hydrated. Some may only need 14 ounces of fluid every hour, while others may need 26 ounces. Replacing lost fluids during exercise when the duration is longer than 60 minutes, is recommended. Consuming 16 ounces of fluid replacement every hour of exercise is a good rule of thumb to follow, especially during endurance events such as a marathon or half marathon. Replacing fluids post exercise allows the body to hold onto the balance it seeks to achieve as well as aiding in muscle recovery, especially when the fluids contain carbohydrates and protein. Choose a sports drink that contains carbohydrate, electrolytes, and a small amount of protein. Mixing your water with half sports drink, helps your body absorb the fluid better than water alone. The process of your body losing carbs and fat during exercise, affects your overall hydration calculations, which makes hydration calculators not an exact measurement of what your body needs. Listen to your body, experiment during training, and run safe.

Proper clothing can influence your cooling efficiency. It is best to go with light colored clothes as they reflect light and in turn remain cooler than darker clothing. Choose materials that wick away the moisture, which allows for better air circulation, thus facilitating more rapid cooling. Cotton is not a good choice because it does not wick moisture away from the body.

Heat acclimatization takes about 10 days. Adapting to the heat helps our bodies make the necessary adjustments to promote better cooling.

Certain medications can cause dehydration by interfering with sweating, kidney function and diuretic effect. Check with your physician before beginning any exercise program.

What is the treatment for dehydration? Rapid cooling, re-hydration and seek medical treatment

Understanding the cause of dehydration is the first step towards treatment. If heat appears to be the cause of dehydration, rapid cooling is recommended. Cooling can be achieved by loosening an individuals clothing and moving out of the direct sun. Ice can be used if available and should be applied to the athlete’s groin, armpits and neck.

Rehydration or replacing lost fluids is essential in correcting dehydration. Salt and water work together to allow our bodies to achieve a healthy balance. The salt acts to draw water through permeable membranes, which aids in the distribution of fluids throughout the entire body. Too much salt however, can have a reverse affect, and pull too much water through the membranes and can lead to further dehydration.

When dehydration is extreme, the body stops sweating to preserve the remaining blood volume. As a result, our core body temperature will increase to dangerously high levels, causing a heat stroke. Heat stroke is a serious medical emergency and requires medical attention. Individuals require medical attention to correct this degree of dehydration and it may take 48-72 hours under supervised medical care to correct heat stroke. Heat stroke is life threatening.

What is a method for calculating the amount of fluid a person needs during exercise?

Individuals vary, which why we recommend drinking to satisfy thirst. Here is a calculator which can be used as a baseline while you experiment during training to figure out your specific hydration needs.

Baseline fluid requirements for non-exercising individuals can be calculated by weighing the person in lbs and dividing that number by 2:

• Wt (lbs) divided by 2 = minimum daily requirement of fluid for a non-exercising individual represented in ounces
• Example: 140 lb male
140/2 = 70

70 ounces fluid replacement necessary for daily maintenance

Exercising individuals need to build on the minimum daily fluid requirement. A method for determining fluid replacement for an exercising adult is by weighing themselves before they run and weighing themselves again after they run. The change in weight represents the approximate amount of fluid necessary to achieve a fluid balance.

• Example: 140 lb male
Pre-exercise weight: 140 lbs

Post-exercise weight: 139 lbs

• 1lb of weight loss = approximately 16 ounces of fluid to be replaced
This is in addition to the minimum daily requirement.

On hot days, your body will require additional amount of fluids. An athlete’s performance diminishes every degree over 50 degrees fahrenheit.

What are the differences between using a sports drink vs. water during exercise?

For all activities lasting less than 1 hour, water alone is adequate. During prolonged exercise, anything lasting longer than 60 minutes, the fluid replacement needs to match the specific substances lost with the increased duration of activity. Sports drinks have the capacity of replacing the body’s depleted supplies while contributing to muscle recovery. Sports drinks provide several advantages over water specifically by providing electrolyte replacement, carbohydrates to fuel our working muscles as well as aiding in muscle recovery. Important features of sports drinks are taste, carbohydrate and sodium content.

Sports drinks have the potential of restoring electrolytes lost during exercise, while prompting the desire to drink. The added salt and pleasant taste of sports drinks trigger the thirst response, encouraging consumption of fluids which in turn reduces the chances of developing hyponatremia and dehydration.

Carbohydrates are the primary fuel that powers muscles during exercise. Sports drinks containing 6-8% carbohydrate provide the energy needed to improve our muscles capacity for work. Many studies have shown that athletes consuming sports drinks containing 6-8% (6-8 grams of carbohydrate per 100 ml of fluid) carbohydrate can exercise longer with less fatigue than athletes that drink only water. There is a fine line however between the correct amount of carbohydrate for optimal fuel and energy and too much carbohydrate which can lead to bloating and nausea. In addition, when the carbohydrate content is too high, the rate at which fluid is absorbed into the blood from the intestine is slowed due to the delay in gastric emptying which can impede re-hydration. The rate of absorption and gastric emptying (how fast the fluid moves through the stomach into the intestines) varies per individual. Variations in the guidelines may be necessary for those who have difficulty ingesting and digesting high volumes of fluids with increased percentages of carbohydrates. In addition, studies now show a very small amount of protein in your sports drink, will help the absorption rate and retention of your fluids.

Sports drinks contribute to muscle recovery. Muscle recovery depends on how well the body recovers its glycogen stores and repairs muscle tissues after exercise. Current research shows that carbohydrate replacement, along with protein, 30-60 minutes after exercise can have an enormous impact on an athlete’s next day performance. During this one hour period of time, athletes consuming sports drinks restore about 50% more of their glycogen than those who did not consume sports drinks or replace their lost carbohydrates with simple sugars. An added advantage of drinking sports drinks during the recovery phase is that typically athletes appetites are decreased, causing a deficit in nutrition and fluid. Re-hydrating with sports drinks post exercise may be a more palatable way to replace lost nutrition during a time of suppressed appetite which will in turn speed recovery

Ingesting carbohydrates during prolonged exercise delays fatigue and enhances performance. Water alone is appropriate when an activity is less than 60 minutes. Any exercise lasting longer than 60 minutes requires electrolyte and carbohydrate replacement to increase energy, aid in muscle recovery and maintain adequate hydration. Athletes need to be well fueled, well rested and well hydrated for optimal energy and performance.

Consuming sports drinks before, during and after exercise have proven benefits by replenishing muscle carbohydrate stores and restoring lost body fluids.

Melissa Dowd

Melissa Dowd joined USAFIT, in 2014 as a Yellow group assistant coach. She began co-organizing alongside Jessica Baker, in 2016, and is back for the 2017-2018 season.  Melissa has always enjoyed fitness and incorporated into her life in one way or another, but didn’t begin long distance running until she was in her 30’s.  She has been a group exercise instructor, and personal  trainer, for both the Marine Corps and corporate fitness centers.  Melissa’s fitness journey in her words…

I’ve always loved to explore different fitness options that keep me excited and motivated, through goal setting or just plain FUN.   I’ve taught everything from Spin to Zumba, and decided to run my first marathon at the age of 32. I reluctantly joined USAFIT in 2014, with a little positive peer pressure, and very quickly realized how much it enriched my running experience.  I was always a solo runner, and enjoyed the quiet, but it didn’t take many runs with USAFIT, to begin to wonder how I ever did it without them.   What I love most of all about being a part of USAFIT, is watching the growth that comes from each individual, and unique journey to a finish line.  When setting a goal, turns into truly BELIEVING it can be achieved, changes happen, and the empowerment that develops in a person, is evident and life changing.


Jessica Baker

Jessica has been a dedicated member since 2014. Her cheery disposition and natural ability to make people feel welcome and valued, makes her an asset and the perfect fit, to USAFIT ,as the Co-Organizer!  She and Melissa Dowd, have teamed up to continue the legacy of this amazing program, Tampa Bay Fit!  Here’s a little about Jessica and her fitness journey, in her own words…

I joined Tampa Bay Fit in 2014 to train for a full marathon. I started running in 2012 and could barely run 60 seconds without stopping. Using a couch to 5k app I was able to complete my first 5k that year at The Women’s Half Marathon in St. Pete.  I fell in love with running!  On New Year’s Eve 2013 I decided to set a goal of 13 races that year to include the Women’s HALF Marathon (I wanted the Half medal). I was able to reach my goal using the same couch to 5k training app. After completing my first half marathon I decided to train for a full marathon but couldn’t find an app for that. That is when I discovered Tampa Bay Fit. Thanks to Tampa Bay Fit’s training schedule and coaches I was able to complete my first full marathon, The Clearwater Marathon , at my goal time of 4:20 (4:22 actually, but close enough).

Matt Conigliaro

Matt C. joined Tampa Bay Fit in 2004 having never done any distance running.  Since then, he has run 40 marathons in 32 states and many half marathons.  He’s on his way to running a marathon in all 50 states before he turns 50, and his best time is 3:16, which he ran at the Mercedes Marathon in Birmingham.  Matt helps coach TBF runners because he enjoys helping runners meet their goals, and he knows from experience that training with others is the best way to appreciate the joy that comes from distance runs–and to finish them with a smile on your face!  Matt has had the good fortune of running all over the country, and he knows that the St. Pete waterfront is one of the most beautiful places to run.  He can’t wait for our next season to start.  When running, Matt tries to forget that he is an attorney.  He and his wife live downtown.


Michelle Schultz

Welcome to USA FIT Tampa Bay! My journey into long distance running started in 2008 with a goal to enter my 40’s fit. Unable to run even a half  block when I started, I really struggled with running. Thankfully, a friend invited me to Tampa Bay Fit. I was given a proper schedule and training, education through the seminars, and the miles went by so much faster with friends. In 2012, I finished my second marathon – happier, healthier , and 30 pounds lighter. Through Tampa Bay Fit, I finally found an exercise I could stick with AND have fun!

I am a native to St. Petersburg, married with four children. Serving as organizer and coach of Tampa Bay Fit, for several years, is my small part to pay it forward and help others in my community change their lives. This will be my 8th year with TBF, and will be leading the Red Half group for the 2017-2018 season. I have a passion for inspiring people to run and enjoy encouraging them to meet their goals. If running helped someone like me, running can change anyone’s life!

RRCA Certified Running Coach
CPR/AED/First Aid Certified

Tonya Rivera

This will be my 6th season with Tampa Bay Fit. I have been married 20 yrs and we have 2 teenage boys. I work full-time as the Personal Lines Mgr at an Insurance Brokerage, I lead a couples group at my church and I am the secretary for the athletic boosters at Osceola High. Even with an extra busy schedule, Tampa Bay Fit has helped me find the “fun” in running and I am hoping to help others find that. 14 years ago at 29 years old I could not even jog a ¼ mile. I was 200lbs and knew I had to make a change. I am one of those people who LOVE to eat and who gets bored easily, so I always have to challenge myself to keep the weight off. 5 years ago I would have told you there was no way I could run a ½ marathon, but with the help of Tampa Bay Fit in Nov 2010,  I completed my 1st half marathon and that was just the beginning. I thank God everyday for giving me the ability to do this and I don’t take it for granted. I am honored to be an asst. coach for Tampa Bay Fit.