The good and the bad of caffeine effect
My article on Canadian Running magazine web site:
On a weekend morning before a long run, while the sky slowly lightens up, you can find me leaning on a kitchen counter in my running gear, with a steaming cup of coffee in hand. It is a ritual as certain as a run itself. Coffee wakes me up and warms me up, helping me prepare for the workout I’m about to start. But how much of it is real, and how much of this feeling is just in my head?
Read the whole article at Canadian Running
Is it healthy to run yourself to exhaustion when you’re feeling angry?
Rough days. We all have those. Sometimes the frustration builds throughout the day and we can hardly wait to vent it out. At least, as runners, we have a perfect “venting” solution - we can go for a run, blast it until we can run no more. But - is that really the right thing to do?
I am having a difficult week. Three days ago I was involved in a minor car accident. No injuries and I wasn’t at fault. The stress level should have been at the lower end of the scale, right? Unfortunately, the trouble with my insurance company - which decided to declare my car a total loss, and therefore forced me to buy a new vehicle, despite my old one being perfectly and cheaply fixable - managed to bring the stress levels to the boiling point. So, I dealt with it the way I always do - I went out for a 10k run. I ran until my legs turned into rubber and lungs couldn’t fill with enough air. I ran the anger out of me. There wasn’t enough energy left after the run to feel angry any longer. And, after two sleepless nights, I slept again.
Then I considered what I’ve done - emotionally, it was a right thing to do. Physically, it was a bit silly. I ran way above my race pace and pushed myself to the limit. Something could have snapped - a muscle fibre, a tendon…
According to this article, there’s a chemical explanation to what I’ve done: serotonin, which is a neurotransmitter in the brain, is associated with the mood - low levels of serotonin are associated with aggression in lab rats, and mood disorders in humans. Exercise increases the serotonin level in the brain and therefore improves the mood.
Although there is no proof that mood-triggered physiological reactions can protect your muscles or joints from injury, studies of elite runners who used anger as a motivation strategy in races concluded that running angry can increase the pain tolerance.
So, if you need to run off some bad emotions, and before the fire of rightful anger consumes the reason, remember this - warm up properly before you blast on your angriest run. And, while you’re flying on your path to redemption and anger-management, listen what your body tells you underneath the stormy emotions. If it hurts from exhaustion, you’re fine. But, if there are pangs of pain in muscles, or joints, do the right thing - stop, or slow down, and try to walk out negative emotions instead, so you can be healthy for an angry run some other time.