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5 Running Lessons


It was a beautiful day for a run today, 72 degrees, light
wind, clear blue sky and lush foliage… the trail was busier than usual, with
bikers passing me every few minutes.  But
otherwise, it couldn’t have been a better day.
My running partner recently left DC to spend a couple of months working
in Morocco,
and I swore to myself that I wouldn’t completely go to pot while she was
gone.  So I forced myself to get into my
gear and go for a solo run.  Being alone
gave me the chance to reflect on 5 running lessons…

Don’t compare
yourself to others
– there will always be someone better, faster, fitter,
stronger, smarter…  It’s important to be
content with who you are, and do the best with what you’ve got.  At least, this is what I told myself as I was
passed by the majority of joggers on the trail, dragging myself along to mile

Appreciate the beauty
of nature
– it’s so easy to take nature for granted.  I ran by a patch of mushrooms, and one had
been broken off its stalk and flipped over so I could see its little
vents.  How can a fungus know how to grow
into such a well organized structure?
How can the cells know to line up into soft, brown vents?  I don’t know… it seems pretty amazing to me
that one little organism can be so delicate, complex, and completely
independent.  It never asked anyone for
permission to be itself.  Meditating on
the whimsy and creativity that is abundant in the life around us can put things
into perspective.

Take responsibility
– no one’s going to help you get in shape.
It’s up to you to take care of your body.  I’m really bad at this – I don’t like to exercise
alone, and I sometimes put off getting in shape unless I have a partner for
accountability.  It’s as if I prefer to
delegate responsibility about my health to others.  I know that this is a common tendency in
medicine – where folks rely on their doctors, without taking responsibility for
applying their advice (for diet/exercise/medications) on a daily basis.

Exercise is a
life-long discipline
– as I thought about how hard it was to run, and how
heavy my legs felt, and how much easier all of this was just a couple of years
ago… I realized that exercise is not something you do every other weekend.  It really is best applied on a daily basis.  And being in shape is the result of
consistent hard work – so we have to focus our minds on making exercise a part
of our regimen, just as we make time to eat each day!

Don’t psych yourself
– part of your success or failure in exercising has to do with whether
or not you believe you can do it.  When
you’re running, you have to believe that you can make it the whole way… or that
you can run farther than you did last time.
The temptation is to quit when you start feeling a little tired, but you
have to keep going – encouraging yourself along the way with a positive
attitude.  Of course, if you really are
unable to make it (your heart rate is at its limit and you are breathing so
hard you can’t speak) then slow down.
But a lot of the time you’ll find that running an extra mile is a matter
of mindset, not physical capability.

Do you have running lessons to share?

This post originally appeared on Dr. Val’s blog at

Brand Name or Generic Drugs: Does it Matter?


To tell you the truth, I used to think that there was no real difference between a generic drug and its trade name equivalent. The active ingredients in both formulations are identical, so I assumed that they worked the same way. Sure I knew that the inactive “filler” compounds are different – but what does a filler do anyway? It’s just there to hold the active ingredients into a pill shape, right?

Well, Dr. Barry Rumack, Founder of Micromedex, Inc. set me straight yesterday. According to Dr. Rumack, as many as 15% of people have drug sensitivities to fillers, therefore raising the question of whether or not people should take an even closer look at their prescription medications. In some cases generic medications might be best for a person, and in others the name brand might be worth the extra cost.

Dr. Rumack explained that he had previously tried to create a filler database that people could use to seek out the best formulation of their particular drug based on their personal allergy and intolerance profiles. Unfortunately, demand for such a tool was too low to make the database worthwhile. Maybe demand is low because people are unaware of this issue? Or maybe I’m making a mountain out of a mole hill. What do you think?

This post originally appeared on Dr. Val’s blog at

Plantar Fasciitis – how do you make it go away?

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The plantar fascia is basically a thin, broad “rubber band” on the bottom of your foot.  It holds your foot bones together and gives you a little spring in your step.  But when that rubber band gets stiff, every step can be painful, especially the first few steps in the morning.  So what would you do with a stiff rubber band that needs to fit around a deck of cards?  You’d stretch it gently until it could fit around them, right?  Well, as it turns out, that’s the best course of action for plantar fasciitis.  There are many different ways to stretch the fascia (like rolling a tennis ball under the bottom of your foot) but my favorite method is: the night splint.

What’s a night splint?  They’re little booties that keep your feet at a 90 degree angle when you’re lying down.  This gentle stretching works while you sleep, so it couldn’t be easier.  Night splints are available online or at most surgical supply stores, and cost upwards of $30.  Try them for several nights in a row, and see if it makes a difference in the pain you’ve been feeling when you take your first steps of the day.  Keep it up for a week or two, and you may have cured yourself.

Have you tried night splints?  Still having pain?  Find out what else might work in the next blog entry!This post originally appeared on Dr. Val’s blog at

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