Daily Archives: September 14, 2013

Longest distance run without doubling back

Screenshot from 2013-09-14 21:04:20Today’s 22 mile(35.4 km) run wasn’t a record breaker in terms of miles covered, but it was the farthest distance I’ve run from anywhere without doubling back. It’s also the farthest north I’ve ever run. I ran up to Millwood where my ride was patiently waiting. Millwood is about as “middle of no where” you can get in Westchester county(it’s not even on the map above because it has such a small population). It took me 3 hours and 19 minutes to complete. I took a short break in Elmsford at the 10 mile mark to get some apple juice from the grocery store. This is also the first time I ran through the notorious gap in the Putnam trail between the northern terminus of the southern portion and the start of the northern portion in the middle of the village of Elmsford. The gap isn’t much, but the streets have a lot of traffic in this area.

The temperature through most of it was in the mid to upper 60s, so I didn’t sweat a lot. I dropped the balls several times. The northern portion of the Putnam trail, also known as the North County Trailway is steeper than I had anticipated. From Elmsford to Millwood, it is mostly an upward slope. I saw some cyclists struggle with it in a few steeper areas. It proved a challenge to me in some parts, and the resulting tiredness is a large part of why I dropped the balls many times.

Another runner seemed interested in challenging me to a race. Somewhere just north of the Irish famine park, I started hearing another runner behind me. Before I knew it, she zoomed ahead of me and looked back at me smugly. I was taken by surprise. I normally don’t race other runners, especially during long runs but I couldn’t resist. I tried keeping up with the woman in the pink leggings, but couldn’t. She kept getting farther and farther away. Eventually I slowed down to a very slow jog to regain my energy.

After doing this for a little less than 10 seconds I felt an energy rush. I was soon able to keep pace with her, though I was still far behind. I eventually caught up to her, and was just several feet behind. My competitive side took over me and soon I ran right by her on the approach to Elmsford. At the same time I think she was slowing down anyway. I lost sight of her by the time I got to Elmsford for my break. She was a very fast runner. If you’re reading this, I had a lot of fun. And yes I dropped the balls many times.

At the end of the run I was tired and sore, though I felt I could have run a few more miles, very slowly.

Echinacea for preventing and treating the common cold

Cold season will soon be upon us(in the Northern hemisphere), so it helps to know what may help prevent or treat this common illness. One of the most popular cold remedies is the herb echinacea, a member of the daisy or asteraceae family. But does it really help?

According to the University of Connecticut School of Pharmacy, Storrs, CT, USA, in Evaluation of echinacea for the prevention and treatment of the common cold: a meta-analysis:

Abstract

Echinacea is one of the most commonly used herbal products, but controversy exists about its benefit in the prevention and treatment of the common cold. Thus, we did a meta-analysis evaluating the effect of echinacea on the incidence and duration of the common cold. 14 unique studies were included in the meta-analysis. Incidence of the common cold was reported as an odds ratio (OR) with 95% CI, and duration of the common cold was reported as the weighted mean difference (WMD) with 95% CI. Weighted averages and mean differences were calculated by a random-effects model (DerSimonian-Laird methodology). Heterogeneity was assessed by the Q statistic and review of L’AbbĂ© plots, and publication bias was assessed through the Egger weighted regression statistic and visual inspection of funnel plots. Echinacea decreased the odds of developing the common cold by 58% (OR 0.42; 95% CI 0.25-0.71; Q statistic p<0.001) and the duration of a cold by 1.4 days (WMD -1.44, -2.24 to -0.64; p=0.01). Similarly, significant reductions were maintained in subgroup analyses limited to Echinaguard/Echinacin use, concomitant supplement use, method of cold exposure, Jadad scores less than 3, or use of a fixed-effects model. Published evidence supports echinacea’s benefit in decreasing the incidence and duration of the common cold.

Impressive, so it appears to have helped. But wait, here’s another look, from the Cochrane Database(2006), a study done at the Centre for Complementary Medicine Research, Kaiserstrasse 9, Munich, Germany, Echinacea for preventing and treating the common cold:

AUTHORS’ CONCLUSIONS:

Echinacea preparations tested in clinical trials differ greatly. There is some evidence that preparations based on the aerial parts of Echinacea purpurea might be effective for the early treatment of colds in adults but results are not fully consistent. Beneficial effects of other Echinacea preparations, and for preventative purposes might exist but have not been shown in independently replicated, rigorous randomized trials.

And another, from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisconsin 53715, USA, Echinacea for treating the common cold: a randomized trial:

CONCLUSION:

Illness duration and severity were not statistically significant with echinacea compared with placebo. These results do not support the ability of this dose of the echinacea formulation to substantively change the course of the common cold.

This one is clearly negative. This is just a small sample of many echinacea studies. I encourage you to read through the literature yourself if you are curious about echinacea. But overall, based on these studies and many others, the evidence is mostly negative to mixed for echinacea. If I had a cold, I wouldn’t take it.