Want to know something that really scares me?
Ok, besides large, hairy spiders, flying in tiny airplanes and relationships (TMI?), the running related answer is stress fractures.
Despite the plethora of injuries I’ve experienced as a gymnast and now as a runner, I’ve never had a stress fracture.
Knock on wood. Knock on wood. And one more time for good measure…
I’ve known other runners and athletes that have had them, and some that have them right now, and they just seem to suck. Unlike some soft tissue injuries, stress fractures are an immediate sentence of NO RUNNING for at least 6-8 weeks. On top of that, a full recovery can take much longer, and the risk for another fracture a little greater.
To that, I say no thank you.
I know part of what causes a stress fracture is overuse, which we runners are often guilty of. But another factor (especially for us lady runners) is the actual health of our bones. Most of us have already reached about 90 percent of our peak bone mass by the time we’re 18, but the good news is that bone tissue can keep growing until we’re 30.
If you’re in this category (I’ve only got one more year, OMG), this means you still have time to make your bones stronger. If you’re not, then you can still take steps to make sure your bones stay healthy and strong.
Enter: calcium. An essential nutrient for bone health, whether you’re still growing or trying to prevent bone loss.
We need it. Most of us don’t get enough of it. Here’s how you can change that.
How much we need: 1,000 mg/day*
Where we can get it:
- Skim milk (1 cup): 300 mg
- Plain yogurt (1 cup, regular or Greek): 440 mg
- Cheese (1.5 oz., or about one big slice): 250-300 mg
- Cooked spinach (1/2 cup): 120 mg
- Canned salmon (3 oz., with bones!): 180 mg
- Canned sardines (3 oz., with bones!): 320 mg
Lots of other foods are fortified with calcium, like orange juice, tofu, soy milk, cereal and almond milk. Take a look at food labels the next time you’re at the grocery store. On most foods, calcium is listed as a percentage of daily value. So if a food is shown as having 20% calcium, that means it has roughly 200 mg.
I’m definitely one to taut real foods over vitamins and supplements, but calcium is one exception I make.
I take a supplement that has 500 mg of calcium, half of what I need in a day, and also contains vitamin D (we need D to help absorb calcium!) to make sure I get enough calcium and keep my bones strong.
I’m also lucky that I have a mild obsession with Greek yogurt and probably go through two 17 ounce containers of Fage each week.
(with Dark Chocolate Dreams peanut butter)
It makes a perfect nighttime snack and excellent fuel for early morning runs – all of which have been in the rain this week.
- Tuesday: 7.7 miles easy
- Wednesday: 8 miles easy
- Thursday: 7.1 miles “steady state” – about 8:30/mile
I think I’m actually starting to like running in the rain a bit! Ok, I say this now, but please no rain for this year’s NYC Marathon, running/weather Gods!
Question: Do you think you get enough calcium? Ever had a stress fracture?
Important note: I’m not a registered dietitian yet (but I will be soon!), but all of the information above is based on reputable research and government standards. Always talk to your doctor before starting a supplementation regimen!