Road Rules for Runners

I enjoyed Tracy Carlson's "Reborn to Run" [Nov. 19]. I was forced into the gym by physical therapy for a knee injury two years ago. My "sport" is hiking, but now at 50, I find I can no longer walk myself into shape like I used to; and my metabolism has slowed to the point that I've gained 20 pounds in 10 years. Not bad, but not a trend I want to continue, either.

My survival tactics are much the same as Tracy's: They are crazy, but they work! I exercise on a stationary bike, elliptical trainer and rowing machine, and I vary the speed and resistance on the machines so I can keep time with whatever's playing in my headphones.

Wendy Whittemore

Silver Spring

Running is a tremendous form of mental and physical exercise, but Carlson expressed ideas and practices that are nothing short of dangerous.

The tone of her piece was clearly meant to be flippant and self-congratulatory, and she certainly succeeded in portraying herself as silly and careless about her safety. One of the rules of running for any person, but especially for women, is to take precautions, to be aware of surroundings, and to not be isolated.

Further carelessness was provided in the sidebar that accompanies this piece. Using a powerlifter as an expert on running is like asking a swordfish to judge the swimming properties of a salmon.

Patricia A. Maloney, PhD

Silver Spring

The battle between Tracy Carlson and Marty Gallagher about the "right" way to run is a long standing and futile argument in the world of health and fitness.

Your readers may be interested in taking a jump-start to their fitness program, based on their natural personality type. After all, both agreed that making it fun was important. The way to make it fun is to be active in a way that matches or reflects who you are! Your readers may enjoy visiting my personal pages on making fitness fun as well as effective: http://hometown.aol.com/joykoenigmd/index1.html. Examples specific to running are here: http://hometown.aol.com/joykoenigmd/fitness3.html

Joy Koenig, MD, MS

Mid Maryland Triathlon Club

Columbia

Running with headphones makes runners oblivious to anyone coming up behind them, increasing the risk of collisions with other runners or bicyclists. Far worse, it could cause a runner to fail to hear a potential attacker approaching from behind.

The running club I belong to, Montgomery County Road Runners Club, has an excellent running safety program. For more information go to http://mcrrc.org and click on "health and safety," then "safety." Keep running, Tracy, but be careful out there!

Dave Haaga

Rockville

Certifiably Seal-Worthy

"Certified, to a Point" [Nov. 19] profiled three organizations, beginning with the statement "Three groups offer endorsements for dietary supplements." It would be easy to conclude from reading this article that dietary supplement certification programs are relatively new and that there are only three programs of any note. That conclusion would be false.

In January 1999, the National Nutritional Foods Association (NNFA) launched a nationwide third-party certification program for dietary supplement manufacturing processes. Certification involves the inspection of a manufacturing facility to determine whether specified performance standards on a number of measures -- including quality control, cleanliness and receiving and testing of raw materials -- are being met. Only those companies that achieve the highest level of compliance receive certification.

To date, 40 companies, among them some of the largest manufacturers in the industry, representing more than 15,000 products, have been awarded certification. NNFA GMP certification seals on product labels began appearing on retail shelves in late 1999. In contrast, two of the organizations mentioned in the article have yet to have any products displaying their seals in the marketplace.

David R. Seckman

Executive Director and CEO

National Nutritional Foods Association

Newport Beach, Calif.

Editor's Note: While the NNFA's GMP program certifies that a supplement maker has met certain manufacturing standards, it does not assess finished products -- unlike NSF International and U.S. Pharmacopeia, which do make such evaluations. The NNFA program also does not affirm that products are free of contaminants or that their labeling is accurate.

Fish: Looking Below the Surface

"Gone Fishin' for Nutrition" [Nov. 19] missed an important point. The American Heart Association and the National Academy of Sciences may agree with the Lean Plate Club that greater intake of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids is good for you, but the Food and Drug Administration is conspicuously AWOL on this issue. It currently bans from food labels statements like "high" or "rich" in omega-3, because it has no formal, legal definitions of these terms. FDA allows statements about the absolute amount of omega-3 in a food, but such bland and uninformative statements hardly justify the bother of changing labels.

Randall Lutter, PhD

Fellow, AEI-Brookings

Joint Center for Regulatory Studies

Washington

I'd like to point out that there are other considerations when eating fish and seafood. Some, including tuna, shrimp, and salmon, are caught at unsustainable levels, so stocks are being depleted. Even "farmed" fish pose problems, including pollution, displacing of wild fish and the depletion of wild fish, which are sometimes fed to the farmed fish. "Dolphin-safe" tuna doesn't mean that it excludes the catch of juvenile tuna and unwanted species.

Of the oily fish recommended, mackerel, sardines and herring appear to be more environmentally responsible.

Christine Matthews

Washington