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2012 Olympics

3 Tips to Run Better and Stronger From Olympian Meb Keflezighi

Written on May 30, 2012 at 9:59 am , by

Written by Brittany Vickers, editorial intern

Get a running start on your summer training with these tips. (Photo by Karen Pearson)

In just a couple short months, you’ll be watching the best of the best from across the world compete in London for gold. Among the contenders? America’s own Meb Keflezighi, a distance runner who took top honors at the trials in Houston with a marathon time of 2:09:08 (yes, that’s an amazing sub-5-minute mile pace for 26.2 miles!).

Besides being an all-star athlete, Keflezighi is passionate about helping others through the organization he founded, the MEB (Maintaining Excellent Balance) Foundation. His career has taught him the importance of chasing your passions. “You have to believe in yourself. That is number one!” Keflezighi told us. “Many people told me I couldn’t do this, but I knew that I could. So can you.”

We caught up with Keflezighi—thank goodness he didn’t have his racing shoes on—to gather his top three tips for runners training at any speed.

  1. Find your support system. “The people who are counting on me, supporting me and encouraging me give me great motivation! I’m representing them and I can’t let them down,” Keflezighi says. “Another great way to stay motivated is to find accountability. Meet someone to work out, and then you know you’ll be there. You would never not show up for a coffee meeting. It’s the same for an exercise meeting!”
  2. Give yourself a break. “It’s OK to mix up your training. Always cross train! It’s a great way to keep pushing your body and work different muscles, and it helps reduce injury. Also, you’ll have days where rest will do you good and may be the best thing for you. Take advantage of that free time, and if you’re feeling off remember: there will be brighter days,” Keflezighi recommends.
  3. Step two will never happen without step one. You’ve got to go for it! “Don’t be too intimidated to try. Running gives you this therapeutic energy. Just start with one mile and see how it goes, he says. “If you run one half-marathon, it’s such an accomplishment! I ran my first 10K in college and said never again. And then I ran my first marathon, and I also said never again, but look here I am. Once you get into a good habit you’re used to it and it’s easier to keep it up.”

Now tell us: What’s the best fitness advice you’ve ever received?

Gold Medalist Cullen Jones On The London Games and His Quest to Create a Country of Swimmers

Written on May 25, 2012 at 11:48 am , by

Yes, our hearts just melted too. (Photo courtesy of Richard Carson/USA Swimming Foundation)

After nearly drowning at age five, you have to give Cullen Jones credit for being willing to enter a pool again. But he’s done much more than stick a toe in. He now dives off the blocks and races the likes of Michael Phelps, Jason Lezak and the other top swimmers from across the globe. In fact, he won Olympic gold as part of the 4 x 100 meter team in Beijing!

Now, Jones is on a quest to help kids of all backgrounds feel comfortable near and in the water as part of USA Swimming Foundation’s Make a Splash program, which is sponsored by Phillips 66. So how did he get the guts to jump back in and how does he feel about the London Games (just 63 days away!)? We asked, he spilled.

What do you think made you confident enough to hop back in the pool?

Definitely my mom’s conviction. I was very nervous to go back, but she made me go to lessons because she didn’t want me to be afraid of water. Twenty years later, I became an Olympic medalist. At age 8, I swam in my first swim meet, and at age 10, I told my dad that it was my passion. That crushed him, though, since he was such a big fan of basketball!

Why do you think there is such a disparity between the swimming abilities of kids with different backgrounds? [Editor's note: Seventy percent of African American kids, 60 percent of Hispanic kids and 42 percent of Caucasian kids don't know how to swim, according to the USA Swimming Foundation.]

Fear, parental backing, physical appearance…Or the kids had a bad experience in the water, or parents did and project that on their kids.

What will kids learn by participating in Make a Splash?

They’ll learn a life skill—how to be safe around the water. Kids really gravitate to the water, and we want to give them the tools to be safe.

For inside scoop about the Olympics and who inspires this role model, click below.

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Fashion Diaries: Talking Shop With Olympic Swimmer Amanda Beard

Written on May 14, 2012 at 9:22 am , by

Amanda Beard, spokesmodel for Aqua Sphere. (Photo courtesy of Aqua Sphere Swimwear and Swimming Gear)

With the 2012 Olympics headed our way, we thought that Olympic swimmer Amanda Beard would be a great girl to catch up with. On top of being a star in the pool (did you know that she won her first Olympic medal when she was only 14?!), she’s a mom, a model and a philanthropist. Talk about someone who does it all!

Here’s what Amanda had to say:

What is one food that you absolutely can’t live without?

I love Mexican food. It’s my guilty pleasure!

What food do you eat right before a big meet, that you feel gives you the most energy?

Since Mexican food is not ideal before getting in the pool so before a meet or workout, I like to snack on PB&H (honey) sandwiches or smoothies. They’re both delicious, easy to make and help keep me energized.

Swimming requires a lot of body strength. What is your go-to workout move to help keep you strong?

The 18 x 100 breaststroke is one of my favorite strength-building workouts. I always walk away feeling energized, despite the fact that the minimal intervals between each repetition makes it a tough workout! [Editor's note: Sure sounds tough to us!]

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Win a Trip to Meet Serena Williams!

Written on May 2, 2012 at 4:32 pm , by

Who doesn't want to chill with Serena? (Photo by Ben Gabbe, courtesy of Sleep Sheets)

Want a chance to win an all-expense paid trip for two to New York City to meet Serena Williams and watch some tennis? You’ll get a shot each time you purchase Sleep Sheets, a new sleep aid product that Serena launched last week, at Walgreens stores through July 31, 2012, the two companies announced. Random packages contain winning golden tickets, Willy Wonka-style. Visit facebook.com/takeasheet for contest deets.

Serena got involved as a co-founder of Sleep Sheets—which contain sleeping aids (3 mg of melatonin, 3 mg of L-theanine, and 1 mg each of goji berry and chamomile extracts) and dissolve on the tongue like breath strips—after fighting sleep troubles for years. Taking a sleep med in the past left her too groggy the next day, she says, so she was interested in developing a product for catching more Zzzs that would also keep her feeling fresh on the court.

“I think sleep is underrated and people don’t get enough,” Serena told FITNESS. “[When I get enough] I train better and the better I train the better I can play. And the better I train, the more fit I can become. And the better you can look. So it all boils down to getting some good rest.” With a busy summer of the Grand Slams and the Olympics coming up, she’ll need it!

More from FITNESS:

Lashinda Demus Clears Olympic and Mom-Duty Hurdles

Written on April 11, 2012 at 1:27 pm , by

Lashinda stars on the track while being a great mom. (Photo courtesy of Pure Perception PR)

Written by Kate Branciforte, editorial intern

It’s no doubt that it takes a special kind of woman to be a mother. Moms everywhere are some of the most inspiring women we know! And Lashinda Demus has given us a full cup of motivation mojo to sip on. In 2011, she captured the title of USA Track and Field Champion and set the American record in the 400-meter hurdles in 52.47 seconds. Oh, we should probably mention that she accomplished these goals after she gave birth to twins, lost the 50 pounds of baby weight she had on her 5’7” frame and overcame postpartum depression.

Six short weeks after giving birth, Demus was back on the track with her coach, training to get back into tip-top shape. But her coach isn’t your ordinary trainer. From the household to the track, 29-year-old Demus is taking hints from her mother, Yolanda Demus, another accomplished athlete who was a former NCAA 400-meter champion at California State University in Los Angeles.

We caught up with full-time mom, wife and 2012 Olympic-medal hopeful Lashinda Demus to find out how she clears the hurdles that come with being a crazy-busy parent.

Your journey from new mom to Olympic competitor is truly inspiring! How long did it take you to get back into elite shape after you gave birth?

A doctor typically advises mothers to wait six weeks before you do anything, but I thought I was Superwoman and decided to start training again four weeks after having the twins. I quickly came back down to reality; I really had to figure out how to run with my new body because everything that I was used to had changed. Even though I still moved forward with my training, I paid special attention to any body signals that I might be pushing too much. In total, it took me about nine months to get back to elite shape.

You also dealt with postpartum depression. Did training help you overcome this?

Actually, I was really depressed while I was pregnant, so the training after was more like an outlet of all these mixed emotions I had during my pregnancy. It helped me snap out of it and realize that I was getting something I’ve always wanted—a family. I didn’t have to make a choice between my career and being a mother. Relieving myself of that pressure changed my way of thinking, so in turn, I got so excited about bringing my two sons into the world.

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Support Your Favorite Olympic Athletes with Duracell

Written on April 9, 2012 at 9:45 am , by

Written by Kate Branciforte, editorial intern

Olympic athletes Mark and Diana Lopez, Summer Sanders and Hunter Kemper want to hear your inspirational messages for all of the athletes! (Photo courtesy of Duracell)

As Olympic athletes all over the world are gearing up for the 2012 Summer Games in London, so is Duracell. In March, Duracell and Proctor and Gamble launched their new program, “Rely on Copper to Go for the Gold,” to let fans support and connect with Team USA.

These world-class athletes not only rely on their coaches and teammates for support, but also on support from fans! Head over to Duracell’s “virtual stadium” to reach out to your favorite Olympic athletes via Facebook,  Twitter (@Duracell, #givepower) and YouTube to send words of encouragement by posting videos, pictures and messages online.

With every submission, you earn a chance to win a trip to the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games or a $500 Visa gift card. Sounds like a golden opportunity to us!

For more information, visit Duracell’s Facebook page and get started!

Now tell us: What Olympic event are you most looking forward to this summer?