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Turkey Trot Before You Gobble: A Running Tradition At Any Age

Written on November 27, 2013 at 10:18 am , by

Willa with her trot swag. What an inspiration! (Photo courtesy of Dana Point Turkey Trot)

Thanksgiving is all about tradition so before diving into a slice of killer homemade pumpkin pie, many runners lace up and join together for a holiday-inspired footrace. Run to eat—why not?

This upcoming day of thanks is no different than the past 26 for 82-year-old Willa Porter, who will be earning herself yet another race tee at the nation’s sixth largest turkey trot in Dana Point. For the speedy former marathoner (she wins her age group every single year in the 5K), the annual fit festivity provides an opportunity to give it her all with kids and grandkids in tow. Supporting the race’s charitable partners like the Dana Point 5th Marine Regiment is also important to Porter, especially since her husband holds a chair position for support group.

Known as “The Race Before You Stuff Your Face,” the Dana Point Turkey Trot 5K, 10K and Kids’ Gobble Wobble has become a Californian favorite that stretches along breathtaking Orange County cliffs and coves. “It is so beautiful and family-friendly,” says Porter.

So how does the inspirational athlete brine her bird and keep dinner on schedule if she’s out there pounding the pavement? “I [used to] prepare food the night before and put the turkey in the oven before I left for the race,” explains Porter, but things are easier now that her sons—grown with families of their own—take turns hosting. The last two years, she also participated in the turkey dinner for veterans and military following the race, and will celebrate the same way next week.

Despite being in tip-top shape now, Porter didn’t start competing – or really exercising regularly – until her late 40s. “I started jogging and bike riding in my late forties when my sons were almost grown and I had more time,” she says, adding that it wasn’t so much of a goal as it was a hobby and fun recreation. Her one piece of advice: give running a try, no matter what age. Cheers to that!

Interested in squeezing in a pre-feast sweat-fest of your own? Head over to Active.com to get your gobble on.

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Take a Walk on the Wild Side This Thanksgiving

Written on November 26, 2013 at 10:11 am , by

Work off that slice of pie with loved ones this holiday. (Photo courtesy of USFWS)

Written by Alena Hall, editorial intern

With Thanksgiving only a few days away, many of us are starting to feel the stress creeping up. Yes, it’s one of the best holidays when it comes to gathering with friends and family, not to mention indulging in some delicious eats. But extensive preparation often cuts into our stress-relieving workout time, and the focus on food can really threaten our waistlines. So why not take a bit of your Thanksgiving celebration outside this year?

The National Wildlife Refuge is hosting several fitness events across the country that honor our feathered friends in their natural state. The upcoming walks and runs coordinate with some of the peak migratory bird seasons, so you just might get to see Mr. Turkey trotting nearby! Check out these Thanksgiving-themed events for fun ways to get the whole family out and about together.

  • Ready to get moving? Join in the Modoc National Wildlife Refuge’s Turkey Trot 5K Walk/Run on Thursday, Nov. 28, at 9 a.m. for just $20. You’ll see plenty of mule deer, eagles, Canada geese and mallard ducks.
  • Rather go with the flow? The Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge is hosting the Bird Migration Walk on Saturday, Nov. 30, 1-2:30 p.m. Free to all visitors, this walk features peaceful views full of shorebirds, wading birds and waterfowl.
  • Walk off all that turkey with the Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge’s Turkey Walk on Saturday, Nov. 30, 1:30-3:30 p.m. With a little luck, you’ll see some wild turkeys, deer, red foxes, bald eagles, great blue herons and hawks on this free, easy stroll.

Can’t make it out to one of these events? No problem! The refuge trails are open from sunrise to sunset daily—even Thanksgiving Day. Search for a fun spot near you on the Refuge’s trail system website and get moving. What better way to give thanks for your health? 

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Get Fit and Give Thanks with St. Jude – You Could Win Tickets to LIVE! with Kelly and Michael!

Written on November 13, 2013 at 9:42 am , by

Pre-walk off that turkey and pumpkin pie for a good cause. (Photo courtesy of St. Jude)

Written by Alena Hall, editorial intern

As Thanksgiving swiftly approaches, it’s difficult for us to contain our enthusiasm. From the gathering of family and friends to football face-offs, we’ve all got quite a bit to be thankful for. So why not celebrate a few days early this year by giving back to those who could use the support?

On Saturday, Nov. 23, 75 cities across the country will host the St. Jude Give thanks. Walk, a noncompetitive 5K that helps raise money for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. The event has raised more than $11 million to date and hopes to increase that number with the help of you and your loved ones.

If you’re ready to take your Thanksgiving spirit to the next level, join the walk as a team to help with the fundraising process. All money raised helps St. Jude families forego the cost of treatment for their children, and supports the hospital’s research efforts. As if that isn’t enough of an incentive, all participants who receive 10 online donations before November 22 will be entered into a drawing for a trip for two to New York City! While in the Big Apple, the lucky couple will attend a live taping of LIVE! with Kelly and Michael and take a photo with affable co-host Michael Strahan.

Visit the St. Jude website to find a walk near you. (Most are free to register!) Can you think of a better way to celebrate the Saturday before Thanksgiving? We definitely can’t.

More from FITNESS:

Thanksgiving Myths – Busted

Fall Snacks to Munch On

America’s Best Turkey Trots

Mark Your Calendar for “The Ugliest 5K on the Planet”

Written on November 5, 2013 at 10:14 am , by

Get your spirit and sweat on in the wackiest holiday ensembles you can sport. (Photo courtesy of The Ugly Sweater Run)

Written by Alena Hall, editorial intern

Looking for a fun, fit way to spend time with loved ones this holiday season? Dig that hideous sweater out of the depths of your closet (yes, we know you didn’t actually throw out that awful gift from grandma) and sign up for a 5K that celebrates these unsightly creations—jingle bells, blinking Rudolf noses and all! November 9 marks the beginning of the third annual Ugly Sweater Run, also known as “the ugliest 5K on the planet.”

Since its inaugural race in Louisville, Colo., in 2011, the Ugly Sweater Run has expanded to share their fashion faux pas-inspired event with 32 cities across the nation and Canada. Gather up the family—kids and furry friends are welcome—in celebration of the most wonderful time of the year. Each race features holiday-themed rest stations stocked with hot chocolate and a post-race winter wonderland celebration full of holiday-themed games, contests, prizes and more.

The best part (besides the sweaters and cocoa, of course)? After crossing the finish line, each participant donates a gift under the giant inflatable Christmas tree for Toys for Tots, the run’s philanthropic partner. Cheers to the season of giving! Every runner also receives a custom vintage knit hat and a mustache.

The Ugly Sweater Run series only lasts for six weeks, so be sure to secure your spot soon. Whether you’re a beginning runner or a marathoner, everyone can join in this fun run for a bit of cardio and a brightened holiday spirit!

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Kara DioGuardi Takes Charge of Her Health—For the Long Run

Written on September 20, 2013 at 11:09 am , by

“Being proactive can be lifesaving,” Kara said, urging women to consult with their doctors about being tested. (Photo courtesy of Stephen J. Finfer)

Songwriter, producer and Warner Brothers exec Kara DioGuardi was living in Manhattan playing Roxie Hart in the Broadway musical Chicago when she saw a life-changing (and arguably life-saving) news report. It was WABC-TV New York’s Stacy Sager’s story that struck a familiar chord with Kara, as the journalist discussed her breast and ovarian cancer family history and the proactive test that determines carriers of the hereditary gene mutation. (The same exam Angelina Jolie made headlines with back in Maywhich positive results led to her preventative double mastectomy.)

“I tested positive for BRCA2which meant I had up to an 80 percent chance of getting breast cancer, and a 40 percent chance of ovarian cancerand subsequently underwent a complete laporoscopic hysterectomy last December [2012] to reduce my likelihood of breast and/or ovarian cancer by fifty percent,” Kara recently told us. In January, the former American Idol judge plans to further lower her risk by having a prophylactic mastectomy.

“I feel great,” she says. “I had a great doctor and support system who mentally and physically prepared me for the surgery. I urge anyone with breast or ovarian cancer in their families (mother or father’s side) to get tested. As cliché as it sounds, knowledge is power.”

Now a healthy mom of eight-month-old Greyson (she and husband Mike McCuddy turned to surrogacy following five years of fertility issues), Kara is back in the swing of things teaching for a second year at Berklee College of Music in Boston, running her publishing company, Arthouse, and finding new talent for her Warner Brothers affiliated record label.

Her best sweat secret to finding fit time between all of the juggling? “I recently started P90X and if I hadn’t, I am not sure I would be able to lift my big boy as easily,” she reveals. “I love it because it has taught me exercises I can do anywhere at anytimeeven getting 20 minutes in a day is enough!”

Check out that pretty start line full of supporters! (Photo courtesy of Angela Daves)

Besides following Tony Horton’s regimen (and her upper body workout of a son), Kara is now gearing up for the inaugural Run for Her New York Walk on October 27 in support of ovarian cancer research. Lucky for us East Coasters, the popular Los Angeles walk’s growth sparked the organization of this year’s New York City event to continue raising funds for advancing medical discoveries and treatments, alongside awareness of the fifth-leading cause of cancer deaths in women.

“This event is very important to me as it brings the ongoing battle of ovarian cancer to the forefront,” Kara says. “I will run in honor of my mother, Carol DioGuardi, who died of ovarian cancer at 58. She was not given the option of genetic testing. It may have saved her life. Although running has never been my strong suit, I plan on completing the 5K for all those women out there who have been affected by this insidious disease.”

Sign up now (early registration costs only $35!) to join Kara at the Hudson River Park and support the Women’s Cancer Program at Cedars-Sinai Samuel Oschin Comprehensive Cancer Institute. West Coast gals, be sure to get moving for the cause in L.A. November 10.

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Why The Color Run Really is the Happiest 5K on the Planet

Written on July 30, 2013 at 9:54 am , by

Bright and early and ready to do this.

Running sometimes feels like the bread and butter to getting fit. Oftentimes, people put one foot in front of the other to start their weight-loss journey. Others use running as a way to de-stress or bond with friends. And sometimes, people accomplish crazy running feats to test their strength. For instance, Robin Azron, a corporate lawyer turned ultra-marathoner, freelance writer and running coach, ran five marathons in five days for MS Run The US for her mom, who battles the disease every day. Or there’s Zoe Romano, 26, who just ran the entire Tour de France course—yes, I said ran—over nine weeks, averaging 30 miles every. single. day. (For those of you counting, or know the TDF, that’s a total of 2,000 miles.) She did this to raise money for the World Pediatric Project, which provides medical care to children in Central America and the Caribbean, aiming for a $150,000 goal. Running is not only the basis of so many of our workouts, it’s what motivates people, like Robin and Zoe, to get out there every day and accomplish BIG things.

However, if you’re just taking baby steps, and maybe like me, dreaming of a 100-mile race stays at that just that…that’s okay. There are plenty of ways to get into the sport or even spice up your daily runs with fun events like The Color Run or the Electric Run and even the Mudderella 10K.

Before picking up training again for my second marathon this Fall, I finally checked off the Happiest 5k on the Planet (The Color Run, as it’s otherwise known) on my bucket list and headed out to Brooklyn to have some fun. I really didn’t know what to expect as I entered the party zone (really, this race is one big party). But lining up for the race, which over two days 10,000 people came out to run, was surely the ideal way to kick-off what is going to become a long summer of logging miles. Here’s what I learned at my first Color Run:

My best friend Emily couldn’t resist a morning of painting by my side.

1) It’s a family affair. Running really has become a way for families to bond. I saw so many parents with their small kids dressed up in white and ready to get blasted with paint. Some kiddies enjoyed the fun from their mom’s running stroller, and I constantly nudged my husband to remind him that when our time comes, we’d be taking our little ones along, too.

2) Paint is your friend. If you want to cross the finish line a different shade of color than the clean canvas you started with, tell your paint buddies at each mile marker to color you up! I really embraced the yellow, red, green and blue color stations—and secretly wished for a pink one. (Hint, hint.) I think I accomplished my goal of getting as messy as possible.

3) Every age, size, height and weight are welcome. This was really a race for all. I was inspired by all the people who came out to have a little fun and work up a sweat, too. Some runners may have taken the race a bit seriously and sprinted it out, while others had a good time jogging with their friends or even walking the entire way. Regardless, everyone there logged 3.1 miles with a big smile on their face.

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Fit Blogger We Love: It All Changes

Written on October 25, 2012 at 2:42 pm , by

We couldn’t agree more with Cynthia’s headband.

Change is  a big part of life, whether or not we like it, don’t you think? Sometimes, though, change can be a great thing. That’s what Cynthia decided back in 2006, when she decided that life at over 270 pounds was unacceptable and she deserved to be happy. So she made little changes and day by day, she dropped the weight. In fact, she’s lost 115 pounds and now lives a happy, healthy life! Sure, there are still every day struggles, but Cynthia openly blogs about them on It All Changes. And that’s why we love her -  without the struggles, there wouldn’t be triumph! Keep reading to found out more about her successes and why we love cheering her on.

My biggest indulgence: An allergy-free treat from Sweet Freedom Bakery in Philadelphia. My mom lives near there and it’s one place I know I can get a dessert and not worry about my allergies.

Most embarrassing song I’ll admit I work out to: I have a lot of 80′s music that I work out to. The most embarrassing is “Get Down On It,” by Kool and the Gang. I always rock out to it when I’m doing squats and lunges.

My “I Did It” moment: Running a 5K after major back surgery. My doctors said I probably wouldn’t be able to do it, but I worked hard in physical therapy and was given the OK to go for it. I ran even better than I did in my first 5K!

Olympic sport I’d love to try: Skeleton. It combines my love for insanity by jumping head first down an ice course, and I’d need to work my core to steer and prevent a crash. Sounds like a thrill, plus you get a fun helmet.

My fitness mantra: “You can either throw in the towel, or use it to wipe the sweat off your face.” A friend told me this several years back and it has kept me moving and working through many ups and downs.

Do you have a favorite fit blogger you want us to highlight? Leave us a comment below or email blog@fitnessmagazine.com

One Child Dies Every 20 Seconds From This—And How You Can Help

Written on March 15, 2012 at 11:37 am , by

Walkers can choose to carry buckets to experience a bit of what it's really like to make the trek. (Photo courtesy of Walk for Water)

Every 20 seconds, one child dies from consuming contaminated water. It’s easy to forget—with such easy access to bottled H2O and clean water flowing from the tap—that more than one billion people worldwide lack access to clean drinking water. But the startling facts remain:

  • Unclean water leads to more deaths each year than war and causes 80 percent of the world’s diseases
  • Those in regions without clean water may need to walk as many as six miles each day to obtain the 40 to 80 pounds of water needed for their family
  • All of this water-gathering time, which adds up to about 10 years of life, can’t be spent at work, school or caring for family

This weekend, Positive Community Impact (PCI) is hosting their fourth annual 5K Walk for Water in San Diego, California to help raise money for this important cause. Free on Sunday at 10 a.m.? Register to spend a bit of time walking in the footsteps of all of those in water-deprived regions—money from the student-run event supports important projects in regions like Sub-Saharan Africa. (One PCI staff member traveled to Tanzania last year to help build a well for residents.)

If you can’t make it to the walk, here are five “steps” you can take today to start conserving water:

  1. Shorten your shower…Save 2.5 gallons/minute
  2. Wash only full loads of laundry…Save 15-50 gallons/load
  3. Replace your old toilet with a low-flow model…Save 2.2-3.8 gallons/flush
  4. Install flow-restricting aerators on faucets…Save 4.7 gallons/day
  5. Turn off the faucet while washing dishes or brushing teeth…Save 2.5 gallons/minute

Fun Fall Races You Should Register for NOW!

Written on April 5, 2011 at 2:00 pm , by

The Nike Half Marathon

San Franciso's Union Square: Start of Nike Women's Marathon.

Did we tempt you enough to do your first race? Well, here’s three more reasons to try one! Even though these rainy, windy days are still hitting us hard in NYC, and it might be difficult to see when summer will really show its face, once summer is in full swing, you’ll have to start preparing for fall’s hottest events! Warm weather and sunny days means more time and reason to get outdoors. So sign up for one of these popular races and find a training plan HERE —then the fun begins.

If you love a nice feel good moment…TRY

Hershey Half-Marathon—Registration opens on May 1 and the race will be held on Sunday, October 16, 2011 in Central Pennsylannia. Presented by Capital BlueCross, this 13.1 miler is held in a town dubbed “The Sweetest Place On Earth” and all proceeds from the race benefit Children’s Miracle Network, so what’s sweeter than that? Run with your daughter because this race is open to anyone 14 years and older and can be ran as a two-person relay as well.

Me after finishing the 2010 Nike Women's Half Marathon!

Me after finishing the 2010 Nike Women's Half Marathon!

If you think girls rule…TRY

Nike’s Women’s Marathon (& Half)—Registration opens on April 11 and a random drawing will hopefully select you to run on race day on Sunday, October 16, 2011 in San Francisco, California. But this one’s worth the anticipation (I ran this last year!)—although the San Francisco hills can seem daunting, nothing is more beautiful than running along the gorgeous coast and passing the Golden Gate Bridge. Word on the street is finishers receive a special gift from Tiffany’s! This is the ultimate girls weekend getaway, so grab your friends and start preparing now.

If you like getting dirty…TRY

My best friend Emily & I after finishing The North Face Endurance Challenge!

My best friend Emily & I after finishing The North Face Endurance Challenge! She came in 2nd!

The North Face Endurance Challenge–Registration is open now for this multi-day event taking place at numerous locations all around the country, making stops in: Madison, Wisconsin on September 17-18, Atlanta, Georgia on October 15-16 (hopefully I’ll be there for this one!), and ending with its Championship run in San Francisco, California on December 3-4. Race distances vary from 50 mile, Marathon, Marathon Relay to Half-Marathon, 10K, and 5K. If you like getting dirty and hitting the trails, this is certainly a challenge to add to your bucket list. I ran the 5K in last year’s Championship weekend and it was the most fun I had running since my days on the cross-country team in high school. Plus, this race is one for any level runner so there’s something for everyone (and the ultra distances garner some fun famous faces to watch!).

What other races would you recommend I try next? Let me know!