Written on August 29, 2014 at 5:48 pm , by Samantha Shelton
People run marathons for a lot of reasons: to accomplish a new goal, take their running to the next level, prove something to themselves, etc. Some even do it because they like to travel. Yes, it makes sense—all ten of my half-marathons have been in a different state, and I firmly believe exploring a new place by foot is one of the coolest things to do. But the main reason I’m tackling my first marathon is about more than just me: it’s about helping a cause raise funds and awareness.
You relate to the cause. When people find out I have a blood disorder, blank stares usually follow. That, coupled with the fact that nearly a quarter million women are affected by blood clots—and 100,000 people a year die from Deep Vein Thrombosis or Pulmonary Embolism in the U.S. (read more on that here)—makes me passionate about informing the general public in any way I can.
It pushes you to train. When you’ve had a really long week and all you want to do is sleep in and eat bagels on Saturday, knowing an entire team—and organization—are counting on you is enough to get out and run that 15-miler (or whatever distance). Best part? You still get to eat that bagel, and it’s totally guilt-free.
Fundraising is fun. Sure, $2,500 is more money than I’ve ever raised for a single cause, but seeing friends, family and complete strangers come out of the woodwork and contribute to a cause you care about is heart-warming. And throwing a few fundraisers—think a party, 50/50 raffle, and workout at a local fitness studio—is a great excuse to bring together friends that you haven’t seen in a while because you’re busy pounding pavement.
It guarantees entry. This isn’t the most important benefit, but let’s be honest—it’s a definite perk. Opting to fundraise for a charity is a lot of work, but it means I’m definitely able to run one of the most iconic marathons exactly when I want to. Being mentally ready for training is just as important as being physically ready, and this was the year I wanted to be singing “New York, New York” on the Verrazano bridge. Being a part of Team Stop the Clot has allowed that to happen.
You’re a part of a team. Sometimes I miss the good ole’ days of high school and collegiate sports, when I regularly had a team of athletes to lean on when the going got tough. We all had a common goal in mind, which helped boost morale. Now that I’m a part of Team Stop the Clot, I’ve met new people—in real life and on social media—and when I need a reminder about why I’m doing this, I just go to our fundraising page and read all of the inspiring stories from my teammates. And if I get lackadaisical about fundraising, I’m only one quick click away from seeing how the rest of the runners are doing. When their numbers go up, it only fuels the fire to make sure mine do, too.
Photo courtesy of the National Blood Clot Alliance
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Written on July 23, 2014 at 5:03 pm , by FITNESS Intern
Written by Macklin Stern, editorial intern
When you’re an athlete, there’s nothing more golden than getting tips directly from the pros before the big day. As an aspiring runner, I’ve always admired Meb Keflezighi, not just for his incredible win at the 2014 Boston Marathon a few months ago (he was the first American to win it since 1983), but for the power, drive and passion he brings with him to every competition. And as a silver medalist of the 2004 Olympic Games (and countless other marathon wins), we’ve got the feeling he probably has some valuable training advice.
So we were pretty stoked when Competitor Group Inc.—a company that sponsors some really awesome sporting events like Run Rock ‘N’ Roll—announced Meb as the new vice president of running (side note: Can I have that title? It’s gotta be an awesome resume booster). Meb will use his passion and advice to help us mere mortal runners by developing training plans for us to follow to a T, popping up on social media with extra tips, and, of course, participating in a bunch of events—he’s already rocked (and rolled) at RNR San Diego, and you’ll find him lacing up for the Strip at Night, too. Basically, you can train like Meb and run with him, too. Umm, amazing!
So whether you’re nervous about competing in your first-ever marathon (like assistant web editor Samantha) or just eager to go out there and eat up the miles, Keflezighi has your back. Stay tuned for details on which races he’ll be at, and don’t forget to check out CGI’s website for updates.
Image courtesy of Competitor Group Inc.
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Written on July 21, 2014 at 9:18 am , by Samantha Shelton
After three years of regularly running and 10 half-marathons under my belt (along with tons of fit-spo from the FITNESS staff), I’m going after the illustrious 26.2-mile race that every runner dreams about: the New York City Marathon. The best part, for me? Running for Team Stop the Clot, a charity running team branched off the National Blood Clot Alliance. With so many important charities to choose from, it’s hard to pick just one, but as someone who’s been personally affected by blood clots (along with nearly a quarter million other women), it was the best fit. Want to know more about my story? Check it out here.
Now that training has kicked off for me and many others lacing up for a fall race, I’ve teamed up with Clif Bar athlete and coach Stephanie Howe to take me through the ups and downs of doubling my usual distance. And before I get into what I can do right, it was very important to find out what I could do wrong—and make sure not to, ya know, do it. Take warning, friends, as these are the five mistakes tons of first-time marathoners make.
Not fueling while running. While you can get away with it on shorter runs, there’s no skimping when mileage increases. “Hitting the wall” only happens when energy stores start to run out. Your bod needs a quick hit of sugar when racing, so “take in fuel, in the forms of gels or blocks, on any run longer than 90 minutes,” recommends Howe. And be sure to try tons of different varieties to find your perfect fit, as what works for your running bestie may not for you. I love Clif Bar’s Black Cherry Shot Bloks, but avoid all gels like the plague. Everybody’s different.
Taking in fuel too late. Now that you know the 90-minute rule, you want to nail the timing. If 90 minutes pass before you dig in, you’re already too late and won’t avoid the zonk. Instead, eat one gel (about 100 calories) every 20-30 minutes. A quick trick Howe gave me, since I regularly zone out and forget about time? “Set your watch alarm to beep every 20-30 minutes, so you get that regular reminder without having to think about it.” Done and done.
Waiting to eat post-run. Are you sensing a theme here? Clearly, nutrition is a major key to success in marathon training. To nix that “oh-my-god I can’t move my legs” feeling the day after your run (or even the day after that, courtesy of delayed onset muscle soreness, or DOMS), make sure you eat within 30 minutes of wrapping up the pavement-pounding. “Any fuel consumed in that window will be used immediately to start the recovery process because it goes directly to your muscles, rather than the entire body,” says Howe. If you, like me, hate thinking about food immediately following a run, don’t fret: a buffet of food isn’t necessary. “A Clif or Luna bar, 8 ounces of a Clif Shot recovery drink or chocolate milk are all good options,” suggests Howe.
Running easy runs too fast. This one is key, and a mistake I’ve definitely committed more than once. ‘Cause when you’re feeling good and everything is clicking, it’s tempting to push at a slightly faster pace. Don’t do it, Howe warns. Think of it as a pacing spectrum, with “very slow” on one end, and “very fast” on the other. If you spend a ton of time in the middle, you’ll short-change your progress. “Spending time at each end will improve your fitness, teach you how to adjust to different levels of difficulty, and prevent overtraining,” explains Howe. So when coach says “easy,” she really means it.
Skimping on rest. No rest for the weary, right? Wrong, so wrong. “The goal of training is to place stress on the body that will improve your overall fitness,” explains Howe. “These adaptations happen when the body is resting, so if you skip it, you’re opening yourself up to overtraining, injury and illness.” Obviously I don’t want any of those, so coach has me resting at least one day per week. And when she says rest, that is not code for “go take a yoga class or walk all over the city with friends.” Instead, it means binge-watch Orange is the New Black or go get a massage, which Howe also highly recommends (the massage, not necessarily OITNB). Girl, you don’t have to tell me twice.
Photo courtesy of Clif Bar
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Written on April 30, 2014 at 5:22 pm , by Lauren Cardarelli
As the title of Joan Benoit-Samuelson’s documentary so perfectly states, “There Is No Finish Line” for the inaugural Olympic Women’s Marathon winner. The soon-to-be 57-year-old still trains her heart out (Nordic skiing is her go-to winter cross training) and crushes races (NBD, she just finished the Boston Marathon first in her age division!)—all the while serving as an inspiration for the sport.
And there’s no slowing down the legend. Just six days after finishing the 26.2 course she won twice, Joanie headed to Washington D.C. this past weekend to join more than 15,000 women (myself included!) in the Nike Women’s Half Marathon. Whoa, my legs hurt just thinking about that. So how does she do it? What’s her secret—besides boosting muscle recovery with lots of “carbos” and lean protein? “As long as there’s a story to tell, inspiration follows,” Joanie said 48 hours before tackling Capitol Hill. “That’s how I continue to push myself.”
Last year, it was all about running within 30 minutes of her Boston course record she set three decades ago. To mark the 30th anniversary of her L.A. win this year, Joanie had her mind set to finishing Boston under three hours, which she accomplished with seven minutes and 50 seconds to spare. Ambitious? No wonder she’s known for breaking barriers, single-handedly defining women’s running and oh, you know, just making history. All in a day’s work.
“I think if anyone is going to have success in their life, they have to go to the beat of their own drum and do what they think is right,” she said. “When it comes down to the true meaning of success, it’s going out and believing in yourself and running your own race.” Talk about the best pep talk ever. No wonder I PR’d this weekend! And ahem, running behind her with my speedy gal pal for a solid half of a mile: highlight to my running “career.” She truly is the definition of brilliance.
Photo courtesy of Nike
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Written on July 11, 2013 at 10:30 am , by FITNESS Intern
Written by Chloe Metzger, editorial intern
Summer is in full swing, and you know what that means—the hottest marathons are nearly here! If this is your first time running a major-distance race, the experience can be a bit overwhelming. From finding proper-fitting shoes to mastering pre-run jitters, there’s a lot to learn while powering through all those warm-weather training runs. Luckily, we talked to celeb trainer and FITNESS advisory board member Ashley Borden (Um, she’s worked with Ry Gos. Lucky gal!) to get the top tips every marathoner should know before lacing up her sneaks.
Don’t go at it alone. Developing training habits and discipline by yourself can be difficult, especially if you’re just starting out. “Really try to recruit a friend to help hold you accountable,” says Borden. “Sit down with your training partner and plan out workouts for the month, so it’s in your phone, on your calendar, and it’s non-negotiable.” No nearby friends and zero motivation? “Find a running club,” suggests Borden; “Look online—you’d be surprised by how many free running clubs are all over cities.” We love Road Runners Club of America for finding fellow pavement pounders nearby.
Make a plan. “If you have no idea what you’re doing, or it’s your first time, I cannot stress enough that you really need to be either online downloading a program that will help you understand how to space out your running, or you need to be working with a trainer,” explains Borden. “If you over-train, you’ll be broken down, and if you’re under-trained, you’ll be unprepared. Get a trainer or get a program.”
Find the perfect fit. When you’re running 26.2 miles (those .2 make a difference!) in the pouring rain and brutal heat, shoes can make or break you. “Go to a running store and have an expert watch you run to see what your feet are doing,” advises Borden. “They’ll be able to tell if you pronate or supinate, meaning your feet collapse in or roll out on impact.” After, they’ll make sure your feet land in the proper sneaks for every upcoming adventure. “The arches of your feet are the basis of your entire body’s performance,” says Borden. “So when you have the right support on the arches of the feet, you will notice a huge difference in comfort.”
If you are stuck dealing with blisters or raw skin from ill-fitting shoes, Borden recommends keeping some bandages in your gym bag. Her go-to? New Skin liquid bandage, which she keeps in a bubble-wrapped container for running emergencies.
Do your loop. Before race day, drive or bike the marathon route so you can visualize it before the big day. “When you see what you’re going to be doing, you’re not as defeated out the door on the first day,” says Borden. “You won’t be like, ‘When is this going to end? How long is another three miles?’ You’ll learn your distances and your mile markets when you’ve ridden through it.”
Get rolling. When you’re strength training and preparing for a marathon, recovery is crucial. “If you don’t have a foam roller, you better run to the store and embrace a foam roller as your new best friend,” says Borden. “The rolling out helps to flush lactic acid, which speeds recovery the next day and helps with both mobility and performance.” To prevent post-run ouch, roll out before and after you run to loosen up muscles.
Start a journal. “After each of your runs, record in a journal how you feel physically and mentally,” suggests Ashley. “Always note what you ate before the run and how you felt after, so you can chart how certain foods impact your performance.” Don’t be afraid to experiment during training runs. After all, you’ll need to follow the long-distance runner’s cardinal rule: Nothing new on race day!
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Written on November 15, 2012 at 1:02 pm , by Samantha Shelton
While some of us discover our passions later in life, Whitney from Live Run Love Yoga found hers early: running and yoga. The fitness enthusiast has been active since she was a young girl and hasn’t stopped since! Now an accomplished marathoner who loves flowing through sun salutations just as much as she enjoys lacing up her sneaks, Whitney’s page is one we often turn to when in need of a good stretch (we admit, we don’t always practice as much as we should!). Keep reading to find out which races she has her eye on and what beauty product might need to make its way into your gym bag.
My favorite way to work out: I love to hit the pavement for a run and then find my way to the yoga mat to stretch out my tight muscles. Not to mention it works my abs and upper body!
On my fit life list: Complete the World Marathon Majors! I’ve run the New York City Marathon, the Boston Marathon and the Chicago Marathon. Next up, London and Berlin! I also really want to run the Nike Women’s Marathon in San Francisco!
I’m happiest when I’m: Doing anything that involves running or yoga! Whether it’s running or working a race, talking or blogging about those subjects, or being in the studio practicing, teaching or learning. I’m fortunate that my jobs are my passions!
My gym bag must-have: Yes To Cucumber or Yes to Blueberry Facial Towelettes. They’re so refreshing; I love them!
My motivation comes from: Myself! It’s my own love of running and yoga that gets me out of bed at 5am or through a 20-mile long run. I love the satisfaction and sense of confidence that my runs and practice provide; it’s what keeps me coming back for more each day!
Do you have a favorite fit blogger you want us to highlight? Leave a comment below or email email@example.com
Written on October 3, 2012 at 10:44 am , by Lauren Cardarelli
As Christopher McDougall said in his book, Born to Run, “The reason we race isn’t so much to beat each other…but to be with each other.” Thanks to advances in medical technology, 25 long-distance runners who have struggled with chronic illnesses will be competing side-by-side in the upcoming Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon and 10 Mile races. These individuals, named 2012’s “Medtronic Global Heroes,” will celebrate their perseverance, accomplishments and passions for running on October 7.
We caught up with two of the female heroes, 10 mile contestant, Ellie Wilhelm and marathon participant, Rhonda Foulds (a Get-Healthy Success Story). Being diagnosed with a congenital heart condition and Parkinson’s disease, respectively, has not held these two fighters back from pursuing their dreams. Here’s a look at their inspiring stories.
Ellie, 28, was 4-years-old when she was diagnosed with Atrial-Ventricular Septal Defect. She underwent open-heart surgery and had an active childhood until fainting spells in the 6th grade raised alarm. “I needed a pacemaker. I realized that I was not invincible and this is when my anxiety related to exercised developed,” Ellie said. Ellie struggled emotionally through high school and college athletics, often giving up in fear of pushing herself too hard. “A light bulb went off after college that told me that the only thing holding me back was ME.”
Ellie started small, working her way up to her first half-marathon with regular 5k races and completed her first 26.2 this past Memorial Day weekend. “Sometimes all I need is a run to keep me from making a poor food choice and relieve stress. The pacemaker should NOT be a limitation.” With more energy and her fitness fear behind her, Ellie has gotten involved in her community through running, joining the Ironheart Racing Team, a national organization that raises money and awareness for congenital heart defects (CHD), as well as Girls on the Run, an after-school program that teaches young girls about self-esteem, character, team building and healthy living. Read more
Written on September 27, 2012 at 2:51 pm , by Karla Walsh
True, she’s a marathoner, group fitness instructor and personal trainer, but we’re pretty sure any busy mom—or woman in general—will relate to STUFT Mama‘s Kristin. In a recent post, she hilariously used her compression socks as an excuse not to shave her legs (love those time-saving tricks!).
We love her humorous approach to all things fitness, so we asked this speedy mom of twins to share the tips and tools that keep her energized and how she treats herself after all those hard workouts.
My fitness mantra: I have a couple:
- “A journey of 1,000 miles begins with a single step.” I tell my clients that every step towards health counts, even if it’s a small one. We have the opportunity every day to succeed instead of letting fear or insecurity hold us back. Being uncomfortable and going for it is not a bad thing.
- “You can do anything you want, anything you put your heart and your mind into.” —Ronald Miller, Can’t Buy Me Love
My “I Did It” moment: When I finished my very first marathon right after my twins turned one. I always told myself that I wanted to be that person who stayed fit throughout pregnancy and then ran a marathon after having kids. That’s exactly what I did and now racing is a part of who I am. In a way I got to live the dream I always wanted. I have since gotten a Boston qualifying time.
My biggest motivation comes from: Being the best mom I can be to my boys. It’s hard to balance motherhood, career and taking time to exercise and take care of myself, but every day I want to lead by example and show my boys the importance of healthy eating and fitness.
5 things I can’t live without: My BOB double jogging stroller, Mizuno running shoes, egg whites, dark chocolate and espresso.
Most embarrassing song I’ll admit I work out to: I have more than one Kenny Loggins song on my current playlist. “Footloose” is my favorite.
Do you have a favorite fit blogger you want us to highlight? Leave a comment below or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Written on June 6, 2012 at 9:25 am , by Karla Walsh
Here at FITNESS, we couldn’t think of anyone more fitting to highlight on National Running Day 2012 than Kathrine Switzer. As one of the women highlighted in the PBS/AOL partnership MAKERS, Switzer is sharing more about what it was like to be the first female to officially enter—and complete—a marathon, despite nearly being pushed off the course by a race director.
She surely inspires us, but who inspires Switzer? “The people creating the MAKERS program are visionaries. They’re archiving an oral history of all of these amazing women so that others can use them as resources in the future,” she says.
Read on to learn about how Switzer got her running start, what she was thinking when a race official tried to knock her off of the course during that first race and her hopes for the future of women in sports.
How did you first get started with running? Why do you love it?
My dad motivated me when I was young. He told me that if I run just one mile a day, I’ll become an athlete. That changed my life because I felt empowered. Finishing a run was a sense of victory no one could take away. If I could run a mile, maybe I could write for the student newspaper or be on the prom committee. Later, when I was at Syracuse University, I met the coach for the men’s cross country team. He and his team welcomed me to train with them and were all wonderful.
What were you thinking when you were being pushed off the course as the first woman officially running a marathon at Boston in 1967?
It was a real surprise. The race director attacked me very suddenly and it scared the hell out of me! Other men on the course were saying, “Keep going!” My boyfriend threw a cross-body block to throw the race director off course. That was my defining moment—I knew I would finish then. I was not the clown the race director made me out to be.
Sometimes when bad things happen, they are the best things. Now, not a day goes by that I don’t thank that race director!
See a photo of Switzer’s “defining moment” and read more about her journey below.
Written on May 30, 2012 at 9:59 am , by FITNESS Intern
Written by Brittany Vickers, editorial intern
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.
- 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!”
- 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.
- 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?