Written on November 14, 2013 at 11:42 am , by Lauren Cardarelli
While many of my peers growing up were glued to Power Rangers and Nickelodeon Guts, I was completely and utterly consumed with the Disney classics. I strived for Ariel’s sense of adventure, Mulan’s fearlessness and desperately wanted to be Jasmine because, come on, her outfit rocks and she has a pet tiger.
So when I was invited to join Team New Balance—the official shoe of runDisney and Disney Resorts—for last weekend’s Wine & Dine Half Marathon, naturally my inner-kiddo was jumping for joy. Three spectacle-filled parks with a nightcap waiting at the finish line? Count me in. My princess idols would totally approve.
But like any other race, I had a few reservations, mainly concerning timing. Despite being a night race veteran, this go-round was especially late for an early bird workout gal like myself: 10:00 p.m. (past my bedtime) with a two-minute wave start. Gulp! What do I do all day to prep? Heck, what do I eat?
Like Ben Greenfield recently told us, I stuck with what works when it came to fueling. (Lots of fresh Florida oranges and Larabars!) And as far as being tired, the positive energy coming from more than 12,100 runners is contagious and kicks the sleepies to the curb. The fireworks that erupt for each corral certainly fire you up with a bang, too. Would you expect anything less from “The Happiest Place On Earth?”
All in all, this was the most fun fit venture I have done. Ever. From jogging Minnies (timeless!) and fairies to Cruella de Vils—a few of her dalmatians included—innovative ensembles are a must and add to the fun in true Disney fashion (special thanks to Sparkle Athletic for my polka dot threads!). All the more magical: the character photo opps along the course. Guessing who will pop up next is a mind wandering game that helps the miles fly by. My personal fave was running into Rafiki during our Animal Kingdom loop.Want to get your selfies on? Be sure to sign up (and train for) a speedy corral so you can beat the long lines. Our group averaged 8:30-minute miles and never had more than two people waiting in front of us. Talk about pace-pushing inspiration.
To get the 13.1 distance in, there are a few boring stretches between all the pomp and circumstance, but nothing friendly runners can’t get you through. I actually loved seeing the behind-the-scenes hubbub, like a disco-themed costume warehouse in Hollywood Studios. It really made you appreciate how the magic is made day in and day out! Oh, and the cast members (Disney employees) along the route that worked after hours to cheer us all on? The best.
Written on November 13, 2013 at 9:42 am , by FITNESS Intern
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.
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Written on November 5, 2013 at 10:14 am , by FITNESS Intern
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!
More from FITNESS:
- FITNESS Staffers’ Top Holiday Traditions
- Burn Off Those Holiday Splurges
- The FITNESS Healthy Holidays Checklist
Written on November 1, 2013 at 1:56 pm , by Lauren Cardarelli
Granola-topped yogurt or smoothie? Power bar or peanut butter on toast? Coffee or juice? Why is it that, come race day, we always question fueling? Lucky for those running in this weekend’s New York City Marathon (and anyone else looking to tackle a big race anytime soon), we got the 26.2 diet dirt from sports nutrition expert Ben Greenfield. The coach, ex-bodybuilder and Ironman triathlete is the go-to pro on prepping for peak performance. Here are Ben’s top five tips on eating for the run and recovery. Hint: Carb-loading isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be.
Stick to what you know. OK, you’ve heard this before, but according to Ben, many athletes still break down mentally and try something out of the ordinary the week—or even day—of the race. Not a good idea. “Do exactly in the race as you have practiced in training,” he says. “Remember to train with what you’re going to use in the race about four to six times before the race. That’s what it’s going to take to train your gut to get used to the fuels you plan on using.”
Carbs: A yes…sort of. “If athletes limit carbohydrates, then taking in extra during race week become far less important,” says Greenfield. Should you decide to nosh on a bagel or big bowl of pasta, two to three days prior to the race will do the trick. Ben’s easy-to-digest suggestions: sweet potatoes, taro and white rice. (Phew, I guess we can still use the excuse that we’re carb-loading…)
Rule of yum. When it comes to pre-run drinks, err on the side of caution. “Juice is simply empty calories that actually has potential to cause blood sugar spikes,” explains Greenfield. But what about java? Stick to just one cup, so long as you have sipped on it prior to a long run in the past. No one wants an unplanned porta potty pit stop.
To GU or not to GU? That is always the halfway point question, and according to Greenfield, energy chews/replenishers may not be as necessary as you think. “The more sodium you take in, the more your kidneys are going to push out,” he says. Opt for electrolyte capsules such as Athlytes, Endurolytes or Salt Stick instead of the sugar-laden stuff. Effervescent tablets like Nuun or GU Brew are also good options.
Recover like a champ. The old school ways of thinking—foam rolling, ice bath, massage, post-workout shakes—are instilled in our brain for a reason. They work! In addition, Greenfield suggests a few options that may not have crossed your mind. “I’ve found the occasional acupuncture session to be an incredibly useful method for everything from nagging aches and paints to full-blown adrenal fatigue,” he admits. Another tactic to consider? Deload (also known as an easy “recovery week”) every four to eight weeks, according to Greenfield. Hey, it can actually improve your fitness levels, especially since it takes a minimum of 72 hours to recover from a tough run.
Still concerned about what to eat the morning of your race? Greenfield suggests blending (it’s easier on your digestive system!) an energizing kale smoothie with coconut water or coconut milk. “Blending or juicing helps to pre-digest the food so your body doesn’t have to work as hard during digestion,” he says. This frees up precious energy for you to devote to your stride! For efforts greater than three hours in duration, add 20-30 grams of protein powder to the mix (Ben’s fave is Mt. Capra’s DEEP 30 protein). Ben also swears by ATP energy sources like X2Performance to naturally increase energy, enhance endurance and improve recovery. Best of luck this weekend, runners! You’re going to kick major asphalt.
Now tell us: How do you fuel up for a big race?
Written on November 2, 2012 at 3:44 pm , by Lauren Cardarelli
A year ago, Molly Pritz was the top American female runner to cross the ING New York City Marathon’s Central Park finish line, making a remarkable marathon debut with a time of 2:31:52. Molly, an ASICS elite, will be back this Sunday hoping to repeat her success in the Big Apple after battling an injury and moving across the country for better health and fitness resources. We talked with Molly about her training (she logs around 110 miles a week!) and found out the 24-year-old’s future running plans. Here’s what she had to say:
What went through your head last year as you crossed the finish line?
My blood sugar was so low for the final few miles, I honestly could not figure out how many miles I had left at mile 24. This left me unsure if I had even crossed the finish line when I did! Luckily, a nice volunteer informed me that I crossed the finish line and my immediate reaction was pure euphoria. The adrenaline and “runner’s high” going through my body after that was unlike anything I have ever experienced. I knew, immediately, that I was going to do everything I could to run the ING NYC Marathon again the following year.
What have you been doing to prepare and improve, compared to the past?
I went into last year’s marathon segment coming off of a stress fracture that left me with a short eight weeks to build back my mileage and regain my strength. Consistency with training is the key to increased fitness, so this time around I vowed to do everything I could to stay healthy. I moved from Michigan to Boulder, Colorado in order to have better resources for therapy to keep me healthy. I have also ensured that I am hitting hard workouts, but never making any week so hard that it puts my body over the edge. My training is very similar to last year, with a few longer tempos, but the paces are much faster even though I’m at altitude rather than sea level. For me, it is very exciting to track and compare my fitness level and workouts to other segments so I can see my hard work pay off. Keeping a training log has worked wonders for my motivation.
Besides running, what else does your training include?
I vowed to do strength and flexibility training three times a week to keep my body healthy and able to handle the high mileage and intensity needed to run a solid marathon. Full body strength training, not just core work, is essential to keeping me healthy and my stride powerful through those long tempos. Vinyasa yoga has also facilitated my recovery from hard sessions by bringing my body back in balance. Read more
Written on September 25, 2012 at 2:01 pm , by Samantha Shelton
When was the last time you ran one mile? Just one mile, nothing else. For many, it dates back to high school when you were required to run a timed mile for gym class. But 11 staffers at FITNESS laced up their sneaks last weekend to see how quickly they could pound the pavement in New York City – straight down 5th Avenue, famously known as Museum Mile.
Eight from our editorial staff and three from our advertising team donned black “FITNESS” T-shirts and bright bottoms to step into the gorgeous fall weather Saturday morning for New York Road Runner’s 5th Avenue Mile race. We sprinted the street during the media heat, where we competed against other fun staffers from Runner’s World, Live with Kelly and Michael, and more.
When you’re running only a mile, there’s very little time to develop a strategy. Looking for the mental mindset many of us followed? Follow these tips to run your best mile:
- First 400 meters – Run at 85% effort. You feel tired, but like there’s a little more to give.
- Second 400 meters – Run at 75% effort. Catch your breath and get ready for the second half of the race.
- Third 400 meters – You’re halfway, so it’s time to sprint! Run at 100% effort.
- Last 400 meters – Give it everything you’ve got. Your chest may or may not feel like it’s going to explode, but it’ll be over before you know it.
After glancing at our official finish times, it looks like the strategy paid off! We have some speedsters on staff – four finished in under seven minutes! We had such a blast running this race, and encourage you to set up your own mile-long race in your community. After all, every mile counts!
Now you tell us: When was the last time you raced a mile?