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Find Your Stride for 2014 with a Fun New Year’s Run!

Written on December 26, 2013 at 9:53 am , by

Jump on the resolution bandwagon by ringing  2014 in stride. (Photo courtesy of NYRR)

Written by Alena Hall, editorial intern

If you’re anything like us, you’ve already started searching for the best way to welcome in the New Year. A friend’s bash, your favorite bar or simply watching the famous ball drop from your television screen are so 2013. Why not get a jump-start on your fit resolutions instead and run your first race of the year the second it starts? From midnight party runs to New Year’s Day 5Ks, the nation is covered with fun running parties that will definitely get your 2014 started off on the right foot. And trust us, you haven’t seen a real New Year’s celebration until you’ve participated in one of these parties!

  • Ditch Times Square this year and join in New York Road Runners’ Midnight Run. Music, dancing, a costume parade/contest, fireworks and a 4-mile run at the stroke of midnight through Central Park makes for for the hottest soiree of the year!
  • Philadelphia’s New Year’s Eve Midnight 5K Run and Party is the perfect excuse to bust out your best—or tackiest—evening wear and run your heart out! Each participant will receive admission to McFadden’s New Year’s Eve Celebration (read: open bar and food) for before and after the race, not to mention a snazzy sweatshirt.
  • Take on the first sunrise of 2014 with the Brazen New Year’s Day Half Marathon, 10K and 5K race series in Castro Valley, California. Nothing will make you feel more energized and motivated about the year ahead than the beautiful trail views along Lake Chabot!
  • Not a morning person? Try Chicago’s 29th Annual New Year’s Day 5K Run/Walk! Starting at 11 a.m. in Lincoln Park, this race gives a scenic tour of the city and ends with—you guessed it—a party at O’Briens Restaurant in Old Town.
  • If you don’t feel like you’re up for a 5K just yet, join the New Yearathon in Cook Park, Oregon, and warm up to your 2014 fit goals with family and friends. The race includes 1-mile and 5K run options, so everyone can get a great workout regardless of their fitness level. Bonus: hot drinks await you at the finish line!
  • Tackle that healthy New Year’s resolution head on with Life Time Fitness and the American Heart Association’s Commitment Day 5K Fun Run/Walk held in 35 cities across the country on New Year’s Day. You’re bound to find a location near you that can help you start 2014 with a runner’s high instead of a hangover!

Not near any of these running parties? Find a fitness event near you.

More from FITNESS:

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 Links: How to Shape Up at Your Desk and 10 Outrageous Road Races to Try

Written on May 18, 2012 at 3:23 pm , by

Stop stressing and start stretching! (Photo by Sarah Forrest)

This week’s fit links from around the web:

How I Got Hooked on Trail Running

Written on May 7, 2012 at 4:55 pm , by

Ultramarathoner Dean Karnazes, North Face pro, was on hand to cheer runners on!

Living in New York City, I don’t get that many opportunities to run on trails—the Bridle Path in Central Park is where I get my fix for dirt, rocks and maybe some mud after it rains. So when North Face asked me to join their Endurance Challenge Series at Bear Mountain State Park, I jumped at the chance. Not only was this my opportunity to run a new course (as an urban runner, I’m always looking for chances to keep my running routes fresh!), but in high school with my cross-country team Bear Mountain races were always my favorite. The park is gorgeous and the trails are ideal if you want that outdoor fix not far from the city.

Since my husband has recently picked up the sport of running (thanks to my reluctant nudging for him to do a triathlon with me—NYC Nautica 2012 here we come!), I signed him up as well. This would be his first race ever, unless we count the 10K he ran in elementary school he repeatedly pointed out. We made our way up to Bear Mountain from the city—a short trip by car or train—and I instantly got excited upon recognizing a place that looked basically the same as I last remembered it so long ago. We were set to do the 10K distance and knowing from the advice from trainers, this 10K would feel much longer and harder than a typical road race 10K would be. I knew from my April 2012 column on trail running (page 52) and the advice from Saucony coach Sharon Barbano that the tricks of the trail were to be followed: Take smaller strides for greater control on uneven terrain, pick up your feet more often than a typical stride and scan at least 10 feet ahead so I can see what’s coming up on the ground. I was pumped and ready to go.

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4 Charity Races On Our Bucket Lists

Written on March 6, 2012 at 10:50 am , by

Wacky costumes for a very worthy cause! Runners take on The Lemon Run course. (Photo courtesy of Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation)

I’m currently in training mode for my first half-marathon and am enjoying the experience so much that I’m already looking ahead to find more events to keep me motivated all year long! Having upcoming races on the calendar gives you a goal to work toward. Plus, visualizing yourself crossing the finish line with a personal best will inspire you to lace up your shoes (or clip into your pedals, slip on some goggles, etc.) when you’re feeling less-than-inspired. Bonus points if you’re raising money for a good cause at the same time!

With that in mind, we found four unique events held across the U.S. that we can’t wait to try.

Four Courts Four Miler

  • When and where: March 10 in Arlington, Virginia
  • Why: It’s a little late notice, but if you’re free this Saturday, try to beat the leprechaun in this fun run! The man in green begins 10 minutes after the gun goes off and tries to pass as many walkers and joggers as he can on the way to the finish. Snag a prize if you beat him, but don’t feel bad if you see him run on by. For every person the leprechaun beats, one dollar is donated to a local police charity.

Urban Assault Ride

  • When and where: March 26 in Tucson, Arizona; April 1 in Charlotte, South Carolina; June 3 in St. Louis, Missouri; June 10 in Minneapolis, Minnesota; June 24 in Austin, Texas; July 15 in Fort Collins, Texas; July 22 in Denver, Colorado; August 12 in Des Moines, Iowa; August 19 in Chicago, Illinois.
  • Why: Bored on your bike? Not during this race! Find a partner and tackle checkpoints around town, pedaling between each stop. Adding to the fun factor: There’s no set route or order to the checkpoints, so it’s up to you to pick what you believe is most efficient. Proceeds from each race benefits two or three charities in the host town.

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Fit For a Cause: Walking For Healthier Babies

Written on March 5, 2012 at 10:49 am , by

Written by Brittany Vickers, editorial intern

Crowds converge on a recent March starting line. (Photo courtesy of March of Dimes)

Sometimes it’s just too easy to stay planted on the couch during that Real Housewives marathon—especially during the cold winter months. You know you should fit in at least a little activity for the day, but what will inspire you to get up and go? It’s different for everyone, but a sure-fire way to feel a connection to your active side is picking a cause to be fit for!

The perfect motivation this month can be found in the form of March for Babies, the March of Dimes walks which support research to help all women have healthy, full-term pregnancies. The 3-mile events start (appropriately) in March and continue into the summer, taking place at more than 900 locations across the country. Money raised for the cause funds research and programs that promote healthy youngsters from conception to toddlers.

Each year, March for Babies enlists an ambassador family to spread the word. For 2012, it’s the Witstrucks. Now a healthy 5 year old, Kieran Witstruck was born at 31 weeks and spent the first months of his life in the newborn intensive care. Mom Shalini says she never expected Kieran to be born preterm. “Being healthy and fit is very important to me,” she says. “When I found out I was pregnant I made sure to eat healthy and maintain a good level of fitness to stay healthy during my pregnancy.”

The Witstrucks still don’t know what caused Kieran’s birth to come so early. “Forty percent of preterm births are credited to unknown causes and we fall into that category. It’s one of the things March for Babies is trying to help doctors understand,” Shalini says.

Shalini and her husband Shane are both runners, and have finished many races together. But what sets the March for Babies apart from other races and walks is the super family-friendly mentality. “It’s a great thing to bring your kids to,” she says. “They get to be a part of something to help other children and reaching the finish line gives them a real sense of accomplishment.”

Recalling one of the previous Marches she and Kieran have walked in, Shalini tells us, “I’ll never forget, I met this wonderful woman. Her son and Kieran walked together and held hands the whole way. It’s a magical thing.”

Stay tuned tomorrow for five more active events around the country that are inspiring us to keep up with our training all year long.

Fit Links: Tricks to Cure Cravings and Ace Race Day Photos

Written on February 17, 2012 at 2:43 pm , by

Control your cravings—no lock and key required. (Photo by James Worrell)

This week’s fit links from around the web:

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!