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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.

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Sanya Richards-Ross’ Secrets to Training, Staying Motivated and Finding Life’s Balance

Written on December 25, 2013 at 10:31 am , by

Written by Alena Hall, editorial intern

Legs like whoa! Strength-training is a must for the Fastest Woman on the Planet. (Photo courtesy of Sanya Richards-Ross)

The impending winter weather can discourage even the most enthusiastic runners from finding their stride—and that goes for four-time Olympic gold medalists, too. Jamaica-born sprinting superstar Sanya Richards-Ross knows a thing or two about the dedication it takes to lace up and get out there each day.

A sprinter at heart, Richards-Ross has to really push herself through long runs during pre-season training, which typically coincides with chillier months. “After my season is over, I usually take about 6-8 weeks off before we start training again, and that’s always my least favorite part of training,” she says. “It’s long runs; it’s a lot of reps and light weight in the weight room. Just really preparing myself to take training to the next level. Once my training transitions to where I’m on the track doing repeat 200s, 300s and 450s, that’s the part I do like because my body just feels great.”

Richards-Ross takes a comprehensive approach to training, integrating weight lifting and Pilates for the crucial benefits of strength and flexibility, which is why she is so powerful in her cardio-based sport. And when it comes down to it, her favorite workouts are the ones that focus on building that incredible muscle! “I love when we are doing Olympic lifts like power snatching and power cleans and squatting. I love those powerful movements in the gym and I love to really push myself. It’s so full-body and so explosive, and it correlates to the track so well,” she says.

Most sprinters are known for preferring hot, dry weather, so the upcoming months will force Richards-Ross to put her motivational mantra to good use. Whenever her training days are less than exciting or she simply isn’t feeling 100 percent, “I refuse to lose” is the mindset that gets her through it. Not to mention she really bundles up, tunes into some power songs and tries her best to forget about the cold conditions. In case you’re wondering what music inspires her (we definitely were!), she switches off between the likes of Jay Z, Drake, Yolanda Adams, Donnie McClurkin and Bob Marley, depending on her mood.

Her 400-meter solo and relay performances have earned Richards-Ross the reputation of the Fastest Woman on the Planet, but her talents extend past the track and into the academic setting. “My dad always encouraged me to not be one-dimensional, so even though I was having tremendous success on the track and doing really well, he always challenged me to read and do well in school because as much as I hoped to make it to the Olympics and be one of the best in the world, I didn’t want to put all of my eggs in that basket,” she says. This mindset not only helped her become a straight-A student, but also pushed her to work even harder when it came time to run. “When I had my homework and training, and I had a lot on my plate, it was easier to get everything done. When I only had one thing to do, I’d kind of procrastinate. I always just felt so fulfilled when I was able to accomplish all those tasks.”

When it comes to fueling up for and recovering from her grueling training regimen, Richards-Ross is all about the high protein diet. She reaches for protein shakes after a tough weight room session, grilled chicken before a meet and egg whites with fruit and smoked salmon for breakfast any day of the week. “I mostly juice my vegetables because I’m not really a big fan of them—I know that’s terrible for an athlete—but there’s a few I like, and the rest of them I just juice and knock them out,” she says. And even the top athletes in the world have guilty pleasures. “Mine are the purple bag of Skittles and rum raisin ice cream. Don’t put those in front of me before a race, because I’m going to eat them!”

At the end of the day, according to Richards-Ross, it’s most important to pick an activity you enjoy. “A lot of people go into the gym and bite off more than they can chew and just get totally turned off. Start at a level that is comfortable for you; do something that’s fun whether it’s Zumba or biking,” she suggests. “There are so many things you can do to be active and healthy that don’t mean you have to go and lift 100 pounds or run on the treadmill for an hour.”

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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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Fit Links: A Heart-Pumping Playlist and Moments to Add to Your Bucket List

Written on November 8, 2013 at 4:59 pm , by

Should you stick with your trainer? (Photo by Marianne Rafter)

This week’s fit links from around the web:

  • You pay a lot of money for your personal trainer, but are they worth it? Here’s 10 signs you should ditch ‘em for good. -Daily Burn
  • So you want to do an Ironman? This is your race-day breakdown of what to expect (with an extra dose of inspiration). -Meals and Miles
  • Research shows that electro-pop music makes you move the fastest. Pump up your pace with this heart-throbbing playlist. -Songza
  • This woman has run 100 marathons, so we take her word from it when she says these are the products for getting through 26.2 miles. -50 by 25
  • Bucket list items are all the rage today. Make sure these six are on yours. -Thought Catalog

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Fit Blogger We Love: Knead to Cook

Written on September 5, 2013 at 10:43 am , by

Robin and her hubby after the speedster pounded the Maine pavement for the Beach to Beacon 10K in August.

Need to stir up your go-to healthy eats? Robin over at Knead to Cook has what you crave—muffins, cookies, pies, you name it—without the guilt. And whoa, it shows! The fit mom who sticks to an impressive six-day workout regimen (three days running, the other three hitting the gym for cardio and lifting) cut down on sugar and recently lost over 30 pounds, making major PR strides. We’ll have what she’s having! From lightened-up, homestyle Italian dishes to perfect pre- and post-workout fuel (check out her addictive No-Bake Energy Balls below), this gal cozies you up to her table like you’re a part of the family and proves that nutritious cuisine can taste good, too.

My favorite way to workout: Running, especially in the fall and winter. I’m definitely a cold-weather runner.

My biggest motivators: My two daughters. I want them to look at me as an inspiration for what is possible. They shouldn’t use age as an excuse—ever!

My favorite fit snack: Non-fat Cabot cottage cheese. It’s packed with protein and I mix it with Justin’s almond butter; it’s such a treat! I cannot get enough of it.

Motivational mantra: “No one ever drowned in his own sweat,” by Ann Landers. I actually have it written on the chalkboard wall in my kitchen and I look at it every single day.

My “I did it” moment: Even after running a marathon, my biggest “I did it” moment was recently, at the Beach to Beacon 10K, when I ran it in 49:01. That’s my fastest race time yet, thanks to my recent 31-pound weight loss.

These little protein-packed nuggets are highly sought after at Robin’s daughter’s swim meets—and for good reason. Sweet, tasty and filling!

 

No-Bake Energy Balls

  • 1 c old-fashioned oats
  • 1 c toasted coconut flakes
  • 1/2 c dark chocolate chips
  • 1/2 c almond butter (or whatever nut butter you have in your pantry)
  • 1/2 c flaxseed meal
  • 1 Tbsp chia seeds
  • 1/3 c + 1 /4 tsp raw honey
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • Pinch salt

 

Mix together in a bowl and refrigerate for 45 minutes. Remove and roll into balls. (Robin uses a small scooper!) Place in an airtight container to refrigerate for 5-7 days, although they will most likely be long gone before that!

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

Some Swag for Your Running Stride

Written on August 6, 2013 at 1:23 pm , by

Nike, New Balance, or Saucony? What’s your fav?

True story: I was out for a run last week when a friend of mine saw me run by his apartment. He sent a text saying, “Stop! Turn around! Come hang out!” Cue the girly-girl rant in my head, “Oh gosh, I can’t believe he just saw me running. I’m a sweaty mess. This is so embarrassing. I can’t go over there!” But since I suffer from a small case of FOMO (c’mon ladies, admit it, you do too!), I couldn’t resist the invite. So after finishing my loop, I ran back to his pad, sweaty mess and all. As I walked in, my friend said, “You look super official. Like a sponsored athlete or something. What should I be wearing so can I look as cool as you when I run?”

At first I thought he was being facetious, being that I was decked out in neon shorts, neon sneaks and a tank that had neon lettering (A little obnoxious? Maybe), but he was serious. And I gladly took the compliment.

Now to the point of my story: I get asked about running gear a lot; specifically sneakers. My job as the Fashion Assistant here at FITNESS lends me the title of “sneaker expert” amongst my friends. I know which shoes are the best for marathon training (see my pick below!), which brands have the best minimalist styles, and which sneakers are the coolest each season.

All tech-talk aside, if the shoes aren’t cute, we’re not buying them. Right?  So from a fashionable stance, these are my fave running sneakers for logging miles this summer:

Saucony Kinvara 4: These shoes are my obsession. Seriously, they’re that good. I’ve trained for countless half-marathons in Kinvaras, and I’ve turned lots of runners into Kinvara fans (Saucony, you can thank me later). I love the explosion of hot pink and neon yellow on my newest pair, and feel pretty awesome running down the streets of my hood. You might need sunglasses to protect your eyes from the brightness. #justsayin

Nike Air Pegasus 30+: So we’ve seen the Free and become fans of the Fly Knit, but this Nike style should totally be on your radar, too. I’m a sucker for a good throwback, and these kicks have a serious old school vibe. And when you’re done running, you can rock them with a cool pair of boyfriend jeans and a tee for a laid back look on the weekend.

New Balance Minimus Hi-Rez: Space age shoes? Sure, why not? These awesome weightless sneaks have a futuristic feel that will be sure to make people look twice as you run by, and not in a bad way. Plus, you get the minimalist feel, without going totally barefoot. It’s a win-win situation, people!

Now you tell us: What’s your sneaker of choice?

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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Calling All Runners! Help Fight Cancer By Joining a Coast to Coast Relay

Written on July 22, 2013 at 2:33 pm , by

Lymphoma survivor Michelle Flattery filled her shirt with the names of everyone she was running her 26.2 miles for. (Photo courtesy of Above + Beyond Cancer)

How many people do you know who have been affected by cancer? A shocking 41 percent of people will be diagnosed with some form of the disease during his or her lifetime, according to research by the National Cancer Institute.

Another surprising stat: One-third of cancer cases are caused by poor diet and lack of activity. A group of ambitious athletes, many of then cancer survivors themselves, are seeking to inspire others to affect that statistic, all while raising money to support more research about the disease.

For the past month, the Million Dollar Marathon (and a baton stuffed with prayer flags which honor those who have fought/are fighting cancer) has been making its way from the Pacific to the Atlantic Ocean. About 160 people signed on to run or walk a marathon along the route while raising money for cancer-related charities, with an overall goal of fundraising $1 million. To date, the team has raised nearly $500,000 and has its sights set on Rehoboth Beach, Delaware on August 1.

Yesterday, FITNESS hopped in along the course in Illinois as Ames, Iowa resident Ashley Poppe ran her first marathon in honor of her friend Kerri. Despite struggling with tendinitis all through training, Poppe completed all of her miles (and finished with a smile). She has raised more than $6,000 for the cause, too. The “magic” baton has inspired participants to power through rain, 100°+ heat, injuries and the longest runs of their lives.

“Each time you think you’ve found your favorite moment from the trip, another even more amazing one happens four hours later,” said Steve Cannon, who dreamt up the 4,000-mile coast-to-coast relay after running 40 marathons in 40 days (solo) around Lake Michigan last summer. Recently, the event has taken on even greater meaning for Cannon, as his sister is currently undergoing treatment for breast cancer.

Inspired to take part in this epic journey? It’s not too late—and you can carry the baton for as many miles as you want (26.2 miles is not a requirement). The Million Dollar Marathon is still looking to fill slots in West Virginia on July 26 and 27, so if  you’re ready for a challenge, email steve@aboveandbeyondcancer.org.

Conquering a Triathlon, Relay-Style

Written on July 15, 2013 at 3:52 pm , by

Molly and I all smiles post-race. Bring on the full next year!

Swim, bike, run…they’re all amazing workouts when you do them alone. But putting them all together? Now that’s a good time. If you’re a triathlete, you know that already. But if you’re not, putting all three sports together for one epic day of racing can be quite intimidating. Add in over 3,000 athletes, the Hudson River and a bunch of mileage—one mile of swimming, 25 miles of biking and 6.2 miles of running—and you’ve got the Aquaphor New York City Triathlon, which looks downright terrifying.

Luckily, Aquaphor allowed me to dip my toes into the world of triathlon without diving in head first. Instead of tackling all three sports myself, I rounded up two more FITNESS friends—both with more swimming and biking experience than I—and signed up to tri, relay-style!

Despite an obnoxiously-early wakeup call (hello, 3:00am), Emily, Molly and I had the time of our lives out on the course. For Emily, she was courageous enough to swim in the scary waters of the Hudson River. The girl sliced through the water with ease, and before we knew it, she was handing off the timing chip to Molly, our hard-core biker! Here’s what she has to say about riding on the West Side Highway:

After a few anxious hours of waiting for the race to start, the excited buzz in transition was contagious! I grabbed my bike and started jogging toward the exit with a million worries on my mind (Will I get a flat? Do I have enough hydration? What if I crash? Will I make all the hairpin turns?). But as soon as I crossed the mounting line and clipped in, every thought disappeared. It was just me and my bike, like any other day, and I was ready to race! The course was bumpier than I expected—Despite tight cages, I lost my first water bottle at mile 4 and the second at mile 19—and the hills were tough, so I took my time climbing. Since my legs were fresh and I didn’t have to save up energy for the run, I tried to cheer on others along the course. Prepping my tush and upper thighs with Aquaphor seriously saved me from painful saddle sores post-race. Before I knew it, I was already making the last turn back into transition to pass the chip (and my biker’s-high encouragement) to Samantha for the last leg.

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Better, Faster, Stronger: 6 Marathon Running Tips from Celeb Trainer Ashley Borden

Written on July 11, 2013 at 10:30 am , by

 

That’s our editor-in-chief, Betty Wong, partying it up during the 2011 ING NYC Marathon!

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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