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Really Good Read: “Boston Billy” Is Back in Marathon Man

Written on May 30, 2013 at 2:23 pm , by

Read this and you’ll be lacing up those sneaks faster than ever before. (Photo courtesy of St. Martin’s Press)

Long before the time of Gatorade, GU or GPS watches, Bill Rodgers set a 2:09:55 American record at the Boston Marathon. There were no clocks or traffic control for his 1975 victory and medals were awarded only to the top three runners.

“You didn’t see lots of couples or families showing up to races,” the legendary long-distance runner reminisced in his new book-meets-memoir, Marathon Man, which he co-authored with Matthew Shepatin. “I didn’t know any running couples, and to see a woman runner was shocking. Some would think: Oh, good grief, there’s a woman runner. My attitude was: Good going!”

Running as both a sport and culture has made drastic strides over the past few decades—something I rarely considered before reading the 26.2-mile journey of the infamous “Boston Billy.” The book’s chapters alternate between play-by-plays from his first big victory and life prior to the momentous moment in history, as he falls in, out and back in love with running.

The pavement-pounding passion that burns within so many of us used to be quite the enigma “for freaks and fairies,” although seemingly simpler. Perhaps that ease was just the spirit Bill conveyed despite his quick pace. With each turning page, I craved the same sweat and pain that comes with training territory, but it was Bill’s natural, liberating take and mindset—something no gadget could ever provide—that I found truly moving.

“Running wasn’t an escape from life; rather it was an embrace of it,” Bill explained. “As I bounded along the park trail, I wasn’t sailing around in chaos. I was charging forward with purpose.” For Bill, rising to the top of the running world wasn’t about the fame or a collection of tech tees (well, those didn’t even exist yet!). It was a sense of freedom he couldn’t experience anywhere else.

Road races before the late 70s running boom were nuts and bolts affairs, a morale-boosting medicine that wasn’t so much about the time, but a hunt for the win. Bill sported ensembles from dumpster dives (stiff jeans in the colder months—yikes!) and hydrated with an old shampoo bottle. He ran the same way he did as a kid catching butterflies in the fields of Connecticut, even stopping to tie his shoes with six miles to go before winning the Holy Grail of marathons.

Yes, we now know a lot more in respect to the athletic do’s and don’ts, something we here at FITNESS love to keep you all up on. But if this invaluable book taught me anything, it’s to lace up my sneaks without much of a thought and simply enjoy the ride. Who knows, maybe I’ll leave my pop playlist behind, turning to the birds and sound of my own breath to pace my stride. This book is more than a good read. It’s my new Bible. Pages are folded, quotes are highlighted and it will be a go-to gift for my fellow running pals. You learn through Bill’s mistakes, defeats and triumphs, cheering him along as if the historical race is live. I won’t be fueling up on ketchup-smeared brownies anytime soon—sorry, Bill, that’s a little much—but I will pour myself full force into what Bill often referred to as his “channel.” His perseverance sparked a fire under my tread that lead to a race-filled summer. Who knows, maybe I’ll even go for the full 26.2 soon, too.

Now you tell us: Where do you find your run-spiration?

We Run DC

Written on April 26, 2013 at 9:32 am , by

photo courtesy of Nike

I’ve become a half marathon veteran sorts. Not that I’ve run hundreds of races or anything, but I can’t seem to shake the inevitable runner’s high, and  I’ve found myself adding more and more races to my 2013 roster (I even put in an application to run the NYC Marathon in November!). I guess you can say I’m somewhat of a 13.1 junkie. At least after running two halves in two weeks,  I’d like to think so…

One of the races that I’ll be ticking off my list for sure: the Nike Women’s Half Marathon in DC, which is happening for the first time EVER  this weekend! You might be familiar with the race that happens out in San Fran every fall, but luckily for us East Coasters who haven’t had the chance to run out west, Nike is bringing the fun and excitement a little bit closer to home.

For the women participating in the race, a full weekend of events are scheduled at the Expotique at Nike Georgetown, including the release of the most awesome shoes I’ve ever seen, and a concert with platinum selling singer-songwriter, Ellie Goulding, who will also be running the race. She’s been training religiously like the rest of us, and says, “Running has become a huge part of what motivates me and I’m excited to join so many other women in this inaugural race. I’ve been working hard to balance my training while being on tour this spring, and I’m running the Nike Women Half Marathon in Washington, D.C. with the goal of achieving my personal best time.” Maybe superstars are more like us than we think…personal bests? Let’s do it Ellie!

If you live in the DC area, be sure to swing by the Expotique this weekend, and come support all of the runners at Sunday morning’s race (here’s a course map…I’ll be looking for you!). I’m super stoked to be racing alongside 15,000 women who have a passion for running, just like me, and I feel honored to be a part of such an awesome inaugural event. Watch out DC! I’m coming for ya, and I’m ready to pound some serious pavement!

Why There Will Always Be Another Finish Line After Boston

Written on April 17, 2013 at 2:12 pm , by

Betty Wong crosses the finish line at the More/FITNESS Women's Half Marathon.

FITNESS Editor-in-Chief Betty Wong crosses the finish line at the More/FITNESS Women’s Half Marathon on Sunday, April 14, 2013. Photo by John Herr.

The day before the Boston Marathon, I crossed the finish line of the More/Fitness Women’s Half-Marathon in New York City’s Central Park. About a month before Boston, I had crossed the finish line of the Los Angeles Marathon. Both times my tired legs somehow found the energy to surge through the last few hundred yards. With arms held high, a smile on my face and the cheering crowds drowning out whatever playlist has been pumping for hours through my earbuds, something magical always propels me forward as I run toward joy, exhilaration and complete satisfaction.

Crossing the finish line brings relief, pride and bliss, and there’s never a moment you want it more than that last .1 of a 13.1-mile half or the final .2 of a 26.2-mile marathon. On Monday, thousands of runners in Boston had that same drive and focus shattered by two cruel, horrific bombs.

The blasts shook them out of their thoughts of elation, of accomplishment, of post-race celebrations over beer and burgers. In seconds, their hearts went from swelling with gratitude and love for family and friends who had supported them on race day and through months of training, to pounding with fear and panic over when and how they would reunite with their loved ones, if ever.

I was not in Boston on Monday, but from my desk at Fitness magazine, I was there in spirit. That morning, still high on endorphins from the wonderful race we hosted the day before with New York Road Runners, I wished the runners in Boston the same exuberance, strength and determination that were so palpable from the women runners at our half-marathon. I excitedly logged onto the Boston Athletic Association’s website so I could track the progress of my friend and Fitness colleague Amy Macauley as she ran a strong pace through every split of her 26.2-mile trek into downtown Boston. When her final finish time popped up on my screen, I was thrilled and elated, just as I’d been the morning before.

News broke of the explosions less than an hour later. My heart sank for Amy, for the thousands of runners, spectators, organizers and volunteers. How could a day meant to be a celebration of all that is good about the human spirit—from the runners whose athleticism, dedication and grit are so deserving of admiration to the spectators who stand on the sidelines for hours hoping to catch a glimpse of their loved one and scream encouraging hoots and hollers at the sea of strangers running by—go from so right to so wrong?

Those two bombs placed in such close proximity to the finish line were intended to maim and kill, to stop us in our tracks. They robbed us of precious lives and limbs, and my heart breaks for those innocent spectators who were hurt and for their grieving families. The crimes took away our moments of celebration, but they did not end our journey. As any runner will tell you, every race is measured in much more than miles and the time it takes to cross the finish line. Whether in your training you went from fat to fit, weak to strong, doubter to believer, the course keeps going long after the race is over. The bombs in Boston will never take away our collective will to move forward, to sprint toward what is good in life. Already thousands on Facebook have committed to running 26.2 miles in the coming days, weeks and months to honor Boston. We run because we have to. We run for those who can’t. We run because that is how we keep reaching, growing, healing. There will continue to be many more start lines to join, and this weekend our thoughts will be with marathoners lining up in London, as they will be thinking of their running comrades in Boston. In tragic times like this, we simply keep moving forward. We run for joy. We run for good health. We run for peace. That is how we finish strong.

Win an Exclusive Half-Marathon Necklace!

Written on April 10, 2013 at 2:17 pm , by

Erica Sara Designs Necklace

A feminine way to celebrate your half-marathon accomplishment, this exclusive necklace is by Erica Sara Designs.

Bling it on!

In celebration of our 10th annual More/FITNESS Women’s Half-Marathon this Sunday, three lucky readers will each score an exclusive, sterling silver necklace from Erica Sara Designs!

You can enter to win between now through next Tuesday. Don’t want to wait to see if you won? Pop on over to the ESD site and use the code FITNESSHALF to purchase this fabulous necklace for 20 percent off.

Enter to win here and good luck!

 Official rules

Fit Blogger We Love: Running to the Kitchen

Written on March 21, 2013 at 1:04 pm , by

 

Gina zeroes in on her CrossFit workouts to drum up a good dose of sweat.

After a tough workout, the first place we tend to head isn’t the shower, but the kitchen – gotta squeeze in that recovery fuel within a half hour! As someone who loves food just as much as we do, it’s safe to say Gina of Running to the Kitchen does the same thing. After all, it’s in her blog name! This CrossFit junkie makes us drool with all of her beautiful recipe images, and she’ll make you do the same. Go ahead and check it out – we bet you can’t prove us wrong.

My favorite way to work out: CrossFit! I know, I know, it’s all the rage right now and that’s a totally predictable answer, but I started CrossFit when it opened in my town last July and have been hooked ever since. It’s efficient, effective (hello, muscles I’ve never seen before) and an absolute blast. I think every box (read: gym) has  different vibe, but something that seems pretty consistent across the board is the rapport among members. It’s not only my workout for the day, but a time I get to hang out with like-minded people and have fun. An hour of endorphins pumping, music blasting and people cheering each other on beats any other workout I can think of.

On my fit life list: A strict unassisted pull-up. No marathons, no triathlons. Just one darn pull-up without a band or kipping.

My “I Did It” moment: Finishing my first half-marathon in less than two hours. 2010 was a year of a lot of change for me. I lost 20 pounds, revamped the way I ate (slowly) and started running. Having played sports all my life as a kid, running was always something I was “forced” to do, not a sport I enjoyed. When I decided to pick it up as an adult in an effort to live a healthier lifestyle, I had no idea I’d grow to love it as much as I do. What started as a little competitive bet with myself to run my first 5K ended with my first half-marathon seven months later. Finishing it in under two hours, when I couldn’t even run one mile eight months prior, was pretty awesome.

I’m happiest when I’m: Doing anything with food. Eating it, cooking it, photographing it – anything. As cliche as it may sound, food is definitely my life passion. I contemplated going to culinary school in my mid-twenties, and while that didn’t actually happen, my blog has become the perfect creative outlet for that passion.

Olympic sport I’d love to try: While I think I’d be horrendous at it, I would pick gymnastics! Considering I can stay in an unassisted handstand for about three seconds, at best, and still haven’t come close to mastering the muscle-up in CrossFit (both gymnastic-type skills), it would be interesting.

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

Why Do You Run? Check Out This Inspirational Campaign

Written on March 20, 2013 at 1:06 pm , by

We all have different motivations behind our fitness goals. Regardless of what they are, we’re happy to have you join us in getting fit and strong.  Which is why we were touched after seeing Dick’s Sporting Goods’ “Every Runner Has a Reason” campaign. Each week for 13 weeks, Dick’s is sharing a runner’s story about why they’re lacing up and getting on the road. This week’s video is about Sally, who was encouraged by her friend Lisa to start running to help cope with her husband’s death from melanoma. She’s gone from barely running a mile to completing marathons.  Watch it below and head over to DicksSportingGoods.com in the next 12 weeks for more moving stories.

(You might want to have tissues handy for this.)

 

 

Now tell us: Why do you run?

A New Way to Get Inspired to Race This Spring

Written on March 5, 2013 at 2:27 pm , by

Sign up for a race and help run the world–literally! (Photo courtesy Laura Doss)

Brr! It might be the first week of March, but it feels more like December. One way FITNESS editors stay motivated through the winter is to sign up for a spring race (or races, for that matter!). On top of beating our seasonal blues, a new campaign started by She’s the First, a not-for-profit that sponsors girls’ educations in developing nations has got us more fired up than ever.

From March 1 to June 30, sign up at shesthefirst.org/RunSTF and get placed on a virtual “Run the World” map and create an online fundraising page. Then, ask your friends and family to match your miles or minutes for your race (for example, $13.10 if you’re running the MORE/FITNESS Magazine Half-Marathon!). You can also connect to the She’s the First Trailblazers Facebook page, so you can cheer and be cheered on as you all train for your races and raise money for a good cause! Don’t want to go at it alone? Grab some friends and start a team, plus tweet your progress with the hashtag #RunSTF for some social support. Once you finish training for your marathon, half-marathon, or bevy of spring 5Ks, you’ll be able to check back at the site and see how much your training and charity efforts helped school-aged girls all around the world. Oh yeah, and your body will be beach-ready, too. That’s a win-win in our book!

More from FITNESS: Find a Race in Your Area to Sign Up For!

Women Who Make America: Kathrine Switzer on How Running Can Change the World

Written on February 22, 2013 at 11:00 am , by

Kathrine Switzer finished her 39th marathon in Berlin in 2011. (Photo courtesy of marathonwoman.com and marathonfoto.com)

Kathrine Switzer didn’t sign up for the Boston Marathon in 1967 to stir any trouble; she just wanted to run. But when the then 19-year-old defied race officials and tradition by becoming the first female to officially enter the race and created headlines in the news, she became a trailblazer for women in running and fitness. Switzer, along with other strong, empowering women will star in Makers: Women Who Make America, a PBS documentary airing February 26 about the social revolution for women’s political, economic and personal power. We chatted with Switzer–who is still running marathons, finishing the Berlin Marathon in 2011–about her history-making race, the future of women’s sports and how running and fitness can change your life.

FITNESS: Before 1967, no woman had ever officially entered the Boston Marathon. Did you have an idea that it would make such an impact in sports?

Kathrine Switzer: I didn’t want to run it to prove anything. I had heard that other women had run marathon distances and that one woman in 1966 ran the Boston Marathon but without a bib number, so I wasn’t trying to break any barriers. It wasn’t until a race official attacked me during the run because I had officially signed up and was wearing a number did I become determined to finish and speak out on behalf of all women.

But I also knew that if other women could feel the sense of empowerment that I’ve felt since I started running when I was 12,  that it would create a tidal wave.

The event that changed women’s running. (Photo courtesy of marathonwoman.com and CORBIS)

What have you learned from running throughout the years?

KS: It’s not about running; it’s about changing your life. It’s about power and self esteem. The motivation to get other women running has kept me running. It’s also about equality. Women have led the charge in women’s sport. More women are running in the US now, compared to men. I’ve also learned that consistency and tenaciousness is better than talent. The more you do the better you can do. One of the best ways to get older is to keep active. I’m proud of myself for what I’ve done. Every day that I get to run is a bonus at this point.

I’m grateful for the things I’ve done and things I have to do yet. The very simple act of putting one foot in front of the other has changed my life so greatly. Read more

Running Legend Deena Kastor On Winning Marathons and Turning 40

Written on February 19, 2013 at 11:01 am , by

Master runner Kastor dominated at the Rock ‘n’ Roll Pasadena half-marathon and took home first place! (Photo courtesy of Andrew McClanahan/photorun.net)

Whoever said people slow down as they get older never met Olympic bronze medalist Deena Kastor. The running superstar turned 40 on Valentine’s Day, then packed up and traveled to Pasadena to tackle the Kaiser Permanente Rock ‘n’ Roll half-marathon. As if finishing in 1:12:57 and, ya know, winning the race wasn’t enough, she’s got her eyes set on the LA Marathon in March. Her goal? Winning that one, too! We chatted with the pro to find out how running has changed her throughout the years, and to nab some tips for those looking to bust out of a rut.

First of all, happy belated birthday! Did you do anything to celebrate? 

Well I was heading to the Kaiser Permanente Rock ‘n’ Roll Pasadena Half-Marathon the next day, so nothing too outrageous. But we had a barbecue that night – good food and good wine, of course.

That sounds perfect. Now that you’re officially in your 40s, have you looked back at how you ran in your 20s and seen any changes in your running style? 

I think my mileage is a little lower. Now I make sure there’s a lot of quality to my miles, rather than quantity. I spent many years running 120-140 mile weeks training or marathons; now I’m focused a little lower. It was a natural process for me, rather than an age change, but I focus on recovery and rest a little bit more now and making sure my body can handle the intensity. That’s always been intuitive for me, so I’ve been really lucky. I’m rarely plagued with injuries because I back down before they come to fruition. The sport of running is very healthy, but people can go unhealthy and it’s all about maintaining that balance.

What do you like to do on recovery days? 

Sometimes I’ll take a short 2-3 mile run to loosen up, and other times I’ll take a day completely off and give myself a rest. Resting to me isn’t going to the mall and heading out to parties. If I feel I need it, I lounge on the couch all day. There’s nothing wrong with that. There’s certainly days you need to disconnect from the computer and your running shoes.

Read more

Fit Blogger We Love: Hit the Road Jane

Written on February 8, 2013 at 9:20 am , by

Jane hits the ground running – now try to keep up!

“Hit the Road, Jack, and don’t you come back no more, no more, no more, no more…”

That’s exactly what we think of every time we head over to visit Lynda’s blog, Hit the Road Jane, no matter how much we try not to. But we say that’s the perfect kind of branding – nothing like leaving a lasting impression! Instead of setting off solo though, we’ll just hit the road running with Lynda, an energetic Latina from Florida who’s showing us day by day how to keep moving, going after goals (no matter how crazy they may seem!) and always having a good dose of hope in her back pocket. Find out what she’s dreaming of next and how she keeps her workout routine interesting.

I’m happiest when I’m: Done with a tough workout! Nothing compares with the satisfaction I get after completing a tough run, group class or swim. I always gain more confidence and am amazed at how strong my body can be, even if I had my doubts coming into the workout. It just goes to show that we are all stronger than we think!

My favorite way to workout: Variety really is the spice of life. I enjoy mixing things up and have really embraced training for my first triathlon because of this. I noticed that doing the same workouts every week bored me in the past. So I like having a plan to run, bike, swim and cross-train with weights, Zumba or a Spin class.

5 things I can’t live without:

  1. Books. I’ve been an avid reader since I was a kid, thanks to my Dad. If I had to choose only one thing I couldn’t live without, this would be it. Books are an escape, an inspiration, and can sometimes offer my personal favorite – perspective.
  2. Technology. Call me a nerd, but I love gadgets (especially fitness ones like Polar, Garmin or FitBit). It’s just fun to learn how to use them and make them a part of daily life.
  3. Music, especially during runs. Try listening to the movie soundtrack channel on Pandora during your next long run and tell me you don’t feel like you’re on your way to save the world.
  4. My passport. I’m addicted to travel and exploring the world around me. I want to keep visiting new places for as long as I can! Running has definitely helped me travel to places I never would have gone otherwise, like Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.
  5. Hope. It drives everything I do an aspire for. Without it, I’d never dream big or set out to accomplish the things that scare me.

My biggest indulgence: Chocolate, hands down. Mmm…

On my fit life list: A half-Ironman, the Boston marathon, and an international marathon, like Paris or Athens.

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