Stretching: Possibly the secret weapon for any successful athlete, especially runners. The trick is knowing when to stretch and how to stretch. It’s also important to know some stretches are better for runners than others, and even if you have just a little bit of time you can make a big difference in your performance with a few specific moves.
Hanna Rosov, ACSM, HFS, and owner of Zeal Fitness in Wichita, Kansas, works with many runners and lent some insight on proper stretching routines for those who run often. “There are a couple different kinds of stretching that are appropriate at different times,” said Rosov. “Dynamic stretching works best as a warm up prior to running. It tells the muscles ‘get ready we’re going to do something.’”
Dynamic stretching looks different than traditional floor moves, as they’re typically active movements that can be safely done before a workout or run without expending too much energy. “Dynamic stretching doesn’t use a lot of energy; you are putting your muscles through a range of motion while gradually increasing heart rate,” said Rosov.
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Just seven tiny years ago, I couldn’t have told you how far the 26.2 mile beast was. I didn’t even know what 5K meant. Now, the race of epic proportions is just part of my daily life and vernacular. I used to think this made me unique, different from the crowd. I didn’t just run, I was a marathoner. In the seven years that I’ve called myself a runner, the world of running has changed pretty dramatically. I may not be as set-apart as I thought.
The registration numbers are growing tremendously as the marathon seems to be a “must-do” item on so many people’s “bucket lists.” I like the idea of more runners, but I’m not so sure the quantity increase is bringing more quality to the sport. Don’t hear me wrong, there’s room for many speeds in running, but is there room for people who don’t train properly? Is the marathon really a place for someone who doesn’t respect the distance? Bottom line: what’s happening with the marathon? What’s it becoming? And what are the side effects of all of these people taking on the once exclusive 26.2 mile race?
Research published in 2012 and reported by StrideNation.com stated that marathoners used to be one in a thousand. Now, for every 607 Americans, one of them finished a U.S. marathon in 2011. The annual report from Running USA also stated that since 2000 there has been a 47 percent increase in in the number of marathon finishers nationwide. These increases are being seen outside the charts and surveys. In 2011, the New York City Marathon had more than 47,000 finishers. This made for the largest race ever held.
Other large scale signs are being seen in what happens when marathoners attempt to sign up for the major races. In 2010, those attempting to register for the 2011 Boston Marathon crashed the race’s website and the event filled within hours. This race requires qualifying times, so not just any runner could sign up, but the number of eligible filled the slots quickly, something that rarely ever happened in recent past. This forced Boston to change their qualifying times and registration process.
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Many endurance athletes, myself included, find ourselves stuck in ruts when it comes to recipes and meals. We tend to have our staples that provide the nutrients we need to sustain our training, but those staples can get boring and overdone. The challenge to seek out new recipes is good, but searching a foreign region’s menu, was an extra, albeit fun, challenge.
With the mission of choosing a recipe from a specific country in the Mediterranean, a small geography lesson was first required. I think many of us don’t realize that the Mediterranean is more than a portion of Italy and the country of Greece. There are 21 countries that comprise the region. They all share similar ingredients in their recipes, yet they all deliver a unique flair to the table. I got the joy of researching the recipes of Egypt.
The first step was just familiarizing myself with the cuisine of the country. True to Mediterranean food, there were many minced meats, shish kabobs with sides of tahini and pita. Some less common foods included grilled pigeon, fried perch and tuna, and stewed beans for breakfast. While runners need protein, pigeon was not a source I was opting for this time.
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You wouldn’t know it by looking at me, but I’m about as Irish as they come. For whatever reason, my sister got the red hair, then I gave up my maiden name, and unless you are my husband, my “Irish temper” stays under wraps the majority of the time. However, whene March 17 rolls around, I take that time to embrace my lineage that makes me who I am. It used to only mean wearing green. Then I became a runner and the day took on a whole new celebration. Now, most of my celebrations include a race and some of the best food the world has to offer!
There are fun runs, shorter races, long miles, and everything in between when it comes to St. Patrick’s Day race options. Some are clever and offer a 17K or Lucky 7K. Many others like The Leprechaun Lope in Salt Lake City, Utah offer some seriously silly awards for best Irish costume or fastest centipede, which is four runners linked together by a common costume. Not to mention the various distances from 2 mile to 10K have hidden leprechauns along the course for you to spot.
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It’s easily arguable that many families have a box of macaroni and cheese mix in their cabinets right now. It’s basically a staple in most homes, especially those with children. Many of us grew up with mac and cheese, and not just any brand, but specifically the blue box, Kraft Macaroni and Cheese. Today the brand is just as popular, but those who read labels have discovered that this food contains some of the most family unfriendly ingredients and they want it changed.
Vani Hari runs the website Food Babe and Lisa Leake is the voice behind the blog 100 Days of Real Food. Together these two women have made some noise as they have brought the ingredients of Kraft’s mac and cheese to light. The American version of this boxed food contains artificial food dyes, Yellow 5 and Yellow 6. Hari and Leake are out to change this.
The two women have created an online petition to the Kraft company asking people to understand the dangers of the dyes and then sign the petition to get them removed. The information around the petition states that the mac and cheese in the UK does not contain the dyes. They were removed when the public cried out. Curious why they were left in the American product? Hari and Leake are too.
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