In all dietary and fitness pursuits, moderation is key. Socrates put the concept of practicing moderation into our consciousness 2,500 years ago when he proclaimed, “Everything in moderation, nothing in excess.”
One hundred years ago, Oscar Wilde blew the lid off the whole thing when he said, “Everything in moderation, including moderation.”
But Socrates and Wilde didn’t live in a polarizing world of both obesity and extreme exercise. We live in a dangerously unhealthy society, and with the recent release of studies condemning grueling exercise, it’s important to strike a healthy balance.
Endurance athletes—the people who compete in triathlons, Ironman events, and marathons—are an intense bunch. They continually push their bodies to the brink of exhaustion, and then keep running. The small community of endurance athletes around the world are an understandably prideful group, and they feed off the narcotic high of extreme athletic accomplishment. So anyone who introduces a study claiming to have found damning evidence against radical fitness better have a hell of a case.
Various new research shows that there is such a thing as “over exercise,” and it can lead to many external and internal damages. (more…)
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. (more…)
Running is a learning process. I’m far from the runner I was two years ago, and unrecognizable from the one I was when I first started. There are so many mistakes to learn from and so many trials and errors to experience. It’s been six years since I put on my first pair of running shoes and began my journey. As I prepare for my long run this weekend, I can certainly say I learned one lesson the hard way: The issue of refueling during runs. This took a lot of trials and even more errors on my part. But today, my pantry is stocked with my fuel of choice and I hope my days of struggling with mid-run fuel is over.
Recently, NPR’s food blog “The Salt” reported on the issue of using real food as athletic fuel. That is, real food instead of the many popular gels, chews, and drink mixes. The title alone made me laugh at my former self. I recalled my early days in training for my first marathons. I was so convinced that I needed all natural foods. On long runs, I toted around the most cumbersome bags loaded with fresh fruit, honey, or even nuts. I was trying so hard to live up to this uber-natural standard I placed on myself. Furthermore, all awkwardness aside, these methods weren’t working. I wasn’t feeling any energy from my fuel and even worse, I was having such a hard time digesting these foods while on the run. Come marathon day, there was no way I could run a strong, fast race with these issues and a pantry in my shorts. (more…)
If you’re a runner, you know that there is quite a hype over relay racing as of late. If you’re not a runner, you’re probably going to want to start after you learn what fun people are having with all the great relay events across the nation. One event in particular is really grabbing the attention of all types of runners. Elites and newbies alike are flocking to the Ragnar series of relay races.
Ragnar relay races are 200 mile overnight relay races completed by a team of 6-12 runners. The first Ragnar was hosted in Utah in 2004 with 280 participants. This year there are 15 events scheduled nationwide with more than 76,000 runners participating. Clearly, this race has something special if it keeps growing and selling out every year.
The races take their names from a ninth century Norse Viking named Ragnar. The founders, Dan Hill and Tanner Bell, named the races Ragnar due to the viking’s adventure-seeking and conquering personality. They simply state, “run one of our races, and you’ll understand.” (more…)
So, you think running is a little boring and you need some flair to spice it up? The incredibly popular Tough Mudder events do more than spice up running, they are definitively hardcore. You’ll see one of these increasingly popular endurance races on tonight’s Biggest Loser. The three remaining contestants for season 13 are joined by the winners from seasons 10, 11, and 12, Patrick, Olivia, and John.
All Tough Mudder events, billed as “the toughest event on the planet,” are 10-12 mile obstacle courses designed by British Special Forces. The organization states that the courses are designed to test one’s “all around strength, stamina, mental grit, and camaraderie.” These events are a far cry from road racing, or even trail racing. Tough Mudder has three pillars that it stands upon:
1. Because running is boring.
2. Mudders (participants) do not take themselves too seriously.
3. You cannot complete a Tough Mudder course alone.
All participants have to agree to the Tough Mudder Pledge before entering the event.
As a Tough Mudder I Pledge That…
- I understand that Tough Mudder is not a race but a challenge.
- I put teamwork and camaraderie before my course time.
- I do not whine- Kids whine.
- I help my fellow Mudders complete the course.
- I overcome all fears. (more…)
If you’ve ever trained for a foot race, chances are you’ve used some sort of training guide. And chances are that guide has had certain days assigned as “tempo run” days. It’s possible that this term just gets overlooked, and runners never fully learn about tempo running.
For experienced and new runners alike, the tempo run assignment can be a confusing thing. What does it mean to run a tempo run? Why do I have to do it? Is there really any benefit in doing it? These are all valid questions that even I, a seasoned runner, ask. Instead of asking the questions out into the void, or spending hours weeding through all the opinions online, I went to a trusted source: a running coach.
Scott Hill is a talented runner who coaches for The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Team in Training organization. He’s coached many runners through marathons and ultra marathons along with being a phenomenal endurance racer himself.
Runners are pretty simple creatures. We typically only want one thing: to run faster. If you’ve spent any time with a runner you’ll typically find that they’re stubborn- I mean determined- people. That trait serves them well in the sport.
However, being one of the most determined people on the planet, I can safely say that all the will in the world won’t make me faster. If any runner wants to be faster, they have to train to be faster. One of the best ways to do that is by doing fartleks. Yes, fartleks. Funny name, but powerful speed training.
Fartlek is the Swedish word for “speed play.” Fartleks are a type of interval training for runners. It was developed in 1937 by Swedish coach, Gosta Holmer. Holmer developed this training for his cross country teams who had a terrible record. The effective speed plays focus on running faster than race pace to train. Fartleks were so successful that they have been widely adopted and used since.
There are lots of “rules” when it comes to running. “You have to stretch.” “You have to wear proper shoes.” “You have to cross train.”
I’ve heard all of these and more. I’ve also heard every one of these rules debunked at one point or another. It can be confusing at times to know exactly what we are supposed to do to ensure optimal running performance and health.
Recently another long standing “rule” of running was challenged in the news. The New York Times reported that the 10% rule was put under the microscope to see if its tenure still holds true or if it ever deserved its position as valid advice in the first place.
The 10% rule states that a runner should not increase their mileage more than 10% each week. The idea is that this gradual increase will prevent the body from succumbing to injury. This rule was put to the test, and studies found that it didn’t hold up: Just as many runners sustained injuries who followed the rule as those who did not.
So, what does this mean? Can a runner start out at a 10 mile total one week, and then jump up to 30 the next week? Will this increased distance and stress play no role in promoting an injury?
I ran my first marathon in the spring of 2007. There were medic tents located every few miles along the course. That made perfect sense to me however, I was utterly confused about the continuous offers of Vaseline on a stick. The medics had large tongue depressors with heaping dollops of petroleum jelly on the ends. As I passed the tents they held them out hollering, “Vaseline? Vaseline?”
My best guess was that runners must like to use Vaseline for lip balm to keep their lips from getting dry.
Somewhere around mile 13 all my curiosity was cured. I was passing yet another tent and ignoring the offer for jelly on a stick when I heard thundering steps behind me and a primal scream rang out, “VASELINE!!!!”
The male runner was doing some sort of bow-legged hop as he quickly grabbed the aid and proceeded to slather it all over his nether region.
All questions were then answered and I got my first glimpse into a dirtier side of running.
August is a great time of year to run a marathon in most parts of the country. The majority of marathons are scheduled to begin early in the morning so the heat shouldn’t be unbearable. See below for a few of the best marathons in the month of Augusta near you!
Grizzly Marathon: These marathon, half marathon, 10K, 5K, and kids 5K races are held in Choteau, Montana on August 6, 2011. Choteau is located in northwestern Montana and should be one amazing marathon experience. The marathon is scheduled to start at 5 A.M. for the marathon walkers and 6 A.M. for the regular marathon and half marathon participants. Each marathon participant will receive a finishers medal, a beanie, and t-shirt. Be sure to attend the huge expo before the race for new fitness tips plus some of the top 2011 gear.