Thursday, February 26, 2009

Sooner Than Later Is Better

Research shows that post-workout eating is critical to a rebuilding muscle and the sooner you do it the better. When you exercise you're actually tearing muscle and depleting your glycogen stores. These stores need to be replenished as soon as possible. A good rule-of-thumb is to eat a ratio of 4:1 carbohydrates and protein (i.e., 4grams of carbs to every 1gram of protein) within 15-30 minutes of finishing your run. It's also important to rehydrate after your run. You can combine the rehydration with the carbs by drinking a sports drink. Accelerade—a 3-in-1 sports drink that provides the liquid, carbs, and protein—is great to drink during and after your run.
What kinds of foods are good for post-run eating? A lot!
a glass of chocolate milk
dried fruit and/or nuts (raw, unsalted)
bagel with peanut butter or Nutella
English muffin with cheese, peanut butter, or Nutella
rice or popcorn cake with peanut butter or Nutella
egg sandwich or eggs and toast
turkey sandwich
smoothie made with fruit, Greek yogurt, and milk (for recipe, see archived 1/13 posting "Smooth Move")
cottage cheese with fruit
sports bar (be sure it's not loaded with extra sugar and fat)

For more post-run food options, click on any of the pictures above to view a video clip from sports dietition and Runner's World nutrition consultant, Leslie Bonci.

Run When You're 100? You Bet!

Over the years, I've read a lot of running and fitness books. Frequently I'll buy a book for a particular section that may be of interest. Often I end up using the books more as references at-the-ready for when I need to find the answer to a particular question. This week, however, I came across an awesome book that I actually read in one sitting! Roy Wallack has crafted a very informative book titled Run for Life: The Anti-Aging, Anti-Injury, Super-Fitness Plan to Keep You Running to 100 (Skyhorse Publishing, 2009). In a conversational and often witty voice, Wallack details a life plan for running.

His goal is not to just live to 100 and shuffle along, but to actually run on his 100th birthday. Sound outrageous? Well, when you consider that today one out of every 10, 000 Americans live to 100—and those numbers will only increase in the coming years with more and more medical advances—it may not be that outrageous. Wallack has collected information from some of the most innovative coaches and trainers, the latest scientific research, as well as interviews from some of the pioneers of running, including Frank Shorter, Bill Rogers, and Bobbi Gibb.

Wallack is blunt in saying that if all you do is run, you won't be running at 100. He stresses that most runners will need to make some changes to ensure this goal. Wallack presents a plan that involves
running soft—a 5-step running form that can reduce knee-joint pounding and pain by 50%
running less—not running more than 3-4 days a week and never 2 in a row; adding cross-training
running stronger—high-intensity strength training to revive power, reaction time, balance
running flexible—a 10-position, 8-minute yoga warm-up routine designed for runners
running straighter—using a small inexpensive tool that ensures perfect alignment with every stride
running faster—running short, intense intervals to build muscle and increase V02 max

Not only is this book a great read, full of oral histories of everyday runners as well as the stars of the sport, it's also packed with practical how-to information for each step in the plan. Wallack presents the plan in a very non-threatening manner. He says upfront that he realizes many runners will not make all six changes, but even if they make just one or two, their running will be vastly improved.

So, the next time you're in the book store, check out the sports section and pick up a copy of Run for Life.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Best Kept Secret: Greenways

After moving to Greensboro, I quickly laid out several running routes in my neighborhood and at the local parks, but was ignorant to the miles of scenic greenways and trails all around me. I lived in Greensboro, NC four years before discovering the huge network of trails and greenways maintained by the city. The city I moved from had no such network, so I really didn't even know such things existed. It wasn't until I joined my running group, the BlueLiners, that I was exposed to greenway running.

In fact, there are over 80 miles of trails and greenways available in Greensboro. They're categorized into four categories—botanical gardens trails, greenways, park trails, and watershed trails. These hiking, biking, and multiple-use trails incorporate some sidewalk connectors and include paved and natural surfaces. The trails are located in urban and natural settings, and can be found in neighborhood and regional parks, open spaces, and around the city's lakes.

The greenways take you away from the city and let you enjoy a little nature on your run. Year-round beauty abounds making for extremely peaceful and serene runs. I often see deer on my Saturday morning long run and today the most beautiful blue heron took flight right in front of me before flying over the lake. I definitely never enjoyed this kind of beauty on my neighborhood runs. In addition to the natural fauna, I've had a few "Charlie" sightings. I've discovered that world-famous endurance runner Charlie Engle, lives just down the road and we frequently cross paths on the greenway.
One greenway runs by two parks, a national park—(National Military Park at Guilford Courthouse) as well as a city park (Country Park). Kind of humbling to know you're running by the site of the largest, most hotly-contested battle of the Revolutionary War's Southern Campaign.

If you're running the same old neighborhood routes over and over, check out your city's government Website and see if your town has greenways and trails for you to run. They're often close by but because you're not looking for them, they go unseen. One greenway in Greensboro runs right behind my church and alongside a main road I travel every day and I still didn't know of its existence. So, do some exploring and hit the trails! You'll be surprised how invigorating a change of pace can be.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Runner's Cheat Sheet #2: Racing Terms

Just like most everything these days, the world of running and particularly racing is full of unfamiliar words and acronyms to the new runner as well as the experienced. Below is the second in a series of Runner's Cheat Sheets that I'll be providing. Hope it helps!
5K—race with a distance of 5 kilometers (3.1 miles)
10K—race with a distance of 10 kilometers (6.2 miles)
15K—race with a distance of 15 kilometers (9.3 miles)
20K—race with a distance of 20 kilometers (12.4 miles)
Bandit—a person who runs a race without paying the registration fee
BQ—a Boston qualifying time or a race that's a Boston qualifier
Carb-loading—eating a high-carbohydrate diet (60%-70% of the total calories) at least three days prior to a race to fill the glycogen stores
Chip time—finish time that's recorded by a computer chip typically worn on the shoe or around the ankle. Tracks each runner's time from when they cross the start line and finish line.
CR—course record
DNF—did not finish
DNS—did not start
Elite runner—a person who has reached the highest level in his sport
Gun time—finish time that begins when the start gun sounds until the runner crosses the finish line
Half-Marathon—race with a distance of 13.1 miles
Hitting the wall or bonk—a time during a race when your glycogen stores become depleted and fatigue overwhelms you. Typically happens around mile 20 in a marathon.
Marathon—race with a distance of 26.2 miles
Master—a runner 40-years-old or older is classified as a Master in the US. In other countries term used is Veteran
Negative splits—running the second half of a race faster than the first
NR—national record
Pace—the measure of speed of running; usually thought of as the number of minutes it takes to run a mile during a race
PB—personal best
PR—personal record
Road Race—running contest that takes place over streets
Taper—reducing your mileage several days to a few weeks prior to a race
Ultra—any race longer than a traditional marathon which is 26.2 miles
USA Track & Field—the national governing body for running in the US
WR—world record

Monday, February 23, 2009

Say Whatica?

Two of the most common and most painful running injuries are sciatica and piriformis syndrome. Some consider these conditions one in the same. The symptoms can be very similar but the underlying causes of the conditions are very different.

Sciatica is the irritation of the sciatic nerve usually resulting from a herniated disk or spine degeneration. A frustrating problem with sciatica is that you can't clearly see the nerve or the causes of the injury. But one thing that is clear is the pain which usually radiates down the back, to the buttocks, to the back of the thigh, and down to the outside of the knee. Sometimes it even extends all the way down to the foot.

Piriformis syndrome is pain in the buttocks resulting from a tight piriformis muscle pressing against the sciatic nerve. The symptoms of piriformis syndrome are very similar and may be indistinguishable from sciatica.

In some cases, piriformis syndrome may be causing the sciatic nerve irritation. The sciatic nerve may run underneath or through the middle of the piriformis. Contraction of the piriformis could cause enough compression of the sciatic nerve to produce nerve symptoms. This is one of the main reasons for the confusion over distinguishing true sciatica from piriformis syndrome.

Regardless of whether it's sciatica or piriformis syndrome, if you're experiencing any of these symptoms, you should be evaluated by a doctor. Common treatments inlcude ice, cross-training, physical therapy, strengthening exercises, orthodics, and/or anti-inflammatories. A good friend of mine has been dealing with an extreme case of sciatica for over a year and his doc has ordered an MRI to get a better idea of what's going on.

Adding core exercises to your regular workout routine to strenghten your back and abdominals may help keep sciatica and/or piriformis syndrome at bay.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Olympic Gold Medalist to Speak At NC Marathon!

Looking for a spring marathon? The City of High Point, NC is hosting the 2nd annual United Health Care North Carolina Marathon on May 2, 2009. The marathon, half-marathon, and family 5k feature scenic, rolling courses with a distinctive, exciting start, finish, and post-race celebration at Showplace!, home of the biannual International Furniture Market.

Proceeds benefit Foster Friends of North Carolina (FFNC), a local nonprofit organization working to improve the lives of children experiencing foster care.
Joan Benoit Samuelson, the first women's Olympic marathon gold medalist and one of the best long-distance women runners ever, will speak at the pasta dinner Friday night (May 1) before the NC Marathon, half-marathon, and 5K. Visit for dinner tickets and other ways to see Joan during race week.
Samuelson has celebrated many victories in her running career and she's running strong as ever. Last year, at age 50, she ran in the Olympic marathon trials and beat her personal goal of 2:50, setting an American record for women 50-54.
Lisa Watts, a longtime runner and writer who's serving as Assistant Race Director for the NC Marathon, shares thoughts on running, race preparations and more on her blog, On the Run.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Stretch It!

A very important but often ignored part of running is stretching. Sure it's dull and no fun and we'd all rather be hitting the road than standing still trying to touch our toes. Nevertheless, if you stretch, you actually can become a more efficient runner, experience less soreness after a run, and help keep numerous running-related injuries at bay.

Having said that, stretching is a lot more than touching your toes and if done improperly, can cause some of those injuries you're trying to prevent. Here are a few basic stretching tips to keep in mind:
Do an easy warm-up 5-minute jog; then do your pre-run stretch.
Don't bounce. The stretch should be slow and gradual.
Hold the stretch for 15 to 30 seconds
Do not "push-through" the tightness and never stretch to the point of pain. (Over time, you'll be able to stretch further than you did initially.)
Stay relaxed and breathe while you stretch.

Newer thinking about stretching involves doing active stretches before running and saving the traditional static stretches for after the run. Active stretches stretch the muscles and tissues and prepare them for your run by simultaneously stretching and strengthening the joint throughout its range of motion. During an active stretch, the muscle develops tension while the overall length of the muscles increases. Lunges and squat stretches are good examples of active stretches.

For more stretching techniques and information check out this video clip from

How to Stretch Before & After a Run -- powered by

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Get Movin' With A Workout Mix

Are you like one of the millions of Americans that are hooked on the hit TV-reality show, The Biggest Loser? I have to admit, I am. My 13-year-old daughter and I have a ritual each Tuesday night at 8:00 to sit for two hours and watch extremely overweight people learn about exercise and diet. I have to admit it really is a great show. The little fat boy that's still in my head may be why I like to root on the contestants. You see, I was an overweight child. Lost weight in high school and then discovered running and a healthy lifestyle as an adult. So, if you haven't seen it yet, check it out on Tuesday nights, 8:00PM, on NBC.

On a recent episode, they mentioned that you could order several different workout mixes on The Biggest Loser Website. So, I checked it out and actually ended up downloading songs from two of the mixes—Top 40 Hits Vol. 1 and Top 40 Hits Vol. 2. During the winter I run a lot on the treadmill and I hate it. So, I thought maybe these workout mixes would help and surprisingly enough, they did! The performers are so young and hip, that I'm familiar with only one on the whole mix, but that doesn't really matter. The music is really upbeat and I have to be careful not to start waving my arms around and shaking my bootie while I'm on the treadmill! My kids would be so embarrassed.

So, if you need to stave off boredom while on the treadmill or need some extra umph to get you going, try downloading some of these tunes!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Speed Work 101

In the posting "Stuck In A Rut" I mentioned adding speed work to your weekly runs. Speed work is exactly that, adding speed to a weekly run. This can be done as fartleks—mixing slow and fast running in a workout—or it can be more formal as in running intervals at the track. Whether fartleks or intervals the total distance usually isn't more than 3 or 4 miles. The purpose of these runs is adding the increased speed, not distance.

This posting is going to focus on running intervals. If you didn't run track in high school or college, you may be wondering what the heck is a 200m, 400m or 800m? Well, you're not alone. All I knew when I first started running intervals was that 4 laps around the track equaled a mile. To save you the frustration I went through, here's a little cheat sheet:
• 200m = 1/2 lap (~1/8 mile)
• 400m = 1 lap (~1/4 mile)
• 800m = 2 laps (~1/2 mile)
• 1000m = 2.5 laps (~5/8 mile)
• 1200m = 3 laps (~3/4 mile)
• 1600m = 4 laps (~1 mile)

Usually intervals are run at a 5K or 10K race pace. So, now you're probably wondering how in the heck do I figure out what my 5K race pace would be for a 400m? Well, you can calculate it out, or you can go to McMillan's Running Calculator and let it do the work for you. Once at the site, simply select 5K (or 10K) and enter your best time and then voila! you have every imaginable distance/time calculated out for you. It actually varies the times for middle-distance runners and long-distance runners. For example, for your speed workout (if your best 5K time is 22:00) you'd run a 400m at 1:34.7 to 1:38.8 (middle-distance runners) and at 1:36.6 to 1:42.2 (long-distance runners).

Keep in mind that it may take a few speed workouts before you're able to run the calculated speed. Also, keep in mind that you'll need to allow some time to warm up before doing your speed workout. Usually a lap or two is good. This will help prevent injury.

I think it's good to mix up the types of intervals you do each week. This keeps your body guessing. Listed below are some workouts for you to try. For the most part, the workouts increase in intensity. To begin with you might try doing workout#1 in week #1; workout #2 in week 2 and so on. Later you can mix it up however you want. Also for those who aren't savvy in track lingo, "4x800m" translates "run 800m 4 times."

Workout #1—5x1000m @5K race pace with 2-minute recovery (walk or jog) in between
Workout #2—6x800m @10K race pace with 90-second recovery (walk or jog) in between
Workout #3—Three sets: 1x1200m @ 10K race pace with 1-minute recovery, 1x400m @5K race pace with a 3-minute recovery (walk or jog) in between each set
Workout#4—4x1600m @10K race pace with 3-minute recovery (walk or jog) in between
Workout#5—8x800m @10K race pace with 90-second recovery (walk or jog) in between
Workout#6—400m @ 5K race pace (30sec recovery); 800 @ 10K race pace (90-sec recovery); 1200m @10K race pace (2-min recovery); 1600m @10K race pace (3-min recovery); 1200m @10K race pace (2-min recovery); 800 @ 10K race pace (90-sec recovery); 400m @ 5K race pace
Remember that it will take some time for your body to get use to speed work. So don't be discouraged if you aren't able to complete some of the workouts, especially early on. Just keep at it and you'll get there. Don't have a track nearby? I don't either. I found a large parking lot that makes a big loop. One loop equals 800m. Look around, maybe you can find a "makeshift" track near you too.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Running Term Cheat Sheet

I mentioned in my Febuary 12th post—"Stuck In A Rut"—that varying the intensity of your runs during the week would help improve your speed and endurance. If you were like me when I first started running, you probably felt a little lost from all the running terms and were hesitant to ask the more experienced runners you knew what the heck they all meant. Took me a while to get up to speed, but I finally became running-term literate. Hears a little cheat sheet to help you out if you need it. Keep checking the blog. Additional cheat sheets will be posted in the coming weeks.
Runner's Cheat Sheet #1: Training Terms
• Easy Run—a slow run done at a conversational pace
• Fartlek—a Swedish word for speedplay; workout includes faster running mixed with slower running; can be done in any setting—track, trail, or road
• Repeats or Intervals—type of workout where a set distance is run repeatedly with a recovery jog between; for example 6 times 400 meters with 100 meters recovery jog; typically done on a track
• Speed Work—short, fast intervals with recovery jogs between; increases your leg turnover and maximizes your stamina and race confidence
• Tempo Runs—workouts where you run at a steady pace that is around 70% to 80% of your max aerobic capacity; near race pace, but not race pace
• Hills—workouts where a runner runs up a hill fast and jogs down then runs up again; helps develop leg power and aerobic capacity
• Long Runs—longest run of the week; usually on the weekend
• Recovery Runs—slow to moderate running to recover from hard workouts or races and/or maintain aerobic conditioning
• Cross-Training—low- or no-impact activities such as swimming, cycling, and using the eliptical at the gym that increase conditioning
• Pace—the measure of the speed of running; usually quantified as minutes taken to run a mile; for example a runner may run a 7:00 per mile pace for a marathon
• PRPersonal Record or Personal Best; fastest time a runner has run for a given distance
• Junk Miles—runs used to reach a weekly or monthly mileage total rather than for a specific benefit

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Quick Tip: Scrub it Away

Is a hot shower your first destination after a hard run? If you're like me, you're probably covered in sweat, salt, dirt, and if it's summertime, bugs! Any soap will do, but next time you're at the pharmacy, pick up a body wash with an exfoliant, like St. Ives Exfoliating Apricot Scrub. Gives you a deep clean ridding your pores of all that gunk you collected on the run. Also helps smooth out the rough spots on your feet. One of my running group members says her husband uses it and is thrilled with the results.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Write Off the Pounds, Add On the Miles?

Researchers from the University of Arkansas discovered that dieters who kept a food record for three weeks or longer lost more weight than those who didn't—3.5 pounds more to be exact! They believe that keeping a food diary over the long term may be even more helpful in increasing weight loss. It's really not rocket science. Basically, when you become more aware of what you're eating, you make better decisions. Picture the angel-you and the devil-you sitting on your shoulders. If you know you've already recorded in your diary that Krispy Kreme donut you ate at breakfast, the angel-you is going to give you a big swift kick in the ear when you start to think about that Big Mac you want for lunch. Devil-you is going to try hard to win the battle, but angel-you, otherwise known as your conscience, can be a pretty strong influence and now it has hard data to back up its nagging.

This got me to thinking. If you lose more weight when you keep a food diary, will you run more miles if you keep a running journal? I log my miles on a great free online running log site I can attest to the fact that seeing the bar graph of my weekly runs is definitely an incentive to hit the road. Even though no one sees my log but me, it's still embarrassing when a weekly graph shows just one or two bars. So, maybe keeping a running log will help you log more miles. I do know, from personal experience, that keeping a log is very helpful in evaluating why you may have gotten an injury, or why you've plateaued in your running. Try logging your runs for a month or so and see what you think and let me know the outcome.

Stuck In A Rut?

Are you logging lots of miles but not seeing any improvement in speed or endurance? Come to find out it's not really the quantity of miles you log but the quality that count. If you're running the same 4-6 miles every day at the same pace, day-after-day, month-after-month, you're not challenging your body. It's acclimated to this pace and distance. Kind of similar to lifting weights in the gym. If you do the same routine over and over, you begin to plateau and see no change. You have to keep your muscles guessing what's coming next. Same thing occurs in running. Dare I say it....try running less but make the runs you do count.

Here's a sample week:
Monday: easy 4-6 mile run
Tuesday: speedwork—track repeats or fartleks (about 3 miles total)
chill or crosstrain
Thursday: tempo run (begin run with a slow 10-minute warmup; then run at least 25 minutes at just below race-pace speed; finish with a 10-minute cooldown)
Friday: easy 4-6 mile run
Saturday: long run (8-11 miles) at an easy pace (note: if you're training for a marathon, your long runs will increase in length and go beyond 11 miles)
Sunday: chill or crosstrain

Feel free to modify the schedule to fit your needs. Many runners do their long runs on Sunday. That's fine. Just try to alternate easier days with the challenging days. I used a similar schedule to the one above and finally achieved a sub 20-minute 5K and a 1:30 half marathon. Everybody's different and results will vary, but the bottom line is, if you focus your runs (each one having a specific goal) you'll definitely see good results. Give it a try!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

No, It's Not Too Early!

Thinking of running a fall marathon? Start planning! Especially if it's your first. Fall seems far away, but it's only 8 months until October. You'll need to dedicate at least 3-4 months to training, so that leaves only 4-5 months to figure out all the other details—picking the marathon, registering, making travel plans, coaxing someone into running it with you.

Running is popular now more than ever. Used to be that only die-hard runners would even consider running a marathon. But now many thousands of runners and even non-runners are contemplating running their first marathon. In 1976, only about 25,000 runners had completed a distance of 26.2 miles. In 1980, that number jumped to 125,000. 2007 graduated more than 380,000 runners from the 26.2 club.

Because the numbers have increased so dramatically—it's not uncommon to have over 30,000 runners in a race hosted by a large city—many races have put a cap on the number of runners. Don't worry, there are lots of local marathons in smaller venues that don't have these restrictions. But if your goal is to run one of the big boys, you need to be hitting their websites and checking out their registration guidelines and deadlines. Two of my running buddies and myself, missed out on The Marine Corps Marathon last year, because we waited too late to register (a week after it opened). Many fall marathons will open their registration in late winter/early spring. Check out the links at the bottom of this post for registration dates of some popular fall marathons.

Other Things to Consider:

Some other things to keep in mind when selecting a marathon include the course elevation, crowd support, transportation, other travel expenses, and a race's reputation for putting on a well organized event.

The Course:
Some races have beautiful routes, but they may be too hilly for first-timers. Or, if you're an old pro and looking to set a PR and qualify for Boston, you probably want a course that's flat and fast. Elevation information can usually be found on the marathon's website. This usually includes an elevation map showing exactly where the uphills and downhills are located. This can be very helpful in your preparation—mentally and physically.

Crowd Support:
You may not have considered this, but crowd support can be very valuable to a runner, especially for first-timers who may need that support to get through the wall. I've run the NYC Marathon three times and I have to say, from my experience, it is one of the best marathons for crowd support. The streets are lined with supporters and well-wishers through all five boroughs of the city. Chicago is another one with awesome crowd support. But, I've heard tale of other marathons where the support mainly clusters around the beginning and ending of the race with not much in between. This coupled with a flat, non-scenic route could be a deadly combination. Needing lots of crowd support or just a little really depends on the runner. I have a running buddy who wore a T-shirt with his name on it when he ran Boston, and by the time he got to the end of the race, he was ready to change his name. So, evaluate your needs as a runner and pick a race that's best fitted to you.

Travel Planning:
Pick a race that's within your budget. This doesn't always mean you have to stick close to home, just depends on your situation and resources. The first time I ran NYC, I spent about $700 on a hotel and I was only there 3 nights and that was 11 years ago. The third time I ran it, I stayed in a hostel (single room/shared bathroom on hall) on the upper West Side for only $65 a night. It was in a great part of the city right by the park and not far from the finish line.

The Forgotten Travel Expenses:
I've discovered that sometimes, it's not getting to the host city that's the problem; it's paying for transportation once you're in the city. The first time I ran Chicago, I used taxis and spent a fortune. The second time, I used the trains and spent hardly anything getting around. San Diego has a great trolley system that I used to get around while there for the Rock-n-Roll Marathon. In San Francisco, I took BART (their subway system) from the airport and it dropped me off about a block from my hotel. I also got a great deal on for my hotel room. If you book a room with a kitchenette, then you can save a ton of money by fixing your own meals or at least some of them. Or, stop by a book store and buy a travel guide that lists the restaurants by price. These guides also have helpful maps and information about local entertainment. Bargains may be harder to come by with the economy the way it is, but do some digging and you might be surprised. Also, keep in mind that many races have special early-bird registration fees, so apply early!

Marathon Calendar Sites:
There are several Websites that list the various marathons across the country as well as the world. One such site is is another good site to check for marathon dates. Listed below are just a few of the upcoming 2009 fall marathons.

A Few 2009 Fall Marathons:
The Portland Marathon—Race Day is 10/4 (Registration is open.)
Twin Cities Marathon—Race Day is 10/4 (Registration begins 4/17)
Under Armour Baltimore Marathon—Race Day is 10/10 (Registration is open.)
Hartford Marathon—Race Day is 10/10 (Registration is open.)
Chicago Marathon—Race Day is 11/11 (Registration is open.)
Columbus Marathon—Race Day is 10/18 (Registration is open.)
Marine Corps Marathon—Race Day is 10/25 (Registration begins 4/1)
NYC Marathon—Race Day is 11/1 (Application & registration info available on Website in mid Feb)
OBX Marathon—Race Day is 11/8 (Registration is open.)
Indianapolis Marathon—Race Day is 11/7 (Registration is open.)
Richmond Marathon—Race Day is 11/14 (Registration is open.)
Philadelphis Marathon—Race Day is 11/22 (Registration begins 4/1)

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Don't Drink, Just Dangle

All these years I thought you were supposed to drink Gatorade. Come to find out, all you have to do is look at it! According to an article in Psychology of Sport and Exercise, just looking at a sports drink increases exercise endurance. In a test, members of two different groups of people were asked to raise one leg. One group was shown a bottle of Gatorade and the other was shown a bottle of spring water. People in the group looking at the Gatorade were able to hold their legs up 149% longer than the group looking at the bottle of water. The study's coauthor, Ron Friedman, Ph.D. says the boost most likely occurs because of the inherent association between Gatorade and exercise. This signals the brain that it's time to work. Print and TV ads reinforce this link even more. So for your next marathon, don't drink Gatorade, just carry a stick with a bottle of Gatorade dangling from the end. Extra benefit will be the arm muscles you'll develop.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

The Runner's Palate: February Recipe

Rice-n-Bean Burritos
You'll be amazed how easy these burritos are to make and they're high in protein and low in fat—perfect for an after training snack or pack them for lunch. My kids love 'em!
1 1/2 cups water
1 1/2 cups instant brown rice (uncooked)
1 medium green pepper
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 can of corn
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon chili power
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/8 crushed red pepper flakes (optional; gives it kick)
1 15oz can of black beans
8 whole wheat tortillas
1 cup salsa
reduced-fat shredded Mexican-blend cheese
reduced-fat sour cream
Prepare the instant brown rice as directed on the box. While the rice is cooking, put the olive oil in a large skillet and saute the onion and green pepper until they are tender (just a few minutes). Add the chili powder, cumin, and red pepper flakes. Stir until combined well. Drain and rinse the beans and the corn. Then add the beans, corn, and rice to the pan and cook for about 5 minutes. Be sure to keep stirring. Wrap the stack of tortillas in a paper towel and warm them in the microwave for about 1 minute. Spoon a desired amount of rice-n-bean mixture in the center of each tortilla. If desired, top with the salsa, cheese and/or sour cream. Fold the sides and ends of each tortilla over and roll up like a burrito.
• Don't care fore black beans? Use pinto.
• Want more protein? Cut up some grilled chicken breast and add to the mixture.
• Don't have time to cook the bean-n-rice mixture? Buy a few cans of fat-free refried beans and use instead. Simply spoon out the desired amount onto a tortilla and heat it in the microwave for about 30 seconds. Then add your toppings and wrap.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Run Fat Boy Run!

The other night my 17-year-old son picked up a movie for us to watch. It was about a runner, so he thought I'd like it. The title of the movie was Run Fat Boy Run. I vaguely remember when it came out in 2007, but I never saw it. It's one of those lower-budget movies that doesn't get as much press as the big action-thrillers. Anywho, this movie is a complete riot! We both laughed and laughed. Not only is it an entertaining movie, but it has a really good message—get off your butt and make something of yourself. The movie actually isn't about a fat person, rather a slim but very out of shape guy, Dennis, who runs away from everything, including his pregnant fiancee at the alter. That all changes when the mother of his child becomes engaged to wealthy Mr. GQ who, by-the-way, is a marathon runner. Dennis decides that maybe if he runs the same marathon, he'll show her he can indeed follow through with something to completion and win her back. Catch is, the marathon is in three weeks and this smoking, drinking, out-of-shape dude is no where near being ready to run, much less complete a full marathon. I won't spoil the ending for you, but I guarantee you'll enjoy this quirky movie. Check out the movie trailer below.