Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Live Fit, Be Fit, and Stay Fit at Any Age!

The other day, Charles walked into my studio and wanted to know if it was possible for him to run a sub 4-hr marathon. Well having just met Charles, before answering, I had him tell me a little about himself and his fitness history and running. He shared that he’s been a runner for many years. He does a little weight lifting with some dumbbells and some other equipment he has at home, but nothing major. He shared how he’s run several marathons over the years even Boston, but he hasn’t run one in about 12 years. I asked if he had a recent race time that I could use to project out a ballpark marathon time. “Hmmm, let me see. I ran a 5K back in January. I really didn’t train for it or anything. Just ran it. My time was around 25:20,” was Charles’ response. That calculated out to about a 4:06 to 4:07 marathon, so I figured with some actual training, he probably would come in at or just under 4 hours.

I asked Charles, if he had ever worked with a running coach before. He said no and that actually he’d really never used a marathon plan before. He’d just run, run, and run lots more before the race. So, I asked him why he felt he needed a coach and a plan now. Charles responded, “Well, I’m 72 and it’s been a while since I’ve run that far, so I figured, I’d better get some coaching.”

Yep, Charles is 72. He is a true inspiration. “Use it or lose it.” It’s a bit cliché but definitely true and Charles really personifies that old saying better than anyone. Charles came in for his fitness assessment a few days after our initial talk. The assessment takes about 1.5 hours and includes taking vitals, body composition measures, balance and flexibility testing, muscular strength testing, muscular endurance testing, and a VO2Max test (1.5-mile run test). Charles’ results were amazing. His resting heart rate was 55 and he scored above the 90th percentile in his age group for his VO2Max. His score is actually the “Excellent” benchmark for male runners ages 46-55. The next week, Charles began his resistance training with me in the studio. I use the stability ball and the Bosu in a lot of my exercises to help increase a client’s stability and balance. I was ready for Charles to be very wobbly, not because of his age, but more because most people don’t add a balance element to their training and as a result don’t have very good balance. Charles had no trouble. He stayed in control and never wobbled once. I was truly impressed. Now Charles may have inherited some great genes from Mom and Dad, but I think it has more to do with the fact that he’s continued to be active his entire life.

The legendary comedian, Phyllis Diller once said, “My idea of exercise is a brisk sit.” As funny as that sounds, it’s sadly what many Americans today call exercise. We’ve become a very sedentary society. Unfortunately, as we age, muscular strength, power, muscular endurance, muscle mass, muscle fiber size, muscular metabolic capacity, resting metabolic rate, bone mineral density and physical function all decrease. And even worse, body fat will increase. But guess what, with resistance training, muscular endurance, muscle mass, muscle fiber size, muscular metabolic capacity, resting metabolic rate, bone mineral density and physical function will all INCREASE and body fat will DECREASE. You don’t have to live in the gym to see these kinds of results either. A 30-minute session about 3 times a week can make huge gains in improving your fitness level. Increased fitness means a better quality of life.

Not only does exercise help improve and maintain all the aforementioned, it also helps keep your immune systems strong which enables you to fight off infections more quickly. A Duke University Medical Center research study showed that aerobic exercise is just as effective as medication in treating major depression in the middle-aged and elderly. Other studies have also shown that aerobic exercise improves cognitive abilities. The Mayo Clinic’s Alzheimer’s Blog shared in a 2008 post that the Alzheimer's Association predicts that 10 million baby boomers will develop Alzheimer's disease in the United States — that’s about one out of eight. But, that same article goes on to say that “Physical activity appears to inhibit Alzheimer's-like brain changes in mice, slowing the development of a key feature of the disease.” Other positive information included a study that observed 6,000 women age 65 and older, over an 8-year period. The study reported that the more physically active women in the group were less likely to experience decline in mental function than the sedentary women.

There’s a lot more research to be done for sure, but bottom line, exercise is critical to healthy living later in life. According to IHRSA (International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association), adults over 55 are the fastest growing segment of health club members. Even if it’s not on a long-term basis, it’s a good idea to have a personal trainer show you how to use the various machines and free weights to ensure you’re using proper technique. This will go a long way in helping to prevent injury.

Not sure where to start? Intimidated by a big gym? It can be overwhelming. ICCA (International Council on Active Aging) has developed a great checklist to help seniors find an “Age-Friendly Trainer” as well as an “Age-Friendly Fitness Facility.” Remember, you want to find a trainer that will go beyond just taking you through some exercises. You want to find someone who will design a program of exercises specific to your needs and fitness goals.

So, do like me and make Charles your idol. Live fit. Be Fit. Stay fit!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Stretching: Important and Often Ignored

How many times have you finished that long run, hopped in the car, only to hobble out once you get home. Stretching. We all know we need to do it, but few of us ever do or do so on a consistent basis. The underlying benefit to stretching is flexibility. The more flexible you are, the less tight you are. The less tight you are, the less risk of injury. Stretching helps prepare your body for exercise as well as wind-down from exercise. 

Pre-exercise stretches need to be comprised of dynamic stretches or "moving stretches." Dynamic stretching actively moves the body in similar movement patterns to those that will be used in the upcoming exercise. So for running, dynamic stretches could include a 5-minute brisk walk or slow easy jog. They could also include various warm-up running drills such as high-knee, butt kicks, skipping, side shuffles, etc.

Static or traditional stretch-n-hold stretches can be done after dynamic stretches (if a runner is still feeling tight), but static stretches are of better use after a run. I tell my runners to think of their muscles as taffy. If you take the taffy out of the fridge and try to manipulate it cold, then the candy will break. But if you let it warm-up some then when you try to stretch it, it will give and bend. Your muscles are very similar. If you try to do more traditional stretch-n-hold type stretches before a run without any type of warm-up, then you may actually pull a muscle or set yourself up for pulling a muscle during the run.

So, now you know to hold off on the static stretches until after your run, but which ones should you do and how should you do them?

The focus of this article is on post-exercise stretching. There are various theories how to do the following stretches, but what I've found to be pretty effective is to hold each stretch for 30-40 seconds. Never bounce into a stretch. Ease into it. Once you've acclimated to a particular distance in a stretch, then you can try extending the stretch a little further. Go only to the point of "feeling the stretch" which may feel a little uncomfortable, but never painful. NEVER stretch through pain. You many cause a problem that previously didn't exist or you may exacerbate an existing condition.

The following stretches are by no means the only effective stretches that can be done. These are several of the stretches I've found to be effective with myself and my runners.

Adductor muscles run along the inner thigh and help pull the legs toward your body. These muscles along with the outer thigh muscles (the Abductors) often get ignored strength-wise as well as when stretching. It's important to keep these muscles stretched and flexible as much as the more obvious running muscles such as the quads and hamstrings. Any one of the following three stretches is good for loosening up the adductors.
1. Sit with your legs stretched out to the side as far as possible. It's okay if your knees are slightly bent. Exhale as you slowly lean forward between your legs with your hands stretched out in front. Hold the stretch for 30-40 seconds, breathing evenly during the hold.
2. Lie on your back with your legs up in the air stretched out against a wall. Gradually increase the stretch between the legs. This is particularly effective after a long run in getting the blood that may have pooled in your legs recirculated helping to reduce inflammation.
3. This stretch not only helps stretch the adductors, but also the muscles in the groin and hip. Sit on your bottom with the soles of your feet touching. Grab your feet with your hands while placing your elbows on your knees. Use your elbows to gently press down on the insides of your knees to activate the stretch .

Often ignored, the Glute Medius or hip muscle is often the culprit when it comes to IT Band issues and/or Runner's Knee. A tight or weak glute medius can cause both conditions. This stretch is more subtle than the other stretches. Gravity does most of the work. Lean your right shoulder against a wall. Cross the right leg behind the left ankle. Then lean into the wall. You should feel a subtle stretch along the outside of the right hip and thigh. Repeat with your left side.
Overworked and/or tight quads can cause issues such as Patellar tendinitis which causes pain-to-the-touch below the knee.
1. To do this stretch, lie face down on a mat. Reach back with your left hand and grab your left foot. Gently pull your foot toward your buttocks. Repeat with the left side.
Note: This stretch can also be done standing, however, I've discovered a much better stretch when doing this laying down.

2. For a more advanced stretch, grab both feet at the same time pulling both feet toward the buttocks simultaneously.

Tight hamstrings and glutes are very common in runners. This can cause a domino effect of problems. Tight glutes can put more demands on the hamstrings which in turn puts more stress on the calves and so on all the way down to the plantar fascia. Keeping the glutes and hamstrings loose can help prevent a whole host of problems.
1. Research has shown that the traditional toe touch with the locked knees puts a great deal of stress on the lower back. An alternative is to place one foot on a step, wall, or car bumper. The position both hands in the fold of the leg. Looking straight ahead, slowly bend forward at the hip while at the same time pulling your toes toward you. This creates a great stretch along the hamstring without the stress on the lower back.
2. The knee hug is great for stretching the glutes. Cross your right knee over your extended left leg. Then hook your left arm around your right knee and gently pull your knee toward your chest. Repeat with the left knee and right arm.
3. This stretch is great for the hamstrings, glutes, and piriformis. Lie on your back. Bend both legs and then cross the right leg over the left knee. Reach through and grab the back of the upper left leg and gently pull it toward you. You'll feel the stretch in the hamstring and glute of the right leg. Repeat the process with the opposite leg.

Hip Flexors are one of the most overused muscle groups in the body. If you have an office job and sit most of the day, then you're flexing your hip flexors that entire time. Then go for a run after that? You can see where some problems might arise. Never stretching the hip flexors can result in a slight pelvic tilt putting stress on the lower back and causing a whole host of muscle issues.
1.  Bend down on a mat with your left knee bent and your right leg extended behind you. Place your left hand on the inside of your left foot. Your right hand should be about shoulders-width from the left hand.  Gently lean forward. You'll feel a slight stretch of the hamstring in the left leg, but the main purpose of this stretch is to open up and stretch the hip flexor of the right leg. Repeat the process with the left leg extended and the right leg bent.
2. A similar version of this stretch can be done by placing one foot on a wall or car bumper and leaning forward to stretch the opposite leg's hip flexor.

Tight lower legs can cause everything from pulled calf muscles, to Achilles Tendinitis, to plantar fasciitis. The following simple stretches can help prevent all of these issues.
1. Place the right foot perpendicular to your body. Extend your left leg out in front of you with your heel on the ground and your knee locked. Put your hands in the fold of your leg and gently bend forward while pulling your toes toward you. Repeat the process with the right leg extended.
2. Place the toe of your left foot  and both hands against a wall. Extend your right leg behind you as far back as you can while still keeping the heel on the ground. Repeat the process with the left leg extended.
3. Similar to #2, this stretch stretches the soleus (the deeper calf muscle). This stretch begins like #2, but instead of extending the right leg behind you, put the toe of your right shoe against the heel of the left foot. Then squat down as far as you can. You'll feel the stretch in the area of the Achilles Tendon of the right foot. Repeat the process with the left foot.
4. The plantar fascia is a fibrous band of tissue that runs from the heel of the foot to the ball of the foot. A tight  plantar fascia can often result in a sore heel, a sore ball of the foot or soreness anywhere in between. To stretch the plantar fascia, place your toes on the edge of a step. Hold onto a rail or use a broomstick for balance. Gently lower both heels below the horizon of the step. This stretch will also help loosen the Achilles Tendon as well as the calves.

The following stretch includes everything but the kitchen sink! This stretch will help to stretch the hamstrings, glutes, hips, calves, and Achilles Tendon. If you want bang for your buck, this stretch is for you.

To do the stretch, lie on your back with one leg in the air. Place a resistance tube, long towel, yoga strap, or belt around the raised foot. (I'm using a jump rope.) With the knee locked, gently pull the raised leg as far as you can while exhaling. To get even more out of this stretch, try slowly flexing and releasing the foot while the leg is extended.

Note: If you are new to this stretch and need a little more support, try placing the raised leg against a door frame. The flat leg will be laying through the doorway.)

Note: When adding any new physical activity to your routine, first consult with your doctor, especially if you're new to fitness.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Marathon Thoughts: A Little Comic Relief

If you've ever run a marathon, then you know that every emotion that a human can experience will surface somewhere during those 26.2 miles. From exhilaration, to insecurity and self-doubting, to exhaustion, to "I'm king of the world!", to self-loathing, to invincibility, to insanity, to jubilation--some or all are experienced by the endurance runner, especially the first-time endurance runner.

The Improv Asylum of Boston, contacted me to let me know about a cool video parody of the marathon experience they created in celebration of the Boston Marathon. Improv Asylum is a comedy theater that features improvisation and sketch comedy. They’ve been described as Whose Line is it Anyway? meets Saturday Night Live!. Opened in 1998, Improv Asylum has performed over 3,500 shows, for over 500,000 people. They’ve been featured on HBO, and they've performed in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Austin, Aspen and throughout the country.

So, check out the video below. I dare you not to laugh and I'm betting that you've experienced as least some of what this runner is going through.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Moderation. Is It That Simple?

The other day while having my morning cup a Joe, I ran across the best article I've read in a long time on the issue of diet. The headline read "Low-Fat or Low-Carb? Which Diet is Better?" (by Laura Casey of Contra Costa Times as featured in The News & Record, April 11, 2011). The article supported what I've basically believed for many years and had reinforced with my 100hrs of nutrition classes as a part of my schooling at NPIT and ACSM certification. Fats and Carbs....you need them both.

Americans are so funny when it comes to diet. Common sense is usually the last factor to come into play. We're always looking for the quick fix. The first "fix" came in the late 70s when Nathan Pritikin wrote The Pritikin Program for Diet and Fitness." All of the sudden fat was bad and carbs were the "in thing." Then the 90s brought the Atkins Diet craze which basically had everyone doing the exact opposite of the Pritikin diet. Now suddenly carbs were the enemy. (Makes you wonder if you should avoid any diet created by someone with a name ending in "kin." Don't worry there's no RunnerDudekin Diet in the works.)

The problem is that both diets do help you lose weight, but the question I always had was, "why go to such extremes?" Why do we always go to the extreme to find a solution to losing weight? I guess maybe it sells better? The article I was reading really hit the nail on the head by conveying that "...many diet experts, including local doctors, reel over the low-fat verses low-carb dieting discussion. It misses the point, they say. Americans, 60% of whom are overweight or obese, need to eat less and lower the amount of sugar in their diets, through reducing carbs and sweets. They need to eat real food, not overly processed, sugar-added treats. And they need to think about what they're eating instead of mindlessly consuming whatever tastes good."

Now, I think there's a lot that impacts that "mindlessly consuming whatever tastes good." Our hectic busy lives often dictate what we eat. Quick-n-easy often overrides cooking "real" foods at home. When families more-than-not have both parents working, preparing healthy meals can be a real challenge. I'm not making excuses, but being the parent of 3 kids and having a wife that works as well, I can attest to that challenge, not to mention the added expense of eating healthy. When it comes down to having just a few bucks left in your pocket to feed a family of five for dinner, 3 boxes of $.49 mac-n-cheese will be the choice more than not. Believe me, I've been there. Just pull-up to any fast food drive-thru menu. Check the price of that healthy grilled chicken sandwich and side salad and compare it to the cost of the regular cheese burger. And you wonder why so many low-income individuals eat unhealthy. Again, not making excuses, but just pointing out the obvious. But, I digress...back to going to extremes to lose weight.

The fact is that your body needs fat, carbs, and protein. Each plays an important role in keeping you healthy. The daily recommended allowance (DRA) of each is as follows
Carbohydrates = 45%-65% of your total caloric intake
Protein = 10%-35% of your total caloric intake
Fats = 20%-35% of your total caloric intake

Carbohydrates are your basic fuel system. They also play a part in helping regulate protein and fat metabolism. Continuous intake of carbs as well as the stored carbs (glycogen) is vital to proper functioning of your nervous system. Protein is key to tissue building and repair, a strong immune system, and it plays a role in your body's metabolism, and water-balance system. Fat can be used by the body as fuel for energy production. Fats aid in the digestion process and help transport fat-soluble vitamins important to the body, just to name a few of it's important roles.

Too much of a good thing can actually be bad. During the Atkins Diet craze researchers began to realize the effects of consuming too much protein. Your body only needs a certain amount of protein. Ingesting more will not make you have bigger muscles or make you stronger or leaner. Actually, when you consume more than you need, your body will deaminate the excess protein. That means is removes the nitrogen from the excess protein. That excess nitrogen puts a huge burden on your kidneys as they work overtime trying to get rid of it. Also, just like carbs, that excess protein has to go somewhere. Yep, similar to carbs, the protein that's not used is either stored as fat or used as energy. So if you're a sedentary person, the extra protein and/or carbs can cause you to pack on additional body fat.

Society seems to need an extreme method to latch on to to help modify their weight instead of looking at a more sensible approach (i.e., follow the guidelines and eat in moderation). For most Americans, if they make a concerted effort to reduce portion size as well as cut back on the amount of sugar and refined foods they're eating, they'd probably be very surprised to find the scales with a little lighter reading the next time they hop on them.

When I was a youngster, a meal at McDonald's consisted of a hamburger, fries and a soda. Actually that's all they had to offer. A little later they added the fish sandwich, but basically that was it. Oh yeah and the size of those burgers back then were the size that's in the kid's meal today. So 35 years ago an adult was basically eating one regular hamburger, a small fry, and a small soda. Still not all that healthy, but a lot better for you than the 1/2-pound Angus burger, large fries, and 32oz soda that many adults pickup today. Just the soda alone will eat up many of your daily calories. Did you know that the American Dietetic Association recommends that calories from sugar not exceed more than 10% of your total calories? One 12oz can of regular Coke exceeds that. Count up the number of regular soft drinks you consume each day? Then factor in your activity level? Guess where those calories are going if they're not quickly used after consumption

Almost all diets that impose strict limitations have an initially high success rate but then over time, individuals on those diets tend to gain back the weight. Why? It's hard to live a life of "I can't have that." Why not have a diet where you eat carbs, fats, and proteins, but in moderation?

So, now you know I'm big on "moderation." I'm also big on "education." Just like anything, there is a good side and a bad side. Same thing occurs with carbs, fats, and protein. This article would be 100 pages long if I shared the good and bad of each macronutrient, so make a point of reading up on each. Basically stay away from refined grains and sugary processed foods and look for whole grains and high-fiber foods. Steer clear of trans fats, try not have more than 10% of your fat calories come from saturated fats and comprise the bulk of your fat intake with healthier fats (mono- and poly-unsaturated as well as omega 3s). Explore a variety of both plant (legumes, soy, quinoa, nuts, etc.) and lean meats for protein sources. Food preparation also plays a huge role. Try baking, boiling, broiling, or grilling more than frying. Be careful with the types and amounts of condiments you use on your foods. You don't have to do without, but be a little choosier about what you put on that turkey sub or salad.

Enjoy eating. Just eat in moderation. I know that's easier said than done. I was an overweight child through middle school and lost a little over 40 lbs before going to high school. Once a "fat kid" always a "fat kid", in your head at least. Like I said, it's a life chage, not a quick fix. Make common sense choices. Get active. Start slow. Maybe just start by switching to whole grain bread, then leaving off the fries, then swapping the Coke for a Diet Coke and then maybe eventually to water. Add a 15-20 minute brisk walk to your regimen each day. Then make it 20-30. Then maybe try running. Make whatever you do a habit. Aim for losing weight over time. Quick weight loss almost never remains lost. Decreasing your total weekly caloric intake by 3500 calories (or 500 calories per day) will help you to lose 1lb a week. Just think in 5 weeks with little effort, you may be 5lbs lighter.  Whatever you do, start today. There's no better time!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

The Boy Who Wore Plaid

Last week I worked with my youngest client, Paul. He's 8. Great kid with a head full of thick vibrant red hair and a personality just as vibrant. His grandmother is a running client of mine and she asked me if I could work with Paul on running bases. Paul is on a coach-pitch little league team. We worked on some simple speed and agility drills and I talked to Paul about the leg muscles that help you move when you run. I told, Paul these muscles had to be strong to give you lots of power to get him to first base and beyond. We also talked about arm swing and how it's important to keep your arms at your sides and how they should be pumping just as much as your legs are moving. Paul was a great student, very alert, attentive and eager (a trainer's dream).

I set up a mock "home base" and "first base" and had Paul pretend to swing his bat and lay it down just as his baseball coach has instructed him and then had him blast off to first base, using all the techniques I had just taught him. Paul did great. You could see the concentration in his eyes. I noticed he was landing with really heavy feet and there was a loud clomping sound to his foot strike. So we talked about a better foot landing that would promote a smoother stride. He had no problem modifying his foot strike and soon was running with very little sound.

So, we ended that first session with a firm hand shake and off they went to a ball game. Yep, he had a game that night. We had only worked together for 30 minutes, but I was hoping I hadn't worn him out for his game. Then I remembered he was 8 not 46. LOL!

Later that night, I got a message on Facebook from Paul's grandmother. He had hit a home run and she said he blasted around the bases with his arms at his side pumping hard, a smooth stride and his legs just a moving. She could tell he was already putting his learning to good use.

After I read that FB message, I couldn't help but chuckle. When I was Paul's age, I played baseball for 2 years. Hated every minute of it. The first year we had to wear those old scruffy, itchy wool uniforms. There I was, the pudgy kid in this itchy as heck gray wool uniform out in right field, praying hard the ball wouldn't come my way. I knew from day one of practice that I was not cut out for baseball. Of course the ball that popped up and smashed into my face didnt' help any either. Somehow I made it through a second year and even one year of football before calling it quits with sports. A short career (so I thought). 

I figured I was supposed to be the fat kid in the plaid pants. You know the happy-go-lucky kid who always had a joke to tell. Back then, if you were "husky" (as they so politely called it) you had very little options for clothing. And it seemed that the designers at the time believed that fat kids looked best in plaid. Better yet, plaid pants with reinforced knees (guys you remember Toughskins from Sears?).

That's how it played out for the rest of elementary school and middle school too. My older brother played baseball and tennis while I ate twin bags of Lays potato chips on the couch after school watching General Hospital. My best friend Dennis, however, was a gymnast. I always admired his bravery to be the only male on the gymnastics team. He was probably the strongest guy in our class, but he took a lot of ribbing from the other guys.

The thing that I didn't realize at the time was that it wasn't that I wasn't athletic or didn't have athletic potential, it was that I was not a team sports person. Problem was that back then (at least where I lived) there was very little to do other than play baseball, basketball, or football.

The summer before high school I decided to lose weight. I went on weight watchers and lost a little over 40 pounds. During my freshman year we had to run the mile in PE. The previous year in 8th grade, the mile had been torture. I ran the mile in 18:20 (and yes I was wearing plaid pants). This time it was different. I ran the mile in under 8 minutes. By no means a world record, but I was astounded. For the first time, I realized I could actually do something athletic. I still didn't have the confidence to go out for cross-country or track. Even after losing weight you still feel like a fat person on the inside, even when the weight is gone.

About 5 years later I ran my first 10K. This was around the time (in the mid 80s) when road races began to gain some popularity with "average runners." I was hooked. I finally found my niche. Something athletic where I could compete against myself...or others if I wanted.

Running has taken me many places and provided me the opportunity to meet many people from 8-year-old Paul to legendary Bart Yasso. Who'd a thunk that the fat kid in the plaid pants would be teaching an 8-year old how to run bases.

Children today as well as adults have so many more opportunities to be involved in exercise. If you're a parent, be observant and foster the activities that interest your child. If you're an adult, be willing to explore different options until you find what clicks. It might be walking, running, kick boxing, or hot yoga. Doesn't matter—just get up and move!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Read RunnerDude on Active.com!

A few weeks ago, Active.com contacted me to see if I'd be interested in writing for their website. Of course I said yes. What an honor! I've been reading and using Active.com for years. It's an awesome site for fitness and running information, not to mention a huge resource on races as well as registering for them.

Below is my first article for Active.com. Hope you enjoy it. Keep an eye out for more RunnerDude articles on Active.com!

Spring is in the air and so is the pitter pat of beginning runners hitting the roads and trails across the country. Similar to the hoards of new gym goers in January excited by New Year’s resolutions to become fitter, beginning runners often hit the road at the first sign of warmer weather with similar aspirations.

According to Running USA’s State of the Sport 2010 report, an estimated 43 million total runners nationwide enjoyed the sport in 2009. That’s up 6.7 percent from 2008. Actually in the last nine years, total running/jogging participation is up 40 percent, running/walking on the treadmill is up 38 percent, walking for fitness is up 21 percent, and trail running is up 16 percent.

Many new runners head out with good intentions and admiral goals, but often find themselves overwhelmed or unenthused with the progress of their new activity. Why is that? Running is often the first choice of new fitness enthusiasts because of the low start-up costs, the fact that you can do it just about anywhere, and there are no long term dues or fees associated with running. One sport that hasn’t been hurt by the bad economy is running. Buy some shorts and a T-shirt and a good pair of running shoes and you’re good to go. How hard can it be, right?

To read the rest of the article, click here.