Friday the 13th Fitness Facts

Through my research and preparation for this blog, I have come to find that there are themes and “holidays” assigned to just about every day of the year. September 13th has been dubbed “Positive Thinking Day.” Ironically, this September 13th also happens to fall on Friday the 13th. This is the infamous day that is supposed to be wrought with luck so bad you can make 12+ subpar scary movies about it.

In honor of the 13th, and just in case you happen to be superstitious, I am going to give you 13 positive thoughts and/or fun facts about running: (disclaimer: I tried to use as many unique sources as possible—though many of these facts appeared on multiple sites. The facts are only as good as the source and are subject to change. Feel free to let me know of any necessary updates or corrections!)

runfact1

  1. The oldest person to complete a marathon was born in 1911, making him 100 years old at the time. His name was Fauja Singh of India. This marathoner didn’t even start racing until he was 89 years of age. I’m going to throw out a horrible Justin Bieber reference and tell you to never say never. When you’ve hit a plateau or are struggling to stay motivated, put your mind at ease knowing that it IS possible and it’s never too late to start!http://anytimehealth.com/blog/394816-10-interesting-facts-you-probably-didn-t-know-about-runningrunfact2
  2. Athletes dressed in red are more likely to win events than athletes wearing any other color. http://www.agoga.com.au/running-facts/runfact3
  3. It takes 200 muscles to take a step.  Pretty mind-blowing when you think about it. Makes me in awe of the physical feats that our bodies can achieve. http://halfcrazymama.com/2013/02/07/fun-facts-about-running/runfact4
  4. An average man has enough energy in his fat stores to run non-stop for 3 days at 15 miles per hour. http://www.christyruns.com/2011/07/fun-facts-about-running.htmlrunfact5
  5. Human feet can produce a pint of sweat per day. I don’t really want to test this theory…http://fitnessemu.com/40-random-facts-you-did-not-know-about-running/runfact6
  6. “Runner’s High” is a real phenomenon. From the Oxford Journal: “Ten athletes were scanned at 2 separate occasions in random order, at rest and after 2 h of endurance running (21.5 ± 4.7 km). Binding kinetics of [18F]FDPN were quantified by basis pursuit denoising (DEPICT software). Statistical parametric mapping (SPM2) was used for voxelwise analyses to determine relative changes in ligand binding after running and correlations of opioid binding with euphoria ratings. Reductions in opioid receptor availability were identified preferentially in prefrontal and limbic/paralimbic brain structures. The level of euphoria was significantly increased after running and was inversely correlated with opioid binding in prefrontal/orbitofrontal cortices, the anterior cingulate cortex, bilateral insula, parainsular cortex, and temporoparietal regions. These findings support the “opioid theory” of the runner’s high and suggest region-specific effects in frontolimbic brain areas that are involved in the processing of affective states and mood.”runfact7
  7. *Warning: this is a more disturbing/interesting fact that is well-suited for the spooky theme of today* When we run, our hearts create enough pressure to squirt blood 30 feet. Disturbing visuals ensue about how this might have been tested… Now that’s a scary movie in the making. http://blog.runningwarehouse.com/running-sport/trivia-time-25-fun-running-facts/runfact8
  8. Until 2011, German runner Horst Preisler held the world record for having run the most marathons, having run over 1,760 marathons. His club teammate Christian Hotta is the new leader with more than 1,820 marathons run. This is a sign of healthy, competitive rivalry at its best! CHALLENGE accepted! http://running.competitor.com/2013/07/news/did-you-know-running-facts-and-trivia_77648runfact9
  9. If you weighed 150 lbs., a 20-minute walk would burn about 85 calories, while a 20-minute run would burn about 225 calories. http://tribesports.com/infographics/running-the-facts-and-the-figuresrunfact10
  10. Just thinking about exercising causes your heart rate to increase in anticipation of an increased need for energy. Does this mean I can think my way to being healthier and faster? Hmm…runfact11
  11. Achieving a personal goal is the Number 1 reason why people enter into a race. What’s your reason? http://www.runningnetwork.com/RNW/index.php/mobile-news/41-news/5936-celebrate-national-running-day–infographic-from-brooks-runningrunfact12
  12. Every two hours we spend sitting reduces blood flow, raises blood sugar, and drops good cholesterol levels by 20%. Now that’s scary. http://dashburst.com/infographic/health-problems-from-sitting/runfact13
  13. Runners age more slowly. http://rebloggy.com/post/fitblr-running-fitness-runblr-running-facts/36354520043. If that isn’t motivation, I don’t know what it is.
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Beat the Heat

All of the Midwest is probably rolling their eyes at our “cool” 90 degree heat as of late (A stiff 93* as I write this). Southern California is normally spoiled by ideal weather throughout the year. This recent heat wave, even though it is not as hot as it may be other places, can still be dangerous to local athletes. If you are not used to running in any kind of heat (and even if you are), it is important to be prepared in order to avoid injury or sickness.

In excessive heat it seems most feasible to beat the heat by avoiding it. But that may not work as far as your physical fitness and training regime go. It’s hot… you still need to run… so what do you do to conquer the heat before it conquers you?

There are some more obvious options like running later in the day, early in the morning, or in the (hopefully) air conditioned sticky oasis of your local gym. As any athlete knows though, the “ideal” is not always possible. Here are some key elements I’ve gathered to help with running in the heat:
1. Stay hydrated
2. Safely build up your tolerance to heat
2a. Train at consistent times, when possible
2b. Slowly introduce your body to the heat (ie. don’t go on a 20 mile sprint in the heat)
3. Protect yourself (and your skin): cover your skin with clothing AND sunblock
3a. Sunscreen, sunglasses, a loose fitting shirt, and a hat are perfect
elements to the ideal beat-the-heat running outfit
4. Pace yourself
5. Listen to your body
5a. Now is not the time to just “push through”
5b. Be in tune with your body to catch signs of heat exhaustion & dehydration

A heat wave doesn’t mean you can’t run… it just means you have to be smarter about your approach. Be prepared, stay cool, and conquer that heat!

Running in the heat 1 Running-in-the-Heat

Refer to these articles for more information!

http://beta.active.com/health/articles/how-to-adapt-to-the-heat-for-summer-runs

http://beta.active.com/articles/running/6-tips-to-run-through-the-heat-879686

http://beta.active.com/articles/health/20-tips-to-stay-cool-on-a-summer-run

http://www.runnersworld.com/the-starting-line/running-heat?page=single

Face of the Race 7.0: Running Home, Literally

Running Home, Literally

Great news! Your mostly-unemployed Face of the Race has gotten a part-time temp job right here in beautiful Los Alamitos.  My morning shift ends at 11:30 a.m. and the office is a little shy of 2 miles away.   The moment I was told I got the gig, the first thing I thought was, “Gosh. Getting up to run at 5 a.m. is going to suck!”

(By the way…WHAT?! Who am I? Before I started running, my first thought would’ve been, “When is the latest I can get up?” and not how EARLY I have to get up. Not just that, to get up to RUN!)

I’m decidedly a morning runner.  For one, my sinuses and lungs love the moisture in the morning. Another reason is that I don’t get side stitches if I run on an empty stomach.  A big spoonful of honey and a gulp of water and I’m out the door.  If I had anything more than an apple or a banana within 4 hours before running, I am guaranteed a painful long walk soon after Mile 1.

Having said all that, I am still not dedicated enough to wake up at 5 a.m. for a run and get ready for work.  I’m just not.

But maybe I could run TO work and get ready there.

People commute on bicycles too, so I’m sure there are folks who run to the office. And sure enough, I found a few articles about run commuters and even a blog. (Super helpful http://theruncommuter.com/).  These commuters run anywhere from 5-12 miles to work. Some run one way either to or from work, some do both.  Some run daily, and some don’t.  That’s a lot of running people are doing out there!  And here I am, planning for days for a 2-mile commute. But I digress.

The top challenge of bike and run commute is the hygiene.  Some folks run to a gym close to work to shower. Most just go with doing a bird bath.  There are several tips and tricks to get yourself presentable after a sweaty workout without a shower.  I had done my share of “dry cleaning” when I used to hike up a steep incline to work years ago.  But still, personally, I don’t like the slightly icky feeling afterward.  And the thought of having a pile of sweaty clothes stewing in my bag all day just grosses me out more.  So, running to the office will not work for me.

Besides, at the pace I’m running, I might not get into the office at noon!

That leaves me with running home which is actually perfect.  Since I don’t have to be home at a certain time, I can actually add another mile to make the run a full 3.1 mile/5K.  More importantly, if I had a light breakfast before I leave the house for work, by the time I set out for home, I should not have the side stitches.  And because I don’t run every day, I can leave my dry work clothes at the office to take home the next day.  No running with cargo for me!

So, last night, I laid everything out. I would wear a t-shirt with my work slacks, my running shoes, topped off with a warm jacket and MP3 player. To get ready for work, I packed my work top, face powder, a hairbrush, a washcloth, and body spray. I doubt I’ll get too sweaty by the time I get there, but you never know. For my run, I packed my clothes, Road ID bracelet, watch, ponytail holder, hat, sun block, and water belt with my phone, ID, a few bucks, and my house key in it.

The run home didn’t go quite as well as I’d hoped. The sun was a bit too much and my shoulders started to turn a little crispy, so I headed straight home instead of staying on my training course.  I’m still quite proud that at least I got my run in. 

The best reward of today’s run commute experiment, however, happened right before I left the office.

I was making my way out the door in full running gear.  That, of course, drew a bit of attention.

“I see somebody’s ready for a work out,” someone chirped.

“Yep. I’m running home,” I said.

“You’re going home to work out?”  She’s probably thinking, then why didn’t she go home THEN change?

“No, no. I *am* running home. Literally!  I live only 2 miles from here.”

Oh, the look on their faces when they realized what I was actually going to do was just priceless.

Rumor Has It

Word on the street (and my iphone and 8 or so office calendars) says that it is… (Insert drum roll here)… FEBRUARY! Race month is finally here. We are just 22 days away from Race Day. Hopefully that is as exciting for you as it is for our Race Crew. Each day, we can see more and more of our work come together and can’t wait to see all of our hard work pay off. But if the “three weeks” jumped out to you as your mouth dropped in realization and terror because you had no idea the race was so close… don’t worry. There’s nothing to be scared of. In fact, if you’ve kept up your training regimen so far, right now might be the perfect time for you to start tapering off in the intensity of your training and workout routines. 

The type of event you are training for and your personal fitness are naturally going to be big factors that affect where you should be at in your training schedule. At this point, your training shouldn’t be about conquering all obstacles and setting new PR’s. Instead you should be focusing on maintenance and injury prevention. You’ve made it this far… you are so close. You can do this!

Check out these articles for some interesting information about how you should consider training for the last few weeks before an event:
http://www.fitday.com/fitness-articles/fitness/exercises/race-day-is-approaching-how-should-you-be-preparing.html

http://healthland.time.com/2012/10/05/final-countdown-5-training-tips-for-the-final-weeks-before-a-big-race/

Tapering off Training–5K, 10K, and more:
http://www.therunningadvisor.com/tapering.html

Tapering for a Triathlon (adapt as relevant for a Reverse Triathlon):
http://www.ehow.com/how_4479849_taper-before-triathlon.html
http://www.acefitness.org/acefit/expert-insight-article/3/797/how-can-i-train-for-a-sprint-triathlon/ 

Beginning Runner and their first 5K:
http://www.active.com/running/Articles/What-to-Do-Before-Your-5K

Happy February everyone… keep up the great work. All of your hard work is about to pay off! Be sure to check back here leading up to the race for updates and details about event parking, packet pickup, and more!

Official Charities

Aside from being a great way to motivate, exercise, and have fun, the Southland Credit Union’s Race on the Base provides an excellent way to give back through our official charities. Participants, spectators, volunteers, or anyone for that matter, can donate through our Crowdrise online fundraising site. (http://www.crowdrise.com/raceonthebase2013) Read below to find out more about the great causes that our charities support.

The Cancer Support Foundation of Los Alamitos has been a long-standing official charity of our event.  This group was developed out of the Los Alamitos Medical Center in 1981 as a way to better serve the needs of local cancer patients. To date, the Cancer Support Foundation has served over 9,000 cancer patients and their families. Provided services include practical assistance (financial assistance to the patient), resource information, hospital visitors, and support groups. The Cancer Support Foundation is entirely self-supporting, raising money through fund raisers, grants and community donations. All donated funds stay right here in our community and all of the services provided are free of charge. Many people have found it very rewarding to give back in honor of a loved one or simply to support this great effort to help patients in need.

New to our race this year, Honoring Our Fallen is an official charity with the mission of assisting Family members of Fallen Heroes during the initial shock of notification. They work with appropriate government agencies and community members to provide comprehensive support. This assistance includes linking families with the resources they need to cope with life after loss. Honoring Our Fallen envisions being able to provide national, comprehensive support to the Families of all Fallen Heroes within 24 hours of notification by local, state or federal officials. They want to see these families be honored in a way that allows them to focus on grieving with little other stressors like media involvement and public interest. Honoring Our Fallen supports military Families where support is needed, and how it’s requested. They also strive to link organizations who provide other support services – counseling, financial support, housing assistance, etc. – with Families who need it. Every situation is different and every Family is different — but they are all Heroes — and deserve proper respect during the most difficult time of their lives.

The JFTB MWR (or Joint Forces Training Base Morale, Welfare & Recreation) operates out of the base that we hold our event at. An MWR exists at installations around the world with the purpose of providing support and leisure services to military personnel, families, veterans, and civilian employees for free or at discounted rates. Each branch of the military offers a variety of services depending on resources and geographical location. Such services can include fitness centers, pools, restaurants, golf courses, and special events. The concept behind this group is to provide “the same quality of life afforded the society they protect.”

Frank McIlquham’s The Rock Club – ‘Rock for Vets’ Music Therapy Program began in early 2010. Benefit concerts have proven to be an excellent vehicle to raise community awareness and funds for therapy programs. The “Rock for Vets” Music Therapy program offers hope to veterans returning from recent deployment, Vietnam veterans and beyond who are suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and other conditions. The Therapy Program provides Veteran’s a chance to learn a musical instrument and learn to play or sing as part of a musical group.  Groups practice twice a week and as they further develop their musical skills, perform in public at a variety of locations both within the hospital and at community organizations and functions. This group provides both therapy and purpose. With the large number of Veteran’s returning from war, effective therapy programs are still in the trial stages.  The Rock Club – ‘Rock for Vets’ Music Therapy Program has had such a dramatic impact in a short period of time. The organizing committee would like to invite you to be part of the significant growth in Long Beach, California and Nationally. Your support can help ease Veterans’ transition back to civilian life after serving their country. 

Finally, LAEF (Los Alamitos Education Foundation) provides enrichment classes and extraordinary educational experiences that benefit EVERY STUDENT, at every level, in every school in the Los Alamitos Unified School District. After-School Enrichment Programs and the Summer Enrichment Institute keeps students learning throughout the year. LAEF’s support helps ensure that over 99% of Los Alamitos Unified students graduate from high school. Their programs also contribute to almost 70% of students meet all CSU/UC entrance requirements, with the percentage continuing to climb each year.

If one of these great charities doesn’t suit you, that’s ok… you are always free to (and encouraged to!) support the charity of your choice. Make a team in honor of the charity of your choice and start raising funds and awareness TODAY!

Hungry Holidays

First and foremost, if you are reading this, let me congratulate you on surviving the end of the world! We did it!

Oh, the Holidays. They are a joyous time of year. It is filled with laughter, presents, beautifully corny songs and wonderful family traditions. And then, there is always that one kind of awkwardly distant relative that you can’t help but watch to wait and see what weird thing they will do or say this year. Everyone is busy during the holidays, whether it is braving the masses at the mall to shop, taking in the seasonal sights and sounds or attending one too many ugly sweater parties. Aside from the magic of the season that brings people together (or maybe even a part of it), there is a very distinct trend that slips its way into the holidays each year.

The sights and sounds of the holidays bring back so many warm memories, but nothing, at least for me, stands so vividly in your memory than the familiar smell and taste of holiday foods. It’s the hot cocoa wafting toward your nose, the white chocolate peppermint bark dancing along your tongue, the cakes, the pies, the cookies, and the chocolate, oh the chocolate… Any semblance of a diet or normal, healthy eating habits goes right out that frosted window. Baked goods and treats are one of the easiest gifts to give and so there they are by the stocking full, sneaking into your already too-full tummy. But it’s ok… that’s what the holidays are for. They are a time to be thankful for what you have: friends and family… and delicious treats.

There are far too many holiday parties and gatherings to go to… who has the time to work out? It’s ok, there is no judging here. So you go right ahead. Take the time to fully enjoy your family time and your treats. Just remember that the “oh I’ll get to it soon” (“it” being “working out”) time is right around the corner. You can’t push it off too much longer. The 1st of the year is always the busiest day at the gym… I should know, I’m always there. As one of the first racing events of the season, our race falls at a perfect time for you to use it as a goal to shed that holiday weight and get yourself back into shape. So set your goal and start working towards it. Hit the gym or hit the pavement, whatever works for you, and I’ll see you there in 2013! HAPPY HOLIDAYS everyone!

Face of the Race 4.0: Bored on the Run

A friend of mine posted on Facebook a few days ago, asking if I would be interested in running a 10K with her in August 2013.  I haven’t even run my first 5K yet and this half-marathoner is asking me to run the 10K.  I “LOL”-ed. 

It’s not the physical challenge I am afraid of. I just don’t have the attention span to run that long. I mean a 5K (a little over 3 miles) is already a mental struggle for me. There’s no way I could sustain running for more than an hour!

The distance hasn’t been that much of an issue now. I no longer feel like a 5K is a long way.  You have now read about my physical struggle with getting off the couch to run (Link to last week’s post: https://raceonthebase.wordpress.com/2012/12/07/face-of-the-race-3-0-getting-over-the-pain/).  Just the other day, I ran from Farquhar down Los Alamitos Boulevard to the Shoppes at Rossmoor in one shot before taking a walking break. That’s one whole mile without stopping!

However, now that I’m getting more comfortable physically, I find myself struggling to keep my focus on the run.

Most people say that their minds clear while they run. While I do have bursts of clarity, most of the time I find myself thinking, “Oh my gosh! How long have I been running? I’m not even there yet? Jeebus…I’m so bored right now.”

There are all kinds of resources on the internet to help a newly minted runner with his/her mental development such as focusing on your breathing, talking to yourself, visualizing yourself crossing the finish line, and using dissociation like listening to music, daydreaming, or chatting with a friend.

I’m pretty much employing all of them in a different order on my meager 5K run just to keep me from throwing in the towel after the first mile.

1. Heel-Toe Rock Concert

I like to sing. So instead of having my playlist set to just upbeat, workout music, I put in several sing-along anthems.  I usually sing the song in my head or mouth the words while I run. But there are some occasions that I sing it out loud.  Residents of Rossmoor might have heard a broken and pitchy renditions of Grease’s “Summer Nights”, Queen’s “Don’t Stop Me Now”, or even Carly Rae Jepson’s “Call Me Maybe” passing by some mornings. It’s not an injured cat whizzing by your window.  That would be me: run-singing.

Also, while it might look like I’m having a seizure when I run, I’m probably hand-dancing or air-drumming to Sergio Mendes or The Who’s “Baba O’Riley”.  I’m okay. Really.

2. Visualizing Running Scenes

There are songs that get you to rock out and then there are songs that give me motivating visualization. Some do it through the lyrics. Like Bon Jovi’s “Living On A Prayer” – “Oh, we’re half way there. Whoa-oh, living on a prayer!”  Or Foster the People’s “Houdini” – “Focus on your ability, then they can’t get what they want to steal.”

And others just trigger imagery that motivates. Like a mental image of Captain Jack Sparrow in his adventures when I hear the Pirates of the Caribbean’s “He’s a Pirate”. (Yes. I really do have a classical piece in my playlist.)  Or the piece de resistance, Fifty Cent working out and running on a treadmill in “In Da Club” video. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5qm8PH4xAss ) The song also says, “Go, shorty! It’s your birthday!” And since I’m 5-foot-nothing, that’s my own personal cheerleading from Fifty Cent right there, yo.

3. Self Pep Talk

I watched the movie “Touching the Void” several years ago.  It’s based on a true story where the main character falls off a cliff while ice climbing and breaks his right leg. Not only did he survive the fall, but he also crawled and hopped his way out for three days to the base camp 5 miles away with all of his injuries, little water, and no food.  In the “making of” documentary, Joe Simpson, the person on which the character was based said that to get himself off the mountain, he would aim for a spot a few feet away to crawl to. Once he got there, he would aim for the next few feet and repeat the process.  Just a few feet more. Just a few feet more…

Once the music has lost my attention, my muscles start to ache, and/or my breath becomes ragged, I thought of Joe Simpson, and I would pick a spot a few yards away to focus on.  Just get to that tree. Just get to that house. Just get to the corner. Just a few yards more…

4. Story Time

I did a writing exercise in college where we had to go people watch and come up with a few sentences of story about those strangers.  So, when boredom creeps in, I’d try to think up some stories about what I see on the run to keep my brain occupied. 

If Batman was to live in that big house, where would his Bat Cave entrance be?  Can that runner’s dogs run with him on a marathon?  Are those mushrooms around that tree edible?  What if the “soccer mom” in that Escalade who almost ran me over at the stop sign was really a CIA agent hunting terrorists?  

I’m just hoping that all of these crazy stories will keep me on the road.  With the weather turning a little bit colder and rainier these days, I came close to paying up at the gym to use their treadmill just to keep my training schedule. But the thought of the massive boredom that comes with running on a treadmill is worse than facing Mother Nature.

And now that the holidays are upon us, running through the neighborhood and imagining what the holiday decorations would look like at night is definitely a great distraction.

Time to load up some rocking holiday music and hit the road!  Happy Holidays, everybody!

Face of the Race, Oakley.