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.

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