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

EYE OF THE TIGER

The time has come (read this with the Rocky theme song NOT the Jaws soundtrack in your mind)… we have finally made it to the week of the race! It is almost time to celebrate with friends and family as you gracefully sprint (or walk or pant or crawl) across that final timing mat. Until that beautiful moment, remember to take care of yourself, stay healthy, don’t overdo it, and most importantly… have fun! We are so impressed by the amount of effort all of our athletes put into preparing for our race and are excited for you to embrace that feeling of accomplishment as you champion your goal and cross that finish line. Whatever reason is behind participating in our run—you are training, you are looking to lose weight, you’re aiming to complete your first 5K, 10K, or triathlon… heck, maybe you are one of those amazing creatures that just enjoys running and competing—we are so happy you have chosen our race to be a part of whatever journey you are on!

For those of you who have been following our blog since it first began, you’ll know that we selected Oakley as our Face of the Race. The original idea had been to touch base with Oakley throughout her training to gain perspective on someone’s individual journey to train for our race. Luckily for us, and probably for you too (no one needs to read all of MY ramblings on a weekly basis), Oakley happens to enjoying writing and blogging. And so a beautiful bi-weekly entry was born. For the final week of the race, we wanted to try and give our amazing Face of the Race a chance to relax and focus on her training. With that in mind, we did a more straightforward interview so she wouldn’t have to pour quite as much energy into this post. Take a read as Oakley reflects upon her journey as our Face of the Race…

Race on the Base:  Has being the Face of the Race impacted your training?

Oakley: Yes, in a way. Now the pressure is really on to not finish last!

ROTB: Have you stuck to your original training goals?

Oakley: I have done really well for the most part. I’ve hit a lot of stumbling blocks this last month or so. The cold and dry conditions sent me into the gym instead of running outdoor. And that spoiled my training a little bit. And as I finally got back on track again, I had some other health issues that interfere with my schedule.  I still have not been able to hit the entire 5K in one shot yet so I am certainly not on my target.

ROTB:  What was the distance you could run when you first started?

Oakley: A block, if I was lucky.

ROTB:  How have you improved over time?

Oakley: I can run a stretch of almost a mile now.

ROTB:  What is the hardest part of training for a run such as this?

Oakley: Breaking through my endurance limit.  I haven’t been able to push past the 15-minute mark yet. I have to switch to walking at that one mile mark. 

ROTB:  What is the easiest part?

Oakley: Just getting out the door. That’s the easiest part of all because I really do want to run.

ROTB: What is your training plan as we head into the last week before the race?

Oakley: First, I would like to get healthy again, and I’m working on that.  I would like to be able to get one more 5K in before trying to run 20-25 minutes in one stretch.

ROTB: Do you have a race day routine in mind for your first race?

Oakley: Other than figuring out how to get my wig and wings on? Not really.  I’m really excited that my friend and half-marathoner Amy is coming down from LA to do the 10K to support me at my first race! Amy was the one who inspired me to get running in the first place.  I have a few more friends who are running. A couple of them are running with their 2-month old baby! 

ROTB:  Do you have any running habits or superstitions?

Oakley: Unless the fate of USC football depends upon it, I do not have any superstitions. Kidding. My running habit is that I like to run on a mostly empty stomach, so I prefer running in the morning.  I would roll out of bed, take a big tablespoon full of raw honey, drink half a glass of water, warm-up and stretches, and then out the door. 

ROTB: Do you have any post-race plans?

Oakley: I hope to stick around and cheer on my friend Ana Cholo who is doing her first triathlon! (Fight on, girlfriend!)

ROTB: Do you think that you will continue to run after you have achieved your goal?

Oakley: Absolutely. I may not get past 5K (seriously, I really don’t have the attention span for it), but I will definitely keep running.

ROTB: Will your performance at Race on the Base impact your future running plans?

Oakley: I hope that it will motivate me to run more race. As of right now, I’ve already signed up for the Long Beach Marathon 5K!

ROTB: What is your main goal for race day?

Oakley: Don’t finish last. That’s it. That’s all!

 

Don’t forget to sign up for our race so you can join Oakley and our other amazing participants as they compete this Saturday! Register at www.raceonthebase.com. Your race entry includes a long sleeve black shirt, a medal, a cinch bag (not pictured, but it is a backpack with our logo), AND a free lunch from Johnny Reb’s BBQ. If you’re not in the mood to run, sign up for the great shirt! If you couldn’t care less about the shirt, run to get the cool dog tag medal or the convenient little bag! Still not convinced? Everyone has to eat! That settles it folks… there’s no good reason to NOT come! So we’ll see you there!

awards

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!

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.

Superstitions

Though it seems long ago, we recently wrapped up the Halloween season (which apparently means it is instantly Christmas time according to Target) that is infamously filled with urban legends and spooky superstitions. The way my brain works… I started by thinking of superstitions…and then because I’m a mild workaholic, work snuck into my innocent work-free thought process… work lead me to Race on the Base… and that lead me to remembering how I’m responsible for this blog and superstitions could be an interesting topic to discuss. And now here we are.

I used to play sports in high school (yes, by referencing this at all I am still clinging to my glory days). I am a mildly superstitious person by nature, but this is especially true when it comes to sports and my game day routine. I remember that I had certain things I had to do to warm up, specific foods I would eat, and most importantly… my game day outfits and accessories. At some point, I was apparently struck by the idea that a head band, long socks, and two wrist bands (both on the right arm, naturally) would transform me into an instant lady version of Michael Jordan on the court. I soon realized I looked completely foolish (and still shake my head as I look at pictures), but it was too late. I played great one day early on while I happened to be wearing that combination… and I never looked back. I wore that same combination every single game day from then on (don’t worry… I normally washed them first). My routine had been set, my superstitions ingrained. I couldn’t just drop this tradition since I had been playing well. It wasn’t up to ME after all, was it? Consequences from breaking superstitions are clearly out of my control. If I lost, it wasn’t because I played horribly… it was because I somehow messed up my game day routine.

Well that’s enough about me… let’s turn the tables to you. What, if any, race day routines or superstitions do you have? If you have an off day can you immediately pin point what went wrong in your routine? Tell us all about your quirks that keep you going. We won’t judge here (after all I told you about my ridiculous outfit, so I’m not sure I have room to say much)… so feel free to share your race day secrets.