Running for a Greater Cause

During the winter of 2008, a friend of mine presented me with an opportunity that I couldn’t pass up – free entry into the Nautica New York City Triathlon. As an avid triathlete who was beginning to become addicted to the Olympic Distance, nothing excited me more than being able to race at an event that sells out in eight minutes. But, there was one caveat: I had to raise $1,500 for her brother’s non-profit organization – one I knew nothing about.

Before my friend presented the opportunity to me, I had never heard of the Neutral Development Project. Her brother founded the non-profit organization in 2006. Its main focus is to improve drinking water in “areas on the periphery of extremist spheres of influence, specifically groups most at risk of being drawn to harmful religious or political conflict” in the horn of Africa, and, at the time, its newest fundraising efforts were geared towards irrigation and agriculture in Tigray, Ethiopia. Despite the fact that I knew nothing about Tigray, the combination of my minimal knowledge about clean water issues and my burning desire to compete in New York City were enough to inspire me to start fundraising. Continue reading “Running for a Greater Cause”

The Benefits of Rotating your Running Shoes

Whether you are an athlete who enjoys running in shoes until your feet are falling out of them or you are an athlete who buys new shoes at the first sign of wear, rotating your shoes will only benefit you. Although runners are often hesitant about buying multiple pairs of running shoes at once in fear of a bill that soars into the hundreds of dollars, they often forget that an intelligent investment in the present may save them money in the future.

How Shoe Rotation Helps

The science behind shoe rotation is simple – your shoes need time to recover just like your body does. Every step that you take while running takes a toll on the muscles, tendons and bones in your legs, hips and feet. The cushioning in your shoes is there to absorb some of the shock that occurs when your feet strike the ground. So, the cushioning reduces the amount of stress that running places on the body and thus helps to prevent injury. However, as shoes endure the constant stresses of running, their ability to absorb Continue reading “The Benefits of Rotating your Running Shoes”

Running on the Beach: The Benefits & Dangers

As people travel to their favorite vacation spots during the summer months, many find themselves in areas with beaches upon which they are able to run. Before making the decision to log significant mileage on the beach, there are a variety of pros and cons to consider.

Benefits of Running Barefoot on the Beach:

1)     For those running to lose weight, beach running is much less efficient than road running. According to a study performed by The Journal of Experimental Biology, an athlete running on soft beach sand expends close to one and a half times more energy than an individual running on the road. Vacationers who want to sustain some level of fitness but who also want to decrease their training time while they are on vacation may like the idea of soft sand beach running as an efficient calorie burning workout.

2)     A Griffith University (Queensland, Australia) study concluded that landing on soft sand increases the “collision” time, or the time during which the foot sinks into the sand, and therefore reduces the overall stress of pounding on the lower extremities.

3)     The increase in collision time on soft sand also indicates that sand has less rebound than pavement, which forces the quadriceps, hip flexors and gluteus muscles to all engage more than they do on a normal run. Continue reading “Running on the Beach: The Benefits & Dangers”

A Testament to the Positive Impacts of Running with Your Children

On June 27th, I was reminded how I became so passionate about running. A mother, who was probably just shy of forty-five, ran by me (I’ll give her a pass for running on the wrong side of the road) flanked by her daughter who couldn’t have been older than ten. As they approached me, I looked them over with great interest because it’s not every day that you see a child that young going for a run. It became clear to me pretty quickly that the hop in the daughter’s step and the look of determination on her face could both be attributed to one thing – her mother’s support. Just before the two ran by, I heard the mother say, “keep it up, you’re doing a great job,” so, when the two reached me, I couldn’t help but to encourage the daughter myself. The mother was doing a beautiful thing – something that my mother and family did a brilliant job of when I was young – she was showing her daughter how enjoyable and rewarding running can be. Continue reading “A Testament to the Positive Impacts of Running with Your Children”

Why Run A Road Race?

Many athletes who consider themselves “recreational” shy away from racing. They make various justifications for their decision to not race, like ‘I didn’t start running because I wanted to race’ or ‘why should I pay twenty dollars to race if I can just go for a run on my own.’ As realistic as these justifications may seem, people who limit themselves by avoiding races miss out on a variety of benefits that come out of races.

Perhaps the greatest benefit to signing up for a road race is that it requires commitment. By paying the normally modest entry fee, an athlete’s training immediately takes on a brand new focus. So, the next time you want to hit the “snooze button” when the alarm goes off in time for your before-work run, you have your twenty-five dollar commitment looming in the back of your mind. The next time you return home from work mentally exhausted, you have your twenty-five dollar commitment reminding you that the opportunity to improve your fitness and to take a mental break by going for a run is important to you. Continue reading “Why Run A Road Race?”

The Compression Socks Debate

As the men’s 5K approaches at the U.S.A. National Track and Field Championships, it is very likely that the fastest American to ever run the 10K, Chris Solinsky, will toe the line in compression socks. When Solinksy shocked his competition to become the first American to break the 27 minute barrier in the 10K in the spring of 2010, he blazed around the track in a pair of white compression socks. And so, the debate of the compression socks began.

At the Payton Jordan Invitational, where Solinsky ran his remarkable American record, Solinsky was not the only competitor wearing compression socks. He was joined by fifth place finisher, and Canadian national record-holder, Simon Bairu. So, with two athletes wearing compression socks while achieving their respective national records, the question lingers – Do compression socks help athletes run faster?

Photo Credit: Photo Run

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Water Running a.k.a. Aqua Jogging

Nearly all runners, recreational and competitive, experience the occasional (or frequent) injury. From stress injuries to muscle strains, pulls and tightness, runners are forced to deal with a wide array of setbacks. In the event of an injury, many runners try water running as a form of alternative exercise because, in comparison with running on land, it reduces musculoskeletal stress, sustains cardiovascular fitness, and helps to maintain muscular strength.

In order to start water running, all that is needed is a six foot deep (approximately) body of water and a water running belt to aid the body in flotation. Although some athletes prefer not to use a flotation belt, it is recommended that beginners use the additional flotation to help master the form before they have to support their entire body in the water. Continue reading “Water Running a.k.a. Aqua Jogging”

Runners Should Wear Sunglasses

As the summer sun continues to beat down with more intensity and brightness, and the temperature continues to rise, it is important to think about how you are protecting yourself from the elements. People often think about the long-term effects of prolonged sun exposure with respect to their skin when the sun’s rays become more direct in the summer, but they forget about the impact of the sun on their eyes.

Oakley's M Frame Strike (R) Sunglasses

Since eyes do not respond to the sun with immediate negative feedback – like a sunburn on the skin – it is easy to forget sunglasses, day after day. However, protection from the sun is critical for the longevity of the human eye. Studies carried out by the National Eye Institute, which is supported by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, indicate that eye exposure to UV radiation increases the likelihood of cataract development. Additionally, excessive UV exposure has been linked to keratitis (inflammation of the cornea), pterygium (abnormal tissue growth in the sclera), and macular degeneration (a breakdown of the part of the retina that deals with visual perception). Sunglasses that block 100% of this UV radiation are the best way to maintain healthy eyes.

sun protection
Oakley's Plutonite® technology filters out 100% of all UVA, UVB and UVC

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