Friday, November 24, 2006

Whitby 10 Miler

If you're looking for a challenge this weekend, check out the Whitby 10 miler. This event is a team Diabetes fundraiser.

Sunday, November 26th, 2006 at 10 am. Distances available are 10 Mile Run, 5k Run or Walk, 3k Run or Walk. Click here for all the details.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Whole fitness for Runners

When I design exercise routines for runners, I tend to focus on the muscle groups that are either under developed in runners or will help to stabilize the joints which are common issues for runners. Most runners out there pounding the pavements tend to only run and as a result have excellent cardiovascular fitness but lack balance in the muscle groups and are only one misplaced step away from an acute injury.

By focusing on strengthening and stabilizing the ankle, knee, hip and sacroiliac joints you can significantly reduce your chance of acute injury and by creating balance you can reduce the odds of chronic injury so a well designed fitness routine will have you doing more than running distance, speed, hills and drills.

Most runners would be much faster and more comfortable taking one of their runs per week and focusing on strengthening and stretching. Don't forget that the primary measures of fitness go beyond just cardiovascular ability and include muscular ability, flexibility and body composition. Unless you have all these components covered you are not reaping the benefits of good fitness that will affect your quality of life for years to come.

Of course there are also secondary components of fitness measurement but unless you have all the primary ones covered you should not worry too much about these.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Running in the Dark

As it's getting harder and harder to get outside while the sun is still up, it's a good time of year to invest in some running gear that will keep you warm and safe. Look for jackets, gloves, pants and hats that have reflective material on them. The Scotchbrite material on a lot of running gear is excellent for reflecting the light from headlights back at the driver. Being seen is the single biggest safety feature you can have. You can also get lights to attach to yourself for added protection that are well worth the $20.

Ask your friends and family to look for these features in any running gear they buy you for Christmas or to get you a gift card for your local running store. Some stores actually has a wish list that you can put items in for others to buy for you.

Talking of safety, here's a few more tips. If you're running on the road due to snow or no sidewalks, always run facing the traffic. If the driver doesn't see you, you always have the option of diving in the snowbank or bush. If they hit you from behind, you don't have that option. If it's icy, take shorter steps and slow down. If it's dark, tell someone where you are going and how long you expect to be. Try to vary your routes and times of running. When it gets very cold, always start your runs heading into the wind, you're less likely to go out too far and you'll be nice and warm coming back. Never presume that drivers have seen you, even if they are looking right at you.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Good Luck in Philadelphia

Good luck to all our friends going down to run the Philadelphia Marathon this upcoming weekend.

Remember to have fun and enjoy the experience.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

USATF study: Running raises $520 million for charity

Here's an interesting article about charity running from the USATF...

BOSTON – USA Track & Field (USATF) on Saturday named the Boston Marathon the 2002 USATF Charitable Race of the Year, while the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Team In Training was honored as 2002 Charitable Organization of the Year.

The first such awards ever given by USATF are an outgrowth of USATF’s inaugural study into charitable running in the United States.

Conducted internally by USATF – the national governing body of track and field, long-distance running and race walking – the study revealed that more than $520 million was raised for charitable causes by runners in 2002. USATF gathered data from the 20 top charitable race series/organizations and 70 of the top 100 road running/walking races, as determined by participation. The study also included a random sample of the more than 4,000 USATF-sanctioned races of all sizes.

“Our study has helped to put hard numbers on what obviously is true,” said USATF CEO Craig A. Masback. “Charity running in the United States is a major economic force, and one in which Americans promote fitness as well as charitable giving. It transforms a sport that is individual in nature into a phenomenon with a wide-reaching, positive effect on society.”

Masback announced the Charitable Race of the Year and Charitable Organization of the Year Saturday at the Boston Athletic Association (B.A.A.) Champions Breakfast, held as part of the 107th Boston Marathon, which will be held Monday, April 21.

Committed to encouraging and promoting fitness through athletics, the B.A.A. and Boston Marathon developed its program with charitable organizations in 1994. Known for its world-class international fields and tough qualifying standards, the marathon currently provides 1,100 guaranteed entries to runners who have signed up to raise money for 16 Massachusetts-area charities. The B.A.A, also encourages all qualified runners to aid in these efforts as well. Including expected 2003 receipts, The marathon’s charity program has raised $41 million to date.

Team in Training (TNT) is the largest endurance sports training program of its type in the world. It includes training for the marathon and half-marathon, among other endurance events. Participants help raise funds for blood cancer research and patient services in exchange for training programs, coaching and other support. Since TNT’s inception in 1988, 190,000 participants have raised more than $430 million, including $78 million in 2002 alone, to fund research to find cures for leukemia, Hodgkin and non-Hodgkin lymphoma and myeloma, and to provide education and patient services for patients and their families.

“Our inaugural awards are in recognition not just for the money that the Boston Marathon and Team in Training raised last year,” Masback said. “They also recognize the prominent roles and historic significance of these two organizations. The most historic and elite of U.S. marathons, Boston embodies the ideal integration of grassroots charity running and elite racing – and how the two can feed off each other and grow.

“Team in Training has been a leader in charity fundraising in the running community for years. You can now go to nearly any major road race in the United States – even around the world – and find runners proudly wearing their Team in Training shirts.”

For more information on the Boston Marathon’s charity program, visit

For more information on Team in Training, visit

For more information on USA Track & Field, visit

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Be Consistent

Consistency is the key to success with your fitness goals. Most people fail at their ambition to be fit by lacking consistency. People tend to try to do too much too soon and end up hating the activity because "it hurts". The key is to start out slowly and just be consistent. Once you're comfortable with your level of activity, then you can increase the amount of exercise. Going for the quick fix is often counter-productive.

The same can be said for diets. If you try to starve yourself you will soon quit and go back to your old habits. Start out slowly and over time reduce your bad habits and increase the good habits. This is the only way to reach your goals is by taking one step at a time and being consistent.

If you happen to miss a workout or have a bad diet day, don't give up just try to do better next time. The more you miss the target the harder it is to get back on track so try to stay as close to your plan as possible.

You also need to commit to your goals. If you are not 100% sure it's what you want and you're willing to do the necessary work to get there, you are sure to fail so think about them carefully and be realistic. If you do this much, you are much more likely to succeed.

Fitness guidelines suggest for optimal fitness you will work your cardiovascular system four to seven times, do strength training two to four times and a stretching workout four to seven times per week. That's a lot of time and effort so don't try to get there in a week. Build up slowly and carefully and you'll be much more likely to succeed as well as reduce your chance of injury.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Come and join the fun

Here's an interesting article from CW Nevius....

Who Knew? The Running Boom Re-Booms.
Once upon a time there was a running boom. It began when Frank Shorter won the Olympic marathon in 1972 and took off from there. It seemed everyone was out on the streets. Even now chubby newspaper columnists were running a 26.2 mile marathons.

(This blog completed the marathons at Boston, New York, San Francisco, Avenue of the Giants, and Pikes Peak twice. And there was really no excuse for doing Pikes Peak twice. Once was plenty.)

But then we got older, chubbier, and less motivated. Too bad about the running boom going bust.

Except for one tiny detail. That never really happened. Quietly, and with a lack of notice in the media that doesn't say much for our news judgment, the running craze has blown up again. On Oct. 22, of this year, 15,000 women participated in the Nike Marathon in San Francisco, the third straight year that it has filled its 15,000-spot roster.

But what really caught my attention was last Sunday's New York Marathon. At lot of the publicity went to cycling superstar Lance Armstrong, who finished in just under three hours (and we do mean "just'' under. His time was 2:59.36, but that's still better than the "Puffy Combs standard of 4:14.54.)

But the really remarkable story was that behind Armstrong and the elite runners were another 36,000 participants. And if you think that's an impressive number, you need to know something else. This year organizers received an amazing 93,000 applications. Perhaps reports of the demise of the running boom were premature.

In fact, says there were 382,000 marathon finishers in 2005, and that's up nearly 100,000 from 2000.

What's fueling this? We can answer in a single word -- women.

Last year roughly 153,000 women finished marathons, according to That's an increase of over a third from the previous year. As this story in Newsday says, women realized that, with a little effort, running a marathon was an attainable goal.

That's a change from the old running boom, when a marathon was seen as a grueling challenge for elite runners, most of whom were male. Thirty years ago, the story says, the New York Marathon field was 2,090 and just 88 of them were women.

The other component is the introduction of charity. Almost all of the races now make a point of including a charitable aspect. The San Francisco marathon, for example, has now raised some $40 million in three years.

Rather than competing ferociously, women often train and run in groups, and emphasize the camaraderie of the experience. They sometimes plan their race as a getaway vacation.

Race organizers, no dummies, are working the demographic. New York was one of the first to make the race an event, with bands and entertainment en route. The San Francisco race hands out chocolate when the runners pass Ghiradelli Square and even offer a free pedicure along the way.

The interesting thing is that if you look at the media accounts of the races, there is still a huge focus on the winners and very little on the thousands of other runners who completed the 26-mile course. That's funny because the new breed of marathon runners appears to have almost no interest in the winners, as they focus on their own personal experience.

As the Newsday story says, if you asked most of the New York finishers who won, they'd probably say, "Oh, I think it was a Kenyan.''

Actually, it was a Brazilian. But who cares about the winners?

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Leg Strength and Running Efficiency

Most people think leg strength is the most important factor to your running performance but it actually only a small part to your running efficiency. The leg muscles used while running on a road are the quadriceps which pull your legs forward, the hamstrings which pull your legs back and the calfs which give you lift and allow you to push off.

Most runners have strong quads and calfs just from running and their hamstrings which are usually imbalanced to their quads are stronger than the general population too. So excessively working these primary running muscles will not bring extensive benefits to your speed or comfort while running.

It's important to think about what your legs are anchored to. It's not the road, it's your core. A strong core will allow you to push yourself forwards much more efficiently. It will decrease the amount of effort it takes to propel yourself as less energy is wasted as your core does not move in the opposing direction to your movement.

So what should runners concentrate on in the gym? Work your rectus abdominus (abs) and erector spinae (lower back) evenly. You want to be balanced front to back. Also work your obliques which will help to stop the twisting motion which slows a lot of runners by wasting energy. You can also try to balance the strength between your quads and hamstrings which will help you push forwards and reduce your chance of hamstring injury.

If you're at a level where your legs and core are strong you can further fine tune your efficiency by working on your shoulders, chest and upper back to allow your arms to help in the forward propulsion.

Not only will working your core make your running more efficient, it will improve your posture and prevent injury too.