SUMMER RUNNING GETAWAYS The article, “Six Summer Trail Getaways”, written by Lisa Jhung for Competitor.com describes trail races that range from 5K to half marathon in distance, held on various summer weekend days in scenic US spots. The first one occurs on June 26 and the last on August 6. Check out the article for more details; the locations are listed below
1. Pickham Notch NH
2. Lake Tahoe NV/CA
3. Sun Valley ID
4. Silverton CO
5. Munising MI
6. Bend OR
If you can’t travel to one of these places, some of which seem ideal for family vacationing, consider these other options:
1) Look for a trail race in a location within a half-day’s driving distance from your home base. If you arrive a day early you can scout the course with friends or family who don’t plan to run the race, by hiking some or all of it, plus enjoy a scenic hike together that everyone can manage to cover comfortably!
2) Hike, walk, or run the posted course, for ANY trail or road race you have dearly wanted to run, but for any reason, could not on the official day it was held (examples: registration closed, you were injured or did not qualify). Whether it’s famous , like the US’ largest race, the AJC Peach Tree Road Race ( 6.2 miles, July 4, 2016), infamous and quirky like the Dipsea Race (7.4 miles, June 12, 2016), or weirdly appealing like the Run Through Hell (10 mile and 4.8 mile races, August 13, 2016), you can experience at least some of the fun without the crowds when you visit on an ‘off-race” day.
AJC Peach Tree Road race; July 4, registration closed in March 2016 for lottery.
Largest race in US last year!
Run Through Hell 10 mile course map. Pinckney MI
https://rootsrated.com/stories/so-you-want-to-run-the-dipsea-race-insider-tips-for-newbies Link to article about unique 7.Dipsea Race run near San Francisco CA.
http://www.dipsea.org/course.php Course Map for Dipsea Race
WEEK 1 STARTS TOMORROW, MEMORIAL DAY. All the trip segments from Memorial Day through Labor Day are listed on the ITINERARY. Also on the Itinerary is a calculation of the scaled miles for each segment that you would be actually running or walking (as a ratio of the miles covered on the map) from point to point. The map mileage may be slightly more or less, and distances are rounded up or down.
You can chose a scale with a ratio of 10:1 (for each 10 real miles on the map you would run or walk 1 mile), 20:1, 30:1, 40:1, 50: 1, or 100:1. If you wish to cover the longest distance in actual miles, choose the 10:1 scale; and for the shortest distance choose the 100:1 scale. Since this is intended to be a fun activity, try to find a scale that allows you to accomplish your goals; start with a scale and if it doesn’t work, switch to another. Check the CALENDAR for the segments you are scheduled to travel each week. The Itinerary and the Calendar are separate documents that can be viewed and downloaded free. MapQuest™ images of the segment routes for several weeks are on separate PowerPoint presentations that are also available as free downloads.
This is roughly the bicycle tour itinerary used by TrekTravel (Cross Country USA tour link below), although the exact routes (roads traveled) for each segment are probably not the same. The segments are what was generated by MapQuest between points on the Itinerary. You may wish to visit the company’s website for information published about the tour, especially if you are interested in signing up, as a cycling enthusiast, to take it or another vacation trip. http://www.trektravel.com/trip/cross-country-usa-bike-tour
I also will be running/walking this virtual route, attempting to find the scale that works for me, and working to determine if this is indeed the fun alternative summer exercise activity it is intended to be. The first time for anything new will have rough patches; hopefully they can be smoothed over as we go along. Let me know your thoughts.
Download (free): EarnedRuns Run- Walk ACROSS AMERICA 2016 ITINERARY
Download (free): EarnedRuns Run- Walk ACROSS AMERICA 2016 CALENDAR
Download (free): EarnedRuns Run- Walk ACROSS AMERICA 2016 WEEKS 1-3 Segment Maps PowerPoint
I STARTED MY STREAK of running at least one mile a day on Mother’s Day, May 8, in order to have some experience before suggesting it as a summer activity. I run most days of the week so it wasn’t a big stretch, but it does require remembering my “streak duty” and getting out every single day to do it isn’t always convenient. A physical calendar hanging in a visible place that can be taken with me on travel days would help to remind and motivate. Cell phone apps don’t do that for ME, although other runners swear by them. I do keep a log of miles run on my phone, but the streak deserved something better! I settled on keeping track by marking days run consecutively on one of my EarnedRuns bibs. Not sure that it’s the perfect solution, as the specific dates are not recorded. Maybe I will change that at my next check-in with you.
If you haven’t started yet, you can begin your streak anytime. It does not need to be Memorial Day. It could be Arbor Day, Father’s Day, the Summer Solstice, July 4th, or a Wednesday of an ordinary week. It also doesn’t need to be a running streak; it could be walking, biking, or stretching, etc. Set a goal of performing a modest exercise that you think would be of physical benefit to you, that repeating daily would not cause injury, and that would generate a sense of accomplishment as you persevered in it’s performance.
NEW LABELS REVEAL ADDED SUGAR INFORMATION
Changes to FDA nutritional information labels were recently announced by that agency along with First Lady Michelle Obama. Some changes are in format (calorie per serving with be in larger font and bolded). Others reflect updated health science understanding of what’s important in the diet. The percent of calories from fat will be eliminated because the type of fat ingested, like saturated and ‘trans’ fats, is deemed more important than the amount. Yet other changes are intended to bring reality to the label. Portions will be sizes that Americans typically eat rather than what they should eat; some will go up, like for ice cream and soda, others may go down. I am not sure that we Americans ever eat less of anything; maybe some vegetable serving sizes will decrease.
The most significant change, in my opinion, is the new value for “added sugars” that will be clearly apparent for all to see. Currently the value for total sugar is provided, which includes that naturally present in a food plus that which is added by the manufacturer. The reason I think it’s so important is that firstly, we will begin to notice that sugar is an unexpected and almost hidden addition, buried in the fine type of ingredients, to many products. I anticipate being shocked.
Second, the information is likely to (or should) change consumer behavior. Many may opt to select items without added sugar or with lesser amounts, especially those not intended to be “sweet”. Last year I bought standard, sliced, factory-made whole wheat bread. It had a faintly sweeter taste (not with a good result) than I remembered our bread usually had. A check of the label showed added high fructose corn syrup! I went back to the store and realized that many brands, as well as hamburger and hot dog buns, had it or another sugar. Without a number identifying the amount, it was difficult to pick a brand based on sugar content.
Thirdly, efforts by manufacturers to reduce sugar in their food products will likely be stepped up, and that WILL BE GOOD FOR ALL OF US! My concern is that manufacturers will start adding artificial sweeteners to get around the labeling mandate, thinking we still want everything to taste relatively sweet.
Don’t expect to see new labels soon. An article by Hadley Malcolm in USA Today stated that food manufacturers “have two years — until July 26, 2018 — to change packaging to meet the new rules, which don't apply to certain meat, poultry and processed egg products.” Those “with less than $10 million in annual food sales get an extra year to comply.”
These updated labels will help runners making healthier food product choices when shopping. The bottom line is that it’s still best to start with fresh foods that are not manufactured when possible.
AN NIH FUNDED STUDY pooled data from 12 different studies performed in the US and Europe that tracked leisure time moderate to vigorous physical activity, as reported by the subjects themselves, over 17 years (1987 to 2004). There were 1.44 million total participants, ranging in age from 19-98 years old, with median age of 59 years, of which 57% were female, included in the study. There were 186,932 cancers. Published results* showed the “high versus low levels of leisure-time physical activity were associated with lower risks” of 13 cancers. The abstract is available to the public but the full study has only been published online; as of this writing I could not get access to that piece.
Melissa Healy, contact reporter, discussed the research results it in an article for the LA Times, “Exercising Drives Down Cancer Risks For 13 Cancers”. She wrote, “researchers calculated that compared with people who reported spending the least time in ‘leisure-time physical activity,’ those who got the most moderate to intense exercise reduced their risk of developing seven kinds of cancer by at least 20%”.
According to Healy's piece, the greatest benefit was seen for a certain type of esophageal cancer, adenocarcinoma (decreased risk by 42%). Cancers of the liver (risk was down 27%), lung (26%) and kidney (23%) also took a significant risk hit in those who exercised; as well as malignancy of the upper stomach (22% decreased risk) and endometrium of the uterus (21%). Reduced risk of a type of white blood cell cancer (myeloid leukemia) was also diminished, by 20%. Six cancers that showed a decreased risk of less than 20%, related to more rather than less exercise activity, were multiple myeloma (a white blood cell tumor) and malignancies that developed in the colon, head and neck region, rectum, bladder, and breast.
Leisure-time physical activity was associated with higher risks of malignant melanoma (likely exercisers spent more time outdoors and experienced more sun exposure) and prostate cancer (men who exercise more are thought to be a more health conscious group, more likely to be screened for this cancer).
The study result is important in that it provides additional evidence that exercise has a protective effect against 3 cancers in which the association with decreased risk was already suspected (breast colon, and endometrium) as well as 10 others!
The devil is in the details it’s said, and it's true of this revelation. Exactly how exercise is protective, its type,” dose”, and duration remains to be determined for each malignancy. The point in life at which moderate to vigorous exercise must start in order to be protective is another big question. It’s probably safe to say that the earlier we initiate a healthy habit the more likely we will be to continue it over the years, with adjustments for life’s stages, or at least resume it, if lapsed, when possible.
Since there are other proposed benefits to higher levels of exercise in our “leisure” time, which include help with sleep, weight control, and a sense of well being, it could be said that the best time to start is ANYTIME! So why not start NOW to get organized and begin to incorporate a significant amount of moderate level and vigorous (running) level physical activity in your life and the lives of those you love?
Your plans needn’t be perfect. EarnedRuns has 3 suggested summertime running or walking challenges that may appeal to you, fit your schedule, and help you and friends or family ease into a “healthy–level” physical activity that can become a habit into the autumn and beyond. SEE the May 15, May 21, May 22 BLOG posts for previews of these activities and more posts to come for details.
*“Association Of Leisure-Time Physical Activity With Risk Of 26 Types Of Cancer in 1.44 Million Adults” by Steven C Moore and colleagues. http://archinte.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=2521826
WALKERS: ASK FOR RACE DETAILS A RunningUSA Newsletter emailed to me included a featured item “Chesapeake Bay Bridge Event Partners With Charm City Run”. The article begins with a statement about the partners’ intent to encourage walkers to return to the race with a message of welcome. “The focus of this year’s Across the Bay 10K event is making sure that walkers, first time runners and family groups know that this event welcomes them”. Bay Bridge Day is a traditional annual event, begun in 1975, which allowed thousands traverse the bridge on foot. It's November 6 in 2016.
The state of Michigan, my home state, since 1958 has held a 5-mile Labor Day walk across the Mackinac Bridge, which spans the Straits of Mackinac* that connect Lakes Michigan and Huron. I have ALWAYS wanted to participate (lately I’ve had fewer and fewer excuses to explain why I have not) so I was instantly interested. There aren’t very many opportunities to walk on bridges that span large bodies of water; the only view we are afforded is that from a car or bus. Also, I think the state of Maryland is beautiful and is almost Michigan in ”reverse”; MI is surrounded by water (four of the Great Lakes) and MD surrounds water (Chesapeake Bay)!
According to the article, the bridge walk was not held after 2007, due to “skyrocketing costs and increasing security concerns”, which devastated many. It was reincarnated as a RUN in 2014, the "Across The Bay 10K". Now the sponsors and the Maryland (Governor's) Advisory Council on Physical Fitness wish to reassure everyone that walkers are still welcome. Charles Chester, the chair of the council was quoted in the article as saying, “"Health and wellness is so important for all residents, of all ages. Walking was adopted by the Maryland Legislature as the State's official sport and with the support of the Council because it is the one physical activity in which everyone can participate”. HOW COOL IS THAT? WALKING AS THE OFFICIAL STATE SPORT!
The problem I see is that there is hardly a mention of walkers or walking on the race website for which the link is provided!!! I do believe the sponsors message that they want walkers to feel welcome is genuine, and they will eventually proclaim it on the website. Most races are looking to boost registration numbers with the potential of increasing race revenue and prestige; walkers can provide this boost.
My reason for THIS post is to raise walkers’ awareness that they can use opportunities like this to inform the running industry as to what they as WALKERS WANT in race organization. In my opinion (I am not a competitive walker) it’s simple: walkers should request the same INFORMATION ON THE WEBSITE regarding race details as is provided to RUNNERS! Those interested in a walking competition can more easily determine which races are of interest to them; those who wish to take a more social approach can find their perfect non-competitive event.
Websites should provide specific information, just as it does for runners, about walker registration, course, start time, timing method, results reporting, and award categories. If all is the same for walkers as for runners, it is useful to spell it out in a section dedicated to walkers!
If you register for the Across the Bay 10k as a walker, provide a comment if possible. You can cut and paste the following as a comment for any event. I'LL PUT IT ON THE WEBSITE'S WALKERS RESOURCE PAGE.
“Dear Race Organizer; Thank you for welcoming walkers! I very much appreciate website information that specifically addresses walker activities in the event. Details regarding registration, course, start time, timing method, results reporting, and award categories for walkers are likely to influence whether I choose to participate in your race this year and in subsequent years, and whether I encourage others to register. If the same or different than for runners, it is very helpful to have this information clearly stated without needing to check multiple linked pages. Hope to see you at the race!”
* The image above was taken on the wide sweeping porch of the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island MI looking across the Straits of Mackinac, seen as open water between the white porch columns. The Bridge is faintly visible below the tip of the flag in the middle of the picture, just above the horizon.
MAY IS MENTAL HEALTH MONTH
An article by Vickie Leff in Endurance Magazine, posted July 2013, “RUNNING – Running and Your Mental Health: A Perfect Combination: How And Why Running Can Help You Cope With What Life Throws At You” is perfect for the month of May. It goes beyond the usual talk about endorphin release and focuses on how it helps us learn how to deal with what happens in our lives outside of running.
Because a sunny day helps to lift spirits, the accompanying image shows a picture I took at the end of a otherwise dreary mid-November day, 2015. Looking westward from the eastern shore of Lake Michigan there always seems to be the possibility of a brilliant sunset over the Lake, no matter how terrible the weather was that day. Sometimes the sun will drop down into a thin line of clear sky above the horizon, below a deck of dense low clouds, at the last minutes before sunset. It paints everything with a golden finish.
I cannot recall exactly, but there must have been precipitation that day, which lingered in the skies; it was cold and raw. When the clearing occurred all of a sudden and the sun shone, not only was there a beautiful sunset, but 3 rainbows appeared! Looking eastward, with back to the setting western sun, there they were, only partially visible when i snapped the picture, at the points where the color bands met the land. On the right and in the center you can see 2 of the bands (the other ends of the rainbows were far to the left/north of this shot). The third rainbow was very faint and much further to the north. I told everyone I encountered to turn around!!! I couldn't help but use my EXCLAMATION POINT voice. They were all looking at the west and not seeing the rainbows that were behind them. Crazy person, they must have thought.
My run that evening was epic because of those rainbows, even though I'd had little energy to get out at all, and only went a couple of dispirited miles. At the run's end I lingered a bit to see if the sun would show itself, and what a reward I received.
This story reflects the situation with running. Making the decision to train for and compete in a goal race is a courageous move. We must discipline ourselves and experience the rigors of following a plan, hoping that at it's end we are ready and able to run the race. There are some dark days to live through and challenging hurdles to clear. Then we race and receive our reward: a bright shiny finisher medal with bragging rights. But we should also look back to what we have EARNED in the process. As outlined in Ms. Leff's article, we also "won" self esteem and confidence, developed resiliency, and learned to use motivation and determination to follow through on a self-promise. That's a triple rainbow in the world of mental health!
I write this Your Memory, Dad, as you would have been 96 years old today. I love and miss you xox.
STIFF HIPS HELP PLUS AN ASYMMETRY CHECK. Are you bored with doing MYRTLs before a run but keep doing them because you realize hip mobility is key to smooth running and a more youthful feeling to your stride? Or are you faithful in performing MYRTLs and think your hips are sufficiently flexible that additional improvement is not likely to be achieved through other routines? Check out the moves suggested in the article, “5 Ways To Ease Stiff Hips” by Mackenzie Lobby Havey for the My Fitness Pal blog.
If you normally stretch passively AFTER A RUN, do the same with these. Or, a period of brisk walking beforehand to warm up the joints or performing dynamic stretches to activate muscles may be helpful. Those who have stiff knees may experience more difficulty than with MYRTLs.
Specifically, try move #2, the Cross-Legged Forward Fold as described. THEN, UNCROSS AND RECROSS YOUR LEGS SUCH THAT THE OPPOSITE ANKLE IS IN THE FORWARD POSITION. We tend to favor one position over the other depending on the degree of flexibility in each hip or the other joints of the leg. This additional move can reveal an unrecognized ASYMMETRY that is affecting your running. As with any imbalance in mobility or strength, work a bit more on the side that needs it! Plus, this is a hip flexure stretch that MYRTLs don’t work on as well.
The #3 Leg Swings consist of two MYRTL moves, so should not be new; these are dynamic and could be performed before a run. The #4 Walking Hip Stretch is similar to a piriformis stretch but performed standing up and with less stretch of that muscle achieved, so be aware that to avoid falling you may need to be next to a stabilizing fence or wall. Because you are walking when performing it, this may be a dynamic stretch. The #5 Yoga Squat can also put you off balance so find a sturdy object nearby to steady yourself as needed.
#1 Spiderman is a passive stretch as described in this article. If you alternate moving each leg forward leg without returning to the “start” position with both feet back, in such a way as to be crawling forward, it becomes a dynamic stretch.
If you are looking for more of a challenge with regard to dynamic stretching and injury prevention, some of these moves are incorporated into a YouTube presentation by Chris Bailey DPT for Twin Cities Orthopedics. In 15 minutes he describes and has an assistant demonstrate more than 20 stretches, some of which are more difficult progressions of a standard stretch, designed as well to strengthen and stabilize the body.
Seine Freeman B.S, a strength and conditioning specialist from Tri-City Wellness Center does a totally wonderful job of explaining stretching and demonstrates, with pictures, passive and dynamic routines in a PDF (free download that will be included on the EarnedRuns RESOURCES page).
Chris Bailey DPT with Twin Cities Orthopedics
ARE YOU LOOKING FOR A RUNNING CHALLENGE THIS SUMMER but want something other than training for a race (you do that the remainder of the year). Or, are you a walker wanting to get into running on a very low level to test your body’s ability to handle the extra impact? * Try streaking! It can take you beyond the summer if it's something that you decide to pursue further, even years into the future.
As stated on the official website of the Streak Runners International, Inc. and US Running Streak Association, Inc., a running streak is defined as the running of “at least one mile (1.61 kilometers) within each calendar day. Running may occur on either the roads, a track, over hill and dale, or on a treadmill.”
If you would like to have your name placed on the SRI/USRSA running streak list, you may apply for membership ($20), but your running streak won’t be listed “on either the active or retired running streak list until it has reached at least one year in duration.” The groups sell singlets and T-shirts through the website link www.clearlybranded.com/showrooms.htm.
The website also links to an article by member John Strumsky “Caution: The Dangers Of Streak Running”, which defends the activity, provides an opinion on minimum fitness requirements, and offers advice on how to remain a healthy runner despite the absence of running breaks.
I also worried about the problem of not having a rest day while considering this challenge. However, since I often walk for pleasure on rest days, perform yard and house cleanup tasks, and walk briskly for hours when running errands (that’s why this term is used I think; it can be exhausting, like running), they aren’t completely restful. It appears that such non-running activity has not yet lead to injury, so perhaps running enjoyably slowly for a mile might be similar, and not harmful on days otherwise scheduled for REST.
It’s worth a try, I decided, and STARTED A STREAK on Mother’s Day. My formula, for days when I have no other training run scheduled, is to get this “streak run” done in the very early mornings, just after rising. Since I perform passive stretching before getting out of bed most days, and I won’t need much dynamic stretching for a 1 mile run, all that’s needed is a quick cup of coffee before getting out the door. I can do MYRTL’s afterward. What if I forget the run and it’s bedtime? I have walked around and around the apartment/house to get 10K “steps” in this situation, so I’ll try to find some form of “emergency” running tactic for such times.
*WALKERS: You should not transition abruptly from only walking to streak running; you must first build up a base of combined walking and running depending on your walking history. Each day you might alternate walking and running within the mile, progressing slowly to a point where you are able to run the full mile. After that, you could confine “full-run” days to every other day to prevent injury, for the suggested 6-month period (Strumsky article). You don’t need to run a mile every day to make a streak. You can walk/run a mile every day. Or walk a mile. You won’t be eligible to be listed by the ISR/USRSA, but what does that matter in the scheme of life? Start your own walk/run streak and EarnedRuns will list your name (after 1 year)!
RUN AND WALK HAPPY!
SUMMERTIME CHALLENGES REMINDER
The May 15 BLOG post asked whether you had exercise activities planned for the summer. Most of us don’t have A PLAN! We wait until we get bored after summer has started to look for things to do other than the same-old, same-old routines. Without a plan in place, however, I know I am likely to miss getting involved in fun and unique activities, learning about them after it's too late to participate. EarnedRuns previewed 3 activities with which to challenge yourself and others during the more carefree days of this vacation season. Each is appropriate for RUNNERS AND WALKERS (bicyclists, see below).
Have you given the question any thought? Here are the three challenge activities:
1) STREAK Running
2) EarnedRuns RUN/WALK ACROSS AMERICA Memorial to Labor Day
3) 5K RACE or Race Series
The “Streak Running” activity involves simply committing to run at least 1 mile every day! You are encouraged to “streak” over the entire summer, but your streak can be continued as long as you wish to extend the time period. A BLOG post tomorrow Sunday May 22 will explain how runners can register a streak of a year or more with an official organization that serves this community.
The “EarnedRuns RUN/WALK ACROSS AMERICA Memorial to Labor Day” DRAFT itinerary was posted May 15 (and is posted today too, click here). The final itinerary, as well as some supporting material, will be placed on the RESOURCES page just before the Memorial Day, May 30 start. There’s a bit more work to do on it.
Work on the “5K RACE or Race Series” is also in progress. Since this activity has the most flexible start date and potentially a relatively short training plan for intermediate runners, it’s last on the list to be organized and posted. So stay tuned for that material!
PARTICIPATE IN MORE THAN ONE ACTIVITY
You don’t need to pick ONE. You can participate in one or ALL activities. I started my running “streak” on Mother’s Day May 8, 2016 and probably will continue it for the summer only. I like the idea of a seasonal tradition and will trial a “streak of summer streaks” this year! I also plan to make my way ACROSS AMERICA between the holidays, but have not decided on the miles scale to use. It’s possible to start with one scale and change to another as needed. This activity will be a “learn as you go” experience for EarnedRuns, and hopefully all the lessons taught this year will help improve the 2017 version. At least one 5K that’s in a fun venue is also on my list.
CYCLISTS: the STREAKING and moving ACROSS AMERICA activities could be easily performed on a bicycle. The AA itinerary was borrowed from a bicycle tour, so legitimately could be a scaled virtual trip for exercisers on wheels. If there’s a fun bicycle race, which doesn’t take much training effort, go for it to take up all 3 challenges!
INDOOR ENTHUSIASTS: All three challenge activities encourage outdoor exercise, but since summer is an indoor exercise time for many who live in hot climates, all could be done on treadmills and stationary bicycles. Also, mixing indoor and outdoor sessions is a perfectly fine strategy to stay on track with any of the challenges’ schedules.
ACSM AMERICAN FITNESS INDEX® HEALTH AND COMMUNITY FITNESS STATUS OF THE 50 LARGEST METROPOLITAN AREAS 2016 Edition. The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) and its partner/supporter Anthem Foundation developed the 2016 American Fitness Index® (AFI) report that ranks the 50 largest metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) in the US, which includes the nation’s biggest cities. What follows in this post is my attempt to summarize how the rankings were determined, how the reports for each area are constructed, and then the ranking list. You should read the actual report for the specific city/MSA that’s of interest to you; there’s too much information to easily summarize beyond the obvious fact of position in the ranking.
My general thoughts after sifting through the information, based on the indicators:
The cities or MSAs with the highest rankings are....
- not necessarily considered as having the “best” weather
- may not have the most young healthy people
- provide the most public or private parks, recreational facilities, green spaces for fun
- provide the most accessible means of public transportation, walking, or biking to work and/or play
- require physical education in schools
- have the least number of people suffering with diseases that might be avoided/helped with exercise
Making physical activity, whether for necessity or pleasure, convenient and enjoyable for persons of all ages, goes a long way in helping persons living in large metropolitan areas to become or remain fit and healthy. It is understandable that our nation's capitol has held the number one spot on the list. All tax-paying US citizens have surely "invested" in the public areas and transportation in that lovely city. When visiting i very much enjoy running the Mall and seeing the monuments or through Rock Creek Park (picture above is from this spring, it's a repeat). We might consider strongly encouraging our local and state governments to work toward creating a similar environment nearer to home, thereby allowing us to enjoy what we helped make available in Washington DC!
See the ranking and read more about the report here (below), or view the actual report and your city’s data at:
The report: This is the groups’ 9th edition. The AFI report executive summary indicates that it is “a reliable measure of community fitness for the country’s 50 largest metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs)” and a “one-of-a-kind, evidence-based analysis” of the strengths and challenges” of each. The summary also says the AFI report identifies “opportunities for improvement” in each MSA. It quotes a Washington Post story, “most lists of ‘America’s fittest cities’ are ridiculous, but the American College of Sports Medicine puts out a legit one each year that actually tells us something about people’s health habits and the opportunities their communities provide to stay fit.” The general reason for place in rankings is explained: “Cities that ranked near the top of the index have more strengths and resources that support healthy living and fewer challenges that hinder it. The opposite is true for cities near the bottom of the index.”
In looking at the 50 MSA list we are cautioned to consider not only the rank but the actual score, as some MSAs are separated by less that one full point, and there may be relatively little difference among some ranked cities (St. Louis MO is #28 and Los Angeles is #29 on the ranking but their scores are separated by 0.1 point). Also, high or low ranking does not necessarily mean that the city has excellent or poor values across all indicators.
The 32 indicators for the data index were selected by the following criteria (each must be):
Related to the level of health status and/or physical activity environment for the MSA
Measured recently/routinely, reported by a reputable agency/organization, and provided in a timely fashion
Available to the public
Modifiable through community effort (example: smoking rate is included, climate is not)
Sources include: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (behavioral risk factors and school health), Trust for Public Land (community/environmental indicators), U.S. Census/American Community Survey, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI).
Building the data index: elements were initially scored and weighted in 2008 for inclusion, then reviewed and updated in 2015. That year a new environmental/community measure, “percent within a 10-minute walk to a park” was added. Because some changes were made in the data elements of the index in 2015, comparisons can be only be made between the earlier years and 2015 and 2016 reports with individual elements that did not change in 2015. “The overall score and the sub-scores for 2015 and 2016 are NOT comparable to earlier years.”
Limitations of the AFI Data Report: Behavioral (personal health) indicators were based on self-reported data but the inherent biases should be similar across all areas and the relative differences be valid. In 2011 methodology changes and addition of cell phone sampling means data before and after 2011 are not totally comparable. FBI violent crimes data may not be comparable because of differences in law enforcement policies/ practices between MSAs. The Trust for Public Land community/environmental indicators include only resources data for cities, not for the entire MSA, and not all cities had data, which required an adjustment for the ranking calculation.
Individual MSA reports: for each MSA in the AFI, listed alphabetically, a posted report shows:
Total score and Ranking
Summary of findings based on the indicator scores:
- Areas of excellence (MSA is at or better than target goal for the indicator)
- Improvement priority areas (MSA is worse than 20% below target goal for the indicator)
- Description of the MSA (demographics)
Indicator scores (bar graphs compare MSA with “target goal” determined in 2008-2012 or 2014)
- Personal Health (number of indicators):
Health behaviors (6)
Chronic health problems (9)
- Community/Environmental (number of indicators):
Built environment (7)
Recreational facilities (8)
Policy for school physical education (1)
Park-related expenditures (1)
Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV 77.9
Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, MN-WI 76.7
Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, CO 72.6
Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, OR-WA 69.6
San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA 69.3
Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA 69.0
Boston-Cambridge-Newton, MA-NH 67.0
Salt Lake City, UT 65.5
Hartford-West Hartford-East Hartford, CT 65.3
San Diego-Carlsbad, CA 64.1
San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA 63.4
Chicago-Naperville-Elgin, IL-IN-WI 63.1
Sacramento-Roseville-Arden-Arcade, CA 62.4
Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell, GA 62.3
Austin-Round Rock, TX 59.3
Raleigh, NC 59.3
Baltimore-Columbia-Towson, MD 56.5
Richmond, VA 55.1
Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News, VA-NC 54.6
Milwaukee-Waukesha-West Allis, WI 54.2**
Providence-Warwick, RI-MA 54.2**
New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA 53.8
Cincinnati, OH-KY-IN 52.7
Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, PA-NJ-DE-MD 52.3
Cleveland-Elyria, OH 52.1
Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, FL 51.7
Pittsburgh, PA 51.3
Saint Louis, MO-IL 50.9
Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA 50.8
Kansas City, MO-KS 50.3 Jacksonville, FL 49.5
Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach, FL 48.2
New Orleans-Metairie, LA 46.0
Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, AZ 44.9
Buffalo-Cheektowaga-Niagara Falls, NY 43.6
Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, CA 42.7
Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX 42.2
Columbus, OH 41.6
Charlotte-Concord-Gastonia, NC-SC 41.4
Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, TX 40.6
Las Vegas-Henderson-Paradise, NV 40.4**
Detroit-Warren-Dearborn, MI 40.4**
Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford, FL 40.3
Birmingham-Hoover, AL 39.4
San Antonio-New Braunfels, TX 35.0
Nashville-Davidson-Murfreesboro-Franklin, TN 34.2
Memphis, TN-MS-AR 33.3
Louisville/Jefferson County, KY-IN 31.8
Oklahoma City, OK 29.5
Indianapolis-Carmel-Anderson, IN 26.6
3 ALMOST EFFORTLESS WAYS TO INCREASE YOUR RUNNING SPEED The Nike Run Club offers 3 tips from 3 coaches: warm up, play music, run with friends in an article, "Easy Ways To Improve Your Speed".
Sometimes I really, really need something SIMPLE AND EASY to try to improve my running performance. Learning new stretching moves or strength exercises requires a change in practice, which usually requires overcoming the inertia of habit, and it takes additional time to incorporate something new …time I may not want to spend. Plus, I’ve got to trust that over time the new move will provide the promised boost. The way I read this piece, the fun moves suggested will increase your speed while training. But increasing your speed in training ultimately translates into increased racing speed!
You might be thinking that you already warm up and listen to music while running, so this advice isn’t for you. However, you may want to warm up for a bit longer than usual and a bit more purposely. I often overestimate the time I spend walking briskly before a run, it’s more like a slow shuffle while I get my phone apps working properly to track the run and the audiobook to repeat the last few minutes of the previous stopping place. You also might try new music, some songs that are not old favorites but have a faster beat (180 beats per minute), which approximates the 180 steps/minute recommended as a running pace.
As far as friends are concerned, this is not as easy as it sounds. When I follow a training plan, there’s only one day scheduled for a run that doesn’t require concentration: the long easy run at week’s end. However, “streak running” as a summer (see the May 22, 2016 post coming up) or year-round activity might be a great opportunity to add more friend time!
IN THE PROCESS OF SPRING CLEANING? Are you un-cluttering your medal drawer AND find yourself wishing to do something special for someone who really needs a boost in morale? There is a way to give your race medals a second or third life, allowing you to simultaneously clean house and “do good”.
An alternative to donating money to a charity is the gifting of a hard-earned race medal to another person as an acknowledgement of their struggle to fight a serious medical or life condition. This kind of donation to a charitable organization, as well as personal donation, is discussed below. The organization's link is now on the GENEROSITY page.
If you’re an adult and have run a marathon, half marathon, or triathalon for which you received a medal (finisher or place medal) you can donate that piece of hardware to an organization called Medals4Mettle (M4M). It’s a non-profit organization, founded in 2005 by medical surgeon Steve Isenberg MD of Indianapolis Indiana, which “facilitates the gifting of “ such medals by runners from all around the world. Runners are instructed by the group to remove the original race ribbons prior to mailing the medal to a chapter. Special M4M ribbons are then attached by this “worldwide network of physicians and volunteers” who award them to “children and adults fighting debilitating illnesses who might not be able to run a race, but are in a race of their own just to continue to live their life. ” Thus the organization’s name comes from the act of honoring the “mettle and courage” of the recipients “in bravely facing these challenges”. A child can donate a medal from any race they’ve run to foster the spirit of philanthropy in the young. A specific person can be designated by you to receive your medal. Don’t have a medal to pass along but wish to get involved? You can volunteer to help at a local Medals4Medal chapter or start a chapter if none exist nearby. Find a chapter near you: http://www.medals4mettle.org/chapters.html
Personal: someone special
Although M4M allows you to designate a medal donation to a specific person, you can always directly and privately gift someone special in your life. If the “work“ of mailing a medal discourages you from taking action, the public nature of the award is off-putting, or the medal would continue to remain in your possession instead of finding a new awardee for ANY reason, simply give it yourself. Be sure to explain the gesture. Compose a note if the verbal task seems daunting. Remember that your special person need not be ill, but lonely, discouraged, or disadvantaged in some way. You might inform them, before that race, of your intent to “win” the medal in their honor. You could describe the difficulty you faced in the process of training and competing and how it relates to their situation. Most importantly be sure to reveal what about their struggle caused you to chose them as the recipient.
The rules for cleaning closets in general possibly apply to donating medals. If you have not “worn” one for several seasons, consider giving it to someone who will. The recipient can always re-gift to someone else in need, and your award will live on and on.
THE MEDALS4METTLE website link (above) is now on the GENEROSITY page. (it wasn't early this am!)
A SLIDESHOW PIECE by Sabina Grotewold on Active.com has some terrific ideas for nutritious foods and drinks that can fuel your runs or assist with your recovery this season. The recipes are included on the slides in all but one instance, so you don't need to be constantly connecting to other sites to breeze through the entire show quickly. BE AWARE THAT THE RECOMMENDED PORTION SIZES ARE NOT LARGE! Especially for snacks that contain nuts and dried fruits. Depending on your daily calorie requirements, based on body size and activity level, and what you plan eating at other larger meals, these snacks may be options for small breakfasts or lunches. I found the smoothy so mouth- watering that I immediately checked the pantry/frig for the ingredients. I'd like to try making the cookies too (slide 10).
BRIDGE TO PHYSICAL SELF
Running, walking, and fitness activities enable us to experience our physical selves in a world mostly accessed through use of fingers on a mobile device.
EARNED RUNS is edited and authored by me, runner and founder. I began participating in road races before 5Ks were common. I've been a dietitian, practiced and taught clinical pathology, and been involved with research that utilized pathology. I am fascinated with understanding the origins of disease as well as health.
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