SUMMER CHALLENGE 2018 STICKER SETS
THIS YEAR EARNED RUNS STICKERS WILL BE AVAILABLE, IN LIMITED SUPPLY when bibs are requested. If you have bibs you can also request the set of stickers.
Check out the Gallery of Stickers pictures (BELOW) and on the REQUEST BIBS page.
Request options will include:
I use my stickers for MOTIVATION. It can be a struggle to get out and perform a workout each day it is scheduled. Imagining that goal sticker on my bib helps to reinforce reasons to persevere. I put in on AFTER I’ve earned it, not before.
But you may decide the reverse strategy is more effective, of putting the sticker on as your train.
Whatever works to help reach a goal is the way to go.
Let’s get out there!
RUN & MOVE HAPPY!
SUMMER CHALLENGE VI: TRAINING HELP
OBSTACLE COURSE PULL-UPS STRENGTH WORK & PROGRESSION If you are thinking of taking on this Earned Runs summertime activity you should note that the plan by Pete Williams includes pull-ups. Or you may already have been discouraged by them if you’ve started the 6-week program, as I did 3 weeks ago.
In addition to a palm blister, I quickly gained respect for the amount of strength required to master this monster of a body-weight exercise. Last year, prior to attempting this obstacle course training regimen, I had researched the topic of how to learn to perform a pull-up. It seemed like a ‘crusher’ move that would be cool to do. None of the articles helped very much, and I gave up on this vanity quest.
However, once the obstacle course training plan was logged on my calendar, every exercise needed to be performed as indicated, or swapped out or adapted to a manageable version.
The problem was that there really weren’t alternative moves offered in the strength training references I checked, which would build strength in quite the same way and lead to sufficient power to eventually enable my performance of pull-ups. There were progression suggestions, consisting mostly of versions that ‘assist’ performance. However, I felt that jumping to a progression might not be safe if I lacked strength in necessary muscle groups.
Since I started the SUMMER CHALLENGE VI, someone walking by the park in the early mornings would have seen me just hanging, straight-armed, from the bar when the program called for pull-ups. I absolutely was able to do the move ‘to failure’, but without a single success! Thus, to be true to the training program I would need more guidance, and the online search was resumed. This time I hit on the right query, and found a totally terrific set of exercises that would help train me without significant risk of injury.
“The Best Upper Body Exercises When You Can’t Do a Pull-up (Yet!)” by Amy Schlinger for Greatist, October 15, 2015 is perfect for a novice pull-up performer. Schlinger provides 12 total exercises for beginner, intermediate, and advanced levels, and a 5-phase progression sequence.
Respecting her intellectual property, Earned Runs lists the individual exercises and the duration of holds and repeats, but directs readers back to her article for all information on performance. The instruction and demonstrations are brief and adequately descriptive. It’s a wonderful resource and will be listed on the Earned Runs RESOURCES page!
1. Dumbbell holds: (30 seconds, rest 60 seconds, repeat 3 times)
2. Timed Hangs: ground (10 seconds; repeat 5 times)
3. Scap-ups: press; hold for 1 count; repeat 15 times)
4. Prone Bat-wings (acquire position, hold 10 seconds, repeat 5 times)
5. Planks (hold 60 seconds, repeat 3 times)
6. Hollow Hold Bananas (acquire position, hold 15 seconds, repeat 5 times)
7. Supine Cable Pull Down (perform move, repeat 15 times)
8. Plate Pinch (hold between thumb & index finger 30 seconds, rest 60 seconds, repeat 3 times
9. Kettlebell Bottom–up Press (perform move, repeat 15 times, switch sides)
10. Inverted rows (acquire position, no indication of # repeats)
11. Stability Ball Roll-outs (15 times)
12. Empty-bar lifts (perform move 100 times as fast as possible without losing form)
Pull-up Progression: Start with phase 1; with mastery, move to next phase
Phase 1: Isometric Holds (“Goal: hold chin above bar for 60 seconds”)
Phase 2. Negative (“Goal: 3 sets of lowering in 15 seconds”)
Phase 3: Leg Assisted pull-up (“Goal: perform 3 sets of 8 reps with the lightest band possible”)
Perform first using two legs, then one leg.
Phase 4: Partner Pull-ups (“Goal: perform a pull-up without band”)
Phase 5 Pull-ups (“Goal: perform an assisted pull-up”)
Sclinger suggests how her guide might be used and reminds us that performing any of these exercises, with or without the goal of mastering the pull-up, can benefit fitness. Her piece contains a link to another Greatist.com article that describes, “How to Do the Perfect Pull-up” by Joe Vennare, posted July 10, 2014.
Hopefully I, and some of you, will be able to report pull-up progress by the end of the plan.
RUN & MOVE HAPPY!
UPPER BODY STRENGTH/RESISTANCE TRAINING ROUTINES that can be performed standing up. Without getting down on the floor or ground, or using weights or a Swiss ball, it’s possible to perform an upper body strength workout and warm-up using stretch tubing. A gym or fitness area isn’t required either.
Sara McLarty offers two Triathlete.com articles aimed at swimmers, which demonstrate a total of 13 exercise moves, many of which simulate components of swimming strokes. It makes sense that triathletes would be interested in such workouts; it’s not easy to find an accessible body of water or pool for training when away from home base. And in the day or so leading up to a destination triathlon, getting warmed-up for the swim part of the competition while traveling could be a challenge.
The piece, “9 Stretch Cord Exercises to Improve Swim Strength and Technique” includes a split picture format to show the moves: scull, catch, finish, recovery, triceps extension, and single and double arm pulls.McLarty writes, “You can replicate an entire swim practice if you don’t have access to a pool or if you missed a swim after a busy day of work. After 15–20 minutes of these exercises, you’ll leave with a bit of sweat and a lot of fatigue in your major muscles. Do 10–15 reps of each exercise and each arm when applicable.”
In “Warm-up Without Water: 4 Stretch Band Exercises” the Freestyle Pullback, Rows, Cross-body Shoulder Raise, and Chest Fly are explained.
McLarty had me at “triceps extension”! My triceps lack tone and definition. Because in me, arm tone reflects arm strength, if there’s little tone in my arms, it’s because I haven’t been working them. Conversely with strength building, my arm tone just naturally seems to improve. It’s a great side benefit. I am convinced that someone else could copy McLarty’s exercises, write a different story, and slap on the title, “Moves to Get Super-sexy and Toned Arms for Summer”. It would be released in a different kind of magazine.
When testing the moves (looping the tube around the handle of an open door at home), I found the “Warm-up” 4 to be more easily learned and performed at beginner-level. I swim recreationally, but not competitively, and can’t evaluate them from the perspective of a triathlete. But as a runner, walker, and fitness enthusiast, these two routines seem to provide a wonderful and portable set of fresh new exercises that I can learn to use to perform at home or away, to change up or supplement my same old tired upper body strength routines.
They might be perfect for an outdoor “park bench” session after a endurance walk/run .
RUN &MOVE HAPPY!
REMEMBER & HONOR
ACROSS AMERICA CHALLENGE: WEEK 1
WEEK 1: ACROSS AMERICA 2018 STARTS MONDAY MAY 28
Segment 1: Astoria to Portland OR
Segment 2: Portland to Hood River OR
WELCOME CHALLENGERS! You are starting this virtual 3700+ mile journey in Astoria, Oregon.
The tour route trip starts in the city, but before getting on the road you might want to jump in a virtual car and take a ~30-mile ride southwest to Cannon Beach, to see the Pacific Ocean and Haystack Rock, made famous in the 1985 classic kid cult movie, “The Goonies” (released June 7 that year).
Astoria*, located in the northwest corner of the state, lies “near the mouth of the Columbia River where it meets the Pacific Ocean” according to a Wikipedia entry. This entry reports that “the city was named after John Jacob Astor, an investor from New York City” whose fur company founded a fort at the site in 1811. The route takes you along the Youngs River, through the beautiful Clatsop State Forest, and along winding roads to the Scappoose-Vernonia Highway into the city of Portland.
The Lewis and Clark Expedition wintered near Portland. You’ll come to learn that this exploration group is part of the history of quite a few places along the first part of the journey.
The next segment from Portland to Hood River follows the course of the Columbia River Gorge along a highway that separates the state of Oregon from Washington. The TREK Travel bike tour description indicates that small hikes can take travelers to many spectacular waterfalls that are near this scenic route, including Latourell Falls, Bridal Veil Falls, and Multnomah Falls.
Mt. Hood is a potentially active but currently dormant volcano about 50 miles southeast of Portland and 15 miles south of the city of Hood River (on our route). It is the tallest mountain in the state of Oregon, rising to an elevation of over 11,200 ft. Possibly you will recognize its frequently photographed image. The ‘WEST’ sticker of the Earned Runs Across America challenge displays it
Although this is a virtual tour, looking at images of and reading about the astonishingly beautiful geographic features of these two segments inspires me to put Oregon on my “Top 100 List” of places to explore in real life.
Crater Lake is another natural feature of the Cascade Range that is much farther south of the Across America route in Oregon. It is known for the clarity and blueness of its waters and seems to be worth mentioning, as long as we are traveling electronically to the area and there isn’t much effort required to take a detour to mention it.
You might end the week with a viewing of “The Goonies”, “Kindergarten Cop”, or “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, 2 and 3” that were filmed in Astoria.
RUN & MOVE HAPPY!
SEE RESOURCES page for Itinerary, calendar, and Map segments.
Check out the ACROSS AMERICA IN PHOTOS gallery too!
*Travelers may wish to read, “10 Don’t Miss Spots on the Oregon Coast” for ideas of sites to see and visit.
Lauren Bedosky provides succinct and referenced advice on the order that exercise should be performed in an article for the Under Armor’s blog, MyFitnessPal.com, “Should I Lift Weights Before or After Cardio?”
To answer the question, Bedosky says, “it depends on your goals”, and indicates the purpose of training is the key to planning a session. She presents 4 training goal scenarios: endurance event, strength/power building, weight loss, and multi-goal.
She lays out reasons for each sequence based on goals. To respect Bedosky’s work, the details will not be revealed here. Check out the article; it’s a quick read. You won’t need to take notes; the advice makes good sense, is backed up by research, and is easy to remember.
Earned Runs Note: in all the workout programs that I’ve been given for running there have been 2 constant components: a warmup first and balance work last.
The warm-up has consisted of MYRTLs (hip girdle mobility routine) and dynamic stretches. The purpose of the mobility work is to lubricate the joints, and that of the dynamic stretches is to warm up the soft tissues and muscle before working them hard. Injury prevention is the ultimate goal with a warm up, although performance will also be improved.
Balance work, usually drills performed on one leg at a time, have come last. It’s when the muscles are tired and maintaining balance is a struggle. I asked my physical therapist to explain. She told me that when the body is most tired, the need to maintain stability and balance is the greatest. At the end of a long run, she wanted me to avoid wobbling on my knee (a painful knee was the reason I was prescribed PT). The hip strength and core stability exercises I was doing were the foundation of this program and the balance work was designed to perfect it.
Bedosky’s article leads me to think that the order in which balance drills are performed may also may depend on goals. There will be a follow-up blog post soon that discusses this topic.
Whether you are working to build endurance or strength or lose weight, you may find this piece helpful with regard to the order in which you plan to perform specific exercises.
RUN & MOVE HAPPY!
SUMMER CHALLENGE VI: OBSTACLES
OBSTACLE RACE TRAINING!!! NEW TRIAL!!!
PREPARE TO ANSWER "THE CALL OF THE MUD”, OR NOT! Entering and competing in an obstacle course competition is NOT required!!! When resistance training is combined with aerobic exercise the health dividends are increased. A 6-week obstacle course training plan will be offered for those who are looking for a structured approach to incorporating strength work into aerobic sessions.
Earned Runs will feature a plan developed by Pete Williams that was released in 2013 by womensrunning.competitor.com. It was updated in October 2016, and presented in the article “Train for An Obstacle Course Race.” It’s designed to be performed outdoors.
The plan can be downloaded; it comes in 2 portions, weeks 1-3, and weeks 4-6, Monday to Sunday. The exercises are clearly meant to prepare trainees to function under conditions presented on an obstacle course: burpees, pull-ups, mountain climbers, push-ups, triceps dips, planks, squat jumps, and monkey bars, to name some.
The workouts are defined as “Park Bench Routine” (PBR), “Interval Run” (IV), “Obstacle Run” (OR), “Park/Beach/Playground” (PBP) workout, “Active Recovery” (AR), and “Rest”. The total amount of workout time, spent repeating the exercise and run sequences, begins at 25 minutes and increasingly lengthens to 65 minutes. Each workout is different.
I am currently attempting to follow this plan, to “test drive” it in order to adapt it for use by those who won’t be aiming to finish an actual obstacle course. It’s for someone like me who likes to perform strength exercises outdoors after a walk or run, in a park or area with benches or structures that can be used to perform certain moves.
I am walking the ‘run’ sections and swapping exercises that require jumping for those that do not! Trying to make it friendly for myself and other challengers who want to strengthen, but not competitively test the functional limits, of their bodies. And those who need to be kind to their backs and knees.
Williams article is a good read. He spills the “dirty little secret of these races”, that “many participants walk the majority of the course”. Having completed just one and a half weeks of the plan I know why. After the exercise sets (initially I did the burpees), my legs are so wobbly it takes a bit of effort just to walk fast during the running portions of the session before heading into the next exercise set repetition. Plus, I am trying to stall for extra time to recover.
As stated, 2018 will be a trial for this challenge. So far, I love the fact that I’m forced to fit in a number of tough exercises while still outdoors after a HIIT walking session. Even in rainy and foggy weather the obstacle course training session has been a great experience. When it's time to head home, the day’s work is DONE!
As soon as an alternative set of exercises for the plan is developed, by testing each workout, that program will be offered (roughly another 4.-5 weeks). But you don’t need to wait for the Earned Runs version; try making changes that fit your abilities and needs.
RUN & MOVE HAPPY!
summer challenge V: "BUDDY-UP!"
LONELINESS HAS BEEN A TOPIC OF TWO EARNED RUNS BLOG POSTS this month, on May 9 and May 11. The first post introduced a suggested use for Earned Runs bibs, in response to newly released, nation-wide Cigna Health survey results that revealed roughly 54% of Americans who had completed it would be considered lonely.
The survey sited lack of ‘in-person’ contact as a major factor. Research has shown that lack of social connection is a health determinant, increasing the risk of premature death, even in youth. The survey also revealed that the generations most likely to score higher on the loneliness scale were those 18-22 years old and then 23 to 37 years of age, Generation Z and Millennials, respectively.
The second post discussed the survey in greater detail as well as scientific literature which examined loneliness as a significant health risk. The risk, some scientists contend, may be more serious than obesity and could potentially reach epidemic proportions in the Unites States.
Earned Runs announced that it would trial a new SUMMER CHALLENGE to bring exercising people into closer contact with one another and encourage “in-person,” connections during less-than-highly-vigorous exercise sessions, in which conversation is possible.
In 2018, “BUDDY-UP!” will be number 5 of 6 seasonal activities featured by Earned Runs to help exercisers enjoy and benefit from the healthy vibe and outdoor opportunities of summertime.
The goal of SUMMER CHALLENGE V: “BUDDY-UP!” is to replace at least one weekly solo exercise session with one performed alongside, or on the phone in conversation with, another person, a buddy. All 14 weeks of the Memorial Day to Labor Day season. Challengers are encouraged to request a set (4) of Earned Runs bibs and to use them to record the days in which “buddy-up” sessions are accomplished.
The Cigna survey showed that persons who feel that they spend more than the desired amount of time exercising tend to be lonelier than those in whom the time is just right and even those who think this time is less than desired.
One suggestion for a “BUDDY-UP” session would be to ask someone to power walk with you at lunch-time instead of running alone, or calling a friend or loved one during that vigorous effort and asking them to also walk while you both talk.
For those with more discretionary exercise time, lacing up the shoes and heading out-the door as soon as the phone rings might work if an agreement was made beforehand to do this when either of you walks.
A buddy walk of 30 minutes would translate to ‘in-person’ contact for an amount of time. Running or jogging at a slow pace could be a buddy-up activity as long as the exercise session was conducted at a low enough effort to permit talking.
As mentioned in the May 9 post, the physical and social logistics may be too difficult to arrange such sessions for the sake of increasing connectedness.
At the end of the 14 weeks, BUDDY-UP! might be determined to have set reasonable, achievable goals and be a success, or not. I’m trying it now.
RUN & MOVE HAPPY!
NOTE: Why doesn't this challenge encourage joining an exercise class or running/walking group? In my experience classes tend to be intense, physical activity sessions in which every attendee is focused on performance. There isn't opportunity to talk at length or in-depth, one-on-one. Conversations are, by necessity, superficial.
It seems better to choose to connect with a friend or family member with whom there is the chance of a relationship, than a casual acquaintance. Especially if most contacts with significant others have tended to be text messages or social media encounters. This challenge is intended to fight loneliness, a feeling that can occur in the midst of a crowd.
THIS WALKING, RUNNING, CYCLING, OR AQUATIC-WALKING CHALLENGE HAS SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH BACKING! What’s the definition of a sports championship series sweep? It’s one team winning the first 4 straight games of a 7- game series, without a loss. Because the team that first wins 4 games total goes on to the next step or takes the championship outright, it’s the shortest path to the top. The longest toughest battles for supremacy in a sport occur when each team has 3 wins apiece, and the 7thgame will decide the move up or champion.
Why is this summer challenge called the “Series Sweep”?
It starts with science. In 2004 Dr. Hiroshi Nose at the Shinshu University Graduate School of Medicine in Matsumoto, Japan led a team of researchers who studied the effects of a 5-month long high intensity interval walking program on the fitness and health of older adults.
There were 3 groups, averaging 63 years in age, comprised of 60 men and 186 women: 1) non-walking, 2) walking at a continuous moderate level 5 pace (on a scale of 1-10 in intensity), and 3) an experimental high intensity interval group walking at a level 4 pace for 3 minutes, followed by 3 minutes of a harder level 7 pace, for 5 or more cycles. Each group was instructed to walk at least 30 minutes, in total, during these sessions and to do so at least 4 days each week.
In the high intensity walking training (HIWT) group there were significant increases in isometric knee flexion and extension (measures of thigh muscle strength) and in peak aerobic capacity for cycling and for walking, as well as a reduction in resting systolic blood pressure. These were the findings when results for HIWT group were compared with those of the moderate intensity continuous walkers.
In 2016, Dr. Nose and his group (S. Handa, S. Masuki, T.Ohio Y. Kamijo, A. Takamata) published the results of a similar study, in which middle-aged and older women who performed HIWT in WATER for only 8 weeks were compared with women who performed HIWT on LAND. The water-walkers were “able to perform exercise at a higher metabolic rate than on land due to improved subjective feelings, which for these women resulted in greater gains in physical fitness.” The AQUATIC fitness gains were the same as measured in the 2004 study: peak aerobic capacity for cycling and for walking, and isometric knee flexion and extension (measures of thigh muscle strength).
Taking the findings of this research into account, the SUMMER CHALLENGE IV was constructed for people who enjoy moderately easy walking, running, bicycling, or aquatic fitness sessions for exercise. It copies the Japanese research study protocol that led to walkers’ improvements in aerobic capacity, thigh muscle strength, and blood pressure. In it, challengers are invited to change their regular routine of continuous movement at a moderately easy pace to a high intensity interval training (HIIT) workout, over at least 30 minutes each day, for most days of the week.
Committing to this SUMMER CHALLNGE IV can provide motivation to work towards a goal that helps aerobic exercisers become stronger and healthier. To SWEEP this ‘championship series’, by Earned Runs rules, means committing to the minimum 30-minute HIIT protocol on at least 4 of 7 days of the week, EACH WEEK from May 28 to September 5 without any ‘losses’ (skipped weeks). That’s only 14 weeks*.
Land walkers, as well as runners and bicyclists and water walker can participate. It’s a matter of spending 3 minutes moving at a moderately easy level of intensity followed by 3 minutes at a more vigorous intensity and repeating the 6-minute routine at least 5 times to reach at least 30 minutes of total effort.
By the way, the original research paper by Dr. Nose and his research colleagues was published in 2007. A follow-up paper in 2014 showed that middle-aged and older persons were able to adhere to this protocol successfully for 22 MONTHS!!! Although the Earned Runs SUMMER CHALLENGE IV requires several months commitment, it is do-able by young and old, and a reasonable goal, proven by scientific research!
REQUEST FREE EARNED RUNS BIBS NOW; you’ll receive 4, which allows you to ask someone in your family or at work to join you. Or, keep all 4 yourself and encourage the others to request their own free bibs. Keep track of the days you followed the protocol on your bib.
SUMMER CHALLENGE IV: SUMMER SERIES SWEEP
Perform the High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) Protocol 4 of 7 days each week, from May 28 to September 5.
Warm-up: 5 minutes easy walking, running, bicycling, or water-walking
Cycle 1: High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)
First 3 minutes: move at LEVEL 4 PACE, on a scale of 1-10 in intensity, 10 being highest intensity
Next 3 minutes, move at a harder, LEVEL 7 PACE
REPEATcycle 1 at least 4 more times (for a total of 5 or MORE cycles),
to equal at least 30 minutes HIIT
Cool-down: 5 minutes easy walking, running, bicycling, or swim-walking
You can do this! Try for every other day at first, as your legs may be a bit sore afterward. A calendar and protocol are available for download, and also on the RESOURCES* page.
RUN & MOVE HAPPY!
*NOTE: The original Japanese study continued about 22 weeks; Challengers can opt to add an additional 8 weeks to this summer program by finishing on October 29, 2018, to parallel the 2004 research study protocol that ran from May 18 to October 15. The water-walking extended only 8 weeks, so a shorter course may be adopted in that exercise, as desired.
(updated from June 24, 2017)
FASTEST 5K OR ‘SUMMER OF FUN 5K’S. OPTION ONE: Consider making your summer challenge all about being FAST. Spend these next few months training to turn in a personal best finish time in a 5K race near summer’s end. At least a PR in your own version of 'modern history,' This is not a challenge to recreate the glory days of high school cross-country team fame.
Why try for a PR? Because it’s difficult to IMPROVE on a previous best in so many other areas of life, that being able to do so in running would be monumentally uplifting and encouraging. Well, maybe at least a confidence booster.
Chances of success in this challenge are greater if you have not previously incorporated speed work, hill repeats, tempo runs, or long runs into your training plan for this distance race. Come to think of it, if you have never specifically trained for a 5k you have the potential to be faster. Adding strength, balance, mobility, and flexibility work will likely contribute to a speedier you also.
“Fastest 5K” plan:
Learn from my mistake! If over 40, add extra days to the training week, like champion, now retired, marathoner Meb Keflezighi advises, who stretches his to 9 days. Don’t double up on workouts if you miss a day. If you begin to hurt, stop running, re-evaluate, and take sufficient time off to prevent further injury.
OPTION TWO: “Summer Full of Fun 5ks” plan:
This is for runners and walkers who are regularly covering training distances over 4 miles. Identify races all through the summer that you wish to walk or run just because they promise to be enjoyable: the theme is fun or has meaning, the location is unique or amazing, the date is one of general celebration, or others are available to join you, etc. Continue to practice safe running and walking training. The object is to finish not punish, to fill the summer months with personal or organized fun 5ks.
Earned Runs will post items that offer training advice that for faster running and walking performance and highlight fun races when possible.
REQUEST Earned Runs bibs to plan and custom design your own 5k's.
RUN & MOVE HAPPY!
*Hal Higdon offers these options:
RUN/WALK/BIKE ACROSS AMERICA FROM SEA TO SHINING SEA
Start: Memorial Day, May 28, at Astoria OR
Finish: Labor Day, September 3, at Portland ME
Rather not train all summer for yet another a long-distance race in the fall? Bored by running without a purpose or destination? Hoping to involve your friends or children in running, walking, or cycling with you, and sharing a goal?
Take a VIRTUAL journey ACROSS AMERICA on foot or bicycle, approximately 3,730 miles long, in this challenge! Enjoy the ‘sights’, learn the geography and history of parts of America you’ve may never have visited. Use this challenge to hold yourself to a fitness schedule of RUNNING, WALKING, and/or CYCLING all through the summer months. Earned Runs has created a calendar adapted from a bicycle tour (see *acknowledgment) that involves committing to 2 to 3 sessions/week.
Participants will choose how they wish to “scale” the miles (1 real mile run/ walked = 10, 20, 30, 40, 50 or 100 miles on the map). There is an itinerary chart that shows the distance to be traveled for each of 39 segments over 15 weeks by each scale calculation.
The scale system was created so that each person could run/walk/bike the entire ‘distance’ according to their fitness level. Persons of different abilities can participate in the challenge together, by each using a different scale.
Segment 1 takes travelers from Astoria OR to Portland OR. The actual distance on the map is roughly 100 MILES. The distances participants can choose to run/walk on this segment are:
- 10 miles (10:1 ratio; for every 10 miles on the map, you run/walk 1 mile)
- 5 miles (20:1 ratio; for every 20 miles on the map, you run/walk 1 mile)
- 3.3 miles (30:1 ratio; for every 30 miles on the map you run/walk 1 mile)
- 2.5 miles (40:1 ratio; for every 40 miles on the map, you run/walk 1 mile)
- 2.0 miles (50:1 ratio; for every 50 miles on the map, you run/walk 1 mile)
- 1.0 mile (100:1 ratio; for every 100 miles on the map, you run/walk 1 mile)
Use Earned Runs bibs to record completion of each segment!
Each Sunday there will be a BLOG post about that week's segment, providing a bit of information on the ground to be covered. If you know the part of the country the challenge will be moving through, please COMMENT, sharing your knowledge and expert insights with everyone else. If not, you might be inspired to research more deeply into the sights, topography, environment, people, and culture of that part of the trail.
Hopefully this challenge will work well for families, with children using a different scale than adults, as needed. Children of various ages can run/walk/bike distances best suited to their fitness and ability to focus on the day’s goal. It may be that in some families it’s the parents who require the highest handicap!
This challenge is a simple way to track progress made exercising over the entire summer. The cumulative miles will allow ‘travel’ from west to east across the broad expanse of the northern United States, through different regions. It’s a fun way to learn more about what’s there!
Having a planned ‘itinerary’ provides structure to the summer’s running, walking, or cycling fitness activity. The scale system makes it possible for each participant to choose how strenuous this ‘trip’ will be. The ACROSS AMERICA Calendar and Itinerary drafts ARE POSTED on the RESOURCES* PAGE for you to preview. Check out the SEGMENT MAPS for weeks 1-3, also posted there, and free for download.
My experience: I took up this challenge in the summer of 2016 and started by running all my miles on the 10:1 scale. I was training for a race as well and doing the STREAK running. Eventually I found it easier and more enjoyable to walk some miles, if I could not get them covered by running, on certain days. This was true for 2017 too. This year I plan to cycle some miles on my fat tire bike.
It’s all about the JOURNEY in this challenge.
RUN & MOVE HAPPY!
ACROSS AMERICA Itinerary 2018
ACROSS AMERICA Calendar 2018
ACROSS AMERICA Segment Maps: WEEKS 1-3
1. Change the mile ratio as needed, adjusting the scale you as you go. Start with one ratio and drop down or move up to another if the effort is harder or easier, respectively, to fit into your schedule than first imagined.
2. Cover the miles running, walking or biking (on the road or in a studio), or a combination of both. or a portion of them (see my experience above).
3. The Calendar schedules the segment runs/walks/bike-rides Monday through Friday, to avoid taking up family/friend time on precious summer weekends.
4. Take as much time as you need to complete each segment. Even if you fall behind, finish as much of the journey as is possible. It will still be fun. and possibly educational too. Pick up next summer where you stopped.
AKNOWLEDGEMENT: The route is an itinerary for a bicycle tour that’s been publicly posted on the internet. The TREKTRAVEL company worked to develop it, and hosts the tour and many others. In 2016 and 2017 Earned Runs contacted the company through email every year to provide notification of our use of the plan.
Check out their site, especially if the real trip is something you are interested in completing!
SUMMER CHALLENGE I: STREAKING
ARE YOU LOOKING FOR A PHYSICAL GOAL TO ACHEIVE THIS SUMMER? One that doesn’t involve training for a race, because it’s what you do all other months of the year? A challenge that doesn’t require learning complicated workout routines? An activity that won’t strain your exercise budget? A commitment that transforms you from being a ‘sometimes’ walker, jogger, runner, or cyclist, into a disciplined daily exerciser?
Streaking could be the challenge that encourages a summer of regular exercise for you without consuming all available time for fun. Earned Runs suggests you try walking, jogging, running, or bicycling 1 mile, without breaks from Memorial to Labor Day, on each day of summer. The distance can be longer, but must not be shorter than a mile.
In 2016, Streak Running was introduced as the very first Earned Runs Summer Challenge. In researching the topic, Earned Runs discovered there are global organizations that register and keep track of people who have completed at least 1 year of running, 1 mile each day.
The official website of the Streak Runners International, Inc. and US Running Streak Association, Inc., defines a running streak 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.”
To become a member of this organization, a runner must have a streak of one year and pay a $20 fee. If you extend the challenge beyond the summer and streak for a full year you are eligible to have your name placed on the SRI/USRSA running streak list. And then on the retired list once you stop. The groups sell singlets and T-shirts through the website link.
The website also links to an article by co-founder and member John Strumsky, “Caution: The Dangers of Streak Running”. It 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. (The article link cant be found on the official website, but the link takes you to the article!).
Streak running was one of my summer challenges in 2016 and 2017. I did it to experience what Earned Runs was asking of others the first year. Initially I did not like this daily run at all, and whined about it in blogs. The most difficult aspect was fitting one running mile in on travel days. An early flight could mean leaving for the airport by 3 or 4 am. Upon arrival at my destination it might be late afternoon or evening before a change into running clothes/shoes was possible especially if a meeting was scheduled, and a run managed.
One night, after returning home from a trip, I finished my mile just before the chime of the clock at midnight (we actually have one that chimes). Then started the next day’s run because of a full schedule and more travel. It was weird. BUT, when one of those travel days was my undoing and I missed a run, thereby ending my streak weeks before Labor Day 2016, I was so disappointed in myself. I had not anticipated receiving a daily boost of pride, a sense of accomplishment, when that single goal was met. I very much missed it when my personal challenge was busted.
In 2017, I again took up the SUMMER CHALLENGE I: STREAK RUNNING, this time resolving at the outset not to complain and to look forward to this activity every day. It started 2 days after the spring/vernal equinox because I wanted to go extra-long, over the entire astrological summer season to the autumnal equinox on September 22. My streak was again busted before my private goal finish and even before the official Challenge Labor Day finish on September 5, 2017. It ended on July 11, because of an injury. This year I will walk a mile each day.
The Atlantic.com ran an article, “People Who Can’t Not Run” by Katherine Dempsey in 2014. Dempsey recounts the experiences of long-term “streakers”, and raises the question of whether such a goal is a good thing. Whether maintaining the streak rules or enrichers lives. She leaves it up to the individual to self-assess.
Streaking for only a defined period of time, like in the Earned Runs Summer Challenge I, doesn’t seem to be likely to drive someone to physical or emotional ruination. But keep in mind there is risk of overuse injury without a rest day. Possibly a safer streak can be undertaken when the 1 mile each day is covered alternately by walking, running, or cycling? The point of this streak challenge is to enjoy summer in an active but not excessive way, and to perhaps re-capture the carefree days of our younger years in the process. Not to risk injury.
My previous two Summer Streaks were very fun and rewarding in spite of each ending prematurely. Hopefully I’ll do better in the Summer of 2018 than 2016 and 2017.
RUN AND MOVE HAPPY!
[Updated from 2017]
SUMMER FITNESS CHALLENGES 2018!
INTRODUCING THE LINE-UP OF SIX 2018 EARNED RUNS SUMMER CHALLENGES. Memorial Day, the last Monday in May, is the unofficial holiday date that bookends the start of the summer season in the USA, which closes on the Labor Day Holiday, the first Monday in September. There are potentially 14 weeks to unloose an inner carefree spirit and disrupt the rigid schedules that traditionally anchor the rest of the year to school and work.
Yes, ‘summer’ is a state-of-mind, a mostly mythical period of imagined golden fun, the reality of which can never measure up to the magical experience we want it to be. However, with planning, the likelihood of actively enjoying the great outdoors, in ways that differ from what we do during the rest of the year, can be increased. If summer is going to be a memorable one, we must work a bit to make it so.
Until the end of this month Earned Runs will be introducing and explaining some physical activities that are designed to fill the summertime weeks and make them special. Alone or with others. There won’t be an excuse that no one else wants to “come out and play”. [This was a childhood lament when my mother would ask why I wasn’t outside doing something fun.] Having a formal ‘play-date’ or a group of like-minded, similarly available buddies isn’t a requirement. You might entice others to join you eventually, when they notice how much you’re enjoying this summer!
Check out the options below, briefly explained. Each of the five challenges will be detailed, featured in a separate later post. Initially, each challenge only involved running; then walking challenges were added. This year each challenge has been re-worked to involve running/walking/biking as options, when possible.
SUMMER CHALLENGE I: STREAKING
The original summertime challenge, it is also the easiest. Run, walk, or bike a mile every day of the summer, rain or shine. This challenge requires the least amount of mental energy. You know what is required, and you must do it every day. Record each effort with a tally mark on your Earned Runs bib or another log. It’s amazing how much satisfaction can be derived from this simple activity. It also is a very easy challenge to present to others.
SUMMER CHALLENGE II: RUN/WALK/BIKE ‘ACROSS AMERICA’
Want to complete a virtual trek across the North American continent on a trail that extends coast to coast from the U.S. Pacific Northwest to New England? Adapted from a TrekTravel bicycle tour route, this 3,730+ mile journey requires following a weekly distance schedule that is determined by the participant’s choice of mileage scale (map miles ratio to actual miles run, walked, biked = 10 to 1, 20 to 1, 30 to 1, 40 to 1, 50 to 1, or 100 to 1).
A higher or lower number of miles can be covered by each participant. Even after starting, the scale ratio can be adjusted to fit the desired level of effort, easier or harder! There will be BLOG posts describing nearby “sights”. This challenge can provide an opportunity to learn about the geography, history, and scenery along the cross-country route. Family fun!
SUMMER CHALLENGE III: FASTEST 5K OR SUMMER OF FUN 5K’S
This challenge is for those who like to compete. Running or walking. Organized official races or custom designed personal events. For a break from preparing for 10K or longer distance competitions all fall, winter, and spring, think about taking a break and only signing up for fun 5k’s, or training to set a personal best in one special short race. It could be a ‘miler’ (1 mile)!
SUMMER CHALLENGE IV: SERIES SWEEP
Introduced last year in mid-summer, but only for walkers, the ‘Series Sweep’ involves following a 30-minute HIIT (high intensity interval training) routine: 5 cycles of 6-minutes (3 minutes easy-moderate pace, followed by 3 minutes of moderate to vigorous pace) when walking, jogging, or biking, on 4 days of each full week (7 days) all summer long.
This activity encourages the kind of higher intensity physical effort that has been shown to increase aerobic capacity, build thigh strength, and lower systolic blood pressure in older adults. Without a specific plan, just walking, running, or biking might be performed at a level too low to yield health improvements. It’s for those who wish to ‘up’ their usual aerobic exercise efforts. It can be performed on an elliptical, stationary bike, or other gym equipment.
NEW TRIAL! SUMMER CHALLENGE V: BUDDY-UP
Obtaining ‘in-person’ contact time is the objective in this activity, which is being ‘trialed’ this summer. It’s intended to be a hedge against the development of loneliness for those who tend to spend more time than desired exercising alone. The concept is simple but the reality is a bit more difficult.
Syncing up with another person such that an in-depth conversation is possible while walking, biking, or running is the activity. The other person can be beside you, in person, or on the phone (if done safely). Each activity performed while reaching out to someone is tallied on a bib or other log. At summer’s end challengers can hope to have developed stronger relationships and a page/bib full of marks for their efforts.
NEW TRIAL! SUMMER CHALLENGE VI: OBSTACLE COURSE TRAINING
Entering and competing in an obstacle course competition is NOT required!!! When resistance training is combined with aerobic exercise the health dividends are increased. A 6-week obstacle course training plan will be offered for those who are looking for a structured approach to incorporating strength work into aerobic sessions. It can be performed outdoors. Earned Runs will use a plan developed by Pete Williams released in 2013 by womensrunning.competitor.com. Potentially 2 six-weeks sessions can be scheduled in one 14 week summer period, between Memorial Day and Labor Day.
NOTES: Memorial Day doesn’t need to be the kick-off date. Plan your own schedule such that chances of persevering and completing a goal challenge are highest. Work around your vacation, weekends; don’t allow anxiety about a challenge ruin these most important times.
If you have not yet requested FREE Earned Runs Bibs (you’ll receive 4), do so soon. Bibs can be used to run/walk personally designed races, for training purposes, and for charting progress toward a challenge goal. Look for more explanation during this week.
Special bib stickers are being developed as well as and a plan to offer them free.
RUN & MOVE HAPPY!
PROFESSOR LUPIN'S CURE-ALL. FANS OF THE HARRY POTTER SERIES learned in Book 3, “The Prisoner of Azkaban,” that chocolate was the favorite remedy prescribed by Hogwarts’ Defense Against the Dark Arts course teacher, Professor Remus J. Lupin. Chunks of chocolate administered by Lupin helped Harry recover from his encounter with dementors while riding the Hogwarts Express train to the School of Witchcraft and Wizardry at the beginning of the semester.
The Professor does not specify whether milk versus dark chocolate is better for fighting off the effects of dark magic. However, reCently, scientists seem to have been busy working to investigate the differences. One optometry study noted that dark chocolate helped improve some aspects of vision shortly after ingestion. Another group of scientists reported on two small studies that showed it improved brain function and blood markers of immunity.
Why study chocolate? Previous research suggests that chocolate rich in cacao bean flavanols may enhance blood flow to the nervous system (brain and nerves) and functioning of the cardiovascular system (heart and blood vessels), slow memory loss, and retard the signs and symptoms of degenerative brain conditions, such as Parkinson and Alzheimer diseases. Mood and cognition (thinking) have been helped too.
Cacao bean flavanols are known to have anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
[Note: Oxidants are molecules, often composed in part of oxygen atoms, which are highly unstable and thus quickly and easily can react with and damage nearby tissues. Oxidants are produced in the body in the course of normal functioning, but the presence of endogenous (natural, in-house) antioxidants prevents damage from occurring. In the face of an oxidant/anti-oxidant imbalance, either too much oxidant is produced or not enough anti-oxidant is available, tissue damage can result. The body’s usual response to damage, either from anti-oxidants or other causes like infection, trauma, etc., is inflammation. Anti-oxidants help prevent this oxidant type of damage and thus inflammation as well. Biological pathways that lead to heightened inflammation can be dampened by anti-inflammatory agents too.
DARK CHOCOLATE & VISION
Researchers at the University of the Incarnate Word, Rosenberg School of Optometry in San Antonio TX found there were “small enhancements in visual acuity and contrast sensitivity” and after subjects ate dark chocolate with >70% cacao compared with milk chocolate. The effects were noted within 2 hours of chocolate consumption.
The 30 research subjects, 9 men and 21 women with a mean age of 26 years, were without known eye disease. Each was randomly assigned to eat the milk or dark type of chocolate at different times during the study and underwent vision testing about 1.75 hours after ingestion. Testing of each participant with the other chocolate type occurred after at least 72 hours had elapsed, with a range of 3-21 days between each type of chocolate testing. To assess the outcomes, “within-participant, paired comparisons“ were made.
The chocolate bars were commercially available Crispy Rice Milk Chocolate (40 grams) and Trader Joe's 72% Cacao Dark Chocolate. (47 grams). The amount of flavanols was about 8 times less in the milk chocolate than in the dark. Participants were not aware of the chocolate bar name or type or the purpose of the study, but taste differences could have tipped them off as to the kind of chocolate they were eating. investigators administering the tests were not masked however.
The scientists admit that the duration of these improvements, probably related to enhanced retinal blood flow, and their significance to real-life functioning will require further research.
DARK CHOCOLATE & IMMUNITY, BRAIN FUNCTION
Participants in an 8-day study, conducted by researchers from California’s Loma Linda University Allied School of Health Professions, were first asked to eat a 48-gram bar of 70% cacao dark chocolate over 10 minutes, and then had blood tests drawn after 2 hours. They were instructed to eat 48 grams of 70% cacao dark chocolate/day (2 pieces per hour, while awake for 14 hours), with blood tests drawn again after 1 week. The tests showed changes in gene expression and increased numbers of infection-fighting cells and anti-inflammatory activity. There were 4 test subjects (2 females and 2 males, aged 25-50 years) and one control (female, 28 years). The dark chocolate used was Parliament Chocolate from Redlands CA.
A separate investigation by the same group showed brain electrical wave, gamma-frequency responses (assessed by EEG-electroencephalogram at 30 minutes and then 120 minutes after ingestion) which suggested brain functioning could be helped as soon as 2 hours after eating dark chocolate. In this case 5 healthy subjects aged 22-40 years were involved.
The lead scientist, Lee S. Berk was quoted in a ScineceDaily.com article, “These studies show us that the higher the concentration of cacao, the more positive the impact on cognition, memory, mood, immunity and other beneficial effects."
The results were to be presented in poster sessions at the Experimental Biology Conference 2018 in San Diego and abstracts were published in the FASEB Journal (there is no full text available).
EARNED RUNS: Our attempts to become fit, healthy individuals with exercise and diet might be helped by small daily doses of anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory agents like dark chocolate. To know that it might also enhance blood flow to vital tissues like the retina and enhance brain cardiovascular and endocrine function pushes it higher on the list of nutritional aids to try. As with all other foods known to have health benefits, there is the trick of not overdoing a good thing that will add pounds and increase the risk of obesity.
Very dark chocolate, with a high percent cacao and low sugar content might not have a taste or mouthfeel that appeals to all. It can be bitter and hard. Not everyone will wish to spend calories on dark chocolate (170 calories per 30 gm, Trader Joe’s; 72% Organic Belgian). The Loma Linda team seems to be working to determine the lowest dosing regimen that will provide brain benefits.
I hope to taste test the Trader Joe’s and Parliament brands (nutrition information not found) used in this research! The chocolate with the highest cacao content is the winner in these few studies it seems and maybe this is good news for milk chocoholics. Perhaps we won't be tempted to overdo eating the dark stuff.
RUN & MOVE HAPPY!
“Effects of Milk vs Dark Chocolate Consumption on Visual Acuity and Contrast Sensitivity Within 2 Hours”
“Dark chocolate (70% cacao) effects human gene expression: Cacao regulates cellular immune response, neural signaling, and sensory perception”
“Dark chocolate (70% organic cacao) increases acute and chronic EEG power spectral density (μV2) response of gamma frequency (25–40 Hz) for brain health: enhancement of neuroplasticity, neural synchrony, cognitive processing, learning, memory, recall, and mindfulness meditation” https://www.fasebj.org/doi/10.1096/fasebj.2018.32.1_supplement.878.10
TIME TO PLAN EARNED RUNS 2018 SUMMER CHALLENGES. The last Monday of May is the Memorial Day holiday, which marks the unofficial start of summer vacation season. The Northern Hemisphere is beginning a wonderful period of long and bright daylight hours and warm weather.
Now is the time to plan your summer physical activity schedule.
Schools have or soon will be dismissing students for summer or an inter-session break. Workplaces may be putting off regular meetings that interfere with weekends or noon lunch hours until after Labor Day. It’s perfect for adopting a more relaxed and fun approach to exercise.
Why stick with a year-round workout, running, walking, bicycling, or swimming routines? Challenge yourself to try something new. It needn’t be the most physically demanding feat.. Just different and a bit adventurous FOR YOU. Ideally your challenges should take advantage of the great outdoors and the 'socialize-ability' (made-up word) of the season.
This week Earned Runs will be highlighting some activities in which you may be interested in participating. Memorial Day, falling on May 28 this year, is identified as the kick-off day. Plan an alternate start if this doesn't fit your schedule.
Here’s a draft preview; the first 3 on the list were activities first introduced summer of 2016. The last activity in 2017. There might be two other challenges added or which will replace 1 or 2 of the others. The final Summer Challenge line-up is still in development.
- Streak running or walking
- Run/walk Across America
- Run Your Fastest 5K (or a string of 5Ks)
- Walkers Series Sweep
If you have not yet requested FREE Earned Runs Bibs (you’ll receive 4), do so soon. Bibs can be used to run/walk/cycle personally designed races, for training purposes, and for charting progress toward a challenge goal. Inspiration too. Look for more explanation during the coming weeks.
RUN & MOVE HAPPY!
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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