Honesty of the Long Distance Runner

Courtesy Calleja (Diario de Navarra)

Courtesy Calleja (Diario de Navarra)

Sometimes winning isn’t everything. At least that’s what one elite Spanish runner thought when he had the chance to take the lead at a December race in Berlada, Spain, when the Kenyan runner leading the race mistakenly stopped short of the finish line, thinking he’d already crossed it.

Instead of passing by lead runner Abel Mutai, the second-place 24-year-old Spanish runner Fernández Anaya gestured to the Kenyan that he needed to keep going to finish and win the race. As the English version of the Spanish newspaper El Pais reports, from an interview Anaya did after the race:

“I didn’t deserve to win it,” says 24-year-old Fernández Anaya. “I did what I had to do. He was the rightful winner. He created a gap that I couldn’t have closed if he hadn’t made a mistake. As soon as I saw he was stopping, I knew I wasn’t going to pass him.”

What’s interesting is that this isn’t simply a pollyana-ish piece about good overcoming bad. As Anaya admits later in the interview, he probably would have passed by Mutai had the race been one in which the stakes were higher, like an Olympic trials race or one for a medal.

And his coach, former long distance runner Martín Fiz, openly admitted to the reporter that it was something he himself certainly wouldn’t have done:

“It was a very good gesture of honesty,” says Fiz. “A gesture of the kind that isn’t made any more. Or rather, of the kind that has never been made. A gesture that I myself wouldn’t have made. I certainly would have taken advantage of it to win.” (Emphasis added)

Honestly, as I read this I thought to myself, how many of us would make the same gesture in our own lives — and not just in a public event like this, where our actions would be seen. Would we do the same if no one would have known the difference otherwise, except ourselves?

Read the full story at El Pais.

Make Your Flu Shot More Effective… with a Run

sylvar/flickr.com

sylvar/flickr.com

Being active, especially getting cardiovascular exercise like running and walking, may improve your body’s ability to fight off the flu in concert with seasonal flu vaccine.

That’s what the New York Times reported this week, in a Well blog post by Gretchen Reynolds on a report by researchers at Iowa State University on the potential for exercise to give a boost to the immune system and help the body produce more antibodies to the influenza virus.

While past studies had established the effectiveness of exercise in improving overall immune response in people who ran, walked or worked out regularly, the Iowa State researchers wanted to know: would just a single run do the trick?

To find out, they recruited college students to take an hour-and-a-half-long jog or bicycle ride about 15 minutes after receiving a flu shot. To compare results, a separate set of students was asked not to exercise after getting the shot.

Even from just a single session of exercise after the shot, the results were encouraging. As Reynolds notes in her post:

Those volunteers who had exercised after being inoculated, it turned out, exhibited “nearly double the antibody response” of the sedentary group, said Marian Kohut, a professor of kinesiology at Iowa State who oversaw the study, which is being prepared for publication. They also had higher blood levels of certain immune system cells that help the body fight off infection.

Read the full story at the New York Times.

Don’t Stop Running

Kim Olson/flickr.com

Kim Olson/flickr.com


Our brains get lots of benefits from running and other forms of cardiovascular exercise, according to a study presented at a meeting of the Society for Neuroscience in New Orleans last fall and reported in the New York Times Well blog.

There’s just one catch: Stop running, and the benefits of exercise don’t seem to last very long.

The study looked at two groups of rats — one that was allowed to run whenever they wanted on running wheels, while the other was forced to remain sedentary. The rats that got lots of exercise, researchers found, performed much better in memory tests than those that didn’t.

But after they took a few weeks off, the exercised rats lost their edge, researchers found.

“Brain changes are not maintained when regular physical exercise is interrupted,” he said, adding that, “though our observations are restricted to rats, indirect evidence suggests that the same phenomenon occurs in human beings.”

Meaning that the lessons of both studies point in the same direction. For the ongoing health of our minds, as well as for the plentiful other health benefits of exercise, it might be wise to stick to those New Year’s exercise resolutions.

Read the full story in the New York Times.

(Yet Another) Race Company Cancels Events

Ken Hawkins/flickr.com

Ken Hawkins/flickr.com


Readers here will be familiar with stories from last year about race management companies cancelling events almost without warning, even though hundreds of runners had signed up and paid their registration fees to participate in several of their events.

Another race company appears to have folded in the opening weeks of 2013, as the California-based IO Events — which organized half marathons in Temecula, Calif.; Vista, Calif.; and San Diego — has closed its doors and cancelled its events.

The organizers tell the San Diego Union-Tribune that they will post information for runners on how to get refunds for events they’d already entered on the company’s website, www.ioevents.com.

So far as we can tell, this doesn’t appear to sink to the level of instances we saw last year, in which races were simply cancelled for no apparent reason and refunds not provided (though after major pressure from local officials and entrants in the cities where those races had been scheduled, refunds were later made in some cases).

It looks as if the race company has simply gone out of business here. Though surely that’s small comfort to anyone who signed up and has been training for months.

As they say, with the popularity of the half marathon and other distance races driving the creation of so many new events, buyer beware — most new races are obviously run by well-meaning people who simply want to stage fun, meaningful events for runners. Occasionally you run into people who aren’t so scrupulous, however, so please be careful.

Read the full story at the San Diego Union-Tribune.

Update: Check out the Facebook page for Runners Trying to Get Refunds from IO Events.

Let’s Get Started… for 2013

Daniel Horande/flickr.com

Daniel Horande/flickr.com


So…. we’ve been away for a little while here on the blog and on HalfMarathons.Net. But we have a really good reason. At least I hope you think it’s a good reason!

The editor, owner and publisher of the site — that’s me, Terrell Johnson — just got married and had a honeymoon with my new bride in Montana, which was gorgeous and amazing.

During these past couple of weeks, however, updates to the site and the blog have been scarce. Today, that all changes.

We have tons of updates on the way, with new articles on great running apps and race fundraising efforts from our writer Carissa Liebowitz, and a new series of posts from our new guest blogger Melissa Mincic on the way.

There’s also lots of new races I plan on adding to the site, thanks to the dozens and dozens and dozens of race directors and race management companies who’ve written me to let me know of the new races they’re hosting across the country over the past couple of weeks.

It literally never ceases to amaze me that no matter how many races I add to the site here, there are always more. That means there are more and more opportunities to run in the race distance we all love, and that many more ways to stay fit and improve our health.

Here’s to a great 2013 for all of you guys, and a HUGE thanks once again to making this site possible with all of your contributions.

All’s Well That Ends Well… Pretty Much

Megan Cox and her new friend, Omi Nhin.

Megan Cox and her new friend, Omi Nhin.

By Megan Cox

The race is over. The half-marathon I’ve been training for during the past eight months, ever since I had baby number two, took place this past weekend.

Along with almost 10,000 half-marathon runners, I crossed the finish line. But it wasn’t pretty.

Two weeks ago, I ran an eleven-mile training run under my goal of a nine-minute mile. I was psyched. For the Dallas Half Marathon, I didn’t think I’d achieve the 1:48:01 that I ran in 2007 in the Baltimore Half, but I had high hopes of keeping my time right at two hours.

But life doesn’t always cooperate with our plans, does it?

Everything started out well. My family and I made it from Oklahoma City to my cousin’s house in Frisco, Texas, without any major difficulties. Saturday afternoon, my husband and I had a chance to explore the Dallas Health and Fitness Expo without the kiddos.

We picked up my info package, bib, and the race T-shirt. All was well with the world.

But my life is not happy without some drama. Enter the stomach bug. Something got a hold of me by Saturday evening. I was up several times that night, puking my guts out, and again at four a.m., about an hour before I was to be picked up for the race by a friend of my cousin.

I tried to sip water and eat some bread before I left the house. I pulled out my brave face and put it on. But inside, I was really, really worried.

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Fueling Up! The Perfect Carb-Load

lululemon athletica/flickr.com

By Megan Cox

Three… two… one. Race day is here!

The weather isn’t making any promises, and I’ve been told my ride will be picking me up at 5 a.m. on Sunday day morning, but at the end of that day (and hopefully earlier rather than later), my first race after two pregnancies will be complete.

I’ve got just one more challenge to overcome (well, besides navigating the Health and Fitness Expo at the Dallas Convention Center the day before the race). Yes, my last obstacle is making sure my body is properly fueled for my thirteen miles. And this starts with the perfect fueling plan.

By trolling expert advice on the web, here are some important points I need to consider as I near race day.

  1. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Just because it’s race week, I shouldn’t drastically change my diet. Moderate amounts of unrefined carbs are the ticket to fueling the body, but increasing too much fiber may cause a runner to spend more time in the Porta Potty than on the course!
  2. Water, water everywhere. Hydration is critical. Avoiding alcohol and high concentrations of caffeine help the body keep hydrated. In fact, I should be drinking more water starting now. But I’ll still need at least one cup of coffee. Between a toddler, baby, and 4:30 a.m. wake up time, I’ll definitely need a kick in the pants!
  3. The early bird gets the worm. Better to carb-load at an early dinner (or even a late lunch). Since I’ll be going to bed when the babies do, I’m not certain how early will be early enough. Can you eat dinner at noon?
  4. Be pro protein. Don’t be hatin’ on protein. A body needs it every day, and the carb-load dinner is no exception. I just need to keep it light and lowfat.
  5. Pasta is always a good idea. Wherever I found information on carb-loading, pasta always seemed to be a good choice. I just don’t want to go sauce or cheese-crazy.

Of course, plenty of other carbs exist that are perfect for the carb-loading dinner, but for this gal, I think I’ll go traditional.

Well, that’s all for now. If you want to hear how things are going on race day, check out my twitter (@teenmobster) for updates about my experience. Hopefully the rain and wind won’t wash or blow me away!!!

This is a guest post by Megan Cox, an Oklahoma City-based novelist, writer and contributing blogger for HalfMarathons.Net. Learn more about Megan at her website.

What’s Your Race Day Checklist?

Raymond Shobe/flickr.com

By Megan Cox

Well, folks, my come-to-Jesus moment is approaching.

In less than a week, I’ll be springing out of the “corral” (Really? This is really what they call the place where they put the runners at the start of the race?) to participate in the Dallas Half-Marathon. This post-pregnancy body is about as ready as it’s going to get.

And I’ll tell you, the last two weeks have been no walk (or even a nice, easy jog) in the park. I’ve been fighting colds (I have my toddler to thank for that, who uses my T-shirt like a tissue when I’m not looking), a sore right foot, and a treadmill on the fritz.

Also, my race day buddy isn’t going to be able to join me on Sunday, and he totally has a great excuse. But I’m sad anyway.

But don’t worry! I am as pumped as this mama of two little ones can be. My nervous energy is already starting to build, and I can’t WAIT to get in that corral.

Neigh! (Sorry, I just couldn’t help myself.)

Since I haven’t done this race thing in four long years, I think it’s time to make sure I have my ducks in a row. Here are the nine things I need to check and recheck before 8 a.m. Sunday morning.

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