Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Run Off Those Holiday Pounds with January Road Races

Over the past month, my office saw its fair share of chocolate, cookies and other holiday treats. It can be hard to resist. But no fear –- there are plenty of road races in January to help run off the holiday pounds.

Atlanta Track Club Resolution Run in Kennesaw – January 1
Along with the 5K and 10K courses, this family-friendly event includes a 1-mile fun run and a tot trot. Register online through today (December 29). Keep in mind that on-site registration is not available. For more info, visit the ATC site.

Wonderful Days of Winter 5K – January 2
Proceeds from the race support Marietta’s Wonderful Days Preschool, which is a pre-K program that serves low-income families. Top finishers receive handmade awards. Registration is available at Active.com.

Run with the Dogs: Frostbite 5K Run/Walk – January 9
This neighborhood run benefits sports programs at Decatur High School and Renfro Middle School. Don’t leave your four-legged friend at home – the race is open to runners with dogs. The event starts and ends at Decatur H.S. Registration is available at Active.com or you can sign-up at Decatur H.S. on race day.

Marietta Polar Bear Run 5K/2K – January 23
Johnson Ferry Baptist Church plays host to this annual event. The race is limited to 2,000 runners and on-site registration is not available. While it may be cold outside, post-race festivities take place inside the church’s Family Life Center. You can register at Active.com or at Big Peach Running Co.

Eagle Run 5K - January 23
In Alpharetta? Check out this event. The race course runs through Will’s Park, located off of Old Milton Parkway. Proceeds benefit the Milton Boys Lacrosse Team. Registration is available at Active.com or on-site at the event.

Tartan Trot: Fun Run, Tot Trot, 5K and 10K – January 30
St. Luke's Presbyterian Church in Dunwoody hosts this local race, with proceeds supporting the church’s youth outreach program. Got a young runner? Bring them along for the free tot trot. You can sign-up at Big Peach Running Co, St. Luke’s or online at Active.com. On-site registration is also available.

Around Peachtree Battle 5K - January 30
Here’s an opportunity to “do good” while you run. The race benefits the Atlanta Union Mission’s shelter for women and children. Runners are encouraged to bring canned food, clothes and other items for donation to the shelter. The race takes place in the Haynes Manor neighborhood, near W. Wesley Road and Northside Parkway. Register online at Active.com.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Easy Gift Ideas for Runners

Completed your holiday shopping yet? Me neither.

The thought of traffic and mall crowds doesn't necessarily put me in the holiday spirit. If you've got a runner on your gift list, here are a few stocking stuffers that don't require a stop at the mall.

  • Pedicure: Taking proper care of the feet is essential for runners. Hang nails, black toe and other common problems can make running a painful experience. Add a gift certificate for a pedicure to your runner's stocking.
  • Sports Massage: Does your runner need more pampering? Consider a gift certificate for a massage. Natural Body has neighborhood locations throughout Atlanta.
  • Socks: A great pair of socks keep feet comfortable and dry. Avoid the crowds by heading to a local running store. Big Peach Running Co., Fleet Feet, One Step At A Time and West Stride have knowledgeable staff and convenient neighborhood locations.
  • Reflective Vest: Keep your runner visible and safe. The local running stores mentioned above can offer lots of options for reflective gear.
  • Race Registration: Is your runner training for the ING Georgia or another big event? Race fees often go up after December 31. Pay for their registration online and place the confirmation print-out in their stocking.

Happy gifting!

This week’s running route comes from the Oakhurst Running Club. A map of the course is available at the club's site.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Runners: Nutrients from Food (not Supplements) Keep Immune System Strong

Last month, I wrote about my struggles to fight off a nasty respiratory virus that kept me from running for nearly four weeks. It sparked a search on my part to learn more about improving my immune system’s ability to fight off infections.

A colleague of mine passed along an article from the Wall Street Journal last month that detailed the role nutrients from food have in maintaining a strong immune system. What it comes down to is knowing the vitamins and minerals that contribute to the immune system and the foods that serve as good sources for these nutrients. One fascinating point – malnourished people can serve as a breeding ground for viruses that spread to healthy people. Think about last spring’s outbreak of the H1N1 virus or the SARS virus from a few years ago.

So, what foods help your immune system? How much do you need?

The WSJ story provided a helpful chart of the key vitamins and minerals that contribute to a strong immune system. Vitamin A was the top nutrient, benefiting all four categories of immunity health. It helps regulate the immune system by making white blood cells that fight off infections and viruses. Good sources for vitamin A are liver, carrots, spinach and kale.

Other key nutrients and the food sources to look for include:

· Vitamin B-6: potatoes, bananas and fortified cereals
· Vitamin C: red pepper, orange juice, kiwi and broccoli
· Vitamin D: salmon, mackerel, tuna and fortified milk
· Vitamin E: wheat germ oil, almonds and sunflower seeds
· Iron: chicken liver, beef, fortified cereals, and beans
· Selenium: Brazil nuts, tuna (in oil), beef and turkey
· Zinc: oysters, Alaska king crab, pork shoulder and fortified cereals

The NIH Office of Dietary Supplements is a great resource for detailed information on these nutrients and the suggested serving sizes.

What's the issue with taking supplements to get these nutrients?

A multivitamin is a good addition to your diet, but supplements of individual vitamins and minerals can be problematic. Supplements aren't absorbed as easily by the body as nutrients from food. And too much of certain nutrients can be detrimental. For example, an excess of zinc can create problems with your body's ability to absorb other minerals. In addition, some supplements can interfere with over-the-counter drugs and prescriptions.

So runners, don't let a weak immune system interrupt your training schedule. Maintain your health by getting a good balance of vital nutrients from food. If you take supplements, be informed about the potential effects.

This week’s route is a 3.5 mile run through Druid Hills and Fernbank. You can find the route at Map My Run under my group Atlanta Running.

· Start at the parking lot of the Fernbank Museum

· Turn right on Clifton Rd· Turn right on E. Clifton Rd

· Turn right on Conventry Rd

· Turn right on Heaton Park Dr

· Turn left on Atwood Rd

· Turn right on Ponce de Leon Ave

· Turn right on N. Ponce de Leon Ave

· Turn right and cross Ponce de Leon Ave

· Veer right onto S. Ponce de Leon Ave

· Cross Ponce de Leon

· Turn left on Lullwater Estate

· Follow Lullwater back to Ponce de Leon

· Turn left on Ponce de Leon

· Turn left on Clifton Rd

· End at the Fernbank parking lot