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How to Prepare for Your Next Run

Running is an amazing activity that can provide tremendous health benefits. But, like any sport, if done improperly, you run the risk of seriously hurting yourself. After my exhilarating experience at the New York City Marathon this year, I figured that I could offer a few tips and tricks that will help you warm up for your next big run.

Stretch Those Calf Muscles

Alexi Harding Stretching

It seems like a no-brainer that you should stretch before you perform any physical activity. However, when preparing for running, you may want to consider a very specific type of stretching before taking to the trail. What you’ll want to do is perform a dynamic range-of-motion stretch. Essentially, what you’re doing is stretching your calf muscles in such a way that your gastrocnemius and soleus muscles (the muscles that make up your calf) will get a good, hearty stretch. It is effective in avoiding straining and over striding your muscles.

Walk

Alexi Harding Walking

This might sound silly, but walking is the ultimate tool to prepare your body for running, especially if you’ve been sitting for awhile. In essence, by walking, you are getting all of the muscles associated with running a bit of a low-intensity warm-up exercise.

Practice Striding

Alexi Harding Stride.JPG

Next time you are preparing for a big run, get out there and stride. A few 100-meter strides can do the body good in preparation for a run. It floods your muscles with blood and can stretch out the muscle fibers. There is a specific way to perform strides:

  • Jog for about 2 minutes
  • Stride in one direction while gradually accelerating and decelerating over the course of 60 to 100 meters
  • After each stride, make sure to shake your legs for a minute and a half
  • Then repeat the process in the opposite direction

 

Some Tips From the Pros

Who better to learn from than the pros? Olympic marathoner Alan Culpepper claims that he woke up four hours before the event and ate an incredibly simple, small meal right away. He also suggests to to stay hydrated and to eat another small meal about an hour or so before the marathon. Dr. Christopher Vincent, a chiropractor and sports physician who works with elite runners, suggests that you not just get a good night’s sleep before the race, make sure to get several days of good sleep before the race.

Preparing for a marathon can be a difficult task, but if done properly following some of these tips, you should do well. Good luck and have fun.

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Team Continuum’s Gift Tree

It’s the holiday season and giving is in full swing! I recently just donated to Team Continuum’s Gift Tree, a program wherein members and average citizens can donate to help fight children’s cancer. You can help be a part of the difference by donating to the giving tree as well.

I had the pleasure of running with Team Continuum during the 2017 TCS NYC Marathon and it was one of the best experiences of my life. Please consider donating and have a happy holiday.

Alexi Harding Giving Tree

MapMyRun’s “The 3 Types of Runs Every Runner Should Do”

Hello all,

Here’s another great blog from MapMyRun about the 3 different types of runs that every runner should be doing.

Here’s an excerpt:

At first glance, running is a simple discipline that requires minimal gear. But anyone who wants to get a bit more serious about running knows that training requires strategy and structure. If you slog through a 45–60-minute run a few days a week, run sporadically at random distances or pound the pavement every single day, it’s nearly impossible to take your running the next level.

To read the full article, click here.

MapMyRun’s “7 Post-Run Mistakes to Avoid”

MapMyRun is back again with another fantastic blog. This time, they’re providing advice on things you shouldn’t be doing after a run.

Here’s an excerpt:

“With all of the time you put into training, it can be hard to think about squeezing yet another thing into your schedule. For many of us, once our run is over, we’re on to the next thing on our to-do list. However, there is one very valuable thing you may be skipping out on: post-run recovery. Not only is it vital to staying injury-free, but it will also help you become a better runner in the long run.”

To read the full article, click here.

My Experience at the TCS New York Marathon

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As I’m sure you all know, I’ve been training diligently for the TCS New York Marathon these past few months and I was incredibly excited to finally apply my weeks of training earlier this month. And for anyone who is considering participating in either the New York Marathon or any marathon in general, do not hesitate. Sign up today. It’s an amazing experience.

 

Ever since I participated in the 2015 TCS NYC Marathon, I’ve been eager to get back into the thick of things, but a last-minute injury prevented me from participating in last year’s marathon. Since then, I’ve been taking my time, running and reading as much as possible on how to improve my running and time. And this year’s marathon was a culmination of everything that I’d learned, either through reading or experience.

 

Although it rained the entire marathon, it was still one of the most exhilarating and just flat out fun experiences I’ve ever had. There were bands playing and energizing the runners and supportive onlookers; it all made for a very high-energy atmosphere. One of the greatest, and admittedly unexpected, aspects of the marathon was the other runners. I was running with 50,000 other strangers that I’d never met before, but we were all connected by the simple fact that we wanted to challenge ourselves.

 

After a while, I was approached by another runner, Michelle, and she was incredibly nice. But what was even more special was her ability to inspire. She mentioned that we should keep up our pace, and after a few minutes of talking, what started out as two runners motivating each other, quickly developed into a group of runners from different backgrounds sharing stories and words of encouragement. We literally pushed each other to the finish line. It was an amazing thing.

 

And that’s one of the greatest parts of any marathon: the relationships. Our connection didn’t end after the marathon; we all met up after the race and caught up with each other and we decided that we will be attending a multi-day race in Africa next year! We are pushing each other to do even greater things.

 

I definitely learned a great deal both while training for the marathon and during the marathon itself. I made sure to replenish my fluids, alternating between Gatorade and water every mile. This was important because of my first experience in 2015, I had not replenished my body properly, I was unable to run after the 18-mile mark, and I was forced to walk the remainder of the trail. I made sure that would not happen this time.

 

I also learned some new home remedies from other runners, like homemade salt pills to replenish the salt your body loses while sweating.

 

This year, I completed the marathon with a 4 hour and 48 minute time. My goal for next year is to break four hours; to shave off those 48 minutes. Although it may be tough in the moment, and you want to give up, once you cross that finish line, you will be motivated to do better next year. Now, I’ll prepare even better, read even more tips and tricks and improve my time.

 

This year’s marathon was significant not just for me but in the annals of the New York City marathon. For starters, this year’s winner was a female runner; Shalane Flanagan was the first American woman to win the New York City Marathon in 25 years. With an unofficial time of 2 hours, 26 minutes, and 53 seconds, Flanagan was able to dethrone the previous winner, Mary Keitany of Kenya.

 

This year’s marathon also featured a dose of celebrity in the form of famed comedian Kevin Hart. With a finishing time of 4 hours, 5 minutes, 6 seconds Kevin was able to beat out former New York Giants running back Tiki Barber.

 

All of that aside, I want to stress just how important this race is. While some may look at it as just another marathon, others see it for what it truly is: a New York City Experience. It is a chance for millions of people, from all walks of life, to come together and take part in something greater than themselves. This entire marathon is a chance for humankind to defy limitations and to achieve the ultimate goal: the synchronization of the mind, body and spirit.

 

For all of you runners out there, if you want to improve your running abilities, whether it be your stamina or speed, look into a marathon. If you want to experience an event, sign up for the New York City Marathon. You’ll be surrounded by supportive, like-minded individuals and you’ll have one of the greatest days of your life.

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How to Get Youth Interested in Running

I’ve been running for quite some time now and I must say, I love it. It keeps me healthy and has allowed me to make great new connections, both personal and professional. As you get older, you quickly begin to realize that focusing on your health is a major priority. When you’re younger, sometimes your health isn’t your main focus. And that can lead to unhealthy lifestyles and health risks in the future. That is why it is imperative to get children into healthy activities as early as possible. So how exactly can you get your children into running? Here are a few ways.

 

Take them to a fun running event

The beauty of running is that it can be utilized in a variety of different ways. Of course there are your standard marathons that focus solely on the running aspect, but there are also multiple types of marathons and racing events throughout the world, all with their own defining characteristics and qualities that make them a bit more fun and palatable to younger audiences. If you are trying to get your child interested in running, you might want to refrain from a traditional marathon at first. Instead, look into something like a color run or a zombie run. Color runs are running events that put a heavy emphasis on having fun. Thousands of participants run a 5K trail and are doused in colored powder throughout. By the end of the event, thousands of runners are drenched in a variety of vibrant colors. Color runs even feature a small party afterwards where participants can continue to douse each other in color. Zombie runs feature all the terror and thrills of being chased by a zombie without the actual threat. If your child loves shows like The Walking Dead or movies like Zombieland, a zombie run is a great way to let your child act out their fantasies! There are dozens of other kinds of events that make the running experience a bit more fun.

 

Make running fun

If there aren’t any fun pre-planned running events near you, you can also make the general act of running fun on your own. Create an objective for the run or give it a fantastical element. Set up an obstacle course and pretend that your child is the last warrior who can save the world by running through the obstacle course. Adding elements like this will make your child forget that they are exercising and solely focus on the fun they are having. Or you could set up something of a scavenger hunt and plant some riddles and hidden items. This not only exercises your child’s body, but also their mind.

 

There are several different ways to make your children have fun while running. In today’s world, children are bombarded with reasons to stay home and eat; video games, fast food and social media all play a major role in creating a sedentary lifestyle for children. As parents, it is your duty to break your children free of those shackles and to promote a healthy and active lifestyle.