Running the Race for Recovery Virtual 5K/10K

Yesterday as I was browsing through Twitter I came across a bunch of tweets about a virtual 5K and 10K dubbed the Race for Recovery to raise money for relief efforts for the destruction in NY and NJ caused by the monstrous storm, Hurricane Sandy.

As I started to read more about the virtual race, hosted by Michele, author of the running blog NYC Running Mama, I knew I had to take part. I have been looking for a way to get involved with some of the volunteer efforts but because I don’t live in New York or New Jersey, the only option was to simply donate money. While that’s a really good option, I wanted to do something a little more proactive to show my support.

I also felt a need to support Michele in her efforts. She decided last weekend to begin organizing this amazing effort and has been able to raise almost $5,000 already. Michele reached out to different running brands and running companies, including my amazing place of employment, Runner’s World, to donate prizes for race participants.

As soon as I finished reading her post, I was on her Crowdrise page before I knew it. Michelle has set it up so all of the money donated will go towards the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Hurricane Sandy Relief Fund, a foundation focusing on clean-up efforts on the NYC, Long Island and New Jersey coastlines- the areas most severely affected by Sandy.

All you have to do to register for the virtual race is as follows:

1. Make a donation here!

  • Make a minimum donation (your race entry fee) of $20 on Michele’s Crowdrise page.
  • This money will also be your entry into the more than 40 different giveaways.

2. Register for the virtual race here!

  • Date- Saturday, Dec. 8 (Can’t run that day? No problem. Run whenever you want!)
  • Where- Anywhere!
  • Distance- Michele is asking people to run, walk, bike a 5K, 10K or both!

3. Download your race bib here!

  • Oh yeah, this virtual race even has race bibs! Download yours and where it on your run to let everyone know you’re supporting the Race for Recovery

4. Complete a 5K and/or 10K- also don’t forget to snap a pic and tweet it to Michele (@NYCRunningMama)

5. Enter your race results here!

  • Michele will use the results to randomly select winners of the giveaways.
  • Finish time is not important. This is about raising money for a good cause and having a little fun while we’re at it!

6. Have fun!

Oh yeah and I forgot to mention, the grand prize is a dream visit to our very own Runner’s World headquarters in PA! We’ll give you a tour, go on a run, bring you to our test closet filled with goodies and so much more! According to Michele’s website, the grand prize will be awarded to whomever raises the most money. So, if you’re planning on running on Saturday, Dec. 8, or really any other time, why not do it for good? It’s only $20 (a lot less than many “formal” races) and you’ll be helping out countless people affected by Sandy.

I know I’ll be out there on December 8th running a 5K and a 10K, along with some other RW staffers and maybe a few folks from Men’s Health. If you need more details please visit www.nycrunningmama.com.

Have you ever done a virtual race? Will you do this one? (Pretty please!)

Mini race recap: Wrentham Wroad Wrace

Me at the Wrentham Wroad Wrace!

Earlier this week I found out there was going to be a 5K literally 5 minutes from my house in Wrentham, Mass. called the Wrentham Wroad Wrace. Of course I immediately signed up because usually I have to travel for races but this one was so close!

As I said it was just a 5K so nothing too crazy but it was really great to get out there and race. It’s hard to believe but I actually haven’t “raced” many road races. I’ve done a few since I started running in March but I can literally count them on one hand. This is not OK, I realize this. While I went into this race just wanting to have fun and get to know some of the local runners I came away from it with so much more.

Pre-race prep the night before the race.

I love to run! But I also really enjoy racing. I love all of it from the pre-race prep and dynamic stretching to the gun going off at the start line and the cheers at the finish. Nothing better. This race also made me realize the only way to get better at racing is to race often. There’s such a science behind where to line up at the start and how much water to drink, what to bring on race day and how to pass other runners without being obnoxious. And frankly, the only way to get better at these details of racing is to get out there and race.

While I absolutely love my long runs and going for longer distances, I think running these shorter, faster distances are the only way to improve on racing techniques. I know I’m never going to be a sub-3 marathoner (unless I’m talking about my Paul Ryan time) and I’m fine with that because more than racing and PRs and time, I just love running. To me, my end goal is to be a runner for life no matter how fast or how slow. If that means not racing for a few months, or racing every weekend I’m OK either way. All I know is today was a great race, and despite awfully high temperatures and unbearable humidity, the camaraderie of the other runners is really what makes it special.

Ready to run!

As far as my finish time, well I made a huge racing mistake here because I started my RunKeeper before I got to the start line and forgot to stop it at the finish line. These are the kinds of things you can only learn by racing often. Hopefully they’ll put up the results soon so stay tuned!

If you raced this weekend share it in the comments section below! What did you race? How did it go?

Fun races for any runner

The Color Run

Who says running has to always be so serious? Personally, I like to switch up my running routine by running at the gym, around my town, on the beach and on trails, and there are plenty of races out there to accommodate all running styles. Whether you are looking for a scenic race, a fast race, a dirty race or just a crazy race, websites like Active.com and CoolRunning.com are great resources to help you find the perfect race. Here are some of my favorites:

  • The Color Run- This 5k race takes place all over the country and is “3.1 miles of color madness.” The Color Run is for runners of all experience levels and ages and is designed to be more about fun than about speed. Every runner is required to wear a white t-shirt and as they approach each mile marker, color paint is blasted onto them- by the end of the race “they end looking like they fell into a Willy Wonka… tie dyed… vat of colored goodness.”
  • Hollis Fast 5k- If you’re looking to get your best 5k time, you may want to sign up for this race because it is the fastest 5k in New Hampshire. The race is a USATF-certified point-to-point downhill course creating a unique run for all participants. Some of the fastest 5k times have been recorded at this race as the course drops 224 feet in elevation in the 3.1 miles. Unfortunately, this drop in elevation exceeds the state limitations to qualify times for state records, but that doesn’t have to stop you from getting your own PR!
  • Will Run for Beer race series- This race series takes place throughout New Hampshire and Massachusetts and is sponsored in part by Smuttynose Brewing Company. I am running my first 5k in one of the series races in Hampton, New Hampshire and the best part of this 5k is there is free beer at the end. (No other incentive necessary!)
  • Rugged Maniac 5k- You thought the Color Run looked messy? Try the Rugged Maniac 5k, a 3.1 mile obstacle race. Each course has at least 20 obstacles that include climbing over 7-foot walls, crawling through mud, jumping over fire and more. This is for the true adventure-seeker who is sick of your average 5k and is willing to get a little rugged!
  • Luv2Run Portland- If you’re just looking for a scenic 5k to run, the Luv2Run Portland might be the right race for you. The off-road course through the Back Cove Trail in Portland is a scenic race sure to please any running who enjoys running near the ocean.

Stretches to combat runner’s knee, one of the most common running injuries

One of the most common over-use injuries for runners is Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome, or more commonly known as runner’s knee. This injury occurs “when a mistracking kneecap (patella) irritates the femoral groove in which it rests on the thighbone (femur),” according to Runner’s World. It’s extremely hard to pinpoint the exact cause of this overuse injury because there are so many possibilities. Runner’s World gives the following as possible causes for runner’s knee:

  • The patella may be larger on the outside than it is on the inside, it may sit too high in the femoral groove, or it may dislocate easily.
  • Worn cartilage in the knee joint reduces shock absorption, high-arched feet provide less cushioning, and flat feet or knees that turn in or out excessively can pull the patella sideways.
  • Tight hamstring and calf muscles put pressure on the knee, and weak quadriceps muscles can cause the patella to track out of alignment.
  • Constant overuse alone can also stimulate soreness.

Women are more likely than men to develop runner’s knee because they have wider hips, putting the kneecap under more stress. Runner’s knee also affects mostly younger, recreational (non-professional) runners.

I have recently developed runner’s knee, only a month and a half into my 5k training, but I’m looking at some options to relieve the stress from my knee. For me I’m pretty sure the cause is from overuse because I exercise six out of the seven days in a week. To combat my runner’s knee I’ve read that there are specific stretches targeted at relieving stress from the kneecap. One of the most important stretches is for the iliotibial band, this is the tendon that runs from the hips down the outside of your thigh and tucks in just below the knee.

Below is a pretty good video outlining some stretching exercises to heal your runner’s knee.

A beginners guide to training for a 5k

Never in my life would I have considered myself to be a “runner.” I only ran in high school for sports practice and rarely ran other than that. When I started my 5k training I was in relatively good shape already- doing kickboxing three or four times a week, with regular weight and cardio days in between. However, for some reason I always wanted to run a road race. My dad was a marathoner back in his heyday, he ran a total of 16 marathons (including eight Boston Marathons) among other smaller races. This had to be a good sign for me then, running ran in my blood.

I had heard of these “couch to 5k” programs and thought maybe that would be a good place to start. Since we live in a Mac world, I immediately sought the assistance of my iPhone to find an app that would help me get started. There are tons of “couch to 5k” apps in the app store but I settled on the “Get Running” app because the reviews seemed good. The app works especially well when you plug in your headphones- a woman’s voice will guide you through the run and tell you when it’s time to walk and when to cool down and stretch. I am on week 4 and so far so good!

Screen shot of the "Get Running" app.

The problem most beginner runners have is that they start off too fast and too strong and get winded very quickly. The goal of the “couch to 5k” program is to ease beginners into running by doing a series of interval training, mixing running and walking, with rest days in between. A lot of beginners become overly ambitious and focused on the mileage they run but it’s really better to take it slow at first and build up endurance to get to your goal.

Since I started running I have become obsessed, I guess that’s what you would call a “runner’s high.” I have registered for a 5k for June 3rd in Hampton, N.H. and am hoping to reach a goal of under 30 minutes. I think it’ll be doable but only time will tell. I will keep you updated as I continue with my training. Happy running!