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November 2007 Archives

Varying your routine

As another marathon season winds up, I find myself asking a familiar question: is it time to incorporate other activities into my fitness routine?

Every year, the answer's been the same. No.

I've always felt that if you want to get good at an activity, do more of it. But that's my perspective.

If you have no interest in finding out how well you stack up against others, by all means, diversify. Walk, run, swim, cycle, play squash, dance. Do any combination of things that will get your heart rate up and burn calories. It can only do you good.

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Runner's high and your heart

They're talking about it again — that mythical point when you're exercising hard and your mind and body seem to separate and this euphoric feeling comes over you. Runner's high, some folks call it. Hooey, according to others.

Meriam Webster defines it as "a feeling of euphoria that is experienced by some individuals engaged in strenuous running and that is held to be associated with the release of endorphins by the brain."

Last week, researchers at the University of Iowa rekindled the debate with their innocuous-sounding paper Exercise Enhances Myocardial Ischemic Tolerance via an Opioid Receptor-Dependent Mechanism.

In English, that means "runner's high" may not only make you feel good, it may help ward off heart attacks.

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I'm no fan of Oprah, but...

Glad my name's not Edward McClelland. The poor guy's in for three hours and 30 minutes of taunts if he follows through on his promise of running a marathon next spring.

He's done more to anger and unite the running community — if such a thing exists — with five little words: How Oprah ruined the marathon. That's the title of his article that ran on Salon.com last Friday, just before the New York City Marathon.

"America's competitive spirit," he said, "has been wrecked by feel-good amateurs like Oprah whose only goal is to stagger across the finish line."

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Running for a cause

The vast majority of people who run marathons don't do it for the money or the chance to represent their country at the Olympics. They do it to push their limits, to try to shove back the hands of time or because they love picking at the blisters on their feet.

Sometimes they do it because others can't or to raise awareness and money for a pet cause.

I've seen firefighters and soldiers in full gear running marathons. Once in Boston, a guy glided past me wearing a t-shirt that read "Through God all things are possible." He wasn't gliding when I slipped past him at mile 17.

This weekend in New York City, 47-year-old Andre Ditto will be running one of the biggest marathons in the United States carrying a backpack stuffed with almost 15 kilograms college textbooks. He wants to raise awareness about the high cost of textbooks.

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