WHATEVER YOU DO

November 15, 2011 Read: Philippians 3

"I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus." --Philippians 3:14

Marathons by sheer necessity have a way of taking over a city. Streets transform into running lanes; sidewalks into grandstands. And with no cars on the road, signals and signs can be completely ignored. Or so I thought. See, in the days before the race, a friend and avid runner named Juancho Fuentes shook his head as he said to me, "Whatever you do, don't stop." I nodded in obvious agreement, as if I had just been told to keep my elbows off the table.

Well, with Queensboro Bridge about four miles behind me, I did it. Cover your ears Juancho, but I stopped to adjust the wrap around my injury. As I did, both legs simultaneously locked up. Fortunately, I was in the middle of a water station area, where the road was slick, enabling me to shuffle for nearly 100 feet until I could bend my knees.

I winced as I turned the next corner into a business district. And wouldn't you know it, having just survived concrete quicksand, lining the street as far as I could see were the signs: "NO STOPPING ANYTIME." It was too painful for me to enjoy the irony. Visit that avenue today and those signs serve their primary purpose for parked cars and delivery trucks. But for a mile or so, they stood as a constant reminder of the harsh reality that I had to keep moving. If I stopped, I was done.

QUESTION: School getting rough? Keep studying. Unbearable boss? Be thankful for work. Struggling with your weight or failing at the dinner table? The extra mile will be worth your while. Whatever you do, don't stop.

--Jimmy Peña

RUN LONGER BY RUNNING FASTER

Think the only way to become a better distance runner is to run for distance? Think again. While the importance of event-specific training can not be marginalized, there is a growing body of research to suggest that interval training may have value as well.

Scientists at the University of Western Ontario (London) found that subjects who performed 4-6, 30-second sprints three times per week burned twice as much fat as those who jogged for 30-60 minutes at a steady pace. Both groups gained an average of 1% lean mass. But what’s even more interesting is that the endurance markers — time trials in 2000-meter run and VO2 max performance — were similar with both groups.

So while intervals are highly touted for their ability to burn fat, they are also a solid option for decreasing your times on your long runs. Intervals boost your heart's stroke volume, or total blood pumped per beat. That means longer times to fatigue, which is critical for distance runners. So don't feel guilty if you can't make it out for your five-miler today -- 15 minutes worth of high-intensity intervals will provide you with plenty of benefits to take on your next run.