Last sumer, seven student-athletes from Spanish River Community High School in Boca Raton, Florida, traveled to the beautiful mountains, trails and valleys of Colorado and Utah to run, build up their summer mileage for fall cross country and experience the United States’ unparalleled mountain region – all while having an awesome, fun time!
It was all a part of the inaugural Run Republic Running Camp for high school students, which merges the concept of a typical summer running camp (running multiple times a day, bonding with peers, and learning new skills, while staying in the dorms at a college campus) with the super successful and adventurous teen tour (which keeps campers on the go constantly and involves lots of exciting adventure).
“We believe we have created a running camp experience unlike any other,” said Run Republic Running Camp co-founder Doug Horn. “At the core of Run Republic is running. But beyond that, we offer our participants mentorship, training, travel, adventure, friendship, education, fun and excitement. Our goal is to create memories, experiences and bonds during our trips…that go beyond running and truly will last a lifetime!”
Horn, who is the head coach of the Spanish River High School cross country and track teams, founded Run Republic Running Camp with his assistant coach Melissa Perlman. Both Horn and Perlman are accomplished mid- and long-distance runners who ran in high school and college and continue to compete today.
Summer 2015 attendee Andres Parada, a senior at Spanish River High School added: “I’ve been on several teen tours throughout the U.S. and Canada, and Run Republic was by far the best. It was very similar to other teen tours, but when you add in the running, closer friendships are built and the experience somehow means so much more!”
While the summer of 2015 trip featured an itinerary that ranged from snowshoeing in Loveland Pass and water rafting in Glenwood Springs, Colorado to hiking Zion and Arches National Parks and playing Frisbee in Park City, Utah, the 2016 summer trip selection promises to be even more diverse and exciting.
Trips for the summer of 2016, which are open to all high school cross country student-athletes, are as follows:
Colorado, Arizona, Nevada (June 10-20, 2016)
Track Olympic Trials in Eugene, Oregon and Weekend in Seattle, Washington (June 30-July 10, 2016)
North Carolina Trails (August 2016-dates to be finalized soon)
Itineraries, dates, and costs are posted at www.runrepubliccamp.com. According to the founders, spots are limited, so sign up TODAY!
This summer, from July 27 to August 5, the 14th European Maccabi Games (EMG2015) will take place in Berlin, Germany, and I personally have the great privilege of participating in the games as a member of Team USA’s Half Marathon Team. The EMG2015 are Europe’s biggest Jewish sports event with more than 2000 athletes, coaches and counselors from 36 countries around world. Personally, this will be my third time participating in the Maccabi Games; my first two experiences both occurred in Israel as part of the World Maccabi Games (once in 1997 as a member of the Junior Track & Field team and most recently in 2013 as a member of the Women’s Half Marathon team).
However, this summer’s experience promises to be extra meaningful. For the first time ever, the European Maccabi Games will take place in Germany – just 70 years after the end of the Shoah and the Second World War and 50 years after the establishment of German-Israeli relations. And potentially most significantly – right in the midst of a period of heightened terrorist attacks and anti-Semitism in Europe, when prominent leaders and journalists from around the world are suggesting the Jews emigrate from Europe. Further, the EMG2015 will be held at Olympic Park in Berlin, which is the same location where Jews were forbidden to participate in the Olympic Games of 1936 – less than 80 years ago.
The historic and sociopolitical importance of the EMG2015 is enormous for Germany, Berlin and the worldwide Jewish community. And the urgency of Jews like myself not backing down but rather traveling to Europe, and specifically Germany, to proudly compete in athletics and celebrate being Jewish is dire.
It is with this purpose in mind, that I humbly ask you to support me in reaching my Chaverim requirement and becoming an integral part of my personal journey to Berlin and EMG2015.
I have to say, it’s impressive when athletes push themselves to accomplish more…remove themselves from their comfort zone in the hope to reach their goals, live their dreams, etc. It happens all the time in high school and college levels, but when it is done on the professional or Olympic level, it’s even more inspiring.
Take Shalane Flanagan, an American long-distance runner, who currently holds the American record times in the 3000 meters, 5000 meters, and 10,000 meters. I remember her from back in her Massachusetts high school days as well as at the University of North Carolina, where it seemed she could do no wrong…She was always described as one of the best from my generation of runners. And she definitely met the expectations. In fact in 2008, at the Beijing Olympics, Shalane finished in third in the 10,000 meters. So while most would continue on this path of the 10,000 meters (the one that they finished third in the world in) and just look to tweak or better their performance little by little, Shalane instead did something drastic. She changed her premiere event to the marathon. And she aimed high: to qualify for the Olympic team – and medal.
In my own high school experience, I started off running the 800 and 1600 meter races in track season. I did that my freshman and sophomore years. For some reason I felt a strong draw to the 800 meters back then even though in the end I realized I had no business running such a race (one the 400 meters girls attempted the two-lap race…I was quickly left in their sub 50-quarter dust!). After finishing in fifth and sixth (I believe) at the Florida State Championships, I realized I wanted more control over how I did…and in order to do so, I needed to focus on the longer distances. For my junior and senior seasons, I refocused on the 1600 and 3200 meter races. My change in focus was obviously because I believed I had more opportunity in the longer races…and in the end it was the 1600 and 3200 meters that I won individual state titles in.
For Shalane, she already finished at the top of the pack in the 10,000 meters…so was it that she felt she could do better in the longer race (like I felt back in high school) or was it another goal she wanted to meet? To compete in and be the best at something else? Both reasons are plausible and to me both are impressive…
In a 2011 issue of Running Times Magazine, Shalane said “When I first sat down with Jerry (her coach), I expressed an interest in trying to run a marathon in the next couple years, and what better way than attempt the training and see if I can handle it. I’ve never done anything close to what’s required to run a marathon. We took the time this fall to try that. This year not being a world championship year, we figured now was the time to tackle that training. Whether I run one this spring is still to be determined, but regardless if I run on the track or a marathon, I will have this really great base of work. It will allow me to have multiple options. I’m excited. I’ve never done anything like it. I can see the progress and I think it will set me up nicely for the next chapter in my career.”
Shalane ended up winning her debut half marathon race, won the Miami Rock n Roll Latin Half Marathon in December 2011 (where I ran as well), and then won the Olympic trials for the full marathon in Houston, TX a few weeks later. While there were many articles and features claiming this was the USA’s best chance for a medal in the women’s marathon in London…Flanagan unfortunately did not. She finished 10th overall – her body cramping, aching, etc.
However, Shalane spoke of her experience in a recent article appearing in Innovation For Endurance.
I recently wrote a post about fans of the Olympics and professional sports being motivated to workout, get in shape and more…A friend of mine (ironically from my Running Group) sent the following article which was published on CNBC.com yesterday (but originally written by Reuters). It talks about how a combination of the Olympics (and its excitement) and the depressed economy has caused many individuals to turn to running. Running, of course, is cheaper than gym memberships and other sports (like tennis lessons or renting a court, swimming, etc.). It refers specifically to Europe, but I am confident a similar phenomenom has been happening in the United States as well.
I have pulled out a few of my favorite points. I, however, do recommend that you read the whole thing here.
Fun Runners Hit the Road in Crisis-Struck Europe
As budgets tighten and working lives get more stressful, running is experiencing a boom as people hit the parks and streets of their cities to escape from it all and keep themselves healthy for just the cost of a pair of sneakers.
With places in marathons and road races from New York to London to Berlin being snapped up almost instantly, and hundreds of thousands of spectators turning up to watch the triathlon and marathon at the London 2012 Olympics, the $18 billion running market is set for further growth.
“There is absolutely a running boom and it’s global,” Mike McManus, Adidas market director for running, told Reuters at the group’s headquarters in the small Bavarian town of Herzogenaurauch, where employees regularly make the most of the area’s woodland trails for lunchtime runs.
While the successes of the Olympics may inspire some people to get off their sofas and into a pair of running shoes, medal-winning is not the main motivation behind the trend.
“People are doing it not to win, like Usain Bolt, but because they want to get fit. People run to have fun and keep their weight in check, because we all like to eat and drink a little too much,” said Klaus Jost, chairman of Intersport International Corp, the brand management and purchasing arm of the world’s largest sporting goods retailer.
The boom is especially noticeable among people in their mid-20s who are new to the sport and who see running as a way to escape the stresses and strains of working life, or even as a way to get to the office, say people in the sports industry.
The health club sector, meanwhile, is suffering in the economic downturn as consumers cut discretionary spending.
The UK’s Fitness First chain narrowly avoided insolvency in June, but is now looking to sell around half of its gyms.
Running coach Peter McHugh de Clare, who at 65 years of age still runs for 90 minutes a day, agrees.
“We’re built to run and if we don’t do it, we’re going to have a very big health problem. Running is easy, it’s relatively cheap,” he told Reuters.
With the 2012 London Olympics less than a week away, states and cities around the United States are clamoring for their very own hometown stars. And Florida is no different. So let’s get to it. Who’s who in the Olympics? Who calls Florida home? And who gives us the best chance of ‘bumping into a gold medalist? Consider this a Florida fan’s guide to the Olympics.
The United States Olympic Committee announced its 530-member team (of course with some last minute changes apt to happen).
31 of the 530 (or 5.8%) call the Sunshine state home; many more have roots on Florida.
The majority of the Florida athletes are competing in sailing, followed by track and field, swimming, and tennis.
The most famous of the Floridans include Olympian Ryan Lochte from Daytona Beach, and Sanya Richards-Ross from Fort Lauderdale. Lochte is a six-time medalist in swimming and is favored in the 200-meter freestyle. Richards-Ross is a track star (formerly of St. Thomas Aquinas High School) and favored in the 400 meters.
To see a full list of athletes with South Floridaconnections (including the sport they will compete in; their personal South Florida connection; the country they are competing for; and exactly when you can see them compete), view my recent Examiner article here.
A fantastic read from Running Times Magazine about former Florida High School standout Mason Cathey and her return to the national (and potential world) stage. I found out that Mason was training for the Olympics a few months back and was truly inspired to hear about her journey back to competitive running/racing. She was a star in high school and someone I competed against every so often. (She was in a smaller A so I did not see her as often as you would think.) She went to the University of Florida and did not live up to her own expectations (I am sure) nor others…But after college, she began coaching at a few colleges and saw that she could train with her team of runners, and do well. She also apparently still had the bug. She has since competed along side of some of the best out there today…and I will be rooting for her at the USA trials in the 3K Steeplechase in June. Good luck!
And here is a small excerpt from the actual article if my lead-in wasn’t enough!
“My first sighting of Mason Cathey is burned on my retina like a sunspot. It was February of 1997, and it was my first day as volunteer pole vault coach at Bishop Kenny High School in Jacksonville, Florida. I was standing near the first turn of the track when this spry, blonde,14-year old girl raced by. What stood out about her—other than the fact she was 50 meters ahead of everyone else—was her form. Most girls, for whatever reason, waddle when they run—their arms swing across their body instead of forward—but not Mason. Her running stride was more like Bob Hayes, with the powerful hip torque, equating to a stride length that was not indicative of her 5’ 6” height.”
With my big 30th Birthday coming up tomorrow…I thought it was appropriate to write a blog post on running and aging and how they actually do go together. And it’s what gives me hope as I continue to train and compete. I mean there has to be something to look forward to, right? So here it is:
According to experts, female long distance runners typically peak in their late 20s and early 30s. See exhibit A:
At the 2008 NYC marathon there were 41 elite women. There average age was 33, Two thirds were 30 or older and nearly a half were 35 and older. Some of the famous names were Paula Radcliffe 34, the eventful winner, Gete Wami 33 and Catherine Ndereba 36, the fourth place finisher.
And it is not just NYC marathon, just look at this list of 2008 marathon winners;
2008 Beijing Olympic marathon- Constantina Tomescu of Romania, 38 Years young.
2008 Berlin Marathon – Irina Mikitenko, 36 years young.
2008 Chicago marathon – Lidiya Grigoryeva, 34 years young.
Most recently, the 2012 Marathon Olympic Trials in Houston, TX results:
First Place: Shalane Flanagan (age 30)
Second: Desiree Davila (age 28)
Third: Kara Goucher (age 33) — also a mom
I’ve also heard that women often peak post child birth. The questions then become: Are women peaking in these longer distances because of age or because we typically are not competing in such long distance races (as the half and full marathons) until post college and therefore are naturally older? And are they improving post child birth because of some endorphin released in to the system, because we can handle pain better, or just because women are often having babies around this age? Well, I went out on a search for these answers and more and learned some in the process.
According to RunningTips101.com expert resource Coach Rick Rothman, “Most of the time, endurance athletes peak ten years after they begin.” (This would make sense as many of us start freshman year of high school, which would put you at 14 or 15 years old.) He adds: “Many times, women tend to start running later in life (not always). But, there are many factors; it’s too much of a generalization to say women peak in there 30’s.”
According to Physiology of Sport & Exercise, 2nd Edition: “In general, maximal muscle strength peaks between the ages of 25 and 35. Beyond that age range, the ability to lift weight declines at a steady rate of about 1.8% per year. Of course, as with other measurements of human performance, individual strength varies considerably.” This strength peak has to correlate to running.
Another outlet explained the following: “The physical peak for most humans, in most sports, is between 25 and 35 years of age; during this peak period, the well-conditioned athlete can create a confluence of muscular strength, peak cardiovascular and oxygen transport, speed and reaction time, and mental capabilities (including the ability to deal with competitive pressures), all bound together by a desire to succeed.” I like that answer – and can 100% relate to it. As an athlete, discipline and maturity make training and competing much easier. The emotional baggage that I feel kept me from “peaking” in my high school and college years, I personally feel has since disipated. To the point that I often look back wishing I could tell myself to relax, not worry so much, and just go out there and run. I can recall Coach Rothman telling me that before a big cross country race my senior year of high school. He said “Go out there and just run, have fun.” He had a few jokes in there that I’ll leave out for now!
More interesting insight that I found from Advameg, Inc.: “For sports in which strength (both muscular strength and bone density), oxygen uptake, and cardiovascular efficiency are vital to success, the aging process may be slowed, though never halted or reversed. Since 1950, the average age of world champion distance runners in the 3-mi (5,000 m) races through to the 26-mi marathons (42.2 km) ranges between 28 and 32 years of age. From this peak of ability, runners will continue to perform at levels close to their personal best into their late 30s and early 40s; performance then declines at a rate of approximately 2% per year through age 80. Swimming, which like running places a premium on cardiovascular strength, shows a similar regression from best performance times as an athlete ages. The success of female swimmers at early ages (there have been numerous Olympic gold medals and world records set by female swimmers under the age of 20) is related to both the earlier physical maturation of female athletes, as well as the physical dynamics of the female swimmer in the water; the progressive decline in the performance of female swimmers due to age is similar to that of male swimmers. Consistent with these physiological constants, the oldest gold medalist in the history of all Olympic track and field events was Patrick McDonald, an American hammer thrower, who won the 1920 competition at age 42. The oldest Olympic track champion in the 1,500-m race was 31-year-old Albert Hill of Kenya, in 1988. Female competitors have the added variables of prospective pregnancy and child-rearing, which will remove the athlete from intense training and competition for an often-significant period. Childbirth may also change the physical shape of a female athlete, particularly in a widening of the pelvis, which may impact subsequent athletic performance.”
Which of course brings us to childbirth. Does it help or hurt female runners? As I noted earlier, third place 2012 USA Marathon Trials finisher Kara Goucher has a new baby. A great article in Time Out Chicago Kids touched on this subject:
“Research shows that there may be physiological benefits to having kids, from a tapering effect that allows chronic injuries to heal up during pregnancy to a surge in the hormone relaxin—which loosens pelvic and cervical joints for delivery, and hangs around the body after childbirth, possibly making a woman’s gait longer, smoother and more efficient. Also, pregnancy increases your blood volume, says Jim Pivarnik, Ph.D., a professor of kinesiology at Michigan State University who has studied pregnant athletes. As blood volume rises, so does red blood cell count, improving a woman’s efficiency at utilizing oxygen—which means running faster at the same effort. The problem is that all of these effects are hard to measure. (Obviously, researchers aren’t thrilled with the idea of turning preggos into lab rats.) Pivarnik estimates that any residual blood-volume benefit has diminished by about eight weeks postpartum. And you’d be hard-pressed to find a woman—even at the elite level—who’d race that soon after having a child. When it comes down to it, labor may make the most difference. Enduring hours of contractions and delivery—and sometimes C-section recovery to boot—may raise women’s pain threshold. Lincoln Square resident Jessi Merecki, a 38-year-old mom of two, says slashing 92 minutes off her pre-kiddos marathon best was due to “a combination of mental toughness from being a parent and physical toughness from childbirth.” She’s on to something, according to Pivarnik. “I would hypothesize that if being a mom is any help [to running], most of it would be mental,” he says. “Active moms may find that they’re more efficient and focused in training because they have so much more on their plates. It’s like that Yogi Berra saying, ‘90 percent of this is half mental.’ ” Read the full article here.
Post 30? Does the improvement continue?
According to RunningForFitness.org, “From the 30s onwards, a number of physical changes take place in the average person’s body. Aerobic capacity decreases, muscle mass reduces, muscle elasticity reduces, lung elasticity declines, bone density reduces, the metabolism slows, body fat increases and the immune system becomes weaker. These changes will have an adverse impact on running performance. The fall in aerobic capacity, reduced stride length, reduced leg strength, and reduced ability to store energy all contribute to deterioration in performance. In general, it is thought that running speeds over any distance deteriorate by about 1% a year from a peak at some point in the 30s; and we appear to lose aerobic capacity at about 9-10% a decade.”
Now of course that doesn’t mean older individuals can’t run…we’ve all seen the skinny, old guy in the bun huggers at the local 5K and 10K races and he seems to be doing alright. It just means that we shouldn’t expect to see many 50, 60, 70 year old marathon winners. Or better yet, expect it from ourselves. However, at age 30 there is still plenty of time for me (I hope)…and I believe I’m just hitting my 30-year-old peak marathon stride!