Your Online Source for Running Wed, 02 Sep 2015 04:46:27 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Photos: Amazing Images from the 2015 Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc Wed, 02 Sep 2015 04:36:56 +0000

More than 7,250 runners tackled one of the five races during UTMB week that ranged in length between 50K and 300K.

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The 13th annual Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc trail running race was held Aug. 28-30 in Chamonix, France. The 104-mile race sends runners around the the Mont Blanc massif, the largest mountain range in Western Europe, on a through-the-night voyage through parts of France, Italy and Switzerland. Runners tackle more than 30,000 feet of vertical gain and go up and over 10 mountains before reaching the finish line back in Chamonix. In all, more than 7,250 runners tackled one of the five races during UTMB week that ranged in length between 50K and 300K.

RELATED: Americans Run Strong at UTMB, CCC in Chamonix

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Workout of the Week: 2 x 6 Miles Wed, 02 Sep 2015 03:43:55 +0000

A good 2 x 6 workout can signal a good marathon a few weeks later. Photo:

Make this tried-and-true marathon-specific session work for you!

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A good 2 x 6 workout can signal a good marathon a few weeks later. Photo:

Fall is right around the corner and many runners will be digging into the meat of their marathon training over the next 1-2 months. Elite or age-grouper, we all like to have a key workout leading up to our big race that, when we can nail it, lets us know we’re in a good position to achieve our goal.

The 2 x 6-mile workout is one of the benchmark sessions for the members of the Hansons-Brooks Distance Project, an elite group of professional distance runners based in Rochester Hills, Mich., which has produced Olympians Brian Sell (2008) and Desiree Davila (2012), and has seen numerous personal bests set amongst the rest of the team since forming in 1999. The Hansons-Brooks athletes know that when they hit the 2 x 6, which is always performed three weeks before their goal marathon, that they’re ready to race well.

RELATED: The 5-4-3-2-1 Long Run

“I think there’s a lot to this workout,” says Luke Humphrey, head coach of Hansons Coaching Services, author of both the Hansons Marathon Method and Hansons Half Marathon Method and 2:14 marathoner who has been a member of the Hansons-Brooks Distance Project since 2004. “To me, if you can be tired but run somewhat controlled and hit your splits, then you are in a good position. Some people will feel amazing and that’s OK too; however, if you feel sluggish and tired but can ‘toughen up’ a little on the second of the six miles, then I think you get a real idea of where you are for strength. It gives you a good idea of what you are going to have to do in the later parts of the marathon.”

So how can you make the Hansons’ 2 x 6-mile workout work for you?

After a 3-mile warmup, form drills and strides, run 6 miles at 5 seconds per mile faster than your goal marathon pace. So, if your 26.2-mile goal pace is 8 minutes per mile, you aim to hold steady at 7:55s for 6 miles. After completing the first 6-mile segment, take 10 minutes to shed clothes, use the bathroom or jog around a little bit before going into another 6 miles at the same pace as the first: 5 seconds per mile faster than goal marathon pace. If you’re feeling good, it’s OK to pick up the pace a little bit—maybe another 5 or so seconds per mile—but you want to avoid racing the second 6-mile segment and compromising your recovery for the next workout a few days later, Humphrey says.

“I don’t recommend blasting the second one,” Humphrey advises. “I feel like we already do a lot of hard work and speeding up on the second one only takes away from your ability to recover for the next workout and provides no real extra stimulus. I feel like I’ve never raced well after crushing this workout.”

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Generation Next: America’s Fastest Young Runners Tue, 01 Sep 2015 18:33:31 +0000

Photo: Isaac Lane Koval

We take a look at 15 of the country’s best young runners.

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Photo: Isaac Lane Koval

The next crop of American runners is already here. We take a look at 15 of the country’s best young runners who are already making a big impact in marathons, trail running, cross country, and track and field.

Alexa Efraimson, 18
Camas, Wash.

When people talk about the next great American female running phenom, they often mention Mary Cain. But someone who also deserves to be in that limelight is Alexa Efraimson. Like Cain, this middle-distance ace decided to skip college running and turn pro. (She’s training under the guidance of her high school coach Mike Hickey and taking classes at University of Portland.) Last year, she broke Cain’s American high school indoor record for the 3,000 meters by almost 2 seconds (9:00.16). In 2013, Efraimson won bronze at the World Youth Championship 1,500m event. “I attribute my success in running to my support group, my close friends, my family, my coach and my training partners,” Efraimson,says. “They are there through the ups and the downs and they always believe, not only on race day but every day, which I think is one of the strongest contributors to my success.” Efraimson is currently focusing on the 1,500m—a distance she thinks she’s best at running. She lowered her 1,500m PR to 4:03.39, setting a new American junior record while placing seventh at the Pre Classic international track meet on May 30 in Eugene, Ore. “I like to take one season at a time and one race at a time, each as a stepping stone and learning opportunity,” she says. —Duncan Larkin

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Four-Legged Fun: A Guide to Running With Your Dog Tue, 01 Sep 2015 18:08:17 +0000

Know the local leash laws before heading out on a trail with your dog, and always have a leash handy for safety. Photo: Julia Beck Vandenoever

Having a canine running partner reaps big rewards for both human and pup. Here's how to do it right.

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Know the local leash laws before heading out on a trail with your dog, and always have a leash handy for safety. Photo: Julia Beck Vandenoever

Dogs make great running partners. They’re almost always game for whatever route you have in mind. They never have scheduling conflicts. And they’re extremely happy while running, their joy undeniably rubbing off on you. Plus, knowing your dog needs exercise provides a motivational bonus for you, getting you both out the door.

But how do you know if your dog is fit to run? Or needs a recovery day? And where are the best places to take your dog running with you? Follow our guide to ensure both you and pup make the most of running together.

Puppy? Be Patient

Most vets recommend waiting until a puppy is 1 to 2 years old, depending on the breed, before taking them running with you. “You want to wait until they’re fully skeletally mature, when their growth plates are done closing,” says Dr. Elisabeth Jobe of Advanced Animal Care of Colorado. “When the bones are developing, and you’re putting stress on them, you can cause premature closure of the growth plates which increases the risk of arthritis and other issues.”

Smaller breeds mature sooner than larger breeds, and can be ready to run when they’re a year to a year and a half. Larger breeds can take 18 to 24 months. Check with your vet for more specific guidance.

Dogs Need Training, Too

Like people, dogs shouldn’t go from off-the-couch to running 5 miles without training. “It’s important to build endurance in dogs gradually, just as you would in humans,” says Dr. Lynne Hapel of Eastown Veterinary Clinic in Grand Rapids, Mich. Gradually building up to longer distances is key to getting a dog’s whole body toned evenly, which helps prevent injury from doing too much, too soon.

“Simulate what they’re going to be doing,” Jobe says. “Do that same type of activity in small amounts initially, and increase by 10 to 15 percent every 14 days or so.

Hiking and run-walking can ease a dog into running shape, and hiking is an ideal start for dogs and owners who will be trail running together.

With the right dog and a gradual buildup of training, you may be surprised at how long your dog can go. Joelle Vaught, an ultrarunner from Boise, Idaho, has been running with her German Shorthair pups for years. “We’ve done 50Ks together!” she says.

RELATED: An Ultrarunning Trail Fiend of a Dog

Where To Run

Soft surfaces like dirt and grass are better for paws than pavement and concrete. “Running on gravel or rock can be painful to a dog,” says Judy Morgan, holistic veterinarian in Clayton, N.J. “And pea gravel can get between pads and cause irritation.” Remember: You’re wearing protective shoes; they aren’t.

If you head to a trail, know the leash laws in your area. Some trails have voice control laws that allow your dog off-leash if they’ve undergone proper training and wear a certain tag to prove it. While some vets recommend always having a dog on leash (but not a retractable leash, which can extend too long) for the safety of the owner, the dog, and those around them, others say it depends on the dog. Having a leash handy (even if a dog is running off-leash) can help quell unexpected confrontations with other dogs or trail users (especially at a trailhead), as well as the instinct to chase wildlife.

Running on dirt surfaces in tree-covered areas is ideal, as the shade keeps the trail cool in hot months. And running on hilly terrain that slows you down can be good for your dog, as they’re better able to keep up. Just make sure to go easy on them and train them for the hills as you would yourself.

If you do run on concrete through urban areas, plan wisely. Jobe says she runs on sidewalks while letting her dogs run on the grass alongside. And Hapel recommends planning routes where you know fresh water is available.

Check For Ticks

Post-run, it’s important to check your pup’s fur and skin for burrs, and their pads for any tears. But if you live somewhere that has ticks of any sort, be sure to scan your dog for those, too.

Bernadine Cruz, a veterinarian in Orange County, Calif., recommends getting preventive tick medicine from your vet. But if you do find a tick on your pup, she suggests using tweezers, needle-nose pliers or roach clips instead of your fingers. “You don’t need to twist it. Just grab as close to the skin as possible and pull straight up. The bump left over isn’t a head—it’s just a reaction. Clean the area with a little alcohol.”

It’s best to remove a tick within 24 hours of latching on, so get in the habit of checking both your dog and yourself post-run.

“If your pet develops any symptoms—anything that just seems off for a day or two, if they’re weak, vomiting, diarrhea, stiff in the joints, have a fever—have them looked at,” Cruz says.

Health and Safety

Running on a trail near a water source can give your dog a place to cool down by wallowing in a creek or cooling their belly in a lake. There, however, you run the risk of your dog lapping up water that might have giardia or other intestinal threats. If you know your dog will run into any water it sees, keep it on a leash and bring ample water for both of you.

Know that dogs don’t sweat, but rather pant to cool off. To keep them cool in summer months, exercise with them in the early morning or late evening. And if you live somewhere with a snowy, icy winter, consider putting them in a jacket or sweater made for dogs (if they’ll let you). And check their paws frequently during the run for snow and ice balls, clearing the space between their toes from built-up snow.

Most importantly, be sure to listen to your dog and look closely for any changes in its gait as you run.

“Limping means pain,” Jobe says. Your pup could have stepped on something like a cactus spine, or have a minor cut on one of their pads, but a limp could also suggest something more serious.

How Much Is Too Much?

Since your dog wants to please you, it might run with you beyond its limit. “If you stop for a break and your dog lies down right away, that’s a good sign that they’ve had enough,” Jobe says.

She also advises that if your dog seems tired for more than four to six hours after exercising, then it was too much. And if your dogs wakes that afternoon or evening and seems stiff, taking longer than usual to get up or down, then it’s time to back off on the running a bit.

And, if your dog kicks one leg out all the time, they might be shifting away from that leg for a reason. “It’s something to think about,” Jobe says.

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Running and Chafing: 5 Tips To Ward Off Unwelcome Irritation Tue, 01 Sep 2015 16:29:57 +0000

Compression apparel can help reduce skin-to-clothing friction. Photo:

There are many things that can negatively affect your race, but anyone who has ever crossed the finish line hunched over in a delicate

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Compression apparel can help reduce skin-to-clothing friction. Photo:

There are many things that can negatively affect your race, but anyone who has ever crossed the finish line hunched over in a delicate crab walk can understand that chafing is one of the most painful and annoying afflictions that can strike you while out on the course.

Dr. Sebastian Gonzales, a member of the sports medical team at the Surf City Marathon and Half Marathon in Huntington Beach, says that the causes of chafing are simple. “Chafing with running typically is just an irritation to the skin from excessive friction,” he says. “This can happen in a variety of places from nipples to thighs—anything is really fair game. It can happen in a place where the skin comes into contact with other skin, where moisture remains or exposed to clothing.” Gonzales says factors like excessive temperatures, sensitive skin and bad clothing choices can exacerbate race-day chafing. “On the topic of overall body composition, if an athlete has excessive skin from recent weight loss, excessive fat or even excessive muscle skin from muscular development, they can also be more susceptible to chafing,” he adds.

RELATED: Dealing With Injuries That Aren’t Really Injuries

Coach Danny Fisher of Runners Connect says that another chafing culprit behind is your body’s own salt. “When you sweat, you also push out salt,” he says. “Salt grains have a sharp, square structure. As you dehydrate, you continue to push out more salt but not enough water to wash the salts away. That salt then can begin to work like sand paper against your skin.”

Here are five tried-and-true tips to keep yourself safe from the chafe:

1. Get to know your hot spots in advance.

Showing up on on race day hoping that you won’t chafe under your armpits or between your thighs like you have been throughout your training is a big mistake. Fisher suggests a “prehab” routine in order to avoid having to do rehab after the race.  Note your problem areas in your running journal and create a plan to treat them with anti-friction lubricant as part of your pre-race preparation routine.

2. Test out solutions in training.

A long training run can also be used as a laboratory for experimenting with anti-chafing remedies. On these runs, select a few different types of lubricants or powders to find out which work best for you. Those who tend to chafe around their nipples should use small Band-Aids to prevent that scary finish-line photo. Also, try out different types of clothes—moisture-wicking fabrics tend to reduce friction better than your most comfortable cotton t-shirt.

3. Wear compression shorts and other snug clothing.

Compression apparel such as shorts or tights can drastically reduce leg-to-leg friction, or problematic instances where too loose clothes bunch up and rub you the wrong way. Fisher also recommends snug undergarments like sportsbras for women. In addition to wearing tighter clothes, be sure to use anti-chafing lubricant to reduce the risk of skin-to-clothing friction.

4. Take early preventative action.

The minute you suspect you’re starting to chafe is the time to do something about it. Gonzales says you shouldn’t feel shy about finding a medical official along the course and asking for Vaseline or other protective supplies. Fisher recommends splashing water on yourself at water stations to rinse away the salt and then applying lubricant on the susceptible area. “Also take your time taking in some electrolytes and fluids,” Fisher suggests.

5. Plan for your chafing recovery.

Gonzales suggests runners rinse any painful parts or irritated areas as soon as possible after the race. “Clean the area with soap and water to remove dirt and debris,” he advises. “Stop the bleeding if there is any via firm pressure and see a doctor if the area does not seem to be improving as normal rashes do within a few days.” He also suggests letting the chafed areas air out. Lastly, learn from the experience. Remember what worked, what didn’t, and log these lessons so that your next race is as friction-free as possible.

RELATED: How Runners Prevent Chafing Issues

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Race-Winning Nutrition From The Western States 100 Tue, 01 Sep 2015 13:40:51 +0000


Winning nutritional secrets from two top endurance racers.

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Episode two of GU TV features pro cyclist Yuri Hauswald, winner of the 2015 Dirty Kanza 200 gravel-cycling race, interviewing running champ and 2015 Western States 100 race winner Magdalena Lewy-Boulet about the nutrition plans they each used to win their respective races.

We caught up with Magdalena Boulet, winner of the 2015 Western States 100 Endurance Run for additional insights on race-day nutrition. Here’s what she had to say:

Could you describe the breakfast you ate before your successful WS100 day?
Three hours before the race, I ate a small bowl of cooked quinoa with almond butter, salt, and honey and drank a cup of strong coffee. Two hours before the race, I ate two pieces of toast with almond butter and jam. One hour before, I had 16 ounces of hot Lemon Tea GU Brew. Then, five minutes before the start of the race, I had a GU Chocolate Sea Salt Roctane Gel.

Did you test the all-liquid strategy before the race to make sure it would work for you? How? Would you use this strategy again?
My all-liquid fueling strategy at WS100 was very strategic and race specific. The hot conditions at WS100 motivated me to plan my nutritional strategies in order to help me perform as well as possible in a hot environment. I had the opportunity to practice this strategy at the Sean O’Brien 100k and the Canyons 100k races prior to WS. Carbohydrate requirements are increased in the heat, due to a shift in substrate utilization towards carbohydrate oxidation. Proper hydration during hot conditions can enhance performance, avoid thermal stress, maintain plasma volume, and delay fatigue. Overdrinking before, during, and after endurance events may cause sodium depletion and may lead to hyponatremia. The key for me was Roctane Drink, a blend of carbohydrates, electrolytes and amino acids, which I consumed in small but frequent intervals.

In the video, you mentioned consuming “branched-chain amino” acids in your bottle. Why are these important?
Branched chain amino acids are key players in the athlete’s arsenal to maximize performance, recovery, and adaptations to training. When consumed during exercise, BCAAs help reduce central fatigue and decrease soreness. When consumed after both resistance and endurance exercise, they increase muscle protein synthesis rates, decrease degradation, and promote muscle protein accretion and recovery.

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Alana Hadley: America’s Next Great Marathoner Mon, 31 Aug 2015 23:06:38 +0000

Hadley logs 110-120 miles in her biggest training weeks—a total that has progressed an average of 10 miles a week each year since she started running at age 6. Photo: Gerry Melendez

The 18-year-old from Charlotte will run in February's U.S. Olympic Trials Marathon.

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Hadley logs 110-120 miles in her biggest training weeks—a total that has progressed an average of 10 miles a week each year since she started running at age 6. Photo: Gerry Melendez

Heading toward the finish line of the 2013 Indianapolis Monumental Marathon, then 16-year-old Alana Hadley knew she was cutting it close to the U.S. Olympic Trials Marathon standard of 2 hours and 43 minutes.

“When I looked up at the clock on the final straightaway and saw I was going to get the standard, I got really emotional and started bawling,” recalls the now 18-year-old Hadley, who finished fourth that day in 2:41:56. “All your emotions are heightened after a marathon when you are super tired, and I was very overwhelmed with happiness.”

That performance made Hadley, who was a junior in high school at the time, the youngest person to qualify for the Olympic Trials Marathon since Cathy (Schiro) O’Brien did so in 1984, also at age 16. O’Brien, who finished ninth at the ’84 Trials in a still-standing high school record 2:34:24, went on to make two Olympic teams in the marathon—1988 and 1992—a feat Hadley hopes to replicate in a few years.

“While I have achieved a lot at a young age I believe that I still have plenty of areas for me to improve, which I am excited about,” says Hadley, who ran her first road race, a 5K, when she was 6 years old. “I estimate I will be at my physical peak as a marathoner around my late 20s to early 30s.”

Last November, Hadley returned to Indianapolis, winning the race, breaking the course record and lowering her personal best to an impressive 2:38:34—currently the 49th fastest time on USA Track & Field’s qualifier list. A professional since the age of 16—Hadley accepted prize money and the Olympic Trials qualifier bonus at Indianapolis in 2013—she willingly forfeited her ability to compete in high school and collegiate athletics so she could focus on her own long-distance goals.

“I think [longer distances] are the best fit for me physically as well as mentally,” explains Hadley, who is unsponsored, and announced on Sept. 1 that she will be part of the elite field for the 2015 New York City Marathon. “I started out by running on the roads and in road races, so those will always have a special place in my heart.”

Hadley, who has been coached by her father, Mark, since she started running at age 6, logs 110-120 miles in her biggest training weeks—a total that has progressed an average of 10 miles a week each year. Running twice a day most days, Hadley does five main speed or stamina-focused workouts every two weeks, in addition to core work, plyometrics and form drills.

“Because we have undertaken a balanced and slow growth path to training she has been able to get to a high work capacity level needed for the marathon without serious injury and with very strong bones, joints and ligaments and I don’t see any reason why this will change during her career,” explains Mark. “Ultimately I think she has the potential and capabilities to be one of the very best marathon runners in the U.S., and potentially stay there for a good amount of time.”

In August, Hadley moved into her dorm room at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, where she’ll study exercise science, taking a minimum course load so she can still pursue running at the professional level while concentrating on her studies and still having a social life. Being close to home, she’ll also continue staying involved in her community—she taught Bible study in high school and volunteered at special needs camps in the summer months—while also spending time with her family and serving as a role model for her younger siblings.

“While my main focus is on my running, I also find it important to have other things going on in my life to provide a balance,” explains Hadley, who has donated a portion of her prize winnings to Autism charities. “If I only have one thing going on I tend to overthink it sometimes and stress myself out, so having other things to maintain a balance in my life is important.”

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The Lowdown on Little Running Shoes Mon, 31 Aug 2015 22:35:22 +0000

Photo: Rock 'n' Roll Marathon Series

Are running shoes for kids worth the price?

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Photo: Rock 'n' Roll Marathon Series

More and more footwear companies are releasing shoes for kids based off the adult versions of the same model. Is this a marketing ploy, appealing to running parents who think it’s cute to have a “Mini-Me?” Or are these shoes worth the sticker price?

It’s the latter. While materials are often durable to withstand the rigors of being a kid, mini versions of adult shoes assure you that your children aren’t wrecking their feet when they run.

Shoes for kids up to age 5 should be completely flexible (think sock-like) to allow constant growth and strengthening. “But as kids enter school and begin sports and higher-level activities, there’s a necessity for protection,” says Eric Rohr, Brooks Running’s senior biomechanical engineer.

However, that doesn’t mean kids should be put in combat boots, or even stability shoes. Kids’ feet grow and change in length, width, girth and arch shape up until roughly the age of 13.

“Patterns, materials and closures need to be carefully selected in an effort to support a child’s growing and changing foot,” says Scarlett Batchelor, New Balance Kids’ Business Unit Manager.

And don’t put your kid on the treadmill at the running shop just yet. “Unless a kid has any pain or problems, or is logging extreme miles,” says Rohr, “a gait analysis is probably unnecessary until their teenage years.”

Bottom line: Having kids—especially ones who run in an after-school program or races of any kind—in shoes made for running can help mitigate pain and potential problems. It can also help with their running, as well as make them feel fast like Mom and Dad.

RELATED: New Fall 2015 Kids Running Shoes

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New Fall 2015 Kids Running Shoes Mon, 31 Aug 2015 22:31:32 +0000

We put six models of kids running shoes to a the test this summer.

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Kids … they’ll run themselves ragged on the playground, chase friends around the park, and occasionally run the kids’ race at one of your events. Now their shoes benefit from technologies found in grown-up running shoes: lightweight cushioning, flexible outsoles and a bit of support where they need it. Our fleet of mini testers put these six new models through their own wild paces just in time for back-to-school shopping.

RELATED: The Lowdown on Little Running Shoes

RELATED: Get Kids Running Early

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An Ultrarunning Trail Fiend of a Dog Mon, 31 Aug 2015 21:45:30 +0000

Stephanie Howe Violett, and her dog, Riley, run on a trail near Broken Top Mountain in Bend, Ore. Photo: Tyler Roemer

This champion ultrarunner has trained her dog to run up to 5 hours with her.

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Stephanie Howe Violett, and her dog, Riley, run on a trail near Broken Top Mountain in Bend, Ore. Photo: Tyler Roemer

Stephanie Howe Violett and her husband, Zach, knew they wanted to get a dog they could run with, but they weren’t entirely sure what breed would be best for the long-distance running they do on the trails around Bend, Ore. They’re both ultrarunners who regularly log long hours on the trails—as long as 5 hours or 30 miles at a time.

They did some research and they liked what they had learned about English Pointers. The saw a post on Craigslist from a dog owner who couldn’t handle all of their puppies, so for $20 Stephanie and Zach wound up with an English Pointer/black Labrador mix they named Riley.

“He was the cutest thing ever, so we jumped right in and we got him at 6 weeks,” Stephanie recalls.

They still didn’t know if Riley would become a good ultra-distance running partner, nor did they take him to the trails until he was a year old. After the first couple of shorter runs, they started taking him on almost every run and gradually his endurance increased.

“We don’t do ‘normal people’ runs, so he learned pretty quickly how to get used to the trails,” Stephanie says. “He kind of adopted the ultrarunner lifestyle on the fly. And he loves it. He’s become my favorite training partner.”

When Stephanie or Zach take him out for a run, they’ve always made sure he has plenty of water—either from fresh, flowing streams or from their own hydration packs. But they learned the hard way last winter when Riley bonked a bit after a long run in the snow.

“It was the worst thing ever,” Stephanie says. “He was having a blast romping through the snow but we realized we didn’t give him any food and he just bonked. He started teetering toward the end and Zach had to carry him back to the car. He was so wiped out.”

Lately they’ve made sure to carry plenty of snacks for Riley, including the energy treats known as Glyo-Gen Bones made from maltodextrin, whey and by a local veterinarian.

“I think the key is to train your dog well,” Howe Violett says. “I love dogs, but I don’t love when someone else’s dog runs at me and jumps on me when I’m running. So I think teaching them commands and rewarding them with treats and being consistent is super important. And also keeping in mind that they seem invincible, they will break down at some point. You have to make sure they have food and water.”

RELATED: Four-legged Fun: A Guide to Running with Your Dog

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Photos: Distance Highlights From 2015 IAAF World Championships Mon, 31 Aug 2015 20:28:19 +0000

Check out these exciting action shots from a busy week in Beijing!

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The IAAF World Championships in Beijing came to a close on Sunday, as the U.S. racked up 18 total medals (6 gold, 6 silver and 6 bronze) to sit atop the overall leaderboard. Kenya and Jamaica tied for the most golds, with seven a piece.

Here’s a look at the top highlights from the 800 meters through the marathon. All images by

RELATED: Double Gold For Mo Farah—Again

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Americans Run Strong at UTMB, CCC in Chamonix Mon, 31 Aug 2015 19:28:02 +0000

Zach Miller (left) celebrated his win in the 101K CCC race with some flair on Friday night in Chamonix, while David Laney was stoked to finish third at the 167K UTMB on Saturday afternoon. Photo: Conscious Minds Productions

Laney lands on the UTMB podium, while Miller, Tollefson and Boulet shine in the CCC race.

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Zach Miller (left) celebrated his win in the 101K CCC race with some flair on Friday night in Chamonix, while David Laney was stoked to finish third at the 167K UTMB on Saturday afternoon. Photo: Conscious Minds Productions

Since its inception in 2003, the Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc (UTMB) has been universally considered one of the most difficult running races on the planet. And with good reason—it sends runners on a grueling 104-mile circumnavigation of the highest mountain range in Western Europe on a relentless course that includes roughly 60,000 feet of vertical gain and descent on the way back to the finish line in Chamonix, France.

With a combination of moderate altitude, long stretches of technical terrain and 10 wickedly steep climbs and descents through parts of France, Italy and Switzerland, it tests runners’ physical, mental and emotional endurance in what is annually one of the most competitive fields of trail running in the world.

“The amount of vertical is pretty crazy,” David Laney, a 26-year-old from Ashland, Ore., admitted after racing in the UTMB for the first time. “Yeah, it’s a pretty brutal course, but it’s an amazing course, too.”

The same can be said to some degree for each of the other four races held in conjunction with the UTMB. Although slightly less competitive and prestigious, the other events, which range from 50K (31 miles) to 300K (186 miles), feature rugged, village-to-village courses with unforgiving changes in elevation. Combined, the festival of races is the biggest trail running event in the world, with more than 7,200 participants and many thousands of race supporters, volunteers and spectators all around the course.

RElATED: Call of the Wild—Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc in Chamonix

This year’s 13th annual UTMB—yet another epic battle of attrition, especially because of hot, sunny conditions that peaked with temperatures in the 80s—produced numerous compelling storylines, starting with the dominating wins from French runners Xavier Thévenard and Nathalie Mauclair.

Thévenard joined a select group of runners who have won the race more than once, crossing the finish line Saturday afternoon in Chamonix amid thousands of screaming fans and the blasting of the race’s adopted theme song—“Conquest of Paradise”—after 21 hours and 9 minutes of running. Mauclair, who works full-time as a nurse, received an equally exuberant reception when she crossed the line with a commanding victory in 25:15, becoming the second French woman to win the marquee race.

But one of the biggest stories coming out of Chamonix was the statement Laney and several fellow Americans made by clogging the podium of the UTMB and the 101K Courmayeur-Champex-Chamonix (CCC) race.

Laney’s tenacious third-place performance in the UTMB—a smartly executed race in which he started conservatively and moved up the entire way—was one of the very best ever by a U.S. runner in Chamonix. Although he had been as far back as 10th near the halfway point, he caught fellow American Seth Swanson, then in third place, with about 2 miles to go on the final descent into the village.

Swanson, 36, of Missoula, Mont., was the runner-up at this year’s Western States 100 in California on June 27 and had been keeping the pressure on Spain’s Luis Alberto Hernando in the race for second place over the previous 20 miles or so. When Laney arrived from behind, the two chatted briefly about how stoked they were to know two Americans would finish among the top four in Chamonix.

“I asked him how far up Luis was and he said somebody told him 2 minutes, someone else said 5 minutes,” Laney said. “I said, if it’s 2 minutes, lets go for it and if it’s 5 minutes, let’s be smart and just get to the finish line. So we started ripping down that final section because we thought we might catch him.”

Although Swanson—who is sponsored by The North Face—took a tumble on the final descent, he and Laney kicked to the finish like they were in a 10K road race and closed the gap on the hard-charging Spaniard. Hernando finished in 21:57:17, followed by Laney—a member of the Nike Trail Elite team—about two and a half minutes later and Swanson 30 seconds after that.

“Seth Swanson and David Laney ran text book UTMB runs,” said Topher Gaylord, the American runner with the best track record in Chamonix, having finished second (2003), sixth (2005) and 11th (2008) in the UTMB. “There was so much attrition—and American attrition too—but those guys were hanging back, running their race, never having a sense of urgency in the early sections, and that’s key in this race. In the second half, especially the final 25 miles, they were awesome.”

RELATED: UTMB Course Stats via Trail Run Project

Laney, who placed eighth at the Western States 100 in June, turned in an epic performance despite being a bit under the weather all week and suffering from a bloody nose at times during the second half of the race. He said his plan was to run the first 50 miles as easy as possible and then move up from there if he could.

“The leaders started off at a 6-minute mile pace and I dropped back. Even if this was a flat 100-miler, there’s no way I’d be running 6-minute pace,” said Laney, a 2:17 marathoner who will run in the 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials Marathon in Los Angeles next February.

Prior to the race, Laney wrote “M.I.T.” on the back of his left hand, an acronym for “Mind in Trail” and a personal reminder to keep his head in the game.

“It was a great course. The uphills were very hard and some of the downhills were too,” he said. “I had been practicing my technical running all summer to prepare for this. Usually I can run 2 or 3 miles pretty hard downhill, but then my quads make me slow down. But today I was just on … the flow was just so smooth out there.”

In the women’s race, Darcy Piceu, a Hoka One One athlete from Boulder, Colo., turned in another strong performance in Chamonix, finishing fifth in 28:38, while first-timer Stephanie Howe, a North Face-sponsored athlete from Bend, Ore., who finished third at the Western States 100 in June, was eighth in 30:16. Nicole Studer, 33, from Dallas, finished 13th among women in the UTMB in 31:21.

While three U.S. runners have won the UTMB women’s race a total of five times (Krissy Moehl, 2003, 2009; Nikki Kimball 2007; Rory Bosio 2013, 2014), only seven American men had finished among the top five prior to this year. Gaylord and Brandon Sybrowsky tied for second in 2003, Mike Wolfe was second in the rain-shortened race of 2010 and Mike Foote was third in the rain-shortened race of 2012.

Prior to Laney and Swanson, the best combined American UTMB effort since the inaugural race (which had just 67 runners) was the 2013 race, in which Tim Olson and Foote placed fourth and fifth respectively (followed by Bosio at seventh overall). Jason Schlarb placed fourth overall last year.

The efforts of Laney, Swenson and Piceu came on the heels of American dominance in the CCC race, a 63-mile event that covers about two-thirds of the UTMB course from Courmayeur, Italy, to Champex, Switzerland and back to Chamonix. That race has six major climbs and descents and about 20,000 feet of total vertical gain.

In that race, which started on Friday morning, American Zach Miller of Colorado Springs won in 11:53, followed by his Nike Elite Trail teammate Tim Tollefson  of Mammoth Lakes, Calif., in second at 12:06. Meanwhile, Magda Lewy Boulet, a Hoka One One-sponsored athlete from Oakland, Calif., a 2008 U.S. Olympic marathoner and the 2015 Western States 100 champion, placed 17th in the CCC race and second among women in 13:17, about 22 minutes behind winner Ruth Croft of New Zealand. Meredith Edwards, an American ski mountaineering racer who splits time living between Wilson, Wyo., and Chamonix, also turned in a strong CCC race, placing 73rd overall and eighth among women in 16:00.

Miller, 26, and Tollfeson, 30, went out with the leaders from the start and were the first to charge over the Grand Col Ferret, the steeply switchbacked 8,169-foot pass between Italy and Switzerland. From there, Miller took a slight lead, only to have Tollefson catch up at about the 31-mile mark in Switzerland. But for the final 25 miles or so—and especially after crossing back into France with about 13 miles to go—Miller was untouchable.

“It’s definitely one of the hardest races I have ever done. In the afternoon it got so hot … it was really hard,” Miller said. “At one point, I was thinking, ‘Why do we do this to ourselves?’ I was really kind of miserable. But then once the sun started to go down and it cooled off, my body turned and I felt great. Over the last two climbs, I just put my head down and crushed it.”

Tollefson said he had tried to mimic the course in training in the mountains near Mammoth Lakes, but it was the length of the race (which turned out to be 5 hours longer than the longest run he’d ever done) and the heat that caused him the most trouble. He said he struggled quite a bit with cramping legs in the final 25 miles.

“I was tempted to drop out on the climb out of Champex (at about mile 36),” Tollefson said. “(Martin) passed me and he did it so smoothly that it was kind of demoralizing. My legs were cramping quite a bit and my right calf seized up on me and I fell over into a bush. I was mentally distraught and was ready to be done, but then I saw the fourth-place runner come up from behind me in the distance so I took my time and ate all of the food and drank all of my fluid on the way to the next aid station and I started feeling good by the time I got there. I had held on to third at that point, so I thought, ‘OK, you’re feeling better, you might as well attack it.'”

Tollefson caught Martin on the final climb and then put 10 minutes on him in the final 10 miles of the race to earn his spot on the podium alongside Miller.

In the 50K Orsieres-Champex-Chamonix Race on Thursday, American Dylan Bownman, a North Face-sponsored athlete from Mill Valley, Calif., placed ninth in 5:49, 38 minutes behind winner Marc Pinsach Rubirola of Spain.

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Kiprop Wins Third 1,500m World Title Sun, 30 Aug 2015 16:57:29 +0000

Ethiopia's Genzebe Dibaba upset in women's 5,000m final.

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(c) 2015 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved. Used with permission.

BEIJING — As Kenya’s Asbel Kiprop kicked furiously in the final meters of the men’s 1500m tonight on the last day of the IAAF World Championships in Athletics here, he was running for more than just the gold medal. If he were to reach the finish line first at National Stadium, he would join two of the sports all-time greats, Hicham El Guerrouj of Morocco and Noureddine Morceli of Algeria, as the third man ever to win three or more world 1500m titles (El Guerrouj won four).

It would not be easy. With 200 meters to go in the race, Algeria’s Taoufik Makhloufi, the powerfully-build 2012 Olympic champion, had built up a significant lead with a big move on the back stretch. Kiprop, and his teammates Elijah Manangoi and Silas Kiplagat, were in hot pursuit. There was work to do, but Kiprop tried to remain confident.

“I knew that when it comes to the last 200, 250 meters remember, that’s how Makhloufi won the Olympics in London,” said Kiprop, who finished a disappointing 12th in that race. He continued: when you compare his last 50 meters, he’s not moving. I was a little bit confident that maybe that’s where I could win.”

Indeed, it would come down to just the final 50 meters. Makhloufi was tying up, Kiprop’s teammate Manangoi, and Morocco’s Abdalaati Iguider were also kicking hard, and the tall, lanky Kenyan hit top speed. Makhloufi had been beaten, and his other rivals simply couldn’t match his tempo. He won in 3:34.40 ahead of Manangoi (3:34.63) and Iguider (3:34.67) who practically threw himself over the line. Makhloufi finished fourth.

“I’m really excited; it’s very special to win three times in a row,” said Kiprop with a serious tone. “At the moment, when it comes to World Championships I am together with Noureddine Morceli having won three times. Only El Guerrouj has done more than that, four times.”

Moreover, Kiprop is also among the world’s fastest, ever. His sizzling 3:26.69 personal best at the Herculis meeting in Monaco last month also put him in exclusive company.

“Just one month ago I joined the club of 3:26, with El Guerrouj and Bernard Lagat,” he reminded reporters. “There are only three who have achieved that. Now, I am happy that I am three; only three have won three times or more than three times. I feel like I am making a legacy in middle distance running.”

While both Manangoi and Iguider expressed satisfaction with their performances, the three Americans in the final –Matthew Centrowitz, Leo Manzano and Robby Andrews—were plainly disappointed. Centrowitz, who won the bronze medal at these championships in Daegu in 2011 and the silver in Moscow in 2013, was in excellent position at the bell, right at the front of the pack. But when the hard running began in the final 250 meters, he couldn’t keep up the pace. He faded to finish eighth in 3:36.13. Manzano finished tenth, and Andrews 11th.

“That one hurt,” Centrowitz told a clutch of reporters under National Stadium. “Yeah, that was just hard. Put myself in a good position most of the race. With about 300 to go, was when Makhloufi made a good move again. At that point, I was already all-out and I couldn’t respond. When one guy goes buy you, then another and another, it’s a little demoralizing.”

Also disappointed was New Zealand’s Nick Willis, who won silver on this track at the 2008 Olympics. He would finish sixth tonight.

“My hopes were pretty high when I was second at the bell,” said the former University of Michigan star. “He’s obviously the man to beat at the moment.”

The woman to beat at the moment, Ethiopia’s Genzebe Dibaba, was in fact beaten tonight. In a spectacular championships record performance, Almaz Ayana ran away from the 1500m gold medalist in the 5000m, clocking a sizzling 14:26.83. Dibaba, who ran in second place most of the race, could not defend her position in the final drive to the line, outsprinted by her teammate Senbere Teferi, 14:44.07 to 14:44.14.

“This is the prize for me,” said Ayana. “I won the gold medal and I got the championships record.”

Amazingly, Ayana might have gotten close to the world record (14:11.15) had the first five full laps not been run in the 72 to 73 second range as they were. So fast were her final kilometers, that she ran the last 3000 meters in 8:19.91, faster than every non-Chinese mark on the 3000m all-time list.

But Ayana said she wasn’t thinking about the clock, only winning.

“I was heading to get the gold, purely,” she said.

The four Kenyans in the final –Viola Kibiwot, Mercy Cherono, Janet Kisa and Irene Cheptai– finished fourth through seventh, respectively.

The Ethiopia sweep of the medals was the first in this discipline since the Ethiopian team did it in Helsinki in 2005 when Tirunesh Dibaba, Meseret Defar and Ejagayou Dibaba finished 1-2-3.

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Dibaba Wins Marathon Gold For Ethiopia Sun, 30 Aug 2015 15:00:04 +0000

Mare Dibaba breaks the tape in National Stadium, winning by one second over Kenyan Helah Kiprop. Photo: David Monti | Race Results Weekly

She won her country's first ever marathon gold medal at the World Championships.

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Mare Dibaba breaks the tape in National Stadium, winning by one second over Kenyan Helah Kiprop. Photo: David Monti | Race Results Weekly

(c) 2015 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved. Used with permission.

BEIJING — On the final day of the 15th IAAF World Championships in Athletics at National Stadium, the longest race on the women’s program, the marathon, was decided by just one second.

Ethiopia’s Mare Dibaba—no relation to multiple gold medalist Tirunesh Dibaba or her younger sister Genzebe—won the first-ever marathon gold medal by an Ethiopian woman at these championships. Not even five feet tall, the tiny Dibaba stormed into the stadium with her taller Kenyan rival, Helah Kiprop, outkicking her for gold, 2:27:35 to 2:27:36 in the closest finish ever in the history of these championships. Bronze went to Eunice Kirwa, a Kenyan-born athlete who switched her allegiance to Bahrain in 2010.

“I had a very strong strategy to (out) kick everybody,” Dibaba told the media after the race, adding that she used the four Kenyans in the race to set the pace for her. “My plan was to follow them, head-by-head.”

Dibaba, whose coach Haji Adillo told Race Results Weekly two days ago that she was in the best shape of her life, took a patient approach to today’s contest. Running with her Ethiopian teammates, Tigist Tufa and Tirfi Tsegaye, she was content to cruise along at the gentle early pace, set mostly by the Japanese team of Mai Ito, Risa Shigetomo and Sairi Maeda. The entire Kenyan team, led by defending champion Edna Kiplagat and last year’s TCS New York City Marathon runner-up Jemima Sumgong, was also in the lead pack which which cruised through half-way in a modest 1:15:16. The soaking humidity made running any faster difficult.

“The pace was good,” commented the bronze medalist Kirwa.

Slightly behind the 16-strong lead pack, America’s Serena Burla was working her way up with China’s Ding Changqin and Wang Xueqin. Burla, a cancer survivor, said she was just trying to be competitive and put herself in position to contend.

“I just really wanted to put on the USA uniform, execute, and put myself in it,” Burla said after the race.

By 30K (1:46:50), the Japanese team was struggling to keep up. Like they had done in the 5000m and 10,000m track races at these championships, they set the pace early, but then faded when the faster running started. The five kilometers between 30 and 40K were the fastest so far in the race (17:15), putting the Japanese (and American Burla who would finish tenth) out of contention. That segment was fast enough to dwindle the pack to just six: Dibaba, Sumgong, Kirwa, Kiprop, Kiplagat and Tufa.

Just three minutes later, Tufa was dropped (she would finish sixth). Kiplagat, who is typically comfortable running at the back of the pack, was staying in contact, but soon she too started to fade.

“I was not expecting it,” Kiplagat said of falling off the pace and eventually finishing fifth. “I tried to run my own race. I tried to put in my tactics, but it didn’t work. My legs were too tight, and my body did not react as I expected.”

The 5K segment through the 40K mark was covered in a swift 16:34, easily the fastest of the race. The four women left—Dibaba, Kiprop Kirwa, and Sumgong—were all still in contention as National Stadium came into view.

“When we were at 40 kilometers it was a bit tricky,” observed Kiprop, who was competing in her first World Championships. “Everybody was there. Everybody was strong.”

All four women entered the tunnel to the stadium at about the same time, but Sumgong was lagging. Into the arena, Dibaba and Kiprop emerged from behind the electronic sign at the top of the homestretch together. Like the men last weekend, they only had 110 meters to run in the stadium: a straight drag race for the tape.

“When I saw the Ethiopian athlete pushing, then I tried to push,” Kiprop told reporters. “I didn’t expect, but I tried my best.”

Down the homestretch, Dibaba showed remarkable speed for a marathoner, her short legs turning over furiously as she headed for the tape. She said she was ready for any kind of finish.

“When we were coming, the two of us on the track, I wanted to use all my energy to the final line,” Dibaba told Race Results Weekly with Coach Adillo translating. “I know I have a fast kick at the end. I don’t worry about anything.”

Dibaba’s medal lifted the Ethiopian team to the sixth position on the medal table with two golds and a total of five medals. Genzebe Dibaba has a chance to win another gold tonight when she races in the 5000m. Ethiopia won 10 medals at the last IAAF World Championships and was the sixth-ranked team.

Also, with her victory, Dibaba is now on top of the Abbott World Marathon Majors leaderboard for Series IX with 41 points. Kiprop is second with 32 points. The series concludes at the Tokyo Marathon next February when the top male and female point-earners will be awarded a $500,000 grand prize. Today’s victory was worth $60,000 in prize money, but certainly nearly as much from her corporate sponsor, Nike.

In all, 52 women finished today’s race and another 13 dropped out.

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Double Gold For Mo Farah—Again Sat, 29 Aug 2015 23:00:33 +0000

Mo Farah outkicked the field over the final 400m to win the world 5,000m title on Saturday. Photo:

Marina Arzamasova of Belarus won the women's 800m final.

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Mo Farah outkicked the field over the final 400m to win the world 5,000m title on Saturday. Photo:

(c) 2015 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved. Used with permission.

BEIJING — For the third consecutive global championships beginning with the London Olympics in 2012, Britain’s Mo Farah completed the 5000m/10,000m double, winning the shorter event with a heart-pounding homestretch run against Kenya’s Caleb Ndiku at National Stadium. Off of a very slow early pace, his winning time of 13:50.38 was the slowest in the history of the IAAF World Championships.

“They’ve all been difficult,” Farah said of his three double gold performances at the 2012 Olympics and 2013 and 2015 World Championships. “It’s never easy to continue double/double.”

For nine of the 12 and one-half lap race, the pack dawdled along, running 400m circuits as slow as 73 seconds. Lap after lap, Farah ran in last place, staying away from potential trouble and conserving energy.

“I was really pleased early on when the pace was so slow,” Farah said at his post-race press conference. “From that point on I was really trying to relax and see what I could do towards the last lap.”

With seven laps to go, Farah moved up on the outside of the field, and settled in near the front. The pace dropped a bit to 68 seconds, then 66, still not fast enough to whittle down the pack. Ndiku, last year’s world indoor 3000m champion, saw that the pack was still too big and knew needed to take action. He waited for 800 meters to go, then launched an explosive move to break up the race.

“For tonight, the race was very technical,” Ndiku said. “Eight hundred meters to go, everybody was in the pack. Then, I decided to split the pack… I knew the last lap would be very fast. So, I had to push hard to break the group.”

Ndiku ran a 58.4 second lap, followed by another at 54.3, too much for everyone else in the field except for Farah. With 200 meters to go, he was leading the Briton by two steps with Ethiopia’s Hagos Gebrhiwet and Yomif Kejelcha a few steps behind.

“Ndiku really put his foot down with two laps to go,” Farah observed.

Coming into the homestretch it was still a two-man race, but Farah had saved something for the end. He put in one more acceleration, finally pulling away from the exhausted Ndkiu. Spreading his arms to the side, he crossed the finish line as the crowd roared with approval.

“Ndiku is a great athlete,” said Farah. “He’s a class athlete, and he’s still young. Tonight, he really put his mark down. He definitely tested me.”

Ndiku clocked 13:51.75 to get the silver, and was not disappointed.

“For me, getting the silver was the best moment, ever, because I was not expecting that,” he said.

Gebrhiwet, who had won the silver at these championships in Moscow two years ago, had to settle for bronze. His time was 13:51.86, about half a second up on the teenager Kejelcha.

Behind the podium finishers, Americans Galen Rupp, Ben True and Ryan Hill finished fifth, sixth and seventh, respectively, the first time ever that the United States placed three athletes in the top-7 at these championships.

“I was trying to stay in position the whole time and give myself a chance,” said True. “I let them jump me a little bit. I thought I was right there with 600 to go, right where I wanted to be. But, they kind of jumped me with 500 to go.”

In the women’s 800m, Marina Arzamasova of Belarus won her nation’s first ever medal in that event at these championships, winning a surprisingly tactical contest over Canada’s Melissa Bishop (silver) and Kenya’s Eunice Sum (bronze).

“Of course I expected the podium,” said Arzamasova, who clocked 1:58.03. “After the semifinals, I expected [the] gold medal.”

Hers was an odd race. Sum, the defending champion, shot out from the start, running the first 200 meters in a blistering 27.2 seconds. But then she slammed on the brakes, and the 400 meter split was only a modest 59.1 seconds.

“Normally, I’m a front runner,” Sum later explained. “I was really doing my tactics as usual.”

On the backstretch, Arzamasova increased the pace, and both of the eventual medalists responded. She kept the lead coming out of the final bend, running in lane two with Bishop on her left and Sum on her right. She had only half a stride on her rivals, but it was enough.

“Of course, I’m really honored to get this medal for my country, my family,” said Arzamasova, choking up. “I really don’t have any words.”

Bishop, who set a Canadian record in the semifinals, was thrilled to get silver. Her coach, Dennis Fairall, told reporters that “she was content to get in the final.” She earned Canada’s seventh medal at these championships, adding to the teams already record total.

“It’s a feeling of pride,” Bishop said. “We have a really great generation and group of athletes in Canada right now. We’re working really hard to put ourselves on the map. I’m really happy to be part of that medal count.”

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10 Years After Katrina, New Orleans Running Community Stronger Than Ever Sat, 29 Aug 2015 19:44:03 +0000

Photo: Ryan Bethke

The Rock ‘n’ Roll New Orleans Marathon & 1/2 Marathon serves as an annual celebration of the Crescent City.

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Photo: Ryan Bethke

When she evacuated her New Orleans home before Hurricane Katrina unleashed its fury on the Crescent City, Betsy Boudreaux didn’t take much with her. One item she did grab was her medal from the 2005 Mardi Gras Marathon.

Even if she had left it behind, Boudreaux still would have carried a reminder of the race. The medal is tattooed on the inside of her left ankle.

“That’s how much it means to me,” says Boudreaux, a former member of the New Orleans Track Club’s board of directors.

This weekend marks the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, which was responsible for at least 1,245 deaths and more than $108 billion in property damage. The New Orleans running community demonstrated its resiliency in the hurricane’s aftermath.

In early November 2005, barely two months after Katrina, the New Orleans Track Club put on an informal 5K run.

“No timing chips,” recalls Brandan Minihan, a longtime New Orleans runner who says about 150 people showed up for the run. “It just showed everyone we were back, that we were going to keep putting on races.”

On Thanksgiving Day, the club staged its annual 8K Turkey Day run, which dates back to 1907.

Then, on February 5, 2006, the city staged the Mardi Gras Marathon. Some 2,148 runners finished the race in what is believed to be the first major sports event in the city after Katrina.

“It was important for the running community,” Boudreaux says of the Mardi Gras Marathon. “It was important for the city. It was important just to show some sort of normal. We had to get back to something that felt right, that could take your mind off of everything you were dealing with, whether it was rebuilding your house, insurance. It was something to take you back to the way it used to be.”

Minihan, now 40 years old, won the 2006 Mardi Gras Marathon in 2:36:44.

“To have won that race,” says Minihan, who grew up and still lives in New Orleans, “it was one of the proudest moments of my life.”

More than five months after Katrina’s destruction, Minihan remembers the marathon course showed many of the city’s scars.

“You could see water lines on houses, dead trees,” he recalls. “It was scenic, in a kind of dark, morbid way.”

During the weekend, Minihan took time to thank people from out of town for coming to New Orleans for the race.

“It was like we were opening up our city to the running world,” says Minihan. “I was also proud of all the locals who showed up to represent the running community. It meant we were strong. We were going to be as strong or stronger.”

One of Minihan’s friends, Tom Sawyer, finished second in 2:39:05.

Sawyer evacuated New Orleans before Katrina struck and didn’t return for five weeks. Upon returning, he remembers running over piles of rubble, tree limbs and furniture in the city.

“It was almost like we weren’t going to take no for an answer,” says Sawyer. “We were going to do what we wanted to do, no matter what barriers you put in front of us.”

“Our city is so unique. We use every opportunity to celebrate. We celebrate funerals. We have a tomato festival. We use celebrations as a common expression,” Boudreaux adds.

In 2010, the Mardi Gras Marathon was rebranded as part of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series. The Rock ‘n’ Roll New Orleans Marathon & 1/2 Marathon attracted more than 10,000 finishers last year, nearly a 500 percent growth from the 2006 Mardi Gras Marathon and Half Marathon.

“Rock ‘n’ Roll has allowed the marathon to reach people we would never have reached before,” Boudreaux says. “It definitely has afforded us the opportunity to grow and showcase the New Orleans running community in a way we never would have been able to on a local level.”

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Shoe Talk: ASICS GEL-Kayano 22 Fri, 28 Aug 2015 23:56:35 +0000

A longtime favorite of many runners, the Gel Kayano is back with some significant updates.

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A longtime favorite of many runners, the ASICS GEL-Kayano is back with some significant updates. Let’s take a look.

RELATED: Shoe Talk: New Balance Vazee Pace

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3 Exercises to Build a Better Butt Fri, 28 Aug 2015 23:37:54 +0000

Squats and lunges are great for building your glutes, but they can miss your gluteus medius.

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This article first appeared on Women’s Running

Squats and lunges are great for building your glutes, but they can miss your gluteus medius—or the side of the butt. Those muscles are key in the quest for a firmer derriere.

David Kirsch, founder of David Kirsch Wellness Company and author of the upcoming book, David Kirsch’s Ultimate Family Wellness: The No Excuses Program for Diet, Exercise and Lifelong Health (December 2015), has three signature moves that will tighten the side of your tush and lead you to a better butt.


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Does The Average Runner Care About USATF? Fri, 28 Aug 2015 21:43:03 +0000

Recent issues between USATF and athletes like Nick Symmonds (left) has captured headlines. But how much does the average runner care? Photo:

How do runners relate to professional track athletes?

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Recent issues between USATF and athletes like Nick Symmonds (left) has captured headlines. But how much does the average runner care? Photo:

In recent weeks, the running world has been rocked by a series of scandals. And USA Track and Field has been at the heart of much of the bad press, from doping tell-alls that point fingers at current stars and past medal winners to complaints about the demands being made by corporate sponsors (highlighted by 800m national champion Nick Symmonds’ refusal to sign USATF’s statement of conditions ahead of the world championships). Runners must be outraged and calling for blood. Right?

Uh, not exactly.

USATF isn’t sure that most average runners know it exists. In a series of outreach events the governing body conducted in 2012 at eight of the biggest track meets of the year, only 65 percent of the people surveyed had even heard of USA Track and Field and only 39 percent were members. This suggests that even among track and field fans, who are already a niche crowd, there is a niche inside that of the hardcore fans who actually know and care about the details of what USATF does for the sport.

And the number one thing that people said would motivate them to join USATF? Not reform, but merchandise.

James Chu and Heather Irvine are both members of the North Brooklyn Runners, a community running group in New York City. So, what has the group been talking about lately on their email listserves and discussion forums? Chu and Irvine will send along articles or links to keep everyone informed about the hottest issues in the running world, but mostly, said Chu, people just want to train for and run a marathon. They don’t identify with professional track runners, because the last time they probably ran in a track meet was in high school.

The group did debate the recent doping allegations surrounding Alberto Salazar, said Irvine. But, what about the whistleblower allegations that suspicious blood tests at the international level were covered up? Or the saga of Symmonds’ fight with USATF over what athletes can be required to wear?

“Not many people discussed it, actually,” said Irvine.

According to Symmonds, he’s been getting plenty of feedback on social media and support from runners at meets or out on trails—though, presumably, those runners who recognize Symmonds are slightly more dedicated track fans. “I would say it’s been 95 percent positive,” he said.

If there are millions of runners in the country and most of them don’t pay that much attention to the ins-and-outs of track and field, then what do they care about?

I’m going to guess that the 2 billion people around the world who watched Usain Bolt’s 100m final at the London Olympics weren’t watching because they could name the other seven people in the race. In the U.S., where that race wasn’t aired live, another 1.2 million people streamed it live online. (That’s a lot of people, but not as many as those who streamed the women’s gymnastic team final or the women’s soccer final during that same Olympics.)

For comparison, around 1.5 million people per night watched NBC’s TV coverage of the last IAAF Track and Field World Championships. And if you guessed that the night that had the most viewers during the 2011 World Championships was the night of Bolt’s 100m DQ, then you’d be right.

People care about the marathon, the 100m, and the Olympics.

This isn’t to say that plenty of athletes aren’t trying to connect with fans in other ways, to get people to care about more than those three things. But as this year’s World Championships come to a close in Beijing, it’s not even clear that the people who do follow track and field news are all forming the same opinions. A perusal of the comments on any Facebook post about running from Competitor, Universal Sports, or Runner’s World shows that for all the people who agree with Symmonds, there are some who think he’s in the wrong. For everyone who’s upset about ex-dopers in the sport, there were far more excited about two Gatlin vs. Bolt showdowns.

At the IAAF meeting held in advance of the championship meet, the five U.S. candidates for international federation committee seats all won election, including USATF President Stephanie Hightower. This is an unprecedented victory for USA Track and Field at the IAAF level—and that’s despite the fact that the nomination of those same candidates at the USATF meeting back in the fall prompted outrage from track insiders over the voting process and what is seen as reforms needed at the national level. Someone thinks they’re doing something right.

The main time USATF comes into the public eye (whether they could do anything to change that or not) is when they are blamed or praised for the performance of the U.S. team. As long as American track and field athletes win medals in Beijing (as of Friday night, the U.S. was leading the overall medal count with 14) and next year in Rio, almost all else will likely be forgiven.

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CEP Connect: Recover Faster With Compression Apparel Fri, 28 Aug 2015 19:38:50 +0000

Research finds that compression expedites recovery for marathoners.

New research finds that lower body compression apparel can help the body recover faster from a marathon.

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Research finds that compression expedites recovery for marathoners.

At 40 and still competing at the top level, Meb Keflezighi remains the most dominant American marathoner in history. The 2004 Olympic silver medalist in the marathon won the 2009 New York City Marathon and the 2014 Boston Marathon and is the only American to win both big city marathons and an Olympic medal.

His longevity as an elite runner has been aided by his balanced training regimen, which incorporates core-strengthening and cross-training, along with a strict diet. But it’s also been helped by his penchant for wearing compression socks.

Like Olympic bronze medalist Shalane Flanagan and Chris Solinksy, the first American to run a sub-27 minute 10K, Meb wears compression socks not only for recovery but during his key races.

Recent research suggests that compression socks clearly enhance your recovery from hard workouts and races, allowing you to return to running sooner, which provides you with a competitive training advantage.

A study published in February of this year in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research by a group of Australian and New Zealand scientists offers some of the clearest evidence. It examined 33 runners, some of whom wore below-knee compression socks for 48 hours after a marathon, and found that those who recovered with compression socks were able to run on average significantly longer on a graded treadmill test 14 days after their marathon than the control group that didn’t wear compression socks.

“In the compression group, average treadmill run to exhaustion time two weeks after the marathon increased by 2.6 percent,” the researchers reported in their study. “In the placebo group, run to exhaustion time decreased by 3.4 percent. This shows a significant beneficial effect of compression socks on recovery.”

A review of 12 other studies on compression socks published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine last year reached a similar conclusion about the recovery benefits of compression. It concluded that compression garments had a “moderate” effect in reducing delayed onset muscle soreness after tough workouts and allowed damaged muscle tissue to regain its power and strength. “These results indicate that compression garments are effective in enhancing recovery from muscle damage,” the researchers said in their study.

Originally developed to improve blood circulation and prevent blood clots in people with deep vein thrombosis and other problems, compression socks squeeze the blood that normally pools in your feet when you’re sitting or standing and helps send it up toward your heart. There, the blood is re-oxygenated by your lungs and then sent back down to more quickly to repair the muscle damage in your legs.

When you’re running, contractions from the muscles in your legs act like a pump to send the blood that would otherwise pool in your lower legs through your circulatory system. That may be why most researchers who’ve studied the issue have not yet found a performance benefit from running with compression socks.

Nevertheless, it’s clear that compression socks, calf sleeves, shorts and tops can keep your muscles warm and improve blood flow during runs on cold days. Compression socks provide an extra bit of stability for your ankles and calves when you’re running on an uneven trail. And the spandex-like fabrics in compression garments allow your body to efficiently wick sweat away, which can prevent chafing and blisters when you’re hot and sweaty.

However you decide to use them—whether for running or to recover more quickly from your hard runs or races—make sure your compression socks fit properly. The best manufacturers sell socks fitted specifically to your left and right feet and require you to measure the diameter of your calves to get a properly fitted pair. Also make sure the compression sock or calf sleeve you purchase is graduated—tighter at the ankle than at the top of the calf to promote venous blood return and has 20-30 mmHg of moderate compression, which is considered ideal for performance and recovery.

Shop medical-grade CEP Compression socks.

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