Wednesday, January 4, 2012

A Fitness Challenge for the New Year: St. Patrick's Race

It's less than a week into the New Year, and now seems like the best time to make some firm commitments to fitness that will force me to follow through well past Valentine's Day.

I don't know about you, but the power of having a little virtual workout community can be very motivating for me!  During the 30 Day Shred Challenge of last year, I felt especially driven to complete most of my workouts because I knew that other like-minded folks were doing the same thing somewhere else.

Once again, it seems as though I'm not the only person in this corner of the blogosphere interested in getting fit for the new year.  So, in the interest of reciprocal motivation and goal-oriented behavior:

Let's run a St. Patty's Day Race!


What?

You heard me!  I registered for the Capital Running Company's St. Patrick's Day 8k, which will be held in D.C. on Sunday, March 11.  I invite you to register as well; let's train for and run this thing together!  

Even better, let's meet up for celebratory brunch on Sunday after the race!  (We'll work out the brunch details as the date gets closer.)

Where?

For those in D.C., you can register for the 8k here (click the "register") tab.  Registration costs $30.

For those who live outside of D.C., many cities host an 8K around St. Patrick's time.  If you'd like the added motivation of training with a "virtual" team, don't let location stop you!  You can find a list of 8k races across the country at this link (I see races in: Hoover, AL; Helotes, TX; Buffalo, NY; Raleigh, NC; Palo Alto, CA; Charlotte, NC; Roanoke Rapids, NC; Waddell, AZ; San Jose, CA; Springfield, MO; Tinley Park, IL;  Dyersville, IA; Glendale, AZ; Virginia Beach, VA; Oklahoma City, OK; Venice, FL; Tempe, AZ; Portland, OR; Bay City, MI; and St. Paul, MN).  Just pick your race and then join in the fun!

If there's no race near you, make your own!  Use gmap-pedometer to trace a race course through your neighborhood, and then jump on board the training...erm...train with the rest of us!


How?

An 8K, ladies and gentlemen, is an utterly attainable running goal even for the most novice of runners.  I personally love Hal Higdon's training plans, and will be following his 8k plan for novice runners.  (See also:  intermediate planadvanced plan.)

A sneak peak at Hal's 8k Training Program


If you'd prefer to run a 5k:


Go for it!  The difference between a 5k and an 8k is less than two miles, so you'll still be getting some good, regular exercise.  Check out "Couch to 5K" for an amazing beginner's training program that will have you running a 5k by St. Patty's.  (Or see Hal's 5k running plans here.)

I'll run a weekly post on Sundays to discuss various aspects of training and to facilitate open discussion about our training progress.  You can also connect with other readers who may be running a race in your area.


Why?


I won't write you a missive on the benefits of regular exercise in general or running specifically.  I will tell you that running races like this has been a great way for me to stick to an exercise plan because I have a definite performance date on the horizon.

Moreover, I have found that very little compares to the satisfaction and pride that comes from training your body to run.  It's an incredible feeling to follow a training plan and watch your body respond, running longer, faster, and stronger.  When I'm training for a race, I feel empowered.  I feel reminded of the fact that my body is an incredible machine, and that by taking care of it I can improve its performance in clear, measurable ways.

Your finishing position doesn't matter, because simply finishing the process is a victory in my book.




Disclaimers:  You may need to consult a physician before beginning a new fitness regimen.  Also, there's always a nonzero possibility that my work commitments will completely screw up my plans to be in a given city on a given day, so bear this in mind before making any travel plans that you wouldn't be happy to keep even if I ended up being strong-armed into attending a deposition in fill-in-the-blank country.


SO, IN SUM:

  • Let's register to run a race that will take place around St. Patrick's Day (mid-March), and let's train for this thing together.  
  • If you live in D.C., I invite you to run this specific 8k with my sister and I (and, if you are interested, to join us for celebratory brunch afterwards)!  
  • I'll run weekly posts on the blog about a topic related to running/training/fitness.  These posts will also be open forums to discuss your training progress.

I'm looking forward to training with you!  The 8-week training schedule for a March 11 race will begin on Monday, January 16.  (In the meantime, I'll be running once or twice a week, and perhaps picking back up with the 30 Day Shred once a week.)  

Ahh, already I feel more motivated!  Do you?

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