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Stay in shape with Running

Running is an excellent way to stay healthy and be in shape for any age, writes Deepthi Velkur.

The benefits of running outweigh the risks and helps in reducing the many impacts of aging to a great extent. Seasoned runners tend to have better mobility, weight control, muscle strength, bone density and an overall sense of well-being. According to a recent Stanford university study, frequent runners tend to experience ailments such as heart disease, diabetes, neurological ailments, high blood pressure on an average 16 years later than non-runners. This makes it a great sport to take up at any age and especially for seniors its a great way to stay fit.

Here are some simple pointers to keep in mind if you want to start of your running career in your golden years:

Set realistic goals- Keep your goals small and attainable. There is a loss of muscle strength, aerobic capacity, higher recovery time and rest required as you get older; as a result, you cannot train and race at the same intensity. However, endurance runners who continue running into their older years have a much-reduced muscle loss when compared to inactive people of the same age. Adjust your expectations, pick realistic goals and continue to be active and committed to running.

Check with a professional-If your new to running or taken to running after a long break from being physically fit, checking with a doctor or a healthcare professional is a good idea and helps you build a customized training plan. Senior runners should always take the advice of a physician and the guidance of the coach before endeavoring into running.

Proper running gear- Choosing the right running gear is more important than just your comfort. With the body loosening up as you age, selecting the right type and size of clothing as well ensuring proper running shoes with adequate cushioning is imperative. You will find specialized running shoes in the market so get out and do some shopping.

Strength Training- Regular strength training helps in a slower decline of the muscle mass and this becomes very important when you are taking up an aerobic sport like running. Improved muscle mass helps the muscles to absorb more impact caused due to running and less stress on the joints. A mixed workout which includes swimming, cycling, yoga, simple leg and core exercises such as squats, planks, push-ups, and lunges help in your running performance and improves injury resistance when you are a senior runner.

Balance and flexibility- You can work on improving your balance by standing on one leg for 30 seconds or some yoga exercises like the tree and eagle pose. Legs, back, hips, and shoulders feel stiffer since they lose elasticity with time. Regular stretching and yoga especially post running improve flexibility.

Injury Prevention and proper recovery time-Slight change in body signals should not be ignored especially for senior runners and must be given immediate attention. Ensure your fitness plan includes adequate rest as it gives the body time to strengthen itself. Stretching before and after runs is equally important. Regular massages and foam rolling is also beneficial.

Follow these simple tips and you can hit the road with a calmer and focused mind as a senior runner. Running goes a long way in helping you achieve a balanced state of physical and mental well-being, so what are you waiting for – lace up those shoes and run free.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

Deepthi Velkur is a former sprinter who is trying her hand at various sports today. A tennis fanatic, who believes that sleep should never be compromised.

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Best Running Apps

A running app can boost you from the Couch to your first 5k, here is a list of the best apps by Deepthi Velkur

A little extra motivation is required sometimes to get up and start running. It turns out that a little technology is all it takes to boost your fitness drives. These running apps not only track your runs but also motivate and coach you. Whether you’re just starting out as a runner or a seasoned athlete, this list of running apps will assist you with the tools you require to get the most out of your miles.

Human

This running app is best to provide motivation to run and make you more active. This app helps in tracking the time spent in you being active like running, walking, and cycling and also pushes you to reach your “Daily 30,” or 30 minutes of exercise per day. Human compares your data with other nearby users which gives the runner an insight into who’s exercising nearby, so one can see how they rank against their neighbors.

Strava

If you enjoy running in a group, then Strava is the best running app for you. This app is widely popular amongst runners and cyclists. It suits both a causal and a seasoned runner. It comes with an in-depth GPS tracking, works with a variety of GPS devices, and tracks all kinds of metrics and shows your data against other runners in the same route.

MapMyRun

If your unsure of which route to take, this running app gives you innumerable running routes to choose from and there is a comprehensive tracker which records distance, pace, elevation, calories burned, and more for each run. This data integrates with a variety of wearable trackers and the My Fitness Pal app, hence throwing a clear insight into your diet and exercise regime.

Nike + running

This running app was specifically designed for runners to track their runs, photo sharing, and audio coaching. This app goes beyond basic tracking by providing features that assist in motivation and coaching such as cheers from top athletes at the end of a race, built-in photo sharing that overlaps your run stats with a photo from your current route, and top Nike coaches guiding you via audio-based workouts along the way.

Runtastic

This running app keeps your mind occupied while running through the story running feature. You can listen to pod-cast style tracks while running wherein each story is 35-40mins long approximately the time taken for your daily workouts.

Fuel My Run

If you’re a person who runs the half or full marathons, you would require assistance to learn when to start fueling on the run which means ingesting those foil packets of gel. This running app enables you if you’re unsure of when to start taking down your energy chews or gels when to eat, swallow and repeat.

My Run Plan

This app is built for designing a training plan that best suits you. Once you’ve set your running goal and have fed this information, the algorithm will give you a complete guide on how you should train. You can reach out to certified coaches using this app for help with injuries, nutrition and more.

So what’s your favourite running app?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

Deepthi Velkur is a former sprinter who is trying her hand at various sports today. A tennis fanatic, who believes that sleep should never be compromised.

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Barefoot running – a more natural way to run

Barefoot seems like a great way to run but you need to work your way to it, writes Deepthi Velkur.

Barefoot and minimalist shoe running is slowly but surely gaining popularity despite substantial advances in shoe technology alongside enhanced shoe features like better cushioning, motion control, and even the arrival of special fitness shoes. Running barefoot strengthens your feet, helps you feel more connected to the ground and is definitely more fun.

Barefoot running can be quite a dreadful experience at first as your feet will be weak, so taking it slow is the way to go. When your feet touch the ground, make sure you land on your mid-foot or the ball of your feet followed by the toes and then the heel touching the ground. It easily takes anywhere between several weeks to months to build up the strength necessary for faster or longer running.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind while you start out running barefoot –

  • Take baby steps– Muscles in your body take about 6 – 8 weeks to adapt to something new. For the first 4 weeks, do walk barefoot for 20 – 30 mins a day. The next 4 weeks focus on running short distances on smooth surfaces like a few laps around a park or an easy jog around a soft indoor track. Once you are more comfortable, gradually increase the distance every week and move on to running on hard surfaces. Keep a close check on how your feet are adapting to the new surface to avoid injury.
  • Maintaining a good form– When you start running barefoot, you also need to focus on training your body on how to run with a good form. Skipping, toe-up drill or the lean drill are a few exercises you could try in training. Doing these drills ensures your running efficiency, help in striking the ground properly and staying injury-free.
  • Feel the ground– By wearing protective shoes all along, your feet find it difficult in sensing the ground. Try and include ‘feel the ground activities’ such as standing on one leg while brushing your teeth, using a balance disc / pillow at the gym or bouncing on one leg on a mini trampoline a few times a week.
  • Be Flexible– You  might feel some tightness or pain in the Achilles tendon. Making the back of your leg flexible with calf stretches or foam rolling helps during the transition to barefoot running.
  • Strong Feet– By doing a lot of balancing exercises, you can strengthen your feet. This can be achieved by standing on one leg, rolling your entire body weight from the outside to the inside of the foot and back.
  • Plyometrics– Since your feet have been cushioned with shoes, feeling the impact of the ground with barefoot running becomes a challenge. Plyometrics are exercises which include hop or skip with one or two legs, side to side hops or single leg box jump are good for preparing you for barefoot running.

Using the above tips will help in a smooth transition to barefoot running by reducing the tiredness in your knees and hips after a run or workout, helps in feeling the ground during a run and increasing the joy of running barefoot.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

Deepthi Velkur is a former sprinter who is trying her hand at various sports today. A tennis fanatic, who believes that sleep should never be compromised.

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Why do my Knees hurt when I Run?

The stress of running can cause irritation in the kneecaps and escalate to knee pain, so how can you counter that ask Nandini Reddy.

Running is a stressful activity for your legs. Ankles, knees and soles are the worst hit in terms of stress related injuries. Knees are the weight bearing joints of the body and help us keep our balance. Knee pain is very common for runners and generally a bit of rest can alleviate knee pain. But if a simple remedy doesn’t help then you need to get into the depths of why your knee hurts and possible causes and remedies that may need longer rest.

Understanding Knee Pain

Running is a high impact sport where knees are concerned. Soreness, inflammation and strains are common for all runners. Nearly 50% of runners face knee injuries in some form or the other. The knee is a difficult spot that is held together by four ligaments. If you do not have adequate strength then the pressure of your run falls mostly on your knees. The most important areas to strengthen to avoid knee pain are your core, glutes and hips.

If your knee wobbles when you run or if you get prolonged pain after your run then it means that your hips, core and glute muscles are not strong enough. A strong pelvis will ensure proper heel strike and will help you maintain proper form. Wrong stride strikes will result from weak hips that will not maintain form and thus finally hitting the knee with twice the impact causing high stress on the ligaments.

For the period of recover opt for low impact exercises like swimming and yoga. Squats or partial squats are a way to strengthen your knees. You can start slow and build up to a regular schedule of squats. In addition watch your stride length and pace and ensure that you are careful about getting it right until your knee doesn’t feel stressed.

How to treat it?

Ice it – If you knee is swollen after a run, ice it for 20-30 mins every 4 hours over the next 2-3 days or until the swelling completely comes down and the pain has disappeared

Bandage it – Elastic wrap bands are a great way to support the knee and prevent it from bending the wrong way. The extra support will help reduce over-usage of the knee and bring down the pain.

Elevate it – Raise your leg up using a pillow. The elevation will help drain the lactic acid accumulated and allow for fresh oxygenated blood flow to the knee, thus reducing the pain.

Strengthen it – Check with a physiotherapist about strengthening movements and stretches that you can do to relieve the pain.

If these techniques do not work then you need to consult a doctor to explore what the extent of injury and see how this needs to be resolved using medical treatment under the supervision of a doctor.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

An irregular runner who has run in dry, wet, high altitude and humid conditions. Loves to write a little more than run so now is the managing editor of Finisher Magazine.

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What is a Tempo Run?

You have heard of a tempo run and might have tried it unconsciously also but do you truly understand what it means, asks Nandini Reddy

You must have heard runners discussing using Tempo Run as a strategy for completing grueling marathons. There are a few advocates who swear buy it and a few who stay away from it. But getting it right is most important if you opt for it. Essentially a Temp Run means at you run for a set period of time at a threshold pace. But in order to understand if it works or doesn’t work for you, read on to find out.

Why do you do tempo runs?

It helps the body move faster with getting tired. This helps in reaching your goal times and distance before lactic acid and fatigue take over.

What are the variations in tempo run?

You can opt to do the sustained tempo where you keep a steady pace for 20 mins or you can choose the Tempo Repetitions where you can take short recovery periods of 60-90 seconds. There is also a Tempo Circuit variation that can be used by advanced runners that is beneficial for strength and endurance.

What is the pace of a tempo run?

The pace is what would be best referred to as comfortably hard. It is essentially a pace that you can run at continuously for at least an hour without tiring.

How long is a tempo run?

A typical tempo run lasts for 20 mins and you would cover anywhere from 3-5 kms in that time. You can run longer distances and for a longer period of time if you alter your pace.

What is the heart rate zone for a tempo run?

In a tempo run you need to maintain your heart rate at the Lactate Threshold. A newbie runner would achieve this at 60% of maximum heart rate. The more seasoned runners would reach it at 90% of maximum heart rate.

When do you run temp runs?

Tempo runs are best for training as they help build endurance and are very beneficial for running short races and early training schedules before the half and full marathons.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

An irregular runner who has run in dry, wet, high altitude and humid conditions. Loves to write a little more than run so now is the managing editor of Finisher Magazine.

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Can you run if you are overweight?

Aerobic exercises like running a great way to lose weight, Radhika Meganathan explores how overweight people can run. 

A high intensity exercise like running burns calories fast and is often touted as a good way to lose those excess inches you want to get rid of desperately. Or maybe you just want to run for the experience of it. But what about the practicality of running when you are overweight? Can you start a running schedule if you are so out of form that you feel breathless just by walking faster?

“The answer to the question is yes, but you cannot start right away,” says Dr Archana Samson, who works as clinical physiotherapist at NHS Wycombe, UK. “You have to first prepare your body for running, to prevent any harm to your joints, or even the heart, if you begin too fast. Preparing is really important, as are discipline, lifestyle change, and your medical history.”

That makes sense, doesn’t it? If you are overweight, chances are that you have not exercised for a while and your joints would be stiff. Here are some steps that you can take, if you want to begin a running regimen from start:

Begin with the right motivation

A lot of overweight people feel that it is too late for them to start running, because it is just too hard. Well, if you want to run a mile right away, then yes, that will be too hard with the current equipment you have in hand – your out-of-form body! Fitness is a skill, just like any other skill like cooking or swimming, and it is unfortunate that most of us feel bad when we cannot instantly become great at something that we see others do easily. Just like how a beginner cannot expect to make an intricate dish on Day 2, it is unreasonable to expect your body to master running at the first attempt itself. Give it the time it needs. Progress, nor perfection must be your beginners’ mantra.

Consultation first, the gear next

“A medical check up along with your physician’s approval is extremely important before starting any fitness regime. The analysis will locate any danger points or bottlenecks you may need to be aware of,” advises Dr Archana. If you are overweight and eager to start running, your doctor will also tell you how to monitor your heart rate and start slowly. Once you get cleared for the sport of running, get a gait analysis done and buy the idea pair of shoes for your body. Invest in compression shirts if your upper body is heavy. For women, a fitness bra is a must-do investment, to avoid stretching and sagging. For added advantage, spend some time on live and research about running basics so that you are familiar with the jargon and practice before you hit the ground (literally).

Start with walking

Start slowly, gently. Walk out of your door and stroll for 10 minutes at any direction. Then walk back. Do this morning and night, every day, preferably on waking up and before going to bed. It takes 21 days to form a habit, so in this way, you also build discipline. On the fourth week, begin the walk-jog method at your own pace. Start with 15 second increments every day. Walk a minute, jog for 15 seconds, walk a minute. Rest a minute. Continue until you feel pleasantly tired. Once you can walk without breathing issues or any pain, you can start trying out a program like Couch2k. If you are looking for a self designed regimen, there are several that are available online for free.

What if you have additional health issues?

A structured, supervised program may be the answer if you have obesity-related issues. Low intensity physiotherapy exercises and gradual progression into a healthy diet are part of initial management when you enlist medical help to tackle associated conditions. “Arthritis, back pain, musculoskeletal and chronic conditions such as heart diseases are often common in overweight persons. In this case, I recommend a drafted program which would include regular supervision, prescription of appropriate physical activity to increase muscle strength, flexibility, endurance, and steps to maintain weight loss under safe and controlled conditions,” says Dr Archana.

What’s your end goal?

If your main objective is to lose weight by running, you must be extra careful. It is shockingly easy for some to put on more weight because aerobic exercises like running and swimming make you hungrier, and they end up eating more, while thinking “Oh but I have done my exercise for the day so it’s okay to eat!”. Weight loss is a science and it is about burning more calories than what you put in, so talk to a nutritionist about calorie counting and the right diet for your running schedule.

“Regardless of why you run, do not let anybody shame or heckle you, and never feel ashamed of your body at any point. You are now running and making a positive lifestyle change, which means you are way ahead of all those who have not taken this step yet,” affirms Dr Archana. So runners, put on some awesome music on your headphones, don your pair of shoes, go at it every day and you will see results very soon. And remember, without proper rest and recovery periods, you can end up in real pain, so make sure you don’t push yourself too hard and do it all too quick.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

Radhika Meganathan is a published author who is an advocate for healthy living, she practices sugar-free intermittent fasting, all-terrain rambling and weight training.

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Running and your respiratory health

 Can you run if you have breathing problems asks Radhika Meghanathan. 
Here’s the truth – you can develop breathing problem at any age, even if you are a seasoned runner. When you run, your muscles need more oxygen than usual, and thus your respiratory system needs to work quickly and more efficiently to deliver this oxygen. If there’s any problem in the airways or the lungs, this delivery will not happen seamlessly and that’s when you find it difficult to breathe. The reasons such problems may be caused, are as follows, from the least serious to most:
  1. Seasonal allergies:

A common symptom of an allergy is the closing up of airways and breathing problems. This is a relatively minor block, since all you need to do is to take care of your allergies. “For those who are allergic to dust or pollen, the solution is very easy. Avoid running outdoors in spring or dusty paths; instead, choose a clean, preferably air-conditioned environment,” advices Dr Thilagavathy, consultant pulmonologist and somnologist at Vijaya Hospital, Chennai.

  1. Exercise-induced breathing issues:

Do you struggle to breathe while you are exercising, but feel fine during other times? In this case, you may have breathing related issues. Unfortunately, there is no instant cure for this, since the causes of this can be three-fold:

  • Being overweight: When you carry extra kilos, it not only puts pressure on your knees and limbs but also on your heart and lungs. The obvious solution to this is to consult your GP and a good nutritionist, to adapt a healthy and sustainable diet that will encourage weight loss. Once your body loses some of its excess fat, you will it easier to run without any breathing issues.
  • Exercise induced Asthma: If you experience shortness of breath and wheezing only while running, then you me suffering from exercise-induced bronchoconstriction. Symptoms may also include coughing, fatigue and chest pain. “If you have this condition, it’s not advisable to run,” says Dr Thilagavathy. But those who have normal asthma need not despair. American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine has published a study that revealed that asthma sufferers can vastly improve their respiratory health by doing 30 minutes of aerobic activity like running, at least thrice a week.
  • Having cardiovascular issues: If you do not have enough oxygen in your blood due to heart disease, there is a high chance that you will experience breathing issues. If it persists, you may have to temporarily halt running and consult your doctor, who may recommend you for pulmonary rehabilitation, which will help you to exercise with less shortness of breath.

    3. Lung Disorders:

What if you are an avid runner but develop some lung or heart issues? “Even if you suffer from chronic lung disorders, if you take the right medication and have it under control, you can even compete at the Olympics!” assures Dr Thilagavathy. “The key is to have a regular exercise schedule. Running will strengthen the breathing muscles if the runner selects the right amount and intensity of the sport. People with lung disease should exercise as much as they can, as long as they clear their fitness routine with their primary care physicians.”

If you want to take care of your lungs, Dr Thilagavathy advises some form of pulmonary care on a regular base. “Do not be scared by the term ‘Pulmonary rehabilitation’, even pranayama comes under it. Anybody can benefit from pulmonary exercises; your physiotherapist can give you the best tips on how to improve your lung capacity, whether you are a runner or not,” she says.

 

 ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

Radhika Meganathan is a published author who is an advocate for healthy living, she practices sugar-free intermittent fasting, all-terrain rambling and weight training.

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Can a Sprinter run a Marathon?

Deepthi Velkur explores the difference between running a fast sprint and enduring a marathon. 

All running is not equal. Sprinting and marathon running are two very different sports. Sprinters run the 100m, 200m and 400m and long distance running includes the 5km, 10km, half and full marathons. To become a sprinter or a long distance runner, different muscle groups need to be trained in the body and there is a clear distinction between their physical appearances. A sprinter’s body is built for speed and power while the marathoner is built for long and slow endurance. There are other differences that need to be understood to know why a sprinter cannot immediately transition to running marathons and why a marathoner might not enjoy sprinting.

A few of the differences include:

Muscle Structure 

A distance runner has long lean muscles that are elongated which come from longer strides while sprinters have compacted muscles concentration used to increase speed, strength, and power.

A sprinter has highly developed fast twitch muscles, their reflexes are quick and react instantaneously. Neurons fire rapidly throughout the body causing the muscles to contract and relax. This sort of quick exchange of energy can be maintained only for a short distance. It is an anaerobic exercise(large amounts of oxygen) for high-intensity activity and the amount of ATP (Adenosine triphosphate) produced in the body increases the lactic acid release which tends to settle in the muscles  as there isn’t enough time to flush it out of the body.

Long distance runner enhances their slow twitch muscles which are key to endurance. They are fired more slowly thus steadily allowing the body to maintain the volume of running. These types of runners are able to have fewer breaks in-between sets, prolonging the development of lactic acid build up. Distance runners also have lactic acid build up, but it takes longer.

Heart Rate

Heart rate is one of the best indicators of exercise intensity between sprinting and running a marathon. Using high intensity during a sprint, your heart rate can reach up to 80 to 90 percent of your maximum and can be sustained only for a short time frame.

For a marathoner, the heart rate is typically between 60 to 70 percent. Some of the elite or experienced marathon runners, increase the intensity level and sustain it at 70 to 80 percent of maximum heart rate.

Training

Sprinters have a higher heart rate for a short period of time and have bulkier muscles as their body can withstand intensive short workouts though they need a long recovery time in-between sets. A sprinter trying to run 800m from 400m distance will have more of using the constricted muscle groups. If a sprinter trains long and hard enough, they can move up to the middle distance running(800m to 1500m) and eventually long distance races. The body needs to adapt itself to relearn and readjust the muscle movement and motions.

Marathoners focus on developing cardio-respiratory fitness, muscular endurance and stamina for running long distances at a set pace and the body are used to various surfaces so the joints are able to withstand more impact at a constant rate.  A distance runner moving down to a shorter race such as the 1500m will have elongated muscles. These runners will have to work to train their muscles to fire quickly and more rapid.

Running a 10km or a marathon for a sprinter seems like a herculean task to achieve but with their perseverance and dedication, a sprinter can run a marathon.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

Deepthi Velkur is a former sprinter who is trying her hand at various sports today. A tennis fanatic, who believes that sleep should never be compromised.

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Share the Road

Cyclists and Runners constantly face the problem of vehicles disregarding their space, so how do we learn to share the road asks Nandini Reddy.

Civic agencies around the world have demarcated roads with special lanes for cyclists and runners. If you are in Chennai you would have seen the green square and boards urging you to give room to the cyclists. The world standard for motorists is to maintain 400m distance from cyclists when they spot them on the road but how many of us really respect that rule or show consideration to runners and cyclists who are cruising along the roads.

While the worldwide Share the Road campaign has entered its 10th year, in India we still struggle to make people understand why runners and cyclists deserve their big of space on the road. If you have ever tried you have been most probably met with remarks about why runners should stick to parks or cyclists should be on trails. But as a motorist you are responsible for sharing your space with to others on the road.

Why walk, run or cycle?

All over the world people are choosing to walk or cycle to their destinations. Here are a few reasons why?

  • Most use them as a short distance transport till they can reach the public transport hubs.
  • They seem to be faster mode in densely clogged roads
  • More environment friendly
  • Healthier mode of transport
  • Cheaper and more economical mode of transport

If we see walkers, runners of cyclists on the road it is the responsibility of the motorist also to ensure their safety.

How can we Share the Road?

If you want to Share the Road then you need a change of attitude towards pedestrians, runners and cyclists first, so in order to achieve the change we need to

  • Treat cyclists as we do other vehicle drivers
  • Be aware that there are specialized lanes for their safety
  • Do not pass too closely to them
  • Check all your mirrors before turning so that you do not hit cyclists
  • Slow down when they are moving across the road

In general the idea is to be aware and cautious that there are all forms of traffic human and vehicular on the road and they all have equal rights.

Responsibility of Runners and Cyclists

As much as the onus is on the motorists to ensure that they give adequate respect to the space of cyclists and runners, equal caution must be exercised by them also. As a runner or cyclists you need to

  • Respect traffic signals and road marking
  • Be attentive while on the road
  • Do not listen to music on high volume
  • Cyclists should not ride on pavements
  • Cross the roads at designation spaces and when it is safe

The idea is to build a vibrant community that is active and in order to do so it is important that we include all forms of transportation and vehicles.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

An irregular runner who has run in dry, wet, high altitude and humid conditions. Loves to write a little more than run so now is the managing editor of Finisher Magazine.

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