Nutrition Comments (0) |

Fuel for Senior Runners

As we grow older, we gain a new appreciation for our nutrition and our bodies and senior runners need to pay special attention to their diet, says Nandini Reddy

Beyond the age-related health concerns, senior competitive athletes need to be cautious about their nutrition. The competitive drive can be kept alive not by just training but also a diet that is suitable to the body at that particular age. There are few aspects that need to be understood in terms of energy requirements, slower recovery, adequate protein and hydration considerations.

Recovery Nutrition

Post run nutrition becomes very important as you get older. It aids in recovery and recovery is slower as you age so giving it a boost with post-workout nutrition is your best bet. Eating a meal rich in carbohydrates and protein within an hour of your workout is a great idea. Recovery is also enhanced if micro-nutrients are given prominence in your diet. Zinc, Vitamin D, Vitamin B12, Folate, Calcium and Vitamin E are the primary ones that you can include. You can get these from curd, milk, fish, legumes, whole grains and cheese.

Watch your fluids

Kidneys efficiency is reduced as you grow older. Their ability to decrease total body water, regulate salts and sense thirst will be reduced. Sweating also reduces as you grow older. In tropical climates like India, being aware of water intake is important. As a test during training, drinking 150ml of water every 30 mins will indicate how much water you really need on training days. If it is too hot and humid to run outside, training runs indoors might be more beneficial. If you can’t then just take the day off or run before sunrise, because putting pressure on your kidneys would not be the most productive idea.

Know your energy requirements 

When you hit your 60s everything changes in terms of energy requirements and metabolism. For most people activity will decrease with age hence their energy requirements might reduce. But if you are a runner the the amount of calories you require will be different from your younger self. You need to include fibre and fats into your diet. Omega-3 fatty acids are the primary need. Fibre rich nutrition sources will also help avoid gut problems. The focus should be on including foods that improve performance. Any good nutritionist will be able to advice you on which performance promoting nutrition is good for you.

Medical Considerations

Older runners need to manage chronic conditions such as cholesterol, sugar levels and blood pressure. While many may be on regular medications, it is also important to ensure that the micro-nutrients are not compromised as a fallout due to the medication. Your doctor will be able to tell give you additions to your diet to ensure that you do not lose key nutrients such as sodium and potassium.

Adapting to training over the years will continuously feed your competitive spirit, so regardless of your age , if you get your nutrition right you will be running strong.

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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Gear Comments (0) |

Potential of the Running Watch

After spending a pretty penny on getting the best in class running watch, are you really using it to its full potential, asks Nandini Reddy

GPS enabled running or fitness watches are a rage now. Runners have said that they have become better runners after they have started using the latest wearable technology. But after paying the big bucks, do we really use them to their full potential? The truth is that most of us don’t. If you use it right, you have a digital running coach right on your wrist and a quick reference to all the statistics you need to reach your goals.

So here are a few ways in which you can maximize the potential of your running watch.

Know your beats per minute

When you first get your watch. Wear it and lie down and relax. You need to record your resting heart rate. Repeat this process for a week, every alternate day so that you have a good average rate as reference. If you are recording 10 beats higher than your resting average beats per minutes on any given day, after your workout then you are over training and its time to slow down. You need to check you resting heart rate every three months to check if there are any changes in your average. Erratic resting heart rate could indicate deeper problems that might need your physicians advice before continuing on a course of exercise.

Mark your MHR

Most training apps will recommend a specific heart rate zone in which you need to train. But before you get there find your maximum heart rate (MHR). Clock in your maximum heart rate and your watch will automatically find your zones for you. It will mark you up for endurance training, recovery training, aerobic training, etc based on your MHR. For example, your endurance training will be about 65-75% of your MHR and your aerobic training will be 90 – 95% of  your MHR. Remember that before you find your MHR, you need to warm up and run up an incline for at least 2 mins. Then you need to run at your maximum speed on a decline. This gives your watch enough information to plan your zones.

Find your zone

You need to use the watch for the purpose you want to achieve with your running. Once you decide whether you want to burn fat, build endurance or work on your anaerobic threshold; you can find the right heart rate training zone. This will help you match up your training sessions accordingly. Once you have picked your zone, set a beeping alert to indicate to you if you are over training.

Record your training

Most of the running apps data can be further used in other apps to get a better idea of how your training in panning out. Find one which can maintain a diary of your activities and important statistics such as resting heart rate, the days workout, MHR, calories burnt and time spent, among others. This will help you change and improve your training plans as you progress. These records will prove useful when you need to share them with a coach or coordinate with a running partner.

Use the Interval Training feature

Use your watch’s interval training feature to build pace and endurance. This will help if you are training alone. Combine high pace with elevated heart rate training and mix up time duration as you go along. You can also check if your watch allows you to create a bespoke interval training plan.

Watch your steps

Did you know that your watch measures the frequency in which your feet strike the ground? It does that because its a way to measure how efficiently you are running. This is measured as metric known as Strike per Minute (SPM). So if you were Mo Farah you would have an SPM upwards of 180 but if you are like everyone else you would be lower than 150. A good runner will always find a good SPM and will stick to it if he hopes to get maximum performance out of his runs.

Benchmark your performance

Run your route, mark your time and catalogue it. A month later run the same route and compare. Benchmark against yourself and you will see how you are performing. Over a period of time you pace will get better and your SPM will improve as well.

BPM is not the only thing you need to watch on your running watch. Use it the right way and it will become your best buddy.

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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Off Season Training

The biggest marathon season now is done but the off-season might just be the key to better performance writes Nandini Reddy.

So you have spent the last few months running your favourite marathons across the country. In a few you have achieved goal timing and in a few others you raced for the first time. Whether you ran 10k, 21k or a full marathon, you most likely had trained intensely for 4-8 weeks to achieve your goal. So now that the major marathon’s are over, how do you prepare for the next season?

The off season is one of the most critical periods for a marathoner. Here is a step wise method that you can use to be a better marathoner when the next season comes around.

Resist the urge to Run

There will be marathons throughout the year but try and resist running for a few weeks after your big race. If you want to run races then do it closer to the season for the longer distances and run short distances like 5k more often. The urge to run can be heavy but resisting it for a while will do you more good.

Take a break

All marathoners need at least 4-6 weeks of recovery time and rest in order to bring their mind and body back to its healthy state after putting them under stress for the past few months whole racing and prepping for marathons. This time will help heal injuries and also prevent mental and physical burnout. You will also have the time to analyze your previous runs and identify areas of improvement.

Set Fresh goals

Chalk up a new training plan. Your stamina and your body have changed owing to the past training sessions. You have a new level of fitness to achieve now and your timings and training modules need to change accordingly. Bring in a coach on board if you can to make your sessions more useful. Pick a specific set of big races that you want to run in the year and work your training plan leading up to those goals.

Keep Moving

This essentially means that you do not run but you keep moving by picking up another form of exercise. Pick a cross-training or strength training routine. If you need the high of exhaustion then pick a high intensity workout like zumba or pilates.

Rework your nutrition

The off-season is a good time to try a new nutrition plan. You can experiment with the help of a dietitian and see if you can find food combinations that increase your energy levels. You can also try out new recipes and find a whole new nutrition plan that will fuel your training sessions and make you a fitter runner.

Smart athletes have a training plan that will always have a built-in recovery plan. Use the beginning of the off-season to set all this in place so that when you train again you come back stronger and fitter.

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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Eating Right for runners

Marathoner, Dharminder Sharma, talks about the kind of food that is good and bad for the Indian runner.

You can eat whatever you want to, because you are a distance runner so you can digest everything – how many times have we heard this advice from the so-called experts to newly christened long distance runners!

Another statement often heard is that I run long distances so that I can eat whatever I want.

There cannot be two worse statements about diet than these!

Eating right is as important for a long distance runner as it is for anybody else. One can never overstate the importance of eating the right kind of food and food supplements to ensure a life-long injury free running experience. Carbohydrates, proteins and fats take up a major part of our daily diet although fibre, vitamins, minerals and water are also indispensable.

What are carbs?

In India, carbs are generally considered to be wheat and rice and most do not know much about what other foods contain carbs. Fruits, salads, vegetables, nuts, sweets and legumes (daals) all contain carbs.

What are simple and complex carbs?

A general advice given by Dietitians to health conscious individuals and runners is to go for complex carbs rather than simple ones. Without going into the science of the advantages of complex carbs and the disadvantages of the other, a simple listing of the items would help a runner or a fitness enthusiast choose the right diet. The common examples of simple carbs that a runner should avoid or restrict in quantity are white breads, sugar and sugary products like candies, toffees, chocolates (except a small piece of dark chocolate) and mithhai (traditional Indian sweets), fruit juices (especially canned ones), white rice, most bakery products, potato chips and cold drinks, this list is, however, not exhaustive.

The complex and healthy carbs that one should prefer are whole grain breads, chapatis made of whole wheat, Bajra, Ragi and other coarse grains/millet, brown rice, beans, nuts, oats and oatmeal, quinoa, fruits especially less sugary ones like guava, papaya and pineapple, sweet potatoes and leafy greens.

What about protein in diet?

When it comes to proteins, there is a popular myth that only the body builders or hard core gym enthusiasts need to consume proteins. That is not true because our body needs proteins to build muscles that provide the necessary support during runs. Proteins help build the muscles and they are required to recover the muscles after a long strenuous run. Therefore, a runner’s diet requires proteins in good quantities.

A long distance runner under training should have at least 0.8 gm of protein per kg of body weight per day in order to stay injury free. Some of the protein rich ‘foods’ that one can add in daily diet are chicken breast, fish, sunflower seed, almond, quinoa, egg white, low fat cottage cheese (paneer), chick pea (chana), whole lentils (chhilka daal), oat, beans, soya milk, broccoli, brown rice and peas, to name a few.

How do fats help?

Besides, the carbohydrates and proteins, fats take another major part of human diet. We often hear of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ fats – good are the ones that should be more in quantity. However, often when people get their lipid (fat) profiles checked through blood tests and come across technical terminology, it is little difficult for them to correlate in the laboratory reports as to what are the ‘good’ and the ‘bad’ fats. Even if they are able to make out what these are, they often do not have an idea as to how to increase or decrease their levels in our bodies. The best way to increase good fats is to eat the food that naturally contains large quantities of ‘good’ fats.  Some of the ‘foods’ that contain high to very high quantities of these ‘good fats’ are almond, walnut, flaxseed, olive, canola, chia seed, pistachio, fish oil especially cod liver oil.

Never forget the Vitamins & Minerals

One can never over-emphasize the importance of flaxseeds in the daily diet. They are a rich source of natural omega 3 fatty acids, vitamin B1 and B6 and are one of the most nutrient rich foods that also contain protein, dietary fibre, magnesium, manganese, phosphorous and selenium. Flaxseeds are low in carbs and therefore, very useful for someone looking to shed weight. They are also good for cardiac health as they lower cholesterol levels and the antioxidants in them slow down the process of aging.

How much fibre is enough?

We often ignore the importance of another ‘food’ in our diet and that is dietary fibre. Some of the above-mentioned foods do contain dietary fibres in large quantities and should form a part of the daily diet no matter whether the person is training or is in the midst of an event. I say this because a lot of literature on the internet advises against eating fibre and protein rich diet the day before the event and in fact advises eating pasta. Since most of the literature is from the perspective of the West, this advice may hold well in that context but my advice to an Indian runner would be to go for the same diet that one is used to eating which may be Roti, Idli, rice, Dosa, etc.

The night before the big race

If you are used to eating Daal, Roti, Kheera, rice and Dahi as your regular diet, there is absolutely no harm eating it the night before the event. There is absolutely no sense going on a hunt the evening before an event for a restaurant that serves pasta if you have gone to a new city to run in an event. Just stick to familiar foods that have worked for you during the training, if they have worked for you so far they would surely work now. Remember, the day before the event or a marathon is not the right time to try a new food in a new city! In fact, eating familiar food will actually prevent the constipation on the morning of your event and save you precious time to enable you to reach the event fresh and in time.

Fitness and a healthy eating has to be a continuous journey and not a time bound target for a runner or a fitness person. I would conclude by giving another important advice – spicy and oily foods the day before the event whether or not you are used to eating them, are an absolute ‘No’!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dharminder Sharma is an Indian Forest Service Officer (IFS) who has been running long distances for more than ten years. He has attended most of the major marathons in India and a few abroad. He has also started many running clubs in the Northern Indian region and organising quality runs for runners is one of his many passions

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Aging Gracefully with Running

Runners can keep going by adapting their techniques at each age milestone, says Radhika Meganathan

Age is just a number, as they all say. However, when it comes to running, the biology of aging cannot be denied, or ignored. As one ages, muscle mass decreases. Bone wear and tear over a period of years slow you down and makes you less flexible. Healing takes longer and stamina takes a hit. These are perfectly valid reasons to be vigilant and adjust one’s training and expectations from the sport.
The good news is, you can run the if you are prepared enough. At the Twin Cities Marathon in 2014, 59-year-old Christine Kennedy of triumphed with the astounding stat of 2:59:39.

Should you run when you are older?
Of course! As long as you don’t have any serious conditions that may hamper your running and you take proper care to run, running is good for all ages. Consider these pluses of running, especially if you are a senior:
1. Running can help you with a longer and healthier life.
2. Runners have less chance of suffering from clinical depression
3. Running improves blood circulation, and the brain benefits from improved circulation.
4. Running, and in general being physically active, can prevent you from cognitive decline.
5. Running reduces the chances of you getting colon or breast cancer.
6. Runners sleep better!
With all the above benefits, you are better off running!

But what about the ‘fall’ scare?

It’s a myth that you will fall and injure yourself if you run after a certain age. Injury happens to anyone who is careless or doesn’t take the necessary precautions. Age has nothing to do with it! In fact, most senior citizens experience falls in all walks of their life due to poor balance. Regular running makes muscles and bones stronger, and improves balance, which means – less chances of having a fall during running.

What if you are a senior and new to running?

Start with walking. Your neighbourhood park is the best bet, but you can walk in a quiet road too. Walk 10 minutes, and slowly jog for a couple of minutes. Alternate this until you feel slightly out of breath, and then stop. Repeat this consistently every day or every other day, progressively increasing the time to 15 and 20 minutes. Slowly venture into brisk walking, and eventually, sprinting. Set reasonable goals, look how your body’s responding and adjust your schedule accordingly. Take a companion if you are unsure attempting this alone. If you cannot run every day, aim for at least three times a week. Remember, the more you do it, the easier it will get.

What if I have a pre-existing condition?

Any sport requires a certain degree of caution when you attempt it with a pre-existing condition, and running is no different. As a starter, get your physician’s opinion. Get the right running attire, shoes and safety gear. Always have a mobile or a medical device alert with you, in case of emergencies. You can also hire a personal trainer who can help you get started with running. The advantage of professional help is that you will be under a monitored environment where you will be taught to gradually increase the level of activity.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

A published author and an avid rambler, Radhika Meganathan is a recent keto convert who may or may not be having a complicated relationship with bacon and butter.

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Take the Stairs

You can elevate your running performance if you start using stairs, says Nandini Reddy

If you are movie buff then you need to borrow one piece of training advice from Rocky – make climbing stairs as part of training. If you have a shorter training window before  marathon then training on stairs is a good way addition to your training plan. As you power your way up the stairs, you legs become stronger and your heart and lungs are taxed more from the movement thus improving your overall stamina and strength.

So how do stairs help so much?

  • When you are climbing stairs you are moving against gravity and this helps build power and strength in a runner.
  • If you are trying to reach a goal time in a marathon you will need both.
  • Stair climbing also helps you stabilize your form as you work to stay on balance.
  • Stair climbing training also reduces the risk of injury
  • Climbing stairs makes your hearth pump faster and improves your blood oxygen

How they help your legs?

Strength training is a key part of runners training schedule. Body weight training routines recommend lunges and squats to train the legs and glutes. If you do stair training then you will get the benefit of both these exercises in a single move. With your heart pumping your muscles are also more oxygenated. Both your legs get equal amount of workout during stair training.

The oxygenation advantage

During an intense exercise your heart is continuously pumping oxygen to your muscles at a grueling pace. As the intensity of the exercise increase the VO2 levels rise. Stair climbing helps improve your Vo2 max levels and the greater the VO2 level the harder you can run. A British journal published that stair climbing was known to improve the VO2 max level by nearly 17% in women.

What if I choose a natural uphill terrain?

You can choose a natural uphill terrain also to train with but stairs come with a built in difficulty that most natural terrains do not have. Stairs are built at an angle of 65 degrees, while most hills will only have about 5-10% of this gradation.

How do you start?

If you are looking to get started on the stair training routine then like any other exercise ease into it. You can tired very quickly on stairs so do not equate your running capacities to your stair climbing abilities. Start by walking up 10 floors first. If your body is taking the strain then start jogging up 10 floors. If you are able to breath comfortably then move to running. If you need a bit of a challenge, try taking two stairs at a time. You can also use the handrail to pull your body up and get a complete workout.

A Sample Training Plan

Here is a sample training plan if you are ever considering using the stair climbing work out as away to train faster for a marathon

Warm-up – Jog for 10 minutes on a flat terrain

Main Workout – 10 floors x 20 times with a recover time of 30 secs between each set. Use the elevator to come back to a start point if you are able or run down briskly while using the handrail for support.

Cool-Down – Walk down  the stairs at a slow pace and then stretch out all the muscles that you worked.

There are a few stair climbing races around the world if you ever want to consider participating in one but until then use it as the perfect routine to get your strength up for running your best race.

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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The relationship between sleep and running

Sleeping well and for the right amount of time can increase your running stamina, writes Nandini Reddy

We live in a hyper active culture that has us on our toes constantly. We have over committed our time an energy to a a ton of obligations. But the most important factor that needs to remain unchanged irrespective of our lifestyle is the number of hours we sleep. You have probably read that you need 8 hours of sleep but it is highly likely that you are clocking in less than 5 hours a night. As a runner, sleep is as important as nutrition and exercise.

Maybe if we understood why we need to sleep then we can be more convinced to actually give it the attention it needs.

Weight Loss

A regular sleep schedule can do wonders for your weight loss efforts. When you get less sleep your hunger hormones run haywire making you carve food at the wrong times or feeling less sated after a meal. All marathoners tend to carb load before a race but if you don’t get enough sleep then the glycogen energy reserves that you need for the race will not build up properly and you will hit the fatigue wall sooner than you expect.

Body Repairs

Distance runners need sleep to ensure that their muscles recover from their training. It was observed in a research that athletes who got enough sleep showed a marked improvement in their running performance. While you sleep, the growth hormone is released when you are in deep sleep which helps recover your body. This hormone is essential to help the body rebuild from the affects of workouts. The growth hormone also helps in converting fat to fuel and keeping your bones strong. Too little sleep means you will feel more stressed and your recovery time will also increase.

Water Re-absorption

While you sleep, the kidneys help in establishing the water balance in your body. When you run in summer and sweat a lot, there is a high risk of dehydration. Just drinking more water is not the solution to ensure your body stays hydrated. It is also important to let the kidneys do their work to balance the sodium, electrolytes and water in your body. Dehydration can lead to fatigue and muscle pain. So a good night’s sleep can do wonders to ensure that you are not dehydrated and your body electrolytes are in balance every morning.

Mental toughness

Sleep helps clear your mind and improves your concentration and helps you run with a clear mind. Sleeping better also improves your ability to analyze training plans and race day performance. A mentally tough runner can overcome every hurdle that he might encounter during tough races.

Maintaining a Schedule 

You need to set a sleep schedule. It will take you up to four weeks to get habituated to it but if you can set up a schedule then you will see that all other things will also fall into place. You will start to eat and train at a scheduled time. Sleep also helps you combat pre-race anxiety, improve your memory and decision making ability.

You might be able to get by with a few nights of bad sleep in a month but on the whole you need to have a sleep schedule that you stick to if you want to improve your running performance.

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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Improving your running form

Running can be easier and with less effort, if you strengthen you body and improve your flexibility, says Nandini Reddy

You become a great runner by taking to the trails and roads regularly but a few simple exercises before and after your run can do wonders for your running form. Smooth and efficient running is dependent on the strength and flexibility of your body. Here are a few basic pointers to remember to get the right form.

  • Take quick and short strides to avoid injury
  • Keep your knees in line with your foot when it strikes the ground
  • Keep you elbow bent at 90 degrees
  • Don’t keep your hands stiff. Relax those muscles
  • Run by pushing off from the ground and not flat thumps

There are three muscle areas that are the most important to have great form – the glutes, hips and arms. All these muscles need to be worked on before and after a run. Dynamic stretches before a run to heat up these muscles and cool down stretches after a run to ensure that these muscles are relaxed.

If you follow particular training principles you can be a better runner. During training runs try and introduce something different.

  • Gradually increase your mileage or time spent running. If you are working on interval training then reduce the walk timing and increase the run timing.
  • Give yourself enough of a break before you increase your speed or distance. Your body needs to adapt and its important not to push it beyond its limits.
  • If you are trying new strength training exercises then remember that you will have sore muscles for a few days and might not be able to run at your regular pace. Its okay to do that and it doesn’t mean that the exercise is the enemy to your running.
  • Try and get a plan that increases gradually. If you are running 5km is a good timing this week then try completing 6km in the same timing next week. Training should make you feel happy to achieve your goals and not stressed.
  • There are no single methods for running that will work for you always. Every trail and every run might offer different challenges, so remember to prepare for it.

Easy and effortless running comes with practice and dedication. Use the strengthening moves to make running more of a pleasure than a chore everyday.

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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Run to make a Difference at the Ridley Run (Chennai)

If you are a conservationist then this is the marathon you should be signing up for recommends Nandini Reddy.

Coastal degradation and changing fishing habits have contributed to the reduction of the Olive Ridley Turtles over the years. Every year between December and April the turtles head to the Chennai shores in large numbers to nest. Conservation efforts have been underway to help save these brilliant animals. The efforts extend to cleaning up beaches, ensuring safe havens for the turtles for nesting and involving the local fishing folk in conservation matters.

Run for the Ridley 

The run categories include distances of 1km, 3km and 5km along the Palavakkam beach. The run is on the morning of February 4th and there are several other events planned leading up to the event. Being along the beach you can enjoy a refreshing sunrise There are turtle walks every evening for sending the babies back to the sea. The conservation group Save the Turtle, is organizing environmental talks in schools and offices to get more people involved in the conservation efforts. There is also an exciting sand-sculpting event on the theme of conservation. The entire run aims to create awareness about the importance of saving the turtle and its importance in the eco-system.

All finishers will receive a certificate, medal and refreshments. You an also book a special t-shirt for an additional charge if you register at the earliest. On registration participants are also entitled to receive vouchers valued at Rs 3000.

Saving the Olive Ridley

The Olive Ridley’s swim nearly 34,000 kms to reach the shores of the Bay of Bengal to nest. The population of the Olive Ridley’s has reduced by nearly 50% over the past few years. The turtles nest between the periods of December to April, laying thousands of eggs. The eggs incubate for a 45 day period before the hatch-lings move out of the shells and into the sea to start their new life. But with growing human interference in their nesting grounds, the turtle population is dwindling at an alarming rate. Fishing communities have come together to support the initiative and now conservation groups and volunteers are ensuring that more hatch-lings make their journey back to the sea.

The proceeds from the run will be utilized for conservation efforts that will help protect thousands of hatch-lings and also prepare nesting areas for turtles with the assistance of local communities.

Click here to register for Ridley Run (Feb 4, Chennai)==>>https://buff.ly/2Eiz9rs

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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