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Running hills on the treadmill keeps your body guessing. Here’s a 40-minute interval workout to get you started. By Melissa Romero

Treadmills get a bad rap. The list of complaints is endless: They’re boring, they’re monotonous, they’re too easy, they’re unrealistic.

Margie Shapiro, a triathlete and a coach for Potomac River Running, says the treadmill is a great tool for both novice and advanced runners. “Some people enjoy the softer surfaces a treadmill provides, while others enjoy the ability to set a pace of incline, tune out distractions, and run rhythmically,” she says.

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Posted at 03:32 PM/ET, 12/02/2011 | Permalink | Comments ()
Taking time to strengthen the muscles around the knee could save you from injury later. Here are five stretches and exercises designed to do just that. By Melissa Romero

Knees are one of the most injury-prone joints in the body, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. In 2003, approximately 19.4 million people saw an orthopedic surgeon for a knee-related injury. The incredibly complex joint is the largest in the body, and it takes a lot of abuse throughout the day.

Personal trainer and instructor Elie Cossa of City Fitness in DC’s Cleveland Park offers some simple stretches and exercises to strengthen the muscles around the knee and help with balance and stability.

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Posted at 03:32 PM/ET, 12/02/2011 | Permalink | Comments ()
Turn your race training up a notch with this easy-to-follow track workout By Melissa Romero

With temperatures in the low 80s for the foreseeable future (yay!), this week might be the perfect time to work on race-day pace training at a local track.

If you’re in training for a race, “it’s important to step outside the comfort zone of the typically slow, steady pace of your daily training runs,” says George Buckheit, head coach of Capital Area Runners. “Interval workouts can help you develop race-ready fitness.”

Buckheit offers this track workout of 800 meter and 400 meter repeats. The two-time All American recommends running early in the morning or around sunset. And remember to pack a water bottle—you’ll want to drink several ounces of fluid between each set.

Warm Up: 10 to 15 minutes of easy jogging and light stretching.
Workout: 800- and 400-meter intervals.
Sets: For beginners, two to three sets. For advanced runners, four to six sets.

1. Run 800 meters (two laps) at your 5K pace. If you haven’t run a 5K race recently and don’t have a reference point, select a pace that’s approximately two minutes faster than your typical long-distance-training pace.
2. Jog a slow, relaxed 400-meter (one lap) recovery.
3. Run 400 meters at a pace about three to five seconds faster than your 800-meter pace.
4. Rest for two minutes and be sure to drink some fluids.
5. Repeat the set.

Cool down: 10 to 15 minutes of easy jogging.

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Posted at 03:31 PM/ET, 12/02/2011 | Permalink | Comments ()
Follow these tips to get those pedals spinning faster By Melissa Romero

Last week we featured a world champion triathlete’s two swim workouts. This week, we have a 90-minute bike workout for a beginner or intermediate triathlete.

While a nice bike ride through the city is always pleasant, cycling as much as 112 miles during a triathlon is no walk in the park. Before starting the workout below, read these tips for getting faster on the bike and to be prepared for a triathlon, courtesy of Steve Makranczy and Alex Korab, owners of Transition Triathlon in Leesburg.

1. Ride hills aggressively and often.
Find a hill that takes you about two to five minutes to climb and ride it several times as part of a longer ride.

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Posted at 12:30 PM/ET, 11/23/2011 | Permalink | Comments ()
Sick of the typical 10K or triathlon? A new type of off-road obstacle course is gaining popularity—and is coming to the Washington area soon. By Taylor St. John

Mud Runs have become popular options for athletes looking for more of a challenge. The Spartan Race took place in Virginia in June. Photographs courtesy of Nuvision Action Image

Are you bored with your competitive fitness routine? Perhaps you’ve entered one too many 10Ks or triathlons, and you’re looking for something a little more challenging than road racing. How do you feel about mud? What about something named “electroshock therapy”?

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Posted at 11:11 AM/ET, 10/20/2011 | Permalink | Comments ()
From bocce to basketball, leagues are a great way to keep moving, make friends, and get food and beer discounts By Melissa Romero

The DC Bocce League is now accepting registrations for the fall season. Photograph by Chris Leaman

Most basketball leagues are already at full capacity for the fall, such as the Sports Club/LA and DC City Ball, but pickup games are always happening at local YMCAs. The YMCA also offers youth basketball leagues. Call your local YMCA for pricing and registration.


DC Bocce League, the biggest bocce league in the area just expanded its league to include divisions in Columbia Heights and Capitol Hill on Saturday afternoons. The U Street division gathers on Monday and Tuesday evenings. The fall season runs from mid-September to November. There is a minimum of six players needed for each team and it costs $50 per player. Register here.
Members receive an official T-shirt as well as pre- and post-game food and beer specials.


United Social Sports offers indoor cornhole divisions in Capitol Hill, Continental, Reston, Olney, Bethesda, and downtown DC. More than four players are recommended for each team. Register for the six to seven-week season for $39 here.
Perks: Members will receive discounted food and drinks at the bar, and in some cases an end of the season tournament and party.

United Social Sports offers two dodgeball divisions in Rockville on Wednesdays and Adams Morgan on Thursdays. Teams must have at least eight players who must each pay $55. Register here.
Perks: Members can meet at the sponsored bar post-game and enjoy beer and drinking games like flip cup, smack the cup, or beer pong.

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Posted at 04:07 PM/ET, 09/06/2011 | Permalink | Comments ()
Inline skating is making a comeback as a great way to have fun while staying fit By Melissa Malamut

Photograph courtesy of Flickr user Smath

If you’re over 30, chances are good there’s a pair of dusty, long-forgotten Rollerblades somewhere in the back of your closet. If so, it’s time to remove a decade’s worth of grime and mothballs; Rollerblades are back in.

The health benefits of inline skating haven’t changed. According to the Mayo Clinic, a 160-pound person burns up to 913 calories inline skating for an hour compared to 584 calories jogging (at five miles per hour), with less impact on the knees and joints. Inline skating also improves balance and firms the legs and glutes.

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Posted at 12:45 PM/ET, 08/23/2011 | Permalink | Comments ()
These two swim workouts emphasize endurance over speed, an ideal training method for triathletes By Melissa Romero

Whether you're a beginner or a pro, two-time world champion triathlete Ken Mierke says you should focus on endurance versus speed when swimming. Photograph courtesy of DC National Triathlon

Ask any triathlete which part of the triathlon they dread the most, and they’ll probably say the swim. We don’t blame them. Just a summer day spent lounging at the pool can be exhausting, so imagine swimming 2.36 miles—and then biking and running another 138.2 miles.

While swimming in general emphasizes speed over endurance, it’s the opposite in the sport of triathlon. Ken Mierke, a two-time world champion triathlete, says, “Many triathletes tend to train with too much emphasis on speed and not enough on efficiency endurance.”

When training, rather than doing intervals at 100 percent effort, Mierke recommends alternating hard swimming with easy swimming, instead of taking a complete rest. This makes the workout more aerobic and endurance-friendly.

But what is it about swimming that is so difficult and tiring? Mierke says, “The greatest challenge of the swim is that most of our instincts are wrong for swimming. Humans are land-based creatures and maintaining a balanced, horizontal position is very unnatural.”

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Posted at 11:07 AM/ET, 08/23/2011 | Permalink | Comments ()
A Washington Mystics player talks about promoting diabetes awareness, her grandfather's experience with type 2 diabetes, and her own obsession with Bikram yoga By Melissa Romero

As campaign ambassador for Dribble to Stop Diabetes, Washington Mystic Alana Beard hopes to raise awareness about the disease that affects 26 million people nationwide. Photograph courtesy of NBA Photos/Getty Images

Alana Beard is a star Washington Mystics guard and forward, but by the time the season ends in September, she’ll be dribbling toward a new role. The team’s top scorer is now campaign ambassador for Dribble to Stop Diabetes, an alliance of the NBA, WBNA, NBA Development League, American Diabetes Association, and Sanofi-Aventis, created to raise awareness for diabetes. From the Victory over Diabetes awareness event at the Convention Center tomorrow from 10 AM to 3 PM to various events held nationwide, Dribble to Stop Diabetes is on a mission to let people know that diabetes can be prevented by living a healthy lifestyle. Beard tells The Washingtonian why she decided to become a spokesperson for the campaign—along with Chris Dudley and Walt “Clyde” Frazier—and what she’s learned about the disease that affects both her on family and 26 million people in the United States.

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Posted at 02:42 PM/ET, 08/12/2011 | Permalink | Comments ()
Last month, Randy Mouri crossed the finish line in the 30th run of the Race Across America, a coast-to-coast bike race that draws cyclists from around the world. Here’s how he did it—hail storms, ice cream stops, sleep deprivation, and all. By Dustin Renwick

Randy Mouri during an ice cream pit stop

There are 2,989½ miles between Oceanside, California, and Annapolis. Randy Mouri has pedaled each one.

On June 27, the 51-year-old Fairfax native became the first official American finisher in his age group for the Race Across America. He was one of 41 solo cyclists from more than a dozen countries to start the journey.

“Like most other extreme sports, it’s about the challenge and not knowing how far you can push your body but wanting to find out,” says Mouri.

Each racer is allotted 288 hours—that’s 12 days—to complete the course and garner the title of official finisher. The clock doesn’t stop for sleep, bathroom breaks, or any other distractions of modern life.

Mouri crossed the finish line after 11 days, one hour, and 13 minutes. This is how he did it.

Pre-race training
A typical training day for Mouri goes something like this:
3 AM: Wake up, equipment already laid out. Eat something light, like a bottle of Ensure. “It’s an easy way to get calories, and it tastes like a milkshake.”
3:30 to 6:30 AM: On the road, cycling 52 miles from Fairfax, through DC to Rockville. Take a sink bath and rinse out bike clothes.
7 AM to 5 PM: Start work early to get a jump on the day as a pre-press manager for the publishing company Mercury.
8:15 PM: Arrive home; chat with Susie, his wife, who has dinner prepared. Shower.
9:30 PM: In bed, asleep by 10.

Club rides on the weekend extend Mouri’s weekly distance to between 400 and 600 miles. “It’s a nice way to socialize and still have a little bit of sanity,” he says. On Mondays, Mouri drives to work because he teaches a morning spin class at Rio Sport & Health in Gaithersburg. “I had to draw the line somewhere.”

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Posted at 09:40 AM/ET, 07/07/2011 | Permalink | Comments ()