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Looking for a book to pack in your carry-on or beach bag? We asked local nutritionists and trainers for their favorite health-and-fitness reads. By Emily Leaman

The Talent Code by Daniel Coyle, $14.63

“This book is a great way to understand expertise in various fields by debunking the myth that some people are ‘just better.’ It’s all about practice.”
Margie Shapiro, professional triathlete and owner of Potomac River Running

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Posted at 12:01 PM/ET, 06/28/2011 | Permalink | Comments ()
How to stay healthy and fit this weekend By Emily Leaman
Practice knitting and yoga at Tranquil Space on Sunday.

Friday, June 24
Celebrate the one-year anniversary of MindBody Studio’s Friday Night Yoga classes at Mint gym in Adams Morgan. This week’s class gets started at 7:30, and since they’ll be teaching some gravity-defying arm-balance poses, some prior yoga experience is recommended. It’s $10 for Mint members, and $20 for nonmembers. Sign up here.

Saturday, June 25
To mark the reopening of Bethesda’s Lululemon store, which has been closed since early March after a store employee was murdered there, the shop is hosting a free community yoga class at 8:30 AM. It’ll include live music; participants should bring their own mats. RSVP on the shop’s Facebook invite

Attending today’s DC United game at RFK Stadium? While you’re there, stop in to the Champions Club restaurant to take part in a bone-marrow drive to help a 7-year-old boy who has blood cancer find a match. The drive is part of a seven-city search, which Major League Soccer and ABC’s Extreme Makeover: Home Edition are sponsoring. The show is giving the Utah family a new home, and hopes the bone-marrow drive will find a match for little Jonah Gomez. Drive participants will get their cheeks swabbed to see if they’re a match. The drive starts at 6. 

Sunday, June 26
The More than Brown Blues free summer series kicks off at Yards Park near the Nationals Ballpark. The event, geared toward African American women, is part of a mental-health and wellness initiative hosted by Divas, MPH (Making our People Healthier). Sunday’s gathering, which runs from 2 to 4:30, will include refreshments, speakers, and discussions, covering depression-prevention topics. Get more information here.

Ladies take to the streets today for the Baltimore Women’s Classic 5K, which gets underway at 8 AM. The course starts and ends at Rash Field near the Inner Harbor. The race raises funds to help support women recovering from gynecological cancers. You can register in person on race day beginning at 6:30 AM; $30. More details are here.

If knitting and yoga are your two favorite hobbies, you’ll want to swing by Tranquil Space near Dupont Circle today for its Yoga and Knitting workshop. The two-hour class, which starts at 1, will include a brief yoga practice to start, followed by knitting and conversation, and yoga to end to “relieve knitting-sore muscles.” It’s $25 to participate; bring your own yarn and needles. Details, and a link to register, are here.

Monday, June 27
Today is National HIV Testing Day. To mark the occasion, Whitman-Walter Health is hosting expanded free HIV testing. The Max Robinson Center near the Anacostia Metro stop will offer testing from 9 to 4, and the Elizabeth Taylor Medical Center at 14th and R streets, Northwest, will do the same from 9 to 7. Details, including other testing sites, are here

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Posted at 04:32 PM/ET, 06/23/2011 | Permalink | Comments ()
Our writer took a one-day seminar on Chi Running. What’d she learn? That running is less about the legs and more about the lean. By Melissa Romero

Chi Running founder Danny Dreyer demonstrates the perfect running form: a slight forward lean.

Danny Dreyer might have found the answer to the age-old question, “How can I make running enjoyable?” The solution: Don’t use your legs.

There’s more to it than that, of course, but the claim—plus curiosity and a bit of doubt—was what brought me to Dreyer’s Chi Running workshop last Saturday in Chevy Chase. I was a sprinter and jumper for ten years, but long-distance running and I just never really clicked. Ask me to choose between a 20-minute run and 100 squats, and I’d choose the latter.

I had spent the last month reading about Dreyer’s running technique, which is a blend of T’ai Chi principles that allow for efficient, painless running. Dreyer, an ultra-marathon runner, was inspired to change the way he ran after taking a class with T’ai Chi master Zhu Xilin.

“My instructor told me how alignment really works to support your body weight,” Dreyer says. “In T’ai Chi, all the movement comes from your center, so I started playing with this concept and applying it to running. It totally rocked my boat.”

Chi Running relies on two things to transfer our “chi,” or energy, elsewhere: body alignment and relaxation. A person’s alignment, posture, and lower core—not the legs—should do all the work. So this was a chance to learn how to run without waking up to wobbly legs the next day. And no shin splints, to boot? It all sounded to good to be true.

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Posted at 12:04 PM/ET, 05/25/2011 | Permalink | Comments ()
The Mid-Atlantic has the highest concentration of triathletes in the country. With two triathlons a year—and enough type-A personalities to fill them up—DC might be the epicenter. By Melissa Romero
Swimmers bob in the Potomac at the Nation's Triathlon last September. Photograph courtesy the Nation's Tri

If Steve Carlson had to describe his first triathlon in one word, it’d be “miserable.”

Here’s what the former rower remembers about that September 2001 race in Manassas: flying through the swimming and biking portions and then, during the 2K run, dry-heaving—repeatedly.

“My run became a jog . . . then a walk . . . then I stopped to dry-heave,” Carlson wrote in a recent blog post. “I dragged myself across the finish line, beaten by my roommate (he passed me while [I was] dry heaving).”

Since that first sprint triathlon—which Carlson completed without any preparation—he’s learned a lot about the sport, particularly how to pace himself. Ten years later, he’s the president of DC Tri Club, a group of local triathletes who train and socialize together.

Carlson is just one of the thousands of Washingtonians who fell into the sport by chance and have been sucked into the challenge. The Mid-Atlantic has seen a huge interest in triathlons over the last decade; it now has 22,857 annual USA Triathlon members—the highest concentration in the country.

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Posted at 11:03 AM/ET, 05/23/2011 | Permalink | Comments ()
It’ll be hard to miss the breast-cancer survivors at Saturday’s Dragon Boat Festival in Georgetown—just look for the pink By Debra Bruno
The Go Pink! DC team is a blur of pink and purple. The boas are a good touch. Photograph by Robin Barr

Update (2 PM): The Dragon Boat Festival has been canceled this weekend due to high river waters. Organizers are working to plan a make-up date. 

If you go to the Washington DC Dragon Boat Festival in Georgetown on Saturday morning, don’t be surprised if you see lots of pink. Those pink-and-purple-clad paddlers on the Potomac are breast-cancer survivors.

“Breast cancer made me think, ‘I gotta do something different in my life,’ ” says Brigid Krizek, 63, a breast-cancer survivor and dragon-boat paddler. “I had never been an athlete, never been on a sports team. But I called and went down there, and I was hooked.”

The connection between breast-cancer survivors and dragon-boat paddling started in 1996 with a Canadian sports-medicine physician named Don McKenzie, who wanted to do research on whether lymphedema, the swelling that often results from surgery for breast cancer, gets better or worse with upper-body exercise. He formed a group, Abreast in a Boat, and coached the women through exercises and training. While his research couldn’t quite prove that it helped with lymphedema, he did determine that the swelling didn’t get worse. McKenzie had set in motion a group of women who suddenly had a positive way to deal with a breast-cancer diagnosis.

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Posted at 02:14 PM/ET, 05/19/2011 | Permalink | Comments ()
When I ran my first marathon, it was part of a life plan that I hoped would lead to a baby. The marathon was the easy part. By Amy Eward

Illustration by Britt Spencer

I’m running single file in a line of runners that bobs through DC like a dragon in a Chinese New Year parade. I watch the legs of the man in front of me and move my own in unison. The congenial conversations, the clapping beneath the underpasses, the Howard University pep band—all are miles behind. A few oohs and ahhs greet us as we pass Nationals Park. Then only feet slapping on pavement.

The aid station comes into view—the 20-mile mark. The clock reads 2:58, and I feel the chill of the early-spring air on my arms. I’m going to finish the National Marathon in less than four hours.

But I’m unprepared for the loneliness of the next five miles. No one cheers us on as we run alongside the Anacostia River. My legs begin to ache.

It’s 2008, two months shy of my 26th birthday. A year before, I decided I needed to achieve something beyond the 9 to 5, to prove to myself I wasn’t moving in circles. So every morning before work, I put on my sneakers and ran the streets around the Columbia apartment I shared with my husband. Soon I began entering road races. Within months, I registered for the National Marathon.

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Posted at 04:54 PM/ET, 05/16/2011 | Permalink | Comments ()
Registration for the popular October race begins on May 15 By Emily Leaman

Runners, set your alarm clocks: General-public registration for the oh-so-popular Army Ten Miler race opens Sunday, May 15—at 12:01 AM. 

The race, which will wind through DC and Arlington on October 9, accommodates 30,000 runners: One-third of the slots have been reserved for US service members and participants who’ve run at least seven Army Ten Miler races in the past. It's part of the race’s new “priority” registration system. Registration for priority bibs opened on May 1, but a post today on the race’s Facebook page says those slots have been filled.

The remaining two-thirds are for the general public on a first-come, first-served basis. General registration ($55) opens just after midnight on Sunday. We weren’t kidding when we told you to set an alarm: The 2009 race sold out in six days, and last year’s filled up in just 35 hours. 

If you miss the registration window, there’s still hope: From June 1 through August 19, race organizers will open up a registration-transfer page on the Army Ten Miler Web site. Last year, more than 2,500 runners were able to score bibs through the program.

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Posted at 01:56 PM/ET, 05/10/2011 | Permalink | Comments ()
Barefoot-running shoes are more than just funny-looking—they might improve your running and prevent injury, too By Mollie Reilly
Vibram FiveFingers are the most common barefoot-running shoes, but other companies, such as Nike, sell minimalist models, too. Photograph courtesy of Vibram

In 2009, journalist and running enthusiast Christopher McDougall published Born to Run, a look at the “superathlete” Tarahumara Indians of Mexico who for centuries have run hundreds of miles without rest or injury. During his reporting, McDougall discovered that part of the tribe’s natural success might lie in its affinity for running barefoot. The book and its theories caught on, inspiring many to reassess the way they hit the pavement.

Since then, many distance runners have ditched their high-tech sneakers for a back-to-basics approach. While some go as far as literally running barefoot, many more are adopting minimalist footwear—shoes that simulate running barefoot but protect your soles from rough terrain. These extremely lightweight shoes have none of the bells and whistles most runners have become accustomed to: no elevated heel, no arch support, no gel inserts.

According to Lee Firestone, a Chevy Chase-based podiatrist who specializes in sports medicine, minimalist shoes actually change the way you run. When people run in traditional athletic shoes, they tend to land on the rear of their foot. When you wear a minimalist shoe—or no shoe at all—you instead take on a mid-foot strike. Some studies indicate that landing on this part of your foot causes less impact than landing on your heel and may lead to fewer injuries.

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Posted at 03:23 PM/ET, 05/06/2011 | Permalink | Comments ()
Celebrate Bike Month with group rides, festivals, classes, and more By Emily Leaman

Did you know May is Bike Month? Thanks to lots of new bike lanes and DC’s now-thriving Capital Bikeshare program, more and more Washingtonians are hitting the streets on two wheels.

You can get in on the fun with bike events throughout May. If you know of any races, classes, or events not listed here, feel free leave information in the comments.

Saturday, May 7
Ride alongside a wounded soldier at the Soldier Ride in Annapolis. The event is an opportunity for the public to log miles with soldiers in rehabilitation in order to honor their sacrifice and help them recover. The ride starts at Quiet Waters Park Amphitheater (600 Quiet Waters Park Road) and runs 17 miles through Annapolis. The ride costs $50 to register, and each cyclist is responsible for raising a minimum of $125 to support the Wounded Warrior Project. Details are here.

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Posted at 10:32 AM/ET, 05/03/2011 | Permalink | Comments ()
The winner of Saturday’s SunTrust National Marathon has his sights set on the Olympics. Here’s how he’s planning to get there. By Melissa Romero

Wardian won the SunTrust National Marathon last week, his fifth time winning the event in six years. Photograph by Chris Leaman
Chances are Michael Wardian has already logged more miles on foot this year than most people will by December.

The ultra-marathon runner capped off his fifth race this year—more than 140 miles total—last Saturday at the SunTrust National Marathon. For the fifth time in six years, Wardian was first to cross the finish line, beating out a field of 50 elite runners with a time of 2:23:01.

Though a win at home never hurts, the Arlington native was unable to achieve his bigger goal: qualifying for the Olympic trials. “So I guess I failed even though I won,” Wardian says.

He has until January 2012 to shave his time down to two hours and 19 minutes—and a dozen marathons this year to go. He’ll run two races between April and May in South Africa, a total of 90 miles, and one week later he’ll run the 50-mile North Face Endurance Challenge. In September, he’ll try to win the 100K World Championships in the Netherlands. (A third-place finish last year wasn’t enough.)

While Wardian is undeniably a serious athlete, he’s not a professional runner who has the luxury of running full-time. That means he’ll be unable to travel a month in advance to prepare for a 135-miler in Death Valley; he’ll have to acclimate in Thomas Jefferson Community Center’s sauna instead. It also means somehow getting in 15 to 20 miles a day, in between working a full-time job as an international ship broker and helping his wife, Jennifer, take care of their four- and two-year-old sons.

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Posted at 01:12 PM/ET, 04/21/2011 | Permalink | Comments ()