Holiday fitness challenges kick me into gear

This elf cannot simply stay on a shelf.

As the final stretch of the year approaches, some of us may need an extra push to keep running, working out, and pursuing overall physical fitness. I know I do! 

Annually, I’ve checked off most of the races on my calendar and met many of my mileage goals for the year by now. It’d be easy to just sit back, prop my feet up, and zone out with the TV remote and a pile of favorite snacks.

(I’ll probably do some of that anyway, but just go with me here.)

In this crazy COVID pandemic year, most running races have either canceled or transitioned to virtual events. In many cases, I simply chose not to register (if I hadn’t done so already), once the whole social distancing nightmare became clear. That means (like multitudes of runners), I have had to find means of motivation elsewhere. Upcoming race deadlines simply didn’t happen in 2020.

I think we all hope 2021 will bring an altogether different picture.

Either way, fitness has to happen. We all have our reasons, whether we’re burning calories, keeping illness at bay, or just loving being active. For me, I’m fighting multiple sclerosis, as well as middle-age frumpiness. So I’m gonna keep running and exercising and pursuing strength training.

The holiday season (whether we gather with loved ones or not) brings all sorts of extra dietary delights (and downfalls). Aiming to be proactive, I’m making myself publicly accountable right here.

This year, I have signed on for these holiday fitness challenges:

  • 2020 December Crunch
  • Merry Miles 2020
  • Zooma Holiday Challenge
  • Run the Year Holiday Streaker Challenge

I can see the end of the road for my Run the Year goal of 2020 miles in 2020.

And, at November’s end, we will complete the Stepping Up for Heroes Challenge, produced by Fort 2 Base in conjunction with Fitness Bank.

You can track my progress and find additional information on these challenges by looking in my blog sidebar. (Mobile users: Choose WEB VIEW to see these.)

(Full disclosure: I am a race ambassador for Fort 2 Base, Stepping Up for Heroes, and Zooma.)

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 Image/s: Adapted from public domain artwork

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Social Distance running is a whole new game

 It seems like everyone wants to be a runner, now that social distancing has become a thing.

Regular runners definitely took the lead on this. Keeping up with running and avoiding contact with others (and possible Coronavirus / COVID-19 exposure) is something of a balancing act, isn’t it? From race cancellations to gym closures, runners are taking to the trails (and streets) to keep moving. Virtually every race director is coming up with virtual races to offer the running community at-large.

Hey, we’re still free to lace up our sneakers and go pound out as many miles as we want.

In these crazy days of pandemic uncertainty, scores of other folks are stepping into sports shoes and hitting the bricks or tracing out trails to escape cabin fever and burn off some of those shelter-in-place calories.

If we’re heeding the warnings, we’re running (or walking) solo. Or we’re pairing up, but trying to stay 6+ feet apart (per federal guidelines). Maybe we’re wearing face-masks or stretching neck gaiters / buffs or lycra headbands over our noses and mouths.

Then there are those devil-may-care hotshots, who think they’re tougher than anything Covid-19 can throw at them.

Those are the hard-core runners who still post Instagram photos of their running crews with arms draped over each others’ shoulders. They’re the ones who jog three or four across on single- or double-track paths.

Take a look at these photographic examples. (Disclaimer: These stock photos were taken before the pandemic hit. So these individuals were not violating any current health standards.)

An active worldwide pandemic makes running a whole new game.

Tons of runners have posted photos depicting the lack of social distancing in favorite running spots. Chicago's mayor has now closed the city's scenic lakefront paths, for example. On the other hand, Wisconsin has waived fees for state parks and trails, urging people to practice safe social distancing.

Experts tell us COVID-19 can spread like wildfire. Would you run through wildfire?

Have you encountered others along your running routes, who crowded your Coronavirus-avoidance personal boundaries? How did you handle this?

I have darted into the street to cross and put appropriate space between me and them. Two days ago, a pair of runners came up behind me and passed me on a local trail. One actually shoulder-bumped me, as he crowded past.

Seriously, folks?

Call me germophobic. OK.

I just want to stay healthy, so I can keep running and doing the rest of life well (or reasonably so). I battle a chronic medical condition daily, which threatens to sideline me, if a serious illness throws my immune system into overdrive. I have family members and other loved ones who could likely not weather such a storm, if they became infected.

Bet we all do, if we think about it. Because when it comes right down to it, it’s not just about us. It’s about who our lives might impact.

Photo collage created  by this user from public domain images

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Sports nutrition: What runner foods do you hate?

Certain foods tend to be must-eats for runners. We get that. Sports nutrition lists vary, but the top-recommended picks for active runners (from sprinters to marathoners) usually include bananas, berries, eggs, legumes, nuts, peanut butter, whole grains, yogurt, and more. Most of those are pretty palatable for most of us, but we probably all have at least one that we cannot stand.

What runner foods do you hate?
I hate bananas. I really do. I don’t like them whole. I gag at the thought of banana pudding or banana cream pie. I cringe at banana pancakes or waffles. I refuse to put bananas in fruit smoothies.

I’ll choke down a half banana after a race, when a cheery volunteer hands it to me. I know my body probably needs it by then, especially after a longer race on a hotter day. But that banana is not exactly a treat for me.

The whole banana-eating experience reminds me of sitting at the family dinner table as a child, long after everyone else has been excused, simply because I haven’t eaten my now-cold-and-soggy vegetables (most of which I’ll actually choose and prepare and enjoy nowadays). But I digress.

Sure, bananas are packed with potassium and other good things for active athletes’ bodies. But there’s about a 30-minute window when bananas are at their prime. First they are too green and solid and hard to enjoy. By the time they are ripe and ready to eat, they are practically turning brown and mushy and altogether too sweet.

Bananas are a necessary evil for running, as far as I am concerned. I’m just not a fan.

OK, I don’t mind banana bread. But it’s not exactly a personal favorite. And it’s practically dessert, so it doesn’t count as standard runner fuel – at least not during training or racing season (which is pretty much all the time).

Honestly, I end up making banana bread every time I purchase more than two bananas at a time. The others are bound to turn brown before I gather the gumption to eat them. And I often give away the whole loaf, or at least half of it.

What runner foods do you hate?


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