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Archive for October, 2008

China’s Mandatory Running Campaign

Wednesday, October 8th, 2008

China is launching a nationwide campaign mandating students to run every day between October 26 through April 30.  The campaign is likely meant to encourage the physical condition of young people; specifically, “grade-five and grade-six students will have to run 1 kilometer, middle school students 1.5 kilometers, and high school and university students 2 kilometers” according to the Shanghai Daily.

Some parents are concerned that the daily running would add “more pressure” on already busy students.  Sounds to me like a little bit of health education could prove useful for the students and their families.  We all know there are obvious health benefits to getting exercise, and running, in particular, is an ideal exercise for improving cardiovascular health and managing stress.  Plus, it is critical to getting young people to start exercise programs and be health conscious at an early age.  We suffer from our own problem right here in America where more than 60 million adults are obese and about a third of all children are overweight (from the Associated Press).

The required distances may seem overwhelming for people that aren’t already active.  Whether it is 1km minimum or 100km, our bodies can’t just start on a rigorous daily running routine without risk of causing injury.  Our bodies need time to develop the strength and endurance to sustain long distance running.  You would never just show up one Saturday morning to run a marathon; it takes weeks, even months, of gradually increasing weekly running mileage to be able to perform on race day.  With children, whose bones are still growing, we should be particularly careful not to overtask their bodies with too much too soon.

China’s mandatory running campaign is just one of many examples of ways to get young people involved in running and fitness.  If you know of any other examples, leave us a comment.

Running + Rock Climbing = Duathlon Redefined

Tuesday, October 7th, 2008

Here’s a workout combination you don’t see every day, trail running and rock climbing.  The Tour de Hyalite, held in Bozeman, Montana, combines both events for a one-of-a-kind race.  The Bozeman Daily Chronicle describes the event “is like a duathlon”:

…consisting of trail running – a trip to Hyalite Peak (10,299 feet) and back – and rock climbing. Each climb is worth a number of points. The harder the climb, the more points earned. Competitors count points from their top five climbs, then subtract that number of minutes from their run time to get their final result. People can compete individually, participating in both sections of the race, or as a team of two.

Though the Tour de Hyalite is hardly a serious competition one has to wonder how to train for such an event.  On one hand you have a 14-mile trail run which is obviously aerobic and fast-paced.  And in the other, rock climbing is generally anaerobic and depending on the rock, can require more focused and deliberately slower movements.  Like a winter biathlon combining cross-country skiing with rifle shooting, the Tour de Hyalite is surely a test of fitness and accuracy.

You might even think you would be fresh for both sporting events since running primarily uses your legs and climbing is done with your arms.  On the contrary, using only your upper body for rock climbing can make you tired quickly.  Hats off to the competitors of the Tour de Hyalite who conquered two very different disciplines of running and rock climbing.

Jogging the Appalachian Trail

Monday, October 6th, 2008 is sponsoring ultra runner Ben Davis as he runs the entire length of the Appalachian Trail to raise awareness for ALS, better known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.  Currently there is no cure for ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) and average life expectancy is only two to five years from diagnosis.

The Appalachian Trail is 2175 miles starting in Katahdin, Maine.  Davis expects to run the national scenic trail in 62 days, running through 14 different states including the Green Mountains of Vermont, rocky ridges from eastern New York to central Maryland, Blue Ridge Parkway in the Virginias, and the Great Smoky Mountains of Tenessee before finishing at Springer Mountain, Georgia.  The varying terrain and changes in elevation will make trying to average 35 miles per day a challenge.  Davis is currently running through New Hampshire at a pace near 25-26 miles per day, root for him and follow his daily progress at