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Back of the Pack

Last Build Date: 2009-10-19T20:47:40Z

Copyright: Copyright 2010

The rewards and risks of extreme exercise

Mon, 19 Oct 2009 16:47:40 -0500

It's rare that someone dies running a marathon or half marathon. Extraordinarily rare when three people die. Yet that's what happened in Detroit, Sunday, Oct. 18, 2009.

Within 16 minutes, three men collapsed and died while running the half marathon in Detroit. All had trained to do the event and – according to news reports all were relatively healthy.

Emergency medical staff were on hand quickly for each man, but none could be saved.

It's a tragedy but unfortunately it happens. People who sign up for any organized race have to sign a waiver acknowledging that they understand the risk they are taking in participating in an extreme event.

The golden age of running

Wed, 16 Sep 2009 13:17:38 -0500

For those of us who like to lace up a pair of over-priced running shoes and move one foot in front of the other a little more quickly than most people would like to, this is the best time of year.

Yeah, the hours of daylight are rapidly diminishing as summer fades to fall – and mornings are a little cooler. But it's marathon season – and all the big ones are coming up.

People who have been prepping for the distance are getting ready to scale back, to peak just in time for their goal races.

It's nice to see that race season means 78-year-old Ed Whitlock will be back challenging himself on the streets of Toronto. This week, organizers of the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon announced Whitlock may be running the half marathon.

Whitlock's a guy I really look up to. He's got two things I've had to some extent in the past – speed and a full head of hair.

Late night calories could pack bigger punch for your paunch

Fri, 11 Sep 2009 16:49:25 -0500

We've all pretty much accepted the notion that if we burn as many calories as we consume, our weight will remain stable.

Add some exercise to the mix and your body will burn more than it takes in and you'll lose weight. Add an ice cream cone a day to your diet without increasing your activity and you're well on your way to obesity.

Some weight-loss programs preach the virtue of not eating anything after eight in the evening. However, there's a fair bit of research that suggests a calorie is a calorie to your body: it doesn't distinguish between daytime or nighttime calories.

Well, it might not be that simple.

Exercise, not 'guardian angels' key to avoiding falls

Wed, 29 Jul 2009 16:12:23 -0500

Pope Benedict XVI wound up a two-week vacation at a mountain resort in Northern Italy on Wednesday, July 29, 2009, by telling reporters that his "guardian angel" let him down when he fell and broke his wrist earlier in the month. He said the angel was clearly acting "on superior orders."

No details about the fall were released – except that it was accidental and that it happened inside the chalet where he was staying. It was the first significant health issue in Benedict's papacy.

Among people over the age of 65, falls are the leading cause of deaths by injuries. Older people face a higher risk of falling as they tend to have more problems with eyesight, movement and balance.

"Perhaps the Lord wanted to teach me more patience and humility, give me more time for prayer and meditation," the 82-year-old pope added as he left the chalet.

For the love of it

Tue, 21 Jul 2009 14:40:58 -0500

So Keizo Yamada is giving up racing marathons. Japan's Iron Man is conceding that he's not up to the training anymore.

He made the decision after running three marathons this year, including his 19th trip to Boston – a race he won in 1953. He ran the marathon for Japan the year before at the Olympics in Helsinki.

Yamada's 81. A pretty fit octogenarian.

He told Sports Hochi newspaper "I'm not getting any younger so I won't run any more 42-kilometre races."

"I will carry on running for fun to stay in shape," he added.

His "running for fun" is a daily 20-kilometre jaunt. That's more exercise than the vast majority of even the most active people get. If it's not fun, it's pretty tough to be motivated to enjoy that much exercise.

Keep on exercising

Fri, 29 May 2009 14:50:45 -0500

Despite frost warnings in parts of the country, it's almost June and definitely trending warmer. Time for all of us to get more active.

Except that teenager who's probably still asleep in his or her basement lair.

There's a good reason for that, according to a recent study out of the Université de Montréal. It found – surprise, surprise – that teens are more active in the warmer months than during the dead of winter.

No shocker there. However, the study — published in the Annals of Epidemiology — also found that the winter drop-off continues and builds each year. Your kid may be getting a little more active in the spring and summer, but not active enough to compensate for the previous winter's drop-off.

Massage: not all it's cracked up to be?

Fri, 08 May 2009 14:04:41 -0500

Just when you think you're all up to date on the latest science regarding getting into shape and keeping your body in a state where you can keep on getting fitter, some researcher comes along and blows your accepted truth out of the water.

We were all led to believe that our bodies need eight glasses of water a day to stay healthy. Turned out that not only is that a myth, but most normal people don't need to take in lots of water unless they live in hot, dry climates or are high performance athletes.

Now they're taking aim at massage.

Sports drinks: playing with your brain

Fri, 17 Apr 2009 15:40:37 -0500

Athletes – elite and weekend warrior alike – are always looking for a competitive edge. Even legal ones.

They'll fiddle with their diets. Take supplements. And take in sports drinks.

Two years ago, the American College of Sports Medicine issued revised guidelines on how much fluid you need to take in while exercising.

The bottom line was: it varies. But it did note that if you're exercising for more than an hour, you need to do more than just replace the fluid you're losing. You also need to replace electrolytes and take in carbohydrates to fuel your muscles. Don't do it and you run the risk of running out of gas or – as marathon runners will say – hitting the wall.

It's big business selling sports drinks.

Exactly what do you mean by moderate?

Fri, 20 Mar 2009 14:31:20 -0500

You've seen them – those lean and lanky, fit people who credit their ability to maintain that look to eating moderate amounts of a well-balanced diet combined with a moderate amount of exercise.

They're the people who can eat a few bites of the yummiest dishes and say they've had enough. It's a trick I've yet to learn.

I like to run marathons, so moderation is something that doesn't come naturally to me. I put in a lot of kilometres in training – last week, almost 110. That's good and bad. I'm burning a lot of calories, but also developing a substantial appetite.

Think Michael Phelps – the diet, not the bong.

Share the road

Tue, 10 Feb 2009 16:40:06 -0500

So there's a bit of a brouhaha in Fredericton over runners taking their exercise to the streets in the middle of winter. Seems a cab driver is worried that runners are adding a level of danger to his work.

He's got a point, you might be thinking. Why would anyone want to run on the streets in the middle of winter when there are perfectly good health clubs loaded with treadmills – and the odd indoor 200-metre university track?

Why not just run on the sidewalk?

Well we might, if they were cleared properly.

Racing from recession

Thu, 08 Jan 2009 16:37:05 -0500

So the country's gripped by economic turmoil, consumer confidence is at a 27-year low and jobs are disappearing faster than customers at car lots.

The federal government has conceded that it's headed back into deficit mode.

Things couldn't be worse — unless you're in the business of organizing running races, even at this time of year.

Take the annual Robbie Burns 8K race in Burlington, Ont., for instance. Held at the end of January, it usually features frigid temperatures and bone-rattling winds. Usually, you could wait until a few days before the race to decide whether the weather would be acceptable before you would commit your hard-earned dollars to run outdoors in the middle of winter.

Now that's cold!

Tue, 16 Dec 2008 15:13:54 -0500

Newsworld's been running a lot of weather video lately – and I've been catching the occasional shot of bundled-up folk expounding on how cold it is in western Canada these days.

A brutal cold snap has gripped the Prairies and isn't expected to move on before Christmas.

Wind chills have been regularly dipping below –40C. Regina's expected to be basking under a relatively balmy -8 by Boxing Day.

Zorba the obese

Tue, 23 Sep 2008 15:42:40 -0500

Anthony Quinn must be rolling in his grave. He played the experience-life-in-the-moment-with-all-the-passion-you-can-muster title character in the film adaptation of Nikos Kazantzaki’s novel Zorba the Greek.

Breaking up's not that hard to do

Fri, 11 Jul 2008 16:43:41 -0500

It's over. This time for good.

It started out with such promise. We worked together, had the same goals, the same aspirations. But somewhere, somehow, something went wrong. Long periods of silence. We just couldn't communicate anymore.

And just like that – it ended. My latest affair with an exercise add-on.

I fried my personal digital music device – for the second time in less than six months. So I'm going back to going mostly solo. Enjoying my workouts the way they were intended to be enjoyed – without the intrusion of music.

My kind of recovery

Thu, 03 Jul 2008 09:27:32 -0500

It's been something of a typical afternoon here at the office. A second cup of coffee washing down a couple of bits of carbs from that coffee and donut shop across the street, a few hours after eating a lunch that contained a heaping helping of noodles.

Those carbs and that caffeine help me get ready for that commute home — a 13-kilometre or so run along Toronto's waterfront.

Caffeine and carbs - people much smarter than me say – will help me get through intense exercise and maybe even help me avoid developing skin cancer.

Caffeine, the science explains, offers the athlete the same boost as it does every sleepy-eyed person who tries to drag him or herself out of bed on a Monday morning. And carbs are what fuels your muscles.

Turns out I may have it all backwards.