Category Archives: Training

Ryan’s Training Log

Training log:

 

Meet is coming November 17th but my back has been giving me more trouble than usual. Most of the time it is just a moderate amount of tightness but after a solid warm up the tightness fades away. A while back I pulled 495 which my back did not enjoy as much as I did.

 

Besides the physical discomfort and having to adjust more training sessions than I like, the mental aspect is probably the most challenging. One day when deadlifts were feeling like absolute garbage I talked to a fellow member at the gym, who just recovered from a more serious injury than I have, about how to not get discouraged from an injury. He responded (paraphrasing) “You can’t go down the spiral of what you can’t do. Focus on the rehab and what you can do”.

 

So that’s what I am doing. Luckily I am surrounded by experienced lifters here who have been handing me all the info on their past back injuries. Which has definitely made a significant change in my back.

 

Today:

 

OH Press 145 3×3
Pull-ups 4×8
FB Incline press 3×15
Bodyweight BB tri extension 4×12
Lateral raises 3×20
Side planks 2x :30 sec each

Good Stress, Bad Stress – What’s the Difference and How Do We Cope?

 

This really goes without saying, but it’s how this article needs to start: every single person, reading this or not, has experienced stress of some kind. It’s unlikely that any of our readers have ever been chased by a bear (if you have been, please tell us all about it ASAP), but maybe you’ve had to give a speech in front of a large group of people, got a terrifying medical diagnosis, or got overwhelmed during college finals week. To your body, these events are all the same, and all produce similar reactions: an excess of adrenaline, pounding heart, stomach in knots, hyper aware of everything around you. When you’re feeling these symptoms, your body is in a sympathetic state: what we commonly call fight-or-flight mode. The good news is that this kind of stress can actually be a good thing!

 

Acute stressors include activities like the training you do in the gym and taking on new challenges in your day to day life. Going skydiving for the first time? You can bet you’re going to have a stress response! But in that situation, it’s a welcomed response. The sympathetic state you go into in the face of something terrifying turns off all the bodily processes that are, in that moment, unnecessary, diverting all of your energy into making your body and your mind work faster and more accurately. When you overcome your body’s urging you to STOP AND RUN in the face of a challenge, you’re not only getting to do the things you really want to do, you’re building resolve and resiliency that will carry over to all other aspects of your life. Lifting heavy weights and running long, long distances create stress on the body and localized inflammation, needed to rush blood and nutrients to the now slightly damaged tissue. In the rest period after, your body has the chance to both recover and supercompensate, so that the next time it needs to perform that task, it’s better prepared. If you never pushed yourself, you’d never get that response, and you’d never get better!

 

Some people take the idea of using acute stress as personal development even farther. Life coach and motivational speaker Tony Robbins uses a fairly extreme method of creating acute stress: cold water immersion. Every morning, he starts his day by plunging into a vertical pool of 57-degree Fahrenheit water for several minutes. There are lots of physical benefits to cold water immersion – improved lymphatic and cardiovascular circulation, reduction in muscle inflammation – but I’d argue the real benefit is in increased resolve at overcoming such a major stressor. If you want to give this method a try at home, give a 2-3 minute cold shower a try in the morning. It’ll definitely wake you up, take you out of your comfort zone, and prepare you to face just about anything that day.

 

If there’s good news, that means there’s also bad news. When you ruminate on that public speech, when the medical diagnosis leads to a long treatment plan, when you’re constantly feeling like you’re behind on your schoolwork, you’re experiencing chronic stress. With chronic stress comes chronic inflammation: a 2012 Carnegie Mellon University study found that chronic stress inhibits the body’s ability to regulate inflammation, which can lead to quicker development of disease. So now, not only is your day to day life more difficult because you’re feeling those acute stress symptoms all the time, you’re actually making yourself chronically ill on top of being chronically stressed.

 

Before I get into some ways to help mitigate that chronic stress, let’s look at how and why it’s happening. Cortisol, commonly known as the stress hormone, is the biggest player when it comes to chronic stress and inflammation. When your body is constantly sensing stressors (remember, to your body there’s no difference between being hunted and taking a hard test), it is also constantly secreting cortisol to help you handle those situations. Cortisol, despite its negative reputation, is a super useful hormone. As stated above, some acute inflammation is good! We need it to heal and ultimately get better. Cortisol allows that to happen when all is in working order. The catch comes when your stress never really subsides. In this situation, your body is nearly constantly secreting cortisol, and in doing so decreases your cells’ sensitivity to the hormone. What does that mean? You need more and more cortisol to regulate that inflammatory response, so that response gets out of control and there’s still tons of stress hormone hanging out in your system. Over time, chronic illness can result.

 

Now, how do we avoid this? First, refer back to my no bullshit self-care guide. Tackling stress-inducing situations and events head on and early is always going to be the most effective way to mitigate chronic stress. Prevention is the best medicine after all. However, there will always be major stressors that happen suddenly and seemingly at random. Here are a few tips to help calm down, both in the moment and over time:

 

  1. Belly breathing! Deep, diaphragmatic breaths have the incredible power of taking your body out of the sympathetic, fight-or-flight state, and putting it into a parasympathetic, or relaxed state. The results can be just about instantaneous. See Ryan’s article on RPR, which utilizes belly breathing first before any other methods, here.
  2. Meditate. This one will be hard to use in the moment until you practice it a little. Meditation has traditionally been a struggle for me: I’d quickly get frustrated at how my mind seemed to work against me and just would not turn off. With some practice and an excellent app called Breathe, I’ve learned that meditation isn’t about sitting in a field of daisies with a totally clear mind. It’s about developing the ability to direct your thoughts where YOU want them to go. You don’t need to be at the mercy of your thoughts. It’s your brain, you can control what happens up there with practice. I try to meditate for a few minutes each day, with guidance from my trusty app. When I get into crisis mode, it is now much easier for me to direct my thoughts to something useful instead of careening out of control.
  3. Practice makes perfect. Or at least it makes things easier. Like I said above, taking on some acute stress in the form of training, trying new things, or something as intense as an ice bath help you become more resilient in the face of stress. Practice handling stressful situations that are more within your control. Make those challenges harder (that’s progressive overload) over time to continue getting stronger. Life isn’t too unlike the gym, huh?

 

Further reading:

 

http://humanstress.ca/stress/understand-your-stress/acute-vs-chronic-stress/

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120402162546.htm

https://www.tonyrobbins.com/health-vitality/the-power-of-cold-water/

Training During Pregnancy

 

When I was newly pregnant with Asha and Alina, before I actually confirmed I was having twins, I told my suspicion of having twins to one of my sisters.  To this day, I remember verbatim what she said to me.  With a look of utter shock (and maybe some pity) she said to me, “If you’re having twins, you might as well jump out of a window now”.  The very next day, I found out I was indeed having twins.

 

Now you might be thinking of how that was such a terrible thing for my sister to say to me.  However, after the twins were born, and I wanted to actually jump out of a window, I was extremely grateful for both of my sisters’ honest, no bullshit approach to sharing mothering, pregnant, birthing & general parenting information. They have, and will always be, my go to resource for no sugar coating advice and information.

 

And now it is my turn to share the no-sugar-coating-no-bullshit-approach to my experience with training during pregnancy.

 

It’s no longer a secret (and if you’ve seen me around the gym recently, certainly no surprise) that I’m pregnant with my third baby.  I’d love nothing more than to say that pregnancy is beautiful and filled with joy.  But it can be hard to remain joyful when your body aches, you begin to sleep less and can’t stop thinking about ice cream. (Ok, maybe that last one is pretty joyful and beautiful!)

 

The little feminist voice in my head reminds me that, yes, pregnancy can certainly be beautiful but my training has certainly suffered as a result. And I’ve spent a lot of time and a lot of vent sessions with my coworkers coming to terms with this fact.  At least daily they have to remind me, quite sternly some times, “YOU’RE GROWING A TINY HUMAN INSIDE OF YOU, ALISON”. So sometimes I opt for a nap instead of an intense training session.  Most times I opt for conservative weights instead of my previous training maxes.  And all of the time, I remain mindful that my main goal is no longer getting stronger or training for an upcoming barbell meet, but rather to maintain my strength and to train for a meet of a different sort: labor and delivery.

 

Most pregnancy training blogs talk about things like: Sticking to low impact exercises, how prenatal yoga is the best form of exercise during pregnancy, not to lift heavy weights, not to lie on your back, and how to generally (in my opinion) let pregnancy take over your life.

 

But this is Union Fitness and we don’t know how to be average (and/or normal). So here is my personal experience on training during pregnancy:

 

  1. I’m pregnant not broken/incapacitated/dead!

No, I don’t need those special parking spots for expectant mothers. No, I don’t need you to carry the heavy boxes for me. Yes, I may walk a little slower than usual, but I could probably still crush you in a Cardio Lab class. Yes, I may lift less than usual, but my form is spot on and I feel great!

 

  1. I’m cautious but not scared!

So I’m a little more cautious about certain movements but not fearful of anything that I did previously to getting pregnant.  I still back squat, deadlift, snatch, bench, clean & jerk and basically every other lift/movement I did when I was sans fetus.  Being cautious doesn’t have to automatically mean eliminating them from my routine. It simply just means I pay more attention to how I’m feeling and how I may need to adjust my position or the weights.

 

  1. I still lay on my back (GASP!)

There are so many myths floating around out there about training during pregnancy and the “no laying on your back” rule is one of them.  Pretty much the only hard and fast rule about pregnancy that I follow is “listen to your body”.

 

  1. I deal with tons of body image issues

I don’t want to speak for all pregnant women out there but I imagine a lot of women deal with some sort of body image issue at some point during their pregnancy.  As a coach and competitive athlete, it’s difficult to see the scale climb each week.  Even with the knowledge that this is healthy and what’s best, it’s hard for me to watch the growing belly and increased body fat.  It’s a little bit of cognitive dissonance. This is where the help of my loving coworkers screaming, “YOU’RE GROWING A TINY HUMAN INSIDE OF YOU, ALISON” definitely comes in handy.  It’s helpful to have constant reminders that this state is temporary and normal and healthy.

 

  1. Yoga sucks

At least it does for me personally in this stage of my pregnancy. (I’m in no way advocating that yoga actually sucks. You should really go do some yoga right now. Seriously, stop what you’re doing and go to a yoga class!)  I’ve dealt with some SI joint issues this pregnancy and the stretching involved with yoga actually makes it feel worse, so I’ve completely cut it from my training regimen. Most, if not all, pregnancy training blogs advise doing prenatal yoga as the best form of exercise during pregnancy. The one size fits all approach is antiquated at best.  Any time I’m in doubt, I ask my midwives or consult the fitness experts (read: my coworkers).

 

  1. There’s so much pee

It’s not just the fact that I have to pee every 15 minutes during the day or even the fact that I wake up approximately 5 times every night to pee. That I can deal with.  But there’s definitely nothing beautiful or graceful about peeing your pants mid deadlift, mid jumping jack or mid sneeze, is there?!? While this is a common occurrence with pregnancy and women that have had children in general, it’s not normal.  I’ve realized I have to take some of my previous training time to start to strengthen my pelvic floor.  This means extra time with belly breathing exercises and kegels when I’d rather be squatting heavy. The things we do for our kids!

  1. I can still set PR’s!

One of my goals this pregnancy, like I mentioned before, is to just maintain my strength. But that doesn’t mean I’ve been shying away from adding on the plates when it feels good.  In fact just this month I’ve managed to set a personal record for my bench press and my overhead press! At the same time, I acknowledge my limitations. I know my lower body lifts are more challenging right now because of my decreased ability to brace my core properly. So I accept the fact that I bench press as much as I squat right now.  But a PR, at anytime, feels great!

 

  1. My endurance, strength, stamina and balance have all taken a huge hit

It can be huge pill to swallow when things that were previously easy for you become challenging.  But I’ve never been one to back down from a challenge! I see this time as an opportunity to learn new things.  Because of my ever-increasing belly, it’s become impossible to deadlift conventional style.  So I started learning how to pull sumo style.  Admittedly, this has never been my forte but with the patient guiding of Coach Lindsey, Coach Ryan and Coach Casey, I’ve been learning the ins and outs of this style. Dare I say I even enjoy it?!

 

 

Pregnancy does not have to be a time where you accept your fate of growing big and slow. Naturally, every pregnancy and every woman is different and obviously I encourage anyone that is pregnant, trying to get pregnant or recovering from pregnancy to consult with their doctor or midwife before training or starting a new training program.

 

I have about 10 weeks give or take left in this pregnancy and I’m excited for whatever obstacles and/or surprises come up in my training program until the birth of this baby.  For now, I relish in the fact that I (mostly) feel healthy, fit, fabulous and strong.  And as always, I am ever so thankful for my coworkers and gym family here at Union Fitness for creating such an encouraging and positive environment to be in! Now I’m off to grow this tiny human inside of me and toss around the barbell for a little bit. Cheers!

How Much Cardio Do You Really Need

 

Cardio for most people is the least exciting thing next to watching infomercials. But it is important for everyone in some way. Now not everyone needs to be training like an ultra-marathon runner but some should be incorporated into your fitness routine.  When determining how much cardio, or aerobic exercise you need, first you need to establish what your goals are. The amount of aerobic exercise you need vastly changes depending on the goal. For example someone that wants to become a world class powerlifter will not need as much aerobic work as someone that is preparing for a marathon. So first, determine your goal.

 

 

But first, let’s define “aerobic”…relating to or denoting exercise that improves or is intended to improve the efficiency of the body’s cardiovascular system in absorbing and transporting oxygen. In simpler terms, aerobic exercise raises your heart rate and requires your body to use more oxygen. The benefits of aerobic exercise include reducing your resting heart rate (meaning while you’re not exercising) and lowering blood pressure. Both have significant impact on long term health (“Aerobic Exercise Directory”).

 

 

Now you are probably wondering where do I start or HOW MUCH DO I NEED? The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recommends 150 minutes of moderate-intensity each week (“ACSM Issues New Recommendations”). ASCM defines moderate exercise as 50-70% of your Maximum Heart rate (“Target Heart Rate and Estimated Maximum Heart Rate”, 2015). The calculation to find your Maximum Heart Rate is simple- subtract your age from 220. As convenient as the heart rate equation is there is a much simpler way- the talking test. If you can talk comfortably with your friend or trainer during any aerobic exercise you are below that moderate zone and thus not working toward increasing your aerobic capacity.

 

 

A very common misconception is that more aerobic work equals fat loss. This is not the case. Yes, aerobic work can supplement weight loss, but so can any type of activity. The best weapon against the battle for fat loss is muscle. Think about it in these terms- if the goal is to lose fat and KEEP IT OFF then what you’re ultimately looking to do is increase your resting metabolic rate. Resting metabolic rate is the amount of energy that your body requires to stay alive. What I mean by staying alive is literally sitting on the couch watching TV. Wouldn’t it be great if you could burn calories while sitting on the couch watching your favorite movie? Sounds too good to be true? In fact, it’s not, but it takes time. A combination of strength training and cardio is really the ultimate combination to change your body composition and overall health. What is the easiest way to get started? Talk to our coaches about a plan. The Strength Lab and the Cardio Lab were designed with these principles in mind.

 

Now for all you cardio haters… I know you put cardio last on your list of training priorities, especially those of you that love lifting weights. But here’s a “life hack” that may change your mind. Aerobic exercise can increase your capillary density in your muscle (“Muscle Adaptations to Aerobic Training”). This increase in capillary density can help deliver more oxygen and nutrients to your muscles for fuller recovery from those long squat sessions. This doesn’t require 30+ minute cardio sessions. 10-15 minutes on the treadmill at a brisk pace (remember our moderate zone) or some weighted carries or prowler pushes. These workouts can be relatively short with the focus being recovery rather than building a huge aerobic base. Ultimately, however, your aerobic base determines your work capacity and ability to recovery between sessions. So, if you like lifting weights, and you want to do it more often without being as sore or fatigued, then some purposeful cardio will help.

 

 

Remember, these are just the basics. If you’re in a routine but don’t seem to be making progress, then assess your training and invert it. If you’re doing 3-5 hours of cardio and 1-2 hours of strength training, do the opposite for 2-3 months and see if you notice any changes. Otherwise, consult our coaches and we’ll walk you through a plan using the classes in the Strength and Cardio Labs.

Winter Safety Tips

 

Despite the motivation that comes with every new year, it can be really difficult to get yourself up and out the door when the weather is miserable. More importantly, the recent bitter cold and constant snow and ice can make training outdoors downright unsafe. Here are a few tips to help protect yourself this winter (and a few ideas on how to mix up your training and indoors where it’s warm and dry).

 

 

Know the signs of hypothermia and frostbite

Know what you’re up against. If the temperatures outside are above 5 degrees F, you’re probably safe from frostbite, but keep an eye on the windchill. If it’s below 0, you should really consider coming indoors. Frostbite will affect any exposed skin, so first try to cover up. Second, look for signs of numbness or stinging early. Hypothermia, or an abnormally low body temperature, will mostly come into play if you’re both freezing cold and wet. Early signs include shivering, slurred speech, fatigue, and loss of coordination. Get inside right away if you notice any of these.

 

 

Dress for the occasion

The key to staying warm on your outdoor adventures in the winter is layering. Look for moisture-wicking materials to help pull the sweat off your body so it doesn’t freeze while you’re outside. You’ll also want to look for something to cover your ears and nice warm gloves – no one can run, bike, hike or ski comfortably when their head or hands are cold! This is also the season to think about your visibility on the road. As the days grow shorter, the need for reflective clothing increases. Reflective vests are easy to come by and do the job really well. You may also consider something like Yak Trax to give your shoes some extra traction while running. I don’t love these for the road, but if you run a lot of trails, they’ll probably be a good fit.

 

 

Slow down and enjoy the winter scenery

With our Pittsburgh roads looking like they do, now is not hte time to focus on speed. Move your speed work inside and when you’re out in the snow, focus on endurance and enjoying hte moment. No matter how inconvenient snowy weather can be, we have to admit that it’s pretty beautiful.

 

 

Stay hydrated

When you’re bundled up, you’re not always noticing how much you’re sweating and how much water you’re losing. If you’re going to be out for over an hour, remember to take fluids, just like in the warmer months.

 

 

Move most of your training inside

We have lots of bikes and treadmills, and we’ve even added a few more Cardio Lab classes to our winter schedule. There are tons of ways to keep your endurance up in the gym while we wait out this cold snap. For those of you who neglect strength work during the peak outdoor seasons, now is the time to get started and prepare your body for the spring. Maybe now is the time to test out one of our #powerful classes!

 

Free Weights vs. Weighted Machines

 

There are some distinct differences between using free weights and weight machines. Depending on your goals and fitness level, one may be recommended over another. Both options have a time and place in a training program and both varieties can be used safely and effectively by practicing slow controlled movements. As the weight is moved further from the body through exercise, there is more core strength and stabilizer muscles coming to play.

 

So, what’s the difference?

 

Free weights include dumbbells, kettlebells, barbells and of course UF’s beloved fatbells. Free weights in particular are going to require more core and stabilizer muscles and allow you to move in three dimensions: forward, backward, horizontally, and vertically. They also help build more balance and coordination. Deadlifts for example, are a compound movement, and use larger muscle groups, primarily the glutes and back as well as smaller muscle groups like the biceps and forearms. If you’re looking for a bang for your buck, doing compound exercises will expend more energy which means more calories and allow quicker results in building strength than with targeting these muscles separately! A few disadvantages of using free weights are that proper technique is required and you may need a spotter.

 

 

Weight machines include a variety of stationary machines in a fixed position such as a bicep curl or a leg extension. Weight machines allow you to use heavier weight and target or isolate specific muscles without utilizing as many stabilizer muscles. Machines are great for beginners or rehabilitation because there is a clear starting point and stopping point helping prevent injury. Most movements you would do with a weight machine you can do with free weights as they are more versatile! Using free weights or machines can be a matter of personal preference and it’s best to go with what’s right for you.

 

Don’t be afraid to go out of your comfort zone! Feel free to ask the Union Fitness Staff for recommendations that will help you accomplish your goals!

Staying Motivated on the Treadmill

 

Yes, we all know running on the treadmill is something akin to getting all your teeth pulled at the dentist…without anesthesia. There are a rare few birds that actually admit they enjoy it (but let’s be honest, we don’t really believe you, you Scaly-Sided Merganser’s).  So for those of us that dread any amount of time slugging away on that medieval torture device, here’s a handy list of finely tuned tricks of the trade to stay motivated on the dreadmill…I mean treadmill.

 

 

Pretend you’re running away from zombies in an apocalypse.

Increase your pace to an all out sprint.  Don’t forget to occasionally let out an ear splitting shriek. Look behind you with panic in your eyes, just to throw off your treadmill neighbors. See if they eventually catch on.  Repeat as necessary.

 

 

Race your neighbors.

Make sure to pick a treadmill directly next to someone.  Very obviously begin to gaze at their treadmill speed. Increase yours to match. Make direct awkward eye contact with your neighbor. Increase your incline as you maintain eye contact. See how long it takes for your neighbor to begin the competition or switch treadmills, whichever comes first.

 

 

Run backwards.

Or sidewards. See how long it takes you to fall on your face. Record and repeat.      See if you can beat your previous time!

 

 

Sweat it out.

Use the treadmill as your personal sauna. Come dressed for a blizzard: sweatsuit, snowsuit, mittens, scarf, and anything else likely to keep you warm, toasty & sweaty. Make sure to record how big of a puddle of sweat and/or tears you leave behind.

 

 

Strut your stuff on the runway.

Feather boa. Six inch heels. Mini skirt. Feel free to get creative and imagine yourself as a classic Claudia Schiffer. This exercise isn’t just for women either men, of course, are invited to participate in this exercise too! Heels are for everyone so go work that runway!

 

 

 

Happy running!

December Member of the Month: Ang Emala

 

Congrats Ang! This has been a long time coming. Ang has been with us for just about a year. She started with our Strength Project for the 2017 New Year, taking as many classes as she could over 8 weeks. By the end, she was ready for her own programming and started training for powerlifting. After weeks of training, she worked up the courage to compete in her first powerlifting meet and she absolutely crushed it, hitting all 9 of her attempts with PRs in all three lifts. Taking her to her first meet was one of my proudest moments as a coach.

 

More importantly, Ang has gone above and beyond in not just her own training but in supporting the training of everyone else around her.  She trains hard but smart and knows her own limitations but is also willing to be pushed beyond her comfort zone.  You can usually find her squatting and benching in the Strength Lab (and, ya know, complaining about deadlifts).  She’s no stranger to a yoga class and partakes in the occasional conditioning workout. And as if all of this wasn’t enough, she takes classes at the YMCA and drops into Crossfit workouts too!

 

The coaches here could not be more proud of the journey Angela has taken at Union Fitness. We look forward to many more training sessions with her in the future and are excited to see where this journey takes her.  The possibilities are endless!

Cold-Weather Running

 

You’d almost think the Pittsburgh Marathon was planned in such a way that competitors would be forced to train through the winter. Laugh’s on us! This time of year, the local trails are not quite as safe as the (somewhat) well maintained roads. If you’ve never been on a slushy icy trail, it’s quite a treacherous scene. You’ll likely have to crawl your way back!

 

If you’re a determined runner unwilling to settle for a treadmill, there’s nothing like a long run in the blistering cold of Pittsburgh. You may not be able to run your fastest, but the focus needed to maintain balance and coordination will take a lot of energy and provide a different kind of challenge that will contribute to your training. If nothing else, it will be an experience.

 

To make the most of your long runs and avoid any major issues such as loss of feeling in your fingers or toes, definitely leave the house prepared!

  • Wear a few thin layers that you can remove if you start to get too hot. Long sleeves, thin neck warmer and/or hat and thin gloves will help maintain overall body temperature and keep you comfortable. There’s also these new sweatpants called Feejays with built in socks which are pretty neat.
  • Sweat wicking clothing. Cotton is warm, sure, but certainly not sweat wicking! Wearing wet clothes in the cold is a recipe for disaster. Opt for non- itchy merino wool or polyester blends.
  • Water resistant or trail shoes. You can also just slip YakTrax over your shoes which are traction devices to keep you from slipping on ice.
  • Reflective gear. Winter = dark and cloudy. A lot of athletic clothing brands carry techy gear such as pants or tops with reflection in strategic locations all built in.
  • Sunscreen and sunglasses. For those rare sunny winter days, be prepared for the snow to reflect light and be a little blinding.
  • Bring water. Worst case scenario, you could always lick a handful of snow, but just because it’s cold doesn’t mean you won’t be sweating!

 

There’s definitely such a thing as running weather being too cold, so if there’s a blizzard or temperatures are in the negatives, stick by the fire with a good book and wait for a better day. Risking injury or, well, hypothermia, is just not worth it.

December 5K Races

 

Even though the infamous Turkey Trot season has passed, that does not mean that there are no more 5K races to run until the new year.  In fact, December has a number of 5Ks to run, some for fun and some slightly more competitive ones for you to try and capture that elusive PR before 2018.

 

One of the most fun series of the year takes place in December.  This is the “tour races.” These races are not for competitive running, but rather for recreational and educational purposes.  The tour races, led by a guide, are 5k routes through different areas of Pittsburgh.  Due to the multiple stops to take in the scenery and learn about the surroundings, you can anticipate these races taking about an hour.

 

December 10, 8:00 AM: Strip District 5K Tour – The Strip District has been around for many years and is a dynamic area full of shops, restaurants, and bars.  On weekends, the Strip is teeming with locals and tourists, exploring, shopping, and running! To register, visit

https://www.active.com/pittsburgh-pa/running/distance-running/strip-district-5k-tour-2017-36728100?int=

 

December 16, 8:00 AM: North Shore 5k Tour – From bridges to stadiums to fantastic views of downtown and more, this run makes plenty of stops for photo opportunities.  To register, visit

https://www.active.com/pittsburgh-pa/running/distance-running/north-shore-5k-tour-2017-36728091?int=

 

December 16, 10:00 AM Downtown 5K Tour – Downtown Pittsburgh is full of history from the French and Indian War to the Underground Railroad.  Learn about Fort Pitt, the Diamond Market, and more of Pittsburgh’s history on this tour. To register, visit

https://www.active.com/pittsburgh-pa/running/distance-running/downtown-5k-tour-2017-36728088?int=

 

December 17, 10:00 AM: South Side 5K Tour – From the waterfront trail to historic Carson Street, the South Side is one of Pittsburgh’s most lively areas.  Runners will get the chance to learn about the history of the South Side, as well as a few of the many murals along the way. To register, visit

https://www.active.com/pittsburgh-pa/running/distance-running/south-side-5k-tour-2017-36728109?int=

 

If you are looking for a slightly more competitive race, the Reindeer Race in Zelienople takes place on Saturday, December 16th.  Zelienople, although a little way outside of the city, is a beautiful town in more rural Pennsylvania.  This race begins at 11:00 AM.  To register, visit https://www.active.com/zelienople-pa/running/distance-running-races/reindeer-race-2017?int=

 

Even though the weather may be getting colder, that doesn’t mean you should take to the couch.  There are still plenty of opportunities to get outside and get active with these 5K races in December.  If you decide to run one of the tour races, be sure to comment and let us know what you thought of it!