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Wait, it’s over already?

That’s what my sister and I said as we approached the finish line of the 2010 Cap 10k. With the cool, misty weather and the sea of people surging along with us, 6.2 miles disappeared before we knew what happened. The Austin American-Statesman reports that more than 20,000 people participated in this year’s 33rd annual event. I documented the journey through video and photos, but you’ll have to excuse the shaky screen. Holding a camera steady while running is a lot harder than you might think.

Before the run (a.k.a. way too early in the morning)

There were plenty of crazy costumes

We're really disgusting after the race, but we got lots of free stuff!

All 10k participants received a bottle of water on the other side of the finish line. In addition, HEB gave out bananas, granola bars and sports drinks, and Schlotzsky’s Deli passed out bags of chips. We had a blast, and we got a great workout at the same time. I can’t wait till next year!

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Find and share local routes

As if Livestrong wasn’t already awesome enough.

Livestrong Loops is a collection of running, cycling and walking routes that users have mapped and submitted. You just have to search a location, and you’ll get a list full of options with ratings and data about each route. Once you’ve completed a route, you can add it (and your stats) to your “plate.” You can even submit your own route.

You start by selecting a general location and choosing a method of travel:

After clicking on “West Side Lady Bird Lake Loop,” it took me to the route description:

In addition to the map, this page contains a lot of detailed information about the route:

If numbers aren’t your thing, you also get a visual representation of the elevation throughout the route:

The page also includes a lot of interactive elements of the route. Here it shows course ratings and a chance to add the route to your “plate.” If you click on “I did this,” this box pops up so you can record your own personal statistics:

If you’re bored with your current route or just want to explore new territory, I highly recommend checking out Livestrong Loops. If you plan to travel, you can find routes for different places around the world, too. Unfortunately I’m not going to Paris anytime soon, but I found a delightful little 15k through the streets of Paris (though it makes sure to inform you that you’re supposed to return on the subway). And if there’s no listing for the place you’re going, simply add one yourself.

Tackling the 10k

I would just like to inform everyone that strawberries are cheap right now since there is a whole late crop coming in. Go buy some. They’re healthy and delicious.

In other news… the Capitol 10k is this Sunday. It’s not too late to sign up!

Forecast for Sunday

The weather promises to be perfect – not too hot and not too cold. And though I hate doing it for class and work, I’m itching to wake up early and run throughout the streets of this beautiful city. People have different methods for completing the 6.2 miles, though.

My sister, a gym rat but not a runner, has informed me that she is determined to make no unscheduled stops or slow-downs for the duration of the run. I promised her we could stop halfway through for a brief water break. She also vowed to keep up with me, and there is no way I would leave my sister behind when we were supposed to run together. I made no promises as to my speed, however…

Liz C. is not a runner either, but she’s a little nervous about the 10k. The farthest she has run lately is maybe one or two miles. Her friend convinced her to sign up, and she can’t back down now. She’s just crossing her fingers and hoping she can get through it without stopping too many times (or collapsing partway through).

Anna S. had mentally prepared to run with her friend, but she held off on actually signing up for the race. She wasn’t able to train, however, so she didn’t feel ready to tackle a whole 10k. She decided not to run after all.

Lauren M. can’t wait to run the 10k. She ran the Austin Half Marathon in February, so this will be a piece of cake. Anything to get out and run with some exciting surroundings and lots of other people!

Are you running the Capitol 10k? How do you plan to tackle it?

Bring circuit training up a notch

One way to get a great workout is by going to an exercise class. Having a set class to go to regularly gives you less excuse to skip. Having a group of people doing it along with you gives motivation. A good fitness instructor pushes you to work harder.

I spoke with Sarah F., a certified fitness instructor for LA Fitness, about a specific type of fitness class called “high intensity interval circuit training.”

What is high intensity interval circuit training?

It combines aerobics and weight training into one class. It’s all mixed up together and not blocked into segments.

What makes high intensity interval circuit training better than a normal aerobics class?

It’s one of best options if you’re crunched on time. The cardiovascular part is extremely important for most health issues, but you also get weight training, which helps prevent osteoporosis. Weight training also speeds up your metabolism and supports and protects your bones and joints. Plus, it helps you look better, because, well, everyone looks better with muscles.

What is an example of this?

One of the classes I teach is called Club Box, which gives you a lot of muscle endurance and muscle definition. It combines boxing and athletic training drills. One lady in my class had a calorie counter, and during one of my not-as-intense classes, she burned 500 calories.

What makes it so hard?

It’s really intense because there’s so much emphasis on cardio, so even a regular pushup is difficult in the middle of a really intense boxing session. And if you travel the pushups, it makes it so much harder than what you’d expect a normal pushup to be. Putting it in the middle of such high-intensity cardio intervals actually makes the weight training a lot harder to do. You get a lot more benefits from it, even though they’re simple basic moves like squats and pushups.

What areas of your body does the workout focus on?

Things like squats and lunges are mostly for the lower body, but if you add in the boxing and pushups, it really works your upper body. This includes your back, biceps, chest and shoulders. It benefits your core too, and it will help your balance. It’s pretty much an all-inclusive workout.

What would you tell someone who wants to try a high-intensity interval circuit training class?

If you’re just starting out, definitely start at your own pace. You have to get rid of your ego, because it WILL kick your butt. I kind of had an ego when I took my first Club Box class. At the end of it I realized, “I can’t even walk!” It’s definitely something to build up to. Some people do a lot of modified moves, and some people come in and add power moves to everything I do. Everyone gets a great workout at their own level.

For more information, you can find a complete list of LA Fitness classes on the LA Fitness Web site.


SXSW flashback

While spring break and the South By Southwest festival are now just a distant memory of one or two weeks ago, I thought I might relive some memories for you. It’s kind of like getting a Christmas card in January. Yeah, it’s late, and you really don’t care about Christmas spirit anymore, but it’s always fun getting real mail. Plus, it’s always fun to read the yearly updates (“Tommy broke his leg, Sally is on Honor Roll, Uncle Phil went back to jail…).

Friday afternoon and evening I mostly wandered around on Sixth Street, so I will just show a glimpse of that.

I can’t remember the name of this band, but I love how there’s another band just chilling in the background, waiting for a spot on the street corner.

It had started getting a little chilly, but everyone was still outside enjoying the beautiful weather.

One band that really stuck out to me was The Coal Porters, an “Alternative Bluegrass” band from the United Kingdom. Check out their SXSW interview here. They were so much fun, and they had a great sound. Maybe it helps that I grew up listening to bluegrass, but the crowd on the corner seemed to enjoy them a lot as well. Plus, the Scottish guy on the guitar had the most splendid accent. Here’s a clip:

They were random and talented, and very fun to watch! Did you stumble across any gems during SXSW?

Singin’ in the rain? Not anymore!

Winter is finally on its way out, and though temperatures can get a little chilly in the morning, the sun has been consistently warming the afternoons. People in offices and classrooms everywhere have begun gazing out the windows with longing. With a forecast like this, all hope for studious diligence goes out the window:

Not too hot, not too cold, not too blustery and not too wet. Runners, golfers and small children are coming out of the woodworks to enjoy these precious moments – the few weeks out of the year when Austin weather is tolerable, even enjoyable.

I asked several people what activity they most wanted to do outside in the gorgeous weather. I got a wide range of responses, but they all made me want to run outside immediately.

Reading and napping – Barbara C.

Tennis – Rebecca D.

Motorcycle – Bobby T.

Ultimate frisbee – Jessi M.

Dog park – Kate M.

Swinging on a playground – Caitlin C.

I work in an office with a large window that spans an entire wall. My desk faces this window, and all I can think of nowadays while watching the sun shine just beyond my reach is how much I want to be outside. Playing volleyball barefoot on a sand court, if you wanted to know.

The forecast looks beautiful for the entire week, so don’t sit back and just let it pass by. Make some room in your schedule and go enjoy the outdoors, even if that just means shopping at The Domain.

What outdoor activity does this weather make you want to skip class or call in sick for?

Pick the perfect workout mix

You rarely find someone at the gym or outside running without an mp3 player of some kind. It doesn’t matter who you are; good music will do wonders for your motivation. An extra punch into the bag. An extra bench press. An extra step. An extra sit-up. Most gyms play background “motivational” music, which helps, but it’s usually some cheesy watered-down remix of a song that wasn’t very good to begin with. And I’m sorry, Gregory Gym, but Coldplay simply cannot be inspirational workout music by any stretch of the imagination. Think ahead and prepare your own playlist for your iPod, and you’ll have just the right music for every kind of activity you’d want to do.

Cardio

For cardio workouts, you often want a beat to move along with. Your body will want to keep up with the beat, and you will be less likely to slack off toward the end of your workout. It’s also a great distraction… Different songs have different beats, though, and you don’t want to have to keep changing your speed to keep up with different songs. iTunes has a nifty feature where you can sort your music according to beats per minute. This would ensure that all your songs keep a steady beat, and your workout will be smoother as a result.

Music for cardio workouts is usually more fast-paced and upbeat, since it has to inspire energy for longer periods of time. Here are some suggestions:

Weight Training

Music for weight training is often a little more intense, since you’re going in short, tough, straining bursts rather than a long stretch of continuous movement.

Here are some suggestions:

If you want more music suggestions, click here. Build your own playlists, and mix it up so you get new inspiration and don’t get stuck with the same music over and over again. What are some of your favorite workout tunes?