Running to the Finish Line of Spring Semester

by Liz Hatzenbuehler

At last! Spring has sprung. As the longer, warmer days attempt to lure you outside, reality rears its head. You are a grad student, remember? The last thing you have time for is frolicking carefree in the sunshine. With only a few weeks remaining in the spring semester, papers are piling up and project deadlines are looming. And, have you secured your summer internship yet?! If this has you reaching for a paper bag to prevent from hyperventilating, I have an idea.

Sign up for a 5k (3.1 miles) running race. I know, I know. This is either the worst idea you’ve ever heard or the last thing you think you have time for, but it just might be what you need to manage the stressful push to the finish line.

As nutrition graduate students, we know the importance of exercise, but let me just remind you that it offers an excellent way to reduce stress. Additionally, exercise can boost your mood, sharpen your memory, and improve your sleep quality (even if you aren’t catching many z’s these days). Exercise is your friend, not your foe.

For some, a 5k run might not feel any different from running a marathon. If you’ve never run farther than the mandatory mile in your high school Phys Ed class, no problem. If it’s been a while since you’ve engaged in any sustained physical activity, don’t fret. Training for a 5k doesn’t have to take a lot of time and walking is allowed. In my opinion, committing to a 5k race is the perfect goal, whether you are a new or veteran runner, and particularly if you are a graduate student. Here’s why.

Long distance running is time consuming! As someone who has run two full marathons and five half-marathons, I understand that training requires a certain level of dedication that isn’t always feasible when juggling a busy schedule. Herein lies the beauty of the 5k—it provides a great sense of accomplishment without sacrificing too much of your valuable time.  In fact, the race can be over in about 30 minutes. Another perk is that your risk for injury is significantly lower compared with those pounding the pavement for 10, 15, or 20 miles at a time. Registration for a 5k will set you back about $25, but longer races can cost upwards of $100 (and grad students like a deal, right?!).

So, ready to sign up? Use the five F’s below to help you put your best foot forward. Hopefully, these tips will provide you with extra encouragement to fit in exercise and the justification to frolic in the sunshine. Whether this will be your first 5k or another for the books, I think you will find that this is one deadline you won’t mind hanging over your head.

Fitting It In

As with many things in life, if it isn’t on your calendar, it won’t happen. Find a race, register, and mark the date on your calendar. Because the 5k is such a popular distance, races are held quite frequently, making it easy to find one this spring. Boston has many great places to run in and around the city, so you can be outside enjoying the spring weather in no time. Once the race is on your calendar, start your training plan. Runner’s World magazine has a great guide to getting you prepared in just five weeks.

Feet

Unlike many other sports, running requires minimal gear. Just you and your thoughts … and a good pair of running shoes.  If you’ve never been properly fit for shoes, I recommend visiting a local running store for some guidance. Luckily, Boston has several running stores that are just a stone’s throw away from campus.  Often the sales clerks are runners themselves and can help select a shoe that is just right for your foot.  I know you can order a new pair of shoes online that will arrive at your doorstep faster than the Red Line can get you into campus, but having a shoe that fits well is non-negotiable. It is possible to be a runner and to keep all your toenails, but it starts with investing in the right shoe. Your toenails will thank you.

Fuel

It’s hard not to equate running with carbo-loading, but it isn’t necessary for a 5k. Neither is choking down energy gels, thankfully. It is more important to focus on hydration and eating a balance of foods from all food groups. For many, a water bottle is like having a third appendage—it’s always with you—but you have to remember to actually drink. Karen Asp of Runner’s World magazine recommends drinking about three to six ounces of water every 15 minutes during a run. Sports drinks aren’t needed for runs lasting less than an hour. Depending on when you run, it might be a good idea to have a small pre- or post-workout snack. Eating about an hour before exercise will allow time for digestion.

Friends

Running is actually a very social sport. If you are new to Boston, like me, joining a running group can be a great way to make new friends and explore the city. Luckily, there is no shortage of running groups here. And, did you know that Friedman has a running club? You can sign up via Facebook by searching for the Friedman Unofficial Running Club (FURC). I’ve joined a few times this semester and can attest that the distances and paces suite a range of abilities. The group typically meets about once a month on a Saturday or Sunday morning, ending with socializing and a treat, like coffee or bagels.

Fun

Ok, I realize running may not be for everyone. But trying new things can be fun, and I think you’ll find that running is one of them. Oh, and did I mention that most 5k races end with a post-race celebration, including a free t-shirt, free food, and beer!?

Liz Hatzenbuehler, RDN is a first-year, dual degree NICBC/MPH student who recently moved from Denver to Boston. She is passionate about healthy eating and active living, and believes that everyone should have access to affordable, healthy foods. Outside of the classroom, you can find her running her favorite 3-mile loop around Jamaica Pond.

Moving Through Winter

by Sara Scinto

Do you dread winter because it keeps you from engaging in exercise that you love? Are you looking for new ways to move your body that don’t involve the gym? Are you interested in making the best of what this cold season has to offer? Then read further for thoughts and ideas on how to move through winter with more enjoyment.

If you were anywhere in the Northeast during this holiday season, you likely experienced at least one major winter storm, cold spell, or both. Living in Northeastern Ohio where the lake effect snow regularly comes down by the foot, I encountered multiple while I was home for break. If you are an active biker, walker, or runner, snow and ice can really throw a wrench in your usual physical activity schedule. This is especially true if the mere thought of a treadmill (known to many as the “dreadmill”), stationary bike, or indoor pool makes you cringe. But instead of lamenting about these seasonal limitations, you can change your perspective on winter; it actually is an excellent time to try alternative types of movement, both indoors and outside.

Attending group workout classes is one way to build up body heat, fight frigid temperatures, and experience new forms of exercise during the chilly stretch between November and March. For me, hot yoga is the most effective remedy for the constant cold and low energy I often experience during winter. It leaves me feeling warm and relaxed for the rest of the day, as long as I make sure to take a shower and put on dry clothes before walking back into the brisk air (wearing sweaty clothes in the cold is a recipe for disaster). As Friedman students, we are fortunate enough to have multiple studios within walking distance of our school; just minutes down Harrison Avenue, there is both a Turnstyle (cycling) and a Corepower (varying levels of hot yoga) studio. If you’re looking for a nearby studio that offers something really different, check out Swet Studio, which has rowing, aerial yoga, and other antigravity activities! And if none of those get you excited, check out this list of 10 local classes that get your body moving in creative ways.

Title Boxing Club Boston Nutrition Students

Me and my friend after trying out boxing together (Photo: Sara Scinto)

Admittedly, these classes are often outside a graduate student budget, but some studios offer student discounts or even a first class for free! Although you may realize at the end of the class that it’s not for you, the complimentary class allows you to determine that without having to pay for something you don’t end up liking.

Another more affordable option for Friedman students is the Wang YMCA, where there is a wide selection of classes like Tai Chi, Zumba, cycling, and high intensity interval training (H.I.I.T) classes, just to name a few. With the discounted membership rate information that was emailed to all Tufts Boston Health Sciences students before the start of the fall semester, you can purchase a monthly membership to the YMCA for the same (or lower) price as most single exercise studio classes. Although the Wang YMCA is the closest location to Friedman, a membership allows you to get into YMCA branches all over Boston. This gives you access to even more varieties of physical activity like power yoga, barre, and kickboxing.

Even though it may not seem like it, winter is also a terrific season to experience the outdoors in a way that does not involve running or biking. Despite living in the snow belt nearly my entire life, I’ve only just begun to explore snow sports. And while not every winter sport is for me, I’ve found activities like snowshoeing to be wonderful. Trekking through a forest while the snow clings to the bare trees like floating cotton balls is breathtaking in more ways than one! Although my hands were frozen for the first 20 minutes, the discomfort was worth being able to view winter and snow in a completely new and appreciative way.

Sara Scinto Snowshoeing Massachusetts

A beautiful winter forest while snowshoeing (Photo: Sara Scinto)

Lack of equipment may seem like a big barrier for engaging in winter sports, but many places offer rentals at a reasonable price. Snowshoeing and cross-country skiing are generally less expensive options compared to snowboarding and downhill skiing, although there are ways to save on ski lift tickets. Making a day trip with some friends to engage in snow sports can be a perfect opportunity to get outside of the city and breathe some crisp, fresh air. Here is a great resource on locations near Boston to snowshoe, ski, and snowboard (I can confirm the Weston Ski Track is great for beginners). And if you don’t have a mode of transportation out of town, don’t worry! There’s still plenty of outdoor fun to take advantage of in Boston, including something called “frost bite” sailing on the Charles River (for experienced sailors) and ice skating and sledding in the Boston Common. Because in case you needed a reminder, you’re never too old for sledding. And marching back up Beacon Hill over and over really gets your heart pumping!

Winter offers an abundance of ways to move your body, some of which wouldn’t even be possible in other seasons. Although the urge to stay snuggled underneath the covers is strong, I encourage you to try a new activity this year that will help you view winter as a season of opportunity and discovery, rather than a season of limitations.

 

Sara Scinto is a second-year NICBC student, avid coffee drinker, runner, triathlete, and yogi. She has a love for rainbows and all things food/nutrition related. During the winter, she enjoys staying warm and active with yoga and running outside in *almost* any weather conditions (to avoid the treadmill). You can find her on Instagram @saras_colorfull_life.