14 June 2012

Scaling Down #4 - The Sunday Run

Each year hordes of people make a New Year's resolution to lose weight. In January, gyms are overcrowded with well-meaning people on treadmills desperate to lose a few pounds. By February, most have given up. In 2010, I was able to lose 45 pounds without the help of a trainer, special program, crazy diet, or supplements. We here at the What want to help you stay fit and healthy in a simple and natural way.

The Sunday Run

There are few things more rewarding in life than a lazy Sunday. A day to sit back, relax, put your feet up and your work down. Sunday is a day for hammocks, cookouts, football, and fun. But for one hour each Sunday morning, you should set aside some time for a Sunday run.

If you have been keeping up with our fitness features here at the What, you have probably settled into a nice routine of weight lifting Monday, Wednesday, and Friday and putting yourself through torture with the T-Day Workout on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. If you are going through that routine, a tip of the hat to you. But there are those who want more, and for them, there is the Sunday run.

Many fitness enthusiasts run on a much more frequent basis, and there was a time I was one of them. But an ankle injury during a cross country practice led to me reducing my running schedule. Since then, running once or twice a week has been beneficial when combined with the aforementioned workouts. I am lucky enough to live in a city with one of the largest city parks in the world, beautiful running trails, varied terrain, and the same steps that Rocky so triumphantly scaled, enabling me to frequently alternate routes. Having a variety of routes also helps for different styles of running.

The Museum Loop - 2.5 miles
For days when I want to go for a run at a steady pace, I alternate between two routes. Both routes are roughly 2.5 miles and involve the Philadelphia Museum of Art. The first, which I call my Museum Loop, starts behind the Art Museum. This loop takes the runner around the Art Museum, down the Schuylkill River Trail to Cherry Street, passing the Academy of Natural Sciences and the Franklin Institute on the way to the Parkway and back to the Art Museum. I highly recommend running the Art Museum steps both before and after the loop (Rocky celebration at the top optional).
Lemon Hill Loop - 2.5 miles

The second route I take is the Lemon Hill Loop, also clocking in at roughly 2.5 miles, but is a lot rougher than the Museum Loop. For this route the runner begins at the North Star Bar at 27th and Poplar (plenty of free parking in the area) and heads down 27th Street towards the Art Museum. After passing the front of the Art Museum (and doing the stairs if you are so inclined) continue to the Schuylkill River Trail and head North. About halfway down Boat House Row, cross Kelly Drive to Lemon Hill Drive. Scaling the intense incline of Lemon Hill is a brutal way to end a run, but you will feel fantastic upon reaching the top. From there, head South on Sedgely toward a foot bridge that will connect with 29th Street just two blocks from the beginning of the run. After hydrating, reward yourself with a brew from North Star.

For the days when you want to do sprints instead of a extended run at a steady pace, I recommend avoiding crowded running lanes like the river trail. Find instead a track or a road that is not too busy to allow the space and freedom to sprint. Some studies have shown that short, high-speed sprints are more effective than extended jogs/runs when it comes to weight loss, so it helps to mix them in at least once or twice a month.

After a week of weight lifting and other exercises, a Sunday Run with the right music can really add to your workout routine. I suggest using the Gmap Pedometer to map out your route and track mileage as I did with the two maps above. Once you have a few routes that you enjoy, share them with others in your area, and keep on running!

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