Gold Medal Olympian Issues Training Tips : Tufts Health Plan Promotes Fitness for Healthy Living

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To promote fitness for a healthy lifestyle, Gold Medal Olympian and spokesperson for the 32nd Annual Tufts Health Plan 10K for Women – Joan Benoit Samuelson – has issued training tips to help runners prepare for a 10K race. Tufts Health Plan, a Massachusetts-based health plan nationally known for providing innovative, high-quality health care coverage, will be sponsoring the 32nd Annual Tufts Health Plan 10K for Women in Boston on October 13, 2008.

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Research shows that a healthy lifestyle that includes regular physical fitness is critical to long-term health. Running or walking a 10K is an achievable goal for most people regardless of age or fitness ability.

The Tufts Health Plan 10K for Women is a U.S. Track & Field National Championship Race and one of the largest all-women's 10K events in the U.S. It attracts 7,000 elite runners, wheelchair racers, walkers and women of all athletic abilities who run for many reasons, including improving their fitness and overcoming personal challenges.

"With the excitement of the Olympics and renewed focus on physical fitness, it's important to note that you don't have to be a world-class athlete to run a 10K and enjoy all the health and fitness benefits that it brings," said Joan Benoit Samuelson, Olympian and Tufts Health Plan 10K for Women spokesperson. "Research shows that a healthy lifestyle that includes regular physical fitness is critical to long-term health. Running or walking a 10K is an achievable goal for most people regardless of age or fitness ability."

To help people prepare for the Tufts Health Plan 10K for Women or any 10K race, Samuelson has issued the following guidelines. She recommends checking with a doctor before starting a fitness routine.

Vary Your Training. Training for a 10K doesn't always mean spending hours on a treadmill. It is important to keep your runs varied – drive to your favorite park, run by the ocean or downtown. A fresh environment will make your workouts more enjoyable and make it easier to stick with your schedule. Prepare a Training Schedule. For optimal training, commit to running three to four miles about four times a week. Two of your weekly runs should be quickly paced or alternate between a normal running pace and short bursts of speed. This type of interval training will build your lung capacity and stamina, improving your pace as the weeks progress. Once a week, add a long run. If you're comfortable with five to six mile runs, you should feel confident about covering the distance on race day. You might even want to set a finishing time goal for yourself for the race. While many runners schedule a long run for a Sunday, some experts suggest alternating your workout will prevent "muscle memory pattern." Upper-body weight training should also be a part of any regimen, as total body conditioning will improve speed and mobility, as well as prevent injury. Push-ups, sit-ups and pull-ups three times a week will enhance your lean muscle. Your body's own resistance is the best tool in building upper-body strength. Have the Proper Equipment. Be sure that your running shoes provide enough cushion to protect your joints. Running shoes should be replaced every four to six months (or 300 to 500 miles). It is recommended that you rotate between two pairs of running shoes to avoid injury when breaking in a new pair of shoes. Wear loose fitting clothes, and make sure you have sunscreen and are well hydrated. Research the Course. Early on in your training schedule, research the race day course. If there are hills, add in the appropriate workout – a series of repeated short, fast runs up a moderate incline. Build in Rest. Never hesitate to take a break from running one or two days a week. Add a day for cross training, take a walk, or rest entirely. Never run through an injury. Pushing your pain threshold could place you on the sidelines for weeks, if not months. Make Adjustments the Week Before the Race. After seven weeks of training, your long runs should feel comfortable and your stamina should be at its peak. Make sure you rest and taper your training to allow your muscles to recover and rest. Fuel your body three days before the race by increasing your carbohydrate intake, and try to get plenty of sleep in advance because it is sometimes difficult to sleep soundly the night before a race. Ensure Final Preparation for Race Day. Eight weeks of hard work will be put to the test on the big day. Prepare your body for the long run by keeping your muscles warm and loose, and making sure that you are properly hydrated. Eat a normal breakfast in the morning but do not eat within two hours of the race to prevent cramping. You are now ready for the 10K challenge. About Joan Benoit Samuelson

A three-time winner of the Tufts Health Plan 10K for Women, current consultant to Nike, Inc. and an Olympic Gold Medalist and Olympic Hall of Famer, Joan Benoit Samuelson's name is synonymous with women's running. She won the Boston Marathon in 1979, setting an American and course record and won the Boston Marathon again in 1983 - this time breaking the world record. One year later, at the age of 27, she won the gold medal in the first women's marathon at the Los Angeles Olympics. On April 20, 2008, Samuelson participated in the Olympic Marathon Trials in Boston – she met her goal of running a sub 2:50 at age 50. She is currently co-chair of the Maine Governor's Council for Physical Activity. Joan Benoit Samuelson is married with two children, Abby and Anders. She is a devoted wife and mother, yet is able to maintain her commitment to the sport. Full bio: http://www.tuftshealthplan.com/tufts10k/runnerinfo/joan.php.

About Tufts Health Plan

Tufts Health Plan is a Massachusetts-based health plan nationally recognized for its commitment to providing innovative, high-quality health care coverage. The plan supports its members and employers with an array of physician and clinician led health management programs. These programs use evidence-based medicine to design coverage that supports proven approaches to providing care and improving quality. Tufts Health Plan's HMO, and POS are ranked second in the nation and its Medicare Advantage program has been ranked third in the nation by the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA). Those products also maintain Excellent accreditation status from NCQA. More information can be found at http://www.tuftshealthplan.com.

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