With marathon season around the corner, runners are one group of athletes using online resources to aid offline performance. Training to run a marathon is easier than ever with a host of tools — from apps that record nutritional needs to online shopping for the best new sports gear to virtual support networks, from Twitter chats to online running communities.
Personally, I am training for my first half-marathon, taking place in Toronto on May 15. Online marathon tools are proving vital to my training. This week’s Friday Five includes a handful of terrific running resources online.
Resources for Runners (or people looking to get active!)
Every runner has a different motivation for hitting the pavement: overall fitness, weight loss, or in my case, setting and achieving an ambitious goal. LiveStrong.com is home to a variety of “fit tools” like a BMI calculator, heart rate trackers, calorie counters and starter tips to get newbies up and running. Additionally, LiveStrong allows its members to participate in a variety of online conversations that speak to our unique motivations and goals. Forum topics are broken down into areas such as “Diets and Dieting,” “Be Active” and “Get Healthy.” (LiveStong is an Edelman client)
2. Online Map and Trail Trackers
Unquestionably, meeting one’s marathon goals requires that you actually run…a lot! If you’re anything like me, following the same trails day-after-day gets dull quickly. Using RunningMap.com and others, runners can enter in their postal code and map out routes, points of interest and upload photos. Observing a particular area from a bird’s eye view, runners can find new routes and seek new challenges (like that hill just around the bend you never knew existed). It’s easier to be excited for your run when you have a new route to explore. Another tool, FavoriteRun, crowd sources trails in your community. And, to track your runs, you can use tools such as MapMyRun, or RunKeeper.
Meetup.com is an online community that connects like-minded people offline. For marathoners, running in groups is a powerful mechanism for ensuring that schedules are adhered to and runs are safe, as well as helping you explore new paths. There are also some Twitter chats and support groups, like #RunChat, which can be an instant way to get help or advice from fellow runners. For social creatures, working through the mental and physical challenges of running long miles becomes easier when you’re alongside 15-20 people doing the same. Plus, chatting with a new friend may help keep your mind off how far you’re going and help you keep pace.
4. Cross-Training Tools
Marathoners often couple runs with weight training sessions for a robust cross-training program. For those looking to replicate a personal training experience without the cost and rigid schedule of a gym or personal trainer, sites such as TrainWithMeOnline.com are your golden ticket. This website allows users to search conditioning programs dedicated to marathons and choose the best fit. Watch exercises, download programs and log progress in TrainWithMeOnline’s organized bundle of offerings. To track all of your exercises – weight, training, yoga, etc. – many athletes also use DailyMile. The community offers support and integrates your workout activity with your supportive online communities, including Facebook and Twitter.
RunAddicts.net is a professional running blog created by Internet entrepreneur Davy Kestens and authored by a group of dedicated runners. The mental challenges associated with endurance exercises impact even the most optimistic runners. RunningAddicts houses a motivational library of stories about improving team spirit, running for charity and healing through running. There is also a long list of other running blogs and bloggers to follow if you need more motivation. Listening to the sage advice of professional runners is sometimes all we need to make it through the challenging days.
Do you have any additional suggestions? What other online tools do you use to support your offline fitness?
Image Credit: Nordea Riga Marathon
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