How to Start Running, No Matter Your Age

Have you ever heard of Fauja Singh?  You may not be familiar with the name, but you should be. He is the world’s oldest marathon runner, completing his last race at the age of 101. The most amazing thing about Singh, however, is that he didn’t start running until he was in his 80s. Still think you’re too old to start?

People of all ages are taking up running, and they’re doing it for differing reasons. Singh started as a way to overcome the depression that plagued him after the loss of his wife and son. Some older beginners are starting after they retire simply because they want to take up new hobbies. Not only is it great exercise but if you start up a running group, it helps older people remain socially active. Many do it simply because it is fun!

How to get moving in your Golden Years

Once you make the decision to take up running, you can’t just throw on a pair of jogging shoes and start pounding the pavement. There are a few steps you should take before you start on your route.

  • Check with your doctor. Let your doctor know what you plan to do. Find out if there are any specific safety precautions you should take before you get going.
  • Don’t rush it. If you haven’t exercised actively in a while, start out slowly. Walk your route for a few weeks before you add in short spans of jogging. Increase your running time gradually.
  • Don’t skip the warm-up. Jumping out of bed to immediately hit the pavement is never a good idea. Make a careful warm-up part of your routine before you run, and cool-down and stretch after you complete your run.
  • Slow and steady wins the race. Don’t forget your childhood lesson of the tortoise and the hare. You don’t have to literally run the whole route. If you employ the walk-and-run method, that’s fine. Using this approach may be easier on aging joints. Do what works for you.
  • Look for a local running club. Being part of a group of others of a similar age gives you instant access to encouragement, advice, age-specific support and training information. The social element can keep you motivated, and it adds an element of camaraderie to your run.
  • Enjoy rest days. A simple fact of life is that older bodies need more time to recover than younger ones. On your days off from running, do some stretching exercises or practice yoga.
  • Don’t forget the tech. If you don’t already have a phone that lets you use apps, consider getting one. Or get a sports watch that will help you keep track of your time running and your distance covered. A smartphone will give you access to a multitude of apps that can help you track your progress and keep you motivated to up your game.
  • Fight the risks with information. Running can present risks to older bodies, such as injury or heart attack (though not much higher risk than younger runners.)  In most cases, the benefits will overshadow the risks. Regardless of your age, if you experience chest pain when running, stop immediately and seek medical help.

Age is no longer an excuse for doing nothing. Get up, get out and get running. Your body will thank you for it.

Best Smartphone Apps for Runners

How hard can it be to start running?  All you need is a little time and a good fitting pair of tennis shoes, right? It isn’t that simple anymore. The sport of running has moved into the 21st century, with some high-tech apps out there to help get you up and running, keep you going, and motivate you to take your running to the next level.

There is a plethora of running apps out there to choose from. But like everything else in life, some work better than others. Here are a few that have risen to the top of the pack:

  1. RunKeeper

This app has been on the top of many favorite running app lists for quite some time, and it continues to be one of the most popular. It includes a lot of features, including different options for tracking runs, jogs or cycling. You can even share your accomplishments with your friends and family via Facebook if you want.

RunKeeper keeps track of statistical data so you can gauge your level of improvement, keep track of your pacing, and get a better overall understanding of your progress and where you need to up your game. You can back up all your information to their website, too, so you don’t have to worry about losing data if your phone is damaged or lost.

  1. Endomondo

This is a social-oriented running app that makes it easy to track your running statistics, such as duration of your run, the distance you’ve traveled, and the speed you’re achieving. You can create customized routes to challenge your endurance and times. There’s an included audio coach if you want that motivational device. This feature-rich app lets you track hydration levels, prop up your friends with a pep talk, and even see other people’s times on the same routes. If you like to combine socializing with your running, this may be the app you’ve been looking for.

  1. Nike+ Running

This app gives you all the standard features, such as multiple stats, your running history, and the ability to share your information with friends and family via social media. Nike+ has added its own flair to the app, as well. Like to hear the cheer of a crowd to urge you on?  Nike+ has included a real time crowd to give you that boost. It lets you finish off your run with a powersong playing to urge you on. You can even keep track of how you’re doing in different types of weather. This app works independently of the many Nike accessories so running with just a phone is not a problem.

  1. Zombies, Run!

Why not put the obsession with zombies to good use?  Whether your phone is running on iOS or Android or Windows, you can run from zombies every morning. This app is for those who may be a little quirky, or who need an extra jolt of adrenaline to get you motivated in the morning. Don’t just run; turn it into a fight for survival!  You can track your run, like any other app, but you also get to build your cache of supplies and let a horde of hungry zombies motivate you to pick up the pace a bit. For something a little different, this is probably the app for you.

Pizza, Candy, and Spores? 8 of the Newest Eats from a 3D Printer

The last time you pressed “print,” you probably collected a neatly typed paper — what if instead of letters and reports, your printer started turning out elegant cake toppers, or nutritious nutty biscuits?

3D printers have been around since the 1980s, and have worked their way into a number of markets including aerospace, automobiles, and even jewelry.

As prices drop even farther to consumer level possibilities, food comes into the mix. Because if you can print a circuit board, why not a pizza?

Below, some of the most creative, innovative, and exciting ways 3D printing is already changing our world – and our dinner tables:

1. Pizza

Pizza was an early 3D food attempt. While original versions tasted artificial, some of the newer printers are turning out cheesier, crustier pizza dinners. You still have to do a little work though: putting it in the oven.

2. Space Food

While freeze-dried ice cream and spaghetti are fun for us, they can get old when you’re living in space. Now engineers are experimenting with technology that will allow astronauts to print their food — making mealtime in space a lot more like home.

3. Bread that Grows

We’re used to food spoiling… what about food growing before our eyes? Chloe Rutzerveld’s printer crafts a pastry shell whose interior is a sprouting ground for all the good stuff: spores, fungi, and seeds. Wait a few days, and you’ve got a nutritious snack.

4. Elegant Sweets

The food group that’s proved most practical for printing is the sugar group: cookies, chocolate, and decorations. Can you imagine going to a wedding where the cake topper was printed to match the bride’s veil — or the couple themselves?

5. Dinner in a Capsule

Some researchers are interested in the 3D frenzy leading to healthier options. The Foodini, billed as a new generation kitchen appliance, prints food that’s good for you: just scoop fresh ingredients into a capsule, insert into your printer, and out comes a wholesome meal.

6. Sustainable Nourishment

Finding sustainable options is becoming more and more essential as our population grows. If we can find alternative proteins, we can use printers to shape them into appetizing foods that last longer and cut waste. That will vary our diet, and help the planet.

7. Kid Pleasers

If it’s difficult to get your young ones to eat their vegetables, 3D printers can make mealtime a whole lot easier. What about broccoli in the shape of dinosaurs? Or scallops shaped like rocket ships?

8. Customized Nutrition

Someday soon, we’ll be able to measure exactly what vitamins and minerals our bodies need at any given moment. 3D printing could allow us to precisely customize our meals: program your nutrient requirements, and out comes the perfect meal optimized for your health.

There are chocolate printers, fruit printers, a popular pancake printer raking in thousands on Kickstarter, and many more. What it comes down to is the possibility of creating exactly the food we need, wherever we are at — whether it’s in space, or in our living rooms. With chocolate, pizza, and scallops shaped like rockets … what will be next?

What the Best Runners Eat Before they Run

Runners love to talk about shoes, races and nutrition. Every one of them has their own opinion of what the perfect pre-run snack is and what they need to eat when their run is complete. If you are just beginning, it can be confusing to know what is best for you so here is a list of tried and true tips that are not only nutritious, but also give you extra energy for your run.

Always Eat Familiar Foods

The most experienced runners will advise you to never try a new food the day before your race. You simply cannot know how your body will react to the food and you may spend the race looking for a bathroom or fighting cramps. Stick with foods you know and love, such as peanut butter. The protein will give your muscles the extra kick they need for you to have a great race.

Avoid High Fiber Foods

A routine of bran cereal and fruit may sound like the perfect way to prepare for your race, but a diet high in fiber can again cause you to need to look for a bathroom during your race. Your body definitely needs extra fiber to stay healthy, but choose to eat it after your race, not the day before or the morning of your race.

Plan Ahead

Once you know what you need to consume before your race, plan ahead to be sure that meal is available to you on the big day. Depending on what you choose, you may have to prepare the meal yourself. Many runners have developed a love for quinoa for all of the awesome energy and health benefits it provides, but quinoa is not readily available in many areas. If you want quinoa, you better bring your own.

Don’t Eat Unknown Homemade Foods

If you are staying with friends or family before the race, be sure to know exactly what you are eating before you eat it. Homemade foods may have ingredients you are unfamiliar with that could cause problems with your digestion system. Even butter could have honey additives that you may not want or be aware of.

Visualize the Strength your Food is Giving You

Many runners actually visualize the strength their body will get from the foods they are eating. One runner imagines the agility and endurance of a salmon as she eats the fish before her race. This mental image helps her gain a small edge against her competition because she truly believes the salmon gives her those attributes. While you are eating, picture your food giving you strength, energy and endurance for your run. Mental power is an important part of any exercise, but especially with runners. This is a mind trick that all athletes should try.

Eat Breakfast and Don’t Skip Aid Stations

It may seem like a good idea to not have an overstuffed stomach before you race, but you need to eat to keep your blood sugar from dropping. Plan on eating a few hours before the race and make sure you are well-hydrated. As you are running, make sure to stop at the aid stations, even if you are feeling great. Often, dehydration and low blood sugar will occur without many warning signs and you could be in trouble before you know it. Visit the aid stations as you run.

Every runner has to find the best routine for themselves. What works the best for one person may not be the best for another. Keep a journal of what you eat and drink before your runs to discover what the best routine is for you.

Why the Ancient Piast Dynasty Still Matters

The country of Poland has had a long and illustrious history as a leader in central Europe. One key to its pivotal role in this part of the world is the strong leadership provided by the kings and dukes of the Piast Dynasty. Named for Piast the Wheelwright, a leader during the ninth century who is believed to have been an ancestor of the first ruler of Poland, the Piast Dynasty spanned almost 700 years.

The First Ruler of Poland

Mieszko I is generally credited with creating the state of Poland and unifying large portions of the area under his control. The son and grandson of two leaders of the pagan tribes who lived in the area, Mieszko solidified control of the territories they controlled and took over the surrounding areas by the use of force or by making agreements with local leaders. This approach allowed Mieszko to expand his control over Western Pomerania and Bohemia to extend the borders of Poland in all directions. Mieszko’s conversion to Christianity when he was still a young man influenced his style of leadership and led to significant changes and reforms to the administration of the territories he governed.

Establishing a Dynasty

Mieszko’s reign was succeeded by his first-born son, Boleslaw I the Valiant, after a brief power struggle in which Mieszko’s second wife and his sons by that wife were expelled from the ruling body. Boleslaw I was instrumental in breaking the control of the Holy Roman Empire over Poland and further expanded the territory of the fledgling Polish state. An expert politician as well as an exceptional military leader, Boleslaw I elevated Poland to the first rank of European nations and ensured the stability of the Piast Dynasty for future generations of leaders. Under his leadership, the first Polish money was minted and numerous fortifications, religious establishments and social improvements were instituted. Boleslaw I was officially crowned the first king of Poland in 1025.

Fragmentation and Dissolution

In 1138, the death of Boleslaw III created new challenges for the Piast Dynasty. The provisions of his will divided responsibility for ruling among his four sons. His plans were not successful, and Poland was divided into warring territories that effectively ended the reign of the Piast Dynasty and led to the loss of large areas previously under its control. By the time Duke Wladislaw I took on the leadership of Poland in 1320, the territories held by the kingdom had been significantly reduced in both size and influence. Casimir III was the last Polish king to reign under the Piast Dynasty.

The religious and social systems of Poland were shaped in large part by the leadership of the Piast Dynasty. Today, the innovations and achievements of these rulers continue to affect the the governing bodies of modern Poland.

Krakow: Exploring a Modern City Born in the Stone Age

Krakow began as a small Stone Age settlement on what is now known as Wawel Hill. According to local legend, the Smocza Jama cave system was inhabited by a dragon at that time and continues to attract tourists to the present day; the dragon currently in residence, however, is constructed of bronze and breathes fire through a mechanical apparatus. As one of the largest metropolitan areas in Poland, Krakow is a key center for the arts, academia, economics and cultural life in the country.

Early Commercial Activity

The area that now comprises Krakow was once controlled by Moravian businessmen who built a commercial network that included this trading center. The settlement was captured by Boleslaus I in 955 A.D. and became part of the Bohemian holdings in the area. By 992 A.D., Krakow and the surrounding areas were under the rule of Mieszko I, the first monarch of Poland and the first king of the Piast Dynasty, which began in 930 and ended with the death of the last male scion in 1675 A.D. Krakow became the capital of the Polish government in 1038 and served as the center for trade and industry in the country throughout the next two centuries.

The Mongol Invasion

In 1241 A.D., Krakow was overrun by Mongols and most structures in the town were destroyed. The city was rebuilt and was attacked again in 1259. New, stronger fortifications were added to the city during the second rebuilding project, allowing Krakow to rebuff the Mongols in 1287 during a third wave of attacks. By 1335, the city had recovered sufficiently to inspire its partial renaming by King Casimir III. Kazimierz comprised two of the westernmost suburbs and was heavily fortified to prevent invaders from overrunning the town once more.

The Polish Renaissance

During the 1400s and 1500s, Poland experienced a resurgence in art, science and architecture. Many of the most famous and renowned structures in the country were built during this period. Krakow’s Old Synagogue is representative of the Polish Renaissance style; the Wawel Royal Castle was built a century before and represents the Gothic style in vogue previously. Artists traveled from throughout Europe to live and work in Krakow; some of the most famous of these include Francesco Fiorentino and Giovanni Battista di Quadro. The city also boasted several famed philosophers and scientists, including Nicolaus Copernicus, Andrzej Frycz Modrzewski and Bernard Wapowski.

Despite serious setbacks during World War I and World War II, Krakow managed to retain its status as the leading academic center for the region. Although Warsaw is currently both the capital and the largest city in Poland, Krakow’s location on the Vistula River has allowed it to maintain a strong economic base. Additionally, the educational opportunities and cultural attractions present in this area have ensured that Krakow remains vibrant and relevant to its residents and to travelers visiting Poland from all parts of the world.

From Ksiaz to Wawel: 5 Must-See Polish Palaces

Located in one of the most geographically diverse areas of Europe, Poland has a rich historic heritage that dates back to 700 B.C. and the founding of the Biskupin settlement just off Lake Biskupin. This archaeological site is still being investigated and has been named a Historic Site by the national government of Poland. During the 1700s, Poland became a major power in the region and built a number of palaces and castles designed to serve the needs of the aristocracy and to provide defensive positions for the country’s military forces. Many of these structures are still standing and provide insights into the customs and ways of life in practice during the 18th century. Here are five of the most beautiful castles and palaces in Poland.

Ksiaz Castle

The third largest castle in all of Poland, Ksiaz Castle is notable for its distinctive red and blue coloring and its combination of Baroque, Rococo and Gothic architectural styles. Ksiaz was built in 1288 as a replacement for an earlier fortification and is currently a major tourist attraction for the area. Ksiaz Landscape Park also contains two nature reserves.

Krasiczyn Castle

Built in the Polish Mannerism architectural style popularized during the Renaissance, Krasiczyn Castle is one of the oldest castles still standing in Poland. Construction on Krasiczyn began in 1580 and continued for over 50 years until its completion in 1633. The complex is currently owned by the Industrial Development Agency, a division of the government of Poland.

Wilanów Palace

Also known as the Versailles of Poland, Wilanów Palace is widely regarded as one of the loveliest structures in all of Europe and incorporates a museum dedicated to royal artifacts and artworks. Wilanów is a stunning example of the Polish Baroque movement in architecture. The expansive grounds are also used for the Summer Royal Concerts each year.

Kórnik Castle

Kórnik Castle is home to the oldest arboretum in Poland and features trees and botanical specimens from all over the world on its 30-hectare grounds. Originally constructed in the 14th century, the castle was rebuilt and reimagined in the 1800s in the neo-Gothic architectural style. The Kórnik Library is also located on the premises of this romantic castle and houses more than 400,000 volumes, including many manuscripts, rare books and ancient texts.

Wawel Royal Castle

Located in Krakow, the Wawel Royal Castle was once the center for pomp and ceremony surrounding the knights and royalty who resided in this area. The Smocza Jama, or Dragon’s Den, is guarded by a bronze dragon that can breathe fire and emit smoke to provide added thrills for guests. Today, the castle, adjacent cathedral and grounds continue to host exhibitions and concerts for members of the public.

For those interested in the history of Poland’s aristocracy and royalty, these palaces and castles provide a window into the lives and activities of these families. By taking time to explore these structures, visitors to the country can experience the beauty and majesty of Poland’s architecture firsthand.