Work out while giving back with local races


Try mentioning the word ‘run,’ and most people are sent running, though not for the treadmills.

Over time, people have misconstrued running as a sport designed solely for those blessed with superior lung functions and shiny, strong calves.

But such assumptions shouldn’t be an excuse for avoiding participation in one of the most exciting community events: races.

Yes, most people don’t classify themselves as hardcore runners, but local races aren’t confined to the running elite.

In fact, most participants are your everyday moms, dads and teenagers.

Local races aren’t as boring as they sound either, especially when they’re promoted during particularly festive times.

This past weekend featured an array of Valentine’s Day-inspired races. In California, nearly every major city hosted a run/walk benefit.

On Saturday, Sacramento held its 8th Annual Valentine Run and San Francisco hosted the San Francisco Valentine’s Run.

And let’s not forget the Chinese New Year. To celebrate, Los Angeles held a joint 5K and 10K race yesterday called the Chinatown Firecracker. Both courses began on North Broadway with the 10K path winding through the beautiful Elysian Park hills. The 5K route finished at Dodger Stadium.

Some of you might be thinking, “So what? What’s the allure of stomping away and gasping for air like a fish out of water?”

To start, you don’t need to be a runner to register for a race.

These aren’t full-fledged marathons we are talking about. Anybody can participate as long as they can walk at least a few miles continuously.

There’s not only Valentine’s Day to get excited for.

Almost every major holiday is accompanied by an array of celebratory races, during which people can show their holiday spirit.

Themed races are some of the most popular races among young adults today. These races are usually less competitive and more carefree than big events like the Boston Marathon.

On Halloween, for example, racers don costumes and makeup, whereas at Christmas time runners wear Santa hats and reindeer antlers.

Themed races also tend to have unique sets of rules and requirements.

San Luis Obispo’s Chains of Love event this past Saturday included a couples division for those running in the spirit of St. Valentine, and yesterday’s Puppy Love 5K Run/Walk in San Diego allowed participants to race with their dogs.

And what’s better than getting free food and treats after a fulfilling workout? The majority of races guarantee water and food after a hard day’s run.

But let’s be honest. Most non-runners aren’t good at running, so what’s the point of entering a race if you have no chance of winning it?

Even if your running is poor, many races reward their participants with participation medals upon completion.

The point of these races is not necessarily to win, but rather to enjoy the feeling that comes from personal accomplishment and communal celebration.

Many races, both themed and not themed, are designed to encourage the participation of whole families too.

Several of the California races this last weekend, such as Monterey’s Together with Love event, included separate, shorter courses for children.

If neither holiday cheer nor free food is enticing enough, at least consider registering for a race in the spirit of charity.

Nearly all proceeds from fundraising and registration fees go toward the specific charity that is sponsoring the race.

For Valentine’s Day weekend, several of the races in California capitalized on the holiday with love-themed races that raised money for heart disease research.

Fresno hosted a large charity run/walk for the It’s My Heart foundation to raise awareness for congenital heart defects, and Ventura hosted the 21st Annual Ojai Classic Heart and Sole Run to benefit the American Heart Association.

Even if you’re not a runner or haven’t quite warmed up to the idea of entering races yet, at least use the holidays each season as an excuse to try something new.

Now is a great time to register and start preparing for next month’s St. Patrick’s Day and Mardi Gras races. Consider celebrating these holidays in a healthy, fun and charitable way.

Hannah Muniz is a sophomore majoring in East Asian languages and cultures and creative writing. Her column, “Fit ‘n Fab,” runs Mondays.

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