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    Tough Mudder

    Established: 2010.
    Locations: 53.
    Find A Race Near You
    A grueling 12-mile battlefield that involves tackling 32 challenges, Mudder is no walk in the park ... unless that park was, um, 12 miles long and filled with 32 traps, then it would be pretty similar. Read More About Tough Mudder ...

By Blood, Sweat & Cheers

From fireman themes to a water park turned into an obstacle course ... From 5Ks to full blown marathons ... Mud runs just continue to get more and more popular.

Events with one or two locations across the nation exploded into every state. Established obstacle courses started going global. All over the country, a movement of people looking to break out of the ordinary routine broke into the extraordinary experience of getting down and dirty.

And a beer at the end of every race didn't hurt.

Check out the slideshow for a rundown of our (current) favorite mud runs in the obstacle course landscape.

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    1. Increase lower leg flexibility

    Try this test: With your feet pointing straight ahead with your toes and heels a few inches apart, squat down as far as you can—try to lower your butt to the back of your heels. Any tightness you feel in the muscles in your shin and calf translates to extra tension on your Achilles. Work out the kinks by rolling your calf muscle over the bar of a plate-loaded barbell, and rolling your shins (focusing on the muscle next to the bone, not the bone itself) on a foam roller or rumble roller.

    Boost your strength, size, and flexibility with these 5 Simple Foam Rolling Stretches.

When we watched five-time NBA champion Kobe Bryant fall with an Achilles rupture, it wasn't that the injury itself seemed so surprising. More shocking was how it happened -- not by a jump shot or a leaping rebound, just a simple push-off step while dribbling past a defender.

Bryant said as much on his highly shared Facebook rant, apparently written from his hospital bed later that evening. "All the training and sacrifice just flew out the window with one step that I've done millions of times!" Bryant wrote.

The fact is, as a 34-year-old male professional athlete, Bryant is in the unfortunate sweet spot to suffer an Achilles rupture. Men are five times more likely to blow out their Achilles than women, according to the Mayo Clinic. You're also at your highest risk between the ages of 30 and 50, says orthopedic surgeon Brian Donley, M.D., president of the Cleveland Clinic's Lutheran Hospital. "At that point, your Achilles has seen a lot of wear and tear, but you’re still young enough to be participating in active, aggressive sports," Donley says.

Most ruptures occur in a 1 1/2-inch section of the Achilles where blood flow is the weakest and your body is least able to repair small tears to the collagen fibers inside the tendon, Donley says. "You still need sufficient force at the right place and the right time to blow out the biggest tendon in your body," says Bill Hartman, P.T., C.S.C.S, co-owner of Indianapolis Fitness and Sports Training. As we saw with Kobe, where he scored 34 points and played all 45 minutes of the game before the injury happened, you'll likely feel no pain or have any warning that it's about to blow.

(No matter if you're a pick-up ball player or a seasoned athlete, our Injury Prevention Workout Plan will keep you pain-free and in the game.)

But don't take that to mean an Achilles rupture is inevitable. "Unequivocally, it's completely preventable," says Kelly Starrett, D.P.T, the author of Becoming a Supple Leopard: The Ultimate Guide to Resolving Pain, Preventing Injury, and Optimizing Athletic Performance. Take these steps to help prevent a blowout:

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    The Electronic Ab Exerciser

    What this was: A machine that would send electric currents to your abs, making them contract and release, thus causing you to burn off body fat.

    Why it was doomed to fail: Losing body fat requires a combination of cardiovascular exercise and a reduced-calorie diet. You cannot spot reduce to lose weight. The body burns fat according to its genetic predisposition, so the only way to burn fat off is by doing the work yourself. A machine won’t do it for you.

    Ultimate fate: The Electronic Ab Exerciser was quickly found to be unsuccessful; people soon realized this quick fix was nothing more than a waste of time, money and electricity.

Great ideas come and go. While the really good ones stick around, more often than not, fitness trends fall by the wayside. It can be quite hard to tell the difference between fad and fitness, so we often spend time, effort and money on something that doesn't do what it claims to do. Read on so you are not fooled by the scams you think are fitness facts.

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    Cordarrelle Patterson (Vikings)

    Positive points for being one of the few in this draft class to really stand out, and of course, we're suckers for suspenders. But haven't we seen Kanye rocking a similar tux top and more casual bottom look lately? Perhaps you want to look into his role models more deeply.

Sure, as football fans and reporters, we watched the NFL draft with anticipation of which teams will make good picks, risky ones and ones that cause entire cities to simultaneously boo. But as with most great events, there's one other part of the show that can't be ignored: The fashion. So without further ado, we present the best and the worst of what seemed to be a very well dressed 2013 first-round draft class.

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NFL, NFL Draft
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    Flooding and landslides in Mount Rainier National Park

    As the climate changes, moderate rain has turned into frequent and intense downpours that have increased the likelihood of flooding, especially in Mount Rainier National Park, where 18 inches of rain fell in 36 hours in November 2006. The debris flows and floods from the storm destroyed trails, damaged campgrounds, and severed power lines, causing the park to close for six months, a time when about 170,000 people normally would have visited. According to the Park Service, the heavy rainfall "changed the landscape of the park forever."

By Jessica Khorsandi
The Active Times

Imagine Joshua Tree National Park without the Joshua trees; Glacier National Park without the glaciers; or the Everglades without ... the Everglades.

Sound far fetched? It isn't.

Climate change is reshaping our planet, and while we don't yet know everything it will have in store for us in the coming century, we do know that sea levels are rising, the planet is heating up and fresh water is becoming increasingly scarce in much of the world.

This is bad news for our national parks. In the words of National Park Service director Jon Jarvis, "I believe climate change is fundamentally the greatest threat to the integrity of our national parks that we have ever experienced."

In honor of Earth Day, we picked 11 parks that may be irreparably altered by climate change if nothing is done to stop its advance. The list is drawn from a joint 2009 report by the Rocky Mountain Climate Organization and the Natural Resources Defense Council. Sadly, these predictions haven’t changed in the last four years.

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How college players perform in workouts after their college career often has just as much (if not more) bearing on their draft stock as their college careers themselves. But unlike Brian Urlacher or Chris Johnson, many other "workout wonders" have failed to deliver in the NFL. We rank the NFL Draft's Top Workout Warrior Busts.

More from Lost Lettermen: Top 50 NFL Draft Busts: Where Are They Now

For the complete slideshow of the NFL Draft Workout Warrior Busts, go to Lost Lettermen.

More Stories On Lost Lettermen:
-- Player Leaving Behind NFL For Medical School
-- Photos: College Football's Top 10 Ugliest Helmets Ever
-- Video: Denard Robinson Botches MLB First Pitch
-- Video: KSU Mascot Accidentally Kicks Kid In Head

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Eating at night doesn't have to make you fat. In fact, new research suggests potential benefits, including bigger muscles and a cranked-up metabolism:

1. More Muscle

In research published last year in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, scientists in the Netherlands discovered that consuming casein (the dominating protein in milk) after an evening workout but 30 minutes before sleep increased protein synthesis in men. (If that doesn't help pump up your guns, try one of these 5 Easy Steps to Reveal More Muscle.)

2. Faster Metabolism

A study from Florida State University found that when fit men eat a modest (150-calorie) nighttime snack consisting of protein or carbohydrates, they have a higher resting metabolic rate in the morning than when they consume nothing at all before bed. Rev your metabolism and build the body of a warrior with one of the most popular workouts in Men's Health History, now on DVD -- The New Spartacus Workout.

3. Less Hunger

Having a snack before bed may leave you less hungry in the morning and improve satiety between meals the next day, according to research from Florida State University. The type of food didn't matter, but emphasizing protein is smart because it helps you build muscle. (You are what you eat -- know The Truth About Protein.)

4. Lower Weight

Having Seinfeld's favorite food -- cereal -- may be an ideal way to end the day. In a Wayne State University study, people who ate cereal before bed lost roughly 2 pounds in 4 weeks, while people who didn’t have the cereal lost about a half pound. (Not all cereal is created equal -- Avoid these 9 Natural Cereals That Aren't.)

More By Men's Health: 7 Easy Stretches To Do At Work

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    There Are Negative-Calorie Foods

    One major calorie counting myth that circulates is that certain foods actually cause the body to expend more calories digesting them than they provide. The belief is that if you eat these foods, they will actually cause more weight loss than if you hadn't eaten them in the first place.

    Reality: While there are certainly foods that provide very few calories, especially once you factor in their dietary fiber content, there are no foods that will put you in a negative calorie balance.

By Shannon Clark

In order to achieve maximum results from your muscle-building or fat-loss program, taking in the right amount of calories is essential. Your calorie balance is what will dictate whether you gain or lose body weight, making it incredibly useful to track this information.

Unfortunately, there are a number of calorie counting myths that people fall for that will cost them results in the long run. By making yourself aware of these myths, you can be sure that they won't to affect your progress.

Here's what you need to know about calorie counting myths.

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Of all the lists published by magazines throughout the year, Time's list of the 100 most influential people is one of the most respected.

The list honors global leaders, innovators and pioneers. Everyone from President Obama to Scooter Braun. And in this interconnected day and age, it shouldn't be surprising that several athletes made the cut.

What's interesting is that there were no repeats from last year, when Jeremy Lin, Tim Tebow, Novak Djokovic, Oscar Pistorius, Lionel Messi and Yani Tseng were honored.

Below are the four athletes who made the cut in 2013:

For the complete list of honorees, see here.

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    Harrisonburg, Virginia

    Designated as both a League of American Bicyclists Bicycle-Friendly Community and IMBA Ride Center, Harrisonburg is becoming a haven for anyone with a garage full of bikes. In a demonstration of partnership, the City of Harrisonburg teamed up with Shenandoah Valley Bicycle Coalition to bring purpose-built bike trails of all levels to downtown Harrisonburg. In addition to the Rocktown trails, townsfolk can ride one of three epics, Massanutton Resort’s flow trails, or spend a day barely scratching the surface of the George Washington National Forest. The town even comes together to celebrate trails and trailwork during the annual Shenandoah Festival.
    Shenandoah Valley Bicycle Coalition

By Kristin Butcher
The Active Times

It's been nearly 40 years since a small group of fun-loving tinkerers in Marin started racing down dirt roads on old cruiser bikes modified with fat knobby tires. Though mountain biking began as a fringe sport in the 70s, it's since evolved into an athletic outlet embraced by communities everywhere.

From the flatlands to the highlands, these top mountain bike towns are drawing riders of all kinds with amazing trail systems, bike parks, and pump tracks galore. We've called out a few classic stand-bys here -- Bend, Oregon, and Asheville, North Carolina, for example (but not Moab) -- but also found a few hidden gems that you've probably never even heard of. Click through to our slideshow to see some of our favorite places to get our tires dirty in the good ol' U.S. of A.

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