By Scott Douglas
Runner's World

Keith Levasseur ran Saturday's Baltimore Marathon in 2:46:58 while wearing flip flops. Levasseur will file paperwork with the Guinness Book of World Records to have the feat acknowledged as a world record for a marathon in flip flops.

Levasseur, a member of Maryland's Howard County Striders, ran his marathon PR of 2:38 at last year's Marine Corps Marathon. Before the Baltimore Marathon, he said his goal was to go sub-3:00 in flip flops.

"I had every intention of sticking to the race plan of finishing a little under 3:00, so my initial pace starting out was 6:40-6:50 [per mile]," Levasseur told Runner's World Newswire. "After a few miles, I decided I go with whatever pace I could comfortably run, even if it was faster than my target pace. I know there are some decent hills later in the race and I didn't know how I would be doing from a time perspective at that point, so I gave myself some wiggle room by letting go on the downhills and cruising in the low 6:00's."

Levasseur, who placed 29th overall among 3,024 finishers, said that fellow racers as well as spectators noticed his footwear. Runners, he said, "were supportive of the effort and after a 'you're crazy' comment or two, they wished me luck. I heard a number of spectators saying, 'Hey, that's the flip flop guy!' as I passed."

A little past halfway, Levasseur started to get a hot spot on the top of his right foot. (The farthest he had gone in training in flip flops was 14 miles.) "I knew that what would normally result in a blister wasn't happening because there wasn't any room due to the snugness of the strap," Levasseur said. "Instead I figured it would just rub away the skin, which is what it essentially did." (Learn how to deal with the unexpected in Top Race-Day Disasters to Avoid.)

Levasseur said that focusing on his form was key.

"I knew it was all about maintaining a very efficient and balanced stride," he said. "There were times when my feet and ankles would get tired from maintaining a more rigid stride than I might otherwise have and I would start landing more on the outside of the my foot and cause my heel to slip off the sandal. It only happened a few times and when it did, it would refocus my concentration on my stride and posture."

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Levasseur said other challenges were cobblestones and railroad tracks, as well as uphills "since all the uphills were run more like stair stepping instead of fluid running."

The rules Levasseur had worked out with Guinness for record purposes required that he cover the entire course in flip flops; if one came off, Levasseur was to go back to it, put it back on, and then resume running. "They never fell off," Levasseur said. "There were times I would have to drive the front of my foot into the ground to re-secure the fit if they started to slide off. There were also a few times my heel would slip to the side, though they never touched the ground."

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By the following day, Levasseur said, the balls of his feet were "quite sore," in part because "with the minimal padding and inability to place my foot like I normally do, I had to slap the front of my foot quite a bit, especially on the downhills." Levasseur said his ankles and quadriceps were also more sore than usual because of his altered gait.

"Many friends have asked if I'll do it again and my answer has been a resounding 'no,'" Levasseur said. "If someone breaks the record, I will simply congratulate them."

-- Scott Douglas is editor of Runner's World Newswire and author of several books, including The Little Red Book of Running and Barefoot Running and Minimalism.

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Photo Credit: Laura Johnson Via Runner's World

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Think you need to join a gym to get a good cardio workout in? You don't. Hate running? No problem. Running on treadmills or using an elliptical at the gym isn't the only cardio workout that you can do. There are so many others kinds of cardio workouts that you can do. Machines such as the treadmill, elliptical or stairmaster are great for people who enjoy them, but for people who don't ... it can be a real drag. Finding what you like to do is the key to being successful during a healthy and active lifestyle.

If you don't like running on the treadmill, chances are you won't, which will in turn lead to failure. Check out some of the most awesome cardio moves you can do to get your heart rate and burn tons of calories.

Jumping Jacks: I'm sure you remember doing endless amounts of jumping jacks during your middle school gym class. Jumping jacks are an excellent cardiovascular exercise. It really gets your heart rate up, and it's also a full body move. Your legs, arms and core are all working during this movement. Believe it or not, there are a couple different variations of jumping jacks that you can try to spice up your workout.

Seal jumping jacks: Perform a regular jumping jack but instead of putting your arms up, bring your arms out to the side and back to middle (like a seal). You can also perform "explosive" jumping jacks. These have a ton of different names such as star jumping jacks, or as P90X calls them, X jumping jacks. To perform this kind of jumping jack, bring both feet off the ground and jump in the air as you do one jack. Land softly when you come down.

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By Elisabeth Hasselbeck

As you know, running is one of my favorite things to do. Last year, I ran my very first half marathon. It was a great experience but it takes a lot of work to prepare for it. Here are some ways to get ready for a half marathon:

Pick a race
First, you'll want to find a marathon that's right for you and your fitness level. Not every marathon is designed for a beginner.

Plan to train for 6 months to a year
You should have some solid running experience under your belt if you're planning on participating in a marathon.

Get comfortable running shoes
Since you'll be running a long distance, you'll want running shoes that won't hurt your feet. Make sure to do your research. If you need help finding the perfect shoe, click here.

Get Friendly
Training with a group or coach will not only give you the support you need, you'll also learn proper running techniques. You could also try training with a friend who has experience running marathons. The talks that I've had with my friends and family while running will always be remembered!

Slowly increase your mileage each week
This should be a gradual process. Try to run just a little longer during each training session.

Do tempo runs
Twice a week, I run 4-6 quarter-mile sprints with 60-90 seconds of rest in between. This is how you drop time off your mile pace.

Stay healthy
Make sure to continue eating right, drinking plenty of water and listening to your body. If you feel like you're developing an injury, see your doctor.

Sleep is always important and you especially want to get enough rest when you're training for a marathon. You'll have greater endurance if you get the recommended eight hours of sleep each night.

Dedicate the miles
Run for yourself, but be sure to have threshold miles dedicated to someone you care about. Make a list and give each person his or her mile. On race day, when you feel like you can't give any more, do it for them!

Don't try something "new" the morning of
Just stick to your typical day of coffee, tea, or juice and breakfast. And, make sure to drink at all of the water stops!

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If "Dancing With The Stars" has proven anything, it's that you'd better be in good shape to hang around on the show. It's one reason why Hines Ward, Kristi Yamaguchi, Emmitt Smith, Apolo Ohno and other athletes have won the competition.

With that in mind, check out the moves from this tyke. His routine only lasts about a minute, but try doing it a few times. It'll be a fun way to boost your heart rate, even just a little bit.

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Exercise is exercise, right? So who cares if you're outside at your local track or in the gym at the treadmill? Well, one is better than the other.

Can you guess which one?

And the winner is ... the track. Many studies show that exercising outdoors can help improve your stress levels, anger, depression and your overall mood. Now this does not mean the treadmill is by any means "bad" for you, or that you have to only exercise on the track. It just gives a little bit of a different outlook on exercise.

Here are just a few cardio benefits of working outdoors.


For those of you that fight to burn every single calorie you can during your workout, you may benefit from exercising outdoors, especially if you're running. Here's the deal: The treadmill is great for running -- you can set your treadmill to 5 mph and stay there for an hour. Now, try running at 5 mph outdoors for an hour. Chances are you will feel tired and winded before the hour is even up. Why? The belt on the treadmill helps to push your feet along. Outdoors, there is no belt that is helping you -- it's strictly your own two feet doing all of the work.

Another calorie burner while running outdoors is the terrain. If you're running on the sidewalk in your town, you are going to experience a difference in terrain every couple minutes; the small difference in the ground can make a big difference in your workout.

One more thing that may increase your calorie burn is temperature and wind. Running against the wind requires you to push a little bit harder than you would normally have to inside on a treadmill. Temperature plays a big role also. Your body burns more calories in the heat and in the cold. Whether it's 100 degrees or 30 degrees outside, your body needs to fight to keep your body temperature normal. If you're exercising outside in 100 degree weather, your body is burning calories like a maniac just to try to cool your body down. The same rule applies to exercising in the cold.

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Sub three hours, ten minutes. Sub three hours, forty minutes. For years, these were the respective marathon times that male and female runners had engrained in their heads for Boston Marathon qualification. Complete a marathon on an approved course under these time parameters (adjusted upwards with age), and you had an entry to participate in the annual Patriots Day party in Boston.

Times have changed. Just achieving those "qualifying" times doesn't mean you can necessarily make arrangements to line up at Hopkinton on the third Monday of April with 25,000 others and try to continue to the finish line on Boylston Street.

Unlike your local marathon or even larger ones in New York, Chicago or Los Angeles that register in excess of 45,000 runners each year, Boston is more selective. You cannot just sign up or pay an excessive fee (celebrities and other special exemptions aside) to run Boston. The official field is roughly 27,000, with 20,000 designated for the qualifiers, and the competition for those slots is intensifying.

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All over the fitness world people are saying that morning workouts are the best for you. They are known to jump-start your metabolism and get your body ready to begin the day. But are morning workouts really the best? And does this mean that people who work out later in the day don't get as good of a workout?


Although there is no right time to exercise, there are many benefits to breaking a sweat earlier in the day. People who get up a half hour earlier to get to the gym have been shown to be much more consistent with their workouts. It is a no-brainer that working out before the day begins gets it over with. During the day, many things can arise such as unexpected errands or extra work. Having your workout done before that time comes would be ideal because then you won't have to worry about fitting it in, it would already be done.

Consistency is essential for sticking to an exercise program. Exercise in the morning has also been shown to give your metabolism a jumpstart and gets your blood pumping. Breaking a sweat early on has also been shown to aid in sleep. It helps to release stress and tension which can have a positive effect on your sleep. Aside from the physical benefits, getting in a workout early puts a positive outlook on the rest of the day. Endorphins are neurotransmitters that are produced in the brain that are shown to reduce pain and create a sense of euphoria. These endorphins are released during exercise! So, endorphins make you happy and keep you happy all day long. What better way to start the day?

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How long does it take to get in a great cardio workout? Not as long as you might think. That is, unless you think the answer is four minutes.


Our proof: The fast and furious routines that follow, courtesy of fitness expert BJ Gaddour, CSCS, owner of -- a web site that offers follow-along, bootcamp-style workouts (that you can stream to your TV, tablet, smartphone, or computer). These 4-minute workouts are all based on the "Tabata protocol."

For background, the Tabata protocol is a training method that was originally used by the Japanese Olympic speed skating team, and named for the scientist -- Izumi Tabata -- who studied its amazing effect on a group of male college students. The study subjects were all fit P.E. majors, and most were members of various varsity sports teams.

You might think it sounds too simple -- and short -- to work: On a stationary bike, the university students did seven to eight 20-second, all-out sprints, each separated by just 10 seconds of rest. Total time: 4 minutes. (They also did an easy 10-minute warmup before each session.)

The results were fantastic: After doing the routine 5 days a week for 6 weeks, the college kids boosted their aerobic fitness by 14 percent. By comparison, another group -- who performed a steady but moderate pace on the bikes for 60 minutes -- increased their aerobic fitness by only about 10 percent. (If you want more fast cardio and fat-loss workouts, along with full-color photos of more than 600 exercises, check out my books, The Men's Health Big Book of Exercises and The Women's Health Big Book of Exercises.)

The upshot: The high-intensity 4-minute workout was more effective than an hour of moderate cycling. Even better, the Tabata participants saw a 28-percent improvement in "anaerobic capacity" -- a measure of how long the men could exercise at their top effort. The second group saw no such improvements.

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Are you hunched over your computer right now? Then it's time to get up and move around, even if it's for a minute. Because whether it seems like it or not, small changes to your daily routine at work or desk can make a lasting impact on your overall healthy and fitness.

"Would you rather endure 90 seconds of pain or 90 years of pain?" Austin, Texas-based fitness trainer Brant Hatton says. "It's something I hear as a motivational tool in Bikram Yoga, and while it seems sort of silly, it's true."

Making a conscious effort to make small tweaks to the hours of your workday will not only improve your health, but also preserve the success you’ve already had at the gym. Here are three simple steps from Hatton to keep your workday from wrecking your health for years.

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1) Stay on your feet as much as possible

"It doesn't matter how or when," Hatton says. "Conference calls, waiting for computers load, sitting on hold, etc. -- they can all be turned into cues for you to get on your feet and move around. Any chance you get to stand up and move around, you should take it."

That could also mean walking to lunch instead of driving, or walking down the hallway to deliver a message you'd normally email. Not only does it wake your muscles up from their sedentary state, but also mixes up your heart rate.

2) Posture, posture, posture

Hatton says the No. 1 issues with all of his clients that work at desks all day is something called Upper Crossed Syndrome. Put simply, it's the tendency for your head to protrude forward along with your shoulders. The effect is unaffectionately called "turtle neck," and it doesn't look good on anyone. It also is terrible for your health.

"It can take us three weeks in training sessions to correct, and then it takes constant attention to maintain," Hatton says.

You can avoid that fate without much physical effort and a little mental training.

"If the company offers some sort of ergonomic setup, go for it. Elevate your keyboard or get a better chair," Hatton says. "The key to good posture is being aware of what it is. Ears directly over your shoulders, make sure you're sitting upright, get a chair with a higher back so that you can feel your shoulders against the back of the chair.

"The reality is your work is going to make you slip into bad posture. We all naturally lurch toward screens, keyboards, notebooks and reading materials. The trick is noticing when you do it and simply leaning back correctly."

3) Stretch and use resistance bands/light weights for quick moves

One of the great pitfalls of being stationary all day is that your muscles tend to tighten up. Keeping them loose, and finding ways to use them actively in short bursts can pay huge long-term dividends.

A lot of people think sitting on an exercise ball will make a difference, but it's not that simple. It can even been counterproductive, according to Hatton. Instead, give yourself reasons to reach up or down and get off your butt.

"Keep surgical tubing or resistance bands hanging from a door or cubicle wall, or maybe have three-pound dumbbells by your desk," Hatton says. "They're great visual cues to remind you to move around and do some light stretching or lifts, and when you use them, they help counter the small movements that don’t do much good for you over the day, like moving a mouse or typing."

It will also help promote circulation and flexibility, keeping your body in a state of readiness for activity, and making those trips to the gym or jogs around the neighborhood easier to jump into.

Whatever you do, do it often. It may seem like you don’t have time, but you do. Even if you don't have 90 seconds, you have 30 seconds here and there. And it’s a relative mental rationale, Hatton says.

"Would you rather endure 30 seconds of minimal pain and effort, or 30 years of an aching back and neck?"

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Green. It's something most of us know how to do. We screw in our energy-efficient light bulbs, consume organic food, install solar panels on our roofs, and lug around reusable cloth grocery bags. But green is increasingly giving way to its newer and hipper neighbor: Blue.

Simply put, blue is all about putting back more into the environment than you initially took from it in the first place. And Puma is trying to do just that. The website Ecouterre reports the German sports clothing manufacturer has embraced a growing trend: "Cradle-to-Cradle" design. Puma has developed a line of biodegradable sports clothes that can be buried in your backyard garden or even thrown into a compost heap.

And we don't need the Sierra Club to clue us in on the obvious environmental benefits of wearing compostable (rather than just recyclable) clothing. Admit it, haven't you always wanted to plant your used gym shorts or post-workout yoga pants?

Puma isn't the only sportswear company jumping on the sustainable bandwagon. New Balance has recently introduced a sneaker made from 95 percent post-consumer recycled plastic bottles. The recycled fabric, called Eco-fi, is made from an average of eight recycled plastic bottles per pair.

But if you do decide to go with Pumas, you'll have new reason to tell your friends to lay off of your blue suede shoes.

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