Video of the Day: Laughter Yoga

Fitness is practiced differently wherever you head in the world, whether it’s thousands running the New York City marathon, groups practicing Tai Chi in Hong Kong or in India, laughing yourself into shape with a hilarious technique called Laughter Yoga. According to technique’s founder, Dr. Kadan Mataria of Mumbai, laughter is extremely good for health, encouraging deep breathing that is beneficial to the body and mind. Dr. Mataria’s sessions encourage participants to laugh for no reason, a curious exercise that, funny enough, often results in real contagious laughter. Before you laugh off the idea, give this video segment a look to learn more.

[Thanks Jinal!]

NYC Marathon: Five Lessons Learned

The New York City marathon is a grand affair, with approximately 45,000 runners testing the limits of their minds and bodies across 26.2 grueling miles. The crowds, of course, dwarf the participants, turning the process of getting a look at the action into something of a sport itself. Everybody has a secret strategy, it seems, for getting a peek at the pained looks of determination that have come to characterize this event.

I attended my first NYC marathon last Sunday, probably the only person without a plan but with the help of a local pro who’s attended several times and even volunteered. What followed was certainly counter-intuitive but a valuable learning experience – and for once from success rather than failure. We landed right along the fence at mile 26 in Central Park, a prime viewing location. So, as you think about next year, here are five lessons that will be helpful to you in making the most of your non-running marathon experience.


1. Later is actually better: we didn’t get to the park until after 1 PM. Sure, I missed the battles for first place. Nonetheless, I witnessed the personal victories of runners who sought to complete the course, which is no small feat. The crowds lined up only a few hundred yards from the finish line (which requires a special pass) but rotated fairly regularly. So, be patient, and you’ll wind up with a front-row spot.

2. Make space for kids: it isn’t fun when you can’t see the race. Take some time to enjoy the spectacle, but keep in mind that other people want to do the same thing. For children especially, nothing compares to a place up front – they can’t see over adults. If there are kids behind you, make sure they get in front: you’ll be part of a truly memorable experience for them.

3. Have an exit plan: it isn’t easy to get in and out of Central Park on race day. Gates and fences control the flow of people and make room for runners and race officials. Keep track of where you can go. Otherwise, you’ll run into several dead ends before leaving. Needless to say, this can be frustrating.

4. Don’t make the runners do all the work: at times, the spectators were surprisingly quiet. The runners, however, waved their arms, cheered and smiled … even with 26 miles and five boroughs having passed under their feet. Help them out! After all, they’ve earned it.

5. Go to the southwest corner of Central Park: the runners enter the park for the home stretch at Columbus Circle. You can’t get right up to the road in the southwest corner of Central Park, which makes the spot less than ideal. Because of this, fewer people are there, making it easier to get an unobstructed line of sight on the action.

Photo of the Day (11.9.10)

If you live in New York City, it would have been hard not to notice a certain spectacle taking place over the weekend.

On Sunday, November 7th, a record 45,344 runners turned out to compete in New York’s 41st annual marathon; the largest and most widely spectated marathon in the world. An average of two million people line the streets every year to cheer on runners from around the world in the 26.2 mile journey through all five boroughs of the city. Even Chilean miner Edison Peña accepted a special invitation to compete in the race, finishing in 5 hours and 40 minutes; a course time that’s perfectly acceptable after spending 69 days underground.

Today’s Photo of the Day is a frame from the 2006 NYC Marathon, taken by Flickr user (and PotD regular) Clay Williams on the streets of Brooklyn. I think this image is a great illustration of the intersection of culture that inevitably occurs when thousands of people from around the world run through the streets of one of most diverse cities in the world.

Have you run or cheered someone on at a major marathon? Did you make it to New York’s this year? Share your stories and photos to prove it! Leave a comment below or submit to our Flickr Pool and it could be our next Photo of the Day.

NYC marathon runners urged to focus on the race, fight the urge to tweet

You’d think running 26.2 miles would demand all your attention, right? Apparently, the lure of connectedness is so great that a runners’ group is putting the word out to resist temptation. Sean Haubert, who manages social media for the New York Road Runners, which organizes the ING New York City Marathon, told the NY Daily News:

“People need to focus on the race,” Haubert said. “There are people running ahead of you, tying a shoelace or someone may throw a cup your way.”

This is good advice, since some runners are already planning their status updates. Arturo Barcenas, for example, told the NY Daily News:

“I’m already thinking about my updates like ‘NYC Marathon, here I go again’ or ‘I’m in one piece,'” Barcenas said of his Facebook page. “Maybe if I get a quick break I can tell my friends ‘I hope I do better than last year.'”

So, how hardcore are you? Would you be able to run a marathon without letting your friends on Facebook and followers on Twitter know where you are and how you’re doing? Leave a comment to let us know!

[photo by Randy Lemoine via Flickr]

The Marathon des Sables begins today

One of the longest running and most challenge endurance races on the planet gets underway today when the 24th annual Marathon des Sables, or Marathon of the Sands, begins in Morocco. Over the course of the next week, competitors from around the globe will challenge themselves, and each other, in a race through one of the harshest environments on the planet.

This year’s race is approximately 243 kilometers (151 miles) in length, with the competitors running the equivalent of a marathon each day for six days. As if that weren’t challenging enough, they’ll be doing so in the heart of the Sahara Desert, where temperatures routinely hit 120ºF and blowing sand can make a challenging run turn extremely brutal. The combination of long distances, heat, and sand is unforgiving on the racers’ feet as well.

To add to the challenge, the racers are required to carry all of their gear (minus tent) with them at all times, including food and water. They’ll receive resupply on the water when they hit checkpoints along the way, but otherwise they should be completely self sufficient when they head out on the course each morning.

This year’s field is the largest ever, with 1031 runners from 43 different countries taking part in the race. Most of those will be just happy to finish, but the elite runners amongst them will finish the entire course, spread out over the six days, in a combined time of roughly 20-25 hours. Pretty impressive considering the challenges the desert provides.