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Happy healthy spring! Spring has sprung! It’s exciting and inspiring to see spring intersect with the arrival of March Madness, including both the NCAA and NIT basketball tournaments (TCU is still alive in the NIT tourney in case you missed it. Creighton unfortunately lost in the first round). With the arrival of each new season, we are presented with new opportunities to start over, turn over a new leaf, and improve our health and lifestyles.

Winter is a very difficult season for many of us (the cold, the snow, the sleet and freezing rain, the wind): there’s just so much discomfort associated with it.

Spring, however, has the advantage of lining up with greening of plants and lawns, the budding trees, and the slight disadvantage of allergies. But the kinder, milder weather, the more frequent sunshine, more outdoor beauty in nature, the sound of birds chirping happily: these combine to encourage us to be more active and healthy in what we do on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis. I like to pretend those chirping birds are urging me to run more outside or play with Misty, our dog. Or walk the dog. Or walk with our family and friends. Or perhaps to enter a race that I might not be otherwise inclined to run. (Maybe even the State Farm Run 10 miler that I am running this weekend. Sometimes March weather is unfriendly in Nebraska but it’s a good time for test races to check readiness for a May marathon or half-marathon.)

We talk about spring cleaning with our homes. We need to do occasional spring cleaning with our health, too. And it can be simple things: maybe just adding walks before or after meals (dinner works best for many of us). Or walk over your lunch hour, maybe burning off your future lunch before you eat it (just be careful not trying to “eat back” every calorie because that doesn’t work). Eat less sweets. Drink more water. Get more high quality sleep.

Winter was a little frustrating for me, just didn’t quite get the running miles in that I wanted. But the weather had a lot to do with that. And things happen: unexpected things sometimes take up time that we must take care of before we can workout.

Returning to March Madness: look at all the teams that are thought to not have a chance that end up winning in the NCAA or NIT tournaments. Injuries can plague teams at any time so that adds an element of unpredictability to it. Almost everyone’s bracket gets “busted” by unexpected upsets except in years where we pick the right upsets. And everyone wants to pick a perfect bracket. Or at least pick the winning team. (My Oregon bracket is very much alive, my Creighton bracket is dead.). Some athletes rise way beyond their ability and become unexpected key players, hitting the winning shot at the buzzer. Actually right before the buzzer. And we can harness the same ability at the end of a race, sprinting for the tape, giving that last ounce of extra effort when it is needed to succeed and reach/exceed our goals.

When I watch March Madness, I’m reminded how inept I was at basketball. I became a fan of the sport in college thanks to my college roommates. But every year I watch as much as I can, looking for inspiration, for a few moments of quiet enjoyment, and to relax and unwind. March Madness always seems to end too soon unfortunately. But all good tournaments must come to an end. And even if our teams didn’t win it all, at least they played and did their best. It’s an honor to be even selected to play in these tournaments. And we should appreciate the gift of running in the same way. Every run or workout we experience is a gift. Even if things go wrong during runs/workouts, we can learn valuable life lessons from those experiences, too. Don’t forget to unwrap these gifts as often as you can because they unlock better health for all of us and inspire our families to be more active, too.

As spring opens the door to easier, more effortless running with more friendly running weather, I would encourage you to venture out the door, soak in the scenery, and add a little more to your workouts. (I’m holding my mileage down this week tapering for State Farm race but after this I’m ramping up again.) It could be more mileage and/or more intensity depending on your goals. Maybe try to carve out an hour per day (or 1/2 hour at least) for physical activity. Then increase it on days when you have more time. If you’re pressed for time, try doing an 8-12 minute HIIT routine. Or lift weights/use resistance bands. Strength training is helpful to runners.

Remember to check your sources for seasonal allergies in your area if those affect you. For many of us, from spring to fall, we can have allergic symptoms to outdoor allergens in particular.

Is it possible to run through March Madness while still being a good fan/spectator of basketball? Yes. Remember you can always record these games with your DVR/VCR and watch them later. Or find a link to the key points in the game. Free up some time for running and working out. And give yourself some time to soak up amazing sports events like March Madness. You’ll be happy you did. Happy
healthy spring to one and all! Happy healthy trails!

P.S. Basketball hoop pics were taken during today’s run with Misty at a nearby neighborhood park. And the trees are in our backyard, the red maple is budding in front of the Colorado blue spruce tree.