5 Secrets to Reach Your Running Goals

Chocolate RX

Does a piece of chocolate a day keep the doctor away? A Snickers bar may not beat out an apple in a "healthiest treat" competition. However, doctors may begin to recommend cocoa for patients who suffer from certain diseases.

A study published in Nutrition Journal found that chocolate containing high levels of cocoa can alleviate symptoms for sufferers of chronic fatigue syndrome. Researchers believe that the health properties lie in the substance polythenol, an antioxidant also found in berries, cantaloupe and olive oil.

Silver Screen Speedsters

To get a runner's high without leaving your couch, put a marathon movie on your Netflix queue. If you're looking for laughs, Hood to Coast is a barrel of fun. The documentary follows four teams as they race 200 miles in the legendary Hood to Coast road race. The teams include a group of women over 50, as well as a flock of hilarious animators—all racing towards the finish, strengthening and testing friendships along the way.

If a dose of inspiration is in order, pick up Fast Women, which features a group of real women, training hard to earn a spot in the 2008 Olympic trials marathon. Miles and Trials, which will debut next year, focuses on Chicago-area locals at?tempting to make it to the 2012 trials.

Master Your Stride

Master runners beware. Your running stride could put you at risk for injury. A recent study from the University of Exeter in the United Kingdom examined the biomechanics of a group of young women (ages 18 to 24) and mature women (40 to 60). Researchers found that while running, the mature group displayed a higher degree of knee internal rotation and rear-foot eversion—both movement patterns associated with overuse injuries.

No matter what your age, you can visit a sports medicine doctor or physical therapist to have your running form assessed to ensure that your stride keeps you moving toward the finish line—not the sidelines.

Stand to Lose

Could your career make you fat? If you have a desk job, the answer is: "Yes." Sitting for just one hour per day burns approximately 50 fewer calories than standing. This may not seem like a lot, but that single hour spells up to 10 pounds of weight gain over the course of one year.

A recent study at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center followed 17,000 Canadians and found that individuals who sat the most were 50 percent more likely to die before their next checkup than the subjects who sat the least. These findings were found to be accurate even amongst people who didn't smoke and who exercised regularly.

To prevent yourself from becoming a statistic, set your desk calendar to send you a "walk around" alert every hour. Or try Gruve, a device developed in conjunction with the Mayo Clinic that tracks your movement and starts to vibrate when you've been sitting for too long. $200, gruve.com

Pinpoint Relief

Acupressure has been used for centuries to alleviate pain and anxiety. In a recent study, researchers from Michigan State University found that acupressure treatment significantly reduced fatigue in breast cancer survivors.

While you must visit a certified professional for personalized treatment, a new product from Sweden allows you to receive acupressure simply by lying down. At first glance, the Vila Mat appears to be a cross between a medieval torture device and a yoga mat. According to the company, resting on the mat's sharp plastic teeth increases circulation, boosts endorphin levels and aids in relaxation. $40, vilanow.com

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Jessica Sebor is the editor in chief of Women's Running Magazine

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