A few weeks ago I hopped on my bike and rode it from Seattle to Portland. I had been training with my dad over the past couple of months, and was ready to bike the 208 miles in a blaze of spandex clad glory. Although I was prepared for the mileage, I was blindsided by the suffocating heat wave that hit Washington that day. Temperatures reached the upper 90’s before noon, and as a redhead, it was a major point of pride that I somehow managed to not fry in the sun. 
All I can say is thank god for SPF 50.
In recent years, athletic events like the STP have emerged as a cool, adventurous way to get your heart rate up. Themed runs are popping up all over with some seriously great themes. If you're in need of some motivation to go a little faster? Check out the Zombie Run where participants are chased by over 100 zombies!  Want to be a total bad ass?  The Tough Mudder is a 10-12 mile run with the added bonus of insane obstacles designed by the British Special Forces. Although, personally, I would consider water boarding a more enjoyable pastime than running, I could probably be convinced to do the Cosmic Run, which is more like attending an EDM show then exercise.  Events such as these are making an impact on the way that people are working out, and there has been a significant rise in the number of Americans that have been hitting the pavement in the past couple of years.
The number of first time marathon runners is also high, suggesting that there is a “Bucket list” effect where people set a goal of participating in these longer distance runs, and use them as motivation to train and get back in to shape.  Even here at College Hill, we are in the process of getting in shape and raising money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society who sponsor the Pineapple Classic 5k in November!
According to the Sports & Fitness Industry Association, there were 1.6 million participants in 2012 in adventure races such as mud runs and obstacle races – a 34.6% increase over 2011.  By 2013 the number of participants rose to 2,095,000 and shows no sign of slowing down!
The increased popularity of running could be related to a couple of factors:

1. It's Cheap!

All you need are some shoes and athletic gear and you’re set!  I on the other hand contemplated selling a kidney on the black market to help pay for all of my biking gear….

2. Fit is the New Thin!

This means that the skeletal, emaciated Kate Moss coke diet look is out, and a new emphasis on exercise and building muscle is in!  

Now, I’m not saying anything derogatory about people who are naturally very thin; you guys keep being your fabulous selves. I’m just attempting to draw attention to how women are transitioning to a combination of healthy eating and exercise, as opposed to crash dieting and strictly restricting caloric intake as a means to lose weight. It’s easy to see this shift in attitude in the huge numbers of fitspiration posts on popular websites such as youtube and Pinterest. People are uploading thousands of “10 minute workouts” that you can do in your own home, or backyard – exercise is made accessible to everyone; not just people with a gym membership.
Part of my job here at CH Threads is to run our Pinterest account, and I get serious workout FOMO/guilt after sitting at my desk all day and not doing anything physical! Especially after seeing all of the super convenient workouts that people pin.  So I attempted to hop on this whole running band wagon and tried one of the “10K in 10 weeks” training programs.  Although this program was eventually pushed aside so that I could start training for the Seattle to Portland Bike Ride/I discovered that I REALLY do not enjoy running, I was proud that I went from running 10 minute miles down to 7 minutes, and I began getting used to going longer distances. 

Thinking back, distance events like the Seattle to Portland are tough, and I would be lying if I told you that the ride was “super fun” the whole way through.  There’s a particularly nasty hill at mile 130 of 138 on the first day of the ride, and halfway up it I started seriously considering a quick swoop over to get clipped by a car so I could hitch a ride to where we were staying that night.  Maybe there’s a huge burst of endorphins that’s released which makes you forget just how grueling events like this are, or maybe I’m some sort of masochist, but for some reason I am still looking forward to doing the ride next year! There are 10,000 riders who annually participate in the Seattle to Portland so seemingly I’m not alone. People love races with a hint of adventure which brings their exercise outside of their usual day to day routine. Who knows, now that the STP is over and I’m looking for a new workout routine maybe I’ll push myself and do something crazy like train for a half marathon! Or maybe I’ll just stick to Netflix marathons…
    -- Morgan

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