Tailwind Awards

The award show season doesn’t start for a few months, but these are slow times around Running Life headquarters, so we decided to start our own brand of accolades and jeers. Oscars and Razzies. Roses and thorns. You get the idea.

Since we’re runners, we’ll give “Tailwinds” to local groups or individuals who make positive contributions to our running community, and “Headwinds” for the opposite.

Please note that these designations are determined by a committee of exactly two people – the ones pictured above. When we disagree, we flip a coin. It’s a very scientific process.

So without further ado, we present the first annual Running Life Tailwind awards! (Drumroll please …)

1. Big Sur International Marathon: No doubt about this one. The Big Sur Marathon organization puts on several world-class races, gives hundreds of thousands of dollars to local charities, and supports the outstanding Just Run program to prevent childhood obesity.

2. Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula and Salinas Valley Memorial Hospital: A tie here. Both support local races with financial and volunteer support. They also put on valuable health related clinics and provide their facilities to host information programs about running. Both are generous supporters of the Just Run program as well.

3. City Council of Monterey: For sponsoring and hosting two new Just Run races for families over the past year.

4. Rio Grill and The Monterey Rape Crisis Center: For organizing and maintaining popular races for over 20 years. The Rio Resolution Run on New Year’s Day and the Together with Love Run near Valentine’s Day are long established races and have inspired many locals to start and maintain running programs.

5. Mahir Agha and Karen Nardozza: Both are behind the scenes establishing groups to create more races on the Central Coast. Mahir is trying to bring back the Carmel Valley Fiesta races. Karen is working to create a Salinas Valley Half Marathon and resurrect the Salinas Main Street Mile. Good luck and Tailwinds to both of them.

We’re putting a stone in our slingshot and taking aim at a local Goliath for our first Headwind awards. (Kazoo noises please …)

1. Pebble Beach Corporation: For posting signs – and even hiring a guard - to keep runners, joggers, and walkers off the Pebble Beach golf course cart paths. For 30 years, the most popular local Saturday morning group run starts on Ocean Avenue in Carmel at 7:15 AM, enters the Carmel Gate and crosses the golf course cart paths near the 11th hole, long before any golfers are playing those holes. Now instead of enjoying the ocean view and beauty of the course, runners must use the dangerous (and shoulderless) 17-Mile Drive, watching for traffic and dangerous blind curves - just so we don’t leave footprints in the morning dew.

2. Pebble Beach Corporation: A two-time winner, for “advising” Robert Louis Stevenson School not to have a youth race in association with the school’s annual Run in the Forest. The school implemented a youth race in 2007 to promote youth health but was then advised to discontinue it. It was not held this year.

We called the Pebble Beach Company and were told that both of these issues were “insurance and safety” related. They’re also worthy of our fiercest Headwinds.

Feel free to contact us with nominees for future Tailwind or Headwind awards.


15 Extra Years

We would love to give you 15 extra healthy years of life, make you more intelligent, and improve your emotional mood. Hopefully these gifts will keep even our non-running readers interested and those of you that are not runners will finally decide to start.

It is a constant mystery to us that we don’t see more of you out on the roads and trails. We never have any trouble finding room to run. We rarely see anyone on the back roads of Garland Park or the former Fort Ord. The Monterey Rec trail should be completely full of runners and walkers but we typically recognize virtually everyone we see. We want to see new runners.

Many recent publications and studies again confirm the numerous health benefits of running. A continuing study from the Stanford School of Medicine tracked over 500 runners for more than 20 years. The research concluded that running slows the effects of aging; runners have fewer disabilities, a longer span of active life and are half as likely as aging nonrunners to die early deaths. Dr. James Fries, the study’s senior author said, “If you had to pick one thing to make people healthier as they age, it would be aerobic exercise. Runners’ initial disability as they aged was 16 years later than nonrunners.”

The effect of running on delaying death is more dramatic than the scientists expected. Running not only slowed cardiovascular deaths, but the runners had fewer early deaths from cancer, neurological disease, infections and other causes. Running was also NOT associated with greater rates of osteoarthritis.

A University of Cambridge study from the United Kingdom reported that people that do aerobic exercise regularly, don’t smoke, limit their alcohol intake, and eat 5 servings of fruit and vegetables a day, on average live 15 years longer than people who didn’t have similar lifestyle habits.

A recent study at Columbia University Medical Center revealed that aerobic exercise results in tremendous benefits in brain function. If you want some technical terms, aerobic exercise generates a chemical called brain-derived neorotrophic factor (BDNF) which helps the processes involved in learning. The research found FIFTEEN to TWENTY PERCENT IMPROVEMENT in various areas of cognition. Want to improve your memory as you age or do better in school? Just run!

Earlier in the year a survey of existing research published by the Cochrane Library concluded that aerobic exercise is good for your heart and improves cognitive function—specifically, motor function, auditory attention, and memory. Psychiatrist John Ratey says that, “Even people who are overweight who start exercising see improvements in mood and cognition in as little as 12 weeks." One study found that exercise improved depression symptoms better than medication.

We know you are now eager to get out and run. You want to get your entire family out walking and running and being active. Your next question is probably “how much activity do I need?
The answer is “the more the better”, but evidence indicates that even 10 minutes of physical activity can significantly boost attention and problem-solving skills in kids and adults. A study published online earlier this month in the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that mental health benefits were observed after 20 minutes of physical activity, though the more exercise and higher intensity, the better the effects.

If you do 30 minutes a day of running you will be giving a significant gift to your heart and your brain, as well as possibly adding those 15 important years of healthy living.


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