Thursday, January 18, 2018

O'Hartford on the run!

We love the O’races. Love. Them.  Festive St. Patrick’s Day celebrations that combine 5K races with drinking beer, eating food and partying with friends.  What could be better?   

With four race locations across the state and a great annual tradition in place, we’re always looking for new ways to create excitement and ante up the O’race game. We’ve listened to your feedback and in the past few years made changes to O’Hartford, the final race in the series (Sunday, March 18).

This year, we’re knocking it out of the park (literally) with a totally new location and course starting and finishing at the Thomas Hooker Brewery at Colt.  Just south of downtown, the Coltsville National Historical Park area is centered around the iconic Colt Building, recognizable as one of the major visual landmarks in Hartford.

Unlike the familiar streets around our beloved Bushnell Park, this race route will take you through many Hartford sites you may never have otherwise seen.  Run past historic buildings and through Colt Park where you can catch the amazing architecture of Armsmear (meaning “meadow of arms”), the family home of firearm manufacturer Samuel Colt, which has been a National Historic Landmark since 1966.  Exit the park and on the last (fast) half of the race, look for the Church of the Good Shephard Parish House, built in 1896.

The race ends at the steps of the Hooker Brewery Tasting Room in the Colt Building, just opened in 2017 and a great new hot spot for Hartford.  Clearly a highlight of the St Paddy’s Day “day-after” race is capping it off with a delicious locally made craft beer (one free beer for 21+ only with ID). And, good eats, of course.

There’s plenty of free parking around the start/finish area.  We’ve got maps, details and all you need to know about the course on HERE!

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Tip of the Month: It's Always Sunny

Even when it feels like the warmth is gone for good, don't underestimate the power of the sun in the winter! Our friends at soundRUNNER put together some info on the importance of eye protection during these seemingly dark winter months.

Sun Protection in the Winter from soundRUNNER
You know that feeling when you come inside from shoveling snow and you suddenly can't see for a minute? That's because the sun is more damaging to your eyes in the winter than in the summer. Most people don't think about this because we only get a few hours of daylight in the winter in New England, but those rays are much more damaging to your eyes than summer sunlight. The snow reflects 80% of the sunlight directly back at you, which means your eyes are taking in almost twice as much light than during a snow-free day.

It's imperative to wear sunglasses in the winter, especially while running and cycling. If you stop inside somewhere to use a bathroom, or get water, you will notice how your eyes have a hard time adjusting to the difference in light. This effect shows the sensitivity of your eyes and the importance of sun protection. 

Another issue with winter sunlight is that it is very difficult to actually see the sidewalk under you. The contrast in brightness means the sidewalk just looks like a dark path you're running on. You often cannot see uneven sidewalk panels, curbs, steps, or patches of ice. This is a huge risk causing people to slip because they couldn't see where they were going due to the brightness difference. 

Polarized sunglasses are the best option because they reduce glare and improve vision on sunny winter days.

At the very least, wear sunglasses whenever you step outside this snow season. Pay attention to obstacles, protect your eyes, and you'll come out of this winter without any vision-related injuries.

Thanks to our friends at soundRUNNER for providing this guest post.  We'll be bringing you tips here on the blog every month from experts in the community - please tell us what you want to hear about, 

Thursday, January 11, 2018

New competitive series: Race fast, win cash!

One thing about running we really love is that everyone can participate, doesn’t matter how fast or slow.  We all come together at the start and cross the same finish line in the end.  When we put together the new 2018 Challenges, we wanted to help people of all experiences set goals and strive to attain new achievements. We thought it was time to offer a boost for competitive runners, a new scored series where they can vie for the glory...and the cash.  

Enter the 2018 HMF Money Medley!

Giving competitive age group runners a little more motivation, the Money Medley consists for four races of varying distances to test runners’ ranging disciplines. Scoring is based on cumulative time of all events, you don’t need to win the race or even win your age group to come out in the money in the end.  As long as you complete all four events, you have a chance to win prizes (and bragging rights).

Race events of the HMF Money Medley (register here):

Scoring is based on total elapsed time for each individual (net time). Top three male and female in each of the following divisions will win payouts of $175, $125, $75:
            Open: Under 40
            Masters: 40+
            Grand Masters: 50+
            Seniors: 60+

Qualifying age for the Money Medley is based on your age on date of Old Wethersfield 10K, August 26, 2018.

After each event, the leaderboard will be updated and available to view on, so eligible participants know where they stand going into the next event

Register for the four race bundle here. If you have already registered for one or more race in the Medley and want to add the remaining, simply register individually (note - be sure to use the SAME last name and birthdate for each event so we can bundle them).

Participants must be registered for and complete all four designated events to be eligible, not substitutions allowed.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

O'race ready to run in March!

The beloved O'race traditions will continue in 2018, with some fun new St. Paddy's themed perks.  Picture seas of green swag, map of Ireland medals and festive music to keep you moving through each 3.1 mile race, with cold beer and hot food awaiting after each finish line.
There are two options for challenges to beef up your bling: the 3-race Trinity Challenge or the 4-race Lucky Challenge.  Earn the map of Ireland, each county in Ireland is represented by one race finish medal - complete the full map with all 4 races!  NOTE - 3-race participants must include both the Courthouse O'Putnam 5K and the O'Niantic 5K for their three race medals to connect.

Each race has a different party vibe and unique swag so challenge participants can boost their Irish-inspired wardrobe: 
            O'Shenanigans, Southington (March 10) – custom sunglasses for all participants and craft beer from Kinsmen Brewing Company to celebrate post-race.
            Courthouse O'Putnam (March 11) – green knit gloves are the swag you'll earn, then re-energize on delicious corned beef sandwiches served on pretzel rolls provided by Courthouse Bar & Grille (coupled with a cold beer, of course!).
            O'Niantic (March 17) – themed socks for all (new design available for 2017 runners who have them in the collection already!).  Post-race party at Smarty's Restaurant and Pub with hot chili and cold beer
            O'Hartford (March 18) – keep your noggin warm with a custom knit beanie!  Plus NEW race route and post-race party location at Thomas Hooker Brewery at Colt, details HERE!

NEW bundle race registration option is now available to us through Chronotrack - REGISTER HERE (if you've already registered for one or more race and want to add more to complete the series, just register for the other individually - make sure you use the same email address, last name and birthdate for all event registrations).

Each race has costume contests - most festive and original!  Check out last year's race parties and register today to reserve your spot:

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

2018 Race Season Highlights Preview

Our race season may have ended last week but the HMF office is buzzing with activity!  2018 planning means scheduling details, securing permits, engaging sponsors (have any ideas for us?), reviewing swag, assessing courses and working on new ways to keep you inspired in the new year.

Check out the start of the 2018 schedule, including updated challenges, which we'll be highlighting in coming weeks - look for new race combos, fresh swag and great big bling.  Plus, the introduction of the HMF "30K under 30" to rally young professionals to get running together for fun, health and happiness!

Also new in 2018, every HMF Half Marathon will offer prize money and we're launching a competitive series.  We want to motivate those fast runners with the HMF Money Medley, providing prize money in a points series of four races of varying distances (O'Hartford 5K, Harvard Pilgrim Middletown 10 Miler, Amica Iron Horse Half Marathon, Old Wethersfield 10K).

We've got more in the works but want to share the scoop on what's what with changes in store.  Updates to some perennial favorites include:
  • Harvard Pilgrim Middletown Ten Miler will replace the half marathon. Making this race just a little shorter helps lessen the impact on the residents (and takes out one more of those hills!). Plus, 10 miles is a really cool distance that just isn’t often available and we wanted to add the offering.
  • Legends Run will now be a 3.5 mile distance, looping around Wesleyan University with the Ten Miler.  We're keeping the most beloved elements -- running in beautiful Middletown with a grand finish on Main Street, the hot Mondo Pizza (yum!) and the comforting hands of the wonderful massage therapists.
  • After 20 years, we’re opening up the Red Dress Run for Women to allow men to join the fun.  Not to worry, the 5K is still exclusive to women, but the new One Mile Family Walk is designed for the whole family to walk together for women’s health and fitness. 
  • Want more than the 5K but less than 13.1 on the beautiful Surftown course?  Grab a buddy, we’ve added a 2-person relay to the Surftown Half!  The September event kicks off HMF's fall relay series with the Team 26.2 Relay at the Eversource Hartford Marathon in October and the Amherst Half Relay in November.  New perks to be announced for runners who join all three relays!
  • A beloved tradition since 2007, the Women’s Triathlon has nurtured and encouraged women to take on the sport and celebrated thousands of successful finishes. Sadly, participation has decreased significantly the past couple years. That impact, coupled with the end of race title sponsorship, means we simply can’t afford to produce the event to the standard we all expect. The Women’s Triathlon is taking a final bow in 2018 - don’t miss it!

A Fond Farewell
Speaking of last dances, we’ve had to say good-bye to a few HMF races for 2018. We know some of you have loved these events, but dwindling registration has forced some tough choices.
  • Shamrock Duathlon was part of the HMF family since 2000 and we are sad to let go.  We’ve offered guidance to some local triathlon clubs to encourage them to consider taking over the event.  We’ll keep you posted on that one.
  • As much as we loved those mustaches, the Movember 5K seems to have lost its sparkle in your eye after 3 years.  We're considering new events to utilize the great spaces between Portland and Middletown. 
  • Note - while it was a fan-tastical fest of running fun, the Mad Dash on MulberryStreet was a one-off planned to celebrate the opening of the Dr. Seuss Museum in Springfield.  Without overwhelming demand or event sponsorship, it cannot be supported in 2018
We’re still hard at work on a few new events that'll roll out as details are buttoned up.  Have ideas for us?  We’re always ready to be inspired!  Email me,

Friday, December 1, 2017

HMF Warehouse Sale: Dec 8-9

It’s holiday shopping season – are you hydrated, well nourished and prepared for what’s ahead?  Hustling in and out of stores, waiting on lines, schlepping bags…it’s a marathon effort for sure.

Reward yourself with major steals and deals at our annual warehouse sale next Friday and Saturday (December 8-9).  Get extreme discounts on race swag and limited inventory merchandise from previous years – shirts, socks, hats, pint glasses, accessories etc. Fill the stockings of runners on your shopping list with great buys!

Your ticket to enter the Warehouse Sale is a donation of non-perishable foods to support the HMF Can drive.   Bring ten pounds or more and you’ll be entered to win free entry to a 2018 HMF race.  We’ll also be raffling swag prizes throughout the sale to benefit the HMF FitKids in School program.

Plus, start off your shopping day on Saturday with a free group fun run with us before the sale starts.  Meet at HMF in the parking lot for an 8:30 am 5K fun run.  Coffee and bagels available for run participants before you shop the sale.

HMF Warehouse Sale – 41 Sequin Drive, Glastonbury
Friday, December 8: 4:00 – 6:00 pm
Saturday, December 9: 9:00 – 11:00 am

Don’t forget! If you’re looking for this season’s merchandise – specialty shirts, technical upgrades, quarter zips, sweatshirts etc, the HMF online shop is also offering free shipping through December 17.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Post-race recovery tips

Thanks for running with us at the Eversource Hartford Marathon, Half Marathon, Team 26.2 Relay and Charity 5K on Saturday!  You may have met some of our League of Injured Runners support team in Bushnell Park after the race, this new community is available to help runners get through the mental and physical challenges associated with injuries - whether short-lived or a longer term issue (join us on Facebook too!).

Experts from Saint Francis Hospital and Medical Center were also available on Sunday morning to answer questions about the aches or pains you may have felt.  We wanted to share a summary of their insights with link to tips and demo videos should you ever be impacted by similar issues.

Lower Back Pain

Q) My lower back, right side only, keeps stiffening up when I run. Started hurting around mile 7 or so yesterday...any tips?

Back pain that localizes to one side – in your case the right – can indicate muscular spasm and irritation, possible problems with the sacroiliac joint (SI joint), problems with the hip, or a problem with the low back itself. It could also indicate some muscular irritation from core weakness. Heat and foam rolling are both great ideas. I would recommend a core strengthening and low back stabilization program. Make sure you are stretching your hamstrings. It may be worthwhile to consider a running evaluation to look at your mechanics. Finally, if your symptoms don’t improve I would recommend seeking a medical evaluation. Physical therapy may prove helpful. I hope that this helps! 
-Dr. Scott Bissell, CT Sports Medicine Institute at St Francis Hospital and Medical Center

Outer Knee Pain/IT-Band Tendonitis

Q) I was having a great run until mile 11 when the outside of my knee starting hurting. By the end of the race I could barely run. It's swollen. Can you tell me what happened and what should I do?

Pain on the outside of the knee is due to IT-band tendonitis. I would suggest rest and applying ice to the area. Stretching is often helpful. We have some great info on IT band tendonitis and stretches (video). If your symptoms persist you might want to see a sports medicine physician to make sure it is not more serious.
-Dr. Jay Kimmel, CT Sports Medicine Institute at St Francis Hospital and Medical Center

Leg/Calf Cramps

Q)  I ran the full and experienced cramping in both calves at mile 21 and could not finish the race. I’ve never had this before, how can I prevent it in the future?

If you were experiencing the cramping at mile 21, you may be dehydrated. Hopefully you have been drinking through the race, however you may be somewhat depleted in micronutrients such as sodium, etc. Water should be replenished after the race, but supplement with a sports drinks along with stretching and rolling will be helpful.
-Bud Gouveia Athletic Trainer, Mount Sinai Rehabilitation Hospital

More hydration tips here.
Q) I paced the marathon and there were few runners in my group that were getting cramps in their legs. I also experienced it in my calves. I use salt pills during the race to help prevent this and also made sure I stopped and drank water at each water stops. My calves are pretty tight and I've been rolling them to loosen them up. Any advice you can provide would be great.

Cramping can also be related to changes in your running form as the race progresses. Make sure your training includes good core strengthening and focusing on hip extension. Calf cramps in particular can be related to compensation for lack of hip strength – as your hips get tired your body recruits the calf muscles to maintain your pace. 
-Dr Scott Bissell, CT Sports Medicine Institute at St Francis Hospital and Medical Center

Ankle/Heel Pain

Q) Stiff ankles and the great debate: how often should running shoes be replaced?

Depending on whether you are a soft or hard pounder and you run on average 3 miles per day, you should change your shoes every 5- 6 months or so. Always check the shoes soles for excessive wear. Running with worn shoes may be the cause of this stiffness you’re experiencing and may lead to other issues. 
-Bud Gouveia, Athletic Trainer, Mount Sinai Rehabilitation Hospital

Q) I could not run this year because of an Achilles heel injury. Last year I did my first Hartford half. Around mile 9 my right arm and hand swelled and felt really tight and never found out why, anyone know? Thanks

That is a tough question about your arm swelling. There can be a lot of reasons for that but it would require a very thorough evaluation. If that persists I would definitely suggest seeing a primary care sports medicine physician. As for your Achilles I hope it heals up soon. 
-Dr. Jay Kimmel, CT Sports Medicine Institute at St Francis Hospital and Medical Center

Foot Pain

Q) I have pain in my left foot somewhat on top but lateral side almost a thumbs distance down from my left ankle. Putting pressure on the area is tender but makes it feel a bit better. Any thoughts what it could be?

There are a few possibilities as to what this might be. It may be tendon irritation from the long run. There are joints in that area that may be inflamed. Thankfully most of these problems should improve over the next several days with supportive care such as rest, wearing good supportive shoes, and icing (10-15 minutes on 3-4 times per day with the skin protected). If your symptoms don’t improve this could indicate a more significant injury and a medical evaluation may be necessary to rule out a stress injury. 
-Dr. Scott Bissell, CT Sports Medicine Institute at St Francis Hospital and Medical Center

Q) I experienced blisters on the balls of both feet. One blister popped at mile 13. I finished but had trouble walking after. I have a full coming up in a month. Any ideas on how to treat and prevent this in the future?

I have always left the torn skin in place for protection if possible, you can purchase some blister pads from your local pharmacy that can be applied to help reduce pain of walking. Going forward for your next race, I would make sure that you good cotton socks to help reduce the friction while running. 
-Bud Gouveia Athletic Trainer, Mount Sinai Rehabilitation Hospital

Preparing for the next race

Q) I have another half marathon 4 weeks from now...should I start right back into week 9 of a 12 week training plan or take this week off to stretch, crosstrain, rest, etc? And then back into training week 10?

Yes that sounds like a good plan, I would take the week as an active recovery week, with a focus on re-hydrationstretching and alternative exercise such as crosstraining, before you start back to training. 
-Bud Gouveia Athletic Trainer, Mount Sinai Rehabilitation Hospital

Q) How long do you recommend resting before jumping right back into running? I ran the half on Saturday, a little sore/tight today but overall feel great.

Today I would focus on re-hydration, nutrition reload, but may go for a walk, bike ride or do something active. This is always good to reduce any delayed onset muscle soreness. I would get back to running Tuesday maybe. 
-Bud Gouveia Athletic Trainer, Mount Sinai Rehabilitation Hospital

**Thanks to our experts, Dr. Jay Kimmel, Dr. Scott Bissell and athletic trainer Bud Gouveia from Saint Francis Hospital - we appreciate the insight. Please visit our League of Injured Runners community on Facebook and watch the full set of demo and tips videos HERE