Category Archive: News

Top Tips for a Successful Taper

By Rebekah Mayer

Race day is nearly here and most of your training is in the bag. What can you do now to ensure a great race day? By paying extra attention to your sleep, nutrition and training, you can set yourself up for a great half marathon.

A good taper will bring you to race day rested, but not feeling stale. For a half marathon a two-week taper is typically best:

  • Start by doing your longest training run two weeks before race day.
  • The following week should be roughly 60 percent of your peak mileage. Most of the mileage decrease is on the long runs, so your weekday mileage won’t change much during the first week of taper.
  • The final long run is done the weekend before your race day and is typically six to 10 miles long.
  • The final week should be roughly 40 percent of your peak mileage leading up to race day.


Keep your quality workouts (intervals and race pace) on schedule during the last two weeks, up to four days out from your race. The drop in mileage combined with consistent quality will keep you feeling fresh and sharp. Strength training and cross-training should also be tapered off to keep your legs fresh.

In order to fully recover from your training, proper sleep is key. Experts recommend sleeping eight to nine hours per night. While that may be challenging to fit into a busy schedule, here are some tips:

  • Try to build a consistent sleep schedule where you go to bed around the same time each night. Doing so can lead to more consistent sleep.
  • DVR your favorite shows to catch up on after race day. You’ve worked hard to prepare for the race and your body deserves some extra rest and recovery.
  • Two nights before the race is the most important night for sleep. Focus on setting up your week so that you can get a full night’s sleep that night.
  • Don’t worry too much if you don’t sleep well the night before the race. It’s normal to have a short night as pre-race nerves can affect your sleep. One poor night of sleep shouldn’t affect your performance the next day.


Your nutritional approach in the final weeks depends on your overall eating style. During your peak mileage week your calorie intake needs to be sufficient to keep your energy levels up, but after that you may need to adjust your eating relative to your training. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Sometimes weight gain can be a problem during taper as you likely need fewer calories than during heavy training.
  • The benefits of carbohydrate-loading are being called into question for marathoners, and for half marathoners there is little research that supports the benefits of carbohydrate-loading.
  • Many experts (including those at Life Time Run) recommend a more balanced eating approach including moderate carbohydrates from whole food sources, quality protein and healthy fat.


Your eating style does impact your nutrition in the final days before your race.

  • Runners who typically eat a high-carbohydrate diet typically stick with that through race day and are more likely to need to carb-load for longer races.
  • Low-carb and/or Paleo runners have trained their bodies to burn more fat and fewer carbs and can continue that style of eating through race day. Consuming protein, fat and fiber in moderation in the 24 hours before the race is often helpful.


The final month before your race is the perfect opportunity to fine-tune your sleep, nutrition and training. By taking a few extra steps to support your training and recovery this month you’ll be ready for a great race!

Rebekah Mayer is the National Training Manager at Life Time Run. Check out for more training tips, training programs and social runs at 60+ locations nationwide.

Free Chicago Half Marathon Starting Line 101 Clinic

Training for the Chicago Half Marathon? Begin your event journey with our new Starting Line 101 clinics. Clinics are a FREE, fun and relaxed way to learn from experts, set goals, find out details specific to the Chicago Half Marathon and make new connections! The next sessions will be offered on the following dates:

July 29
5:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. with Life Time Run Coordinator Ryan Moran
Meet at Life Time Fitness Warrenville

August 12
5:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. with Life Time Run Coordinator Deborah Barnat
Meet at Life Time Fitness Romeoville

Clinic schedule will be as follows:
5:30 p.m. – Meet and greet, games and registration outside the club
6:00 p.m. – Starting Line 101 Seminar
6:30 p.m. – Beginner’s run/walk (20 to 30 minutes)

Clinic topics include:

  • Nutrition
  • Safety
  • Getting started tips
  • Gear
  • Race preparation
  • Goal setting
  • Chicago Half Marathon course overview


On-site race registration will be available. Click here to view our Training page for more information.


Athletico Monthly Tip: Top 5 Causes of and Solutions to IT Band Syndrome


Running season is in full swing, and so are injuries associated running. Are you feeling pain on the outside of your knee when running? It could be caused by IT band syndrome. Luckily we have the solutions you need to get back on your feet without the pain.
> Learn more

If you experience aches or pains as you train for the Chicago Half Marathon & Hyundai Hope on Wheels 5K, we’d be happy to see you for a complimentary injury screening at any of our 80+ locations.
> Click here to choose a location and schedule your appointment

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Athletico Monthly Tip: Dealing with Foot Pain


Our feet can become painful or sensitive over time and foot pain is a common complaint in physical therapy, especially in runners. There are many basic strategies and self-treatments you can try if foot pain plagues you. Read more.

If you experience aches or pains as you train for the Chicago Half Marathon & Hyundai Hope on Wheels 5K, we’d be happy to see you for a complimentary injury screening at any of our 80+ locations.
> Click here to choose a location and schedule your appointment

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Life Time Athletic Events Introduces New Chicagoland Half Marathon Series

Chicagoland_Half_Marathon_Series_Logo_rgbLife Time Athletic Events is proud to debut the new Chicagoland Half Marathon Series. This series awards participants who complete the Michelob ULTRA Chicago Spring 13.1 on May 17, 2015 and the Chicago Half Marathon on September 27, 2015 within each event’s allotted course time.

We want to inspire you to accomplish great things and lead a healthy way of life by participating in this series. To many of us, training for a half marathon is serious business. Maintaining that fitness level while racing across four months takes an incredible amount of focus and sacrifice. Life Time Athletic Events is dedicated to helping you achieve your healthy way of life objectives, athletic aspirations and fitness goals. Let’s do this!

26.2 Challenge participant benefits
• Priority packet pickup line at the Hyundai Hope on Wheels Health & Fitness Expo for the Chicago Half Marathon.
• Chicagoland Half Marathon Series runner dedicated gear check and reunite at Chicago Half Marathon.
• Participants who complete both races within the series will receive a 26.2 commemorative medal.





*Please note, Age Group awards are based on your age at the start of the year (January 1, 2015). For example, if you are 24 on January 1, 2015, your age for the entire series would be 24 regardless of when your birthday is since you started the year at that age.


  • What is the cost to participate? There is no additional cost to participate in the series, although you must be officially registered for all events to qualify.
  • How do I opt-in? Simply register for all events, and select “YES” when asked if you would like to be part of the Chicagoland Half Marathon Series. Once we confirm you are registered for each race, we will add your name to the special Chicagoland Half Marathon Series tab on each website. As each race approaches, you will be provided with special program instructions regarding your race perks.
  • What if I am already registered for one race and want to be part of the series? Send an email to Once we confirm you are registered for each race, we will add your name to the special Chicagoland Half Marathon Series tab on each website. As each race approaches, you will be provided with special program instructions regarding your race perks.
  • When is the opt-in deadline? Individuals must opt in by August 15, 2015.
  • Can I race the 10K or 5K options associated with a race and still qualify for the series? No, you must complete both of the 13.1 mile course distances to qualify.
  • If I withdraw from any of the races, am I still eligible? Unfortunately, no. Only official finishers at are eligible for medals and other perks.
  • When will I receive my 26.2 Challenge medal? Upon crossing the finish line of the Chicago Half Marathon head over to the Results Tent to receive your medal.


Remember to opt-in to take part in the inaugural Chicagoland Half Marathon Series. Should you have additional questions, please contact us at or call (773) 404-2281.

Calorie Counting: Helpful or Unproductive?

By Brooke Schohl, MS, RD

An abundance of information about the number of calories in foods is available on a daily basis – on food labels, diet tracking websites and restaurant menus, to name a few. But is counting calories an effective way to manage weight? Consider these guidelines before you start.

  1. Calories provide baseline information. If you are beginning a nutrition plan or trying to lose weight, getting an initial idea of daily caloric intake can be helpful. While calories are not the only determining factor of weight status, they certainly play a part. Consuming excessive calories on a regular basis leads to storage of fuel as fat in the body. Conversely, consistently consuming inadequate calories leads the body into starvation mode, where metabolism slows and the body holds onto fat for dear life. Neither of these situations is good!
  2. Calories only provide an estimate of intake. Much of the criticism surrounding calorie counting stems from the reality that calories are really only an estimate of the energy produced by food/drink. Translation — there is plenty of room for error in this measurement tool. Even when more intensive strategies are applied to calorie tallying (measuring and weighing), there is still variation in total calories produced.
  3. Calories are not the end-all measurement of dietary intake.  Calories consumed relative to calories burned solely determine weight status, right? Wrong! There are several other factors to consider, one of the most important being resting metabolic rate (RMR). RMR represents the minimum number of calories needed to sustain vital body function, or how many calories one burns in a day. This number varies immensely among individuals based on fueling regime, exercise amount, and activity throughout the day. The higher the better when it comes to RMR. Interestingly enough, low calorie diets as well as high carbohydrate/low fat diets actually decrease RMR. Life Time Fitness Senior Director of Nutrition & Weight Management Tom Nikkola simply states, “the body is designed to conserve energy when it senses a shortage of incoming available energy.” Therefore using calorie intake as the sole measure of weight status is far from accurate.One should also consider macronutrient (carb/protein/fat) intake by percentage. As mentioned above, both low-calorie and high-carb/low-fat eating regimes prevent individuals from tapping into fat fuel stores. Sports Dietitian Bob Seebohar says that to truly be metabolically efficient, one needs to become less reliant on dietary carbohydrates and better equipped to utilize fat for fuel by consuming less carbs, more fat and adequate protein.
  4. Consider alternatives. An article in the Bulletin of the World Health Organization suggests that instead of tracking calories, people should consider decreasing portions to make healthy eating easier. Weight status is about the types of foods we consume as well as the portions.  Restaurant portions have reached astronomical sizes, and this is what we are now accustomed to. By reducing intake at meals, people take in less energy overall — leading to better weight control in most instances.
  5. Consider longevity in this approach. Is counting calories on a daily basis realistic for you? Some people enjoy dietary tracking of foods and beverages, while others loathe it. If calorie tracking is not sustainable for you, maybe check in with a diet-tracking program one or two days a month to get an idea of where you fall on the calorie spectrum. Or even better — focus on developing the skill of intuitive eating. This strategy involves only eating when hungry and focusing on natural, whole food choices the vast majority of the time.

Remember, calories are only an estimate; however, they can provide helpful baseline information in determining fuel needs. Caloric intake aside, many other factors impact your body’s efficiency at metabolizing fuel. When it comes to fueling your body with the right food/drink, focus on whole, natural foods, minimal ingredients and portion control. Life’s too short to live and die by calories!

Brooke is a registered sports dietitian and the owner of Fuel to the Finish Endurance Nutrition Coaching/Destination Kona Triathlon Store in Scottsdale, Arizona. She is an avid triathlete, having recently completed her third Ironman. She integrates that personal experience and knowledge into developing customized, sport-specific fueling plans for her clients.

Chicago Half Marathon and Hyundai Hope on Wheels 5k Joins Life Time Family of Athletic Events

Event represents third half marathon in Life Time events portfolio; Registration for 2014 event open Sept. 10

CHICAGO—(BUSINESS WIRE)–Life Time – The Healthy Way of Life Company (NYSE:LTM) announced today that it now owns and produces the iconic Chicago Half Marathon and Hyundai Hope on Wheels 5k. The event represents the third half marathon in Life Time’s lineup of more than 100 athletic events produced annually. Registration for the 2014 Chicago Half Marathon and Hyundai Hope on Wheels 5k opened Tuesday, Sept. 10.

The event has steadily grown since its inception in 2003 and draws thousands of participants from Chicago’s running community. September 8 marked the 17th running of the event, which hosted nearly 15,000 participants on its scenic 13.1 mile run that starts and finishes in Jackson Park and features the south lakefront and Jackson Park Golf Course and beautiful views of the Chicago skyline.

“We are proud to add the Chicago Half Marathon and Hyundai Hope on Wheels 5k to our events portfolio, particularly in a city that enjoys such a vibrant running and health conscious community,” said Eric Buss, Life Time executive vice president. “Over the years we have had tremendous generosity from the Chicago community and appreciate that they have opened up their doors and city to support our Chicago area athletic events including the Chicago Spring Half Marathon as well as the Chicago Triathlon in August and Turkey Day 5K in November. The historic Chicago Half Marathon and Hyundai Hope on Wheels 5k bring yet another world-class offering to our family of athletic events.”

“We have enjoyed our time as owners of the Chicago Half Marathon and Hyundai Hope on Wheels 5k and were able to build the event to one of the largest half marathons in the country,” said US Road Sports CEO and Managing Partner Greg Laird. “We are confident that Life Time will take the event to new heights.”

The 2014 Chicago Half Marathon and Hyundai Hope on Wheels 5k will take place on Sept. 7, 2014. Register online here.

More information about Life Time Athletic Events is available at, on Twitter @lifetimefitness and the Life Time Athletic Events Facebook page.

About Life Time Fitness, Inc.
As The Healthy Way of Life Company, Life Time Fitness (NYSE:LTM) helps organizations, communities and individuals achieve their total health objectives, athletic aspirations and fitness goals by engaging in their areas of interest — or discovering new passions — both inside and outside of Life Time’s distinctive and large sports, professional fitness, family recreation and spa destinations, most of which operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The Company’s Healthy Way of Life approach enables members to achieve this by providing the best programs, people and places of uncompromising quality and value. As of Sept. 13, 2013, the Company operated 106 centers under the LIFE TIME FITNESS® and LIFE TIME ATHLETIC® brands in the United States and Canada. Additional information about Life Time centers, programs and services is available at

When Your Training & Racing Conditions Don’t Match

By Brooke Schohl, MS RD

Climate can pose some interesting challenges when it comes to racing. Whether you’re going from a hot, dry climate to a cool one or vice versa, you will need to make some adjustments to your fueling and hydration strategy. Help prepare your body with these tips.

1) Hydration is vitally important year round; however, heat and humidity require greater fluid intake than cooler climates as your sweat rate increases. Research the location of your race and prepare properly by increasing fluids if you are racing in heat/humidity. An excellent indicator of hydration status is urine color. If your urine is lemonade colored, you’re good. If it’s apple-juice colored, better drink up! A general rule of thumb is 16-24 ounces of fluid per hour. This number could go up or down depending on climate.

2) Electrolytes go hand-in-hand with fluid. If you’re increasing fluids consumed, electrolytes must be reciprocated. In heat, your sweat rate is increased and you are losing precious sodium via sweat faster than you can snap your fingers. Electrolytes must be replaced quickly to keep the body in check and muscles functioning efficiently. Be careful though — increasing salt intake drastically from one climate to the next can create GI distress and other unpleasant effects. Gradually increase electrolyte intake during training to match what you will require on race day. Electrolyte supplementation can be achieved in a variety of ways, through “real” food sources like bananas and pretzels, with sports drinks/powders, through Salt Stick or Hammer Endurolyte capsules, and via sports products like gels, chews and bars.  

3) Racing Fuel Type: The foods you train with in 45-degree January weather may or may not cut it in 90-degree March weather. The solution? Have alternatives. Try out many different fuel types during training — sports drinks, powders, sports gels/chews, bars and real food items. Don’t try new things on race day; reserve the experimentation for training.

Much of the fun and the frustration of race day is the unknown. Many things are out of your control, and let’s be honest, that’s part of what makes crossing that finish line so darn impressive. What you can manage is your fueling preparation and experimentation during training. Research your upcoming race — the average temperatures, the humidity, the types of fuel available on the course — and use that information as a starting point. This preparation points you toward a successful race day, regardless of conditions!

Should Non-Celiac Endurance Athletes Go Gluten Free?

By Brooke Schohl, MS RD

Should non-celiac athletes go gluten-free? The answer isn’t cut and dry. We go through the pros and cons of living with and without gluten.

“Gluten-free” used to be a diet followed exclusively by celiacs, people with an autoimmune disorder of the small intestine that requires completely eliminating gluten from the diets. In 2012, reported 1.8 million celiac Americans and 1.6 million individuals who follow a gluten free diet without a celiac diagnosis.

Today, many non-celiac endurance athletes have begun to adopt this eating style. Some say they remove gluten from their diet to control weight. Others follow the diet to reduce inflammation.

Regardless the reason, the question is: Should non-celiac athletes go gluten-free? The answer isn’t cut and dry. There are pros and cons. Consider both to know if a gluten-free diet is right for you.

The Pros

Shifts the Focus Back to Whole: Eliminating wheat, oats, barley and rye helps reduce processed food intake when done correctly. Wheat is found in foods such as bread, pasta, pastries, cereals, pancakes, pretzels, snack mixes and crackers. It’s also hiding in items like salad dressing, marinades, seasonings, soups and alcoholic beverages.

Although it’s important for endurance athletes to include adequate amounts of carbohydrate in their diets, consumption of gluten-filled grains is not required. There are plenty of non-gluten carbohydrate sources, including fruit, sweet potatoes, legumes, dairy products and grains like quinoa, amaranth, buckwheat and brown rice. Following a gluten-free diet can promote the consumption of more nutrient-dense, whole-food choices.

Reduces GI Distress, Reduces Inflammation: Gluten can trigger an inflammatory response in the body among celiacs and non-celiacs alike, according to The American Journal of Gastroenterology. Tummy troubles and training-induced inflammation are prevalent among endurance athletes. For many athletes, elimination of gluten products improves both issues and therefore leads to a boost in performance.

One theory behind the explosion of gluten intolerance in recent years is that we’re over-consuming wheat, oats, barley and rye. As a result, gluten resistance can become a possibility even for non-celiac individuals. At this time, these findings are mainly testimonial. The ACSM’s Health & Fitness Journal recommends more research be conducted in this area.

Eliminates Intolerance Risk: There are varying degrees of gluten intolerance/sensitivity, and states that 1 in 3 people are at least mildly gluten intolerant. They may have fewer side effects than a true celiac, but gluten protein still wreaks havoc on their bodies. Cutting gluten from the diet eliminates any health risks associated with gluten consumption among individuals who have sensitivities to the protein.

The Cons

Lack of Nutritional Value: Today’s grocery store shelves are lined with an array of gluten-free products—everything from pancake mixes and bagels to crackers and cookies. The problem is the flours used to manufacture these products result in calorie-dense, nutrient-lacking final products.

The most common wheat replacement ingredients include rice, corn, potato, cassava and soy, according to the International Journal of Food Sciences & Nutrition. The Journal of Cereal Science reports that the most common gluten-free flour made is (white) rice flour. All of these flours are inferior in nutrient composition to whole-wheat flour. Remember: The gluten-free stamp on food does not guarantee high nutritional value, according to Trends in Food Science & Technology.

Potential Weight Gain: Many gluten-free products are higher in calories than their gluten-containing counterparts due to the type of flours used. As a result, unwanted pounds can become a factor for athletes. For those opting to eat gluten free in order to lose weight, this is a double whammy.

Expense: Orowheat whole-wheat bread costs $2 compared to Udi’s gluten-free bread at $6. These foods add up quickly, especially for endurance athletes on a tight budget.

In Sum

Endurance athletes can benefit from gluten-free eating when the focus shifts away from glutinous packaged items and instead emphasizes high-quality, nutrient-dense whole food choices. And if you’re purchasing a packaged gluten-free food product, carefully read the label. Choose whole-grain, gluten-free foods or those containing brown rice rather than white rice.