AORTA News: May 13th, 2024

Join ALE Torch Run on May 16th for Special Olympics!

Join us for the Alabama Law Enforcement Torch Run in support of Special Olympics! We're rallying in Auburn on Thursday, May 16th at 1:00 PM, gathering at the large parking lot by the court entrance on N Ross St. The route is an easy .8 miles, perfect for all joggers. Let's make a difference together by raising awareness and funds for Special Olympics. Wear your Torch Run shirt to show your support—don't worry if you don't have one yet, they'll be available for purchase on the day for just $15, with all proceeds benefiting Special Olympics. Your participation counts!

Volunteers Needed!
Curious about what goes on behind the scenes at local races? Here's your opportunity to find out! By volunteering, you'll be supporting a local organization and ensuring a enjoyable and fulfilling experience during these events. Surrounded by fellow fitness enthusiasts, you'll also play a key role in promoting fitness in the Auburn-Opelika community and contributing to local charities.

If you can spare a few hours of your time, we could use your assistance at any of the races listed on our SignUpGenius site.

Upcoming Local Races

May 25th: Down The Tracks 1M/5K
When: Saturday, May 25th, 2024
8:00 AM (1-Mile) / 8:30 AM (5K)
Where: Courthouse Square, Opelika, AL
Distances: 1-Mle, 5K
Fee: $15 (1-Mile), $25 (5K)
Description: Mark your calendars! This Memorial Day Weekend on May 25th, 2024, as we host our first annual 5k in the Courthouse Square in Historic Downtown Opelika. The race director and management team have deep ties in collegiate athletics, running and the veteran community. A former collegiate cross-country runner and United States Air Force Veteran are set to host the event. A portion of the proceeds for this event will go to Flags for Vets Inc., and the Auburn and Opelika Police & Fire Departments.

June 29th: Race for a Summer of Second Chances

When: Saturday, June 29th, 2024
8:00 AM (1-Mile) / 8:30 AM (5K)
Where: CARE Humane Society, Auburn
Distances: 1-Mle, 5KFee: $20 (1-Mile), $30 (5K)
Description: Lace up your sneakers and join us for a cause that's close to our hearts! 🐾 We are thrilled to announce our Annual Race for a Summer of Second Chances benefiting CARE Humane Society™️! 🌟 Whether you're up for the challenge of a 5k or prefer a leisurely walk/run one mile, there's something for everyone!

Have Gently Worn Running Shoes?
Are your running shoes past their useful running life? Most are normally good for 300 to 500 miles but can still have a lot of “sole” left in them!  If yours are ready for retirement, bring your gently used running shoes on the first Saturday of every month where we’ll collect them for a fantastic organization called “Sneakers4Good”, a social enterprise that ships them to developing nations for micro-entrepreneurs. In return, AORTA will be compensated based on the number of shoes sent.

When you bring them, please check for the following:
1) Gently worn means they are clean in usable condition and have no holes.
2) Soles are intact and not too worn, cracked, or breaking apart.
3) Laces intact, in good condition, not frayed, and tied together.

Weekly Whimsy

The Benefits of Running for Your Mental Health
Pavlina Cerna, Runner’s World

The advantages of running go well beyond your physical health; the sport works just as many wonders for your mental health and wellness. A 2020 review in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health associated running with improvements in a range of mental health outcomes and concluded that running has positive implications for various mental illnesses.

In the U.S. alone, approximately 23 percent of adults experienced a mental illness in 2021, defined by the National Institute of Mental Health as a mental, behavioral, or emotional disorder. Running can be used as a tool to help alleviate the symptoms of those disorders and contribute to an improved mental state.

This is why we’re excited to launch The Runner’s World Guide to Mental Health, exclusively for Runner’s World+ members. This holistic guide covers everything from explaining the science behind running and mental health to providing tips and tools to help you make the most out of this sport.

Here’s a preview of some of the topics that appear in our program and the reasons running is beneficial to your mental health.

Running Helps Improve Your Mood
You can feel this particular benefit of running for mental health while still on the move or as soon as you finish your miles. Running releases endorphins in the brain, and these endorphins act as a painkiller during physical discomfort, as Runner’s World explains in our story on the truth behind the famed “runner’s high.”

Thanks to the release of these feel-good hormones—which researchers explain our ancestors needed when running to catch prey or avoid predators—running can help your mind break out of a dark place and bring on positive thinking. All it takes to boost your endorphins is a run just long enough to push you out of your comfort zone.

Running Reduces Stress
One of the main culprits behind stress is a hormone called cortisol. When you feel stressed, your adrenal glands release cortisol into your bloodstream in an increased amount. Ironically, the act of running is an additional stressor, activating stress response in your body and the release of cortisol, but, as we describe in our recent series on stress in the body, it’s a short-term surge that serves a larger purpose:

“Just like progressive training helps your body adapt to handle a higher load, increasing cortisol in your system helps your body adapt so it can better handle similar stressful situations in the future,” we wrote.

In the end, physical exercise helps your body return to its equilibrium. A small 2021 study published in Scientific Reports concluded that just 10 minutes of moderate-intensity running can help your brain regulate stress.

Running Helps Build Mental Resilience
Running is a great mental sport as it helps develop your mental toughness and resilience. A small study at Northern Arizona University concluded when people improved their fitness and exercised consistently, they had a lower stress response. Not only does running help deal with stress at the moment, but it also supports quicker rebound during future stressful moments and builds greater resilience in the long term.

Running Improves Brain Function
There are close to 100 billion nerve cells in your brain, connected by neurotransmitters.

Several studies suggest that exercise increases the function of neurotransmitters such as serotonin, best known for influencing happiness, sleep, memory, and more.

“By raising our neurotransmitters, exercise really makes a difference in the way we feel, and very importantly, we have control over the way we feel by moving our bodies,” said John Ratey, an associate clinical professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and author of Spark: The Revolutionary New Science on Exercise and the Brain. Ratey explores more of the mind-body connection in The Runner’s World Guide to Mental Health.

Running Leads to Better Sleep
Sleep is critical for your mental health, while the lack of it has the power to worsen your mental well-being. Sleep plays a role in supporting your brain, heart and, overall health—and according to a 2023 research Runner’s World covered, potentially even how long you live.

While researchers don’t completely understand how precisely physical activity and sleep are linked, a 2023 systematic search confirmed that running can lead to improved sleep quality, making the miles you put in all the more worth it.

Running Supports Mindfulness
Mindfulness is all about living in the present moment, and research shows that practicing mindfulness can help manage mental health conditions.

“One of the goals of mindfulness when it comes to mental health is this idea of being able to pause, notice unhelpful thinking, reframe the thought, and move from there,” said Dwayne Brown, licensed clinical social worker who uses mindfulness-based cognitive therapy in his private practice to help those with mental health conditions. Through mindfulness, a person is more in control of their thinking, instead of their thinking being in control of them, Brown added. Being present and mindful contributes to a better mental state. Brown provides various meditations to RW+ members available via The Runner’s World Guide to Mental Health.

Running Is a Great Tool for Treating Mental Disorders
More than 50 million American adults experience mental illness, with half of them not receiving any treatment. As we mentioned, running can be part of your plan because it helps trigger the release of endorphins, dopamine, and serotonin. These feel-good chemicals are often depleted by mental disorders.

“We lose nerve cells, and exercise helps repopulate them and make them tougher, make them stronger so they can withstand the stresses of everyday life,” said Ratey.

Antidepressant drugs are based on helping fire neurotransmitters in your brain and increase their concentration as soon as you start taking them, Ratey said. But as explained above, the same can be achieved by incorporating running into your routine. In a 2023 study published by the Journal of Affective Disorders, more than 100 people with depression or anxiety were offered the option to take antidepressants or join a running program for 16 weeks. The study concluded that running worked just as well as the medication.

“Now, I would always encourage people to seek medical advice from a medical professional, it’s really important to make sure that you’re targeting your mental illness from all avenues,” said Lennie Waite, a certified mental performance consultant and Olympian. “But running is a great supplement to whatever else you’re doing to benefit your mental health.”

Running can support a range of mental disorders, including anxiety, the most common mental illness in the U.S., and depression, the leading disability in ages 15-44. But the benefits don’t stop there. Post-traumatic stress disorder is another one, which Runner’s World covered in detail in this article. And runners have been using the sport to manage other mental health conditions as well, including bipolar disorder, ADHD, the risk of dementia, or, for example, OCD.

The three widely common mental health issues—depression, anxiety, and substance use disorder—are covered in depth in The Runner’s World Guide to Mental Health.

Link to RunnersWorld article

Quote of the Week

          Gonna run

          ’Til I Don't



Video of the Week

Lifting your feet higher costs LESS energy when running (7:46)

It sounds so logical that it must cost more energy to lift your feet and knees higher when running compared to not lifting your feet so high. For example, it costs more energy to lift an arm than to....eeee....not lift an arm. But that's not how it works, which I show in this video as I use my 3D cameras to measure how much energy it costs to move my body parts and how having higher feet and knees can be more energy efficient than having your feet close to the ground when you run. 

** AORTA provides this informational video to its members as a courtesy and does not endorse any particular product, process, or service. 

Ongoing Events

RunGo For Turn-By-Turn Directions!
RunGo provides turn-by-turn navigation allowing you to just enjoy your runs without having to think about looking for street names and when you may have to turn next. Other great features include, audio cues with your running stats, split updates, the ability to share your runs via social media, and create new routes. Another great feature of the app is the ability to work offline. You can create and download your routes ahead of time, before your run so you don’t have to use data during your run.

Race Volunteers Needed!
As a runner, we know your time is valuable. But if you have a couple hours to spare, we could use your help for one of the upcoming AORTA supported or directed races! Assisting at a local race is a fun and rewarding experience. You are surrounded by health conscious individuals that, like you, are motivated fitness enthusiasts and appreciate the effort of volunteers.

Water Stop Volunteers Needed
Water stop signs and coolers are available at the following location: 1536 Professional Parkway, Auburn, AL. (Thank you Adahli Massey!). Coolers and signs can be picked up Monday-Thursday from 8AM-4PM and on Fridays from 8AM-12 noon. Items are in the room next to the back door. If you are unable to pick up supplies on these dates/times, e-mail to make alternative arrangements (we deliver!).

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