TIME swimming

U.S. Swimming Prodigy Katie Ledecky Beats Her Own World Record

Russia Swimming Worlds
Sergei Grits—AP Katie Ledecky smiles after setting a new record in a women's 1500-m freestyle heat at the Swimming World Championships in Kazan, Russia, on Aug. 3, 2015

It's the fourth time Ledecky has broken the record

(KAZAN, Russia) — American teenager Katie Ledecky has improved her own world record in the 1,500-meter freestyle at the swimming world championships.

The 18-year-old Ledecky completed the marathon-like race in 15 minutes, 27.71 seconds — shaving 0.65 seconds off the mark she set at last year’s Pan Pacific championships in Australia.

The swim came during morning heats Monday. She’ll have a chance to improve it again in Tuesday’s final.

It’s the fourth time Ledecky has broken the record in the 1,500. She also holds world marks in the 400 and 800 free.

TIME Exercise/Fitness

11 Training Tips for Running Your First Half-Marathon

woman-running-side-view
Getty Images

Remember: every run has a purpose, so don't skip any

Running a half-marathon is all the rage these days, especially among women. In fact, a recent Running USA Report revealed that 13.1 is the fastest-growing race distance. What’s more, in 2014, the ladies made up 61 percent of the field.

So why are women rushing to the starting line?

“We are seeing an exciting time for women’s running in general,” Knox Robinson, coach at Nike+ Run Club NYC, publisher of the international running culture journal First Run, and co-founder of the Black Roses NYC running collective told Health. “It’s a combination of everything from women having more disposal income as consumers, companies giving more attention to women’s gear, and the ability, through social media, to see women of all shapes and sizes running, which is empowering.”

Adds Jenny Hadfield, founder of CoachJenny.com: “The training is the new way to socialize and catch up with friends. Plus there are a host of women’s specific races that provide a friendly, non-competitive environment for newbies.”

Thinking of tackling 13.1 in the near future? Consider these tips from top running pros before you lace up.

Know it’s possible

“From the beginning, I try to communicate in all ways— visually, literally and coaching-wise— how possible it is to reach this goal through intelligent training and preparation,” says Robinson who also notes that the half is a manageable distance for everyone to train for and wrap their heads around. “But you have to believe in yourself” to really succeed.

Be selective about your shoes

Your feet are your foundation, so give them the respect they deserve by investing in a good (good doesn’t always mean super pricey) pair of kicks that are comfy and truly fit your feet. Look to your neighborhood specialty running store for help, advises former Olympic runner John Henwood, founder of TheRun, a boutique treadmill studio in New York City. Here, they’ll perform a gait analysis to help decode what style of shoe is best.

Build your base

A running base is the number of miles and weeks of running you have in the bank before you being training for a race, and it is essential to a successful training season. “It’s like the foundation of a house,” says Hadfield. “The stronger the base, the more easily the body can withstand the demands of a training program.”

Find the right training plan

Before you settle on a regimen, ask yourself what your goals are, and then work back from there. “Long distance running is about being able to run faster, longer and better,” says Robinson, “so your training must be oriented in the same way.” Choosing a plan that suits your style and fitness level is also key. “When you start from where you are, you progress more readily and enjoy the journey,” explains Hadfield.

Give yourself enough time to prepare

Not only does the body need time to adapt to the progression of the mileage, but sometimes life gets in the way, so it’s wise to have a little extra cushion. Look for training schedules that fall between 14 and 16 weeks. “This gives you weeks to play with in case something happens along the way, time to live your life and have vacations and plenty of time to build up the longer runs safely,” says Hadfield. “Plus, the shorter the season, the higher the risk of injuries as well as burn out.”

Remember: every run has a purpose

So don’t skip any. The long runs on the weekends are the bread and butter and build your endurance and ability to run far. The shorter, faster workouts build speed and fitness. And the easy mid-week runs bridge the gap between these two. “Get into the habit of training by your breath, like in yoga and tuning into how it responds to the workout on the given day,” says Hadfield. “Some days will feel easier, and some harder, but when you train your body, you’ll always be in the optimal zone.”

Whatever you do, don’t neglect the long run

For some, long runs, for lack of a better word, just suck. Regardless, it’s important to get in a handful of them for the length of time you expect to be out on the course. Just as important as getting comfortable with the amount of time you’ll be on your feet, is training your mind for those miles, too. “The challenge for distance runners is that you have to give your mind something to do,” says Robinson. “Our minds aren’t used to occupying that amount of time, and after an hour or so it begins to wander.” And a idle mind is a breeeding ground for negative thoughts that make the urge to walk or stop that much harder to resist.

Hit the weight room regularly

You may think you just need to pound the pavement to prepare, but keeping your body strong through weight training is a big factor in your success. Stronger muscles improve not only your running skills, but help ward off injuries too. Build strength days into your training one to two times per week, along with another day of cross-training in some form of cardio, such as spinning,” advises Henwood. And don’t forget to work that core; a strong one can improve running biomechanics, making you more efficient at pounding that pavement.

Get on a Roll

All that running (and strength-training!) can leave muscles super tight; loosening them up with daily self-massage can go a long way in terms of keeping you injury-free, says Henwood. In fact, research shows that it can boost tissue repair, increase mobility and decrease soreness. So grab a foam roller and get down to business; your muscles will thank you on your next run.

Mix it up

You may feel a sense of comfort sticking to the same route day in and day out, but it could lead to burn out and overall resentment of those miles. For the sake of your sanity, and to keep things fresh, Henwood suggests opting for a change of scenery or surface (track, trail, treadmill) every once in a while. Other ways to hit refresh: creating a new playlist or buddying up if you are typically a solo strider.

Have fun

“Running is an emotional experience; it’s a whole body experience,” notes Robinson “Take time to have fun, as you build toward your goals.”

This article originally appeared on Health.com

More from Health.com:

TIME Aging

This 92-Year-Old Is the Oldest Woman to Ever Run (and Finish) a Marathon

Harriette Thompson, oldest woman marathon runner
Paul Nestor—Competitor Group/AP Harriette Thompson starts the Suja Rock ‘'n'’ Roll Marathon in San Diego on Sunday, May 31, 2015

A two-time cancer survivor, Thompson has raised more than $100,000 for charity over 15 years

Finishing a marathon is difficult at any age, but if you want to know how hard it is at 92 you’ll have to ask Harriette Thompson. The Charlotte, N.C., resident completed the San Diego Rock ‘n’ Roll marathon on Sunday with an unofficial finishing time of 7:24:36, making her the oldest woman to run a competitive 26 miles and 385 yards.

Thompson took up running at age 76 and has been tackling marathons annually ever since, Runner’s World reports. She’s only missed one since then, while she was undergoing cancer treatment.

Cancer has affected Thompson’s life deeply. She lost her husband of 67 years to the disease in January and now struggles with painful wounds on her legs resulting from treatment for squamous cell carcinoma. It’s fitting, therefore, that Thompson runs her marathons to benefit the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. In the 16 years she’s been running, she has raised over $100,000 for the organization.

Thompson’s son, Brenny, often runs with her, but this year she had more well-known company. Starting up front with the elite runners gave her the opportunity to meet Meb Keflezighi, the New York and Boston marathon winner. But during the race, Thompson herself became the celebrity. “Since I’m so old, everbody wants to have their picture taken with me. Brenny says, ‘Don’t stop her, just take a selfie,’ rather than stop and take pictures all the time, because I’d never get to the end,” Thompson told Runner’s World.

Thompson’s new record breaks the one set by Gladys Burrill, who ran the Honolulu Marathon at 92 years, 19 days old. Thompson is nearly three months senior.

[Runner’s World]

TIME Cancer

This Man Had a Great Reason for Running a Marathon While Dressed as a Pair of Testicles

He may seem nuts, but Jack Woodward was actually running to fight cancer

Spectators at the London Marathon this past Sunday may have been surprised to see a pair of giant testicles bobbing up and down among a sea of runners. But Jack Woodward’s reason for dressing as male genitalia is as serious as the costume was absurd. Woodward, 22, decided to don the costume to raise money and awareness for testicular cancer, to which he recently lost his 21-year-old friend Rob Harris.

Woodward ran not just as any pair of nuts, but as Mr. Testicles, the mascot of the Male Cancer Awareness Campaign. The friendly mascot exists for the purpose of “reducing embarrassment and raising awareness of testicular cancer,” which has a good prognosis if detected and treated in the early stages.

Woodward told BBC’s Newsbeat, “I think too many people are too self conscious to go and get checked or they find something and then they just brush it off. But instead if you find something irregular with your body or different you should just go get it checked, it’s better to be safe than sorry. “

TIME Running

Venezuelan Runner With Muscular Dystrophy Finishes Boston Marathon

Boston Police Commissioner William Evans (L) and Mayor Marty Walsh (C) listen as Maickel Melamed, of Venezuela, speaks during a Boston Marathon ceremony in Boston on April 21, 2015.
Bill Sikes—AP Boston Police Commissioner William Evans (L) and Mayor Marty Walsh (C) listen as Maickel Melamed, of Venezuela, speaks during a Boston Marathon ceremony in Boston on April 21, 2015.

It took him just under 20 hours to complete the race

Maickel Melamed, a Venezuelan college professor with muscular dystrophy, completed the 119th Boston Marathon early Tuesday morning in just under 20 hours.

Melamed, 39, has completed marathons in Berlin, Chicago, New York and Tokyo, and he finished the 26.2-mile run down Boylston Street with a flock of supporters cheering him on and physically supporting him when he grew tired. They also counted in Spanish for every step he took.

Melamed told reporters after finishing the race that Monday’s marathon would be his last. He’s physically unable to run another after the toll on his body and weight loss.

“It was tough, the wind, the rain, the distance, the cold, everything today was overcome,” Melamed said, reports CBS Boston.

“For me I’m so grateful for Boston and to Boston this is an amazing city.”

Melamed’s family took him to Boston when he was young for life-saving treatment at Boston Children’s Hospital, according to CBS Boston. He ran the marathon with supporters from the group VAMOS Boston to spread a message of peace, and will be presented with a finisher’s medal by Boston mayor Marty Walsh on Tuesday.

This article originally appeared on SI.com.

TIME Sports

How One Woman Won a Marathon and Barely Broke a Sweat

Rosie Ruiz Finishes Boston Marathon
David Madison—Getty Images Rosie Ruiz at the finish line of the 1980 Boston Marathon

April 21, 1980: Rosie Ruiz finishes first among women runners in the Boston Marathon, but officials later revoke her medal

To observers at the finish line, Rosie Ruiz must have seemed like the fittest athlete ever to run the Boston Marathon. On this day, April 21, in 1980, the 26-year-old New Yorker finished first among the marathon’s women runners in near-record time — just over two and a half hours. Even more impressive: When officials crowned her the winner, she was barely sweating, according to Mass Moments, the Massachusetts Foundation for the Humanities’ online history almanac. Her hair was still perfectly styled, and her face was hardly flushed after the 26-mile race.

Ruiz made winning a marathon look easy. And it was, using her signature strategy: Don’t run the whole thing.

Officials were dubious, however, partly because of her unsweaty nonchalance and partly because no one — neither competitors nor spectators — could remember having seen her during the first 25 miles. When witnesses came forward a few days later to say they’d seen her run onto the course from the sidelines just a mile from the finish line, her medal was revoked.

Ruiz’s own admissions might have given her away in any case: She acknowledged that she’d only started training 18 months earlier, by running around Central Park. And she’d only ever competed in one other marathon: the New York Marathon, where she’d had a notably slower (although still impressive) time.

Legendary runner Kathrine Switzer — the first woman ever to officially compete in the Boston Marathon — was instantly suspicious when she spoke to Ruiz after the race, which she was covering that day as a television commentator. Switzer asked what Ruiz’s intervals had been, per TIME; Ruiz replied, “What’s an interval?”

More deception was revealed when New York Marathon officials looked into Ruiz’s 24th-place finish in that race and discovered that she had used a similar strategy to qualify for the Boston Marathon — by taking the subway instead of running most of the course. According to the New York Daily News, Ruiz explained the fact that she was wearing a marathon number by telling fellow subway riders that she had twisted her ankle and just wanted to see the end of the race.

She may not have had much training as a distance runner, but she seemed to have a great deal of practice in bending the truth. Even her application for the New York Marathon was based on a lie: An Associated Press story reveals that she submitted the form after the deadline had passed, but then got “special dispensation” by claiming she had a fatal brain tumor.

And while Ruiz never faced criminal consequences for faking her race finishes, she later ran afoul of the law for unrelated reasons. In 1982, she was charged with stealing $60,000 from the realty company she worked for, and in 1983 she was arrested for selling two kilos of cocaine to an undercover detective, per the AP.

Meanwhile, Boston Marathon organizers have made it harder to follow in Ruiz’s fraudulent footsteps. An unscrupulous couple who finished first in the senior category of the 1997 marathon were quickly found out, despite having registered at the course’s computer checkpoints, because they failed to appear on video shot at secret locations.

Read more about the history of the Boston Marathon, here in the TIME archives: A Long Running Show

Read next: Survivor: Last Year’s Marathon Was for Boston. This Year’s Is for Me.

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME Sports

See Boston Marathoners Celebratory Photos

From selfies to colorful costumes, here are the best photographs Boston marathoners and spectators shared on social media today

TIME Terrorism

Cops Shot Too Soon in Boston Bombing Manhunt, Report Finds

"Weapons discipline was lacking" during manhunt and standoff, report says

A long-awaited government report on the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings praised law enforcement for their quick and effective response to the fatal attack, but noted that officers who cornered alleged bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev in a boat several days later may have fired on him too soon.

The report is mostly a play-by-play of the bombing and subsequent manhunt from April 15 to 19, 2013. Much of the report details the effective coordination of law enforcement, medical personnel, marathon officials and hospital staff. For example, all the patients who went to the hospital survived their injuries, and medical tents at the finish line of the marathon were instrumental in providing on-site medical care.

But the report also details some areas for improvement, including in how careful police are when firing their guns. The report noted that “weapons discipline was lacking,” both during the firefight with the Tsarnaev brothers and during the standoff with Dzhokhar Tsarnaev in the boat on April 19. In that standoff, police opened fire on the boat after hearing a gunshot that they believed came from Tsarnaev, but actually came from a fellow police officer, who had fired inappropriately, the report found.

There was also an incident when officers fired on a suspicious-looking unmarked black truck that was actually driven by plainclothes officers, who were both unhurt. The report warned that “each of these incidents created a dangerous crossfire situation.”

While many different teams worked quickly and efficiently to keep Boston safe, the report also noted that there was room for improvement in coordination between city agencies, which “created confusion at times.” The report recommended that each city agency have a designated emergency representative to coordinate with other agencies, and that the city develop a more unified emergency response policy for the future.

Another area for improvement was in hospital evidence collection. The report said that hospital personnel were “intimidated” by the heavily armed police officers questioning victims and witnesses, and that there was not a streamlined procedure for gathering evidence from survivors at the hospital.

Also, the interlocking rack barriers that kept spectators from interfering with the marathon proved to be major obstacles for first responders. The report recommends the city look into alternative crowd control techniques that could be more easily disassembled in an emergency situation.

TIME Sports

This Elite Marathon Runner Was Determined to Finish Race No Matter What

In a show of determination, Hyvon Ngetich crawled over finish line to take third place

Hyvon Ngetich turned metaphor into reality when she literally crawled across the finish line at the Austin Marathon on Sunday.

The Kenyan runner was in the lead among the elite women after 23 miles, according to local CBS affiliate KEYE-TV, when she collapsed between there and the finish line. Still, Ngetich persevered, crawling on her hands and knees to cross the finish line. She still finished in third place in spite of her setback.

The race director, John Conley, was apparently so impressed with this triumph of will that he decided to increase her prize money to what she would have won if she came in second place. “You ran the bravest race and crawled the bravest crawl I have ever seen in my life,” he said. “You have earned much honor.”

[KEYE-TV]

TIME U.S.

Man Proposes to His Girlfriend at the Boston Marathon Finish Line

"After last year I realized the people you love and your life can be taken so quickly"

Shortly after completing the Boston Marathon today, runner Greg Picklesimer decided to make the day even more memorable by proposing to his girlfriend at the finish line.

He also completed the marathon last year, just a few hours before the terrorist attack that killed three people and injured dozens more.

“After last year I realized the people you love and your life can be taken so quickly,” Picklesimer told CBS Boston. “I didn’t want to lose that so I decided to come back and seal the deal.”

She said yes, luckily, because wouldn’t that be so awkward if she didn’t?

 

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