Fitness

Metro Parks Tacoma adding new races, freshening up some old ones

Answers to important questions nobody has asked me yet:

What is Metro Parks Tacoma doing to get South Sound residents moving?

A few years ago, Metro Parks Tacoma set — and reached —a goal of staging at least one run per month.

This year it’s tweaking its lineup in hopes of piquing the interest of more people.

“Our goals for this year are to try some new themed runs and to reinvigorate some traditional runs … in hopes of more families joining in the fun opportunities for fitness,” said Cassie Swan, Metro Parks’ recreation technician.

The next of the new events is April 18 at Norpoint Park and is modeled after the NFL combine, an evaluation event NFL teams use to scrutinize former college players before the draft.

At Metro Park’s Fitness Combine, participants will run a mile and participate in a series of drills including the 40-yard dash, agility tests and a tire drag.

Registration is $30 through Thursday, or $35 on the morning of the race.

“I think people will have a lot of fun,” Swan said.

It’s not the first — or last — change the parks are making to its run schedule in 2015.

In March, it moved its annual Mud Run from Titlow Park to Swan Creek Park where they packed 19 filthy obstacles into 2 miles.

Ben Johnson, the agency’s sports and fitness intern, organized much of the event as his culminating project for school. He graduates next month from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse.

“It went really well,” Johnson said. “Everybody I saw out there looked like they were having a good time.”

Precisely what Metro Parks wants to see from its other new and freshened-up events this year.

On May 2, its first Cinco de Mayo-themed run is set for Wright Park. A new Father’s Day event, the Tacky Tie 2-Mile run, is at Jefferson Park on June 20.

Here is the rest of the schedule: Swan Creek Demolition Run 5K on July 18, the Thirsty Summer Nights 5K is Aug. 20 at Titlow Park, The Dog Gone Run 2-miler (run with your dog then let your best friend go for a swim) is Sept. 12 at Stewart Heights Park, Run Wild (8K or 5K) is Sept. 19 at Northwest Trek, the Black Cat 5K is Oct. 17 at Point Defiance, the Turkey Trot is Nov. 26 at Norpoint and the 3-mile Jingle Bell Run is Dec. 24 at Wright Park.

For more information on all of the events visit metroparkstacoma.org.

Do I need an activity tracker?

Earlier this year, I borrowed a Fitbit Charge from Andy Colley, director of communications for AT&T West.

My wife had tried to buy one for me a few weeks earlier when she spotted a sale, but I’d said, “No thanks.” I couldn’t think of a good reason to track my steps.

I wore Colley’s Charge for about a month and I had to admit it was pretty cool.

It lives up to its name. My wife bought Fitbit Flexes for Christmas gifts for our kids, but my daughter wore hers for only about a week. My son still hasn’t worn his. Whenever I asked why they weren’t wearing them, they said, “I need to charge it.”

The Charge, however, not only is easier to charge, but it stays charged much longer. I went nearly a week without a charge.

It also has some pretty cool features: A stopwatch, multiple choices for the clock display, your daily stats displayed on the screen (rather than just the website or app) and easy to read caller ID if you link it to your phone.

The device gave me feedback on how far I walked and ran, how I slept and gave me the option for more information if I entered my meals and water consumption on the website.

It was light and was no more cumbersome than a watch.

Still, I didn’t feel like it was quite right for me. It doesn’t record other activities like biking and swimming.

I better understood the appeal of the devices when I sent a friend request via fitbit.com to my niece and nephew. Suddenly we were competing to see who could get in the most steps. We talked a little trash and exchanged some encouragement.

This social component of activity trackers must be why, Colley says, “Wearable devices are AT&T’s fastest growing accessory category.”

He calls them lifestyle devices.

“You might not be a runner, but you can track your sleep and see how many steps you are taking in a day,” Colley said. “And that might encourage people to move a little more.”

And, perhaps, that’s the best question to ask to decide if you should shell out $100 or more for an activity tracker: Will it motivate me to exercise?

Is there a local ride for people who prefer fixed-gear bikes?

For the past eight years, an Olympian group on fixed-gear bikes has been gathering for rides on Saturday mornings. South Sound resident Scott Smith started the ride but, due to injuries, has handed it off to others such as Byron Rhoades.

“My intent is to let the young’uns run free and old guys like myself to lead from the back,” Rhoades said.

The rides start at 10 a.m. on Saturday mornings at the Dancing Goats Espresso Bar, 111 Market St. NE, Olympia. The group typically rides 25-40 miles. Expect a pace of 18 mph on the flats.

Riders are briefed about the route at the start, but no cue sheets are provided. Rhoades describes the group as “a loose collection of like-minded cycling friends. We stress safety, but everyone is responsible for their own safety as well.”

Fenders are required on wet days. Don’t have a fixie? Rhoades said you’re still welcome to join, but they request visitors to stay behind the fixed gear bikes.

The rides usually finish with beer and food.

The regulars are mostly older than 50, Rhoades said, but “we are looking for some young bloods.”

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