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February 25, 2000     Cape Gazette
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February 25, 2000

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32- CAPE GAZETTE, Friday, February 25 - March 2, 2000 HEALTH & FITNESS Local woman preparing for Boston Marathon Pledges needed for autism program By Jen Ellingsworth Nancy Berg of Lewes will run in the Boston Marathon Monday, April 17. It will be the fourth marathon in which the accom- plished athlete and mother of three has competed. While run- ning in the prestigious 26.2 mile road race is a test of strength and endurance, Berg said her motiva- tion for the upcoming marathon goes beyond proving physical stamina. Her son, Danny, 10, was diag- nosed with autism, a complex developmental disability that affects the functioning of the brain, when he was a little more than 2 years old. The Berg fami- ly relocated to Lewes from their home near Chicago a year ago so their son could be educated through the Delaware Autism Program. The program is administered locally at the Sussex Elementary Consortium in Lewes, where Danny attends school. "It [the Sussex Consortium] is fantastic," she said. "I just can't say enough about it. The program went from serving 30 children to more than 70. And that's just here in Sussex." While the Sussex Consortium is a public school, Berg said she noticed that it lacks a community organization, such as a Parent Teacher Organization, to help raise funds for essentials needed to best serve its enrollment. Berg is seeking sponsorship to run in the 2000 Boston Marathon to benefit the Sussex Consortium and the Cure Autism Now (CAN) program, a relatively new organi- zation that has soon become the largest nonfederal funder of autism research in the country. Berg said she has solicited friends and family by letters. She said she will split the funds raised for the race between the Sussex Consortium and CAN. Berg said she plans to meet with school offi- cials after the race to determine where the funds could be best used. While she has already run in one Boston Marathon and two Chicago Marathons, Berg said she never gets tired of the races or the chance to run competitively. Her running career began as a means of rehabilitation for a knee injury that happened while playing soc- cer. A lifelong athlete, Berg said she always considered it a sport reserved "for crazy people" but now considers running to be ther- apeutic in a different way. "It gives me an opportunity to reflect by myself and think about things," she said. "I'm out there all by myself with my thoughts. Some people do yoga; I choose to run." In order to qualify for the Boston Marathon, runners must have competed between Oct. 1, 1998, and March 1, 2000, at a cer- tiffed marathon. Berg, who ran her last marathon in Chicago in 1998 in three hours and 40 min- utes, said she's shooting for a sim- ilar finish this time. She said she rarely hits "The Wail," a point commonly referred to by runners where continuing a race becomes most difficult, but once found it nearly impossible to finish because of a severe headache. "I didn't hit The Wall in Chicago at all," said Berg, who lives in Lewes with her husband, Nicholas, sons Danny and Ben, and daughter Livia. "When I hit the 21-mile-mark in Boston I had a migraine, though. I remember running by the medic station and thinking how tempting it would be to stop." Berg said when it comes to training for race day she's a "little unconventional." While most athletes gearing up for a marathon tend to run 20 to 22 miles a day, Berg said her training regime con- Continued on page 34 Jen EIIIngsworth photo Nancy Berg of Lewes, shown here with her son, Danny, will run in the Boston Marathon on Monday, April 17. Abdominal training important to good health During this time of the year, when it's too cold to go outside very often, and we're coming down from our holiday comings and goings, many of us are left with a nagging reminder of our overindulgences: a new addition has moved in around our waist- line. Pants have become tight; thank goodness for big, baggy sweat shirts and sweaters that cover some of our worst sins. Don't get too comfortable. Spring is next month, and eventu- ally the temperatures are going to rise, and you'll be peeling off those clothes whether you want to or not. Abdominal training is not the answer for a protruding stom- ach. You'll need aerobic activity of some sort to bum off calories and fat to reduce the size of your win- ter coat. However, you'll need to work on strengthening the abdom- inal and back regions in conjunc- tion with your exercise for several reasons. Many people will say they can't do sit-ups, because they have a bad back. This is often a catch-22 situation. If the person with a bad back is carrying extra weight - anything from 10 pounds and up - HEALTH TOPICS KIM SCHELL Kim Schell is a fitness expert at the Sussex Family YMCA. For more information, call 227-801& that weight is going to add stress to the back, to the knees and to the heart. With approval from your physician, you can begin an exer- cise program that will get you on the road to becoming stronger. You'll work toward your ideal weight and probably find that crunches, instead of sit-ups will become easier with your sleeker, stronger body. Abdominais interrelate with the muscles of the back to support the whole torso. Together, they form a natural protective girdle that holds the body's internal organs in place and provides added insula- tion against wear and tear from the effects of aging and unhealthy lifestyle habits. When your abdominals are weak, very often your back is weak. An imbalance of strength in this area results in poor posture - very often a swayed back - and body alignment, placing a great deal of stress on the lower back and making this area more prone to injury and pain. A sagging stomach is unattractive, but it could also contribute to more seri- ous physical problems over time. There are a few things to keep in mind when you begin your abdominal training. If you're just starting, don't expect an overnight miracle. A strong torso will take time, dedication and effort. You can place your hands over your chest or behind your head. If your hands are behind your head, don't clasp your fingers together. When you clasp, you tend to pull on your neck, tilting your chin into your chest. This is prob- ably the biggest and most danger- ous mistake people make when they crunch. Keep your eyes up. Keep your elbows back. If your elbows are in your line of vision, you are most likely pulling on your neck. Constantly check for this form error. As your body tires, you will be more prone to this very common mistake. You'll end up with a sore neck or serious neck problems over time. Some people find that placing a hand towel behind the head for support and using the ends as han- dles that are held next to the ears, works well. Another easy adjustment to your crunch is to place the soles of your feet together, letting the knees fall out to the side. This helps to keep the hip flexors unin- volved, allowing your abdominals to do the work instead. The final change is to begin and end your crunch from a lifted position approximately 30 degrees. Don't touch down in between crunches. Stay lifted so the abs stay contracted. You'll get more out of the move. A crunch is dif- ferent from a traditional sit-up in that you only need to lift your head, shoulders and some of your upper back off the floor during your lift. Exhale on the way up and inhale on the way back. A tradi- tional sit-up is fine, but be sure to keep the soles of the feet together, which is a great deal more diffi- cult in a full sit-up; be sure to keep the knees bent. There are many types of crunches and back strengthening exercises. It's best to rotate the exercises to keep your workout fresh and to continually challenge the muscles. The length of time needed will vary from individual to individual, but safely count on a minimum of five minutes, to a maximum of 25 minutes. You can work these muscles every day, provided you are not sore the next day. If you are sore, take a day off to let the muscles recover. If it hurts to sneeze, you probably overdid it. With a daily practice, combined with some type of aerobic activity, you can expect to see some results within 30 days and more notice- able results by summer. As always, adapt this practice as a lifestyle change rather than a temporary fix, and you'll be a healthier person in no time.