Did you see Chinese Olympian Liu Xiang stumble on his first hurdle in the London Games earlier this week? Even if you didn’t, chances are you’ve heard about it by now.

JEWEL SAMAD/Getty Images/from SportsIllustrated.com

Liu Xiang, who won gold in the 2004 Athens’ 110 meter hurdles event (a 12.87 world-record performance), suffered an injury to his achilles tendon shortly after, rendering him unable to compete like he once did. In the 2008 Olympic games, he walked off the track after a false start by one of his competitors, dashing China’s hope for a gold. He was back now in London, with the weight of his country on his shoulders, and as soon as the gun went off, Xiang stumbled, knocking over the first hurdle and clutching his leg in agony.

Xiang struggled to get up, but finally did, hopping on his good leg off the track. But just as he was about to go into the locker room, Xiang returned to the track, hopping alongside it all the way to the finish line – stopping first to kiss the final Olympic hurdle he never got a chance to jump over.

Though China’s hopes for a gold medal in this event are once again out the window, the entire world has joined together in support of Xiang and his inspirational hurdle performance. At the end, two of his competitors ran to him, Great Britain’s Andrew Turner and Spain’s Jackson Quinonez, and put their arms around him, helping him walk off the track.

He may not have won a medal, but Xiang has won the hearts of athletes and runners everywhere.

Read more about Liu Xiang here.


Cuban marathoner (and former mailman) Félix Carbajal
Photo: Britannica.com

America’s first Olympic Games were, by far, one of the strangest the country has ever partaken in and the Olympic Marathon event was no exception. Including a Cuban in trousers, 10 Greeks who had never run a single marathon in their lives, and two barefoot tribesmen from South Africa, the marathon event was more of a sideshow than anything else.

The 1904 Games were undoubtedly tied to that year’s World Fair, which not only included athletic events of its own, but was imbued with less-than-subtle racism. American Imperialism was all the rage, but French historian and Olympic Committee founder Pierre de Coubertin disapproved, calling the racist events at the World Fair an “outrageous charade.

The Marathon event was as ridiculous as the rest of the Games; a runner from California nearly died during the first mile, and “cracked stone was strewn across the roadway, creating perilous footing, and the men had to constantly dodge cross-town traffic, delivery wagons, railroad trains, trolley cars and people walking their dogs,” according to Smithsonian Magazine.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, there were only two places where men could get fresh water: a water tower at mile 6 and a water well at mile 12.

The Olympic Games have come a long way since then, and thank goodness. Not that our runners aren’t well-trained, but having to ward off wild dogs while running should be an Olympic event all its own.

Read more on the 1904 Olympic Games here.


Most of us remember when mega fast food chain McDonald’s introduced the Super Size. Some of us may have even spoken those two terrifying words: “Supersize it!” But most people probably don’t know the origin of monster-sizing our meals, or the first time a ‘large’ size was introduced.

A recent article outlined the origin of the food size upgrade to a bucket of movie popcorn thanks to the BBC2 series The Men Who Made Us Fat. The large sizes, chocolate bar King sizes, value meals, all can be traced back to a larger bucket size of popcorn introduced in 1967 by a man named David Wallerstein. He managed a movie theatre and was told that he had to boost sales of popcorn and soda.

Knowing that people are innately gluttonous, Wallerstein figured that while people wouldn’t buy multiple cartons of popcorn, they would opt for a higher-priced carton with more popcorn in it, and he’d be able to charge considerably more for it than the cost of that extra popcorn.

Wallerstein was right and was soon brought on to work for McDonald’s, where he introduced the same idea to the conglomerate. Others soon followed suit and the result has been outrageous numbers of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.

Though this alone has not caused the poor health of our nation today, it certainly plays a role. Learn more about the history of portion sizes by clicking here.


(AP photo/Ben Curtis)

Seventy sheep, dancing nurses, and James Bond?

It may sound like the start of a joke, but it’s actually the start of the 2012 London Olympics, the opening ceremony to be exact. Set to begin in just a few hours, officials are trying to find out every last detail they can about the ceremony before seeing it live. Among details released by the ceremony’s director Danny Boyle (of 127 Hours and Slumdog Millionaire fame) about the show are the inclusion of  farm animals and actual dancing nurses. The show will outline Britain’s history, throwing a special nod to 007, protagonist of the longest lasting film franchise ever. (That’s Bond, James Bond…) Sir Paul McCartney might even make a special appearance, closing the ceremony.

For now, we’re sitting at the edge of our seats waiting for it to all go down.

Read a sneak preview here and tune your televisions in tonight for the start of the games.

If running a marathon in every state is on your bucket list, then look no further. We found this neat little infographic that showcases the 50 most beautiful runs in each of the country’s states (49 actually. We’ll pretend you didn’t see Arkansas’s box). And if you can’t run all 50, then pick your favorite and start running!


Wired to Run

You know that runner’s high? The high that makes you feel light, happy, and empowered after a long jog or marathon? Turns out, it’s a real thing.

Researchers at the University of Arizona are saying that ‘runner’s high’ is a real, chemical process that happens in the human body. When you exercise aerobically – basically exercise to get your heart rate up – your body actually makes cannabinoids, the same kind of chemicals found in marijuana. It may be an evolutionary payoff of sorts, a reward for the hard work your body goes through.

The scientific community is still out on this one, but researchers point out that we’ve got short toes for stability and big joints in our legs that absorb shock. Back in the day, we used to run long distances to hunt down prey. Now scientists are saying this, along with that ‘runner’s high,’ shows that human beings are wired to run.

Check out this incredible NPR story with accompanying audio. What do you think? Are you wired to run?

Running’s good for our health, sure, we know that. But did you know it’s also good for the …economy?

Well, not quite. It seems, if anything, the business of running is immune to the economy. Despite economic downturns, the number of runners continues to grow, marathons are selling out, and running shoes are flying off the shelves.

The popularity of distance running has soared in recent years, and doesn’t seem to be letting up anytime soon, despite unemployment, high gas prices, and other markers of economic well-being.

The sport is more accessible now than it was 20 years ago. Advances in running technologies spur the sport (think GPS-tracking, personalized footwear, even aerodynamic clothes), while the ease of running does, as well (those tech gadgets are great, but all you really need are a pair of shoes and shorts).

Read what U.S. News had to say about the ever-popular sport of running, and then put on YOUR running shoes and go out for a run.

On a hot day, as the sweat trickles down our temples, all we want to do is reach for a tall, ice-cold glass of water. But maybe reaching for a hot cup of tea is better?

According to Joe Palca, writer for NPR’s food blog The Salt, drinking something hot during a hot day may have a better chance of cooling you off than something cold will. It’s counterintuitive, but the receptors on our tongues send messages to our brains when their surroundings are hot; the brain then tells the body to cool off. By sweating.

Yes, sweating cools the body off.

So even though you might feel and think you’re hotter when you sweat, your body is actually cooling off.

Read the full story here.

Even Joe Palca himself is skeptical. So are we. For now, we’ll stick to our delicious Magic Bullet smoothies. Lots of ice.

You go to the super market and pick the ripest looking tomato you can find. You dig through mountains of red succulent fruits to find the perfect few that will make it to your dinner table; heck, you might even go for the tomatoes that are vine-ripened: fresh, bright red, and bursting with flavor. Then you get home only to find that your beautiful tomato is …flavorless.

It’s what you get when you combine science and beauty. Scientists stumbled upon this when trying to figure out why tomatoes just didn’t taste as good as they used to. In order to get the most attractive, big, bright tomato, some flavor is sacrificed.

The tomato has had a long history, but this new fruit advancement may not be worth the loss in taste.

Read the entire story here, and learn exactly why our tomatoes just aren’t what they used to be.

What do you think?


From the sunny beaches of California to the craggy slopes of Mount Everest, (yes, there are even marathons at the world’s highest elevations…) there’s a landscape fit for every single kind of runner.

Runners new to the sport should obviously not run in extreme terrains. Simply running around your neighborhood is a wonderful place to begin! For those with the endurance to run a full marathon, the ING New York City Marathon and Honda LA Marathon follow relatively flat courses and offer incredible sightseeing opportunities, travelling past some of their host cities’ most famous districts.

Those looking for a bit more of a challenge can try the historic Boston Marathon. To participate, entrants must qualify based on your finishing time from a previous marathon. If you make the cut, prepare yourself for a challenging course—especially the infamous Heartbreak Hill between miles 20 and 21. The pain is worth it, however, as you will be participating in one of the country’s oldest marathons. And at the end, you get a slice of real Boston pizza. What’s better than that?

Finally, if you have some sort of runner’s death wish, there are marathons like the Pikes Peak Marathon, which, according to its website, will turn your legs into “ragged nothingness.” You’ll ascend 6,000 feet in the first 10 miles, you’ll dig through mud and maybe even snow—it’s not called America’s Ultimate Challenge for nothing.

But whichever marathon you choose, you must make sure to fuel up properly. Grab your Marathon Bullet, make yourself a pre-workout smoothie chock-full of carbs and protein and get your run on. See you at the races!