Technology: How it can help motivate you to run your first 5K Race

Technology: How it can help motivate you to run your first 5K Race

Greetings and hello fellow readers!  I have been asked to write an article for the upcoming Reagan Run 5K race regarding technology tools that one may use to help train and prepare for a 5K race.  I must preface this article by stating my love for running and being in the great outdoors.  With this being said, I am relatively new to running.  My previous experience encompassed running one or two miles here and there.   Running in a race was not something I had ever dreamed of doing, nor did I ever have the desire to do until three years ago.

I had recently began a change in my diet and wanted to loose weight.  Therefore, I began running again for both health and relaxation purposes.  My wife knew my interest in technology.  Truth be told, she knew if a gadget had a battery and a power button, I would probably have an interest.  So that Christmas, my wife bought me a Nike FuelBand.  I was immediately hooked by the thought of a device to help me track my activity.  The actual band would track steps, activity, and calories burned throughout the day.  I would then synchronize the FuelBand with an app on my iPhone and track my workouts, runs, and daily activity.  The unrealized benefit of the FuelBand was to not only to see the day’s activities, but also a tracking system to see the highs and lows in my physical activity, not just my runs.  Seeing the daily challenges and goals that I would set on the Nike Fuel app for my phone kept me motivated.  I would try and out-do myself each and every day.

Shortly after I began using the Nike FuelBand, I found the Nike Run app and was able to use the mapping, coaching, and social media features of the app to share my excitement of running.  It was awesome!  I would begin a run and my followers were able to see that I was out on a run and would “cheer” me on!  This was beneficial as sometimes I would loose motivation at mile 4 or 5 and then I would hear a cheer from the app.  These cheers from friends helped to keep me going.

The other benefit of the Nike Fuel and Run apps is that you can network with a group of your friends.  May it be Twitter, Facebook, or just your contacts on your phone, you can see progress and effectively try to out-do your friends in challenges and in earning Fuel Points (a value that Nike puts on all physical activity).    The best thing about the Nike Fuel app is that it is now available on any iPhone that is a 5 or later.  The phone will do the tracking of your activity.  You no longer need to buy a FuelBand in order to use the features.  This is a plus as I use my iPhone for music to motivate me on my runs as well.

There is a great deal of options for the beginning runner to help train, track progress, and to share results.  I of course can only speak to the Nike apps and equipment, but I do know there are a great deal of followers of the Fitbit Surge smart-watch, the Watch, and many other devices out there.  These are great tools to help motivate and keep you on target with your 5K goals.  My only suggestion is do the research on what you personally need for an app or tracking method for your fitness goals, as well as what is easiest for you to utilize.  So get out and enjoy the great weather and get in shape at the same time!

Andy McFarlane is the CEO at the Y in Dixon, IL, runner, kayaker and lover of the great outdoors.  You can follow Andy at his Twitter account @AndyMcFarlane74.


During this year’s Reagan Run, there will be a pool and deck set up for a dog diving contest right in front of PLN Insurance. We are asking that when runners come off the Galena Avenue Bridge, to please stay on the brick walkway until they you are guided back onto the road in front of PLN on Lincoln Statue Drive. There will be volunteers available to direct the flow.

Scholarship Winners Announced

The Reagan Run 5K Committee recently offered two $500 Scholarships, one male and one female, for student athletes who were continuing their post-secondary education at a 2-year college, 4-year college/university or trade school.  The scholarships were available to any high school students who had participated in any or all of the following activities: 1) high school cross country, 2) high school track or 3) have participated in one or more road races including a Reagan Run 5K.

The Reagan Run Scholarship Committee is pleased to announce the recipients of the two 2015 Reagan Run Scholarships were Maggie Bushman, a senior at Dixon High School who plans to attend the University of Wisconson-Madison, and Quincy Coomes, a senior at Newman Central Catholic High School who plans on attending Sauk Valley College.  Both students will receive $500 to go toward their educational costs.

The Reagan Run 5K Committee was able to make these scholarships available primarily due to the enormous support of its sponsors as well as the tremendous buy-in by the community and the multitude of participants who have enjoyed the event over the previous 15 races.  The committee looks forward to presenting one of the finest road races in the area for the 16th time on Saturday, July 4, 2015.  For more information on the 16th Annual Reagan Run go to

For additional information contact Nancy Varga at 815-288-2655 or

Powering Your Run

The Reagan Run is a great race to draw in crowds of running enthusiasts from elite distance runners to those just wanting to get in their daily exercise. No matter where you fall in this spectrum, it is important to provide your body with adequate fuel and energy in order to help you perform at your best. With all the nutrition advice at our finger tips it can be hard to decipher what is appropriate for you.

In the weeks leading up to the race, try to establish healthy eating patterns including:

1. Eat small meals and healthful snacks regularly throughout the day.

More specifically, try to eat breakfast within 1-2 hours of waking. Then, as a good rule of thumb, you should aim to eat a mini meal or healthful snack about every 2- 1/2 to 4 hours. Also, try not to skip any meals or snacks.

2. Incorporate a little bit of whole grain carbs, lean proteins, and heart-healthy fat at each meal and snack.

This combination of whole grain/complex carbs or whole fruit  along with lean protein and a small amount of heart-healthy fat helps to keep you satisfied without feeling like your depriving yourself. The more complex nutrients are also more slowly digested which fills you up longer, maintain blood sugar levels, assists in portion control, and increases energy.

3. Hydrate well

We’ve all heard that we should drink eight 8-ounce glasses of water per day, but our actual fluid needs are more dependent on our own bodies’ weight. Therefore, it’s actually recommended that we consume half of our weight in ounces of fluid. The good news is that you don’t have to just drink water, but any liquid will do {Greek yogurt, smoothies, low fat milk, flavored water, etc… even coffee and tea}. Generally speaking, I’m not a fan of juices, sports drinks, and the like because there’s a lot of empty sugar and calories that can quickly add up. If you’re a regular long distance running, training for a marathon or triathlete, or school athlete, then you may benefit                 from the electrolytes. For those trying to lose weight, lean/tone up, have blood pressure or kidney issues, then you would be best suited for plain ole water.

4. Meal plan and limit processing

We all can benefit from taking time to plan our meals and snacks and eat more whole foods. Limiting processed food like baked goods, chips, and sweets helps to minimize added sugars, calories, sodium, preservatives, etc.

On race day, here’s what I’d recommend:

Pre- race

This is the time when to throw traditional healthy eating theories out the door. It’s important to have easily digested foods in the hour or so leading up to the race. You need something that won’t weigh you down and promote cramping or nausea. Therefore, since glucose is the optimal fuel for your body, choose low fat simple carbohydrates. Good options could be:

cereal + low fat milk



toast + jam

waffle + syrup

English muffin + honey

small muffin


Be mindful to include some carbohydrates with some lean protein to aid in recovery. Make sure to replenish your sweat losses. However, the Reagan Run typically doesn’t last longer than an hour so water is typically sufficient.

Your specific calorie needs depend on a variety of factors such as age, gender, height, weight, & genetics.  The composition of those calories in terms of amounts of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats will also be depending upon your level of running along with what you typically eat throughout the day. You may need to consult a registered dietitian nutritionist to create an individualized plan that is tailored to meet your goals and needs.

Happy running!

Rebecca Fisher Miller, MPH, RDN, LDN is from Dixon currently living with her husband and new baby in New Orleans, LA. She is a practicing registered dietitian nutritionist at Elmwood Fitness Center and writes a blog called Twisted Nutrition. She can be reached at to answer any questions.

Runner’s Injury & Prevention Workshop April 27

Orthopedic physician Tommy Hernandez, MD, will lead a panel presentation over running anatomy and running injuries. Other speakers will be present to discuss training plans, how to safely increase mileage, physician therapy, and other training resources.


2 High School Scholarships Available!!


The Reagan Run 5K Committee is offering two $500 scholarships (one male and one female) for student athletes who are continuing their post-secondary education. The scholarships are available to any high school seniors who are graduating in 2015 and have participated in any of the following activities: high school cross country, high school track, or have participated in one or more races including the Reagan Run 5K. This is a one year scholarship.

Please download the form for submission details. Scholarship


2015 Reagan Run Registration Now Open

Registration for the 2015 Reagan Run is now open!! Register online today though June 19th to get the early bird rate!

Registration Fees:

  • $20.00 through June 19, 2015, $25.00 June 20 through July 3, $30.00 Race Day and $10 Active Military Fee.

Race Details

  • Packet Pickup is Friday, July 3, 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. at the Dixon YMCA (101 N Galena Ave).
  • Race begins at the Ronald Reagan Home on 810 S. Hennepin at 8 a.m.

Race Day Registration & Packet Pickup

Saturday, July 4, 2015, 6:15 – 7:30 AM
Online Registration cutoff is July 3, 2015 @ 11:59 a.m.
Packet pickup is at Haymarket Square on 255 Highland Ave.

Pre-Race Preparation

Whether you’re a seasoned runner or a first-time racer, the days before a race can be quite stressful. You put in several weeks of hard work and training, and want to arrive at the start line feeling healthy, energized, and ready to run your best!

Here are a few things to keep in mind in the days before the race:

Cover the route beforehand if possible. Running the course ahead lets you familiarize yourself with the terrain and identify points where you’ll have to push hard. Knowing where the race starts will prevent you from getting lost on race morning so you’re not late!

Rest. In the final week before race day, you should increase your rest, recovery and sleep. It’s important after training to give your body time to recover. This will leave your legs feeling fresh for race day.

Don’t try anything new! This is definitely not the time to try new foods, new running gear, shoes, sports drinks or gels. It’s best to stick with what you trained with.

Hydrate. Make sure to drink plenty of fluids. Stay hydrated the day before by drinking half your body weight in ounces. On race morning, drink when you wake up, but try to limit your fluids 30 minutes prior to start.

Prepare your race gear. Lay out your race clothes and accessories the night before. If you already have your bib, fasten it to your shirt so all you have to do in the morning is get dressed. It’s easy to forget something on race day, so make a list to remind you of everything you need to take with you.

Wake up early. Get up a little early to get yourself prepared. Your body will function better if you’ve been up for a few hours. If you are hungry, eat a pre-race snack like half a banana or toast with peanut butter.

Arrive early: Get to the start of the race before the start. This allows time for you to check out the start and make any last minute bathroom or car trips.

Identify yourself. Put your name, address and cell number on your race bib. There are accessories like RoadID that can be worn on your wrist or shoe.

Most importantly, have fun!  “The ultimate is not to win, but to reach within the depths of your capabilities and to compete against yourself to the greatest extent possible. When you do that, you have dignity. You have the pride. You can walk about with character and pride no matter in what place you

Benefits of Running

By this time of the year Dixonites fall into two categories:

1. Those planning on participating in the 15th Annual Reagan Run 5k on July 5, 2014

2. Those who aren’t.

Those who aren’t are probably wondering what the big deal about running is.  Why get up earlier than I have to?  Why waste my time? Why do something so hard?  Why risk an injury?  What’s wrong with watching ESPN instead?  Well runners, non-runners and those thinking about becoming runners — here’s your answers:

The Benefits of Running.

1.  Weight management. For those trying to lose or maintain weight it’s difficult to find a better exercise than running.  Minute per minute running burns more calories than any exercise with the exception of cross country skiing.  Many runners begin to run with the goal of losing weight.  Most find they end up feeling much better, stronger and fitter.  The miles come much easier with time.

2.  Improve your overall health.  Running is a fantastic activity for improving and maintaining good health.  It raises the good cholesterol or HDL and reduces the risk of hypertension, diabetes, strokes and heart disease.  Running puts stress on bones and muscles which in turn strengthens the bones and decreases the risk of osteoporosis and thus life threatening hip fractures.  The risk of certain cancers is also decreased by running and thus decreasing overall percentage of body fat.

3. Meet cool people and develop friendships.  I would challenge anyone to stand in the starting line of the Reagan Run and not find a friendly person to talk to.  Running with a friend is a great way to catch up whether you see each other on a daily basis or less frequently. Interesting conversations always make the time and mile pass quickly.  It’s a lot easier on the thumbs than catching up via texting.

4. The infamous “Runner’s High.”  Non-runners may want to skip this section because you just wouldn’t understand.   Running releases endorphins causing a feeling of happiness or euphoria.  It’s that strange feeling of exhaustion combined with giddiness that keeps many runners coming back for more.  The feeling is enhanced by running outside – for instance – on trails.  So turn off the treadmill and head to the bike path.  Regular runners have less depression, chronic fatigue, Vitamin D deficiency and are almost never grumpy at work or when dealing with difficult family members (ok that may be a little exaggeration).

5.  Improve your success in any sport.  I would challenge anyone to find a sport that running doesn’t help with (bowling, pool, poker and chess don’t count).  By being stronger, fitter, improving lung capacity and muscle strength, performance in any sport from baseball to golfing will improve.

6.  Versatile and relatively inexpensive.  Running can be done almost anywhere and anytime (using common sense for safety).  A good pair of running shoes and weather appropriate clothes are all that is needed.  On vacation, running is a great way to explore your new surroundings and maybe even meet some locals ( see # 3).

7.  Develop personal goals.  Running is friendly on aging.  Running can be done at any age and each individual can set their own standards of success.  The general running community accepts that goals change as people change.  Boston Marathon qualifying times for example are based on sex and age and get easier as you “grow up.”

8. SANITY.  My personal favorite.  Between work, kids homework, taxi driver, bills to pay, smart phone overload and bad news all over the world, who doesn’t need time to escape and unwind?  So whether you run alone or with a friend, inside or outside, morning, lunch break or evening, take the time to take a breath and put your and the world’s problems behind you.  You’ll have a much fresher perspective when you return.

9.  Sleep better, improved mental sharpness. Studies have shown that insomniacs fell asleep significantly faster on days that they run.  Just avoid running within an hour or two of bedtime.  Those happy endorphins (see #4) may still be with you at lights out time.  In addition running may prevent you from becoming an insomniac in the first place.  In general runners make less mistakes at work, are more efficient with their time and overall student runners have a higher GPA in high school and college.

10.  Running the 15th annual Reagan Run 5k. Yes, of course, after all your hard work, you’ve earned the ultimate reward — participating in the best 5k run in the midwest!!  Enjoy the hills and earn the privilege of partaking in all the good food and drink after the race.  See ya there!!  Who knows?  Maybe you’ll even end up with a PR!

Deb Drengenberg

Some things that have changed in 15 years of Reagan Running

Our course, although always a similar route, this is what you call a flexible course. We have consistently kept it a 5K course, (5 kilometers/3.1 mile). But in 15 years we have adjusted and adapted to bridge replacement, street renovation, increased runners, better opportunities for the race and still kept the same basic design of one mile street, middle mile wooded trail, one mile street. Originally we tried our best to avoid Galena and limit our use of Peoria but as we grew and as the city improved its infrastructure we created a more Downtown Dixon oriented venue and tried to show off the improvements and highlight our downtown. Thank you City of Dixon – you’re a wonderful host.

The participant numbers have grown from a first race of 300 plus runners to over 1600 participants last year. It’s gone from an easily managed summer fun run to a mass of serious contenders, runners and lots of enthusiastic joggers and walkers. The organizational challenges grow but always our committee has found willing volunteers and local assistance to meet the changes. We had runners from 37 states and 4 counties running last year’s event. Nice way to experience the Rock River Valley.

The Fun Run for the kids. It’s in its 14th year and has produced so, so many graduates that have moved on up to the full 5K race. It would be fun to have tracked some of the early youngsters and discovered if they felt the Fun Run was a stepping stone to running the big event, to competing, to having fun and running regularly. Regardless, it’s too cool and very inspiring to see 300 plus youngsters roaring down Hennepin hill, swinging by the old South Central School and twisting their way into Hay Market Square. Every participant gets a medal and lots of congratulations for a fine effort. They can then stick around and watch the finish of the Main Event.

This year the Kids Run crew has been working a Go Far Run Program which consists of a Tuesday & Thursday training run 8 weeks prior to the event. This effort also incorporates character building and good eating and health discussion with the kids. KSB and Dixon Family YMCA have cosponsored this new aspect of the Kids Run in conjunction with The GO FAR RUN program.

Recent running records. We’ve seen some milestones in Dixon running history since the RR5k was started, coincidence? Not too long ago we had the first ever Cross County State Champ or at least the first I recollect. And this past track season we had a DHS record set in the girls 4×400 relay event. Congratulations to both and we hope the running bug may have bit at the RR5k and if not we sure hope you’ll join in on our fun event too.

CORPORATE CHALLENGE – We created an event within an event to inspire community business participation, camaraderie and fitness while still challenging the competitive teams to meet head on, mano a mano or in this case foot to foot. Local companies are encouraged to have 5 of their employees’ team up and match their combined race times with all the other Corporate Challengers. It’s a friendly competition but I’ve noticed some serious contenders always eyeing last year’s crown holder.

CHARITABLE BENEFACTORS – From the original two organizations, Dixon Boosters Club and Dixon Main Street we have now added YMCA, Men’s Garden Club, Dixon Police Association, Reagan Boyhood Home, Dixon Park District and The City of Dixon. All proceeds go to the various charities or to direct expenses and those are held down dramatically by a very generous community of in kind sponsors. Glad to do it and pass it on.

ORGANIZATION – The core group of volunteers is similar but none of this happens without many, many volunteers and groups. The help of Dixon Booster, Dixon Main Street, Dixon Park District, Dixon Family YMCA, Dixon Police, City of Dixon, and oh so many of our sponsors’ people all help. Different sports teams pitch in, cheerleaders help out, truly a community effort. Thank you all.

SPONSORS – The same original three hold us up as our pillars; The Telegraph, KSB and PLN Insurance Co. This year’s logo sponsors are Ken Nelson, YMCA, Subway, AgPerspective, Boss Carpet, Culver’s, Slain Construction, Bonnell Truck Equip, Dixon Autobody, Mama Cimino, Community State Bank, Edward Jones, ACE, Dixon Ford, Kohl’s, US Bank, Supreme Cleaners, Hicks Insurance, Don Knight Electric, CliftonLarsonAllen, Industrial Repair Assistance, McDonalds, Dixon Petunia Festival and the National Guard. The full list of Special Thanks Supporters is on our entry blank also available at the Y, Dixon Park District or many of these sponsors locations.

Our original intent was to fill a void in the community’s summer festival with a family event that focused on physical fitness and healthful activity which would also give back to the community. With the help of so many we now have a fun and unique running event that does manage to give back. Thanks and let’s keep up the string of record participation, get registered and join in.  Go to or go to