The 12 days of fitness

by • December 11, 2017 • HighlightsComments (0)946

Extend the giving season with these running-related surprises


With the holidays in mind, a creative gift for the hard-to-satisfy runner in your life could be a fun twist on the popular “Twelve Days of Christmas” tune. For each day, put your gift in an envelope or small box and keep the holidays going for more than just Dec. 25.

First Day

Light up your running like the Town Square Christmas Tree in Anchorage did in 2016.
Courtesy Mike Halko

On the first Day of Christmas, my spouse gave to me “traction” in the form of Ice Bugs ( the sweet, Swedish footwear that can be found at Skinny Raven Sports. Whether you run or walk, these shoes will keep you vertical on icy streets and other surfaces.

Second Day

Two guest passes to the Hotel Captain Cook Athletic Club ( can add a fun outing for you and the gift-giver. Share the fitness joy with the giver. Separate gender exercise areas allow one to focus on the task at hand, which is always nice for someone just starting out. This special treat can be saved for those winter days when the double-digit, below-zero temperatures arrive. And a bonus? The steam room is arguably the best in the state.

Third Day

A Kaladi Brothers Gift Card ( is always welcome because everyone needs some java to kick start their day, right? Whether you are training or racing, a coffee card is a nice extra to have at the ready, especially after a cold outing. The Brayton Road Store is my favorite for the smell from the roaster, and the Tudor Road Store has spectacular views of the Chugach Mountains.

Fourth Day

A membership in the Anchorage Running Club (www.anchoragerunningclub) or Fairbanks’ Running Club North ( will earn you discounts at races and a chance to meet like-minded people. Before you know it, you will also be volunteering at these events.

Fifth Day

An Entry in the Northern Lights Resolution Run 5K. ( can kick-start your new year of health and be a fun New Year’s Eve activity. Race time is 6 p.m., Dec. 31 and is filled with colorful lights to celebrate the season. Rumor has it there’s dancing to recover from your efforts.

Sixth Day

A recovery walk in downtown Anchorage with breakfast at the Snow City Café (www.snowcitycafe). This can be a hand-written “coupon” for the one you plan to treat. I recommend reservations for Sunday mornings because it gets busy, and as a personal recommendation? Go with the Tofu Scramble. (272-2489)

Seventh Day

Buy a $15 pass for a spin class at The Alaska Club’s (www.alaskaclub) West Club on Northern Lights Boulevard. Or check out other area clubs for good options.

Eighth Day

An Alaska State Parks Parking Pass takes the hassle of filling out envelopes at trail heads and supports the great outdoors. Additional ones can be purchased for other vehicles at Call 269-8400 or go to REI in Anchorage.

Ninth Day

A head lamp for morning or evening runs. As we know, there’s not much light during Alaska winters, so it’s good to be seen and to see your surroundings – especially moose, which can be deceivingly camouflaged in the dark.

Tenth Day

A two-night stay at Hotel Alyeska in Girdwood. Run the plowed bike paths or cross-country ski at Moose Meadow or the newly built Girdwood Nordic Ski Club trails. ( or 800-880-3880/754-2111)

Eleventh Day

A certificate for Whole Body Boot Camp at Studio One Pilates. Your core is key, and these instructors will tighten you up. Choose from one class or a certificate for more. (

Twelfth Day

Save the Best for last: Runners’ World’s Bart Yasso’s latest book “Race Everything” will give you an idea of what it takes to run any race of any distance. To get a feel for the book, listen to Episode 1, “The Mayor of Running,” on the Personal Best Podcast at

— Keep Striding and Smiling,

Coach Mike

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