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Jeff Galloway’s Piedmont Park Memories

Jimmy Carter. Changing The Peachtree Road Race Course. A New Relay Race.

I “discovered” Piedmont Park by accident. It was 1960, and I was warming up for my race at a track meet at Grady Stadium. I was nervous, the track was crowded and I wanted to run away from the crowd to settle my mind. I ran across 10th Street and was drawn into the calming natural environment of Piedmont Park. I returned to the track and ran one of my best races that year.

Life experiences during the next decade brought me to Connecticut for college, sailing with the United States Navy off Vietnam, Tallahassee for graduate school and the Olympics in Munich, Germany. By 1975, I was drawn back to Atlanta and looking for the best location for my running store: Phidippides – the original running store in Atlanta, and in the United States.

Before choosing from three possible locations, I took a three-mile run around each store. Once I ran from Ansley Mall along Piedmont Road and found the Park, my choice was made. I remembered my run in high school and was excited to have the wonderful loops and fields so close to the store.

“Regardless of the number of stress items on my “to do list,” the Park’s calming hormones worked their magic as soon as I entered the tree-lined sanctuary.”

As Phidippides became the headquarters for the Peachtree Road Race during the big growth years of 1975-1978, I ran many miles throughout every area of the Park because I had to squeeze in my run during hectic work days. Regardless of the number of stress items on my “to do list,” the Park’s calming hormones worked their magic as soon as I entered the tree-lined sanctuary.

During the first two years that I served on the management team of “The Peachtree”, the race finished at 5 Points in the downtown district. As I was looking for ways to improve the course, I was inspired to change the finish to Piedmont Park during my one of runs from Phidippides. With the help of Director Bill Neace and our Public Affairs Director Bob Brennan, we were able to make this move which is now noted as one of the race highlights.

A special sighting occurred on one my pre-dawn runs in 1978 along Lake Clara Meer. There was a vehicle ahead with some runners in a tight group headed toward me. Since vehicles were not allowed in the park, I was curious. On the outside of this group were several huge guys intently looking at me. As the group ran under a streetlight, I saw President Jimmy Carter on his morning run!

“As the group ran under a streetlight, I saw President Jimmy Carter on his morning run!”

While Piedmont Park was a wonderful resource during the ‘70s and ‘80s, there were a number of problems including areas that were not very safe. This was BC: “Before Conservancy,” which was founded in 1989. There has been a dramatic upgrade in the Park, including safety, due to the work of this great organization.

My favorite run into the Park starts on the BeltLine behind Ansley Mall and into Piedmont Park without having to cross a street. I love to see the dogs in the dog park and then run over to Park Tavern and up to Lake Clara Meer. My Galloway Training Program members have run thousands of miles in Piedmont Park. I trained for my personal marathon record there (2:16), finding an ideal variety of flat and rolling terrain all inside the Park.

My wife Barbara and I are proud to host a 5K, half marathon and kids runs on December 14 and 15 with the major beneficiary being the Piedmont Park Conservancy. This year, we have an exciting new relay division of the half marathon for walkers and runners during the Northside Hospital Orthopedic Institute’s Half Marathon, powered by Jeff Galloway. Gather your friends, co-workers, and family members to enter a team. The last segment is less than three miles and entirely inside beautiful Piedmont Park. I will be at the finish line for pictures and congratulations.

I have run in many great parks across the globe. Piedmont Park is truly “world class” due to the work of the Conservancy. Join us for our 6th Annual Race Weekend and support this wonderful organization. Register today at www.jeffgalloway131.com.

Author: Jeff Galloway

Author Bio: Native Atlantan Jeff Galloway ran in the Munich Olympics, founded the first running store in the US (Phidippides), has coached over a million runners and walkers, and directs the Northside Hospital Orthopedic Institute’s Half Marathon, powered by Jeff Galloway which finishes in Piedmont Park.

Recap: Runaway Bride 5K!

If you were in Piedmont Park last weekend and thought you saw a woman running in an ankle-length wedding dress, you weren’t just seeing things. Atlanta’s Run Away Bride 5K, a wedding-inspired race hosted by the Piedmont Park Conservancy, took place in the Park on Sunday, July 22.

Race participants, a medley of married, engaged and single folks, wore wedding attire of all kinds for this unique race benefiting the Conservancy. Many dressed up in fun veils and bowties, while others took it up a few notches, clad in full bridal garb. Park visitors were treated to a wedding processional of sorts as the runners made their way past! There were tutus, bouquets, bridesmaid’s dresses, and a 20-year-old bridal gown worn by its original owner, Carol, who also held an impromptu bouquet toss.

Thank you our runners for dressing up for the occasion; Exhale Spa for sponsoring the event; and W Hotel (Midtown), Spa Sydell, Urban Body Fitness and Dancing Dogs Yoga for providing prizes for our winners.

Guest Post by Aliya Seymour

 

Six Ways Parks Can Help You Stay Healthy

Do you want to live a long, healthy, and happy life?

It’s easy. In fact, it’s as easy as a walk in the park.

Public parks are known for their beauty or recreational value. But the biggest benefit lies in what they can do for your physical and mental health.

Let’s have a look:

1. Parks encourage physical activity

Everybody knows regular exercise is the key to maintaining your health but very few manage to do it. In a survey, more than 75% of participants said that they want to be fit but only 31% said that they exercise on a regular basis.

One of the biggest problems is the absence of a convenient place like parks. This research confirms that people are a lot more likely to exercise if they are living near to a park. The participants mentioned parks as the most common place for exercise. Another study by the Rand Corporation reveals that 50% of all vigorous exercises take place in the parks.

American Journal of Preventive Medicine did a meta-analysis of various studies and concluded that awareness and access to places for exercise can result in a 48.4% increase in physical activity. It will improve aerobic capacity, flexibility, and help weight loss.

Even if you are not moving a muscle and just spending some time in the park, it will improve your perceived health and lower blood pressure, according to this study by Penn State University.

You should be aiming for a lot more than perception though. You don’t need anything fancy. Parks are the best place to follow a walking or jogging routine and just 20 – 30 minutes of running can transform your life.

2. Parks enhance your mood and mental health:

Are you feeling down? Stressed? Or depressed? One of the easiest ways to improve your mood is to go to a park.

These places have some magic about them.

Spending just 10 minutes in a park can improve your mood and reduce stress. Take a book for even better results because leisure activities in the park can improve your sense of wellness.

Research confirms that taking a stroll in natural surrounding can decrease mental activity that leads to depression. Not to forget that exercise is the best antidepressant and sometimes, as effective as drugs. Here’s another study that confirms spending time in the park can be relaxing for the mind.

Most of our mental issues stem from negative thinking. Parks can help you look at the positive side of things. A team of researchers analyzed 2.2 million tweets and found that the tweets from parks were more positive than the ones from residential areas or transport hubs.

The mental health benefits are not limited to mood enhancement. Research has shown that spending some time in parks can restore mental energy, improve short-term memory, improve concentration, and boost creativity.

Oh, and it will also improve your sleep quality so your mind gets the much-needed rest.

3. Green space improves the quality of life:

Green is the color of life.

It is often associated with nature, sense of wellbeing, harmony, and a clean environment. Studies confirm that people with a regular view of trees or greenery from their homes or offices are less likely to suffer from mental fatigue or depression.

Parks are the perfect place to de-stress and wind down after a hectic day. Looking at the greenery will alleviate your diastolic blood pressure. People feel more calm and relaxed when they are around plants and flowers.

Many hospitals have parks or gardens because it supports recovery and improves immune response. Research has shown than greenery can produce positive health, social and environmental outcomes. This is why horticulture therapy is used for mental health treatment, community-based programs, or prisons. People working in offices with natural elements report higher well-being.

4. Parks contribute to social wellbeing:

Loneliness can be twice as deadly as obesity. It is as harmful as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. Social isolation leads to problems like dementia, blood pressure, and substance abuse. A meta-analytic review of 150 studies suggests that people with strong social connections have a 50% increased likelihood of survival, regardless of their age or health.

Park is a great place to meet new people and make friends. Research has shown that kids with close friends have higher self-esteem and they do better academically. Not only that, but they will grow up to become more confident and less depressive by the age of 25.

For seniors, living a socially active life means higher late life satisfaction and a less severe decline in the old age.

5. Environmental benefits of parks:

The health benefits of the parks are not limited to people who visit them. The trees and plants have tremendous environmental benefits for the entire neighborhood.

They improve air quality by absorbing carbon dioxide and emitting oxygen. Harmful particles and gases like Nitrogen oxide, ozone, sulfur dioxide, etc. are also taken care of.

They provide the much-needed shelter and keep the temperatures in control. They do it by absorbing water and releasing it in the air. NASA reported an increase of 5º to 8º degrees in Atlanta where 380,000 acres of trees were bulldozed. That’s how big of a difference they make.

Trees can also save water and prevent soil erosion. The lack of trees results in serious problems like heat-island-effect and smog. This is why the US Environmental protection agency recommends parks and green roofs to combat these problems.

6. Spend quality time with your loved ones:

Do you find it difficult to motivate your kids to be active?

A study found that kids living near the parks are more active. Physical activity or outdoor games are incredibly good for their physical, mental, and emotional development.

Research has shown that children who spend time with their fathers have improved self-esteem, higher IQ, better health, and they are less likely to get into trouble.

And it’s good for you too. In a survey, 46% of people said that their loved ones help them make healthy choices in life.

These are just some benefits but we’d love to hear from you. Are you a regular visitor to the park? How has it benefited you? Please share your thoughts and comments on this.

Guest Post by Sadaqut Ullah Khan
Author: Research Analyst and Writer at RunRepeat.com

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