Last updated: August 26. 2013 10:52PM - 11 Views

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(BPT) - Women are busier than ever these days - the latest report from RunningUSA says women account for nearly eight million U.S. road-race finishers, with the number continuing to climb. For many women, running provides an opportunity to take a break from the challenges of work, family and other stress to be their best selves while combining fun, personal accomplishment and camaraderie with others.

One of the latest trends in fitness caters to this female audience, with many race events designed specifically for women. In 2011, the United States had 18 women-only events, but by 2012, the number had risen to more than 200. Women-only events offer something for everyone, from beginners to competitive racers, and provide a meaningful and relevant fitness experience by mixing camaraderie with competition and designer event experiences.

One such event, debuting in 2013 is the Life Time Athleta Esprit de She – The Spirit of Her event series. Designed exclusively for women, the series features 18 fitness-inspired “happy hour” 5K and 10K runs, cycle tours, duathlons and triathlons for every pace and passion. Each event includes a post-race rendezvous where participants can salute their success with a drink at the champagne bubbly bar, enjoy post-race manicures, pedicures and massages at the LifeSpa beauty bar, and shop at the community market.

 “Crossing the finish line is a defining moment for both girls and women - no matter their age - and is worthy of celebration. The shared desire to celebrate fitness and health, optimism and strength will inspire women of today and nurture the girls of tomorrow,” says Esprit de She brand director, Lindsey Kurhajetz.

For women who are ready to hit the road, Rebekah Mayer, national training manager for Life Time Run, offers the following tips:

New runners: Start with one minute of running followed by four minutes of walking, and repeat four to six times. Each week, add a minute of running and remove a minute of walking, until you’re able to run 10 minutes or more without a break.

Moms: Invest in a running stroller. Look for times when you can squeeze in a run while bringing a child (or two) along. Play “I Spy” along your route to keep kids entertained.

Carb-loaders: Running burns about 100 calories a mile and you’ll want to refuel appropriately during training. Having a combination of protein, healthy fats and fiber during each meal and snack throughout the day will promote a healthy metabolism. There is no need to “carb-load” for 5K and 10K training.

Social butterflies: Find friends with whom you can share the journey. Registering for a 5K or 10K with a friend can become a girls’ night out. Many races promote women-only destination events, with the idea that participants can leave behind their work or family obligations and travel with a running girlfriend to enjoy competition and relaxation time simultaneously, according to RunningUSA.

“It’s common for women to feel guilty about taking time away from their jobs, kids and other obligations to work out. Just remember, you’ll be a happier, healthier woman,” Mayer says.

Registration is open for many Athleta Esprit de She events. Visit espritdeshe.com, the official website of The Spirit of Her Race Series, to learn more.

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