Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Be a Run Mentor

One of the things I love most about running is its inclusive nature. Running truly is one of the very few sports that accepts all ability levels, all ages, male and female. I realized this back in 1984 while attending my very first 10K. Actually it was my very first race period. I was a freshman in college. I had been doing a little running and saw an ad for the Great Raleigh Road Race. I was a student at NC State at the time and thought, hmmm,  I'll give this a try.

Not knowing what to expect at all, I showed up. I think I ran that 10K in 1:06:00. I really didn't know if that was good or bad. I really didn't care. I ran hard and had a great time. I remember sitting there in the downtown square afterward watching the age group awards being given out. I looked at all the runners in the square and I realized, these people are just like me. I must be a runner. It was the first time I really realized that I run, therefore, I am a runner. It opened an entirely new world up to me.

Never having been a team sports kind of kid, I never was very athletic growing up. I played a year or two of little league baseball and football, but it just wasn't for me. That day in 1984, I discovered running was for me. Been at it ever since....over 30 years.

As a running coach, one of the things I love the most is helping new runners. Whether its brand new runners, just leaning the basics or a new race trainer. I love the excitement they bring. They are usually hesitant and a bit fearful of failing or not being as good as the other runners or even worse not being accepted by the other runners. This usually comes with lack of confidence in their abilities. But soon they realize that running isn't about keeping up with others, it's about challenging yourself.

Occasionally, when away at a race or some other running event and I'll hear an "experienced" runner talk about newer, slower, or less experienced runners in a negative manner. I really don't understand these runners. I reason it as possibly a lack of confidence in their own running, so they bash the slower runner. Truly sad, but like I said it's a rare occasion. I guess in every bushel you'll have a bad apple.

I asked my running friend, Bart Yasso of Runner's World his take on the inclusiveness of running and he told me,

"Thad, as runners, we each have a duty to accept the role as mentor to a new runner or someone who doesn't think he or she can walk around the block, let alone finish a 5K. We are runners! So let's spread the message. The acceptance of all abilities is what differentiates running from every other sport."

I totally agree, Bart! I've seen so many lives enriched even turned completely around for the better by simply taking that leap of faith into running. When I hear someone talk about a slower or less experienced runner in a negative light, I usually reply back with, "You're talking to the wrong person. I ran my first mile (40lbs overweight) in 18 minutes wearing long plaid pants and a pair of wallabees." 😊 (True story.)

We all start somewhere. Whether we want to be really fast or just enjoy the journey is entirely up to the runner, but in either case we're still all runners.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

No More Shoe Woes-The Mizuno Wave Rider 20

If you've been following me on FacebookInstagram, or Twitter then you're probably aware that I've been struggling with finding a long run shoe. My favorite Hoka Huaka was discontinued and the suggested replacement just did not work for me.

So, I decided to go back to another maximalist shoe that I had previously worn the Altra Paradigm. I had worn several pair of the 1.0 and 1.5 version, but the new 2.0 version was revamped and in doing so, the shoe was created smaller. The 9.5 that I had always worn was now too small. My toes were actually hitting the end of the shoe. I returned them for a 1/2 size larger thinking maybe the 10 would fit like the old 9.5, but alas, the 10 was larger than the old 9.5 and my foot slid around. ARRGH!

Desperate, I tried several other shoes, the Sketchers Go Run, the Hoka Vanquish and Clayton, and Asics 33-M, and one of the Adidas Boosts. None worked for my feet. Now don't get me wrong, all of these shoes work for other runners, I just have particular feet. With all the miles I put in with my job, I have issues with Morton's neuroma, dropped metatarsals, Achilles issues, etc. So finding a shoe that works with my feet and will accommodate my custom orthodic is problematic.

When a shoe company decides to do a major overhaul on a shoe or discontinue it all together, it's quite traumatic for me. Oh by the way, the company that makes my favorite short run shoe (the Pearl Izumi Road N3) is stopping making running shoes all together! What's up with that?!

The other day John Dewey, from the Fleet Feet store here in Greensboro, NC dropped by with a pair of the new Mizuno Wave Rider 20 shoe for me to test out. I was excited. Could this be the shoe? I was a little skeptical because I haven't worn anything but a maximalist shoe for long runs for quite a while, but with none of the previously mentioned shoes working for me, I was more than willing to give them a test run.

Last year I ran 4 marathons and the beginning of this year I started with my first 50K with very minor foot issue...because my Hoka Huakas were working fine, but then when I wore out my last pair, my shoe woes began. I'm currently training for the Richmond Marathon. We have about 15+ runners going to Richmond to run the full and the half. So, I was really excited to be able to run with my runners. But, due to my shoe and foot woes, I've gotten way behind in my marathon training. Last Sunday, however was a glimmer of hope.

On Saturday, I tested the Wave Rider 20 on a short run without my orthodics. They felt really good during that run. But it's the long run that's the real test. I have several shoes for which I can get in a good 8-10 miles before my feet start giving me problems, but after that, my feet begin to break down. My fore foot has so little natural padding, that I need a shoe that had good fore foot cushioning. My sports med doc told me he's never seeen a foot with so little natural padding. And for some other foot issues, I need to wear my custom orthotics on the longer runs. So, the trick is finding a shoe with good forefoot cushioning that then will also accommodate my orthodic and not be too tight.

On Sunday, I tested the Mizuno Wave Rider 20s on a long run. I ran 17 miles with the orthodics in place and the shoes felt really good. Another good sign was that after the run, I wasn't doing the old-man shuffle like after many of my recent runs. Just the opposite happened. My feet felt pretty good. And other than just a little stiffness from the miles, I felt great.

The version 20 is actually revised version of the 19 and in this case (finally) the revision is good. Mizuno has included an entirely new Wave plate technology for a softer, smoother ride with an even more responsive feel. And I have to say that my run lived up to the hype. This is a more traditional shoe with a 12mm heel-to-toe drop. I usually wear a lower drop to account for the extra thickness my orthodic adds, but with this shoe, it seemed to work well. I've decided, that for me, the lower drop was contributing to my Achilles issues. Keep in mind that this is my experience. Lower drop shoes work great for many runners. I just have picky feet. The Wave Rider 20 isn't your lightest trainer, but at 9.6oz, for the responsiveness they were providing, they felt pretty light. I was really pleased because many of the maximalist shoes I've been wearing felt heavy and clunky. Never thought I'd go back to a more traditional shoe for my long run, but hey, never say never.

If you're in Greensboro, be sure to head over to Fleet Feet on Lawndale and test out a pair! Tell them RunnerDude sent you!

Spring Race Training Meeting!

Hard to Believe, But Training for Spring Half and Full Marathons is Just Around the Corner!

Training for spring races starts at RunnerDude's Fitness as early as November for some of the early spring marathons! Whether you definitely have a 5K, 10K, 10Miler, Half or Full Marathon selelcted for the spring or you're just contemplating the possibility of racing in the spring, come to our free info session to learn more about the RunnerDude's Fitness Race Training Program. 

No obligation to register. However, there will be special savings for those who do register for race training during the meeting on Nov. 6th.

What: RunnerDude's Fitness Spring Race Training Info Meeting
When: Sunday, November 6th
Time: 6:30-7:30pm
Location: 2309 W. Cone Blvd. Ste. 120 (Directions)
Cost: Free!

No need to RSVP, but if you'd like to let us know you're coming, click here.

Note: No obligation to register for training at the meeting, but those that do will recieve a special savings of $25 off Full, $15 off Half and $10 off 5K/10K/10-Mile Training.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Beginning Running Program Starts Soon!



Thinking about learning to run? The Next RunnerDude's Fitness Beginning Running Group starts Nov 10th!

With our program, we don't just set you off on a run/walk program, we teach you the elements of good running form, how to breathe properly, and we provide you a supportive group that will safely help you reach your goal of running 30 minutes with no walking by the end of the 12-week program.

Our program focuses on good form and building endurance, not pace or speed. Even though it's a group format, each runner is encouraged to run at their own pace. During the group runs, runners use a GYMBOSS interval timer that beeps when it's time to switch from a run to a walk and vice versa. This is great because it frees you up from always looking at your watch. Also, everyone in the group is running the same amount of total time (30 minutes). So while some may cover more or less ground depending on their natural pace, you'll all start and finish at the same time. No one will feel pushed too hard and no one will fell held back either. The group aspect is that you all have the same goal and you're there to support each other and hold each other accountable. 

Participants  also get a copy of Full-Body Fitness for Runners, a 170-page book chock full of nutrition info, good running form info, healthy recipes, and over 90 full-body exercises designed for runners. This is a great resource to have during the program and after! 

Also....a video running stride analysis is included in the program. Cost is only $100 for the 12 weeks. 

For more information and/or to register, go tohttp://runnerdudesfitness.com/beginning-running/

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Why Only 20?

One of the most frequently asked questions by my marathon trainers is, "Why is our longest run only
20 miles?" It's a valid question. When they trained for their half marathon, their longest run was 13 or 14 miles so most would assume they'd run 25, 26, or 27 in their marathon training. Like in many cases with non-running circumstances, the obvious, may not be the best scenario.

The Internet is a culprit in making most novice marathoners think they should run the full marathon distance prior to race day. You can find all kinds of plans online that may or may not go past 20 miles during training. Then, you'll also have runners read about how the Olympians train and they'll see their 26-mile long runs and think, well, "They do it, why shouldn't I?"

So let's back up a bit and think about the structure of a typical marathon training plan. Online, most full-marathon training plans are 16 weeks. I create 18-week plans for my runners. But given a typical 16-week plan, the typical novice marathoner comes into training with a long run of 8-10 miles. If you start week one of training at 9 miles and each week progress by one mile you'll be at 23 miles the weekend prior to race day. That's not providing any taper (which is typically the last three weeks of training). So, you'll still not get to your full marathon distance and you'll not provide any taper in which the body has time to rebuild and repair prior to race day.

Also, as a coach, I like to get the full picture of a runner before I start training with them. Ideally it's best if a runner come into training with a strong base of at least a total weekly mileage of 20-25 miles the 4 weeks before their training officially starts. Most don't have this. So, I need to make sure that when they start the ease into their training and don't do too much too soon.

The other factor is pace. Remember those Olympians doing their 26-mile long training runs? Yep, they do such runs, but those Olympians are only out there on those long runs for a faction of the time that a novice runner will be. While they may be out there 2.5 hours, a mere mortal runner may be out on their feet for 4-5 hours. Lets assume that the Olympian and novice runner have an equal stride count (yes that is possible). In a 2 hour run, the Olympian may have his/her feet hitting the ground around  21,600 times while the novice could be making as many as 43,200 foot landings covering the same distance. Doing that week after week can really take a toll on the body drastically increasing the chance of injury.

I know you're thinking, but Ultra runners run much longer. Yep, they do. However, their training is entirely different from that of a road marathoner. Ultra running often takes place on trails providing a much more forgiving running surface. Also, ultra running's focus is usually geared more around completion rather than time. Ultra running also involves typically some walking. Fueling, hydrating, pacing, it's all a different animal with an ultra runner. Ultra runners also rarely run the full distance prior to race day. Kind of hard to get in a 100-miler prior to race day. Usually ultra runners will run back-to-back long runs on two or more consecutive days. It's more about time on their feet.

With some of my more experienced runners, I've used back-to-back long runs. Usually the first "long run" will be a more moderate distance maybe up to 10 miles, and then the following day will be a more traditional marathon long run distance eventually going up to 20 miles.

It's not that I won't or haven't ever taken a runner past the 20-miler, it's just not my typical plan of action. With a more seasoned runner who is willing to dedicate themselves to a longer plan (about 25 weeks) I can take them safely closer to the marathon distance in training and still have time to incorporate dropback weeks for recovery and the taper weeks at the end of the plan.

Properly training marathon runners is all about taking them where they are currently at fitness-wise and running experience-wise and gradually building upon that to reach race day. Another question I'm often asked, especially by running buddies after they've compared training plans, is "Why does he have this distance, and I have that distance?" Or "Why do I have this workout and my buddy doesn't? A coach writes his plans based on the individual. Sometimes that creates a variance in plans. That's a good thing. Doesn't mean one is weaker or stronger, It means you're at different places or have different goals.

Research, as well as my on experience with training marathon runners, has shown me that runners entering training with a really strong base prior to training, having a starting long run around 10 miles (for which they are already acclimated to), then strategically building their long runs with the goal of getting them really acclimated to the 18-20 mile distance by taper time will lead them into race day solid and strong. That extra 6.2 miles will not be a problem. They may feel those extra miles depending on how hard they're pushing it in the first 3/4 of the race, but they'll definitely be able to handle it. Bonking or hitting the wall, usually isn't related to not having trained those extra miles. Hitting the wall is usually a result of improper hydration and fueling during the race.