Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Running Is So Much More Than Running

A recent article in the New York Times, says running may even be socially contagious! The article is about recently published research by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Sloan School of Management on how runners are affected by other runners on running data collection sites. The article didn't disclose which data collection site was used, but I'm assuming it was one like Strava, Nike, or MapMyRun. Over a 5 year period, researches gathered data from about 1.1 million runners from all over the world. Collectively runners in that time period had run about 225 million miles.

The research showed that similar runners tended to cluster as friends on the data collection site. Also, if one friend ran more than the others, then a spike in the others' running was observed. 

Basically, members in these unofficial circles would work to keep up with each other. Weather conditions didn't seem to matter either. If a runner ran more in one part of the country, a runner in another part of the country would run more (not necessarily more than the other runner, but more than he/she had previously run) even if there were adverse weather conditions.

Men seemed to be affected by this more than women. Males were definitely influenced by what their male counterparts were doing. Males were also influenced by their female counterparts but not to the same extent. Females, however, didn't seem to be influenced by their male counterparts, but they were influenced by their female counterparts. 

Personally, I use Strava to upload and keep track of my running data. It's been fun making friends around the country on Strava, keeping track of what others are doing. Strava (and I'm sure the other sites do it too) also provides challenges for runners to strive for such as running a certain race distance, running a certain number of miles in a month, etc. It's all healthy competition whether it's with yourself or with others. But, nothing, in my opinion, beats the camaraderie of a real "in-person" running group. While the online sites provide some incentive to run harder to keep up with your buddies, a real-life running group provides life-long friendships, support, motivation, and inspiration that cannot be matched in any other forum. Running is so much more than Running.   

Squeaky Running Shoe?

Ever had squeaky running shoes? This home remedy might just be the quick fix you need!

Friday, April 28, 2017

Running Shorts Interviews RunnerDude

I'm usually the one doing the interview, but turnabout is fair play. This week, Eddie Wooten, the senior sports editor of the News and Record and host of the running blog, Running Shorts interviewed me for the anniversary of the blogs 5th year of the Runners Profile series where Eddie features a different local runner. Over the past 5 years, Eddie's featured 263 runners! It was great taking time to chat with another fellow runner. Eddie's blog, Running Shorts has become a great center point for the Triad's running community, be sure to check it out! Blow is Eddie's interview with me as featured on the News & Record Running Shorts Blog.


THAD McLAURIN

Age

52

Residence

Greensboro

Day job

Click Here to See Video Interview

Why I run

"Growing up, I was never into team sports. ... I was overweight, very inactive. I did play some team sports, but I just never really cared for it. The summer before high school, I decided to lose weight and lost about 40 pounds. Started to feel better about myself, what I could do, my abilities, but I still never really did anything. Back then, there wasn't much athletics that wasn't team-oriented. I just didn't have the confidence. But when I was a freshman at State, I started running on my own. Did my first 10K (Great Raleigh Road Race, 1984). I remember sitting there after the race, on the wall, and just looking at all the different people and different sizes, ages, and it was like, 'I can do this.' That's when I started getting into doing more races on my own. ..
"But it wasn't until about 10 years later, '96, '97, I got the bug into distance. I trained for my first full, New York, in '97. Got hooked from then on. Did one or two a year pretty much ever since ... I just realized that I could run for myself, I could compete with myself. In a race you might end up competing with somebody you don't know, that person in front of you you want to peg and try to get beyond. I really liked that vs. the team aspect. ...
"When we moved here in '98, I wasn't didn't know Greensboro too well. I ran around my neighborhood. I found Country Park. I found Military Park. Back then, you couldn't Google 'Greenways.' I didn't know where anything was. I remember the day I realized there was a cut-through from Military to Country Park, and I was so excited because I had a 5-mile loop. The second marathon I ran, which was also New York, I trained running in Military Park. That gets old after a while.
"Then Rick King, who started the Blueliners, ... kept bugging me to come with this group. I didn't know who they were. Finally, I thought, 'I'll go so he'll leave me alone.' That first day we ran 9 miles on the greenway; I never knew the greenway was there. ... I joined the Blueliners then and ran with them up until the time I started RunnerDude's Fitness. ... He's the reason I was able to run different areas around here and meet other people and understand about the running community."
When Thad McLaurin first joined a group of other runners,
the Blueliners welcomed him.

A typical week

"When I'm not injured (Achilles), it's hard to get in 'me' runs. I do a lot of running with clients, so there's a lot of miles in there, but they're not necessarily 'me' miles. When I get a 'me' run, it's a treat. I try to get in at least two 'me' runs and a long run on the weekends (Sundays). ... When race training season kicks in, 50, 60 miles a week (includes runs with clients). When it's not, 25 to 30."

Favorite place to run

"Downtown. I love our greenways, I love that we have so many greenways, and I run them a lot with my runners. But as far as a 'me' run, particularly a long run, I call 'em undetermined runs. I'll leave from here or my house and I'll just head downtown. I know the total mileage I want. From the Run the Boro runs, dealing with multiple routes, I've learned downtown pretty well. I can figure out in my brain as I'm running where I need to go to get the mileage. I like the diversity. I love looking at the architecture and the different neighborhoods. It keeps my mind occupied. The beauty of the greenway on the long run is great, but it's pretty much the same view. Trees, trees, maybe a lake, then some more trees. I like the terrain, it's a mix of hills and flat."

Faster, higher, stronger

"My favorite speed workout is called 90-60s (90 seconds hard, 60 seconds easy). You can do it outside, you can do it on the treadmill. It's a no-excuse speed workout. You don't have to have a track. A lot of them are time-based, some of them are distance-based. It's got two intervals, so you can program it in your watch or use an interval timer. And it doesn't take long. You can do a 1-mile warmup, two rounds of the 90-60s and a 1-mile cooldown, and you're finished in about 40 minutes."

Other athletic pursuits

"I don't have a lot of time for me for that kind of stuff. I do a lot fitness-type stuff, Tabata circuits, that kind of stuff."

Other life pursuits

"I love writing (author of Full-Body Fitness for Runners). That's how the blog started. As a career, I was a writer – more technical kind of writing, educational – editor, book development manager for 13 years with the Education Center. ... I love to read."

I love running when ...

"It's for me, because that's rare. I love it when it's a purposeless run. I'm just able to go out and run. It's freeing; that's when I do a lot of brainstorming and thinking, things come to my mind that don't at other times."

But I don't love running when ...

"I'm injured."

A key piece of gear

"My orthotics. My legs are great, my aerobic fitness is great, but my feet hurt a lot. I have metatarsal issues. The Achilles thing is new, and I know why that happened. I ran very little in December and January because of my dad passing, and my mom has Alzheimer's and we're dealing with that. So I was out of commission. When I got back, I did the Massacre Marathon Relay, and I was the first one on my team to do the leg and busted out like crazy. Felt good, but then you have to stop. That's when I strained my Achilles. ... I don't know that I can do many more relay races because of the stop-and-start. Once I start, I have to keep going."

A favorite event

Thad McLaurin at the 2007
ChicagoMarathon
"Locally, the relay races that we've done, Doggettville and Massacre. At Doggettville, we're there all day long and it's just fun. We had a bunch of teams there. Some of them are somewhat competitive, but we mainly go just to have fun and celebrate running and see how many laps we can get in. The Doggetts are great, it's very relaxed, there's food, the route is pretty. ... Personally, as far as a race, Chicago (Marathon, 2007) was my favorite – and my worst. I ran it the year they had the heat wave and they shut it down. I was trying to qualify for Boston, but I got heat exhaustion. I PR'd; it was a 3:40 or something. I was on track until about Mile 18 and just fell apart because the heat was so bad. It was still an awesome experience."

Look what I did

"Grandfather Mountain (2015). I did it in 4 1/2 hours, and that was on the tail of doing two other marathons right prior to that. That was a great experience. It was challenging, but I never felt like I did in Chicago. It felt doable. I knew it was going to be an experience run. ... There wasn't a lot of stress as far as trying to beat a previous time because I knew it was a completely different animal. Our family is Scottish heritage, so when you come in there to the Highland Games, that's pretty cool. There were some families there that I had grown up with who go to the Highland Games every year, and they yelled out my name when I passed through, so that was pretty neat. That's one of my most nondescript, plainest medals, but it probably means the most."
Thad McLaurin finishing the Grandfather Mountain Marathon at the
Highland Games.

Up next

"I think I'll be able to do one (marathon) in the fall. I'm registered for Savannah (Rock 'n' Roll Marathon). We have a big group going to the Flying Pig (Cincinnati, May 7). I'm going to do the half."

Most people don't know

"I started out thinking I wanted to be an artist. I used to do a lot of drawing: pen-and-ink, color pencil, that kind of stuff. But I never really had the confidence to do that. I never took any art classes in high school. But I did a lot of drawing. ... Just like my teaching experience, then my writing experience and my art, the little bit I had, I use it all now, whether it's on the web site or the blog or the book or just creating a video for runners. I get to use a lot of those skills."

Words to the wise

"Set realistic goals. You'd be surprised how many people come and we'll have a consultation about race training. They want to do a marathon. So my next question is, 'Which one?' 'It's two months away.' 'How much running are you doing?' 'I'm not.' That's just an injury waiting to happen. ... Rest is equally as important as a speed workout. That's hard, particularly for the more competitive runners. They think that it's a weakness if they have to take a rest, but they're just setting themselves up for injury, too. You've got to be able to recover. And the older you get, you need a little more recovery."

Final thoughts

"I truly love what I do. I love being part of the running community. I love contributing to the running community, and what they give back is twofold."
Thad McLaurin's RunTheBoro series will return starting May 6.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

RunTheBoro: Some of the Best Ideas Come From the Most Unlikely Places

April 1st is usually known for April Fools Day. I'll always remember it for an unexpected day trip that blossomed into a great idea. This picture  of me having lunch outside of a Hillsborough Street Jimmy John's on the NCSU campus in Raleigh is a great reminder of this awesome day. I love this picture for so many reasons.

For one, my shirt speaks to my heart. It's my love of running that has me sitting for this picture about an hour and 20 mins from home. A client ended up having to cancel her mid morning session, so I took advantage of this unusual free time to check out Runologie, a cool independent running store I had heard about in Raleigh.

Second, it was this visit to Runologie that inspired RunTheBoro, a two-month eight-run event through the city of Greensboro.

Third, it shows that ideas can sprout when you least expect them. A little nugget of an idea can blossom into something that can affect hundreds of people in such a positive way. In just 3 months after taking this picture, RunTheBoro brought together over 300 runners, sparking new friendships, rekindling old friendships, all the while sharing history of Greensboro from the Revolutionary War, to the dawn of Civil Rights in the 1960s, to the present day revitalization of once neglected neighborhoods.

Fourth, this picture reminds this Dude to be a sponge, always receptive to new ideas. If this once nonathletic-chubby kid, sitting on the campus of NC State in Raleigh, wearing a Tar Heel 10-Miler T-shirt, after visiting a running store 70 miles from home, can return home with an idea that can affect hundreds of runners in Greensboro in an amazingly positive way, just think what other possibilities lie ahead.

RunTheBoro #2 will begin May 6th at 7:00am at RunnerDude's Fitness. Each Saturday during the months of May and June, runners will traverse over 25 different Greensboro neighborhoods and 4 different greenways. There will 12 different pace groups from 7:30 to Walking. For each run there will be a 5ish-mile route and an 8-10ish mile route. Prior to each run, historic information for the neighborhoods explored will be provided in the RunTheBoro Newsletter. (To receive this free newsletter click here.)

We are also very excited to have some local businesses as sponsors this year-Green Joe's Coffee Company, Omega Sports, Bill Black Chevrolet, Di'lishi Frozen Yogurt, Junction 311 Endurance Sports, and The Cleaning Authority. With their support we'll have RunTheBoro T-shirts for sale at the runs. A portion of the sale from the T-shirts goes to the Greenway Water Fund. This fund helps RunnerDude's Fitness provide bottled water in four coolers along the Atlantic & Yadkin Greenway year-round. We put out around 8,000-10,000 bottles of water each year for Greensboro runners. For more info and/or to make a donation to the Greenway Water Fund click here.

RunTheBoro is a free event. Come out and participate in one or all eight runs! For more information on RunTheBoro click here. To join the RunTheBoro Group Run Facebook page click here.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Goals Keep You Accountable


Just started running and find it a little daunting or have you been running for a while and find yourself in a rut? In either case, setting a running goal might be just the thing. Sometimes that little push of a commitment is all you need to get you going. Personally, I've found that setting a yearly running goals, gives me the motivation I need to keep running year-round. Plus, it gives me something to look forward to and strive for.

When you set a goal for yourself, be it a 5K, 10K, half marathon, full marathon, ultra, or whatever the distance, it gives you something tangible to aim for. Setting a goal, making-a-plan to achieve that goal, and monitoring your progress can help raise your self-confidence as you realize that you have the ability to achieve the goal.

Make sure you set a strong goal. Don't be wishy-washy. Goals like, "I'm going to run more this year" or "I'm going to train harder" really aren't very motivating and you'll quickly lose interest. However, committing to running your first 10K, half or full marathon and announcing it to the world...now that's a goal. Sometimes making your goal something that's a part of something even bigger like a charity fund-raiser can help strengthen your commitment even more.

Make your goal realistic but at the same time make it a little challenging by selecting something that's attainable, but a little beyond your comfort zone. A challenge like this will give you something to work toward as well as build and increase your strength and endurance. Be careful though not to make your goal so challenging that you'll become discouraged and quit.

Making a long-range plan will often help you avoid picking a goal that may be out of reach at-the-moment. For example, if you are a brand-new runner and you'd really like to run a marathon, make the marathon your long-range goal and make running a 5K, 10K, and/or half-marathon your short-term goal(s). This may take a little longer, but it will help ensure that you reach the long-term goal you desire so much. If you're a new runner, achieving these smaller milestones will help build your confidence as you see the progress being made working your way up the ladder.

Post your goal for all to see. Let your family, friends, and coworkers know about your goal. Knowing that others are award of your goal will make you more accountable. This positive pressure will help you get out there for a run on those days that you're not so motivated to do so. Try to recruit a buddy to join you in your challenge. Running with a buddy can be very enjoyable and you can help keep each other motivated.

Reward your efforts! Attach some kind of treat to your successful completion of your goal. You will have worked hard, so celebrate the fruits of your labor and then get to work setting your next goal.
I'd love to know about your running goals. Email them to me at runnerdudeblog@yahoo.com.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Soapbox: Fitness Apps Are Great, But...

Fitness and nutrition apps are a great way to keep track of your exercise and eating, but be careful with the nutrition info they provide. More than not, they set caloric goals way too low to sustain yoru activity level. The best advice and guidance will come from a nutritionist or a registered dietition.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Taking That Leap

I wanted to be an architect like Mr. Brady.

This morning I Facebook messaged with a friend who was telling me he was miserable in his current job. I told him to think about what was worse, being safe in his current job but miserable, or (albeit scary) taking a leap of faith and make a change and do what he really wanted to do. It made me reflect on my own past decisions.

When someone asked me as a kid what I wanted to do when I grew up, I'd usually say I wanted to be an architect. I think that was because "Mr. Brady" the dad on my favorite TV show "The Brady Bunch" (this was the 70s) was an architect. I didn't really know what that was, but it sounded cool.


My early art. Not great, but I really enjoyed drawing, It was
my escape. Probably haven't drawn anything in 20 years.
Of course I didn't become an architect, but dreaming about it was fun. As a kid, I was always making something. My poor dad. While other fathers were in the sports section of Roses (Wal-Mart of the 70s) picking out a glove, ball, or bat, my dad was in the crafts section waiting for me to pick out the next whatever I was going to make. I never had any formal art training. Never even took art in high school, but on my own, I drew. I drew a lot. Mostly pen and ink and colored pencil. I was never secure enough in my talent to take an art class or to take it in school. Ironically, kind of like sports at the time. I was scared to put myself out there.

Then all of the sudden I'm getting ready to graduate from High School and I'm expected to have a career in mind.  I really had no idea. I was accepted into App State, NCSU, and UNC-Chapel Hill. Not exactly sure why, but I chose App State. I was thinking I was going to go into "art" not knowing what that really was or meant. There's one thing about me that has always been and will always be and that is that I might not know what I want, but I definitely know what I don't want.

My first few days at App were not very good. Now keep in mind, I had really only been away from home by myself once. I was a preacher's kid and while I wasn't really sheltered I was a very naive kid. Looking back I'm pretty proud of that naivete because it really let me be a kid. Problem was that at that point in my life that naivete didn't prepare me for the first couple days of college life having drunk kids fall into my room and lots of other not-so-appropriate-things being thrown in my face full force in concentrated form on day one. Scared the heck out of me. I called home and without much detail, I told my parents that ASU just wasn't for me. My Dad, said, "Well, let me come up there tomorrow, we'll talk about it, and then we'll decide what to do." Dad arrived the next day like he promised. But when he got there, I had my room emptied and my car packed. We headed home. LOL! Like I said, I may not know what I want, but I know what I don't want. Still true today.

So coming home, my Dad said I had to have a plan. And so I did. Because school had already started, I couldn't just go to NCSU or UNC even though I had been accepted. I had to reapply. So that semester, I took evening classes at UNC while awaiting my re-acceptance status for the second semester at UNC or NCSU. I heard from NCSU first so, I headed to Raleigh with the idea I'd be a business major. First two semesters were great, then in my third semester, when I took my first "real" business class (some kind of statistics class), I thought "holy crap!" Decided then-and-there that the business route was not for me (kind of ironic since today, I'm a small business owner). I transferred to UNC-Chapel Hill as an Education major.

A letter from a student in my last 5th grade class.
Wow! She'd be about 31 now....I feel old. 
I had finally found my niche. I graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill with a BA in Intermediate Education and began my career as a 5th grade teacher in the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools. I really loved what I did. After eight years, I had an opportunity to go into educational publishing with a company based in Greensboro, NC. It was scary, to move from teaching into a more corporate setting, but it was a great blend of teaching, creating, and big business. My first leap of faith.

I was in publishing for 13 years. Loved what I did. Had worked my way from writer/editor, to Senor Editor of Intermediate Books, to  Book Development Manager, to Curriculum Manager. I got to travel some and really loved what I was doing. I thought I'd be in publishing until retirement. Then the bottom fell out of the economy in 2009 and 1/3 of the company I worked for was let go. I was a part of that 1/3. Funny how the ones with the most experience and longevity are the first to go during times like that.  Insult to injury, the company held me to a non-compete and I was not able to work in my field for 18 months. I could have fought it, but instead I took it as a sign to do what I really loved doing....running and fitness. Leap of faith #2.

So in 2009, back to school I went getting my diploma in fitness training from the National Personal Training Institute in Raleigh, my personal training certification from the American College of Sports Medicine, and coaching certifications from RRCA for marathon training and USA-TF for track and short distance running.

In 2010, I leased a 400 sq ft office space in Greeensboro, NC with (no money and no clients) and opened RunnerDude's Fitness. Leap of Faith #3. Scared to death, but excited beyond belief, I began my journey as RunnerDude. Best decision of my life. In the past seven years, that 400 sq ft has grown to 3000 sq ft and that zero client list has grow to me working with over 600 running and fitness clients. I've helped hundreds of runners reach their running goals from running for the first time to qualifying for Boston. I've crafted RunnerDude's Blog into one of the top rated running blogs in the country, being read in over 90 countries and  over 1.5 million page views, giving me the opportunity to interview running greats like Olympians Shalane Flanagan, Kara Goucher, Nick Symmonds, and Jeff Galloway as well as Runner's World's Bart Yasso.
Evolution of a Dude
Is it still scary? Heck yeah, but I love what I do. All though I didn't know it at the time, all of those life "stepping stones" helped create the person I am today. Many my age are talking about upcoming retirement, but I feel like I've just started. I'll probably be coaching runners from my hoveround on the greenway when I'm 90. :-)

Change is hard, but to grow as an individual, you need change. Your change may not be a huge career change, but whatever change comes your way, embrace it, it may bring amazing things your way. Are you due for a leap of faith?