Thursday, February 16, 2017

RunnerDude Chats with Nick Symmonds


Over the years, I've been very fortunate in having opportunities to interview Olympic athletes. In 2012, I was able to interview Shalane Flanagan and Kara Goucher just before they headed to the London Games. Yesterday I had the opportunity to catch up with two-time Olympian, Nick Symmonds. 

Nick's first Olympic experience was at the 2008 Games in Beijing, the second taking place at the 2012 Games in London. Unfortunately, Nick was not able to make a third Olympics (Rio) due to an ankle injury just before the Games. In January, Nick announced he'd be retiring from competitive running after the 2017 outdoor season. It's been about 10 years since Nick turned pro and he's had an awesome career as a runner and his legacy will continue with his support of runners (and all endurance athletes) with his new product, Run Gum. Talking with Nick, I got to know a little more about this talented runner and outspoken advocate for athletes' rights. 
Take some time to check out the interview below to learn even more about this pretty cool Dude.

Interview with Two-Time Olympian Nick Symmonds

Friday, January 27, 2017

Need a Track for Speed Work? Pshaw!

Not doing speed work as a part of your weekly running because you don't have access to a track? Pshaw! You don't need a track!

I hear it frequently from runners. "I don't do speed work because I don't have access to a track." It's a common misconception. Because speed workout mimics most track events such as 800s or mile repeats, many runners think speed work needs to be done on a track.  Well, it doesn't.

Except for two weeks of vacation, I do a weekly speed workout with my RUNegades running group year-round! That's 50 workouts. None of those 50 workouts take place on a track. Really, all you need is a fairly straight stretch of greenway, even a parking lot will do.

You do need to think a little out of the box, but it can be done and be done very effectively. Not only is it effective, it breaks the boredom that track running often brings. For some workouts such as 400s, 800s, 1200s, mile repeats, you may need to measure and mark some distance points, but there are a ton of timed workouts that do not need specific distances marked.

For workouts like 800s or distance-based ladders or pyramids, I'll use chalk or cones to mark various distances. For 400s or 800s, I'll just put an orange cone at the beginning, end, or turnaround points. For runs with varying distances such as ladders or pyramids, I'll usually chalk every 200m. It takes a little prep time, but it works well.

But there are many workouts that are time-based that a runner can program into their GPS watch, use an interval timer, or a trusty ole stopwatch.

One of the benefits of time-based speed workouts, particularly when used with a group of varying paces, is that everyone is running the exact same amount of time. Some runners may cover more or less distance than other runners based on their pace, but everyone starts and stops at the same time. This is great because newer or slower runners won't feel like they're holding up the pack and faster more seasoned runners won't feel held back. It's a win/win.

For most of my time-based speed workouts, I have my runners complete them in a circular fashion such as around a parking lot or I'll have them do an out-n-back stretch of greenway. This works great not only because it keeps the runners in close proximity (like on a track), it also lets the runners continuously see each other. After several minutes into a workouts, runners are spread out continuously passing each other which enables them to support and cheer each other on. Awesome to see. Fast, seasoned runners get inspired by the determination of the slower, newer runners and the slower, newer runners get inspired by the seeing what the faster, more seasoned runners are able to do.

Below are some great Time-Based Non-Track Workouts to try:
Note: It's best to begin all speed workouts with an easy 1-mile warm-up run and end the workout with an easy 1-mile cool-down run.

90/60s
5 x  (Run 90 secs hard / Run 60 secs easy)
Take a 2-3 min recovery walk
5 x  (Run 90 secs hard / Run 60 secs easy)

30-20-10s
5 x (Run 30 secs very slowly / Run 20 seconds at moderate pace / Sprint 10 secs)
2-min recovery jog
5 x (Run 30 secs very slowly / Run 20 seconds at moderate pace / Sprint 10 secs)
2-min recovery jog

Up/Down Fartleks
Run 1-min hard / Run 1-min easy
Run 2-min hard / Run 1-min easy
Run 3-min hard / Run 1-min easy
Run 2-min hard / Run 1-min easy
Run 1-min hard / Run 1-min easy
Take a 2-3 min recovery walk
Run 1-min hard / Run 1-min easy
Run 2-min hard / Run 1-min easy
Run 3-min hard / Run 1-min easy
Run 2-min hard / Run 1-min easy
Run 1-min hard / Run 1-min easy

Below are some Distance-Based Non-Track Workouts to try:
Note: It's best to begin all speed workouts with an easy 1-mile warm-up run and end the workout with an easy 1-mile cool-down run.

Wind Sprints

Staggered Hill Repeats
Find  hill that's approximately a 1/2-mile in length. (Can be shorter, but a 1/2 mile works great.). Doesn't have to be extremely steep. A steady incline will work nicely.
Run up the hill for 30 secs / Turn and walk down the hill for 30 secs.
Repeat this run up / walk down staggered process until you reach the top of the hill or the 1/2-mile mark. Then easy jog back down the hill and repeat for a second cycle.

Over the course of about 4 months, I take my RUNegades group through 16 different non-track speed workouts. The above workouts are just a few of what we do. Give them a try and let me know what you think!
video

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Run with Purpose


I have not run for 4 weeks. For three weeks, I was in New Bern with my Mom and Dad. There was no time to run. My Dad was in his last days with cancer. Mom is in the beginning stages of Alzheimer's. Being with them was 24/7 for me, my brother Tim, and my daughter Rayna. I would not have wanted it any other way. Those weeks were hard, but the memories will be treasured for the rest of my life.

Last week, after my Dad's Celebration of Life service, I returned home. I did not run because I was exhausted mentally and physically. I also had this twinge of guilt when I thought about going for a run. With my Dad passing and my mom now living in assisted living, I felt guilt for running. Even though I knew that running would be good for me, relieve some stress, as well as give me time to think through and process the past several weeks, I just could not bring myself to do so.

This morning I received a wonderful instant message from one of my runners, Bobby Gettys. Like many runners during marathon training, Bobby was struggling to get past a particular mileage point. Bobby had a great 15-mile run a few weeks past, but was now struggling to get past that 15 miles and feel strong. I talked with Bobby to get a better idea about his sleeping, fueling (the night before a long run, just before, during, and after the long run) as well on what he was doing for hydration. I gave him some tips to try based on the info he shared.

This morning, I received this message from Bobby,

"I want to thank you for the advice you gave me last week about fueling...it really helped... I took a GU gel every 45 mins and I felt stronger throughout the run yesterday. I got in 18 miles yesterday... my furthest so far this training... I think sometimes my biggest problem is mental.... the long runs are so painfully long.... especially when you do it alone... when you are doing something and you know you are going to hurt afterwards.... your mind tricks you into wondering if it's really worth it... but I feel like it will all come together... thanks again for all your help and especially the good advice last week."

Bobby's note reminded me of a couple things. First, yes running (as well as many things in life) are "mental." We can sometimes be our own worst enemy. I too have to remember to "Trust. Believe. Conquer." Second, we are not alone. Even though at times we may physically be alone, we can't forget that there are so many around us ready with support. That was no more evident than when I was in New Bern receiving so much love and support from the Greensboro running community.

Bobby helped me remember my purpose. I don't only run for me. I run for others.

I will be running this week.


Thursday, January 19, 2017

Together We Can

I don't know what tomorrow will bring, but I do know that together we can overcome great obstacles.


Thursday, January 12, 2017

My Dad


Known to many as Reverend McLaurin, Pastor, or just Preacher and “Deady” to me as a small child, Dad to me as an adult, and Papa to my own kids—my dad, Horace Lee McLaurin passed away today, January 11, 2017.
My dad and I were very different people. We didn’t always see eye-to-eye on things, but it was from my dad that I learned you could disagree and still respect an individual. My dad was a United Methodist Minister. Yes, I was a “PK” (Preacher’s Kid). We moved about every 4 to 5 years whenever my dad was assigned a new church charge. Life was an adventure moving from church to church. It was hard sometimes being a PK. Your mom singing in the choir and your dad in the pulpit. Imagine your 7- or 8-year-old sitting on the front pew by himself trying to behave. It only took one Sunday at Mt. Hermon United Methodist Church, in Graham, NC (probably around 1972) for Dad to tell me (from the pulpit) to sit up and behave. I sat pretty still after that Sunday.
While of course my dad preached about Christian beliefs and the Christian faith, he also instilled in me the respect of other religions. I never heard my dad once speak ill of someone else’s faith. Now if someone tried to tell him his beliefs were wrong, then he’d get fired up. But if you respected his beliefs, then he respected yours.
I’ve struggled with organized religion the past several years. Often what I hear sitting in the pew is not what I learned from my dad. As an adult, I’ve struggled hearing from the pulpit how “these people” are wrong, “those people” are wrong. Not talking about obvious “bad” people doing horrible things, I’m talking about different cultures, and people of different beliefs.  I mentioned this to a minister at a church I use to attend and his response was “An open mind, in questions that are not ultimate, is useful. But an open mind about the ultimate foundations either of Theoretical or of Practical Reason is idiocy.” Was I an idiot for respecting the religious beliefs of others? Being accepting of people of other faiths?
The focus of my dad’s ministry was compassion, empathy, support, giving hope, and being there in times of need. His focus was not on pointing out differences, but supporting, encouraging, and being there for the people of our faith and to those wanting to know about our faith. My dad was big on visitations. He visited the mourning, the sick and the shut-ins on a weekly basis. I can’t tell you how many of my childhood vacations were either cut short or my dad had to leave early because one of the congregation was sick or had died. My dad had to be there and we understood. I think that’s why I love coaching so much. I’m able to apply what I learned growing up and watching my dad to what I do with my runners—be there, listen, provide guidance and advice.

The hymn, “Joy to the World” pretty much sums up my dad’s religious views. In fact, growing up as a kid, I remember every summer, he’d have the congregation sing the traditional Christmas hymn. He would tell them that we should be joyous year-round, not just in December. What he was conveying didn’t truly sink in until many years later after I was an adult. Sometimes I’ll find myself humming “Joy to the World” during a long run. I usually don’t realize it until I’m about halfway through the song. Just happens. In fact some of my closest moments with God are while out on a long run. There have been numerous meaningful conversations.
RunnerDude’s Fitness is in existence in large part due to my dad. He provided funds that were instrumental in helping initially start my business and for that I’m forever grateful. He didn’t really understand what I was doing, but he believed in me. “Belief” is a powerful tool. That’s why it’s a part of the RunnerDude mantra— “Trust in your Training. Believe in yourself. Conquer your goals.” I’ve tried to carry on Dad’s belief in me with my own kids. Sometimes, I may not understand what or why they are doing something or going in a certain direction, but I try to let them know that I believe in them and will support them in their ventures.
My book Full-Body Fitness for Runners was a labor of love for me, but it was my dad who said I’d write a book way before I ever thought I would. I don’t think he thought it would be a fitness book, but he believed in me as a writer and so I believed in me as a writer.
I know my dad really didn’t understand me, but I know he loved and believed in me. That’s really all it takes.
My family and I are eternally grateful to the Craven County Hospice in New Bern, NC. My dad’s nurse Diane Brideson and the nursing assistants, Denise Jones and Pat were absolutely amazing. My dad was in a lot of pain towards the end of his illness and these ladies made him feel loved, cared for, and as comfortable as possible. They also helped keep his dignity intact. They were loving, caring, respectful all the while doing all the tasks that needed to be done. One of my favorite memories of the past few weeks was when during a bed bath my dad started belting out the hymn "We Are Climbing Jacob's Ladder." My dad had a good voice but he never liked to sing in front of others and yet there he was belting out this hymn he loved. Better yet, the nurses aides Denise and Pat, joined in and the trio filled the house with music. That was a pretty amazing moment that I will always cherish. Dad had been working with these ladies and the nurse, Diane, a few weeks before I met them. I met them for the first time, a few days after Christmas. In that short while they became family. 
I am also forever grateful to my 21-year-old daughter Rayna who has been with me in New Bern helping care for my dad for about two weeks. Her love, compassion, and take-action care for Papa during his last days was truly amazing. I could not have made it without her these past few weeks. She and my brother, Tim were with Papa when he passed and I know it was a huge comfort for him being with both of them as he left this world.
My 25-year-old son Duncan kept the studio running in my absence and it was a huge relief knowing it was in his hands. I see a lot of Papa in Duncan. He's an old soul with a big heart.
My 16-year-old daughter Ellery helped my wife Mitzi keep the home front going. Love them so much.
And also a huge thanks to my brother, Tim. Together we made a great team working side-by-side these last couple weeks with dad.
As you move on in your daily lives take “Belief” with you. Belief in yourself as well as your friends and loved ones can change your life and the lives of those around you.
Thank you, Papa.



Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Congrats to the RunnerDude RunSelfie Winner-Vernette Roberson

Congrats to the #32 RunSelfie entry into the RunnerDude #RunSelfie Contest!
66 runners participated and when I entered 66 into the RandomNumberGenerator it shot out #32 which happens to be Vernette B Roberson! WeeDoggie! Congrats! Great way to start 2017! I'll have your $50 Omega Sports Gift Card ready for you next week when I return from being out of town.
Happy New Year Triad Runners!
To check out all the #RunSelfie entries click here.