Wednesday, June 20, 2018

There Is a Method To His Madness: Creating a RunTheBoro Route


If you've been participating in the recent RunTheBoro Saturday runs, you may have wondered (and some of you have even asked me) why are there so many turns in the runs? Why so many hills? Why did we go in this neighborhood or that neighborhood. How do he make the routes?

These are all excellent questions. Along with lots of coffee and lots of time, I do have some guiding principles when I create the RunTheBoro routes.
  • Sharing History
  • Exploring Neighborhoods
  • Sharing Art and Culture
  • Fellowship

Hills and turns may definitely be in the run, but they are not top of mind when creating the routes. My main goal is for participants to come away from a run learning something new about their city. We are so busy with our lives that we often don't venture out of our little bubble. I want to get RunTheBoro participants out of their bubbles, explore neighborhoods they've never been to, and learn about Greensboro's rich history.

One of the coolest and most rewarding parts of RunTheBoro is hearing longtime residents, say to me, "I never knew that about Greensboro." "I didn't know that existed." "I didn't know that road went there." "So that's where that's at." "I've lived here all my life and never knew some of this stuff."

Some runs are more aesthetically pleasing than others, but if there is one thing I've learned, beauty takes many different shapes and forms. There is shiny new beauty, there is gently worn beauty, there is thread-bare beauty, there is historical beauty, and there is artistic beauty. You'll find all of the above in the RunTheBoro runs. I want runners to explore neighborhoods they might otherwise never have a reason to visit. One hidden treasure that I shared about in a recent run is the Grove Street People's Market that is open 6-8pm on Thursday evenings in the spring and summer. After mentioning it in one of the RunTheBoro Newsletters, several of the RunTheBoro runners went and checked it out. That's what RunTheBoro is all about...connecting with runners and runners connecting with the community. 

Some routes do have a lot of twists and turns and in a normal run, that might not be ideal, but in a RunTheBoro run it's a necessity. History may seem like a straight line, but in reality, there are interwoven twists and turns that make up our rich past. Our Saturday runs reflect that richness.

History isn't flat either.  We've all experienced rough climbs, much-needed plateaus, and swift descents in our lives. Those ups and downs make up our complex past which is also reflected in many of our runs.

RunTheBoro runs are not about pace. Far from it. They are about discovery.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Last Week To Register!

We have almost 60 members in the RunnerDude 1000 Mile Club covering 6 states (NC, SC, GA, FL, OH, MO)! WeeDoggie! To Guarantee a club t-shirt, be sure to register for the club by this Friday (3/16). For more information and/or to register go to 
Did you start counting mileage in Jan or February? No Prob. Then your 1000 miles will end 12 month from your start date. 

Friday, December 8, 2017

RunnerDude Reviews Endurance Xtreme

I've never been a big user of supplements. I eat a pretty well-balanced and fairly clean diet.  Through my diet I get well above the recommended amounts of macro and micro nutrients needed on a daily basis.

By no means am I a nutrition expert, but I've had 100hrs of nutrition education and I've attended many sports nutrition related workshops and seminars including a weekend seminar by Nancy Clark a well-respected sports nutrition guru and someone I've followed for years and have read most of her books. She provides great practical nutritional advice for athletes. I feel I have a great handle on my own sports nutrition needs. Occasionally I've looked at sports supplements, but I've always questioned what's actually in them.  Do they actually do what they say they'll do.

John Ivy presented at one of the Nancy Clark seminars I attended. John Ivy has a Phd in Sports Physiology and has done a lot of research on the use of Beet root as a sports supplement. Beet root  has been shown to increase nitric oxide levels which improves blood flow and circulation. Nitric Oxide is a naturally occurring molecule that's found in plants. The amount varies from plant to plant. Research has shown that incorporating plants high in nitric oxide such as kale, beets, and spinach into your diet can support healthy blood pressure, cardiovascular health, and exercise endurance.

"Exercise endurance" is the part that gets my attention. If there is a natural way to help increase endurance, I'm all ears.

Dr. Jeffrey Blair, PhD; Certified
Nutritionist and Master Herbalist
Recently, Jeff Blair contacted me about a new sports endurance product he's developed, Endurance Xtreme. This product contains beet root for its nitric oxide benefits. This got my interest, so we met and he shared with me how he as an athlete he had struggled with endurance and finding the right supplement to help increase endurance and decrease recovery time. Jeff has a Phd in nutritional science and is the author of Runology and several other books. While doing research for his book Runology, he came across studies conducted on ancient herbs from Asia being used by athletes with great success. He began experimenting with doses and combinations of these ancient herbs. He was amazed to discover that a precise combination and dosage of these herbs dramatically increased his endurance and improved his recover time. And so Endurance Xtreme was born.


The ingredients in Endurance Xtreme have been clinically proven to increase oxygen uptake and utilization in the lungs and muscles. More oxygen uptake in the lungs and muscles means greater endurance. The herbs in Endurance Xtreme have also been shown to increase circulation during and after a workout and reduce lactic acid build up while reducing cortisol to speed recovery.

So what's in Endurance Xtreme? There are four main herbs used:
Cordyceps: A powerful mushroom that grows in the high altitude of the Himalayan Mountains and used by elite Chinese athletes for endurance. It has been clinically
proven to increase oxygen uptake and utilization as well as increase circulation.
Beet Root: Beet root powder can increase nitric oxide levels in blood vessels and improve blood flow and circulation.
Schisandra: Used by Asian athletes traditionally for strength and endurance.
Ashwagandha:  An herb from India traditionally used for energy, endurance, and cortisol reduction from stress and overexertion. 

I've used Endurance Xtreme on several runs and while I can't say in this limited time frame that yes, the product was the direct cause of a good run, I can say that all of the runs on which I've use Endurance Extreme were good runs and my recovery time was quicker leading into my next run.

So, if you're looking for an endurance and/or recovery supplement that's made from natural ingredients, I definitely recommend you give Endurance Xtreme a try.


Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Yea Taper Time! Boo Taper Time!

During a past training cycle, I overheard one of my runners telling another runner (who sometimes
runs with us but isn't one of my race trainees), that he was in his marathon taper time. The other runner proceeded to tell my runner, "I never tapered before a race. It's a waist of time. You lose too much of what you've gained." My runner proceeded to say, "I don't know, I really think there is something to this taper thing. I'm going to follow what my coach has planned out for me. I mean I paid for it. Might as well, follow the plan. But, it makes sense what he's telling me."

That was a proud moment as a coach. This particular runner did not follow the plan with his previous race. Every run was a hard run. He put in extra runs on his own and didn't taper. Result? He got injured a few weeks prior to race day. He still tried to race on race day and injured himself more. This training cycle, he decided to follow the plan and he was doing great! The other runner is a fast runner. But like my race trainee's former self, he runs every run hard and never tapers. As a result he's often injured. I often kid this runner (but not really) that he's not allowed to talk to my runners trying to lure them to the dark side.

More is not better. Never a better example than with marathon taper. The marathon taper is probably THE most important part of race training. So, what is taper time? There are different approaches, but the standard taper for marathon training begins three weeks prior to race day.Typically the last long run (which is often your longest run) is three weeks from race day. The following long run is 75% of the longest run, and then the long run before race day is 50% the distance of the longest run. So, if you're longest run is 20 miles, then the following weekend the long run will be 15 miles, then the next long run will be 10 miles with the following weekend being race day. The mileage of the other weekly runs during this time can begin to decrease as well. My runners usually have a speed workout on Mondays, a tempo/progression run on Wednesdays, and easy run on Thursday or Friday and then their long run on Saturday. During Taper time, the distance of the Wednesday runs begins to decrease and usually I have them run an easy 4 miler the Wednesday the week of race day.

So what makes doing less the last three weeks help you on race day? High mileage week after week depletes a runner's glycogen levels. It also decreases levels of enzymes, hormones and antioxidants. Research has shown that these levels return to normal during taper. Even more important is the repair of muscle damage that takes place during taper. Runners that push their training up to race day also run the risk of compromising their immune system increasing the chances of catching a bug before race day. Taper allows the body time to bolster the immune system. Research has also shown that runners that heed the taper tend to have times 5 to 10 minutes faster on race day than those that do not taper in their training.

The main problem with marathon taper is what I call the Stir-Crazy Complex. You've been running, running, running, for so many months then all of the sudden, just before race day, you're not running nearly the mileage. It can play with your mind. Doubt begins to creep in. You become insecure that you've done enough. This is normal. This is where you have to Trust in your Training. Believe in Yourself. And Conquer your Goal on race day. Doing more may occupy your brain and your body, but it will only hurt you on race day.

Use taper time to relax, recover, and focus on nutrition. Also use this time to think through mental strategies for race day as well as make your race day check list. A check list is particularly important if your running a destination race involving travel.

Also use this time to reflect on and appreciate all the hard work you've put in the past several months.

Friday, September 22, 2017

The Lowdown on the Ketogenic Diet for Athletes

Ketogenics....isn't that what Michael Jackson wanted to do with his body after he died? Oh yeah, that's Cryogenics. My bad.   Well, I'm sure you've probably heard the term Ketogenics, even if you're not sure what it is.

The diet world is always a flutter with the newest this and the newest that. Actually, there really isn't anything new, it's just a new name for low-fat, high-fat, low-carb, or only eat Twinkies diet.

Many years ago we had the Atkins diet which was low carbs, then we had the Paleo diet which had many eating no carbs and getting in tune with their caveman ancestry, and now we have Ketogenics. All are really pretty similar in theory....Carbs are bad.

Ketogenics is all the buzz because it's often pitched as a beneficial diet for athletes. Being a coach and fitness trainer, I'm often asked about current nutrition trends. While I'm not a nutritionist and in the state of North Carolina I legally can't provide individual nutritional advice, I do try to keep up with the reading to be current on the latest research.

I've had 200 hrs of anatomy and physiology education and 100 hrs of nutritional education. So, while in no way am I an expert, I do have a good basis of understanding of how the body works and functions physically and nutritionally and my ears always perk up when a diet excludes a specific food group.

So when Sanna Delmonico, MS, RDN, CHES wrote an article ""Do Ketogenic Diets Work for Athletes" for the recent issue of IDEA Food and Nutrition Tips (Volume 6, Issue 5), I was very eager to read it.

Basically Delmonico addressed the question, "What do you think about a ketogenic diet for athletes? Does it really improve performance?"

Her response was pretty much what I thought. But first what is a ketogenic diet?  Delmonico describes a ketogenic diet as a high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet, usually including less than 50 g of carbohydrate per day (Paoli 2013). Carbohydrate, which is stored in the body as glycogen, is the preferred fuel for muscle and the brain. When this fuel isn’t available, the body turns to fat for energy and produces ketosis. The theory is that since we store much more energy as fat than as glycogen, athletes have a reliable, steady source of energy if they burn more fat, and this should improve performance.

Medically speaking, the ketogenic diet has been successful in treating epilepsy in children and in some adults and has shown some promise in weight loss  and type 2 diabetes. But, and this is a big but, long term, the ketogenic diet has risks. Continued use of this diet increased the chance of kidney stones, increased blood lipids and bone fractures. This diet also leads to constipation in many because it's so low in fiber. The low fiber component can also lead to increased chances of colorectal cancer.

Delmonico says that research has shown that over time, an athlete on a ketogenic diet becomes more efficient at burning fat. This adaption takes about 3-4 weeks and during that transition time, the athlete will feel very fatigued. So, this transition should be done well before a race training cycle. The thinking is that an endurance athlete like a marathon runner or triathlete would benefit from this because they'd have a longer sustained source of fuel. However, research has shown that while these athletes have become more efficient at burning fat, it hasn't added any benefit to athletic performance. However, higher carbohydrate diets did result in improved performance.

Delmonico concludes that more research is needed on Ketogenic diets for athletes. The positions of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Dietitians of Canada, and the American College of Sports Medicine are that current evidence doesn't support the use of ketogenic diets to improve athletic performance.

Delmonico cautions athletes using the ketogenic diet to keep in mind that decreasing carbohydrate intake also decreases intake of fiber, vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals from beans, whole grains, starchy vegetables and fruits.

Also keep in mind that the American Heart Association recommends reducing saturated fat to no more than 5 to 6 percent of total daily calories. This would be very hard to do on a Ketogenic diet.