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Monday, March 29, 2010
Thursday, March 25, 2010
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
yurbuds™ get's 5 out of 5 "Dudes" for being such a great product and such an easy solution to a problem for many runners.
Note: yurtopia LLL provided a free pair of yurbuds™ for testing purposes and requested an impartial review in return. I was in no way paid to write this review nor was I encouraged to write a positive review. This review is merely a report on my personal experience with yurbuds™.
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
RD: Where are you from?
Mark: I live in Edinburgh, Scotland
RD: Share a little about yourself. What do you do for a living? Hobbies?
Mark: I work in a law firm called DLA Piper, in my spare time I play guitar and sing in a band called The Nature Boys, I am a qualified Scuba Diver and also love to go climbing and cycling. Generally anything outdoors!
RD: How long have you been running?
Mark: I started running properly in late 2007.
RD: What got you into running?
Mark: I had been a 20-a-day smoker and heavy weekend-drinker and one day I decided without notice to stop all of this and get fit. Running appealed to me because of its low cost and the fact that I have always loved the outdoors.
RD: What do you enjoy most about running?
Mark: Apart from the two items above I love the fact that for most runners the competition is only against yourself and your PB. I think there is a wonderful spirit in running especially long distance kinds as everyone knows how difficult it actually is to run a full marathon. You have to really dig deep, for most of us the last 10K of a marathon is run with your heart not your head.
RD: What are your favorite training foods?
Mark: I generally try and stick to a slow carb diet, cous cous is a favourite, I try to avoid sat & trans fats found in most sugary snacks. If you go natural and fresh then you cant really go to wrong. I get a lot of recipes from a book called Go Faster Foods written by Kate Percy. It is a great tool for training.
RD: Are you a lone runner or do you run with some buddies? What do you like about each?
Mark: I like to run with others but this is a rare thing to happen for me as I do most of my running before work and and on Sunday's when about half of the population of Scotland is in bed nursing their headache from the night before, I miss those days sometimes! Only sometimes though ;-)
RD: What’s the funniest or oddest thing that’s happened to you while on a run?
Mark: The funniest thing I ever seen on a run was when I was on a morning run through a local park at about 7am and an elderly woman walking her dog came up to me and stopped me to ask the time, she then went on to ask me what event I was doing in the Olympics. That made me laugh. They would wipe the floor with me!
RD: What’s your biggest running accomplishment? Why?
Mark: Most people think that my biggest accomplishment would be my first marathon distance and while this stands out I would have to say my first 5K race in 2007, I had given up smoking and cut down drink considerably and finishing this run showed me how far I had come and I have never looked back.
RD: Do you have a favorite brand of running shoe? Which model? Why?
Mark: I usually mix it up when it comes to shoe, I have custom made orthotics to even out my feet so as long as they are neutral I will give them a go. I am currently using Mizuno Wave Rider 12's, I like the look and feel of them. I might try a pair of Nike Free next.
RD: What’s your favorite race distance(s)? Do you have a favorite race you run each year?
Mark: I love taking part in the organised BUPA Great Run's in Edinburgh. The 10K one is always a stand out with a great atmosphere. I am really looking forward to taking part in the Chris Hoy Half Marathon this year. There is also a possibility of me turning up to this event in a Mini disguised as a Highland Cow. Peter Vardy has donated a support vehicle for my trip, they have really been a huge help. Check out the Highland Mini, if you want a giggle....
RD: If you were speaking to a group of non-runners or runner wannabes and trying to encourage them to run, what would you say?
Mark: No matter your age, fitness level or experience, stick with it. It is going to hurt in the beginning as any activity you haven't taken part in for a while will. I would encourage running over any other activity purely because I have gained so much from it. The feeling you get after a run is unmatched by any other activity. You push and commit 100% and when you cross that finish line and its all been down to you, your body and your mind, then you will understand why running has such a universal appeal. For me it is a passion and I believe that anyone can run as far as he/she wishes to, if they stick with it and have the drive. Basically work hard and push yourself and you will reap the benefits.
RD: Open Mike: Share anything you‘d like about your running experiences, past accomplishments, goals, dreams….anything you haven’t previously shared.
Mark: The only regret I have about running is not running earlier in life but from reading a lot about the sport I have found that most runners reach their peak at about my age and this continues on until very late in life. I guess what I am trying to say is that no matter your age or fitness levels you can take up running, but you should do it sooner rather than later.
Mark is such a humble guy. He didn't even mention in the interview above the awesome journey he's about to embark on. In May 2010, Mark will start the first of 50 marathons in Amsterdam. He will finish 8 weeks later in Barcelona - by then he'll have run an amazing 1,300 miles for charity. [Click here] to see a map of Mark's route. Mark is aiming to raise £25,000 for the Edinburgh Headway Group through various forms of media coverage and fundraising events taking place in the build up to the proposed May 1st start date.
Monday, March 22, 2010
So, give it a try! It's a rare opportunity to be in on the product development. Let them know what you think and get a chance at winning a great vacation prize too!
Sunday, March 21, 2010
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
Joe: Agreed, Lara. I think we all have times in our life that we thing about being a better “me”. This really was a wake-up call for me that life is really precious – the most precious thing that there is – and whatever I can do to honor Dom and help his family get through this challenge so he can see his kids grow up, help make a dent in their medical bills or contribute to the kids’ college funds… This is a small price to pay for the lesson I was taught this August.
Joe: We’ve had people donate anywhere from $26.20 ($1/mile) for one race, $52.40 ($1/mile) for both races and have sponsored an individual mile for a $100 donation and above. The “Sponsor a Mile” initiative has been really neat as a friend, family, sisters etc. can pick out a mile of either marathon that they want to “name”. The donors are listed on my blog and right now there are 7 miles that are unclaimed for Boston, and 9 unclaimed miles for Pittsburgh. I’m going to have the “Sponsor” lists with me on the course so I can think about the people who have donated while I race. Just today, a friend of mine from Alabama sponsored mile 24 at Boston. He asked if I would play the song “Maniac” on my iPod during “his” mile. It’s moments like that over the course of 26.2 miles or 3 hours and 20 minutes (give or take a few) that you draw on for a quick smile or some encouragement to keep pushing when the race gets tough. 26.2 miles is a challenging distance that really tests every runner at some point, and the more friends that I can have with me along the way, the better!
Joe: Absolutely! I am always looking for new music and would enjoy the encouragement. It’s funny; I have music I run to, and music I listen to – and their paths do not cross very often. I listen to faster, “louder” music when I’m running; Green Day, The Clash, Social Distortion, but I’m much more mellow when I’m just hanging around the house. Then, I listen to Bruce Springsteen and Pat Green. I have a funny story about music and racing. I’m originally from Philadelphia where Rocky isn’t just a character; he really exists in the collective minds of Philadelphians. For the Pittsburgh Marathon last year I wanted the theme from Rocky to come up in my list right around mile 20 based on my Boston qualifying pace. I hit it really perfect and was about .35 miles into mile 20 when it came on my Nano. I was running next to a guy for a couple of miles who was also trying for a Boston Qualifying Time, and we had chatted a bit. He was 10 years younger than me and needed to run a sub 3:10 to qualify (I needed sub 3:20, one of the few benefits of being a 41 year-old marathoner at the time). When the song came on he caught me smiling and asked me why. I told him that the theme from Rocky just came on my earphones. He looked me dead in the eye and said, “Dude, can I listen?” It was the funniest moment of that race and I remember it like it was yesterday. Unfortunately a BQ (Boston Qualifying Time) was not in the cards for him that day, even though he was a really strong runner. If he hasn’t made that time already, I know he will.
“Runners are passionate people by nature, and nobody knows how to make a difference like runners do.”
Joe: That’s the part that is so great about races. There are only a handful of people actually competing against each other – everyone else is competing against themselves, which is what makes it such a great experience. I actually dropped one of my water bottles around mile 13 and knew I couldn’t go back for it because I was trying for that specific time. About 50 strides later a runner tapped me on my shoulder and handed me my water bottle. He had sprinted to catch up to me when he saw me clap my hands in a bit of anger when it hit the pavement… that’s what it’s all about. I think about him as well a lot. He helped me to my 3:17:43 time also. Marathoning is a sport that everyone thinks is a “solo-mission” but the fact is nobody is alone out there.
Joe: Great question Lara – I just got an e-mail this week from a young woman who is a friend of Dom’s brother Matt. She and three of her friends are going to run the Relay portion of the Pittsburgh Marathon and are going to be getting folks to support Run for Dom through their efforts. I’ll be getting another page set-up for them at www.runfordom.com under the “other fundraising efforts” tab, and donors will be able to keep up with them as well. I’m hoping that a few more runners or running groups want to get involved – with the races now 9 and 11 weeks away respectively – now is the time to get cracking if we are going to do it.
Joe: Absolutely! That’s one of the amazing things about runners; we are always looking for a cause to run for. Runners are passionate people by nature, and nobody knows how to make a difference like runners do. I would love to have as many friends and supporters as we can find toe the line for Dom. He is truly a remarkable young man. I refer to him as “All-Time” because that is what he is. All-time. He’s had more than 9,700 visitors to his personal page that’s hosted by the Caringbridge organization. I wish more people could really get to know Dom as I do. I know that if our roles were reversed, there isn’t a thing in the world he wouldn’t do for my wife Dawn and me.
Joe: My wife Dawn has known Dom basically their entire lives. She and I have been together for 15 years and married for 10. I’ve known Dom since Dawn and I first started dating. I met him in the parking lot of a Pittsburgh Steelers playoff game. He was there with a ton of his buddies at the tailgate and I really only knew Dawn. Dom spent a couple of hours talking to me and getting to know me when he could have been hanging out with all of his buddies. I’ve never forgotten that about Dom; because Dawn was such a close and important person in his life, he wanted to get to know me, because I must be pretty special too. Funny thing is, it was Dom who was the special one.
Joe: Maybe Lara, maybe. All I know is that I plan on him being around for a long, long time.
Joe: (Laughs) I’m actually angling for his mother to cook my pre-race meal on Saturday night, too. With a name like D’Eramo, you know the pasta is legendary!
Joe: And her Christmas eve dinner this year was incredible.
Joe: Absolutely. On Christmas Eve a few months ago, when all his friends and family held hands to say grace it made a circle around the entire downstairs of his parents’ house. Kitchen to living room to dining room to hallway and back to the kitchen – it was pretty amazing to be a part of that circle of love.
Sunday, March 14, 2010
Sometimes you meet a person and there’s just something about them that strikes a chord. Maybe it’s the way they thoughtfully answer a colleague’s question, or how they offer sincere encouragement to their students, or even how they rush to hold the door when someone is fumbling with their heavy load.
With the advent of social media and the Internet, some people we get to know and love are folks that we’ve never actually met face to face. Social media is so inter-connected that you can become friends with someone through Twitter, Facebook, DailyMile, and the blogosphere. This is how I met Joe Marruchella.
I came across Joe’s blog by way of a comment he left on ChicRunner.com, a blog we both visit regularly. Struck by the thoughtful way he commented on a post, I clicked on his name, landed on his site, and started reading. After I finished reading the entry I got up to walk around and clear my head, then came back to read it again.
A lot of people get cancer. Every person that is affected by this brutal disease has a compelling story. The first thing about Joe’s blog that stood out was the title; “Joe is Running for Dom”. His name on Twitter and DailyMile is Joe_runfordom. He has linked his online identity to Dom’s as a way of raising awareness and funds for his friend’s cancer treatment. I’ve seen this from parents whose child is seriously ill, but never from a friend.
Over the past two months I’ve been a faithful reader of Joe’s blog, following both his marathon training and Dom’s progress and set-backs. With Joe’s first marathon only six weeks away, I approached him and asked if he’d be willing to do an interview with me. He graciously accepted, and now I’m honored to share the content of the interview with the world at large. It is my hope that a few people will be as moved as I have been by this story and will sponsor a mile or two, for Dom.
Due to the length of the interview, this will be posted as a two-part story.
Lara: Joe, you surprised me when you said that you weren’t always a runner, and that there was a period in your life where you called yourself “Fat Joe”. How did you turn from “Fat Joe” into the amazing runner that you are now?
Joe: Well, “Fat Joe” made an appearance when I turned 34 (I’m 42 now). I was traveling for work about 35-40% of the time, eating late meals, not exercising and the food quality was not the greatest… lots of big meals, desserts and the like. I’m 5′ 8″ and at one point weighed 176 lbs. Not good! The worse part was I just didn’t feel healthy. I was always an athlete growing up, playing baseball, basketball, football – but never running. I didn’t even know how to start. But I was determined to do something about my weight and lose a few pounds before going on a vacation to the Outer Banks in 2005. I started walking on my lunch hour which gradually morphed into running 1/2 mile, walking 1/2 mile… by that fall I was running three miles about 4 times a week. I changed my diet (which included swearing off all fast food, which I am proud to say I have not had a single fast food meal in about 5 years). I stopped drinking Coca-Cola, cut a few other things from my diet, and the pounds came flying off. Now, my race weight is about 137 pounds and my body fat percentage is about 6.3 percent.
Lara: You sound incredibly healthy! You dropped 39 pounds and a lot of body fat; when did you decide to start racing?
Joe: Great question! I was on the road traveling with the CEO of my company, who is a great mentor and friend. He caught me coming into the hotel from my morning run in NYC and asked how my run went. I told him it was “okay”. He then asked why it was “only okay”; didn’t I enjoy it? I told him not really, I was only running because we had eaten a big dinner the night before and I needed to burn some calories. He said that the reason I didn’t enjoy running was because to me running was punitive. I needed to run for a reason OTHER than burning calories. That I should in fact run a race, and not any old race, a big race – a MARATHON! I honestly thought he was crazy. But when he talked about the experience that he had – it started to sound not only possible, but truly amazing. I flew back to Texas the next day and during the flight home I decided that I was going to train for a marathon. The second I walked in the door I told my wife what I was going to do, and dove headfirst into trying to figure out the first steps; how to train, who to listen to, etc. I remember my run that Saturday morning (my next run) – which in a lot of ways was really my “first run”. I had a purpose, I had a goal and I absolutely loved it. It was only 4-miles, but it honestly changed me from “a guy who runs” to “a runner”. I am so grateful that my CEO took the time to talk with me that day.
Lara: So you’re saying that it took a literal “Reason to Run” to make a difference in how you approached the thing that you did for your health.
Joe: Absolutely; having a reason really provided a great perspective. It was my ATTITUDE toward the activity, not the activity itself that needed to be adjusted. Don’t get me wrong; I like rest days – they are an important part of training and they help you get stronger and stronger as a runner. Without a break every now and then you are only tearing your body down and not giving it a chance to come back stronger. But I LOVE my run days. I could hardly get to sleep last night looking forward to this morning’s 16-miler. I know that sounds a little crazy, but 100% true.
Lara: And now, you’re running for Dom, a friend of yours who has cancer.
Joe: You bet Lara, and I’ll tell you that this one hit me like a ton of bricks. Up until this point I had been pretty fortunate that the people that I am close to are healthy. Other than a scare with my father about five years ago (who is doing great and turned 81 this month – Go Dad!) I have not had a lot of health-related challenges in my life. Last August my wife called me in tears because our friend Dom had just being diagnosed with cancer. He’s 39 years old and has a wife and two little ones at home. I felt like someone put a hundred-pound weight on my chest. I spent the better part of a week trying to make sense of it – but as you can imagine, there really is no sense to make of it. I felt like I had to do something to help Dom and his family as he was in literally the fight for his life. I was on a Sunday long-run of about 10 miles, not training for a race in particular (I had just completed the Pittsburgh Marathon three months before getting the news about Dom). He was actually one of the friends and family members to come to the post-race breakfast in Pittsburgh that day. On my 10-miler I kept thinking about how great it would be to go back to Pittsburgh in 2010 and run Dom’s hometown race. But with it being only 13 days after the Boston Marathon that I had worked so hard to qualify for.. what could I do? I remember the exact spot on the trail that I have run literally hundreds of times when I thought “Why not run them both? Why can’t I run Boston and then Pittsburgh 13 days later?” If you want big rewards you have to take big risks. If I could put myself out there and take on a challenge like that, surely people out there would be interested in hearing about Dom’s battle and support me in honoring him. That’s how Run for Dom started; on an August morning in Austin at Brushy Creek Park, down by the lake.
Lara: What kind of cancer does Dom have?
Joe: Dom has linitis plastica which is a rare, invasive cancer that attacks the organs. Dom’s stomach and spleen were affected the most. His initial diagnosis was very bleak; 100% mortality rate and not a long life expectancy. After visiting several specialists he found his doctor at Pittsburgh Medical who is a pioneer with this type of cancer. In December Dom underwent successful surgery that was quite invasive. His stomach and spleen were removed, along with parts of his intestine and parts of a few other adjoining organs. He had a Hot Chemotherapy Bath that bathed all of the areas affected, and is now approaching the second of three chemotherapy treatments and that will mark the end of his treatment course. His PET Scan three weeks ago was 100% clean. His doctor is extremely happy with the results from the surgery, but Dom is really struggling with nutrition now. He has a lot of pain and nausea when he eats and/or drinks, so since his surgery in December, he gets most of his nutrition through a feeding tube. It takes him about eight hours to take in 2,000 calories. After my 16 mile run this morning, I ate almost that much at breakfast… unbelievable.
Lara: I have to pause here because this is hitting me pretty hard. It’s incredibly difficult for a healthy person to imagine the intensity of this disease. Dom is 39 years old and is supposed to be in the prime of his life.
Joe: I know Lara; it makes me so thankful to be healthy and able to do pretty much whatever I want, whenever I want. What the hell was I doing eating McDonald’s Double Cheese-burgers and lying around the house. FAIL!
Lara: So this is a wake-up call of sorts; health can be pretty fleeting. When you go out on your training runs for the purpose of running two marathons in 13 days, is it possible that you’re giving yourself the health and exercise that Dom can’t have? If you BOTH can’t have it, at least one of you is living the healthy life?
Joe: That’s an interesting point Lara; I’ll tell you one thing that has changed about my training runs that I attribute to training for Dom. There is a hill along one of the routes I run, it is a really good hill to train on because it forces you to practice running downhill for almost a full kilometer with not a single flat place. It’s steep enough that you have to lengthen your stride, but not too steep that you have to “brake” the entire way down. It’s perfect practice for the start of the Boston Marathon where the early portions of that race can really destroy the quadriceps over the first few downhill miles. Up until I started training for RFD (Run For Dom) I had run up that hill exactly one time. It seemed unfair. Too steep, too long, no breaks, no recovery. Since I started my 16-week to Boston, 18-week to Pittsburgh training schedule I run up that hill every Sunday and I place it in the last 1/4 of whatever distance I am going. I run that hill now and think only about Dom. How if, given the chance, wouldn’t he relish that hill? Would he celebrate it? Run up it and at the top, laugh to himself at just how easy that was compared to the other things he is going through? So that’s what I do now once a week. That hill gets shorter and shorter, flatter and flatter every time I go up it. Heartbreak Hill in Boston at mile 21? I’ll have a little something for that one when the time comes.
So why are runners (especially long distance runners) plagued by hamstring injuries so often? Well, there can be many causes—going out too fast and too strong without properly warming up, not properly fueling the body, dehydration, lack of strength in the posterior chain (back, glutes, hamstrings), and being quad dominant. And then there is always the odd injury for which there is no apparent reason for the cause.
From my reading, schooling, and talking with other runners, being quad dominant and having a weak posterior chain are probably the two biggest causes of hamstring injuries. I've mentioned it in previous posts how so often runners do not include resistance training into their weekly routine. Runners often shy away from the gym because they feel they're getting enough exercise on the run. They also don't want to bulk up.
Runners need to change their perception of the gym. They also need to realize that many resistance exercises can be done using body weight or light weights at home. And no, doing resistance training will not turn you into a bulky "Arnold" and no you won't gain an Austrian accent in the process.
A December 2008 Running Times article does a great job of explaining the issue of quad dominance. In a nutshell, quad dominance happens when the "quad muscles overpower the action of the hamstrings in the movement of the leg during a running stride."
Long distance runners log a lot of miles. That constant repetitive action puts an overload on the quads causing them to become more dominant than their antagonist—the hamstrings. When your hamstrings become significantly weaker than your quads, then Running Times says one of two things may happen:
1) Your hamstrings will tear as a result of not being able to take the load developed by the contracting quadriceps and momentum from hip extension
2) You will run slower as a result of diminished power from the hip flexors and knee extensors as the hamstrings have to contract earlier to be able to break the ensuing movement.
Hamstring injuries are slow to heal and often, once you get them, they'll reoccur over and over. The recurrence, however, is usually due to the runner not addressing the real cause of the problem......weak hamstrings. That's where resistance training can play a huge role in overcoming or preventing this problem.
First of all, for everyone (not just runners) strengthening the posterior chain (the muscle groups found on the back side of the body) is most beneficial. Having a strong posterior chain can help prevent a whole host of injuries especially later down the road as we age. The posterior chain mainly consists of the erector spinae muscles (the lower back muscles), the glutes (butt muscles), and the hamstrings (upper backside of the leg).
Exercises that target the hamstrings include:
Bulgarian split squats
Stability Ball Leg Curls
Standing Leg Curl with Ankle Weights
Friday, March 12, 2010
Then I discovered another interesting fact. Some chickens have a coloring that may make it hard to determine (just by looking at them) what color egg they'll lay. So how do you tell? You look at their earlobes! Yep, their earlobes. According to MrBreakfast.com, "the pigments in the outer layer of the eggshell will always approximate the color of the earlobe of the chicken that laid the egg." So, you're probably thinking, "Where is a chicken's earlobe?" So did I. Well, basically they're not lobes in the same sense as a human earlobe. A chicken's earlobe is the area on each side of the chicken's face. If that area is white, then most likely that chicken will lay white eggs. Who'd a thunk?!!
Thursday, March 11, 2010
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
Workout #2—6x800m @10K race pace with 90-second recovery (walk or jog) in between Workout #3—Three sets: 1x1200m @ 10K race pace with 1-minute recovery, 1x400m @5K race pace with a 3-minute recovery (walk or jog) in between each set
Workout#4—4x1600m @10K race pace with 3-minute recovery (walk or jog) in between
Workout#5—8x800m @10K race pace with 90-second recovery (walk or jog) in between
Workout#6—400m @ 5K race pace (30sec recovery); 800 @ 10K race pace (90-sec recovery); 1200m @10K race pace (2-min recovery); 1600m @10K race pace (3-min recovery); 1200m @10K race pace (2-min recovery); 800 @ 10K race pace (90-sec recovery); 400m @ 5K race pace