Monday, May 31, 2010

Post-Run Snack Shopping List

Probably the most important thing a runner can do after a run is refuel. Many times, other commitments, the family and kids waiting, not feeling hungry, or just being plain tired, prevents runners from taking that post-run step of replacing the carbs they've burned on the run as well as ingesting some protein to aid in a quick recovery.

A runner can burn close to 1000 calories on a 10-miler. That's a lot of calories. It's important to replace what was lost as soon as possible. Ever fall a sleep right after a long hard run? The nap may have felt good, but did you feel sluggish the rest of the day? The next day? That was probably due to your muscles not having been refueled after your hard run. It's kind of like driving your car past the oil-change date. It starts to run a little rough. Even if you don't feel like eating, it's best to at least down a sports drink soon after the run so you're at least replacing some of the lost carbs.

A good rule of thumb is to eat a 4:1 ratio of carbs to protein within 45 minutes of finishing a run. Most research says this ratio consumed shortly after a workout is optimal in speeding-up recovery and getting your tired, broken-down muscles the nourishment they need to rebuild and repair. Nonfat or lowfat chocolate milk actually has this 4:1 ratio and makes a great post run recovery snack. Don't worry too much about having exactly the 4:1 ratio. The most important thing to take from this is that for a post-run snack, you need to consume more carbs than protein. Too much protein can slow rehydration and glycogen replenishment.

How much should you eat? Not a lot. Your snack only needs to be about 220-440 calories (200-400 calories [50-100 grams] coming from carbs and 20-40 calories [5-10 grams] coming from protein.) If you've finished an easy short run or a laidback long run, then go with a lighter snack. If it's been a hard quick speed workout or a hard long run, then go with a more substantial snack. After an endurance race such as a marathon, it's a great idea to repeat this snack combo every couple of hours to keep a constant refueling supply to your muscles hard at work repairing themselves. Remember the you're not adding calories on top of your regular caloric intake that will just sit there and turn to fat. You're replacing the calories you used as fuel on your run.

So besides chocolate milk, what are some other foods to have handy for a post run snack? Listed below are just a few of the foods to include on your post-run food grocery shopping list.

Post-Run Snack Shopping List
FruitsFruits are a great source of simple carbs. Yep, that's right, simple carbs. Usually when you think of simple carbs you think of the bad carbs like white bread and doughnuts. Fruit contains the simple sugar fructose which is a simple sugar, but fruits are also packed with lots of fiber and they're also nutrient dense with lots of important vitamins and minerals. Fruit makes a great post run snack because the simple sugar it contains is digested quickly and can quickly be converted to energy your muscles need in order to repair themselves after your run. Here are just a few of the great fruits you may want to include on your shopping list.
apples (fiber, vitamin C, antioxidants)
bananas (potassium, fiber, vitamins C and B6)
blueberries (vitamins C and K, fiber)
cherries (vitamin C, fiber, potassium)
cantaloupe (vitamins A and C, potassium)
figs (fiber, iron, calcium, potassium)
raisins (potassium, fiber)
VegetablesVegetables are a great source of complex carbs and other nutrients. Listed below are just a few of the many great vegetables to consider for your post-run eating.
beans (i.e., kidney, pinto, garbanzo, edamame, etc.) (protein, fiber, potassium, iron)
carrots (vitamins A and K, potassium, lutein, beta-carotene)
broccoli (vitamins C, K, A, B6; fiber; potassium)
celery (vitamins K and C, fiber, potassium)
corn (fiber, potassium, vitamin C)
leafy greens (i.e., romaine, Swiss chard, kale, spinach, mustard greens, etc.) (vitamins A and K, fiber, antioxidants)
butternut squash (vitamins A, C, E; fiber; potassium)
summer squash and zucchini (vitamins C and B6, potassium, fiber)
sweet potatoes (vitamins A and C, fiber, potassium, beta-carotene)
tomatoes (vitamins A, C, K; potassium, lycopene)
GrainsWhether it's bread or pasta, look for 100% whole grain or 100% whole wheat. If it's not clear how much whole grain is used, check the nutrition label. Low fiber means more processed/refined grains have been used. Also check to make sure the sugars content is low. Then check the ingredients list. The ingredients are listed in order by how much is contained in the product. So, whole grain or whole wheat should be listed as the first ingredient. Sometimes it's hard to find 100% whole grain or 100% whole wheat products. If that's the case, buy products that have the the highest fiber content per serving (3 grams or more). 100% whole wheat products will also have more protein since the grains have not been processed or refined. Avoid products where the first ingredients listed are "enriched flour" or "enriched bleached flour."
100% whole wheat pita
100% whole wheat tortilla
100% whole wheat crackers
100% whole wheat bagels
100% whole wheat English muffins
whole-grain cereal (cold or hot)
pretzels (choose the whole grain variety that's baked not fried; Check the label. Some of the flavored varieties contain extra fat and calories)
100% whole-wheat or whole-grain pasta
Oatmeal (steel-cut is probably the most healthful, but the quick-cooking and instant varieties are good too. Be sure to check the fat and sodium content of the instant varieties.)
Quinoa (Besides soybeans, quinoa is the only other plant that's a complete protein. It's tasty and has the texture of pasta. It cooks quickly and can be used as replacement in many pasta dishes as well as being prepared as a hot breakfast cereal.)
DairyDairy products are an excellent source of calcium which is needed for strong bones, but most people are unaware that calcium is also a key ingredient in the energy production process for muscle contraction. Just be sure to select the low-fat or no-fat varieties. Milk is also fortified with vitamin D which helps build a strong immune system.
skim milk
part-skim mozzarella string cheese
1% or fat-free cottage cheese
low-fat or fat-free yogurt
low-fat or fat-free Greek yogurt (contains twice the protein of traditional yogurt)
low-fat chocolate milk (has the perfect 4:1 ratio of carbs to protein)
Meat, Fish, Eggs and Meat SubstitutesMeat, fish, eggs, and meat substitutes are great sources of complete proteins. Fish containing Omega-3s (healthful polyunsaturated fats) help improve cardiovascular health and can help reduce blood pressure. Lean meats and poultry are also high in iron, B12, zinc, and phosphorus. It's no longer taboo to eat eggs. Research has shown that they're not the bad health culprit as once thought. Eating an egg a day is fine. Eggs are high in protein, iron, B12 and folate.
turkey breast
chicken breast
lean cuts of red meat
deli-sliced turkey, ham, roast beef (Watch out for high levels of sodium and fat. Not all deli meats are equal. Some are made with lesser quality and higher-fat meats. A good trick is to have it lean deli meats shaved or sliced very thin. That way you can pile it on your sandwich and it looks like more than the same serving size of a thicker cut.)
ground turkey or chicken (make sure it's lean white meat)
tuna (select varieties packed in water; the new pouches are great!)
salmon (select varieties packed in water; the new pouches are great!)
veggie patties (there are a wide variety of veggie burgers and black bean burgers as well as soybean-based chicken flavored patties in the frozen foods section that are low in fat, high in protein, quick to cook, and pretty tasty.)
eggs and egg substitutes (the yolk contains the fat including the omega-3s as well as vitamins A, B12, and E. Because the yolk contains the fat it contains about 3/4 of the egg's calories. The egg white contains more than half of the protein, iron, and selenium.)
Nuts and Nut ButtersNuts are a great source of protein, vitamin E, folate, and magnesium. They also provide a small amount of fiber and iron. They're a great source of heart-healthy fats (mono- and polyunsaturated). Keep the serving size small (about 1 oz). Be sure to eat the raw or toasted varieties that contain no additional oils or salt.
almonds (great source of Vitamin E)
walnuts (contains more omega-3s than any other nut)
peanuts (1 oz packs 8 grams of protein)
peanut butter
almond butter
tomato-based pasta sauce (tomato-based sauces provide potassium; vitamins A, C, and K; and antioxidants. Meat varieties will provide some protein too. Select sauces with less than 700mg of sodium per 1/2-cup)
hummus (made with chickpeas and tahini [sesame paste], and is a great source of protein and calcium)
guacamole (avocados are a good source of potassium, vitamin E, heart-healthy unsaturated fats, and folate)
trail mix (skip the candied variety; focus on ones mainly consisting of dried fruit, granola, and nuts.)
dark chocolate (choose varieties that are made of 70% cocoa or higher. Keep the serving size small. One square of a 70% Dark Chocolate Lindt Bar and 1 oz of almonds make a great snack)
energy bars (be careful. Some are loaded with fat. Select ones with 6 grams or less of fat, 200 calories or less, 25-30 grams of carbs, and 5-10 grams of protein.)
sports drink (for post-run refueling be sure to select varieties that are not low in carbs.)

There are hundreds of different combinations for snacks using the foods listed above. Here's just a few.
Post-Run Snack Ideas:
English muffin with peanut or almond butter
apple slices and a mozzarella cheese stick
apple slices and peanut or almond butter
apple, pear, or peach slices with low-fat cottage cheese
baby carrots with peanut butter or hummus
leftover chili makes a great post-run snack
wheat crackers with hummus
wheat crackers with tuna salad (made with lowfat mayo)
turkey wrap (lean turkey wrapped in a tortilla)
pita bread with hummus
pita or tortilla with tuna
pasta with meat sauce
pasta with tuna
scrambled egg and 100% whole wheat bread sandwich
sports drink and a mozzarella cheese stick

So, stock your cupboard and your fridge, train hard, and don't forget to refuel. You're tired muscles will thank you for it!

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Runnerdude's Runner of the Week: Mark Olivieri

I find it so inspiring when I read about individuals who are able to balance family and fitness. I discovered one such person when I stumbled upon the blog Journeys of a Triathlete Father of Five. Mark Olivieri is the host of the blog. In the "About Me" section, Mark says, "I am an eternal optimist and a hopeless romantic—and I am proof that no matter how busy our lives are—it is possible to find balance with a little sacrifice." As a father of 3 and a runner, that was enough to pull me in and I've been following the blog ever since. Read on to learn more about Mark's story.

RD: Where are you from?
Mark: Rochester, New York

RD: Share a little about yourself. What do you do for a living? Hobbies?
Mark: I am a composer and a university professor. One of the really great parts about my work is that I get to travel places and work with incredibly skilled musicians and ensembles who perform my music. It is also a great opportunity to work in location runs. My hobbies include running triathlons, cooking, and eating—my wife and I are self proclaimed foodies.

RD: How long have you been running?
Mark: I first started running in 1997 while a graduate student at Ithaca College. I was into strength training then, and would run to get in some cardiovascular training, or so I thought. I did not really know what I was running for, how to train, how far I should go, or how fast. I only ran indoors on the treadmill after weight training. I would run two miles at 6.5 m.p.h. I remember thinking that was fast at the time.

This will be my fourth season of triathlons. I wish I had found the sport earlier in life, and that I had done more running, swimming and biking at an earlier age. However, I think that is part of the reason why I love it so much. It is great—and humbling—being a beginner at something again.

RD: What got you into running?
Mark: I think I got into running because my training partner at the time was trying to get leaner (we are so narcissistic when we’re young, aren’t we?) Not to mention, the treadmills in the gym that we went to faced the cardio area where there were a lot of college coeds climbing up and down on steppers and kickboxing in scantily clad sports apparel. Shallow to be sure, but it provided a great landscape of the potential dating pool.

As far as triathlons go, as a child, I have always been captivated by watching Ironman on t.v. When I was a kid, I would listen to my father marvel at these athletes who would get off their bikes after riding 112 miles and then run a marathon. Two summer’s ago, my wife’s cousin Matthew stayed with us to lose weight. I trained him and he lost 72 pounds over the course of three months. We decided that we would train and run our first one together, which we did.

RD: What do you enjoy most about running?
Mark: My favorite thing about running and participating in a triathlon is how it makes me feel. Training can sometimes be tedious, but that is when you have to switch gears to make it work for you. There is nothing quite like the feeling of crossing a finish line—no matter how far the distance. I also love the camaraderie that you share with fellow athletes training—your successes and failures. They help you grow as an athlete, and develop ways to be more efficient.

RD: What are your favorite training foods?
Mark: My favorite training food is pasta—no doubt. I can eat it about a hundred different ways. I actually wrote a post on my blog titled “Confessions of a Complex Carboholic” where I proclaim my love for this culinary masterpiece.

RD: Are you a lone runner or do you run with some buddies? What do you like about each?
Mark: It depends on my mood, but I am almost invariably someone who enjoys running with others. For me, it is a motivation and safety issue. I am less likely to dog it out there if I am being pushed by someone else. I do like to go out there on a long run by myself to collect my thoughts, and my mettle.
RD: You just taught me a new word—mettle (inner strength, spirit, the courage to carry on ) Cool! I definitely agree. I love my buddy runs, but also need the solo runs just to think about complex issues or just absolutely nothing.

RD: What’s the funniest or oddest thing that’s happened to you while on a run?
Mark: I am not quite sure how funny it was for me, but my training partners thought it was: let’s just say that training for my first HIM, I made a b-line to the bathroom with 3 miles left to go while running the half course. I have yet to run faster negative splits, but when you are having lower g.i. issues, you can really motor to the nearest bathroom.

RD: What’s your biggest running accomplishment? Why?
Mark: My biggest triathlon accomplishment thus far was a top ten age group finish at the Finger Lakes Olympic Triathlon just a week after running the Rochester City Marathon. My legs were still fatigued, and I had to push it hard and forget about the pain for a couple of hours.

RD: you have a favorite brand of running shoe? Which model? Why?
Mark: My favorite brand of running shoes has been New Balance. I am a creature of habit. When I find something that works for me, I stick to it. I wore New Balance 882’s for about five years. They do not exist anymore. I just recently switched to Pearl Izumi SyncroFuel. The verdict is still out.

RD: I'm like you. It takes me a while to find a shoe that works and when I do, I like to stick with it, but Murphy's Law always kicks in and usually the shoe I find is overhauled the next year or discontinue, so the search is back on. I just recently reviewed the Pearl Izumi Syncro Fuel XC Trail shoe for Pearl Izumi. I really liked how is performed and gave it 5 Dudes. They just sent me the road version and I'm looking forward to testing them too. Let me know how you like yours after you've run in them for a while.

RD: What’s your favorite race distance(s)? Do you have a favorite race you run each year?
Mark: I think my favorite race distances are both the half marathon and half-ironman. You can push it, but you will not be wobbling like you are nine months pregnant for a week after the race. My favorite race so far has been the Musselman Half Ironman in Geneva, N.Y. The race director, Jeff Henderson, does an outstanding job making everyone from the first place finisher to the person who comes is last feel like winners.

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: I speak to non-runners, and wannabe triathletes all the time. When people find out that I race triathlons, they always ask me for advice getting started. The first thing that I tell them is that running and triathlon communities are wonderfully supportive. People want to give you advice, and be encouraging. Find a running group, a triathlon club, or other support network. Take a spinning class, start doing master’s swim, and take lessons if you feel you need improve in a given discipline. Make it a lifestyle. The other thing I tell wannabe triathletes and beginning runners is that you do not need to go out and purchase a $5000 carbon fiber rig for your first race. Your mountain bike will be fine, or rent or borrow a road bike. See if you like it. Don’t skimp on running shoes though! Find a qualified professional to help you find a decent pair of shoes for you. This will make a big difference.

RD: Open Mike: Share anything you‘d like about your running experiences, past accomplishments, goals, dreams….anything you haven’t previously shared.
Mark: Everyone has off days and weeks. That is okay. Try to analyze what it is that is impeding your training. Do you need more sleep? Do you need to change your diet? Running should be fun. You can make it as difficult as you want depending on the goals you are trying to attain, but for me, it is always about having fun.

As for my own goals: I want to become a much better swimmer this year. I know that I need to take lessons and work with a professional in order for this to happen. My goal with any race is to perform better than I did the last time out.

Thanks Mark, for letting us get to know you a little better! Be sure to check out Mark's blog—Journeys of a Triathlete Father of Five.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Sometimes All You Need is a Boost(er)

Tonight I took my two older kids (14 and 18) to see The Prince of Persia. We were running a tad late, but we were confident we'd still make it since there's always 20 minutes of previews before the movie begins. We cut it close, however, because the people in front of us in the concession line kept changing their order. Anywho, by the time we got in the theater, the lights were down and we were doing the walking-in-a-dark-theater-shuffle trying to find three empty seats without breaking our necks. Luckily I noticed that the back row of seats was empty before we had gone too far. So we plopped down just in time.

We always go to the same theater. It's one of the smaller ones still left in town. It doesn't have the fancy stadium seating, but it's clean, close to our house, and about $3 cheaper than all the mega-plexes in town. We were pleasantly surprised to discover that all the seats had been replaced with brand new ones. You know, the ones with the high backs that rock and the arm rests with cup-holders. (I know. It doesn't take much to make us happy.) Only problem was because we were on the very back row where the flooring was no longer on a downward slope, it was a little hard to see over the seats in front of us. Luckily there was only one man in that row so there were no heads to compete with. Well, there was only one man until the Jolly Green Giant and his long-legged brood entered the theater and sat right in front of us. Well, no matter how tall I sat, I couldn't see. So, never to back away from adversity, I went into the lobby and got all three of us kiddie booster seats.

My kids looked at me like I had gone completely insane. I said not a word, just handed them a booster, plopped mine in my seat and sat. Once they saw I was sitting about a foot higher, they too became booster believers.

So, there we sat, the three of us, enjoying the Prince of Persia, munching on pop corn, sipping on Diet Coke, and our feet dangling in the air. I do have to admit I felt a little like Edith Ann from Laugh-In. (For you young folk, Laugh-In was a comedy show from the late 60s to the early 70s. And yes, there was television back then.) I think we had as much fun laughing at ourselves than we did watching the movie.

Great life lesson. When the Jolly Green Giant sits in front of you at the movie, don't get mad, get a booster seat. Great lesson for running too. The next time life throws a curve ball at you concerning your running, don't get mad or discouraged, find that "booster" that will lift you up and over the adversity.

If you're injured and the doc says not to run for 3 months, have your pity party, but then figure out what you can do during that three months that will still help keep you fit. Maybe it's a different form of cross-training. Or maybe it's the perfect time to do some resistance training at the gym or finally set up that session with the personal trainer at the gym that you've been putting off.

If you just can't seem to increase your speed, step back and evaluate your training. Are you running the same-ole-same-ole? Do you have speedwork in your weekly training? Are you running too much? Not enough?

If you're always tired and never seem to have enough energy to do well on your runs, take some time to evaluate your stress level. Where's the stress coming from? Home? Work? Both? Or is it your diet? Eating too much? Not enough? Not enough of the right stuff? How about hydration? Hydrating before your runs? After?

How about that new runner in your running group that really irks you. What is it that's rubbing you the wrong way? Attention getter? Braggart? Complainer? TMI Offender? Or is it that he/she is just faster than you?

Whatever the situation, don't let the downside of the situation get the best of you. Use it as a time to grow as a runner (even if you're not able to run). If you're not sure what the solution is, ask your fellow running buddies, see a sports doc, a running coach, or go to the library or book store and find books to help you explore options.
It's funny when I look back at my own life obstacles and how things may have been different if I had chosen other paths for dealing with those situations. For example, in 2007 I had a stress fracture in my heel. I was told not to run for three months. At first I was depressed about it, but not for too long. I finally decided to join a gym and use the three months to work on increasing my overall strength, especially upper body and core. Finally after the three months, when I slowly began my return to running, I discovered I wasn't as far behind physically as I thought I'd be. I ended up PR-ing in the 5K, half-marathon and full-marathon later that same year. That experience also lead me to the gym which lead to an increase love of fitness, which eventually lead to becoming a certified personal trainer and running coach. Who knows what I'd be doing today, if I had chosen to let that stress fracture get the best of me.

So, next time you get hit with a curve ball, just picture me and my two teenage kids sitting in booster seats at the movies with our feet just-a-swayin and have a good-ole time.

Friday, May 28, 2010

RunnerDude Reviews the Pearl Izumi SyncroFuel

Last week I reviewed Pearl Izumi's new trail shoe, the SyncroFuel XC. I had such a good experience that wanted to test drive the road version of the shoe, the SyncroFuel.

If you haven’t heard of Pearl Izumi, they're a relatively new running footwear brand. They introduced their first line of running shoes six years ago. Today, Pearl Izumi sports a line of 13 different models for men and women in their running shoe line.

Greensboro, NC, where I live, has a great network of trails and greenways that area runners, cyclists, mountain bikers, walkers, and hikers enjoy. For the trail shoes I hit a popular trail in the area and for the road version I hit one of the greenways, The Lake Brant Greenway.
Just like the trail shoe, the road version of the SyncroFuel gave me a great run and definitely deserves 5 dudes out of 5 dudes on the RunnerDude Rating Scale.

For more details on my experience with the SyncroFuel road shoe, check out the video clip below.

Note: Pearl Izumi requested the product review and provided the shoes for testing. I received no payment for completing the review; nor was I encouraged to write a positive review. The review results are strictly based on my experience running in the shoes. On a side note, I'd like to state that I don't endorse Pearl Izumi's stance on "Jogging" in their recent ad campaign. My stance is that running is an inclusive sport open to all athletes of all ability levels.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

10 Tips for Planning a Marathon Trip

Preparing for a marathon trip can almost be as exhausting as the actual race training. Over the years, I've realized there are a few things I like to check-out or do well before race day (especially if I'm traveling some distance to the race) to ensure a great trip.

1. Discuss the trip ahead of time with your family. The support of family and friends can be great, but they can add a lot of stress too. Unless you're a long-time marathoner and you have your process down pat, I'd avoid mixing a marathon trip and a vacation trip together. The main focus of a marathon trip should be the marathon. To make sure everyone is on the same page, hold a family meeting to discuss the purpose of the trip and how much you're going to need everyone's support.
2. Scope out the typical race-day weather (precip and temp). The race's website usually provides this information, but you can also find it on weather sites like This is very important if you'll be racing in a city that has a different climate. It's also important to keep checking the long-range weather forecast as race day approaches. I ran Chicago in 2007 and was prepared for a windy chilly run. Instead I got the heatwave of the century!

3. Scope out the best lodging for your pocketbook. Sometimes the cheapest hotels are in nearby towns or "the burbs." But if you have to rent a car or pay expensive cab fare it may be better to pay for a more expensive hotel that's in walking distance to the start or near public transportation or that may provide shuttles on marathon day. Speaking of cab fare, [click here] to estimate cab fare for your marathon city.

4. Don't limit yourself to the hotels listed on the marathon site. These hotels will give discounts and are usually in close proximity to the start/finish, but they may not always be the best deal. If you're really on a budget and traveling solo, check out hostels or nearby YMCA's that my provide lodging. One year I found a great hostel in the upper west side of Manhattan for the NYC Marathon. It was a great location for the race and in a great neighborhood. I paid only $65 a night! That was a few years ago, but even then, other traditional hotel rooms were going for over $250. It did have it's drawback such as only two common bathrooms shared by the floor, but I did have my own room, it was clean, and I did have a sink and a TV!

5. Pay close attention to hotel/air travel package deals. There are many sites such as Travelocity and that provide great deals, but read the fine print carefully. What is their refund policy if you have to cancel? Do you pay upfront or is it just a reservation? Also, read carefully various amenities provided by the hotel in package. Just recently while looking for a hotel for my upcoming Marine Corps Marathon, I wanted one close to the start finish that was also close to Metro access. As I was hunting, I decided to check out the price of a package that also included airfare. The drive to DC from my home is 5hrs. If I could find a hotel/flight deal that was reasonable, it might be worth not having the hassle of driving 5 hours, plus it would give me more time to get acclimated to my new surroundings. I thought I'd found the perfect deal—$350 for three nights in a 3-star hotel and airfare! The hotel was near Reagan National Airport which is near the race start/finish. Perfect! I almost purchased the package when I realized that the flight was not to National (a few blocks from the hotel), but instead it flew into Dulles—about 40minutes away! Last time I took a cab from Dulles into the city it cost about $50! That was about 10 years ago! Crazy! Needless to say, I'm driving to DC. So, read carefully before you buy.

6. Pay for the hotel in advance. One sure way to stick to a marathon commitment is to prepay for the hotel. Another upside to doing this is that often there's a discount for paying in advance. For the upcoming Marine Corps Marathon, I actually found a cheaper rate through the hotel's site by paying several months in advance. What I paid was quite a bit cheaper than what I could find using sites like Travelocity and

7. Arrive at least two days prior to race day. Arriving at least two days before race day will give you time to acclimate to the new location. The first day can be spent at the expo picking up your race packet, finding the local grocery store (if needed), scoping out places to eat, as well as transportation options. You may even have some time to do a little light sightseeing. Day two can be spent relaxing and mentally preparing for the race. I never sleep well the first night in a new bed. Having two nights before the race helps ensure a better night's sleep prior to race day.

8. Plan your meals. This may sound odd, but the last thing you want to do is change your regular eating habits at race time. For example, you can't just assume your hotel will have a restaurant. Many hotels today only provide a free continental breakfast, which is awesome, but if they don't provide full restaurant services, what are you going to do? Are there restaurants nearby? Or are you packing your own food? If you're driving, that's probably fine, but what if you're flying? Are there grocery stores nearby? A call directly to the hotel or checking the amenities section of the hotel website can usually provide this information. Just like sports drink and sports gel, race time is no time to be changing your normal eating routine.

9. Don't forget your pre-race warm-up garb. Some races have runners at the start several hours before start time. NYC is a perfect example. You're bused to Staten Island a couple of hours before race time. It's the wee hours of the morning and it's the beginning of November. It can be quite chilly. If all you have is your race shorts and a singlet, you may get a chill. Not good before a race. I usually visit the local Good Will store and pick up an old pair of warm-up pants and a sweatshirt. These keep me warm prior to the start and I don't care about tossing them. Most races pickup discarded clothes after the race and distribute them to local homeless shelters.

10. Keep your race day items with you while traveling. The last thing you need is to have your luggage lost on a marathon trip. You can't prevent this from happening, but you can prevent your race clothing and essentials (I.D., registration info, etc.) from being in that lost luggage by packing them in your carry-on bags.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Good Carbs Bad Carbs

Fad diets are great for three things—making the originator of the diet rich, making people spend a lot of money, and confusing the heck out of people. defines "Fad" as a temporary fashion, notion, manner of conduct, etc., especially one followed enthusiastically by a group.
The success of a fad diet or fitness trend is usually not measured by the number of people who make healthy lasting life-changing habits. No, their success is usually measured by how much money they rake in. They're usually enough curious people that end up trying the method or product that monetarily the trend is a success. Often fads do produce an initial positive change that stirs-up a lot of hype, but usually the fad is not something that a person can stick with long term and incorporate into a life-long habit. The problem this causes is that the public tends to remember that initial change not that it didn't have a lasting effect. So, even long after the fad has past, the original thinking (or lack there of) that went along with the fad tends to hang around. That's kind of what happened with the No-Carb-Craze. There are still people that shy away from any kind of carb because they think they're all bad.

In general, people want that quick fix. We've all been suckered into one gimmick or another. I've owned an Ab Roller and yes a Health Rider too. Now that I look back and picture me on the Health Rider contraption, I think I must have looked like an overgrown kid on an adult hobby horse. And to think that thing cost almost $400! I bet more than a few of you have a Thigh Master hidden away on a closet shelf too! I remember when I was a kid, one of my mom's friends had a vibration belt machine. I think the theory was you could jiggle the fat away!

The '80s saw the low-fat craze which was followed in the '90s by the no-carb craze. There was even a store down the street from my home that was a Carb-Free Store. Luckily, People are finally coming out of the ban-the-Carbs-era, but it's amazing how many individuals still think carbs are the bad guys. The reality is that anything can be the bad guy if you over indulge. Carbohydrates are essential to your survival.

Actually one theory sports scientists have as to why many marathoners bonk around mile 20 is that the brain goes into protective mode when it thinks it's in danger of running out of carbs. So, to protect itself, the brain actually fatigues the muscles causing you to slow down, hence protecting those important carbs.

But even if you're not running a marathon, carbs are essential to your diet. According to Dietary Reference Intake (DRI) guidelines, your total caloric intake should be comprised of 45%-65% carbs. For simplicity let's just say 50%. So for a 2000 calorie diet, that's about 1000 calories.

So what is your DRI for carbs? In order to determine this, you need to know how many calories you consume in a day. You can do this a couple of ways. One way is to keep a log of your daily eating. Simply list (hand written in a journal or electronically on a spreadsheet) all the foods you eat each day for 3 days. Pick three days that represent your typical eating habits. Don't include a day that contains unusual eating such as attending a pot-luck-dinner or a dinner party where you may eat more than you normally would. Then use a calorie-counter book to list the calories for each food listed. Most of the new books include calories for common fast foods and prepackaged foods too. Or you can use a site like This site is free and you can keep track of all your foods by using their extensive food data base as well as adding in your own foods that may not be listed. This site not only will keep track of calories, it can generate reports on other areas such as vitamin and mineral deficiencies.

Once you know the total calories for each of the three days, calculate the average for the three days to determine your daily Total Energy Intake. Your Total Energy Intake could be too low, just right, or too high. To determine the appropriate Total Energy Intake for someone with your height, weight, and activity level [click here] to use the Daily Calorie Needs Calculator. Compare your actual Total Energy Intake with the Daily Calorie Needs Calculator result. Are you in the ballpark? Do you need to eat more? Cut back?

Once you know what your daily caloric intake is (or should be) all you have to do is take 50% of your total daily calories and that's the number of calories you need each day from carbs. (If you want to have a range of calories to work with, multiply the Total Energy Intake by 45% and 65%. For a 2000 calorie diet, the carb-calorie range would be 900-1300 calories)

Nutrition labels usually list carbs in grams not in calories, but it can easily be converted. One gram of carbs equals four calories. So, a food that has 20g of carbs is going to contain 80 calories from those carbs. And thinking of it in the inverse relationship, if you're wondering how many grams of carbs equal 1000cals (your daily requirement of carbs for a 2000cal daily diet), just divide 1000 by 4 and you'll get 250 grams. So about about 1000 calories of your 2000-calorie daily diet will come from carbs and that equates to about 250 grams of carbs. (Keep in mind that you need to replace 2000 with whatever The Daily Calorie Needs Calculator computes as your daily caloric need.)

Cool. Now that you know the percent of daily calories that should come from carbs and you know how many grams of carbs that equals, there's one more thing you need to keep in mind—not all carbs are alike. The ban-all-carbs craze of the 90s (for the most part) categorized all carbs as bad. But, that you see, was the fad's "gimmick"—Eat Meat, Not Bread. It was a lot easier for the consumer to remember. And so began the dawn of the lettuce-wrapped burgers. Funny thing is that lettuce is actually a carb. Perfect example of what we're still trying to overcome today—over generalization of carbohydrates.

There's a lot of science and fancy words I could throw at you—saccharides, monosaccharides, disaccharides, polysaccharides, glucose, fructose, galactose, sucrose, lactose, maltose, and on and on. But the main thing to know is that all carbs consist of different types of sugar units (saccharides). What makes carbs good or bad depends on the number and type of sugar units it contains.

Simple carbs consist of one or two units of simple sugar. Because of this, they are very easy to digest and digest quickly. As a result, simple carbs are fast-acting. Ever notice how quickly you get a burst of energy after eating a candy bar? Problem is unless you put that energy to use with some type of physical activity, most likely those calories will be stored as fat. Eating too many simple carbs combined with a sedentary lifestyle are two of the biggest causes of obesity and adult onset diabetes today. I think sports nutritionist Nancy Clark says it best, "Carbohydrates are not fattening; excess calories are fattening."
Simple carbs are mainly represented by highly refined, processed, and packed foods such as cakes, cookies, crackers, white bread, candy, sugary soft drinks, fruit drinks, table sugar, corn syrup, pastries, fast foods, etc. Only about 10% of your daily carbs should come from simple carbs. 10% of 250 grams is only 25 grams. It's amazing how quickly you can use up or go beyond your 10% simple sugar limit:
Little Debbie Mini Powdered Doughnuts = 19g
REESE'S Peanut Butter Cups (2 cups) = 21g
Hershey Bar = 25g
Snickers Bar = 30g
Mountain Dew (12oz can) = 46g
Coke (12 oz can) = 39g
Coke (Medium from McDonalds) = 58g
Coke (32 oz Big Gulp Fountain Drink) = 91g

Complex carbohydrates contain long chains made up of three or more single sugar units. Because of this, they take longer for your body to digest and as a result will stay with you and provide energy for the long haul. You still need to be physically active or even complex carbs can eventually be stored as fat, but it takes longer to do so. As a runner, you most likely will have put those complex carb calories to good use during your runs.
Complex carbs include unprocessed, unrefined, whole grains (wheat, oatmeal, corn, brown and wild rice, etc.), nuts, seeds, dried beans, vegetables, and fruits. Complex carbs are also better than simple carbs because they contain many other vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals. Some complex carbs even provide other health benefits. Oatmeal for example, has been shown to help lower total cholesterol levels.

You have to be on your toes as a shopper. There are lots of grain products masquerading as whole-grain or whole wheat. Marketing gurus are quite clever in disguising what's really in their products. Just because it's brown doesn't mean it's whole-wheat or whole-grain. Some products contain caramel coloring to give it that brown whole-wheat/grain look. Also, steer clear of products using phrases such as "wheat", "enriched wheat flour", "multigrain", "5-grain", "rye", "made with whole wheat", "made with whole grain", or "contains the goodness of whole grain." Unless it says 100% whole grain or 100% whole wheat, it's probably not. Check the ingredients on the label. The closer to the front of the list the more it contains. Look for breads that have at least 3 grams of fiber. If you're at your local bagel shop or bakery, ask them to tell you about their whole-grain and whole-wheat products. In my experience they're more than willing to share with you what goes into their various offerings.

Carbs are an important link in a complex electrical and chemical chain of events that produce energy on which your body runs. Think energy in, energy out. As long as you're fueling your body properly and you're physically active, you'll be putting that fuel to good use and weight gain will be easier to avoid. It's when a higher percentage of simple carbs are ingested and a more sedentary lifestyle is adopted that weight gain will take hold.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Beginning Runners: Take it Slow

I was excited when the newest issue of a health/nutrition magazine I get arrived the other day. As I was skimming the table of contents I saw an article about a beginning running program. The tagline pitched a 6-week walk-to-run program. Of course this caught my attention so I quickly flipped to the article. The 6-weeks made me a bit skeptical. So, I read the article.

The article does provide the reader with some good info—you don't have to be in perfect shape to begin a running program; running provides an extra 70% reduction in risk of stroke and diabetes; running can help bust a weight-loss plateau; help maintain bone density, doesn't damage knees; and helps improve mental sharpness. The only problem I have is that the proposed plan, will have some runner wannabes throwing in the towel after the first run or two.
The "grabber" tagline at the beginning of the article reads, "Our 6-week walk-to-run program will have your clocking miles in no time!" Having worked with beginning runners, I'm thinking this may be a bit of an oversell. The tagline bills the program as a "walk-to-run" program, yet, Monday they run, Tuesday they cross-train, Wednesday they run, Thursday they rest, Friday they run, and finally on Saturday they walk before another rest day on Sunday. The other thing that worries me about the plan is that it has new runners running 1.5 miles on the very first day of the plan. Now if you're a seasoned runner, that sounds like nothing, but if you're a newbie to running, that can be quite a task. One of my running clients has the fastest walking pace of anyone I know. I can hardly keep up with her. But when it came to running, she was good for spurts of about 30-60secs at first.

Now to give the article some credit, it does say to take walking breaks as needed during the runs and if you can only run 15-30 seconds at a time to begin with, that's okay. My stance though is why, make it seem like the person is compromising by walking? It kind of reads like, "It's okay if you need to walk." Also, the workout schedule grid just says "Run 1.5 miles." So, for the skimmer who doesn't read the entire article, they're going to be trying to run 1.5 miles on day one of the program and not know it's okay to take walking breaks.

The other thing I find odd is one of the motivation tips it provides. It reads, "It's more efficient (and fun) to track miles instead of minutes." Huh? If you're not up to a mile yet, this will be a little hard to do. Plus you'll either have to be running on a track, go out in your car and figure out mileage or spend $300 on a GPS.

In my opinion, it's best to start with a run/walk method, but forget distance and focus on time. Begin with a cycle of a short achievable running segment that's paired with a longer walking segment. For example, on day one of the plan, you might start with a 5-minute warm-up walk. Then run for 1 minute at a slow steady pace followed by a 4-minute walk at a steady pace. Repeat this 1-minute run/4-minute walk process for 30 minutes (you'll repeat it 5 times). Then wrap up with a 5-minute cool-down walk. Do this for 3-4 times during week one. Then gradually increase the running segments and shorten the walking segments throughout the course of the program. For example, in week two, increase the running segment to 2-minutes (still at a slow steady pace) and decrease the walking segment to 3-minutes. Continue this process over a ten week period. Over the course of the program, work up to running 5 days a week. By the 9th week of the program, you'll be doing just two run/walk rotations that look something like 14-minutes running/1-minute walking before the last week when you'll run the entire 30 minutes covering approximately 3 miles.

One of the biggest reasons new runners give up is trying to do too much too soon. So, choose a plan that you can succeed at. There's no rush. Take your time. Start with those short running segments and build up. Run at a slow to moderate pace. Don't sprint. Don't worry about distance. Once you can run 30-minutes without stopping, then you can begin thinking more about increasing your pace and mileage.
If you're in the Greensboro, NC area, I'll be starting a new beginning running group 10-week program on August 3rd. Email me at if you're interested!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

It's Time to Pick A Plan!

Well, it's that time of year. If you're planning on running one of the larger fall 2010 marathons, you've probably already registered. Many of the larger races such as Marine Corps fill-up shortly after registration opens. For the smaller marathons, you may have more time to register. Probably worth heading to the website of your chosen marathon though, just to make sure it hasn't already filled and if it hasn't, to see if there's a cap.

Once you've registered, the next step is finding a training plan that's best for you and your racing goals. Fall 2010, may seem like a long ways away, but if you're running a race like Chicago, and you're following an 18-week training plan then your training is going to kick-in in early June. That's in about 2 weeks! Like, OMG! Really?! That soon?

If you're new to marathon training, finding the right training plan can be a bit overwhelming. But before we get into selecting a plan, you need to make sure you have a good mileage base before heading into your training. A good rule of thumb is to have at least a month of weekly mileage in the range of 20-25 miles. Base-building miles are "easy miles." What I mean by that is that during the base-building phase, you're just logging miles. You're not concerned with speed work, hill workouts, tempo runs, or really intense long runs. You're just getting your body used to putting in the miles. Some of the longer training plans (20-26 weeks) may include base-building, but most plans (16-18 weeks) are built on the assumption that you're going into the plan with the appropriate base mileage. The base mileage is important because it puts your body in prime condition for training and will lessen the likelihood of injury as you ramp-up the mileage. If you're base mileage is a little lacking, you may want to pick a marathon that's in late October or in November, so you can build that base.

There are lots of different philosophies regarding marathon training. Some incorporate a run/walk method. Others, believe high mileage is the key. Still others have you running less mileage (but the runs are more intense) and incorporating cross-training. Some plans have you running a long run of 20 miles at least once, some twice, some over five times. Other plans have you doing a run over 20 miles during the plan.

I think that any one of these approaches will work for a runner. The key is finding one that meshes with your goals and running style. I do strongly believe that variety is the key to marathon training success. Mixing up your training so that it includes easy runs, speed work, tempo runs, and long runs—in my opinion—will make for a solid plan that will make you a stronger and more efficient runner. I also believe that adding some cross-training into the mix is a good idea, but I'm not ridged on it being only specific activities. As long as the cross-training is aerobic in nature and provides the body a break from the pounding of running, I think it's good to throw into the mix.
I also believe in rest days. In particular, I believe in rest days after an intense workout. No matter your fitness level, your body needs time to recover after an intense workout. Keep in mind that intense can be short and fast, or long and slow. Intense can also mean a regular run on a 95°F day that zapped you of all your energy. Some times rest means exactly nothing the next day. And, sometimes rest may mean doing something easy such as light cross-training. Just keep in mind that it's perfectly fine to actually have a complete day of rest where you do nothing. Rest is just as an important part of training as that 20-mile long run.

Before you pick a plan, it's best to check out several and compare. See which ones mesh best with your running goals and level of fitness. Don't doom yourself by picking an advanced plan when you're just a beginner. And on the flip side, don't pick a beginner plan if you're a seasoned runner wanting to PR. Here are a few links to some popular training plans with different approaches.

If you live in Greensboro, NC and would like to experience training with a group while still following a custom plan designed just for you, then email me at You can also check out my website for more information. Whether it's your first or your fifth marathon, I'd love to help you on your journey. Training groups begin as soon as June 5th and will continue all through the summer.

Don't live in Greensboro? No problem. I can work with you via the Internet and create a custom plan just for you as well as follow your training and provide coaching through the use of an online training log and email.

Whether it's with me, another running coach, or on your own, make sure to take some time to check out the various plans and find the one the best suites your needs.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Quick-n-Simple Interval Workout

A speed workout is one of the best ways to kick your running program into high gear, but it doesn't have to be anything fancy. The key to an effective speed workout is speed. You can definitely get that doing repeats on the track, but you can also get in an effective speed workout while on the trail, running at the park or at home or in the gym on the treadmill.

Basically all you need is a series of slow and fast intervals. These intervals can be based on time or distance. For example you can run at a moderate pace for 4 minutes and then run fast (just below your 5K pace) for 1 minute. Or if you'd prefer to base the intervals on distance, try running a quarter mile at a moderate pace and then run a quarter mile at a fast pace. The key is to repeat this series of slow/fast intervals for at least 30 minutes.

Your workout might look like the following:
1. Begin with a 5-minute warm-up (a brisk walk or easy jog)
2. Select one of the following interval combinations below. Rotate between the slow/fast intervals for 30 minutes.
4 mins @ a moderate pace / 1 min @ a fast pace
3 mins @ a moderate pace / 2 mins @ a fast pace
1/4 mile @ a moderate pace / 1/4 mile @ a fast pace
1/2 mile @ a moderate pace / 1/2 mile @ a fast pace
3. Finish with a 5-minute cool-down (easy jog or walk)

Incorporate this workout once a week into your running routine and you'll see improved muscular endurance, improved VO2, improved speed, and overall better running efficiency.
For a recap of the workout, check out the following video clip from RunnerDude's Fitness.

Friday, May 14, 2010

RunnerDude Reviews the New SyncroFuel XC

If you haven’t heard of Pearl Izumi, they're a relatively new running footwear brand. They introduced their first line of running shoes six years ago. Today, Pearl Izumi sports a line of 13 different models for men and women in their running shoe line.

Pearl Izumi began over 50 years ago in Tokyo, when a dad (eager to help his son who was a promising bicycle racer) created Japan's first line of cycling racing apparel. Zoom 50 years to the present and Pearl Izumi, USA, Inc. is one of the leading makers of technical- performing sports apparel. Pearl Izumi became available in the US in 1981 and during the 80s it sponsored the US National Team (that won nine gold medals during the '84 Olympic Games) as well as several major trade teams during that era. Today, Pearl Izumi USA, Inc. is one of the most respected brands in the United States. The company is most known for its cycling apparel and gear, but recently the company has begun to expand into other sport categories—cross-country skiing, triathlon, duathlon, running and other outdoor sport activities.

Pearl Izumi contacted me to see if I'd be interested in testing their newest trail shoe, the SyncroFuel XC. Of course I said, "Yes!" I knew Pearl Izumi for their cycling history and was intrigued to find out more about their running shoes. Plus it gave me a great excuse to go trail running!

Greensboro, NC, where I live is blessed with a wonderful network of greenways and trails. So, once the SyncroFuel XC's arrived, I spent a couple of hours one afternoon giving them a good test drive. Here are the results of my run...

Pearl Izumi requested the product review and provided the shoes for testing. I received no payment for completing the review; nor was I encouraged to write a positive review. The review results are strictly based on my experience running in the shoes. On a side note, I'd like to state that I don't endorse Pearl Izumi's stance on "Jogging" in their recent ad campaign. My stance is that running is an inclusive sport open to all athletes of all ability levels.

Thursday, May 13, 2010


DOMS—Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness...we've all had it and we all hate it, but it's a necessary evil in your pursuit for a fitter stronger body. Whether you're a swimmer, a runner, a cyclist, a gym rat, or a combination of them all, you've experienced DOMS. You don't have to be a newbie to fitness to experience DOMS. Anytime you expose your body to new or more intense demands you're more than likely going to experience muscle soreness a day or two after the workout.

Lactate (a by-product of intense exercise) is often blamed for the muscle soreness, but lactate is not the culprit. Lactate actually isn't the bad guy it's often portrayed to be. A trained athlete can actually use lactate as an energy source. When an athlete pushes him/herself past his/her lactate threshold (such as in an interval workout), the body can no longer clear the lactate fast enough so it builds up and can cause that burning sensation in the muscles eventually fatiguing the muscles causing you to slow down. But if you've ever experienced that burn in an interval workout, you also know that if you slow it back down or stop and walk it off, that burn will eventually subside because the body pretty quickly is able to recoup and clear the excess lactate (usually within 30 minutes). DOMS, however, doesn't happen until the next day or sometimes not even until 2 or 3 days later. So, Lactate, you're off the hook.

If it's not lactate buildup, then what's the cause of DOMS? If you're a runner, you can probably pin point two types of workouts that might result in DOMS—short fast workouts such as intervals or hillwork and very long slow runs. Downhill running seems to cause the most intense DOMS. Whenever you up-the-ante with duration or intensity, you're putting your muscles under more stress. You're actually causing microscopic damage to the tiny myofibrils that make up the muscle fibers. Don't worry. I know that sounds bad, but it's not. This is actually how muscle becomes stronger. The pain you're feeling the next day or so, is the result of that microscopic muscle damage. But during this time the body sends in the troops and begins to repair the damage. It's this repair process that actually makes the muscle stronger. Because the muscle will be stronger, the next time you apply the same stress that caused the initial DOMS, your muscles will be able to handle the workout and most likely you'll not experience DOMS. That's called adaptation. Your body has now adapted to the intensity level.

Because your body is an expert at adaptation, it's very important to always mix up your running routine. Have you ever heard someone say, "I run every day, but I can't seem to get any faster. I'm even gaining a little weight." If you dig a littler deeper into this person's running regimen, you'll probably discover that he may have the mileage, but he's running the same distance and the same intensity every time he runs. His body has adapted to this and so he's stagnated. In order to get out of this slump, he needs to mix-it-up by throwing in a tempo run, add some fartleks to a regular run, or add a day of speed work each week such as intervals or hill repeats.

DOMS is one of the biggest reasons newbies stop working out so quickly. Since becoming a personal trainer, I've become familiar with three different possible reactions to DOMS. The first is fear. Many newbies to fitness or running are convinced that they've injured themselves when they wake up a day or two later to extremely stiff and sore muscles. A second possible reaction is discouragement. Some individuals think, "Man, I must be in terrible shape to feel this bad. I don't think I have enough in me to deal with this kind of pain." And a third possible reaction is elation!"Oh man, I'm sore! Awesome! Bring it on! This means I had a great workout!" The third reaction is the best attitude to take. Think of DOMS as proof of your hard work. You may not believe it now, but after you've been working out for a while, you may even be discouraged if you don't experience DOMS after a hard workout. Don't believe me? Stick with it a while and you'll see!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Enter Video Contest for Chance to Win a NYC Marathon Entry!

Do you want to go the distance…all 26.2 miles across the five boroughs of New York? Team Lifeline is ready to give you the chance with the first ever “Team Lifeline New York, New York Video Contest.” In this contest, avid and aspiring runners are invited to submit a short video that will convince a panel of distinguished judges why they deserve the opportunity to run in the ING New York City Marathon, the world’s largest marathon. Twenty lucky individuals will win exactly that—guaranteed entry into the marathon, which takes place on Sunday, November 7, 2010. In exchange, team members raise a minimum of $3,600 each for Chai Lifeline, the international children’s health support network dedicated to bringing joy and hope to seriously ill children and their families.

Team Lifeline encourages creativity, so don your director’s cap, pick up your flip camera and start shooting. Video submissions must be two minutes or less and should convey why you, the runner, deserve a spot in the marathon. Be spontaneous, hilarious, serious or dramatic, but go the distance to win one of the highly coveted spots. The videos will be posted online for the public to view at and on Team Lifeline’s Facebook page. To apply for the contest [click here]. Submissions will be accepted through May 24th, 2010, and the winners will be announced May 28th, 2010.

“As the song goes—If you can make it in New York, you can make it anywhere—but first, you do indeed have to make it there,” said Ari Weinberger, Team Lifeline Captain. “Team Lifeline is thrilled to offer this amazing opportunity to runners around the globe. We hope that the first ever video contest will help raise awareness and funds for a truly inspirational organization.”

Team Lifeline is an endurance training program that proves that “you can go the distance,” by providing individuals of all ages and skills with the tools to complete a marathon or half-marathon. In exchange, team members raise much needed funds for
Chai Lifeline, the international children’s health support network dedicated to bringing joy and hope to seriously ill children and their families. The funds raised by Team Lifeline are earmarked specifically for the organization’s Camp Simcha and Camp Simcha Special, incredible overnight summer camps designed to meet the unique medical and social needs of children and teens with life-threatening or lifelong illnesses.

Last year, over 300 dedicated Team Lifeline runners laced up their running shoes for the ING New York City Marathon, Rock ‘n’ Roll Las Vegas Marathon and Half Marathon, and ING Miami Marathon and Half Marathon, raising more than $1.35 million for Chai Lifeline programs and services. This year marks the first time that Team Lifeline will be participating as an official charity team in the ING NYC Marathon.

For more information about Chai Lifeline and the people it helps, check out the video below.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

A Fun Fitness Bootcamp for All Levels!

4 Weeks of Fitness Fun!
(July 5- July 30)
Whether you're a beginner or a fitness buff, RunnerDude's Bootcamp is for you!

What is RunnerDude's Bootcamp?
A fun, high-energy fitness camp that meets 5 days a week for 4 weeks. It's open to adults of all ages and all fitness levels. No one will be asked to do anything beyond their fitness abilities and modifications will be provided to make exercises less or more challenging for individuals.

The Program
The program includes a variety of functional exercises targeting upper body, lower body and the core. Exercises will focus on increasing muscular strength, muscular endurance, balance, stability, and aerobic fitness. Each hour-long session will begin with a 5-10 minute group warm-up before moving right into a 40-50 minute giant circuit where participants will rotate through a series of fun, high-energy exercises. The session will end with a 5-10 minute group cool-down.

Benefits of the Program
You'll gain increased muscular strength, endurance, and stamina as well as increased aerobic fitness that will benefit you in your everyday activities. You'll improve your stability and balance. You'll have a great outlet for stress relief. And along with increased confidence, you'll make new friends will a similar quest for fitness.

Participant Requirements
Dress in appropriate fitness attire that will allow you to move freely. Wear training, walking, or running shoes. Bring an exercise or yoga mat for the group warm-up and cool-down portions of the workout (these can be purchased fairly inexpensively at Dick's, Sport Authority, Target or Walmart). Bring a hand towel and a water bottle.Each participant will need to complete a fitness assessment prior to the camp. This assessment is included in the Bootcamp registration fee.

Time and Location
You'll meet at 6:30 AM, Monday-Friday for 1 hour for four weeks beginning Monday, July 4th and ending Friday, July 30th. The bootcamp will take place in the back parking lot of the Northwestern Plaza office complex (the home of RunnerDude's Fitness) located at 2307 W. Cone Blvd. Greensboro, NC. [Click here for a map of the area.]

The 4-week camp has a registration fee of $250. That's only $12.50 per 1-hour session!

Email Thad to register for the camp or to request more information.

Monday, May 10, 2010

RunnerDude Chats with Bart Yasso

Recently, I had the honor and privilege of interviewing Bart Yasso, Chief Running Officer of Runner’s World. Bart has been such a prominent figure in running over the past 30 years and has run so many races that he’s known to many as the “Mayor of Running.” You may also know Bart as the creator of the Yasso 800s, an innovative marathon training technique. I was nervous going into the interview with Bart, but once the conversation began, it was like talking to an old friend. Bart is one of the most positive, optimistic people I think I’ve ever met. Read on to learn more about Bart.

RD: Where is Runner’s World Located?
Bart: Emmaus, PA is the Runner’s World headquarters.
RD: What part of PA is that in?
Bart: It’s about 60 miles north of Philly, close to Allentown Bethlehem.
RD: How did it end up in Emmaus?
Bart: Runner’s World is owned by a company called Rodale which is located in Emmaus. It used to be located in the Bay area but moved to Emmaus back in 1985.
RD: So, your title at Runner’s World is CRO—Chief Running Officer.
Bart: Yep, greatest job in the world!
RD: What makes it the greatest job in the world for you?
Bart: Awe, what runner wouldn’t want to get paid to go around the world and do races? The thing I love about my job the most is the people I get to meet every weekend. I’m at weekend events 48 weekends out of the year. There’s about four weekends I stay at home—Christmas, Thanksgiving, and two other weekends for family functions or something else going on. Every other weekend, I’m at a race somewhere. And I just get to meet the most inspiring people that have overcome so much just to get to the starting line of the race and then the finish line is the culmination of their journey. I’m usually at the longer events like half marathons and marathons and of those, they're usually the bigger races. I do get to some smaller ones once in a while.
RD: I’ve had similar experiences with the Runner of the Week feature I do on the blog, although I rarely get to meet these runners in person. Some of the stories they share about the obstacles they’ve overcome through running are truly amazing and inspiring.
Bart: It’s mindboggling to me and it’s very humbling to me in my position. A lot of people will look at me and know my story and they think I’m inspirational or a hero, but I tell them all the time that I meet people that will blow you away…it’s just incredible.
RD: Why do you think so many people end up using running as a means to deal with and/or overcome hardships and life obstacles?
Bart: You mean running kind of being the tool to success?
RD: Yeah, you did that in your own life by using running to help you overcome a problem with alcohol as a young man.
Bart: I certainly did and you know if I had to use one word to sum it up, I think it would be inclusion. I think running is very open to include everyone and runners go out of their way to accept people into the sport. And you only go somewhere you feel wanted and accepted and feel like you’re a part of something. I think running has done a great job of that. An example would be wheelchair racing, blind athletes, and other physically challenged athletes. I mean when you go to the really big races, there are a lot of people in these categories. You know wheelchair racing is really like bike racing. It’s a wheel machine that they power, but bicycle racing doesn’t want these athletes, but we do. We accept them, we love including all athletes. We thrive off of the inclusion of everyone. If you ever go to the larger races the crowds just go crazy when the wheelchair racers begin their early start. They love it. And the runners are just so inspired by the determination and athleticism of the physically challenged participants. For us, inclusion is just mainstream, but in other sports, it just doesn’t go on.
RD: Your book My Life on the Run, I really enjoyed reading it. The humor, frankness, and honesty with sharing your life story and then all the various runs that you’ve done…it was just great. It’s funny how we put well known sports celebrities on pedestals and never really contemplate how they got there. In your book, you share a lot about issues you had with your dad which lead to your use of drugs and alcohol at an early age as a means of coping with the situation. I think it’s so important for today’s youth to know and understand that even people of celebrity status just didn’t have things fall in their laps. For many, they too had hardships and struggles to overcome before eventually reaching their current status.
Being "Bart Yasso", I just assumed that you must have been born a runner. But by reading your book, I was quite surprised and humored that a girlfriend’s dog is actually responsible for your running career! Walking and chasing after this dog each day made you realize that you actually enjoyed running and you started running regularly on your own. Have you ever wondered what your life would be like now, if your then girlfriend didn’t have a dog?
Bart: Oh yeah, I think about that quite often. Actually I was asked this question recently at a big gathering and my answer was “I don’t know, but I’d almost be scared to think about it.” You know obviously I would not be in the place I am now. I wouldn't be as well off as I am now, physically, mentally, the job I have. So yeah, I don’t know.
RD: You’re such an optimist, that it probably doesn’t even to occur to you to think of what-ifs or to dwell too much in the past.
Bart: Yeah, you know I was obviously the same good person back then, I was just going down the wrong path. Thank God, I changed when I did and ever since that day, things have gone to the better. I tell runners all the time, my tagline is “Never limit where running can take you” and I truly mean that physically, mentally, spiritually, and emotionally. Thirty-some years ago, I just went out to run with Brandy the dog and it’s changed my life forever. Literally running has taken me all over the world and I have the greatest job and if it can happen for me then it can happen to anyone. There aren’t a thousand jobs out there for Chief Running Officer, but there are a lot of opportunities in running today, a lot more than there were when I started 33 years ago.
RD: Tell me about the process involved in writing your book?
Bart: Well, when I committed to writing the book, I was very adamant about putting my faults up front in the book. I wanted to get it all out there. I didn’t want to start with all my running accomplishments and then have the life history be an afterthought. It was important for me to show how I got where I am today and to truly do that, I needed to be an open book and share it all. I think people think you’re much more approachable if you come out with all the things you’ve done wrong first and then let that play out to all the things you’ve accomplished. You’ve got to tell the whole story. You can’t leave pieces out. People that have known me for years, said, “Hey, you put it all in print?!” And my response was, “That was the point.”
RD: In reading your book, it seemed like your optimism popped up again in 1997 when you discovered you had Lyme disease. I know you must have had your down moments, but it seems like you’ve dealt with the situation pretty well. How has it limited your running, if any?
Bart:Yeah, you know, I am a total optimist. I always feel there are so many people worse off than me, so I just feel very lucky for what I have. I never complain about the disease. In fact it’s surprising how many who’ve known me for a long time didn't know I had the disease until the book came out. I never really talked about it publically until the book came out. People I work with here at Runner’s World have seen my struggles physically, trying to walk. Even to walk around our building or to just walk to the copier back in 1997 was a huge struggle, so my colleagues were aware of that, but for me it was never something to put out in the public. It was something I had to deal with. You know, no one can really know what it’s like to be in someone else’s shoes until you’re there yourself. I talk to cancer survivors all the time and I just can’t imagine what that’s like to get that diagnosis and to hear that you’ve got cancer and then to have to fight for your life. I was never a world-class runner, but I was a good age-group runner (a 32:00 10K guy, a 2:40 marathon runner and a 1:12 half-marathon PR). To go from being a 32:00 10K runner to a 52:00 10K runner with my illness was an adjustment, but I was able to fight back. The meds my doctors put me on helped and I crossed trained like crazy and did everything I could to stay fit. I still had that drive. I still wanted to be a good runner.
RD: And there it was again….running helped you through yet another life obstacle.
Bart: Yeah, and I think when it (running) was taken away from me, it’s what really gave me the drive to get back into it. And it completely changed my perspective on how I would look at races from then on. I no longer cared about my finish times. From now on it’s all about the honor of crossing the finish line and the honor to be a part of this great sport and to embrace every person that I meet along the way. Before I got ill, it was certainly more of a competitive sport for me and this change was a blessing. You know I’ve actually run a couple of good races since being diagnosed. When I was 46, I ran a 2:42 marathon and that was pretty good for me at that age, but time really isn't my focus any more.
RD: That would be awesome for me at any age! Is Lyme disease intermittent or do you deal with it on an ongoing basis?
Bart: It’s caused a lot of damage to the right side of my body in my ankle, knee, and hip joints, and I have paralysis in my face on the right side. As a result, I just don’t have a smooth stride anymore and I’m in pain. My right leg is always in pain. It's kind of like if I get out there and get in a groove, I forget about the pain and enjoy hanging out with the runners. It’s pretty painful, though. But, I still thrive on it. Some of these races I was almost 2 hours slower than my personal best, but when I got to the finish line, it was the same feeling as when I was first racing. I really got excited and felt honored and privileged to do this.
RD: Just recently didn’t you do a marathon kind of on a whim and do pretty well?
Bart: Yeah, and that’s where this whole Comrades Marathon idea sprouted from. I wrote in my book that the Comrades ultra marathon in South Africe was my only regret and I never really knew if I’d get there. Just didn’t know if it was a smart thing to do with my leg.
I got a cortisone shot in my leg, which helped by giving me some increased range of motion. It didn’t really alleviate the pain, but I could move a little better. So, feeling pretty good (shortly after) on Thanksgiving Day, I ran a traditional 5-miler with some buddies. When I got to the 5-mile marker I was hurting but oddly enough, I felt really good too, like I could go a little more. I decided not to push it, but that made me think about my next trip. I was going to Huntsville to be the guest speaker at their pasta dinner and the host for the weekend and that’s when I got this idea that I could actually run Huntsville. So I did. I got to the starting line not really knowing what to expect or if I’d even make it. I decided to start out slowly and take it easy, enjoy it and see what happens. I actually finished the thing in 4:32.
RD: That’s amazing. You hadn’t even really trained for it.
Bart: Yeah, I try to stay as fit as possible with cross-training, but yeah, I hadn’t specifically trained to run a marathon. But that Huntsville thing kind of opened my eyes that I enjoyed that race. I felt good. So given that awesome experience, I decided I’ve got to do this (run Comrades). Since Huntsville, I’ve done 9 other marathons. That’s really all the training I’ve done. It’s kind of funny when you average it out. I’ve run about 400 miles since then and it averages out to about 11-miles per week, but many of those miles are the races so, I’m hoping that’s enough to get me through Comrades. Comrades just has this allure and to me it’s the greatest footrace in the world.
RD: I had heard of Comrades, but really didn’t know a lot about it until I read your book. It’s a 56-mile point-to-point marathon in South Africa. Actually it’s approximately 56 miles. One of the unique things about the race is that the actual distance can vary from year to year. It’s truly a point to point race, but where the actual finish is located can vary and as a result so can the total mileage. It’s a grueling course that reverses direction each year. So, one year it’s more of an up-hill race and the next it’s more of a down-hill. But, even on the down-hill year, there are some pretty major hills to climb. The race takes place between the cities of Pietermaritzburg and Durban and the race has a very strict 12-hour cut-off. They actually shut the gate at 12 hours and no one is allowed to cross the finish line after that time.
Bart: Exactly. It is a crazy race. I’ve run over 1,000 races in my career, so how can I end my running career without adding it to my list? The race originally had an 11-hour cut off and I’m going to shoot for that. I’m not sure if it’s possible. If not, I’ll shoot for under 12. And, if I don’t make the 12, I’ll be happy with knowing that I tried.
RD: Runner’s World is chronicling your quest for Comrades with a series of webisodes. Currently, I think there are 3 of the video clips posted. They are awesome. The first one does a great job of explaining, just how alluring the race is with its changing course and strict time.
Bart: The real allure to the race is that fact that they do actually shut the gate to the finish and the race just shuts down at 12 hours. I mean can you image if Boston, just closed the finish at 4 hours and runners were turned away? Comrades is just a completely different way of thinking about racing. The other thing is that it’s huge. About 24,000 runners will run at Comrades. Even more applicants were turned away. The largest ultra in the US is JFK and it has about 1,000 runners.
RD: How do they determine who gets in the race?
Bart: They have a category where if you’ve run the race before, then you’re automatically allowed to run it again. Then they open it up to the newbies and that’s first-come-first-serve. The newbie allotments filled up in something crazy like 10hours. It’s a tough race to get an entry into. I had to act quickly once the newbie registration opened. They also do something that no other race does and I think other races should do this. After you finish 10 Comrades, you get your race number for the rest of your life. No one else can use that number and if you decide not to run again, the number is retired. Our big races that have great histories could easily do this. What a unique and cool draw and appeal that would add to a race. I think it’s a brilliant thing to do.
RD: How do you think Comrades will compare to Badwater that you ran many years ago?
Bart: When I ran Badwater over 20 years ago, I was in pretty good shape. I wasn’t running 100-mile weeks yet, but I was logging probably 70. So, even though I had never run past the marathon distance, I was pretty confident I could make it to the finish line. I don’t have that same kind of confidence with Comrades. I’m literally sitting at my desk with 20-some days left to go to the race and I’m absolutely scared to death. Not scared to try it. I’m anxious and excited to try it, but I just think it’s really going to be a grueling experience and brutal and don’t know if I can make it under that cut off. But, as I’ve told my wife, I’m either going to get to that finish line or they’re literally going to have to carry me off that course. There’s no middle ground.
RD: I have no doubt that you’ll make if, but if you don’t, at least you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing you attempted it.
Bart: That’s so well put, the way you said that. I’ve done over 1000 races in my life and with each of those, I always had a vision of a time that I was shooting for. This is the first time ever in 33 years of running that all I want to do is get to the starting line and then whatever plays out will play out.
RD: You’ve done so many different races in your career. I couldn’t help but chuckle when I read in your book about the Bare Buns Fun Run you ran at a nudist camp. We used to have a similar race called the Pride in Your Hide 5K that took place at a nudist camp in a neighboring county. The guys in my running group used to tease each year about running it, but no one ever would. That is until one year, I decided to shock them all and run it. I was scared to death, not knowing what to expect. When I arrived, I kept my shorts on while registering and getting my race bib number (for all you wondering, you tie it around your waist with a piece of string.) Then I realized I was much more conspicuous with my shorts on. So, when in Rome…. I had a blast. It was actually a challenging trail course. There were runners for which nudism was a way of life, but there were many others there just for the run. I was surprised to see several of the area’s elite runners at the race. Interestingly enough, it was one of the oddest, funniest, scariest, and most liberating things I’ve ever done. What was your experience like?
Bart: I’d have to say, very similar. Most people think it’s this big nude fest, but in reality it was like most any race. You had the people in attendance, like you said, for whom it was their lifestyle, but for the runners, it was just another race. Although a race that they’d be able to tell stories about. “Liberating” is a good word for it. It’s funny, when I talk about that race in my presentations, I don’t get any questions about it during the Q & A section, but the minute I’m done and leave the room, I get a ton of questions about the Bare Buns Run. They never want to ask about it in a big group, but once in a smaller forum, they hit me up with questions about it. I get a lot of email from runners who say they thought they’d never do that kind of run, but then decided to do it for their 40th or 50th birthday because they read about it in my book and wanted to do something crazy and it was a liberating thing for them too.
RD: Well, of all the many races you’ve done, which one or ones over the years have stuck with you as being memorable?
Bart: My wife and I did the Rome Marathon two days after we got married in a small village in Italy. My mom was there for the wedding and that trip was a life altering experience for her. She finally got to go out of the country and visit places like the Vatican and she's a very religious person, so it meant so much to her. Most of the people in the wedding party were marathoners and also ran the race with us, so it was a pretty cool race. The course itself is absolutely beautiful. The other memorable race would have to be Big Sur. I’ve been quoted as saying, “If it could only be one marathon in my life, Big Sur would be it.” And I stand by that quote. I’m more of a natural beauty kind of guy more than a big city guy and seeing the waves crash in on that rocky coast along that course is just a beautiful site. So, Big Sur domestically and Rome internationally.
RD: I mentioned earlier how I meet a lot of runners through the blog that have such inspirational stories. Who are some runners you’ve met whose stories have really stuck with you?
Bart: Two people come to mind right away. There’s a guy by the name of Brian Boyle who has a book out called Iron Heart. Brian was in such a horrific car accident. His heart was removed from his body and they kind of assembled him together and got him to the hospital and kept him alive. He was in a coma for 2 months and in that time he was pronounced dead 8 times. So horrific, you can’t imagine. And now, last fall he did 5 marathons in 5 weeks—minus a kidney, minus a spleen, and still numerous other health issues. When I met him he said to me, “Mr. Yasso, you’re my hero. I want to do Badwater. I want to ride my bike across the U.S. I want to do all the stuff you do.” I was like, kid you don’t understand. You’re the hero. You’re everyone’s hero. He’s a pretty inspiring kid. The other person would have to be Sarah Reinertsen who has a book out now called, In a Single Bound. Sarah’s been a buddy of mine for a while now. She was the first above-the-knee amputee to do the Hawaiian Ironman. She was on the cover of Runner’s World and one of our first Heroes of Running. I feed off of Sarah and Brian a lot. Those are people I cling to when I’m struggling. They really show that you can beat all odds and overcome a lot. You just have to really want to do it and persevere.
RD: Currently, I’m working with a great bunch of beginning runners. None previously were runners, so they were really nervous when they started. Now that they’re in their 5th week, they’re seeing that they can really do this and they’re gaining confidence as they begin to run further and further. I’ve been running for 25 years, and you kind of forget how hard it is and intimidating it is to start. Watching them has truly been inspiring. What advice would you give a new runner or someone maybe whose just contemplating the idea of beginning to run?
Bart: First off, just commit to and go for it. Don’t be afraid. Everyone is scared at first. Second, you’re in control. Run within yourself. Be your own person. Don’t let the big picture get in your way. Someone’s always last and someone’s always going to beat you no matter your level. It’s going to happen. Just enjoy it. When I stood at the start of Badwater and the race director said, “1 minute until the start!” I suddenly realized I had never run past 26.2 miles ever. This race is 146 miles! At first I thought, “Whoa! This is pretty scary!” But then I chilled and told myself, “You can do this. Just keep it fun. If you enjoy it, it will come to you. Pace yourself and enjoy every step.” And, that’s what I did. It’s hard to image that running 146 miles, every step can be enjoyable, but it really was, and I think it was because that’s the attitude I started the race with. The mental side of our sport it a huge part of it. When you’re able to control the mental side, you can do great things. One thing about running is that there are no short cuts. It’s an arduous sport. You’ve got to be happy with little gains along the way and just keep working at it. If you can do that, you’ll be around a long time.
RD: Do you have a follow-up book to My Life on the Run in the works?
Bart: Yes, I do have a sequel planned, but I don’t have a title yet. My wife did gather some pictures of me with various hair cuts over the years and had a mock cover made titled My Hair on the Run. She surprised me with it and it gave me a good chuckle. You can actually see it on the website. Pretty funny. The new book will start off with Comrades and then I also want to include a lot more of the people I’ve had contact with throughout the years in this great sport and more of their stories and just how inclusive this great sport is so we can inspire more people to get involved.
RD: I look forward to reading it when it comes out. When do you think we can expect it?
Bart: Probably in the spring of next year. That will be the perfect plan if it all works out.
RD: What can we expect with the upcoming webisodes chronicling your training for Comrades?
Bart: We’re going to give more information about the race and interview more Comrades runners. You know I don’t’ want it to be all about me. I really want the viewers to get a good sense of what Comrades is all about and hope some put it on their life-list to do. And I also hope that others with Lyme disease or other chronic illnesses can look at this and say, I can do this. I can beat this thing. I just need to get out there and make it happen.
RD: I appreciate you taking this time to talk with me and share more of your story.
Bart: Hey, no problem. Keep up the good work man and I love what you’re doing.

To learn more about Bart, be sure to check out his website and blog. Below is the first in the series of webisodes chronicling Bart's quest for Comrades. To see the second and third webisodes[click here]. Comrades will take place on May 30th. Be sure to send good vibes Bart’s way on that monumental day.
Thanks again Bart, for taking the time to share your story with RunnerDude’s Blog!