Tuesday, June 29, 2010

10 Tips for Summer Running!

Because of my crazy schedule, my running isn't always at a set time. I often have to plug in a run when the time opens up. That usually works out fine, but yesterday...well, yesterday was a different story. I ended up having from 5:00 to 6:00PM free for my run. So, I decided to do my normal 5-miler. Sounds good, right? Time to warm-up, do my run, and cool-down. The only thing I forgot was that at 5PM is was about 95°! And the humidity seemed about the same. That 5-miler felt more like a 10-miler. I honestly almost had to stop and walk. Luckily, I had stopped by the convenient store before my run and picked up a bottle of Gatorade which I carried with me on my run. When I plan better, I usually carry coconut water (yep, 100% coconut water) which does a better job of keeping me hydrated, but at least I had my Gatorade or I definitely would have been walking.
I should have known better. A few years back I suffered from heat exhaustion while on a long run preparing for San Francisco. It was an out-and-back route that I was running with my group. It was a day not much unlike yesterday, but it was early on a Saturday morning. On the return portion of the run, I felt the call of nature (the kind that you can't take care of behind a tree) and told my buddies that I was headed up to the park that was just a little ways off our route to use the facilities. Got there in time. Took care of business. But heading back out I suddenly could not move. I felt dizzy and my legs just wouldn't move. No one was around, so I gave up on trying to run and just walked. I walked about a mile back to the greenway we were running on and decided, I was in trouble. My head hurt bad. Everything looked cloudy, and I was a little disoriented. Luckily I saw an older gentleman mowing his lawn and asked him if I could use his phone. I called my wife and she came a picked me up complete with that look of "what in the hell were you thinking?!!" It was a quite ride home.

Yesterday was a good reminder to me. Doesn't really matter how long the run is, you can still get yourself in deep doodoo if you're not well hydrated and if the heat index is dangerously high.

So this brings me to my 10 Rules for Summer Running. And yes, I need to practice what I preach.

1. Acclimatize! Give yourself time to acclimatize to the heat. You might be able to run a 10-miler at an 8:00-pace, but in the summer heat, you may have to pull it back some until your body has acclimated to the hotter conditions. The American Running & Fitness Association recommends that on your first run in the heat, you should cut your intensity by 65% to 75%. Then over the next 10 days, slowly build back to your previous level.
2. Check the Index! Before heading out on your run, be sure to check the air quality index and the heat index. If the air quality index is code orange and you're sensitive to air pollution and/or have upper respiratory problems you may not want to run. If it's a code red, it's not suitable for anyone to run.
The Heat Index tells you what the temperature feels likes when combining the air temperature and the relative humidity. For example, if the air temperature is 90° and the relative humidity is 70%, then it's going to feel as if it's 106°! Ouch! Not good running conditions!
Check the weather section of your local TV station's website. It will usually provide such information.
3. Hydrate! Hydrate! Hydrate! Many runners remember to rehydrate after their run and some consume water or sports drink during the run, but it's even more important to be well hydrated before you run. As a rule of thumb drinking 16oz of water 2hrs before your run will ensure good hydration levels and give the water time to pass through your system so you don't have to make any pit stops during your run.
Hydration during your run depends on the temperature and the length of your run. If you're running 4 miles or less, you probably won't need to carry any water with you. If you're running longer than 4 miles you may need to wear a hydration belt or stash some water/sports drink along your route, especially if it's hot and humid.
Don't wait until you feel thirsty to drink. If you're thirsty that means you're already low on fluids. Also, as you age, your thirst mechanism isn't as efficient and your body may be well on it's way to dehydration and you may not even feel thirsty.
For the first 45-60 minutes water is fine. After 60 minutes, you 'll need to start using a sports drink or supplementing with a sports gel or a salty food like pretzels. After 60 minutes (and sometimes sooner if it's really hot and you sweat a lot) you begin to deplete vital electrolytes (i.e., sodium, potassium, etc.). Sodium is needed in order for your body to absorb the fluids your ingesting. Ever get that sloshing feeling late in a run? That's probably due to your body being low on sodium and not being able to absorb the fluids you're drinking, so it just sits in your stomach and sloshes around not doing you any good.
After your run, you need to replace the water you've lost. A good way to check this is to weigh before your run and then weigh after your run. Drink 16oz of water for every pound of water lost. After you do the weigh-in a few times you'll get a feel for how much rehydration you need depending on how much you sweated and you probably won't need to actually weigh yourself.
On a hot long run, pack an extra bottle of just plan water. Don't drink this one. Use it to pour a little water on your head periodically during your run. This actually helps increase the evaporation-cooling effect.
4. Run early! If at all possible, run in the early morning. The hottest part of the day is actually around 5PM. So, if you can't run until after work, wait until later in the evening.
5. Go technical! Wear light-colored running tops and bottoms made of technical fabrics that allow the moisture to evaporate more quickly. This will help you cool off more efficiently as well as help to prevent chafing. Speaking of chafing. If this is a problem for you, try Lanacane's new Anti-Chafing Gel. It dries on contact and isn't ooie-gooie like some other anti-chafing products. It's also doesn't stain your clothes and is moisture-proof. It works really well.
6. Grab a lid and some shades! Be sure to wear sunglasses and a hat or visor. This will help to keep the sun out of your eyes as well as the sweat. Be sure the glasses provide 100% UV protection and that the hat is made of light technical fabric that promotes evaporation.
7. Change your route! If your normal running route is treeless, find one that provides more shade. If this isn't possible and you have access to a treadmill, do you runs on really hot days indoors.
8. Lather it on! Be sure to wear sunscreen. Research has shown that runners have a higher rate of skin cancer. This is probably due to the fact that we're outside more than the average person and during the summer months we're outside and wearing less clothing than the average person. So, be sure to use a sports sunscreen that's waterproof with a SPF of 15 or higher.
9. Buddy-Up! In the severe heat, be sure to run with a buddy. That way you can keep tabs on each other. Sometimes it's hard to tell if you're starting to suffer the effects of the heat, but a buddy may be able to spot the signs before it's too late.
10. Have a Plan. Be sure to let your family and/or friends know the running route your taking. If you're gone too long, they'll know where to look for you. If you run on rural greenways or trails, you may even want to pack your cell phone. Better safe than sorry.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Get 'Em Active. But Ask, Don't Demand.

As a parent, you want the best for you kids, both mentally and physically. Sometimes it's easy to over impose your own desires and wants on your kids without really finding out what they want. As a parent, I've learned that sometimes you have to step back and forget about your "likes" and let your child share what they love about life. Just because you were a football star in high school (that definitely wasn't me, ha!) doesn't mean your child will want that too. This post is as much a reminder to myself as it is to anyone reading it. My own children have activity and weight issues and I'm exploring the best ways to turn that around without pushing them away. If you have teenagers (or even just know a teenager), you know what I mean.

Today's fast-paced, media-driven, and get-it-now lifestyle has definitely made life a lot easier, but at the same time, it's made for a generation of overweight and obese children. In fact this is the first generation to have a shorter life expectancy than their parents. That's really sad news. The great news is that it can be turned around.
When I was but a wee lad, outside was my entertainment. Now, some of the things we did outside, I'd die if I knew my kids were doing (i.e., pretending to be the 6-Million Dollar Man and jumping off the roof of the garage to practice our forward roll upon landing; climbing over the lumber yard fence and using planks to cross from one 15-foot stack of 2x4s to another, etc...). Funny thing though is that even with me playing out doors, I still went through a "fat kid" stage around 5-8th grade. I wasn't into team athletics so I didn't have a regimented workout like my brother who played baseball, football, tennis, to help keep the weight off. I really do believe, however, that the fact that I played outdoors kept me from becoming bigger than I was. I looked back at pictures of myself when I was "fat" and compared them to today's overweight kids, and I look pretty darn normal.

I don't think organized sports are for every kid, but because so many who are not involved in organized sports are stuck inside watching, TV, playing computer games, and/or surfing the net, they're not able to burn off enough calories each day to keep their weight at a healthy level. The sedentary lifestyle coupled with fast food and highly refined and processed foods are the main culprits in this huge increase in childhood obesity. Youngsters are even being diagnosed with high cholesterol and type 2 diabetes. Maybe if the ultra realistic video games of today reverted back to the "Pong" of my era, kids would return to the outdoors.
I was really disheartened the other day when I heard Steve Jobs say that the keyboard computer would soon be a thing of the past and that computers would all go to a touch screen. That gives me a heavy heart for two reasons. First, as a writer, it's just one more foot in the grave for the written word. For many (myself included) using pen and paper or the keyboard is a part of the creative process. Sometimes my fingers just have a mind of their own and go to town. Then I have to go back and clean up what they produced. But somewhere in the garble ends up some cool stuff. I'm just not convinced that same thing will happen with touch screens. Although, I guess back-in-the-day, users of manual typewriters probably said the same thing about the electric typewriters and then the laptop.

Second, it just seems one more step closer to the reality portrayed in the Disney movie Wall-e. In the movie, the last remaining humans are on a ship in outer space looking for a home. Everything has become so automated that the humans have become huge blobs that can barely move. They lay in floating hover-bed lounge-chairs which they never leave. They drink smoothies because they're too weak to prepare their own food.

Okay, enough dooms day. I'm not a prude. I really do like invention and advancement. I use a laptop everyday. I have a Garmin to track my distance and mileage. We do have a big flat screen digital TV, but we have no cable or dish. I think technology and advancement is wonderful, but not at the risk of our kids' health. Just the fact that our kids have a shorter life expectancy than ours should be enough of an eye opener that as a society we strive to put exercise, play, and the outdoors back into our children's lives. Research does show that active children have better test scores!

Okay, I'll stop ranting and get back to the point of this post, "Ask, Don't Demand." Taking away the computer, shutting off the TV, and discontinuing cable, may work for some in getting their kids outdoors and into being more active, but I think a different approach may work just as well if not better.

Schedule some outside trips with your kids, but kept the activities open so that your kids have some choice in what they do. Or maybe over the course of a few weeks have them experience several different things to see what sparks an interest—hiking, biking, running, Frisbee football, frisbee golf, wiffle ball, swimming, badminton. When I was in middle school my older brother and I set up an "official" badminton court in our backyard. We had a whole series of tournaments between us and played that entire summer. It was big fun.

Another approach to take is to try inviting your kids to join you in your favorite activity. Tell them you'll take it easy on them. That's usually enough of a challenge to get them out there. If they say no, dig a little to find out what they're interested in. It may be that they're really interested in mountain biking, but have never said anything because you're into running. Or maybe it's dance or gymnastics. Now there are limits. I'm not donning a tutu, but I will sign my daughter up for dance class and root her on whole-heartedly from the sidelines if that's her area of interest. The point is, find out what your child is interested in. Sometimes all they're waiting for is an invite. Other times is maybe that they're waiting for you to ask what they're interested in.

A few months back I told my 14-year old that I was starting a beginning running group at my fitness studio. I told her that if she and her best friend wanted to join the group, that would be awesome. That's all I said. A week later, she came to me to ask more questions about the group and who'd be in it. Eventually she and her buddy both joined the group and completed the 10-week program. This past week (while on vacation at the beach), she even got me up early 5 of the 8 days we were there to run. Next week we're running a 5K together to celebrate July 4th and her accomplishment. This was such a success (I think) because of the invite.

I'm holding a 4-week bootcamp at the studio in July and my daughter came to me the other day and said, "So, Dad. You gonna make me do this bootcamp too?" Then she gave me a big grin and we both began to laugh.

So, if you're not already, get active with your kids. I'll be working on it in my household. Invite your family to join you in your favorite activity and explore their interests too. There's a lot of healthy fun and memory-making to be had outdoors.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Marine Corps or Bust!

Around this time last year, I was working on my training plan for my fall '09 marathon—Marine Corps. My plan was to run Marine Corps with two of my running buddies—Andy and Kelly. A bunch of us from my running group were training using the F.I.R.S.T training method which consists of three hard running workouts a week (intervals, tempo, long run). Then there are two days of very specific cross-training. The training started out fine. It was hard, but we were all doing really well.

Around this same time, I began a 6-month personal trainer diploma program at NPTI (National Personal Training Institute). The program met 4 days a week from 9:30AM to 2:30PM and I had an hour commute each way. The program was very demanding in that we worked-out/trained 2 hrs each day. So you've probably already put 2 and 2 together and have surmised, that the marathon just didn't happen for me last year. There wasn't enough steam left in the engine for my runs after working-out and training at the gym. I decided that if I was going to go to the expense of the travel, food, and lodging, then I wanted the race to be more than just a fun run. I just couldn't justify spending that kind of cash without some larger outcome like a BQ. I was hoping to PR for Boston. So, I put my marathon plans on hold until this year. That was a really hard decision for me to make, but it was the right one.

For a long while, I had a rhythm of running one marathon (maybe two) each year. But that hasn't been the case the past few years. My last marathon was the Chicago '07 (yep, the year of the heatwave). Ended up being a good race (time-wise), considering the heat, dehydration, and a terrible calf cramp. In 2008 I ran The Ridge to Bridge Marathon in Morganton, NC. The first 14 miles are down a mountain! Unfortunately, at mile 15 I started having stomach issues caused by a mild ulcerative colitis flare-up brought-on by a recent flu shot. So, by mile 19, I was toast and rode with the EMTs back to the start. My two buddies (Andy and Kelly) both set PRs in that race and Kelly even BQ'd! And you already know what happened in 2009. So, fingers crossed, all will go well for fall 2010 at Marine Corps and I'll get back on track with my marathons.

I think just about all of my friends that used the F.I.R.S.T program last year, PR'd in their fall '09 marathons. It's a really good program, but a tough program and one I highly recommend you do with others for support. This year however, I'll be basically training on my own, so I'm thinking I'll use a custom-made RunnerDude training program. It will involve speedwork, tempos, and long runs, but not in quite as rigid a format as F.I.R.S.T. Also, I'll be packing in more miles and running more days a week than the F.I.R.S.T. program.

My speedwork will be comprised of Yasso 800s. I'll start out with 4 x 800s and by the end of the training, my goal is to be up to 10 x 800s. Bart Yasso, developed this method and discovered that if you want a 3:00 marathon then run your 10 x 800s in 3 minutes. If you want a 4:00 marathon, then run your 10 x 800s in 4 minutes. Between the 800s, you jog for the same number of minutes it took you to run your repeats. I'd heard about the Yasso 800s, but had never specifically tried them in training before. My recent interview with Bart Yasso renewed my interest in them and I've decided to use the Yasso 800s as my interval workouts in my Marine Corps training plan.

I also plan on running a weekly tempo run which will be run at just below my 10K pace. Both intervals and the tempo runs are great methods for upping your VO2Max. This increases your body's ability to better utilize the oxygen it takes in, getting it to the muscle where it's needed to make energy to keep you moving and fight off fatigue.
During my weekly long run, I plan to throw in some at-race-pace running segments. I'm a firm believer that (for the most part) the long run needs to be run at a slower pace to help build muscular and cardio endurance. But, I also think it's important to experience running at-pace during the long run in order to give your body experience running at the expected pace you'll be striving for during the actual race.
Core workouts will also be a mainstay during my training as well as some light resistance training for muscle endurance maintenance.
I finally broke down and bought a Forerunner 405CX. It was on sale for $100 off and it also included a $50 rebate. Decided I couldn't beat that. I'm looking forward to having varied running routes during my training. Being able to track distance no matter where I'm running will really be fun and liberating. (Only problem is that the flash drive that came with it doesn't work, so tracking my running data is a no-go at the moment. Garmin's been slow in the help department. I gotta get back on them again.) I'm excited and looking forward to getting started in the next week or so.
Keep me on my toes and check-in with me from time to time to see how my training is going!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Enter for a Chance to Win a Free Pair of New Balance 759s!

Yesterday I shared my review of New Balance's new neutral trainer—the 759. If you haven't had a chance to read the review, be sure to do so and then check out my video review below. If you're a neutral runner who needs a little cushion, then this shoe may be just what you're looking for. This post isn't to talk about the shoe's great performance though. Instead, it's to announce a new RunnerDude Contest in which New Balance will provide the winner with a free pair of New Balance 759s!!

All you have to do is email me at
runnerdudeblog@yahoo.com by midnight on 7/3/2010. Put "NB759 Contest" in the Subject line of the email and then be sure to put your full name in the body of the email. Each entry will be assigned a number in the order that the emails are received. The True Random Number Generator at Random.org will be used to select the winning number and the winner will be announced on the blog on July 4th! So don't delay, email RunnerDude your entry and tell your running buddies!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

New Balance Adds New Neutral Trainer to Their Line!

Back in April, New Balance announced that it would be adding a new neutral trainer to it's NBx line—the 759. They described the shoe as a neutral trainer built to provide runners with a lightweight, cushioned ride. I'm a neutral runner who needs a little cushion, so I was all ears. It's hard to find a good lightweight shoe that's also cushioned. The announcement said the shoes would be available in stores in July 2010. I figured I'd just wait and check them out in July.

So, when New Balance asked me if I wanted to review a pair, I was quite beside myself, and of course said, "Yes! Send em on!"

The New Balance press release for the 759 says that they're designed for the dedicated and fitness runner and features N-ergy technology to provide impact absorption and maximum cushioning for a responsive ride, ensuring runner’s feet feel as fresh at the end of the run as they did at the beginning. It goes on to say that the minimalist upper design offers a breathable mesh for optimal airflow and flexibility while a Stability Web ensures lightweight midfoot support. The 759’s modern construction and design make it the go-to trainer for new and experienced runners alike seeking cushioning and durability for the ultimate running experience.

Sounds all really good, but what I really want to know with a shoe, is how does it feel to me, how does it hold up, is the shoe worth the expense, and would I opt to buy a second pair. I think that's what most runners what to know. Many non-runners will tell me, "well at least you picked a cheap sport." I guess compared to $100+ greens fees and $3000 bikes, running is relatively cheap, but when you buy a pair of shoes about every 6 months or less, and they each cost around $100 bucks, it can start to make a dent in the ole wallet. So, as a dedicated runner, I want quality, comfort, and durability—QCD.

The 759s have passed the QCD test. I've been running in the 759s for about 3 weeks now and I've put in at least 12 runs in them varying in distance from 3 to 9 miles. Let me break down my QDC experience.

Quality: The upper is very breathable and durable. I took a tumble on one of my runs when my toe snagged an uneven portion of the road where some resurfacing was being done. My knee, palm, and pinkie finger looked like I'd been attacked by a mad bull, but my shoes looked great. Not even a scratch on them!

Comfort: The shoes really deliver in this department. I usually need a little extra cushioning in the fore foot, but shoes that usually provide this tend to be heavy. Not the 759s. They're not the lightest shoes I've run in, but they did provide that needed cushion and still were on the lighter side (11 oz.). Actually I was surprised they were 11oz. They felt lighter. I also had plenty of room in the toebox and I love the longer shoe laces. I hate it when there's not enough string to tie a lock lace and double knot.

Durability: Lightweight shoes tend to use a lighter less durable tread for the sole that doesn't last very long. The tread on the 759s, however seems to be very durable. After 12 runs (mainly on blacktop and cement), mine show hardly any wear at all. But, this durable sole doesn't seem to be adding much extra weight to the shoe. A definite plus in my book.

Style: I know, I know, "style" isn't a part of the QCD, but it's often a consideration for many runners. Personally, no matter what the color, once I find a shoe that works for me, I'll buy it in neon pink if that's the only color it comes in, but I do like it when there are some options to choose from. The 759 comes in three color choices for men and two color choices for women. Also, in October 2010, there will be an additional color option—gray/bronze. This darker version is actually the shoe that I tested. At first, I thought maybe the shoes I received were a trail version of the 759. I contacted New Balance and was told that in fact what I received is definitely the road shoe, but just a new color option that will be available in October. I really like road shoes in darker colors, but usually the darker colors are only available in trail versions. The darker version of the 759 road shoe is a pretty cool idea.

My experience with New Balance's new 759 has been awesome. If you're a neutral runner and you like a lightweight shoe with some cushion, I'd definitely recommend giving the NB 759s a try. I had such a good experience with this shoe that it definitely deserves 5 dudes out of 5 dudes on the RunnerDude Rating Scale.
It's almost July, so you may already be able to find the 759 in your local running store, but if not, you can order them on the New Balance Website. I just received news that if you live in Greensboro, NC, you can get the men's 759 at Off'n Running Sports and the women's should be there soon!
Note: Although New Balance sent me a pair of the 759s and asked me to test and review the shoes, I was in no way urged to write a positive reveiw, nor was I paid or compensated in any other way for writing the reveiw. My review is purely based on my own personal experience using the product.

Monday, June 21, 2010

The Magic Ingredient

My maternal grandmother—Mama Henry—made the best turnip greens. She fixed them like none I've ever had since. Somehow she cooked, drained and then chopped them fine. Then she cooked them still more in an iron skillet with bacon drippings. Yes, I know, doesn't sound very healthy, but it was the late 60s and I was only in kindergarten. Mama Henry passed away when I was in 2nd grade. And to this day, I still don't know exactly what was in those greens, but whatever that magic ingredient was, it made them pretty darn tasty.
And then there was my paternal grandmother—Mama Mac—who was famous for her pound cakes. A slice of her pound cake buttered and toasted with a dollop of vanilla ice cream on top was pure heaven on earth. Mama Mac believed that if it was "real" (i.e., whole milk, eggs, cream, sugar, etc.) then it was good for you. Growing up, we didn't have Mama Mac's pound cake all the time, but when we did it sure was good. Mama Mac passed away when she was 82; I was in my late 20s. We had her pound cake recipe, but no matter how hard different family members tried, no one could match a Mama Mac cake. One day, a cousin found Mama Mac's "real" recipe for here cakes. Basically all the "good" ingredients were doubled (8 eggs, 4 sticks of butter, 2 packages of cream cheese). That was her magic ingredient. I think a whole lot of love for what she was doing when she made her prized pound cakes was a key magic ingredient too. That kind of magic you can't replicate.
There are magic ingredients for marathon training too. Just like my grandmothers had different magic ingredients, runners will vary in their marathon training magic ingredients too. For many years, my marathon training consisted of weekly runs of no particular pace and then the weekend long run. Later I discovered that throwing in some speed work such as intervals really helped my endurance as well as upping my lactate threshold and VO2Max. But for me the real "magic ingredient" for me is the tempo run. In my old training method, I always wondered how (if you wanted to run a certain pace, but never ran that pace or faster in training) were you going to maintain that race pace on race day. Adding Tempo runs to my training helped answer that lingering question.

I think it's important for your body to experience running at faster paces if you're going to be running a faster pace in the marathon. Don't get me wrong. Your long slow runs, are still needed. They are designed to build your endurance both muscular and aerobic in order to run those 26.2 miles. Tempo runs, however are a nice blend between really fast speed work such as intervals and your long runs. Tempo runs typically begin with an easy-paced warm up mile and then the pace is ramped up to near 10K pace for the next 4miles or so before slowing it back down for the last cool-down mile. Hal Higdon also advocates using more of a timed method kind of like extended fartleks where you run easy for 10mins, then 10K pace for 10 mins, then easy for 10 mins, etc. So a 40-minute tempo workout would look like 10+10+10+10 = 40. Before the dawn of the Garmin and GPS devices, this timed method worked really well.

Tempo runs (like intervals at the track) are a great way to up your lactate threshold—the point just before lactate acid builds-up in the bloodstream causing fatigue slowing you down—that tell tale burring in your muscles. If you can push that threshold out, then you'll be able to go at higher intensities longer. Also, if you need to pull out all the stops later in a race, you'll be better equipped to do so.

Another magic ingredient that I've found helpful is running at race pace. The long runs have me running well below race pace and the intervals and tempo runs have me running well above race pace. I found it odd that I'd not been giving my body any experience running at race pace. There's no need to do a full long run at race pace, but I've found it very beneficial to take the last few miles of a few long runs and gradually increase the pace so that by the last mile or two I'm running at race pace. I'm a strong believer in simulation. If you're able to simulate any or all of the races condition (temp, precip, course, pace) during your training, you'll be better acclimated and conditioned for race day.

Like I said earlier, everyone is different. What works for me may not work for you and vice versa, but one thing I've learned over the past 25 years of running is that what works for someone else might just be worth trying...at least once. So, what's your magic marathon training ingredient?

Thriv Has Done It Again!

Have you ever been on a long run where everything is going great physically? Legs feeling good. Breathing is in sync. Feeling strong. Only thing bothering you is that your shorts are giving you a mega-wedgie or your singlet is chaffing the smithereens out of your nips? Running apparel can make or break a good run. You can slather on all the anti-chaffing cream, powder, and ointment you want, but if the clothes are an irritation, you'll probably never wear them again.

Enter Thriv to the rescue! Never heard of them? I hadn't either until several months ago when Thriv asked if I'd be willing to test out one of their new shirts. Well, you see, I'm a bit of a running clothes hog. I love trying out new running clothes and running gear. The reason I'm constantly on the search for running shorts and tops is that I'm a sweater. No, not the snuggley kind your grandmother knits. Rather, the sweaty pig type. (Yes, I know pigs don't sweat, but you get the idea). In the summer I usually run shirtless, because, no matter what I wear, it just seems to get drenched during my run. I look more like I've been swimming instead of running.

One of the things that also intrigued me about Thriv was that their garments are made from bamboo. Yep, Bamboo. Thriv has developed a unique yarn process and fabric finishing process that blends cotton, bamboo, and elastane creating a fabric that provides moisture-wicking, anti-odor, UV protection, and thermal regulation.

Sound too good to be true? I thought so too, until I tried out the first shirt I received several months ago. The shirt was extremely soft and light weight. I wore the shirt during an intense workout at the gym one day and (then after a washing) I tested it out on a few rather sweaty runs. In all cases, the shirt worked amazingly well. During my gym workout, the shirt stretched with me and was not binding. It also was breathable and wore great. On the runs, I had similar results. The shirt did become damp (as expected), but it was not saturated. The material was breathable and did allow most of my perspiration to evaporate. The fabric is surprisingly soft.
Thriv has recently extended their line of great performance clothing and I recently tested their new Air Sleeveless top. The summer months here in North Carolina are hot and muggy. Very humid. So, if something tests well here, it should work just about anywhere. I've worn the Air Sleeveless on four 90°+ runs and the shirt has performed great for me. I've come to realize that I sweat so much that nothing is going to keep me completely dry, but the Air Sleeveless comes close. The fabric is so soft and lightweight that it feels almost like running shirtless. Also, the sweat seems to penetrate the fabric from the back to the top of the fabric where it quickly evaporates. So, I actually do stay pretty dry. I wasn't able to wring out buckets of water from the fabric like I usually do after a run with other shirts.
Currently Thrive makes their clothing in men's sizes Medium through XX-Large. I'm a little guy, so when they start making a Small, I'll really be a happy camper. But until then, the medium works pretty well for me. Ladies, no worries, Thriv has some great apparel items for you too!

The clothing is also affordable. Another key factor in whether I like it or not. Most of their shirts are priced in the $25-$35 range. Their shorts are priced in the $35-$40 range. Pretty competitive with most of the other sports performance apparel companies.

The other thing I like about this company is that they truly believe in and back their product. Their mission is to make athletes as comfortable as they can be during their grueling events or just a regular workout.

Thriv did provide the clothing for my review, but I was not paid for the review nor was I encouraged to do a positive review. My review is based purely on my experience with the product. Honestly, I'd have to say that Thriv is a great find and probably my new favorite line of running apparel. It definitley gets 5 Dudes out of 5 Dudes on the RunnerDude's Rating Scale!! Be sure to check out the new line at their website.

Thanks Triv!!

Friday, June 18, 2010

RunnerDude Chats with Toby Tanser

Recently I had the privilege to interview Toby Tanser. Toby is a former professional runner with over 160 race victories around the world, including 42 New York Road Runners club races. He is currently a director of the New York Road Runners and the Achilles Track clubs, and lectures for ING Marathon clinics throughout the year. He's also the official running coach for Team Lifeline.
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. To check out upcoming Team Lifeline races for which Toby can be your coach [click here].

To learn more about Toby and his amazing life, read on...

RD: Toby, thank you so much for taking the time to share a little about yourself. Where are you from? Family?
Toby: My Mother's side comes from Iceland, my father's side from England. I have lived in NYC for the last ten years so I now think of myself as a bona fide New Yorker. My family is spread all over the world

RD: Currently you’re the director of the New York Road Runners Club and the Achilles Track clubs. You’re also the coach for Team Lifeline as well as lecturing for ING Marathon clinics throughout the year. Your dedication to running is amazing and so inspirational. How do you fit it all in?
Toby: I wear many hats in the running community but due to the time constraints of trying to do my philanthropic work I have had to cut many things but still continue to work with my favorite things. Right now I am dealing with the Achilles race in Central Park, NY NY where I am the race director, as soon as it is finished I will dash off to Kenya to work on a school I am building there!
RD: Toby's the founder of Shoe4Africa a nonprofit organization (started in 1995) dedicated to helping the people of Africa. Recent projects include raising funds to build a much needed children's hospital in Kenya as well as the building of a primary school. To help raise funds for the hospital, in December Toby will run from the Sea to the Stars. His journey will take him from Mombasa (an island that sits off the Kenyan coast), to the top of the world's highest freestanding mountain--Mt. Kilimanjaro. To sponsor Toby with a donation for the run [click here]. Check out this great clip about Toby's upcoming run.

The following is a clip about an all women's race toby organized in Africa last year to promote HIV AIDS awareness.

RD: Tell me a little about the Achilles Track clubs? I’ve run NYC three times and there’s nothing more inspirational than seeing the runners with the Achilles Track club T-shirts on running the entire 26.2 miles.
Toby: An amazing group—I am actually disabled myself in a way, I had brain surgery a few years ago. That is how I got involved. If it were not for the Achilles there would be many people missing opportunities to get into sports in NYC and indeed world wide
RD: Although I’m nowhere near the runner you are, I do feel a common bond in that we both love the sport and we both love writing about it and sharing the world or running with others both newcomers and experienced pros. From being a contributing editor of Runner's World to writing for The New York Runner and Metrosports Magazine, not to mention your books Train Hard Win Easy the Kenyan Way, and The Essential Guide to Running the NYC Marathon, you’ve definitely touched a lot of runners. What's been some of the most rewarding moments you’ve had with runners either in person of via your writing?
Toby: Hey, don't forget my latest book MORE FIRE (100% author royalties go to building the hospital fund). You ARE the runner I am, and that is the bond - we are all competing against ourselves and when you go home from a race and have done your best it easily outweighs any position you might have achieved in the race. I feel a great connection to runners and often run races at the back of the field to talk, chat and keep in touch with all the running community. I mean when I am in Africa all my running friends are either Olympic or World championship medalists so it keeps a nice balance. In 2001 I won the Brooklyn Half Marathon, a few years later I think I was nearly the last runner to finish the race.

RD: I’m sure you've met many, but pick one or two individuals that have stuck with you over the years as being exceptionally inspirational. Why?
Toby: Terry Fox undoubtedly because of his amazing story, Paul Tergat because I had a one-on-one connection, training with him in Kenya, seeing his lifestyle and seeing a great man in action. I have been extremely lucky to live and train with a huge number of amazing world class runners, all of them taught me something, but the most inspirational person, outside of my close family, probably was meeting a Major who served under Gandhi when I was a little kid; I remember him to this day for all he taught me.

RD: For the past year, I’ve been a board member on a nonprofit organization call GO FAR (Go Out For A Run). This organization provides a 10-week program that teaches elementary-aged children about good nutrition, character building, and trains them for their first 5K. The 10-week program culminates in a 5K race. The most recent race had close to 1000 kids running. It was truly amazing to see the many kids so pumped about running. In 2008, you founded Kids Against Obesity. Tell us a little about the organization?
Toby: 2007 was when it kicked off; trying to get kids involved in running who normally would not go out and run. To make physical exercise something like a normal part of your day (as it was for me). I see the change running brings and I also see much encouragement for the 'fast' kids, but what about the ones who are actually discouraged to run—that I hate to see!
RD: How long have you been running?
Toby: I started running in 1990, so I guess 20-years.
RD: What got you into running?
Toby: I was a 40-per day smoker.

RD: What do you enjoy most about running?
Toby: Being totally me, in thought and body

RD: What are your favorite training foods?
Toby: Carbs; I live off carbs, bread products mainly and sweets
RD: I knew we had something else in common!
RD: Are you a lone runner or do you run with some buddies? What do you like about each?
Toby: I am a lone runner for the most part as I run around my ever changing day.
RD: What’s the funniest or oddest thing that’s happened to you while on a run?
Toby: Being mistaken for a prisoner on the run was pretty out there, maybe seeing a Kenyan swerve off course and start pushing a lawn mower in the middle of a 5-mile race.
RD: What’s your biggest running accomplishment? Why?
Toby: Beating a bus from one side of Stockholm to the other whilst on foot in civilian clothes. Because the bus refused to stop when I was waiting alone then I chased after it, overtook it, it overtook me, I had the whole of the bus screaming out of the windows rooting for me. I ran all the way to the end terminal
RD: Now that would make a great scene in a movie!
RD: Do you have a favorite brand of running shoe? Which model? Why?
Toby: No.
RD: You run so many races. Do you have a favorite race you run each year?
Toby: My favorite distance is 7km. Since moving to America no favorite race, but when I lived in Stockholm we had an Olympic Day run through the city center run in the evening. To be flying full speed with the crowd on either side of the street, no cars, and feeling you are one inch away from extreme 100% effort is a great place to be. Once I Was being interviewed by the TV and the gun fired, "DO you think you will win today Toby?" (As I had won the year before)—"Well I would stand a better chance if I was not talking to you and was in the race!" It took me a minute to reach the start line, then I was behind 3000-runners. I had to thread my way through and it was only 7km. I caught the lead pack at 5km and over took them at such speed they presumed I was doing intervals along that stretch of the road, and let me go.
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?
Toby: I was not ready for the ride running gave me. I was totally unfit, out of shape, and had no interest to do anything sporty at all... By PURE chance I gave running a shot, and my life took off in a fashion I can not explain.
RD: What do you love about running the most now?
Toby: Coaching to me is now my competitive running; I run just for fun but love coaching athletes as I share their dreams, feel their pains, understand their emotions. Whether they are running a marathon in two hours, or walking in 7 hours, it is all the same to me, because it is all about what it gives to ourselves, and I feel lucky to be a part of that in other's lives.

RD: Well, we feel lucky that you've taken some time to share a bit about yourself and all you're involved with both in running and with those in need all around the world.

Thanks Toby!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

What a Joy!

Feeling too old to keep running? Feeling too old to start running? Think again. Meet Joy Johnson. You see, Joy's an 82-year-old marathoner who didn't start running until her 50s. She runs 3 marathons a year. I don't know Joy, but she's my hero, inspiration, and aspiration. At age 81, Joy wasn't happy with her previous marathon time, so she decided to train harder. Check out the clip below to see what she did to prepare for the 2008 NYC Marathon. (FYI: takes a moment for the clip to start.)

Here's another brief clip of Joy in 2009 after completing her 22nd consecutive running of the NYC Marathon!

Many of you may have already seen these clips of Joy and her amazing running accomplishments late in life, but since many of you (including myself) are just beginning your training for your upcoming fall 2010 marathons, I thought it was the perfect time to share some Joy.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Free the Tootsies!

Barefoot running. It's gaining in popularity. Bring up barefoot running in a conversation with runners and it can be a hot topic. For the most part, runners are very loyal to their shoes. As with most anything, when the traditional way of doing something is questioned or changed, camps form and sides are taken.
I've said it before and I'll continue to say it...my philosophy of running is, "if it works for you, then do it." If someone has had 30 years of injury-free running in shoes, then I doubt he's doing anything wrong. And on the flip side, if someone has had injury, after injury, after injury running in shoes, then switches to running barefoot and suddenly is injury free, then it would appear that he's done something right. If it looks like a peach, and smells like a peach, it must be a peach.
The latter scenario, just happens to represent what happened to a buddy of mine Josh—Barefoot Josh. Josh has been running barefoot about a year and he's logged around 1,000 miles. (His barefoot miles don't include runs in which he wears socks, Vibram Five Fingers or other minimalist shoes.) He's also run a marathon and several shorter races barefoot. To read more about Josh's journey into barefoot running [click here].

Josh shared his love of barefoot running as well as proper barefoot running technique in a workshop at my fitness studio—RunnerDude's Fitness. I myself am a "taker and a maker"....I take bits and pieces of techniques from here and bits and pieces of knowledge from there and make my own home brew of running that seems to work for me. Because of a nerve problem in my right forefoot (Morton's neuroma), I'm not able to run barefoot. I guess, I could try running with one foot shod and one foot bare, but I'm thinking that may not work out too well. I may yet give one of the minimalist shoes a try, but until then, I've been incorporating many of the running form techniques advocated by barefoot runners into my own running, such as a shorter stride, more of a forefoot/midfoot strike, and a lighter more lifting motion of the foot instead of pounding the ground.

The one thing I'm not able to experience nor are minimalist runners is how true barefoot running can help a runner figure out what he/she is doing wrong by learning to "read" what their feet are telling them with each foot strike. Josh does a great job of explaining this in his workshop. Your feet become little sensors kind of like the ones in the fancy cars that tell you when somethings in the road ahead of you or when your tires are going flat. Your feet sensors can give the barefoot runner immediate feedback so that he/she can immediately make changes while running and hopefully avoid injury.

So, is barefoot running for you? Only you can tell. Give it a try and see what you think. Start slow and go short. Work your way up in distance and speed. Be patient. You may be surprised with the results.

Check out the video clip below taken from Josh's Barefoot Running Workshop at RunnerDude's Fitness.

RunnerDude's Runner of the Week: Lauren

This week's Runner of the Week—Lauren—is a vibrant young lady who's a frequent commentor on the blog. Her upbeat comments are always refreshing and encouraging. Even though she's a busy college student she's discovered a love for running. Read on to find out more about Lauren and how running has impacted her life.

RD: Where are you from?
Lauren: Grew up in Chicago, moved to Orlando in 2006.

RD: Share a little about yourself. What do you do for a living? School? Hobbies?
Lauren: I'm an accounting graduate student right now, so for anyone who knows accounting you know that my life has been taken over by studying for the CPA exam! Well that and school... My schedule right now is
4:30am Wake up
5:30am Start Running
6:30am End Run
7:30am Be home by now
8:30am Be showered by now
9:00am Eat and be studying by now
Study/Go to school ALL day
9:00pm Read some blogs
10:00pm Go to bed! It's crazy!

RD: How long have you been running?
Lauren: I started running originally in high school and I say that lightly because I'm not sure that what I was doing counted as running. Not to mention I lasted about 3 weeks maybe. Later in college I tried again and got injured because I was an idiot with my training. Or rather, I didn't have a plan. Running as fast and as far as you can at all times every day that you are able really isn't safe, effective, fun, or anything good. After that (also still in college) my mom announced to me she was running a half marathon. That's when it hit me. My middle-aged mom was running half marathons and I couldn't' jog a 1/2 mile. That's just what I needed to get me started, get educated on running, and get a plan. Now I'm going to run the Chicago Marathon with her in October and I'm stoked!
RD: What do you enjoy most about running?
Lauren: Feeling so strong. I battled with an eating disorder a large portion of my life and so feeling weak was something I had just taken as a "normal feeling" in my life. After my 12-miler the other day I broke down and cried... I just felt so strong, and I loved it!
RD: That's awesome. Running can be very emotional and very empowering at the same time.

RD: What are your favorite training foods?
Lauren: English muffins w/spray margarine and salt. Yeah, kinda weird, but it's like my staple! Oh yeah, and chocolate skim milk afterward.

RD: Are you a lone runner or do you run with some buddies? What do you like about each?
Lauren: Both. When I'm by myself I find I have the most wonderful, deep thoughts. I figure myself and others out, I realize why I'm on this earth, I cry because of sunrises...etc. Sometimes when I'm by myself though I just get bored and that's when it's nice to have someone. I tend to ramble nonstop when I'm running with someone and therefore can only run with people that don't mind cutting me off and can hold their own in the conversation.

RD: What’s the funniest or oddest thing that’s happened to you while on a run?
Lauren: Ummm a really attractive male high-fived me on a run the other day, we were both doing out and backs apparently and I had passed him twice before and the third time instead of the "wave" he held his hand out and **smack** a high five! It was... rockin!!!

RD: What’s your biggest running accomplishment? Why?
Lauren: Just be able to run in the first place.
RD: I guess another big goal is yet to come in October with your mom.

RD: Do you have a favorite brand of running shoe? Which model? Why?
Lauren: Brooks Adrenaline 10... simply because it's my current one and it's my favorite. Very supportive, very cushiony. Love it!

RD: What’s your favorite race distance(s)? Do you have a favorite race?
Lauren: At this point I've only run a 5k, but I'm training now for Chicago in October. I also plan on running the Rock n' Roll Chicago Half Marathon on August 1st and hopefully a 10k before then as well.
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?
Lauren: I would first and foremost ask if they have the desire. They don't have to have the ability to run long-and-hard yet, but they need that desire. Even if it's only been a dream in the past. Now given that the person has the underlying desire to run I'd tell them my biggest piece of advice is to start slow. Nothing needs to hurt in the beginning. Quite the opposite! Some stiffness is normal but really when you're first getting into it, you don't need to be in pain. I feel like the slower I start into a program or into a mileage increase session, the better I feel and the more excited I am to complete it. I'm also not training to be competitive I have to throw that out there. But if you're just wanting to run to run, or to enjoy yourself, I'd say go as slow as you can. Cherish every milestone, whether it's being able to walk for 30 minutes or run for 30 seconds... or a whole mile. Cherish everything. My last piece of advice would be to reflect. Every time you feel like you're progressing SO slowly, think back to where you started. Maybe take a picture of yourself BEFORE you start running and write a quick paragraph as to how you feel about yourself at the moment. I did that actually and looking back on that photo and how I felt about myself really makes me realize how far I've come.

Rd: Open Mike: Share anything you‘d like about your running experiences, past accomplishments, goals, dreams….anything you haven’t previously shared.
Lauren: It's funny that reading this question caused me to sit on my couch and really contemplate for a second. I've always been a runner. That might confuse you after reading my statement above that I started seriously late in college, but let me explain. When I was younger and "mean kids" would make fun of me at lunch I'd go eat lunch with the teacher. When home life was chaotic, I chose to live somewhere else. When schoolwork got too tough, I switched schools. When suddenly I realized in high school I had gained 10 pounds from mindless eating I starved myself so I'd never have to see that person again. I ran... I always ran away from my problems instead of dealing with them appropriately. Teachers, guidance counselors, parents, and even my friends would all tell me that at some point in my life I'd have to stop running and just deal. At some point my life would catch me and I'd lose the race. At this point in my life running has a much different connotation. I still feel that I struggle with avoidance issues at times, but I've also learned, through the physical exercise of running and through just life experience in general, that running AWAY from your problems only prolongs and exacerbates the issue. However, you CAN run THROUGH your problems, and I feel that's what I do now. When I'm on my runs I have time to just think. To be me, with all my issues, complications, quirks, and imperfections. Instead of panicking because of a problem I can see it clearly and think through it, because panicking just takes WAY too much energy and lord knows I have no extra energy past 3 miles. In all seriousness though, I'm going to create a therapy program where therapists will RUN with their patients because while you're running, you don't have the energy to hold back, to be in denial. You're simply you. Don't steal that idea - I'm going to be rich one day.

Thanks for sharing your story Lauren! I can't wait to get the Chicago recap in October!! Be sure to check out Lauren's own blog—Bananas and Toast.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Injury Prevention Workout for Runners

Running consists of moving your arms and your legs in a synchronized forward motion. Movements of your arms and legs in this forward direction is called moving in the sagittal plane. If all you do is run, your muscle movement in the sagittal plane is awesome, but if for some reason you suddenly need to move laterally (sideways) or twist or rotate when you're running, your muscles may not know quite how to react.

You may be wondering when this would occur. It can happen at any moment. If you step off a curb and land the wrong way, or maybe you're having to jump over a pot hole, or maybe you land it a pot hole, your body can suddenly be shifted from that comfortable forward movment into a sideways or rotational movement.

Everyone's familiar with the main leg muscles (calves, quads, hamstrings, and glutes), but there are also tiny little stabilizer muscles that assist with balance and support. However, just like with any muscle, if you don't lose it, you tend to lose it. So, if you rarely move in the frontal plane(lateral movement, abduction, adduction) or the transverse plane (twisting or rotational movement), those stabilizer muscles may be either too slow to react causing a fall, or that slow reaction (or no reaction) may cause the other "main" leg muscles to over react resulting in a muscle strain or tear.

Doing a weekly workout in which you move your body in the non-traditional running planes will result in increased strength and balanace in your main leg muscles as well as all the little stabilizer muscles.

Below is a video clip of a simple (yet challenging) workout that's great to do once a week. It even makes a great dynamic stretch before a long run.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Looking for a Quality Treadmill? Try a Landice!

I've been a very fortunate individual in life. Even when times get tough, I have a great family and a wonderful network of friends. In contests, however, I've never been lucky and the few times I've been to a casino, I'm always the guy that when he leaves a slot machine the next person to use it hits the jackpot! That all changed this past March when I entered a drawing for a free Landice Treadmill.

When I was in the process of opening my new personal training studio, RunnerDude's Fitness LLC, I looked around and did some comparison shopping of the various treadmills. I looked at the upper-end residential models that could be purchased at local fitness stores and I also looked at some of the club-quality machines. I wanted something that would last, since I was planning to put it in the studio.
In my online comparison shopping, I came across a line of treadmills that I was not familiar with—Landice. As I read through their website, I became quite impressed with what I was reading and was surprised I had not come across the brand before. But to be honest, before opening RunnerDude's Fitness, I had never really looked at treadmills other than the ones that were in the gym to which I belonged. While on the website, I noticed Landice was holding a drawing for a free Landice L7 Treadmill, so I entered, knowing full well, it was a million-to-1 long shot that I'd win. Well about a week after entering the contest, I got an email, saying I had won!!! I guess, maybe when you don't win any contests for years and years, it culminates into a really large prize!! It was perfect timing too—I was getting ready to have an open house for the studio.

I've been using the treadmill personally and with my clients going on four months now. I LOVE IT! And so do my clients. The studio is located in an office complex, so I was concerned about the noise a treadmill might make. I didn't want the neighboring businesses complaining. I was relieved when I discovered that the Landice L7 is a very quiet machine and provides a very smooth, comfortable run. So far no complaints. I've had beginner runners all the way to speedy experienced runners use the treadmill and all have been pleased. The treadmill gets used regularly to perform VO2Max testing which is a part of my fitness assessment program.

Landice has been around for over 40 years. They produce a variety of treadmills and elliptical machines. Landice treadmills are consistently ranked as #1 or Best Buys by leading consumer magazines and websites. Even Runner's World had this to say about the Landice L8—The L8 can take a pounding. While many of the other units in this review are made from steel, the L8 is constructed from super-strong, aircraft-quality aluminum—delivering durability that's ideal for runners who push their equipment to the limit.
One of the most impressive things I found on the website are video testimonials from three different owners. One has owned a Landice for 2 years, one 7 years and one 13 years! That's pretty awesome. Another great thing is that Landice provides a life-time warranty for residential treadmills and a 5-year warranty for commercial treadmills. So, if you're shopping for a treadmill, be sure to check out Landice. I think you'll be pleasantly surprised and happy that you did.

Here's a video clip of a treadmill workout in which I use the Landice L7 treadmill that I won.

Note: I did win a Landice L7 treadmill through a contest drawing sponsored by Landice, but was was not asked nor paid to complete this review. I'm simply pleased with the product and my review is based on my personal experience using the Landice L7.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

A Peek Into the Life of a Racer—James Carney

Recently, I had a chance to interview one of the Team New Balance runners—James Carney. James grew up just south of Pittsburgh, PA, but he now lives and trains in Boulder, CO. James is a 2008 US 20K Champion and a 2008 US Half Marathon Champion. His 5K PR is 13:37; his 10K PR is 27:43 and his Half PR is 1:02:21. Read on to learn a little more about James.

RD: How long have you been running?
James: I have been running now for about 17 years.

RD: What got you into running?
James: I grew up as a wrestler. I used running to condition for wrestling and I turned out to be a better runner than wrestler.

RD: What do you enjoy most about running?
James: I enjoy the solitude of it and pushing myself to the absolute limit.

RD: Your occupation is listed as “Athlete.” What's a typical day like for you as a professional athlete?
James: I train twice a day everyday except Sundays. I usually wake up and grab a quick bite of 200-300 calories and hydrate myself and then take an hour and go for about a 9 mile run followed by drills and strides. After that session, I usually head to the gym for strength training for approximately 45 min then get something for lunch followed by a nap. I get up and have about 2 hours of free time to catch up on errands and emails before knocking out another 9-mile run. If I have a track workout or long run things change a little.

RD: I see your event distances are the 5000m, 10000m and the Half Marathon. Which is your favorite? Why? Is there a distance you’d like to compete in, but haven’t yet?
James: I like the half-marathon distance because its about the maximum distance you can muscle without fuel becoming a problem. Maybe someday I'll jump in a steeple chase.

RD: Of the many running icons past and present, who do you consider role models and/or inspiration for your own running?
James: I have a lot of inspirations including Seb Coe, Steve Ovett, Peter Elliot, Dick Beardsley, Bronislow Malinowski, and Rob Decastella. Today I draw motivation from guys like Ryan Hall, Chris Solinsky, and Matt Tegankamp.

RD: How important is food to your training? What are your favorite training foods?
James: I eat whatever I want and have no regimented diet. I do like Digiornos Pizza as my night-before-the-race meal. As a pre-race meal, I like Cliff bars, Lucky Charms or Frosted Flakes. For a post-race meal, I like fish-n-chips and a Bass.

RD: Are you a lone runner or do you run with some buddies? What do you like about each?
James: I am by myself for most of my runs. Lately, I have been jumping in a lot of workouts with Brent Vaughn.

RD: What’s your biggest running accomplishment?
James: Winning a couple National Title on the roads was big for my career and taught me how to win races.

RD: Do you have a favorite running shoe? Why?
James: Most of my training I do is in the New Balance 905. Its a great neutral lightweight trainer.

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?
James: First and foremost, enjoy the ride. Be patient, consistent, and run with controlled aggression. Running is a microcosm of life. What you put in is what you get out. If you work and work at running, you with reap the harvest and get a lot out of your efforts.

Check out this video clip of James stretching before a 20-miler. I kind of like his approach. LOL!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

RunnerDude's Runner of the Week: Tim Wilson

I've been following this week's Runner of the Week—Tim Wilson— through his blog and on Twitter for quite a while. His story of a complete lifestyle turnaround for himself and his family is truly amazing. Read on to find out more about Tim's story.

RD: Where are you from?
Tim: Currently live in Gwinnett County in NE Atlanta.

RD: Share a little about yourself. What do you do for a living? Hobbies?
Tim: I have been happily married for 20 years and have three awesome kids, two daughters in high school, and a son in elementary. I am a programmer, mainly working with .NET technologies and mainly for the web, but also am kinda an IT jack of all trades since I work for a smaller company. For hobbies I don't have many. I tend to focus on a couple things at a time. My first and foremost is running, and second is blogging and everything that goes along with it from a social media and technical standpoint. Of course my wife and kids and all their activities are important, but I don't consider those hobbies.

RD: How long have you been running?
Tim: I have been running for just over 3 years, I started in February of 2007.
RD: What got you into running?
Tim: I used to run XC and track in high school and loved it. I tried a few times over the years but never got very far. I was changing my lifestyle and losing weight. I started just walking, but then one day decided I would try running. It was slow going and very short, but grew each time I tried. I guess you could say my poor health and wanting to change it got me into running.

RD: What do you enjoy most about running?
Tim: I love so much about it that I just don't know where to start or end. I love how it makes me feel, how much energy it gives me, how I don't have to worry about myself physically and how I can eat. :) I also love the camaraderie and community around it and the change it has made in my life and my family's life.

RD: What are your favorite training foods?
Tim: I have never really thought about this before. I like food period.

RD: I'm with you on that. I eat pretty healthful food, but I love my chocolate cake once in a blue moon too! LOL!

RD: Are you a lone runner or do you run with some buddies? What do you like about each?
Tim: I am mainly a lone runner. 95% of my running is done alone in the wee hours of the morning. I like the flexibility of being a lone runner since I can then go when, where, and however far or fast I want to. I do really enjoy running with my kids as well though and running with a running group at least once a week. This is all fairly new though in the past year, and the group runs in the past couple months. I like the group runs because you tend to get outside your comfort zone and push a bit harder than by yourself.
RD: What’s the funniest or oddest thing that’s happened to you while on a run?
Tim: I could tell (and have told) a lot of stories about this so it is hard to find just one. Two years ago I was just coming off of setting a new 5k PR in the toughest course I have ever run. I was hoping to set a new PR and hopefully drop under 21:00 in my upcoming race the second week in June 2008. I lined up near the front and was ready to go. The gun went off and I started, but didn't get far. Less than 100 yards into the race I was tripped while in mid-stride and went down hard on my shoulder and head. After getting up it didn't take long to find that I had broken my collar bone in multiple places. 8 months off from running and multiple surgeries later I felt like I was almost starting over. The next year when I ran that race I wasn't anywhere near setting the PR much less getting anywhere near the 21:00 time. I was also a bit nervous running the first time back, but I was running it with my daughter so I had a bodyguard. :)
RD: Ouch! Good comeback man!

RD: For the good or the bad, how has running affected you personally?
Tim: It has changed my life completely. It is one of the main driving factors in my life. It has given me a way to help lose 90 pounds and more importantly a way to keep it off. It has brought back energy that I had lost for so long, and it has given me something to pass along to my kids and others that know me personally, through my blog, or through any other social media. It is truly one of the best feelings to be told that you were the inspiration for someone that is running, eating better, or just living a healthier life.

RD: What’s your biggest running accomplishment? Why?
Tim: My biggest running accomplishment would be my first 5k, because without it I would have never had the desire, drive, or ability to continue on to run that 26.2.... the second biggest accomplishment. My first 5k I came in dead last in the race, even being beat by someone running with a hernia, but that race was the stepping stone that I needed at that time to keep going and keep trying.

RD: Do you have a favorite brand of running shoe? Which model? Why?
Tim: I have run in NB 767, 768, 769's exclusively until these past few weeks. I had good luck and didn't want to change. I was recently sent a pair of Pearl iZumi SyncroFuel XC's and have been running in them a lot lately as well. If I had to choose right now I would choose the Pearl iZumi's.
RD: Cool. I'm pretty loyal to a shoe once I find one that works well for me too. I'm lucky in that I get to test-drive lots of different shoes for various shoe companies and recently I test out a pair of the SyncroFuel XC train shoes and the road version too. I was impressed with them as well.

RD: What’s your favorite race distance(s)? Do you have a favorite race you run each year?
Tim: My favorite race distance is probably the half marathon, but of course only if I have been training for it. If I haven't been training for it, it is just 13 miles of torture and .1 of pure bliss..... or at least just really slow. My favorite race though is a 5k, specifically the 5k I mentioned above. It is the Saratoga 5k Fun Run. It is a very small local race that is run in a neighborhood without closing any roads. It was the first race I ever ran in, and the race that I finished dead last in. What makes it even more special was that it was also it's very first running. Only myself and one other runner has run it every time for the 4 years it has been run. Even though I came in dead last the first year, I finished second overall the second year (no, I am not that fast, it is just a very small race) The added benefit is that this is the hilliest course I have ever run and where I still hold my 5k PR.

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?
Tim: Take it slow at first. Don't expect to run very far the first time, or even for a while..... and that is OK! Build it up slowly and don't try to go too fast (while running, or while building up to a mile and beyond). Take the time and the money and go get fitted for some good running shoes, without them you may not be running long, or may be running in more pain and doing more damage than you need to.

RD: Open Mike: Share anything you‘d like about your running experiences, past accomplishments, goals, dreams….anything you haven’t previously shared.
Tim: If you have ever read my blog you know I am not known to be short winded but let me give it a shot. As I mentioned earlier, I started running while losing weight. More specifically I let myself get horribly out of shape after high school and put on close to 100 pounds of unneeded blubber. I finally had a doctor tell me I needed to lose weight at the end of 2006, so decided to make it happen starting January of 2007. Running was a key part of the 90 pound weight loss I had that year. Running has also changed my family tree. None of my kids would have been interested in running since we lead such a sedentary lifestyle, but because I am now a runner all of my kids have taken up the sport. One of my daughter's just finished her freshman year in high school where she ran varsity on XC and ran in state. She also was very competitive in track where her older sister joined her in running. They are both currently training for XC in the fall. My 8-year-old son has run with me off and on but is still trying to find the love that his older sisters have. Following my first marathon I took some time to back off the miles a bit. I have plans to run at least one marathon in the fall and may start training for an ultra sometime after that.

Thanks Tim for sharing your story! I can't wait to eventually read the recap of that ultra!! You truely are an inspiration to runners, Dad's, and familys everywhere! Be sure to check out Tim's blog—26.2 Quest.