Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Eye Protection Important for Runners

We often hear about the importance of wearing sun screen to protect your skin from the dangers of sun
exposure. I should know. I had the scary experience of having melanoma, the most aggressive type of skin cancer. Luckily it was discovered in time and I had it successfully removed. The 4-inch scare down the middle of my back is a constant reminder of the importance of protection from the sun.

Your eyes are equally susceptible to the dangers of too much sun exposure. The Mayo Clinic says that UV radiation from the sun can damage not only the skin of your eyelid but also the cornea, lens and other parts of the eye. UV exposure also contributes to the development of certain types of cataracts and possibly macular degeneration.

The Mayo Clinic suggests that when choosing sunglasses, look for UV-protection details on the product labels. Look for sunglasses that block 99 to 100 percent of both UA and UVB rays. Don't purchase sunglasses that neglect to offer details about their UV protection. The color and degree of darkness sunglasses provide have nothing to do with the sunglasses' ability to block UV rays. Wraparound sunglasses or close-fitting sunglasses with wide lenses that protect your eyes from all angles are best.

Your local eye care professionals are a great source of information in helping you select the best pair of sunglasses even if you don't need prescription sunglasses. I do wear prescription eyeglasses and I've had a hard time finding sunglasses that wrap around and fit close to my head for running.

I had trouble that is until Eye Care Associates contacted me about testing out a pair of sunglasses. They scheduled me for an exam at the Eye Care Associates location at Friendly Center in Greensboro, NC.  Dr. Laura Painter did an excellent job in giving my eyes a thorough exam. She actually discovered the beginnings of a cataract in one eye. All the more reason to get protective eye wear for my many runs.

After the eye exam, the awesome staff helped me find the best pair of sunglasses for my running. I decided
on a pair of Oakley sunglasses. I've always had sunglasses with dark grey lenses, but I was introduced to some amber lenses that I ended up liking a great deal. I run early in the morning and later in the afternoon. The amber lenses help me still be able to see when the sun hasn't fully risen or when it's begun to set. I've had several runs during the fall for which I needed sunglasses to block the setting sun, but before I could complete the run the sun would dip below the horizon making my footing a scary guessing game the last mile or two. The amber lenses makes that much easier while still providing the protection when needed earlier in the run.

I've been running with the Oakleys for over a month now and they're awesome! The stay snugly on my face with no slipping. They provide great coverage and I'm loving the amber lenses.

June 27th is National Sunglasses Day! In honor of National Sunglasses day and to help promote healthy eyes among the running community, Eye Care Associates is providing a $200 gift certificate that can be used for a routine eye exam, retinal photos, non-prescription sunglasses, prescription eye wear, and/or contact lens materials at any Eye Care Associates office.

To participate, you'll need to be within driving distance of one of the many Eye Care Associate locations here in North Carolina. Click here for locations. Enter below for a chance to win the gift certificate. You'll have until end of Day July 1st to enter. The winner will be announced on the blog on July 2nd.

A huge thanks to Eye Care Associates!!

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Friday, June 20, 2014

Running Inspired Tattoos: A Way for Many to Express Their Running Accomplishments

According to the Smithsonian, the oldest tattoo on a human belongs to the Iceman discovered in the Italian-Austrian border back in 1991. He was carbon-dated at around 5,200 years old. Now that's a lasting tattoo. Iceman was sporting tattooed dots and small crosses on his lower spine and right knee and ankle joints. Because these locations correspond to areas of strain-induced degeneration (their words not mine), suggested they many have been applied to alleviate joint pain, so basically they were probably therapeutic.

Jump ahead about 1000 years and we find Egyptian women sporting tattoos. All through history tattoos have been a part of many cultures. Some cultures used tattoos as a sign of nobility and others used them as a sign of ownership of a religious sect or to another owner.

Some cultures such as those of Polynesia use elaborate tattoos that have been developed over millennia. These feature geometric designs sometimes covering the entire body. Captain James Cook encountered such cultures on his 1769 British expedition to Tahiti. The islanders referred to the designs as "tatatau" or Tattau" which meant hit or strike....hence the birth of the modern term tattoo.

Today, tattoos are still important parts of many cultures around the world. They've also become popular ways for many modern-day individuals to express themselves. From inspirational phrases to illustrations of family members, tattoos usually carry great meaning for the person sporting the tattoo.

This is no less true in the running community. From the Ironman logo to the iconic 26.2 image, you'll find many runners with running related artwork on their torso, calf, thigh or arm.

Like anything, some people hate tattoos, some love them and sport many, while others are indifferent to them.

I've been pondering a running related tattoo for several years. I think it's time for RunnerDude to take the plunge. The RunnerDude motto is "Trust. Believe. Conquer!" I'd love to somehow incorporate the motto into a tattoo. I'm thinking the location would be the back/center of a calf. Nothing too big, but big enough to be seen and possibly motivate.

I'd love to see your ideas for a "Trust. Believe. Conquer!" RunnerDude tattoo. Sketch your ideas and email a picture to runnerdudeblog@yahoo.com by July 4th. I'll post all that are sent and I'll let the readers vote on their favorite.

I'm excited to see your ideas!

New Runner's Cheat Sheet

 If you were like me when I first started running, you probably felt a little lost from all the running terms andwere hesitant to ask the more experienced runners you knew what the heck they all meant. Took me a while to get up to speed, but I finally became running-term literate. Hears a little cheat sheet to help you out if you need it.

• Easy Run—a slow run done at a conversational pace
• Fartlek—a Swedish word for speedplay; workout includes faster running mixed with slower running; can be done in any setting—track, trail, or road
• Repeats or Intervals—type of workout where a set distance is run repeatedly with a recovery jog between; for example 6 times 400 meters with 100 meters recovery jog; typically done on a track
• Cadence—the number of footstrikes made within a minute
• Foot strike—how your foot hits the ground (heelstrike, mid foot or flat foot, and fore foot)
• Speed Work—short, fast intervals with recovery jogs between; increases your leg turnover and maximizes your stamina and race confidence
• Tempo Runs—workouts where you run at a steady pace that is around 70% to 80% of your max aerobic capacity; near race pace, but not race pace
• Hills—workouts where a runner runs up a hill fast and jogs down then runs up again; helps develop leg power and aerobic capacity
• Long Runs—longest run of the week; usually on the weekend
• Recovery Runs—slow to moderate running to recover from hard workouts or races and/or maintain aerobic conditioning
• Cross-Training—low- or no-impact activities such as swimming, cycling, and using the elliptical at the gym that increase conditioning
• Pace—the measure of the speed of running; usually quantified as minutes taken to run a mile; for example a runner may run a 7:00 per mile pace for a marathon
• PR—Personal Record or Personal Best; fastest time a runner has run for a given distance
• Junk Miles—runs used to reach a weekly or monthly mileage total rather than for a specific benefit
• 5K—race with a distance of 5 kilometers (3.1 miles)
• 10K—race with a distance of 10 kilometers (6.2 miles)
• 15K—race with a distance of 15 kilometers (9.3 miles)
• 20K—race with a distance of 20 kilometers (12.4 miles)
• Marathon—race with a distance of 26.2 miles
• Half-Marathon—race with a distance of 13.1 miles
• Bandit—a person who runs a race without paying the registration fee
• BQ—a Boston qualifying time or a race that's a Boston qualifier
• Carb-loading—eating a high-carbohydrate diet (60%-70% of the total calories) at least three days prior to a race to fill the glycogen stores
• Chip time—finish time that's recorded by a computer chip typically worn on the shoe or around the ankle. Tracks each runner's time from when they cross the start line and finish line.
• Kicks—running shoes
• CR—course record
• DNF—did not finish
• DNS—did not start
• DOMS—delayed onset muscle soreness
• Elite runner—a person who has reached the highest level in his sport
• Gun time—finish time that begins when the start gun sounds until the runner crosses the finish line
• GU—a brand of sports gel that's a concentrated sources of carbohydrate (fuel) and electrolytes
• "Hitting the wall" or bonk—a time during a race when your glycogen stores become depleted and fatigue overwhelms you. Typically happens around mile 20 in a marathon.
• Master—a runner 40-years-old or older is classified as a Master in the US. In other countries the term used is Veteran
• Negative splits—running the second half of a race faster than the first
• NR—national record
• Pace—the measure of speed of running; usually thought of as the number of minutes it takes to run a mile during a race
• PB—personal best
• PR—personal record
• Road Race—running contest that takes place over streets
• Singlet—a tank top for running
• Snot Rocket—the act of closing off one nostril while blowing forcefully out the other nostril to clear it of...well...snot, while on the run
• Streaker—a person who runs at least one mile on consecutive days never having a day with no running
• Taper—reducing your mileage several days to a few weeks prior to a race
• Ultra—any race longer than a traditional marathon which is 26.2 miles
• USA Track & Field—the national governing body for running in the US
• WR—world record

Monday, June 9, 2014

TIMEX Ironman Easy Trainer GPS Giveaway!

RunnerDude has partnered with TIMEX to bring you this awesome giveaway! Follow the directions below to enter for a chance to win one of two TIMEX Ironman Easy Trainer GPS watches. One male and one female winner will be selected at random by Rafflecopter. The winners will be announced on the blog on June 17th, 2014. Good Luck!

After registering, be sure to check out my interviews with TIMEX Multisport Team Members Susanne Davis and Meredith Dolhare.

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Thursday, June 5, 2014

RunnerDude Chats With TIMEX Multisport Team Member Susanne Davis

Recently I had the privilege to interview Timex Multisport Team member Susanne Davis. Susanne is a decorated athlete who has set course records and won many Sprint Distance Triathlons.  As a Professional Triathlete in the 1990s, she travelled the world racing ITU World Cups and competed in the 2000 US Olympic Triathlon Trials.  In October 2010, in only her second Ironman, she turned Kona upside down by breaking the existing 35-39 Age Group World Record and placing 2nd Overall Amateur at the 2010 Ironman World Championships.  She was the 1st American Woman and placed 23rd among the Pro Field!  This year in 2013 Susanne put in one of the greatest races of her life.  She is now an American record holder being the fastest  Amateur over 40 in the 35 year history of the Ironman World Championship going 9:41:40.   She is also the reigning 2013 USA Triathlon Masters Champion at Olympic Distance.  She finished the year as the number one ranked Master’s triathlete in the country. In 2011 during her first year on Timex Multisport Team, one of the country’s most successful triathlon teams, Susanne was voted Rookie of the Year. 

Read on to learn more about this amazing athlete....

RD: Tell us a little about your youth. Were you athletic as a child? Did you grow up in an athletic family?
Susanne: I grew up running track and cross country in High school and College at University of Wisconsin LaCrosse.  I am the youngest of 6 kids and my sister Beth who is closest in age to me (5yrs older) was my biggest influence.  I went to her meets and loved the camaraderie and team spirit.  Her coaches would always come up to me and say, "I hope you are a runner because you've got those long, lean, fast "Martineau legs"." That invitation and wanting to be as good or (actually better) than my sister was my motivation.  I always was competing to keep up with her growing up. Water skiing, down hill skiing, mountain biking, running, swimming faster across the lake each year camping etc. It makes me laugh and wonder if my daughter who is 5 years younger than my son if this will play out in her life.  Her personality is a lot like me.

RD: When did you first realize that the triathlon and more specifically the Ironman was your niche?
Susanne: I did my first triathlon in summer of 1993.  I was almost last out of the water, road past half the field on a borrowed bicycle and ran very strong passing tons of people to the finish!  I had no idea but at the awards ceremony they announced me as the winner and gave me a check for $100.00!  I was shocked and elated. This is where my dream started and ironically the motto of Ironman, "Anything is Possible".   I thought, wow I can make money at this?  I won this triathlon on my first attempt!  I think I could be one of the best anywhere! Being 22 years old and a bit naive has it's advantages.   Here I was from a town of 12,000 people where I beat 150 of them.  It didn't dawn on me that the world has 7 billion people.  I read in Triathlete Magazine that the best athletes trained in Boulder so I moved there for the summer to become one of the best triathletes!  I took 30 minutes off my next triathlon and in my senior year of college I won almost every NCAA cross country race.  It was from the strength and speed I earned simply from doing triathlon for 3 months. I was convinced triathlon was something I should pursue.  I became the top Triathlete in the state of Arizona and was invited to live and train at the Olympic Training Center as a resident athlete training for the first Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia in 2000.  My swim wasn't strong enough to make it out of the water in the lead pack and with drafting on the bike it made it impossible for me to catch up and finish 1st or 2nd which is how you qualified.  I was burned out and took a 3 year break from triathlon.  I went back to running and balanced it around a sales rep job.

RD: How does being a triathlon competitor in the 90s compare to being an Ironman competitor in 2014?Susanne: Ironman didn't become my niche until I had children.  I gained 50 lbs with my first son and worked as a Sales Rep traveling on the West coast for 60 hours a week.  I cried everyday I had to leave my son to drive to LA.  I quit and a neighbor/CEO asked me to coach him for an Ironman.  He didn't know how to swim, never biked and hadn't run since college.  I trained with him and lost the weight.  I decided to try a half ironman, qualified for Kona and placed 11th amateur overall and 3rd in my AG 30-34.  Not until 5 years later after having my second child did I realize Ironman would be my niche!  I grew my coaching business and trained with many of my clients.  It was the perfect environment to light the Kona fire in me again.  I was 3rd overall with the pros in my qualifying race at Honu!   At Kona, I was the top American amateur in the World Championships and 2nd Overall Amateur.  I had beat my existing age group World Record and taken 30 minutes off my previous Kona time finishing in 9:51!  What!?  It was then in 2010, 17 years after my first triathlon that I thought I found my niche.  God gave me a taste of success and I believed I could get faster and become the best in the World.  

RD: What was your toughest race? What made it so tough?
Susanne: Last year at the Ironman World Championships. 
I was on fire from the start swimming 90 seconds faster than my previous years, biked 11 minutes faster and was stoked going into the run which is my strongest leg of a triathlon.  But, at mile 2 my pace slowed from 7:15 to almost 9 minutes as my hips and glutes were locked and not firing.  No uphill to blame. I thought OK, my body will be OK it just needs another mile to stretch out from the ride, but every step hurt. My husband screamed, "Banana (Susanna banana) nick name) you are going to CRUSH the world record! For the past two years I've run 3:17 or 3:18 off the bike.  I yelled back, " I'll be lucky if I break 3:45 today". It's going to take all I've got.  I chanted the names of people I loved and who supported me and sang songs of faith, "He can move the mountains, my God is mighty to save... Please lord move this mountain of pain and slow running.  Then at the Energy lab, "Eye of the Tiger came blasting through the only speaker on course. Rising up back on my feet.  I pumped my fist in the air, yelled out let's get this party started and boom - I took the pace back down to 7:30 pace!  

RD: What's a typical training week look like for you?
Susanne: Monday my alarm goes off at 4:20am.  I make a double shot cappuccino and teach YMCA 90 minute spin class at 5:15am.  I run home, make breakfast, pack lunches and at 8am I drop my kids at school.  I go for a run and start coaching athletes or write programs on Training Peaks all day until I pick my kids up from school at 2:20pm.  I make a snack, do homework, make dinner, read with them, go to bed and start again! 
  • Tuesday I have an off day and coach people and catch up on daily house or mom duties.  I also teach math as a volunteer in my daughters class.
  • Wednesday is my mid-week long ride with a run after it.
  • Thurs is speed day. I do a speed set running in the morning, coach personal sessions and swim Masters over lunch. 
  • Friday I teach another Spin class at 5:15am, then run or swim.
  • Sat: My husband watches the kids and I ride 4 hours and run off the bike.
  • Sunday: is a family day, church and off or a long run.  

I'll squeeze in extra swims throughout the week to make sure I'm swimming 4 times just before Ironman.  
All of my mileage and paces vary throughout the year based on what phase of periodization I'm in.
RD: What tools do you use to help elevate your training.
Susanne: I train with a Timex Run Trainer 2.0 Heart Rate and GPS monitor.  I'm a big believer that numbers are important and provide needed guidance in training.  Every workout is written with a specific goal of heart rate and pace.  I maximize my time, effort and benefit from the training at the highest level.  I also use rpms and watts as well to control anaerobic efforts at race pace when teaching spin class as a turbo session weekly.  All these numbers can be pretty important on race day.

RD: You're also an endurance coach. How does the time commitment of training others affect your Ironman training?
Susanne: Certainly the time could get away from you easily and some weeks it's very challenging to balance. I am very good at organizing a calendar.  Many of my clients who I coach are with me for years and they understand the complexity of balancing time with other commitments. I coordinate some long Sat rides with clients who are around the same strength.  It's a benefit to us both.  I do group sessions the last two months leading up to a big Ironman race.  I also limit how many clients I personally work one on one with so I can keep balanced.  I've hired a few amazing assistant coaches who know my philosophy in coaching and are experts as well in different areas of training.  I love my daughter's saying, "mom I'm not an octopus".  I have to remind myself of that when I'm over commit myself.   

RD: Have you ever pictured yourself doing something different with your life?
Susanne: No! I love my life!  I love my family, friends, where I live, my job as a coach and the Timex Team. I feel so blessed to be where I am.

RD: What do you enjoy most about coaching others?
Susanne: I love to share my knowledge and see the light click, the confidence build and the results improve. The appreciation and accolades I get from my clients goes full circle.  I inspire them and push them to be better and they do that for me.  Qualifying for Boston the Kona Ironman or getting on a podium is a life long journey for some.  Watching them get there and knowing I'm part of the reason is seriously rewarding.  They cheer for me as aggressively as I cheer for them.  Many have become lifetime friends.
RD: Looking back over your athletic career, what would you do differently? 
Susanne: I would have raced Ironman much sooner.  I went 9:51 at the age of 39 in my first real effort to perform there.  If I think back, a young Kate Major (a good friend) had a really successful career with several 3rd place finishes.  She set an amateur world record just 2 minutes faster than my effort back when she was 23.  I've looked at that and thought where could I have been if I started this Ironman journey in my early 20's.  Unfortunately, I thought it was a crazy distance that I wouldn't even be able to handle.  I think I could have been a fairly successful Pro at this distance over the Olympic ITU format.

RD: How did it feel becoming the fastest amateur over 40 in the 35 year history of the Ironman Word Championship with your 9:41:40 finish time?
Susanne: There were so many emotions.  Surprise after my run start.  Incredible satisfaction from the fight of the race.  A thrill that I finally made the top of the podium.  Relief as I'd chased this for the last 4 years.  But mostly it was the sweetest ending to an extremely difficult year for my family. Triathlon has been a great stress reliever in my life through the years. I'm thankful I had it last year.

RD: Are you hoping you hold on to your reign of the USA Triathlon Masters Champion title at the Olympic Distance for a while or would you be okay with someone edging you out?
Susanne: Most races on my calendar I go into with the intention of winning.  There are a few that are tune up races where I know I'm not in top form.  This race is in Milwaukee and I'm surrounded by family so I certainly have a star next to it on my calendar.  It's an "A" race for me and I will prepare myself (as I'm my own coach) to win again.  I'm OK if someone edges me out on the day.  I can control my preparation, but I can't control the day.  You never know what is going to happen to your body or equipment on any given day.  I do know that I will be fast and ready and I have a program that got me there last year.

RD: How does competing at the masters level differ than when you were younger? What do you know now as a masters competitor that you wish you had known when competing in your 20s? 
Susanne: My confidence as a master's is what I didn't have racing as a Pro in my 20's.  Then, you were only as good as your last race.  If you didn't win money you didn't get to travel to the next competition and I was afraid I'd lose my sponsorships and disappoint many people in my life.  Now I'm a mom, wife and coach.  I also happen to be the top Master's triathlete in the world.  Figuring out how to find this balance is so rewarding and if I don't win, I still feel the other rewarding parts of my life.  My family still loves me if I'm 1st or 15th.  It's always a win-win now.

RD: What do you think about younger and younger kids (teens and pre-teens) competing in ultra-type endurance competitions? 
Susanne: Great question.  I've coached elite Jr. High and High School runners and I've seen the difference between coaching philosophies and the other athletes on their team.  The old adage of everything needs to be done in moderation couldn't be more true at a younger age.  If a parent has a teenager with the passion to run a half marathon or a marathon then they should investigate coaches.  Find a coach who can build them up gradually and help them cross train or do the right core strength to avoid over use injury and burn out.  I've seen both sides of the coin.  Athletes who were burned out, injured and didn't run again after high school. I've also seen my clients go on to have full ride scholarships and shine in college.  

A child's desire to be great is something you can't teach but comes from within.  It's how you stoke that fire that makes the difference.

RD: What are your future aspirations? 
Susanne: I feel like I've achieved everything I've wanted to achieve in the sport.  That's not to sound conceited but I am satisfied with what I've done.  The fire is still there and I will compete like I always have but do I have to be the top amateur or top 20 pro or set a world record in the 45 age group?  For now, no. But ask me in a year.

My focus now that I've reached the top is to share my knowledge and passion with more people.  I will be growing my training business to help make a difference in more people's athletic life.  I will continuing being a role model for my kids, clients, people over 40 and moms who want to achieve something great for themselves.  Racing a marathon, a triathlon or cutting time off your next race is doable at any age.  If you need help, find a coach like me. Some people think they can't achieve their dream or are overwhelmed.  I say dream, plan and believe anything is possible. I know, because I just proved it. 

Be sure to checkout Susanne's website  www.tricoachdavis.com.

TIMEX Giveaway!
Stay Tuned! In honor of Susanne's great accomplishments, RunnerDude has partnered with TIMEX to giveaway two TIMEX Ironman Easy Trainer GPS watches! Look for more on the giveaway and how to enter for a chance to win one of two GPS watches this Monday!