Friday, April 28, 2017

Running Shorts Interviews RunnerDude

I'm usually the one doing the interview, but turnabout is fair play. This week, Eddie Wooten, the senior sports editor of the News and Record and host of the running blog, Running Shorts interviewed me for the anniversary of the blogs 5th year of the Runners Profile series where Eddie features a different local runner. Over the past 5 years, Eddie's featured 263 runners! It was great taking time to chat with another fellow runner. Eddie's blog, Running Shorts has become a great center point for the Triad's running community, be sure to check it out! Blow is Eddie's interview with me as featured on the News & Record Running Shorts Blog.


THAD McLAURIN

Age

52

Residence

Greensboro

Day job

Click Here to See Video Interview

Why I run

"Growing up, I was never into team sports. ... I was overweight, very inactive. I did play some team sports, but I just never really cared for it. The summer before high school, I decided to lose weight and lost about 40 pounds. Started to feel better about myself, what I could do, my abilities, but I still never really did anything. Back then, there wasn't much athletics that wasn't team-oriented. I just didn't have the confidence. But when I was a freshman at State, I started running on my own. Did my first 10K (Great Raleigh Road Race, 1984). I remember sitting there after the race, on the wall, and just looking at all the different people and different sizes, ages, and it was like, 'I can do this.' That's when I started getting into doing more races on my own. ..
"But it wasn't until about 10 years later, '96, '97, I got the bug into distance. I trained for my first full, New York, in '97. Got hooked from then on. Did one or two a year pretty much ever since ... I just realized that I could run for myself, I could compete with myself. In a race you might end up competing with somebody you don't know, that person in front of you you want to peg and try to get beyond. I really liked that vs. the team aspect. ...
"When we moved here in '98, I wasn't didn't know Greensboro too well. I ran around my neighborhood. I found Country Park. I found Military Park. Back then, you couldn't Google 'Greenways.' I didn't know where anything was. I remember the day I realized there was a cut-through from Military to Country Park, and I was so excited because I had a 5-mile loop. The second marathon I ran, which was also New York, I trained running in Military Park. That gets old after a while.
"Then Rick King, who started the Blueliners, ... kept bugging me to come with this group. I didn't know who they were. Finally, I thought, 'I'll go so he'll leave me alone.' That first day we ran 9 miles on the greenway; I never knew the greenway was there. ... I joined the Blueliners then and ran with them up until the time I started RunnerDude's Fitness. ... He's the reason I was able to run different areas around here and meet other people and understand about the running community."
When Thad McLaurin first joined a group of other runners,
the Blueliners welcomed him.

A typical week

"When I'm not injured (Achilles), it's hard to get in 'me' runs. I do a lot of running with clients, so there's a lot of miles in there, but they're not necessarily 'me' miles. When I get a 'me' run, it's a treat. I try to get in at least two 'me' runs and a long run on the weekends (Sundays). ... When race training season kicks in, 50, 60 miles a week (includes runs with clients). When it's not, 25 to 30."

Favorite place to run

"Downtown. I love our greenways, I love that we have so many greenways, and I run them a lot with my runners. But as far as a 'me' run, particularly a long run, I call 'em undetermined runs. I'll leave from here or my house and I'll just head downtown. I know the total mileage I want. From the Run the Boro runs, dealing with multiple routes, I've learned downtown pretty well. I can figure out in my brain as I'm running where I need to go to get the mileage. I like the diversity. I love looking at the architecture and the different neighborhoods. It keeps my mind occupied. The beauty of the greenway on the long run is great, but it's pretty much the same view. Trees, trees, maybe a lake, then some more trees. I like the terrain, it's a mix of hills and flat."

Faster, higher, stronger

"My favorite speed workout is called 90-60s (90 seconds hard, 60 seconds easy). You can do it outside, you can do it on the treadmill. It's a no-excuse speed workout. You don't have to have a track. A lot of them are time-based, some of them are distance-based. It's got two intervals, so you can program it in your watch or use an interval timer. And it doesn't take long. You can do a 1-mile warmup, two rounds of the 90-60s and a 1-mile cooldown, and you're finished in about 40 minutes."

Other athletic pursuits

"I don't have a lot of time for me for that kind of stuff. I do a lot fitness-type stuff, Tabata circuits, that kind of stuff."

Other life pursuits

"I love writing (author of Full-Body Fitness for Runners). That's how the blog started. As a career, I was a writer – more technical kind of writing, educational – editor, book development manager for 13 years with the Education Center. ... I love to read."

I love running when ...

"It's for me, because that's rare. I love it when it's a purposeless run. I'm just able to go out and run. It's freeing; that's when I do a lot of brainstorming and thinking, things come to my mind that don't at other times."

But I don't love running when ...

"I'm injured."

A key piece of gear

"My orthotics. My legs are great, my aerobic fitness is great, but my feet hurt a lot. I have metatarsal issues. The Achilles thing is new, and I know why that happened. I ran very little in December and January because of my dad passing, and my mom has Alzheimer's and we're dealing with that. So I was out of commission. When I got back, I did the Massacre Marathon Relay, and I was the first one on my team to do the leg and busted out like crazy. Felt good, but then you have to stop. That's when I strained my Achilles. ... I don't know that I can do many more relay races because of the stop-and-start. Once I start, I have to keep going."

A favorite event

Thad McLaurin at the 2007
ChicagoMarathon
"Locally, the relay races that we've done, Doggettville and Massacre. At Doggettville, we're there all day long and it's just fun. We had a bunch of teams there. Some of them are somewhat competitive, but we mainly go just to have fun and celebrate running and see how many laps we can get in. The Doggetts are great, it's very relaxed, there's food, the route is pretty. ... Personally, as far as a race, Chicago (Marathon, 2007) was my favorite – and my worst. I ran it the year they had the heat wave and they shut it down. I was trying to qualify for Boston, but I got heat exhaustion. I PR'd; it was a 3:40 or something. I was on track until about Mile 18 and just fell apart because the heat was so bad. It was still an awesome experience."

Look what I did

"Grandfather Mountain (2015). I did it in 4 1/2 hours, and that was on the tail of doing two other marathons right prior to that. That was a great experience. It was challenging, but I never felt like I did in Chicago. It felt doable. I knew it was going to be an experience run. ... There wasn't a lot of stress as far as trying to beat a previous time because I knew it was a completely different animal. Our family is Scottish heritage, so when you come in there to the Highland Games, that's pretty cool. There were some families there that I had grown up with who go to the Highland Games every year, and they yelled out my name when I passed through, so that was pretty neat. That's one of my most nondescript, plainest medals, but it probably means the most."
Thad McLaurin finishing the Grandfather Mountain Marathon at the
Highland Games.

Up next

"I think I'll be able to do one (marathon) in the fall. I'm registered for Savannah (Rock 'n' Roll Marathon). We have a big group going to the Flying Pig (Cincinnati, May 7). I'm going to do the half."

Most people don't know

"I started out thinking I wanted to be an artist. I used to do a lot of drawing: pen-and-ink, color pencil, that kind of stuff. But I never really had the confidence to do that. I never took any art classes in high school. But I did a lot of drawing. ... Just like my teaching experience, then my writing experience and my art, the little bit I had, I use it all now, whether it's on the web site or the blog or the book or just creating a video for runners. I get to use a lot of those skills."

Words to the wise

"Set realistic goals. You'd be surprised how many people come and we'll have a consultation about race training. They want to do a marathon. So my next question is, 'Which one?' 'It's two months away.' 'How much running are you doing?' 'I'm not.' That's just an injury waiting to happen. ... Rest is equally as important as a speed workout. That's hard, particularly for the more competitive runners. They think that it's a weakness if they have to take a rest, but they're just setting themselves up for injury, too. You've got to be able to recover. And the older you get, you need a little more recovery."

Final thoughts

"I truly love what I do. I love being part of the running community. I love contributing to the running community, and what they give back is twofold."
Thad McLaurin's RunTheBoro series will return starting May 6.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

RunTheBoro: Some of the Best Ideas Come From the Most Unlikely Places

April 1st is usually known for April Fools Day. I'll always remember it for an unexpected day trip that blossomed into a great idea. This picture  of me having lunch outside of a Hillsborough Street Jimmy John's on the NCSU campus in Raleigh is a great reminder of this awesome day. I love this picture for so many reasons.

For one, my shirt speaks to my heart. It's my love of running that has me sitting for this picture about an hour and 20 mins from home. A client ended up having to cancel her mid morning session, so I took advantage of this unusual free time to check out Runologie, a cool independent running store I had heard about in Raleigh.

Second, it was this visit to Runologie that inspired RunTheBoro, a two-month eight-run event through the city of Greensboro.

Third, it shows that ideas can sprout when you least expect them. A little nugget of an idea can blossom into something that can affect hundreds of people in such a positive way. In just 3 months after taking this picture, RunTheBoro brought together over 300 runners, sparking new friendships, rekindling old friendships, all the while sharing history of Greensboro from the Revolutionary War, to the dawn of Civil Rights in the 1960s, to the present day revitalization of once neglected neighborhoods.

Fourth, this picture reminds this Dude to be a sponge, always receptive to new ideas. If this once nonathletic-chubby kid, sitting on the campus of NC State in Raleigh, wearing a Tar Heel 10-Miler T-shirt, after visiting a running store 70 miles from home, can return home with an idea that can affect hundreds of runners in Greensboro in an amazingly positive way, just think what other possibilities lie ahead.

RunTheBoro #2 will begin May 6th at 7:00am at RunnerDude's Fitness. Each Saturday during the months of May and June, runners will traverse over 25 different Greensboro neighborhoods and 4 different greenways. There will 12 different pace groups from 7:30 to Walking. For each run there will be a 5ish-mile route and an 8-10ish mile route. Prior to each run, historic information for the neighborhoods explored will be provided in the RunTheBoro Newsletter. (To receive this free newsletter click here.)

We are also very excited to have some local businesses as sponsors this year-Green Joe's Coffee Company, Omega Sports, Bill Black Chevrolet, Di'lishi Frozen Yogurt, Junction 311 Endurance Sports, and The Cleaning Authority. With their support we'll have RunTheBoro T-shirts for sale at the runs. A portion of the sale from the T-shirts goes to the Greenway Water Fund. This fund helps RunnerDude's Fitness provide bottled water in four coolers along the Atlantic & Yadkin Greenway year-round. We put out around 8,000-10,000 bottles of water each year for Greensboro runners. For more info and/or to make a donation to the Greenway Water Fund click here.

RunTheBoro is a free event. Come out and participate in one or all eight runs! For more information on RunTheBoro click here. To join the RunTheBoro Group Run Facebook page click here.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Goals Keep You Accountable


Just started running and find it a little daunting or have you been running for a while and find yourself in a rut? In either case, setting a running goal might be just the thing. Sometimes that little push of a commitment is all you need to get you going. Personally, I've found that setting a yearly running goals, gives me the motivation I need to keep running year-round. Plus, it gives me something to look forward to and strive for.

When you set a goal for yourself, be it a 5K, 10K, half marathon, full marathon, ultra, or whatever the distance, it gives you something tangible to aim for. Setting a goal, making-a-plan to achieve that goal, and monitoring your progress can help raise your self-confidence as you realize that you have the ability to achieve the goal.

Make sure you set a strong goal. Don't be wishy-washy. Goals like, "I'm going to run more this year" or "I'm going to train harder" really aren't very motivating and you'll quickly lose interest. However, committing to running your first 10K, half or full marathon and announcing it to the world...now that's a goal. Sometimes making your goal something that's a part of something even bigger like a charity fund-raiser can help strengthen your commitment even more.

Make your goal realistic but at the same time make it a little challenging by selecting something that's attainable, but a little beyond your comfort zone. A challenge like this will give you something to work toward as well as build and increase your strength and endurance. Be careful though not to make your goal so challenging that you'll become discouraged and quit.

Making a long-range plan will often help you avoid picking a goal that may be out of reach at-the-moment. For example, if you are a brand-new runner and you'd really like to run a marathon, make the marathon your long-range goal and make running a 5K, 10K, and/or half-marathon your short-term goal(s). This may take a little longer, but it will help ensure that you reach the long-term goal you desire so much. If you're a new runner, achieving these smaller milestones will help build your confidence as you see the progress being made working your way up the ladder.

Post your goal for all to see. Let your family, friends, and coworkers know about your goal. Knowing that others are award of your goal will make you more accountable. This positive pressure will help you get out there for a run on those days that you're not so motivated to do so. Try to recruit a buddy to join you in your challenge. Running with a buddy can be very enjoyable and you can help keep each other motivated.

Reward your efforts! Attach some kind of treat to your successful completion of your goal. You will have worked hard, so celebrate the fruits of your labor and then get to work setting your next goal.
I'd love to know about your running goals. Email them to me at runnerdudeblog@yahoo.com.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Soapbox: Fitness Apps Are Great, But...

Fitness and nutrition apps are a great way to keep track of your exercise and eating, but be careful with the nutrition info they provide. More than not, they set caloric goals way too low to sustain yoru activity level. The best advice and guidance will come from a nutritionist or a registered dietition.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Taking That Leap

I wanted to be an architect like Mr. Brady.

This morning I Facebook messaged with a friend who was telling me he was miserable in his current job. I told him to think about what was worse, being safe in his current job but miserable, or (albeit scary) taking a leap of faith and make a change and do what he really wanted to do. It made me reflect on my own past decisions.

When someone asked me as a kid what I wanted to do when I grew up, I'd usually say I wanted to be an architect. I think that was because "Mr. Brady" the dad on my favorite TV show "The Brady Bunch" (this was the 70s) was an architect. I didn't really know what that was, but it sounded cool.


My early art. Not great, but I really enjoyed drawing, It was
my escape. Probably haven't drawn anything in 20 years.
Of course I didn't become an architect, but dreaming about it was fun. As a kid, I was always making something. My poor dad. While other fathers were in the sports section of Roses (Wal-Mart of the 70s) picking out a glove, ball, or bat, my dad was in the crafts section waiting for me to pick out the next whatever I was going to make. I never had any formal art training. Never even took art in high school, but on my own, I drew. I drew a lot. Mostly pen and ink and colored pencil. I was never secure enough in my talent to take an art class or to take it in school. Ironically, kind of like sports at the time. I was scared to put myself out there.

Then all of the sudden I'm getting ready to graduate from High School and I'm expected to have a career in mind.  I really had no idea. I was accepted into App State, NCSU, and UNC-Chapel Hill. Not exactly sure why, but I chose App State. I was thinking I was going to go into "art" not knowing what that really was or meant. There's one thing about me that has always been and will always be and that is that I might not know what I want, but I definitely know what I don't want.

My first few days at App were not very good. Now keep in mind, I had really only been away from home by myself once. I was a preacher's kid and while I wasn't really sheltered I was a very naive kid. Looking back I'm pretty proud of that naivete because it really let me be a kid. Problem was that at that point in my life that naivete didn't prepare me for the first couple days of college life having drunk kids fall into my room and lots of other not-so-appropriate-things being thrown in my face full force in concentrated form on day one. Scared the heck out of me. I called home and without much detail, I told my parents that ASU just wasn't for me. My Dad, said, "Well, let me come up there tomorrow, we'll talk about it, and then we'll decide what to do." Dad arrived the next day like he promised. But when he got there, I had my room emptied and my car packed. We headed home. LOL! Like I said, I may not know what I want, but I know what I don't want. Still true today.

So coming home, my Dad said I had to have a plan. And so I did. Because school had already started, I couldn't just go to NCSU or UNC even though I had been accepted. I had to reapply. So that semester, I took evening classes at UNC while awaiting my re-acceptance status for the second semester at UNC or NCSU. I heard from NCSU first so, I headed to Raleigh with the idea I'd be a business major. First two semesters were great, then in my third semester, when I took my first "real" business class (some kind of statistics class), I thought "holy crap!" Decided then-and-there that the business route was not for me (kind of ironic since today, I'm a small business owner). I transferred to UNC-Chapel Hill as an Education major.

A letter from a student in my last 5th grade class.
Wow! She'd be about 31 now....I feel old. 
I had finally found my niche. I graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill with a BA in Intermediate Education and began my career as a 5th grade teacher in the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools. I really loved what I did. After eight years, I had an opportunity to go into educational publishing with a company based in Greensboro, NC. It was scary, to move from teaching into a more corporate setting, but it was a great blend of teaching, creating, and big business. My first leap of faith.

I was in publishing for 13 years. Loved what I did. Had worked my way from writer/editor, to Senor Editor of Intermediate Books, to  Book Development Manager, to Curriculum Manager. I got to travel some and really loved what I was doing. I thought I'd be in publishing until retirement. Then the bottom fell out of the economy in 2009 and 1/3 of the company I worked for was let go. I was a part of that 1/3. Funny how the ones with the most experience and longevity are the first to go during times like that.  Insult to injury, the company held me to a non-compete and I was not able to work in my field for 18 months. I could have fought it, but instead I took it as a sign to do what I really loved doing....running and fitness. Leap of faith #2.

So in 2009, back to school I went getting my diploma in fitness training from the National Personal Training Institute in Raleigh, my personal training certification from the American College of Sports Medicine, and coaching certifications from RRCA for marathon training and USA-TF for track and short distance running.

In 2010, I leased a 400 sq ft office space in Greeensboro, NC with (no money and no clients) and opened RunnerDude's Fitness. Leap of Faith #3. Scared to death, but excited beyond belief, I began my journey as RunnerDude. Best decision of my life. In the past seven years, that 400 sq ft has grown to 3000 sq ft and that zero client list has grow to me working with over 600 running and fitness clients. I've helped hundreds of runners reach their running goals from running for the first time to qualifying for Boston. I've crafted RunnerDude's Blog into one of the top rated running blogs in the country, being read in over 90 countries and  over 1.5 million page views, giving me the opportunity to interview running greats like Olympians Shalane Flanagan, Kara Goucher, Nick Symmonds, and Jeff Galloway as well as Runner's World's Bart Yasso.
Evolution of a Dude
Is it still scary? Heck yeah, but I love what I do. All though I didn't know it at the time, all of those life "stepping stones" helped create the person I am today. Many my age are talking about upcoming retirement, but I feel like I've just started. I'll probably be coaching runners from my hoveround on the greenway when I'm 90. :-)

Change is hard, but to grow as an individual, you need change. Your change may not be a huge career change, but whatever change comes your way, embrace it, it may bring amazing things your way. Are you due for a leap of faith?

Monday, March 6, 2017

RunnerDude Shoe Review: Hoka Bondi 5

If you've been following me on social media the past year, you may recall, that I've had quite the time finding a long run shoe that worked for me. My long run shoe of choice had been the Hoka Huaka. Then last year Hoka discontinued the shoe and I was lost. A runner without a shoe. Because I put so many miles on my feet and metatarsal issues in both feet, I can't just wear any shoe. Yes, I have very persnickety feet. So when Omega Sports (our local sports store) asked if I'd give the Hoka Bondi 5 a try, I said,YES!

Actually several years back just before starting to wear the Hoka Huaka, I had tried the Bondi. I'm not sure what number it would have been. At the time, however, that version of the Bondi didn't feel as good to me as the Huaka, so I went with the Huaka. The Bondi 5, however it nothing like the version I had tired on all those years back. If you are a runner who wore the Huaka and are familiar with the shoe, the Bondi 5 in my opinion, is a close match. The Bondi is a little wider than the Huaka and thus feel a little more stable upon foot landing. 

After logging several short runs and several moderate distance runs in the Bondi 5, I'm pleasantly pleased with my experience in the shoe. 

To back up a bit, if you're not familiar with Hoka running shoes, they are known in the industry as a provider of maximalist shoes. Around 2009-2010, with the publishing of the book, Born to Run, the barefoot and minimalist shoe running craze began. Like myself, many runners really wanted to experience the more natural running form of barefoot running or minimalist shoes, but just were not able to run with the lack of cushioning that goes with barefoot and minimalist running. I mentioned earlier that I have metatarsal issues and I also have a neuroma in both feet. As a result, I have to wear custom orthodics and a metatarsal pad in my shoes in order to run without pain. I can run a marathon in my running shoes no problem, but trying to walk across the floor barefoot can be very painful. 

The great thing about the whole barefoot running craze is the information that it revealed about natural running form. But get this.... natural running form can be achieved wearing running shoes. The problem is that traditional running shoes with a heel-to-toe drop of 12-13mm tends to promote more of a heel-strike foot landing, while natural running advocates for more of a midfoot (flat foot) or forefoot foot landing underneath your center of mass. As a result, many running shoe companies have begun lowering their heel-to-toe drop to 8mm and below in many of their standard running shoes. Problem in lowering the heel is that sometimes cushioning can be lost. 

So, enters Hoka. Hoka has engineered several different lines of what are now known as maximalist shoes which have a low heel-to-toe drop (shoes in their various lines range from 2mm to 6mm verses 12mm in a standard running shoe). Other running shoe companies also provide shoes in the same heel-drop range, but what sets Hoka apart is the stack of the shoe. Stack refers to the thickness of the shoe's sole. Stack height isn't heel height. Stack height refers to the amount of material between your foot and the ground for the entire length of the shoe. Maximalist shoes typically have around a stack height of 30mm or more. Remember that Hoka shoes heel-to-to drop ranges from 2-6mm. So the incline from from the 30mm  is at most only 6mm. Very little increased heel height. Basically, Hoka's are a low profile shoe similar to a minimalist shoe, but instead of very little between you and the road, there is a lot between you and the road.
What does this mean? Well, it means you can more easily achieve a midfoot (flatfoot) or forefoot landing) without losing the cushioning. Maximalist shoes have saved my feet tremendously on long runs. 

The most important thing that a runner has to keep in mind when switching to a maximalist shoe (and it's actually the same thing if they were considering a minimalist shoe), is that whenever you change to a shoe that is very different from the shoe you are currently wearing, you need to ease into using the shoe. DO NOT go out and run 10 miles your first run in a maximalist shoe with a lower heel-to-toe drop. You will use muscles differently in a maximalist shoe and you need to allow time for your body to acclimate. To start,  run just a mile or two your first couple of runs, then increase the distance to 3-4 miles for a week, then go to 5-6 miles. Easing into your new maximalist shoes will help avoid injury related to doing to much too soon. 

So back to my Bondi 5 review. These shoes are great! They are the most cushioned shoe line in the Hoka family. I need that cushion. But, even with all that cushion the shoe has structure. On my test runs, I definitely felt the cushion, but I never felt unsupported. I think that can be contributed to the wide platform on which the shoe is built. Hoka has provided a lot of surface area upon which to land, giving a very stable foot landing. That was one thing I didn't like too much about the Huaka. It had a  narrow platform and sometimes, if my foot hit just right, my ankle would role outward. Never experienced that in the Bondi 5. Very stable. There's also lots of room in the toe box. My toes had plenty of room to move around, but not so much that that shoe felt too loose.

I am also impressed with the construction of the shoe's tread. In my past experience with maximalist shoes, because the stack is so thick, the material used in the stack had to be very lightweight in order not to make the shoe too heavy. That light-weight material often wore down very quickly making me have to replace the shoes frequently. The Bondi 5, however has a very durable tread that covers most of the bottom of the shoe . While being very durable, it's not very heavy. Often a more durable outsole sounds clunky when your feet hit the ground, but that's not the case with the Bondi 5. The shoes feel light and sound light when running.

I'm very impressed with the Bondi 5 and look forward to many more miles in them. If you're in the Greensboro NC area, you can check out the Hoka Bondi 5 at Omega Sports on Battleground Ave. Tell them RunnerDude sent you. If you don't have an Omega Sports in your area, check them out at the official Hoka website.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Hydration and Fueling Tips for Before, During, and After the Run

"Bad" runs can occur at any time with any runner. The causes can be everything from your head just not being in the game to lack of sleep. But, more often than naught, a bad run is the result of improper hydration and/or fueling. I've compiled a few basic hydration and fueling tips in the video below. Take a look. Hope there are a few good takeaways for you. Give them a try and see you have a better run.

RunnerDude's Hydration and Fueling Tips from Thad McLaurin on Vimeo.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

RunnerDude Chats with Nick Symmonds


Over the years, I've been very fortunate in having opportunities to interview Olympic athletes. In 2012, I was able to interview Shalane Flanagan and Kara Goucher just before they headed to the London Games. Yesterday I had the opportunity to catch up with two-time Olympian, Nick Symmonds. 

Nick's first Olympic experience was at the 2008 Games in Beijing, the second taking place at the 2012 Games in London. Unfortunately, Nick was not able to make a third Olympics (Rio) due to an ankle injury just before the Games. In January, Nick announced he'd be retiring from competitive running after the 2017 outdoor season. It's been about 10 years since Nick turned pro and he's had an awesome career as a runner and his legacy will continue with his support of runners (and all endurance athletes) with his new product, Run Gum. Talking with Nick, I got to know a little more about this talented runner and outspoken advocate for athletes' rights. 
Take some time to check out the interview below to learn even more about this pretty cool Dude.

Interview with Two-Time Olympian Nick Symmonds

Friday, January 27, 2017

Need a Track for Speed Work? Pshaw!

Not doing speed work as a part of your weekly running because you don't have access to a track? Pshaw! You don't need a track!

I hear it frequently from runners. "I don't do speed work because I don't have access to a track." It's a common misconception. Because speed workout mimics most track events such as 800s or mile repeats, many runners think speed work needs to be done on a track.  Well, it doesn't.

Except for two weeks of vacation, I do a weekly speed workout with my RUNegades running group year-round! That's 50 workouts. None of those 50 workouts take place on a track. Really, all you need is a fairly straight stretch of greenway, even a parking lot will do.

You do need to think a little out of the box, but it can be done and be done very effectively. Not only is it effective, it breaks the boredom that track running often brings. For some workouts such as 400s, 800s, 1200s, mile repeats, you may need to measure and mark some distance points, but there are a ton of timed workouts that do not need specific distances marked.

For workouts like 800s or distance-based ladders or pyramids, I'll use chalk or cones to mark various distances. For 400s or 800s, I'll just put an orange cone at the beginning, end, or turnaround points. For runs with varying distances such as ladders or pyramids, I'll usually chalk every 200m. It takes a little prep time, but it works well.

But there are many workouts that are time-based that a runner can program into their GPS watch, use an interval timer, or a trusty ole stopwatch.

One of the benefits of time-based speed workouts, particularly when used with a group of varying paces, is that everyone is running the exact same amount of time. Some runners may cover more or less distance than other runners based on their pace, but everyone starts and stops at the same time. This is great because newer or slower runners won't feel like they're holding up the pack and faster more seasoned runners won't feel held back. It's a win/win.

For most of my time-based speed workouts, I have my runners complete them in a circular fashion such as around a parking lot or I'll have them do an out-n-back stretch of greenway. This works great not only because it keeps the runners in close proximity (like on a track), it also lets the runners continuously see each other. After several minutes into a workouts, runners are spread out continuously passing each other which enables them to support and cheer each other on. Awesome to see. Fast, seasoned runners get inspired by the determination of the slower, newer runners and the slower, newer runners get inspired by the seeing what the faster, more seasoned runners are able to do.

Below are some great Time-Based Non-Track Workouts to try:
Note: It's best to begin all speed workouts with an easy 1-mile warm-up run and end the workout with an easy 1-mile cool-down run.

90/60s
5 x  (Run 90 secs hard / Run 60 secs easy)
Take a 2-3 min recovery walk
5 x  (Run 90 secs hard / Run 60 secs easy)

30-20-10s
5 x (Run 30 secs very slowly / Run 20 seconds at moderate pace / Sprint 10 secs)
2-min recovery jog
5 x (Run 30 secs very slowly / Run 20 seconds at moderate pace / Sprint 10 secs)
2-min recovery jog

Up/Down Fartleks
Run 1-min hard / Run 1-min easy
Run 2-min hard / Run 1-min easy
Run 3-min hard / Run 1-min easy
Run 2-min hard / Run 1-min easy
Run 1-min hard / Run 1-min easy
Take a 2-3 min recovery walk
Run 1-min hard / Run 1-min easy
Run 2-min hard / Run 1-min easy
Run 3-min hard / Run 1-min easy
Run 2-min hard / Run 1-min easy
Run 1-min hard / Run 1-min easy

Below are some Distance-Based Non-Track Workouts to try:
Note: It's best to begin all speed workouts with an easy 1-mile warm-up run and end the workout with an easy 1-mile cool-down run.

Wind Sprints

Staggered Hill Repeats
Find  hill that's approximately a 1/2-mile in length. (Can be shorter, but a 1/2 mile works great.). Doesn't have to be extremely steep. A steady incline will work nicely.
Run up the hill for 30 secs / Turn and walk down the hill for 30 secs.
Repeat this run up / walk down staggered process until you reach the top of the hill or the 1/2-mile mark. Then easy jog back down the hill and repeat for a second cycle.

Over the course of about 4 months, I take my RUNegades group through 16 different non-track speed workouts. The above workouts are just a few of what we do. Give them a try and let me know what you think!
video

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Run with Purpose


I have not run for 4 weeks. For three weeks, I was in New Bern with my Mom and Dad. There was no time to run. My Dad was in his last days with cancer. Mom is in the beginning stages of Alzheimer's. Being with them was 24/7 for me, my brother Tim, and my daughter Rayna. I would not have wanted it any other way. Those weeks were hard, but the memories will be treasured for the rest of my life.

Last week, after my Dad's Celebration of Life service, I returned home. I did not run because I was exhausted mentally and physically. I also had this twinge of guilt when I thought about going for a run. With my Dad passing and my mom now living in assisted living, I felt guilt for running. Even though I knew that running would be good for me, relieve some stress, as well as give me time to think through and process the past several weeks, I just could not bring myself to do so.

This morning I received a wonderful instant message from one of my runners, Bobby Gettys. Like many runners during marathon training, Bobby was struggling to get past a particular mileage point. Bobby had a great 15-mile run a few weeks past, but was now struggling to get past that 15 miles and feel strong. I talked with Bobby to get a better idea about his sleeping, fueling (the night before a long run, just before, during, and after the long run) as well on what he was doing for hydration. I gave him some tips to try based on the info he shared.

This morning, I received this message from Bobby,

"I want to thank you for the advice you gave me last week about fueling...it really helped... I took a GU gel every 45 mins and I felt stronger throughout the run yesterday. I got in 18 miles yesterday... my furthest so far this training... I think sometimes my biggest problem is mental.... the long runs are so painfully long.... especially when you do it alone... when you are doing something and you know you are going to hurt afterwards.... your mind tricks you into wondering if it's really worth it... but I feel like it will all come together... thanks again for all your help and especially the good advice last week."

Bobby's note reminded me of a couple things. First, yes running (as well as many things in life) are "mental." We can sometimes be our own worst enemy. I too have to remember to "Trust. Believe. Conquer." Second, we are not alone. Even though at times we may physically be alone, we can't forget that there are so many around us ready with support. That was no more evident than when I was in New Bern receiving so much love and support from the Greensboro running community.

Bobby helped me remember my purpose. I don't only run for me. I run for others.

I will be running this week.


Thursday, January 19, 2017

Together We Can

I don't know what tomorrow will bring, but I do know that together we can overcome great obstacles.


Thursday, January 12, 2017

My Dad


Known to many as Reverend McLaurin, Pastor, or just Preacher and “Deady” to me as a small child, Dad to me as an adult, and Papa to my own kids—my dad, Horace Lee McLaurin passed away today, January 11, 2017.
My dad and I were very different people. We didn’t always see eye-to-eye on things, but it was from my dad that I learned you could disagree and still respect an individual. My dad was a United Methodist Minister. Yes, I was a “PK” (Preacher’s Kid). We moved about every 4 to 5 years whenever my dad was assigned a new church charge. Life was an adventure moving from church to church. It was hard sometimes being a PK. Your mom singing in the choir and your dad in the pulpit. Imagine your 7- or 8-year-old sitting on the front pew by himself trying to behave. It only took one Sunday at Mt. Hermon United Methodist Church, in Graham, NC (probably around 1972) for Dad to tell me (from the pulpit) to sit up and behave. I sat pretty still after that Sunday.
While of course my dad preached about Christian beliefs and the Christian faith, he also instilled in me the respect of other religions. I never heard my dad once speak ill of someone else’s faith. Now if someone tried to tell him his beliefs were wrong, then he’d get fired up. But if you respected his beliefs, then he respected yours.
I’ve struggled with organized religion the past several years. Often what I hear sitting in the pew is not what I learned from my dad. As an adult, I’ve struggled hearing from the pulpit how “these people” are wrong, “those people” are wrong. Not talking about obvious “bad” people doing horrible things, I’m talking about different cultures, and people of different beliefs.  I mentioned this to a minister at a church I use to attend and his response was “An open mind, in questions that are not ultimate, is useful. But an open mind about the ultimate foundations either of Theoretical or of Practical Reason is idiocy.” Was I an idiot for respecting the religious beliefs of others? Being accepting of people of other faiths?
The focus of my dad’s ministry was compassion, empathy, support, giving hope, and being there in times of need. His focus was not on pointing out differences, but supporting, encouraging, and being there for the people of our faith and to those wanting to know about our faith. My dad was big on visitations. He visited the mourning, the sick and the shut-ins on a weekly basis. I can’t tell you how many of my childhood vacations were either cut short or my dad had to leave early because one of the congregation was sick or had died. My dad had to be there and we understood. I think that’s why I love coaching so much. I’m able to apply what I learned growing up and watching my dad to what I do with my runners—be there, listen, provide guidance and advice.

The hymn, “Joy to the World” pretty much sums up my dad’s religious views. In fact, growing up as a kid, I remember every summer, he’d have the congregation sing the traditional Christmas hymn. He would tell them that we should be joyous year-round, not just in December. What he was conveying didn’t truly sink in until many years later after I was an adult. Sometimes I’ll find myself humming “Joy to the World” during a long run. I usually don’t realize it until I’m about halfway through the song. Just happens. In fact some of my closest moments with God are while out on a long run. There have been numerous meaningful conversations.
RunnerDude’s Fitness is in existence in large part due to my dad. He provided funds that were instrumental in helping initially start my business and for that I’m forever grateful. He didn’t really understand what I was doing, but he believed in me. “Belief” is a powerful tool. That’s why it’s a part of the RunnerDude mantra— “Trust in your Training. Believe in yourself. Conquer your goals.” I’ve tried to carry on Dad’s belief in me with my own kids. Sometimes, I may not understand what or why they are doing something or going in a certain direction, but I try to let them know that I believe in them and will support them in their ventures.
My book Full-Body Fitness for Runners was a labor of love for me, but it was my dad who said I’d write a book way before I ever thought I would. I don’t think he thought it would be a fitness book, but he believed in me as a writer and so I believed in me as a writer.
I know my dad really didn’t understand me, but I know he loved and believed in me. That’s really all it takes.
My family and I are eternally grateful to the Craven County Hospice in New Bern, NC. My dad’s nurse Diane Brideson and the nursing assistants, Denise Jones and Pat were absolutely amazing. My dad was in a lot of pain towards the end of his illness and these ladies made him feel loved, cared for, and as comfortable as possible. They also helped keep his dignity intact. They were loving, caring, respectful all the while doing all the tasks that needed to be done. One of my favorite memories of the past few weeks was when during a bed bath my dad started belting out the hymn "We Are Climbing Jacob's Ladder." My dad had a good voice but he never liked to sing in front of others and yet there he was belting out this hymn he loved. Better yet, the nurses aides Denise and Pat, joined in and the trio filled the house with music. That was a pretty amazing moment that I will always cherish. Dad had been working with these ladies and the nurse, Diane, a few weeks before I met them. I met them for the first time, a few days after Christmas. In that short while they became family. 
I am also forever grateful to my 21-year-old daughter Rayna who has been with me in New Bern helping care for my dad for about two weeks. Her love, compassion, and take-action care for Papa during his last days was truly amazing. I could not have made it without her these past few weeks. She and my brother, Tim were with Papa when he passed and I know it was a huge comfort for him being with both of them as he left this world.
My 25-year-old son Duncan kept the studio running in my absence and it was a huge relief knowing it was in his hands. I see a lot of Papa in Duncan. He's an old soul with a big heart.
My 16-year-old daughter Ellery helped my wife Mitzi keep the home front going. Love them so much.
And also a huge thanks to my brother, Tim. Together we made a great team working side-by-side these last couple weeks with dad.
As you move on in your daily lives take “Belief” with you. Belief in yourself as well as your friends and loved ones can change your life and the lives of those around you.
Thank you, Papa.



Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Congrats to the RunnerDude RunSelfie Winner-Vernette Roberson

Congrats to the #32 RunSelfie entry into the RunnerDude #RunSelfie Contest!
66 runners participated and when I entered 66 into the RandomNumberGenerator it shot out #32 which happens to be Vernette B Roberson! WeeDoggie! Congrats! Great way to start 2017! I'll have your $50 Omega Sports Gift Card ready for you next week when I return from being out of town.
Happy New Year Triad Runners!
To check out all the #RunSelfie entries click here.