Monday, November 30, 2009

How Running Changed My Life: Kathleen's Story

Kathleen from Albany, NY has a great outlook on her running as well as life. Check it out in her own words:

"I Could Never."

As a vegetarian and long distance runner, I have heard those three words over and over for more than a decade. “I could never give up meat.” “I could never run that far.”

“I could never” a self-limiting excuse masked as praise. “I’m not able to do that yet” or “I don’t have the passion to commit to that” is what many people mean to say. By saying “I could never," they subconsciously shut down their potential by telling themselves they're not capable of achieving anything they put their minds to.

When I finished my half marathon I officially crossed “I could never”off of the list of things I say. I can choose a goal, and I can commit the time to achieving it. If I am passionate about my goal, I have the motivation to succeed.

For me, running a half marathon means “I could never” limit myself again.—Kathleen • Albany, NY

Kathleen, your story reminds me of a saying I used to hear as a kid, "Can't never could." You're exactly right. A person definitely puts himself/herself at a disadvantage when he/she says, "I could never." Sometimes when you set a goal, you don't make it, but that's a part of the learning process. If you never try, your never learn and you miss out on a whole lot of run along the way! You just proved my theory! I'm thinking we should change the old saying from "Can't never could." to "Can't always should." Thanks Kathleen!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Periodization Training for Runners!

Periodization is a fancy word for training cycles. The sports world (particulary football, baseball, basketball, and soccer) has made use of periodzation training for decades. You've just heard it called pre-season, in-season, post-season, off-season.

To use even fancier words, periodiazation training is broken down in to the following cycles:
• Macrocycle—The macro cycle is "the big picture." It's the entire year of training. Or if your training for something specific such as a marathon, it could be for a specific period of time such as 4 months. If you're an Olympian, your macrocycle might be as long as 4 years!
• Mesocycle—2 or more mesocycles (depending on the needs of the athlete) make up a macrocycle. The mesocycles are the pre-, in-, post-, and 0ff-seasons. They ususally last anywhere from several weeks to several months.
• Microcycle—2 or more microcycles make up a Mesocycle. A microcycle is typically a week long, but could last up to 4 weeks. The microcycle consists of the daily workouts.

If you're running track or cross-country in high school or college a more traditional pre-, in-, post-, and off-season training approach will work fine. Traditional running periodization plans typically consist of a base-building phase, a sharpening phase, and taper phase. This works really well for a marathon when you have a 4-month training window. But if you're a year-round runner with competitions scattered throughout the year, what do you do? Even if you don't have particular races in mind, most runners want to get better, be more efficient, and improve their running techinque year-round. Lack of variety and high mileage (even if it's low-intensity) day after day tends to increase your chance of injury.

More of a Multi-Pace/Multi-Volume Periodization approach may be the answer. This approach to periodization includes high-volume/low-intensity, low-volume/mid-intensity, and low-volume/high-intensity throughout the year and doesn't break it up into distinct phases. Depending on your particular goals for the year (i.e., 5K, 10K, half-marathon, marathon, ultra) you'll incorporate more of a particular volume and/or intensity geared for that goal when you need it, but even during your "off-time" or "in-between-race-time" you'll still be incorportating a variety of workouts into your routine. Implementing a multi-pace/multi-volume approach may even drop your overall total miles logged, but remember, it's not the amount of miles you're logging that's important, it's the quality of those miles.

High-volume/low-intensity workouts consist of longer slow runs (your Saturday-morning long run at an easy pace). Low-volume/mid-intensity workouts are comprised of tempo runs where a portion of the run is run just below race-pace. Low-volume/high-intensity workouts are comprised of speed work consisitng of intervals, fartleks, or hill work. The duration of these workouts will be short, but very intense.

The goal of multi-pace/multi-volume periodization is to get your body acclamated to and maintain a certain level of endurance as well as speed throughout the year. Then when you have a particular race to train for, you're not starting from ground zero. You'll be able to fine-tune what you're already doing to meet the particular demands of your event. A specific type of training may be emphasized in each mesocycle of your race training, but you'll still be incorporating all the types of training (long runs, tempo runs, speedwork). For example if your training for a 5K, there will be more stress placed on increasing your VO2 max, speed, strength, and power. If you're triaining for a marathon, the focuse will be on endurance and race-pace running so, your long runs will be longer and your tempo runs will be longer, but you'll still have some speedwork in your plan which will help especially around mile 20 when you may need to kick it up a knotch to fight off muscle fatigue.

Multi-pace/multi-volume year-round training helps you fine-tune your training to meet your specific needs. Have a good pace, but no endurance? You can ramp up the endurance workouts in your training. Have the endurance, but you can't keep a steady pace? You can make pace the focus of your training no matter the distance. The chart below shows a sample month from a RunnerDude Multi-Pace/Multi-Volume year-round training plan.

There are some racing training plans available (such as FIRST) that make use of more of a integral approach to training which include, distance, speed, and pace workouts that dovetail nicely into a multi-pace/multi-volume year-round periodization plan. Many of my running buddies have used FIRST with awesome success.

The main thing to keep in mind, is that all runners are different and there really is no right or wrong method, but if you want something that may decrease your chance of injury as well as have more of a customizable element, you may want to consider adopting a multi-pace/multi-volume approach to training.

Two more aspects of training that should not be ignored are resistance training and plyometric training. Runners should not shy away from resistance training. If done the right way, it can greatly enhance your strength, stability, balance, and form. The focus of resistance training for runners should be on muscle endurance. This involves using lighter weights (less than 67% your 1 rep max), higher reps (12-15), and less rest (30 seconds or less) in between sets.
Plyometrics is a fancy word for exercises designed to increase speed and power. Plyometric exercises involve jumping, leaping, or hopping movements such as jumping rope, jump squats, burpees, and bounding. Adding 30 minutes of resistance training and/or plyometrics training 1-3 times a week into your weekly routine is a great way to improve your overall strength, endurance, and speed. Plyometrics for Athletes At All Levels (Ulysses Press, 2006) is a great resource for plyometric exercises.

Caution: always warm-up before doing any resistance or plyometric workouts. Hop on the treadmill, elliptical machine, or bike for 8-10 minutes before your workout and then you'll be good to go.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

And the Winner Is....

The lucky winner of the New Balance 905 Drawing was Kelly Ridgway from California! She was the 168th entry and that was the lucky number drawn by the True Random Number Generator.

There was a great response to the contest! I'd like to send a genuine thanks to each and every participant and for those that helped to spread the word about the contest! I'd also like to thank New Balance for providing such an awesome prize! New Balance Rocks!!

Keep your eyes peeled for the next RunnerDude Contest coming in December!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Tis The Season: Great Gift Ideas for Runners!

Okay, today's Black Friday—the biggest shopping day of the year. If you're like some, you've been up since midnight and you're already on your 10th store hitting all the sales with no mercy. Or if you're like me, you're as far away from a crowded shopping mall as you can get.

Either case, it is the time of the year to be thinking of gifts for your loved ones. And, if they're runners, why not treat them to something they can use while pounding the pavement (or the trail) in 2010? Or maybe you're the one who's the runner and you're struggling with gift ideas to pass along to your family members. Whichever is the case, below are some great running gift-buying tips, gift ideas, and websites you may want to check out.

Gift-Buying Tips for Runners:
1. Runners are extremely picky about their shoes (or if they're like my barefoot running friend, Josh, they won't have any need for shoes). Don't buy shoes for runners unless they've specifically expressed exactly what shoe brand and model to buy. If you definitely know that someone needs running shoes, but you're not sure what to get, then a gift certificate to your local running store or for one of the many online running stores is your best bet.
2. Items that meet a runner's fueling or hydration needs are a good bet, but check to see if your runner prefers a handheld water bottle or a hydration belt before making a purchase.
3. Running Apparel is always a good idea, but pay close attention to the types of running clothes worn by your runner. Some runners prefer longer, baggy shorts, while others like them just above the knee, and still others like the shorter racing style of shorts. For colder climates, try to find out if your runner likes traditional-fitting or looser-fitting running tights. Be sure to buy clothes made of technical fabrics that breathe and allow sweat/moisture to be whisked away. Avoid buying anything made of cotton.
4. Is your running friend always complaining of sore muscles? Then maybe a gift certificate for a sports massage is just what he/she needs!
5. If you've racked your brain and you still can't come up with any gift ideas for your runner, think about purchasing the services of a running coach/trainer for an upcoming race your loved one/friend has been talking about. Check around, you may be able to buy a gift certificate for the services that could be used anytime during the upcoming year. To find an certified RRCA running coach in your area [click here].

Great Stocking-Stuffers for Runners:
Training-related and/or inspirational running books
Running log or journal
Sports watch
Gloves, hats, neck muff, and/or hand and feet warmers
Sports Gels (Gu, Power Gel, Accel Gel, Hammer, Sports Beans, etc.)
Energy Bars (Clif, Power Bar, Balance, etc.)
Gift certificate to a favorite running store
Running socks
Identification Jewelry (RoadID)
Gift certificate to your runner's favorite post-run bagel or coffee shop

Running Gift Ideas:
RoadID: Identification bracelets, necklaces, and more. A must have for every runner!
PaceTat: Race pace tattoos for most race distances and any pace!
CEP Socks: Compression socks are perfect for enhancing performance & aiding in recovery. Use the coupon code "Runnerdude" and receive a 10% discount on your order.
The Stick: Massage tool great for the relief of muscle soreness, pain, and injury
Hydration Belts: Perfect for carrying water or sport drink on those long runs
Handheld Water Bottles: Perfect for shorter runs
Pocket Pedometers: A variety of pedometers some with PC software
Inspired Endurance: Jewelry for the endurance runner
Timex Ironman Watches: One of the most dependable watches a runner can have!
GPS for Runners: Tracks time, name it!
Heart rate monitor: One of the best ways to know you're training at the right intensity
Hand and Feet Warmers: Perfect for the runner who complains of cold hands and/or feet!
Custom-made Granola: Perfect for the picky-eater runner
Custom-Made Granola Bars: Perfect for the picky-eater runner on the go!
Seat Shield: Waterproof, odorproof seat covers
Lock Laces: Elastic lacing system
Running Funky: Uniquely colorful activewear
Transpack: Athletic backpack
Running Diva Gift Bag: Loaded with running gear just for her
Frosty Runner Gift Bag: Loaded with gear for the cold-weather runner
Marathon Training Gift Bag: Loaded with gear for the marathon trainer
For U Mothers: Gifts for mothers who run
Well Baskets: Gift baskets for the nutritional needs of athletes
Skirt Goddess: Running Apparel for women
Mission On!: Skin care products for athletes
Baby Jogger: For the mom and/or dad that wants to take Jr. along for the run
Cafe Press: T-shirts, sweat shirts, mugs, stickers, etc.

Great Sites for Running Shoes, Apparel, Gear, & More:

Thursday, November 26, 2009

A RunnerDude's Thanksgiving

I’m thankful for my running shoes that take me oh so far.
I’m even thankful for the trails from which my knees have scars.

I’m thankful for PB&J’s that fuel my morning runs.
I’m thankful for the metatarsal pad, for without it I couldn’t run.

I’m thankful for techno fabrics, Vaseline, and Bodyglide.
I’m thankful for the GOFAR Kids whose first 5K filled me with pride.

I’m thankful for my running buddies who share an encouraging word.
I’m thankful I broke a 5K 20, a goal which once seemed absurd.

I’m thankful for my Nike watch with the extra big numbers I can see.
I’m thankful for that finish line whose sight fills me with glee.

I’m thankful for the bounty of pasta, rice, and bread.
I’m thankful for the days when my feet don’t feel like lead.

I’m thankful for Dr. Fields—my injuries he has tended.
I’m thankful for Ibuprofen and the many things it’s mended.

I’m thankful for compression socks and how quick they speed recovery.
I’m thankful for UFL and its Gatorade discovery.

I’m thankful for the burst of carbs I get from taking a Gu.
I’m thankful for the 20-milers when I’m not in need of a loo.

I’m thankful for the ice baths that make me want to scream.
I’m thankful for Boston that provides me with a dream.

I’m thankful for post-run fellowship around a cup-o-joe.
I’m thankful for the days I run, even if I’m slow.

I’m thankful for my solo runs that bring me inner peace.
I’m thankful for the blog ideas that seem to never cease.

I’m thankful for my family that supports this crazy runner.
I’m thankful for my NPTI buddies who’ve made life so much funner.

I’m thankful for the readers and their generous dialogue.
And, I'm thankful for their stories that inspire me to blog.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Check Out RunnerDude on Fitter U Fitness Blog!

A couple of weeks ago, I had the pleasure of meeting Yuri Elkaim during the Runners Round Table podcast on Stretching. I've followed Yuri on Twitter and often check out his blog, so it was cool to actually talk to him a bit over the phone. For those of you not familiar with Yuri, he's a former professional soccer player, author and fitness/wellness expert. He's also the founder and owner of Total Wellness Consulting, hosts a blog Fitter U Fitness, and has written Eating for Energy and Nutrition for Runners as well as articles in Beyond Fitness magazine, Impact magazine, and Fitness Business Canada magazine.

Keep an eye out for my review of Eating for Energy in the near future.

Yuri asked if I'd like to contribute a monthly guest post about running to Fitter U Fitness Blog. A chance to write about running and fitness?! Of course I said, "Yes!" When you have a chance, check out my first post "Moving on Up...8 Great Tips for Improving Your Running." While your there, be sure to check out Yuri's other posts on the blog as well as his other publications and services.

Monday, November 23, 2009

How Running Changed My Life: Jordan's Story

Jordan, unlike many, realized at an early age he needed to change to a healthier lifestyle. But like so many, he also found that sticking to a healthy lifestyle is a life commitment. In his own words, here's Jordan's story.

Born and raised in Michigan, I was the “class clown” in high school, and my figure was Farley-esque. I even imitated the old Saturday Night Live Chippendales sketch during a high school talent show! In college, I never taught myself how to eat right, skipping breakfast every day, and stuffing myself silly at lunch and dinner. At one point during college, I had over 200 pounds packed onto my 5′6″ frame.

The extent of my cooking skills boiled down to… boiling pasta. Not knowing portion control, I used to eat an entire BOX in a sitting! Preparing for a summer vacation, I rode a bike and started running. Out of shape, all I could do was jog the straightaway on a track, then I would lose my breath and walk the curve.

During and after the vacation, I ate and drank all the weight back on. Once I got out of college, I worked a job as a door to door salesman, and had cheap fast food for lunch EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.

In a job I hated, gaining more and more weight, things were not going well. I remember standing in my room after a shower one day, holding my enormous gut, thinking, “This is not good, and has to change.”

I realized I was wasting my life and would die prematurely if I kept up my ways. I began a new job, and during my lunch breaks I would jog around the office.

In October 2006, I ran my first 5k. I got hooked on the excitement and energy of a race, the feeling of accomplishment. I made it my 2007 New Year’s Resolution to run the Detroit Marathon. I stopped devouring huge meals, and instead devoured material on fitness.

Alternating days of cardio with free weights, along with bikram yoga and trying to learn to swim, the weight flew off. I learned how to cook, control my portions, and listen to my body.
By October 2007, I’d lost 45 pounds, and completed the Detroit Marathon, a crowning achievement for me.

Content with my accomplishment, I eased up on running. I partied hard, eating a “pre-game” meal (to “soak up” the alcohol), having my booze, and of course, the post-drinking meal (affectionately known as “late nite” or “4th meal”).

My performance began to slip at work, worse and worse each month, and at the end of January 2009 I was fired. I fell into a tailspin, deciding on a whim to move to Chicago, without any job prospects, direction, or motivation. For months I would go out, living off my unemployment and savings, trying to drink and eat my problems away. I considered myself the modern day Peter Pan.

The number in my bank account reached $0.00, the number on the scale reached 170, and I turned 25. I realized I didn’t have any control over that last number, but was fully responsible for the first two. I accepted the reality of my situation, and worked to change it. I began running again in earnest, and spent more time applying for jobs.

Slowly but surely, I am removing the nasty unhealthy habits that have snuck into my life, and replacing them with healthy ones. I have learned that it is often harder to keep lost weight off than it is to lose it in the first place. It is a challenge I fully accept. I have armed myself with a new list of goals to accomplish and races to run.

Settled into Chicago and beginning a new job in October 2009, it’s full steam ahead. I hope you follow along my trials, tribulations, miles and smiles from here to the Chicago 2010 Marathon!

Thanks for sharing your story Jordan! Health is a life-long commitment. It's tough at times, but you're well on your way to a long, healthy, and happy life. Kudos to you for your stick-to-it-ness!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

The Curtain Falls on Movie Popcorn!

I'm not sure what was the bigger surprise last night—my 14-yr-old daughter getting me to go with her to see New Moon (the latest Twilight movie) or coming home afterwards and reading an article about how bad the tub of popcorn (we had just eaten) was for me. The article was in a newsletter I subscribe to—Nutrition Action Health Letterthat's published by the Center for Science in the Public Interest. If you've never read it, you should check it out.

The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) was founded in 1971. It's an independent nonprofit consumer health group that's supported by subscribers to the newsletter and foundation grants. CSPI accepts no government or industry funding and the newsletter accepts no advertising. CSPI advocates honest food labeling and advertising and safer and more nutritious foods. Their information is pretty solid without bias towards any particular group.

So, back to my "big surprise." I had received the December issue of Nutrition Action, but hadn't had time to read it yet. So, after the movie, I plopped down on the sofa and pictured right on the cover of the newsletter was a huge tub of popcorn. This got my full attention because I had just had that same tub in my lap about 30 minutes earlier. The headline on the cover read, "BIG—Movie Theaters Fill Buckets...and Bellies." The article begins, "Ready to sit back and enjoy the movie? Not yet. First, the theater is hoping you'll stop by the concession stand for a snack. You know, something, say, a bucket of popcorn with the calories of a Hamburger plus a Quarter Pounder plus a Big Mac at McDonalds." I started to feel nauseous as all that popcorn began to churn in my stomach.

I took a deep breath and kept reading to discover that you can go from 400 to 1,200 calories depending on the size of popcorn. The candy options range from 300 to 1,100 empty calories and soda calories range from 150 to 500 calories! The stomach started churning again. I did feel a little resolve for I only had a popcorn. (Okay, it was a large, but I didn't have candy and I split the popcorn with my daughter. Plus we shared a Diet Coke. I'm such a good dad.)

This new revelation wasn't sitting too well with me because I was still fuming from the amount I spent for just popcorn ($6.50) and a soda ($4.50)! When I was handed the soda it felt light, so I popped the lid to discover it was 3/4 full. So I showed it to the manager, who promptly said, "I'm sorry sir." and then plopped in another scoop of ice! No lie! I took a deep breath, counted to 3 (1...2...3...), and then said, "Excuse me, Sir. I didn't want more ice, I want the $1.13 part of my soda that's missing." Luckily, the manager chuckled, and gave me a new, completely full soda (all $4.50 worth!). Of course my daughter's rolling her eyes while all of this is happening, cause she scared she's going to miss some of the movie.

So, now on top of having to take out a bank loan for the movie refreshments, I discover I just ate enough fat and calories for the next day and I haven't even had diner yet. The Nutrition Action article reports on a little investigative work it did to uncover the truth about movie snacks. Popcorn and topping samples from Regal Entertainment Group, AMC Theaters, and Cinemark were sent to an independent lab for analysis. Each theater provided nutrition information for its snacks. To make sure the test was accurate and fair, three different samples from three different theaters for each company were analyzed.

I never thought of movie popcorn as being healthy and I knew it was fattening, but I never expected to see the numbers that the study revealed.

Small Pop Corn
Regal11 cups; popped in coconut oil; 34g sat fat; 670 calories; 550mg sodium (1Tbs. "buttery" topping adds—130 calories; 2g sat fat)
AMC6 cups; popped in coconut oil; 20g sat fat; 370 calories; 210mg sodium (1Tbs. "buttery" topping adds—120 calories; 2g sat fat)
Cinemark8 cups; popped in non-hydrogenated canola oil; 2g sat fat; 420 calories; 690mg sodium (1Tbs. "buttery" topping adds—130 calories; 2g sat fat)

Medium Pop Corn
20 cups; popped in coconut oil; 60g sat fat; 1,200 calories; 980mg sodium (1.5 Tbs. "buttery" topping adds—200 calories; 3g sat fat)
AMC9 cups; popped in coconut oil; 33g sat fat; 590 calories; 330mg sodium (1.5 Tbs. "buttery" topping adds—180 calories; 3g sat fat)
Cinemark14 cups; popped in non-hydrogenated canola oil; 3g sat fat; 760 calories; 1,240mg sodium (1.5 Tbs. "buttery" topping adds—200 calories; 3g sat fat)

Large Pop Corn
RegalSame as the Medium. The medium comes in a bag and the large comes in a tub which looks bigger because it's tapered at the top, but it's not. With the large, you do get free refills. (2 Tbs. "buttery" topping adds—260 calories; 4g sat fat)
AMC16 cups; popped in coconut oil; 57g sat fat; 1,030 calories; 580mg sodium (2 Tbs. "buttery" topping adds—240 calories; 4g sat fat)
Cinemark17 cups; popped in non-hydrogenated canola oil; 4g sat fat; 910 calories; 1,500mg sodium (1.5 Tbs. "buttery" topping adds—260 calories; 5g sat fat)

Surprising, huh? At least our movie was at a Cinemark, so our popcorn was popped in non-hydrogenated canola oil and the entire tub only had 4g of saturated fat and we only ate about 2/3 of the bucket. (Okay, I'm just trying to justify our bad snack, but hey, for the sake of precious father-daughter time...I guess it was worth it.)

Luckily, I can't afford to go to the movies very often, but next time I do, I'm thinking I may have to smuggle in some Orville Redenbacher's Smart Pop! 1 bag of Smart Pop only has 260 calories and 4 grams of fat (only 1 of which is saturated).

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Get-Up And Brush Yourself Off!—10 Tips for Staying Motivated When Injured

Ever have one of those days where no matter what you do, no matter how hard you plan or prepare, all goes caflooie? Study all night only to sleep through your alarm the next day and miss the test. Go to that got-it-in-the-bag interview only to be rejected because you're over qualified? Train right, eat right, sleep right only to miss that long-awaited marathon because of food poisoning from the pasta dinner the night before? It's almost as if life is a big prankster and you're the butt of it's joke.

When the "Prankster" enters your life, you have two choices—1. Let the Prankster win by beating yourself up, or 2. Get-up, brush yourself off and use the experience to make yourself a stronger person. Think about it. If you never experience those bumps in the road along the way, how are you going to deal with that whopping-pothole-of-a-curve-ball that life will inevitably throw your way at some point?

This same philosophy applies to running. Some runners are very lucky (or just have great genetics) and never experience any injuries. While others have injury after injury after injury. If and when that injury comes knocking at your door, be prepared to meet it head on. Don't let it get you down. Be prepared for the doc to say, "No, running for a month." Yikes! Yep, sometimes no running is the best way to recover. But no running doesn't always mean no physical activity. If the doc says no running, then follow-up by asking, "What can I do?" You may very well be able to swim, use the elliptical machine, the row machine, the bike, or the treadmill for walking. Staying physically active during a injury-recovery period is one of the best ways to help keep the no-running blues at bay. It won't make up for no running, but it definitely helps.

If the Prankster knocks at your door with a running injury, try hitting it head-on with one or all of the ten motivation tips below!

1. Ask the doc what other types of cross-training you can do during your recovery period.
2. Work on strengthening your core. A strong, solid core can actually help prevent future injuries.
3. If the doc okays it, join a yoga or Pilate's class for runners to help increase your strength, flexibility, and stability.
4. Use this down-time to fine-tune your nutrition.
5. Stick to your same workout routine, just replace the running with the cross-training activities. This will help keep some normalcy in your life.
6. Surround yourself with your running friends. Just because you're injured, don't stop meeting your running buddies for the after-run bagels and coffee. Their support and motivation during your recovery period will help more than you know. If you're able to walk, during your recovery period, plan on still meeting your buddies for your weekly long run. You'll do a long walk, but you'll still be in your same routine, surrounded by your support network of running buddies.
7. Set a goal for when you recover. Make plans for that race you've been wanting to do. Be sure to set realistic goals allowing enough time for your injury to heal and then for the time that it will take for you to get back up to speed before training for the event.
8. Head to the library or your local book store and stock up on running motivation books such as Once a Runner, Running with the Buffaloes, or Running the Spiritual Path or read up on a new or different method of running such as Chi Running, Brain Training for Runners, Run for Life, or Running Until You're 100.
9. Connect with other runners around the country and the world through running social sites such as,,,, and
10. Prepare yourself for your "Return." If you've not run for several weeks, you'll need to prepare yourself for a gradual return. Depending on your injury and what your doc has advised, your return doesn't necessarily mean you have to run slower. Running too slowly can actually aggravate an injury. Of course 800 repeats at the track at a sub 5K race pace probably isn't a good idea, but running at your normal pace is probably fine. Take walking breaks when you need to. Gradually you'll be able to decrease the walking breaks. The bigger factor to keep in mind is distance. A good rule of thumb is to start back with about half the weekly mileage you had prior to the injury. Then depending on how you're doing, gradually add to your mileage each week, until you're back to your pre-injury mileage. It's also a good idea to run every-other-day instead of back-to-back days during this return-to-running phase of your recovery. Remember, slow-and-steady wins the race.

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Friday, November 20, 2009

Healthy Muffins: Perfect Pre-Run Fueling for Runners!

My fellow blogger friend, Jeff Picket, the host of Life Isn't Over at 40 or Any Age has graciously shared another easy-to-make recipe perfect for runners or anyone trying to stay fit. This time Jeff is showing us how to make a healthy version of blueberry muffins providing the complex carbs perfect for fueling your run. These muffins are great to eat for breakfast, a pre- or post-run snack, or just as a healthy snack during the day. Make up a bunch and freeze the extra so you'll have a ready supply of healthy fuel.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Runners Round Table Podcast: Stretching and Other Running Topics!

Check out the Runners Round Table podcast below recorded live on 11/18/09 with runners from the US, England, and Canada. RunnerDude was greatly honored to be invited to co-host the podcast along with Toni, host of her blog, and Melisa, host of her blog, We talked with the featured guest, Yuri Elkaim - athlete, author and Fitness/Wellness Expert. A former professional Soccer player, Yuri is the founder and owner of Total Wellness Consulting, hosts a blog Fitter U Fitness, and has written Eating for Energy ( and Nutrition for Runners ( as well as articles in Beyond Fitness magazine, Impact magazine, and Fitness Business Canada magazine.

The pod cast is about 50 minutes and well worth the listen. Yuri and the group discussed the difference between dynamic stretching and static stretching and the importance of stretching for injury prevention. Yuri discussed his approach of incorporating more raw fruits and vegetables into your diet and consuming foods in their "unprocessed" state and how doing this improves your training and recovery time. The group also briefly discussed interval training and how it can benefit all runners' training.

To Listen to the podcast, just click on the green circle below.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Holiday Weight Gain: How To Avoid It!

The holiday season is just around the corner! This is the time of year that many of us fear gaining a few extra pounds. Actually a recent study found that we don't actually gain as much weight over the holidays as we think, but hold's the bad tends to have a cumulative effect over the years and may be a major contributor to obesity later in life.

Government statistics show that more than half of all adult Americans are overweight (based on body mass index). 54.9% of Americans have a body mass index of 25 or more. A BMI of 25-29 is considered overweight. 22.3% have a BMI of 30 or higher and are considered obese.

Previous studies show that as adults, Americans tend to gain an average of 0.4-1.8 pounds each year. Scientist weren't sure if this weight gain was spread over the course of the year or if it was gained at specific times during the year such as the holiday season.
Guess what the study showed? Drum-roll, please!......
Many think they gain 5-10 lbs between Thanksgiving and New Year's, but but the study (done by Researchers at the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases) found that most people gain about a pound (1.05 lb)between October and late February or early March. Most of that weight gain (0.8 lb) occurred during the six-week interval between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day.
Not surprisingly, study participants who were much more active during the study were less likely to gain weight over the holiday. Some actually lost weight. Participants who were less active during the holiday period had the greatest holiday weight gain.

So how do you maintain your weight over the holidays? Run! Workout! Be active! Also keep in mind calories in and calories out. To gain a pound in one week, you have to ingest 3500 calories above what you normally ingest during a week. That's an extra 500 calories a day. That sounds like a lot, but keep in mind that one slice of pecan pie has 500-800 calories! Does that mean skip the pie? Nah....but what it does mean is that you need to be aware of what you're eating as well as uping your activity level to help keep a balance between those calories in and calories out.

Maybe Christmas Eve is the big family meal for you, or maybe it's New Year's Day. Whatever it is, think about saving up for those extra calories by eating a little lighter the days leading up to the big feasting day while at the same time keeping up your running and exercise routines.

Remember that higher-intensity workouts are going to be better for burning those extra calories. So during the holiday season, add a few more interval workouts into your routine. You can do this at a track or right on the treadmill at home or in the gym. Just throwing in some fartleks into your regular 5-miler will help up the intensity too. Resistance training is another great way to up your metabolism and burn more calories. So hit the gym and lift some free weights.

Don't deprive yourself for those special holiday treats, but think moderation and stay active. Run! Run! Run!

Monday, November 16, 2009

How Running Changed My Life: Kathleen's Story

Kathleen, like many runners, had a previous life when running much less runner would not have even been in her vocabulary. Me run? Ha! Ha! Ha! But like many, Kathleen decided to turn her life around by losing weight. This lead to many more things for Kathleen. In her own words, here's Kathleen's story.

How has running changed my life? I always hated to run. I hated the side stitch. I hated the panting. Most of all I hated the pain (and embarrassment and street harassment) from bouncing without adequate support. So I didn't run unless I had to. Like when the gym coach was yelling at me or (much later, of course) needed to chase after my children.

The natural consequences of not running—aging, childbearing and about 20 years of eating (not so well)—were that I managed to go from being an unathletic, but generally healthy young person, into an obese 40-something.

I didn't plan on running; I did decide I was going to lose weight. After about 50 pounds of weight loss, during which I was walking (uphill, on the treadmill) for my exercise, I went to the doctor for a physical. He asked about my exercise, and I told him about my walking. He said, "Do you think you could speed it up a bit? Maybe run?" I'm thinking, "No frickin' way!" But the seed had been planted. I knew people who were runners. A few of them were just moms like me.

Around this same time, my weight loss stalled a bit. So, I figured—what the heck. I'll run. It might help. The first thing I did was experiment until I found a chest-binding system that actually worked (two bras, two T-shirts). Then I just got out there. At first, I couldn't run for even a quarter of a mile without stopping. So I jogged as long as I could. Then walked. Then jogged again. Instead of going fast and getting winded and then discouraged as I had done in the past, I started off slowly. I concentrated on time spent running, not worrying about the fact that I was going really slowly.
Within two months of starting running, I was able to run for 30 minutes straight. A few months after that, I could do long runs of more than two hours. I learned by reading books by John Bingham, Suzy Favor Hamilton and Jeff Galloway. And I'd read the running blogs, of course, even though most people who blog about running actually have some talent (or at least speed) at it. I, on the other hand, do not. I'm definitely a middle- to back-of-the-pack runner. But I love it.
I love feeling my muscles ache and then strengthen. I love the layer of salt that covers me after a long run. I love the better sleep, the energy boost, the little endorphin rush that comes afterwards. Through running, I've also made peace with my body. Losing the amount of weight that I have (90 pounds) has shaken up my life in some ways, as I look dramatically better than I did before and that affects my interactions with others. But running lets me focus on the more important things about my body—what it can do.—Kathleen

90 lbs! That's amazing Kathleen! Kudos to you! And look at you now, running 2-hour long runs! That's awesome! Every time I have a salt-encrusted run, I'll be thinking of your determination and drive! Thanks for sharing your story! Be sure to check out Kathleen's blog!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

What Motivates You To Go On Cold Winter Runs?

Ah, the nip is in the air (well not really, today it's almost 70°F here in NC). Oh, but I know it will be here to stay soon enough. We've already had a few cold-spell teases. Winter is always a challenge for me to run. I'm a warm-weather runner by nature. I run year-round, but it's just harder for me to get myself up and run in 25° temps. I know, I die-hard northern runners as well as my Canadian and Northern European friends are all laughing at me and my "wuss-ness", but my body just prefers running in warmer weather. Many of my running buddies love it when the cold weather arrives—I'm not as thrilled.

Don't get me wrong. I don't love the humid North Carolina dog-days of August, but I do like the warmer temps. The shorter days also make it harder to run during the winter months. So, I can either hang-up my running shoes for 4 months or I can dig deep for motivation to get out there and run. I choose to dig deep.

Earlier this month, I posted the 12 Tips for Cold Weather Running . Those are important tips to keep you healthy and safe during your winter runs, but in looking back at that post, I realized I left out the most important tip—Motivation. You don't really need to worry about fueling-up, frostbite, drying off, and wearing bright colors, if you're not actually running. So, tip #1 for Cold Weather Running is "Find Your Motivation."

For you cold-weather lovers, this won't be hard to do. You probably already pop-up at the crack-of-dawn raring to go! Even if it's 2° outside! For the rest of us, we need to dig deep. What motivates you to don 4 layers of clothing, gloves, hat, and a headlamp?

The flood of "feel-good chemicals" is what motivates me to get going on those really cold days. No matter how hard it is to get up and no matter how uncomfortable it is to run in a multitude of wet layers of clothing, I know that if I don't get the natural boost of "feel-good chemicals" (more scientifically known as endorphins) flowing through my body, I'll have one miserable day. There's nothing better for me than that warm shower after a cold run. I feel revitalized and my brain is warmed-up and ready for the day. Research has actually shown that your "brain power" increases after exercise. On days that I don't run, I feel like I'm walking around in a fogbank. So I just ask myself, "Want a fogbank day or a great day?" I opt for the great day.

Winter Motivation Prize Drawing!
What motivates you to run during the cold winter months? RunnerDude Would like to know. Send your winter running motivation tip to by November 30th and your email will be entered in a drawing for a $25 gift certificate to RoadRunner Sports. Be sure to put "Motivation" in the subject line and put your name in the body copy of the email. Each email will be assigned a different number based on the order that the emails are received. The winning number will be selected by The True Random Number Generator at . The winner will be announced on December 1, 2009. After the winner is announced a post will added to the blog featuring all the motivation tips along with contributors' names. "Whatcha" waiting for? Email RunnerDude today!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Kids Complete Fitness Program and Run Their First 5K!

If you've been following the blog, you may remember a post about a wonderful nonprofit organization called GO FAR (Go Out For a Run). GO FAR is a comprehensive fitness program for children which promotes physical activity, healthy eating and good character. The goal of the GO FAR program is to empower children to make healthy lifestyle choices that they may integrate and sustain throughout their entire life. Specifically, GO FAR teaches children to set and reach goals and complete a 5K road race. GO FAR was developed in response to the childhood obesity epidemic.

Today I had the wonderful privilege of attending the 7th Annual GO FAR 5K Fall race held in High Point, NC. 1000 runners (a record crowd) ran the race. About 75% of the runners were kids and the other 25% were coaches, volunteers, and parents. The success of the race is a result of the GO FAR kids, their great mom's and dads, teachers and the dedicated volunteers and wonderful sponsors.

What a wonderful experience of accomplishment for the kids, coaches, parents, and volunteers. I didn't know any of the runners, but my heart swelled with pride as I watched them cross that finish line. It was truly inspiring seeing their beaming faces as they finished and received their medals.

GO FAR is not just a program for North Carolina. The organization has already branched out to other states and it hopes to grow even more. To find out more about starting a GO FAR Club in your area [click here]. To get a sampling of what a GO FAR 5K race is like, check out the video clip below that RunnerDude filmed of today's festivities!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Be a Healthy Role Model For Your Kids—Run!

One of the best ways to ensure a healthy lifestyle for your kids is to live by example. My daughter just recently emerged from the mysterious, dark, oddly scary, sometimes demonic stage of a 13-year-old. I'm happy to say she survived (as did myself and my wife) and she's now a beautiful blossoming 14-yr-old freshman in high school.

During this phase of the battle-of-the-wills, you probably think your child (son or daughter) could care less about your opinion. Ever have your child tell you to drop him/her off a block from school so nobody will see him/her get out of a mini-van? Ever have your child threaten to die if you open your mouth around their friends? Ever have your child say, "Seriously, you're not really going to wear that when you take me and my friends to the movies, are you?" And on the flip side, have you found yourself saying, "Honey, did you look in the mirror before leaving home?" "This is a brush, it's your friend, it's for your hair." or "Could you please put on a coat, so the school doesn't call Child Services on me?"

During those times, you think your child isn't hearing a word you're saying, but guess what? She is. She won't admit it, but she is. Your child actually wants your feedback and guidance, but those raging hormones and the peer pressure of her friends won't let her admit it. Every now and then, that sweet child (you once knew) emerges from beneath that creature-from-the-black-lagoon (that's temporarily overtaken your child's body) giving you a glimmer of hope.

Don't worry, your child will return to humanity. Some take longer than others, but he/she will return. During this possession phase, be diligent about being a healthy role model for your child. Silently showing your child each day positive ways you deal with stress through being physically active and eating healthy is what they need to see. Every now and then invite them for a walk, a run, or to join you at the gym. Share with them the latest sports drink you've discovered. Show them the great doctors report you got. Tell them about a cool article you just read in Runner's World. Invite them to the next 5K you're running, even if they're a spectator and not running. Then let them know how wonderful it was to see them when you crossed the finish line.

Even though your invites may be rejected or the only verbal response you get is a huff or a grunt, that inner sweet child buried beneath that tough facade, really does appreciate you asking and sharing. She's learning by your example.

All last year, I asked my daughter to run with me, only to get a "Right Dad." in response. Guess what? Now she's walking every afternoon after school. Her older brother told me she had started walking, but I didn't say anything. Then the other day she came up to me all beaming and said, "Dad, I walked 2 miles today!" I was so proud of her and she was so proud of herself. She's not running, and that's okay. She may move into running one day, but for now she's walking and getting in some great exercise.

Then I got another whopping surprise. One afternoon, she said, "Dad, the PE teacher at school fussed at me because he thought I was playing around when we were doing walking back lunges. I wasn't playing around. I can't do them!" She was in tears. So that night we had a crash course in walking back lunges. She cried more tears, because they actually were very hard for her to do. But, she hung in there and could do them by morning. Not great ones, but that didn't matter because she had gained the confidence that she could do them. Later the next day, she came running up to me and said, "Dad, the coach said, 'Nice improvement, Rayna!'" I was so proud of her. That was such a special moment. Funny how the simple little things are the most meaningful.

I seriously believe that during that scary 13-year-old phase, my daughter really was paying attention to her ole dad. A big reason that scary creature facade goes up in the first place is lack of confidence. Everything in their world is changing—schools, friends, their bodies. So, they put up this wall. Showing them how to gain this confidence (even if it's in a roundabout way) is what they need.
My daughter, saw how much enjoyment my running gave me and she saw how physical exercise and healthy eating benefited my wellbeing and helped me deal with stress. I don't want her to copy exactly what I do, though. She needs to discover what works for her. For now that's walking every day. Tomorrow it may be riding bikes. Whatever it is, I'll be there to support her.

So, during those tough times, sometimes it's best to stand back and holdfast, but continue to be that positive and healthy role model. They really are watching and listening to you and even though they may think your outfit is hideous and outdated, they still value your input and opinions.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Nuns on the Run!

The other day, I noticed that Sister Mary Agnes had signed up to follow the blog. She had also followed me on Twitter. A running nun? How cool is that! Of course my curiosity got the better of me, so I had to find out more about the Sister. I soon found out that Sister Mary Agnes is a part of the St. Charles Children's Home in New Hampshire.

The home is an intermediate group home for children from families in crisis. It's a part of the New Hampshire Catholic Charities (NHCC). The home serves about 20 children (both boys and girls) ages 3 to 12. You may have read an article in Runner's World about the sisters and their unique way of helping children.

In 1996 the Sisters at St. Charles Children's Home began running every day with the children to help them cope with anger and stress, with wonderful success. A natural antidepressant, running enables the enhancement of each child’s self esteem.

The levels of training and competition vary, depending on each child’s age and ability, up to 4 miles a day, 5 days a week. If a child gets tired, no problem, one of the sisters runs with a large stroller that a child needing a break can plop into for a rest while being pushed. (I wish I had that service on some of my long runs!) The children participate in 5k and 8k road races in the Seacoast area. Just recently (September 2009) the home held their 13th annual St. Charles Children's Home 5K.

Check out the video clip below from the CBS's The Early Show about the Sisters of St. Charles Children's Home and their mission. Be sure to check out Sister Mary Agnes' blog Running With Kids too!

Watch CBS News Videos Online

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

10 Must Have Foods for Runners!

While there isn't a specific diet runners should eat, there are some great foods they should make sure they have in their diet. The list below is not a complete list, but it does provide 10 foods that runners (actually anyone) should be including in their diet to help provide the vital nutrients needed to sustain their energy levels and provide for proper tissue repair.

1. Almonds—Almonds provide about 50% of the vitamin E, 8% of the calcium, and 19% of the magnesium needed each day. Vitamin E acts as a powerful antioxidant by neutralizing free radicals in the body that cause tissue and cellular damage. Vitamin E contributes to a healthy circulatory system and aids in proper blood clotting and improves wound healing. Magnesium is important for muscle building. Nuts also help fight obesity, heart disease, muscle loss, wrinkles, cancer, and high blood pressure.
2. Oranges—Oranges are a great source of Vitamin C. One large orange contains about 163% of you recommended daily allowance of vitamin C. They're also a great source of carbs and dietary fiber (a large orange provides 4g of fiber). Vitamin C is needed for maintaining the strength of tendons and ligaments and is also essential for the adrenaline synthesis (a hormone crucial for intense training). Vitamin C also serves as a key immune system nutrient and a potent free-radical fighter.
3. Sweet potatoes—Sweet potatoes are high in complex carbohydrates. They also contain naturally occurring sugars, protein, vitamins A, Vitamin C, iron, and calcium. The Center for Science in the Public Interest even ranked the sweet potato number one in nutrition of all vegetables.
4. Beans—Beans, beans, any kind of beans! Beans such as black beans, pinto, lentils, chickpeas, kidney beans (just to name a few) are rich in carbohydrates and a wealth of other nutrients. For example, a 1/2 cup of black beans contains 25g of carbs, 7 grams of protein, and 6 grams of fiber.
5. Greens—Dark green vegetables are packed with a ton of nutrients. Spinach, broccoli, Kale—the darker the better. Don't forget the salad greens too (radicchio, butter leaf, curly endive, and mache)! A cup of chopped kale for example, has 2g of protein and is a great source of thiamine, riboflavin, folate, iron, magnesium and phosphorus, as well as vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, vitamin B6, calcium, potassium, copper and manganese. Vitamin K is great for runners. It helps protect bones and it may even play a part in helping to protect us from inflammatory diseases such as arthritis.
6. Tuna—Endurance athletes need 1.8 to 2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight each day. That's a lot of protein! Tuna is packed with protein and perfect to help repair muscles after a workout. The protein found in tuna (as well as other fish) is a complete protein meaning it contains all the essential amino acids required by the body for growth and maintenance of lean muscle tissue. One can of light tuna (packed in water) contains 42 grams of protein!
7. Eggs—Eggs have been "In" and they have been "Out." The truth is that eggs are a great food to have in your diet, but just like anything, there's good and bad to it. The bad would be the cholesterol. But eaten in moderation, eggs can play an important part of your running diet. Like tuna, eggs are a complete protein, packing in all the essential amino acids your body needs. It's also a great source of protein (1 large egg has 6g). Eggs are also a great source of Riboflavin, Vitamin B12 and Phosphorus, and a very good source Selenium.
8. Greek Yogurt—Actually any type of lowfat yogurt will do, but Greek yogurt is a great source of protein and calcium. A cup of plain lowfat yogurt has 13g of protein. A cup of Greek yogurt packs about 23g of protein! Both are great sources of riboflavin, Vitamin B12, potassium, calcium and phosphorus. Because Greek yogurt is think it's great to use as a substitute for sour cream in baked potatoes too!
9. Berries—Blueberries are rich in Vitamins A, C, E and beta-carotene. They're also packed with minerals such as potassium, manganese, magnesium. That's not it though, blueberries are high in fiber and low in saturate fat, cholesterol and sodium. Probably best of all, however, is that blueberries are high in antioxidants which help prevent cancer-causing cell damage. They also help boost the immune system, keeping you healthier.
10. Pasta—Of course no list of runner foods would be complete without pasta, but let's broaden that category to "cereal grains." Now you can include other foods consisting of rice, wheat, barley, corn, and rye. When looking at products made of these grains be sure to look for 100% whole grain. This will ensure that you're eating more of a complex carbohydrate food and not a simple carb. Be careful though. Sometimes a package will say "Made with whole grains." If that's the case look at the ingredient list and see where "whole grains" is listed. If it's not one of the top two ingredients, then it probably contains very little whole grain. There are several good whole grain pasta options available now too. So be a savvy shopper and check out all the great whole grain options available.

Monday, November 9, 2009

How Running Changed My Life: Angie's Story

In a quest to get back in shape after the birth of her second child, Angie discovered a lot more about herself than just the need for fitness. Here's Angie's story in her own words:

I haven't always been a runner. In fact, although I certainly had the height and natural ability, I never played school basketball either because of one simple reason—there was too much running! Up until seven years ago, I was the quintessential non-runner. A slow jaunt to the mailbox and back was the extent of my running abilities and even that was overdoing it.

Two years after having my second child, I found myself motivated to get back into shape and lose the extra baby weight that was still (literally) hanging around. I started walking in earnest every day and lost about ten pounds. It was a good start, but I was eager and impatient. One day, while out for my walk, I did the craziest thing—I started running! Granted, it only lasted 30 steps before I had to stop, wheezing and gasping for breath. But those 30 steps were the start of something even I could never have foreseen.

What began as running simply for weight loss and recreation has turned into a bona-fide obsession. At the encouragement of a good friend, I ran my first 5K in June of 2005 and have been hooked ever since.

I was bitten by the marathon bug in June of 2006. I trained for five months, pounding the pavement every week for hours on end through the worst of winter conditions and constant nagging aches and pains. When I crossed the finish line four hours, twenty-six minutes and fifty-four seconds after the starting gun went off, I was utterly exhausted but absolutely triumphant. Once out of the way of the crowd, I fell to my knees, held my head in my hands and sobbed, knowing I had just accomplished something extraordinary by all standards.

After enduring a spate of minor injuries and staging a comeback, I ran my second marathon a year later. As I crossed the finish line, once again overcome with exhausted elation, I realized how much I love running long-distance. I'll never be a speedster and will probably always place somewhere in the middle of the pack, but whether it's a local 5K or another marathon, I'm always planning my next race. To date, I've finished seven half-marathons and four full marathons... with many more to come in the future!

My family and friends are a huge support, of which I couldn't do without. But truth be known, I don't run for anyone but myself. I run to test my body. I run to clear my mind. I run to embrace my emotions. I run to celebrate my life.

It's what I do. It's what I am.—Angie

Angie, I too run for myself, to test my body, to clear my mind and to celebrate life. Running keeps me fit and more importantly—sane. Thanks so much for sharing your awesome story! Be sure to check out Angie's blog—Tall Girl Running.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Wake-Up Ritual for Runners

Do you love running in the morning, but have a hard time getting up? Or are you up, but spinning your wheels and not getting anything done, and before you know it your running time has passed? I fear I'm the latter. Because of this I'm usually squealing into the parking lot just before the time my running group starts our Saturday morning long run. My running buddies have a saying, "Thad's here, it's time to go!" If I'm early, it really throws them off.
Because I carpool/commute 77miles (one way) four days a week with another student to my personal trainer school, I needed some help getting myself better organized in the morning. I discovered a handy book by David Allen—Getting Things Done—that's been very helpful in my organization quest.

In his book, Allen, presents the concept of Next Actions lists. Each list is a task you need to complete. For each task, you list in order how you'll physically get the task done. I used this plan of action to help get my butt in gear on weekday mornings as well as on the weekends for my early morning runs.
When it comes down to it, the Next Action list really is a method for creating a ritual—in my case a running-morning ritual. In order for the list to work and for you to formulate and instill this ritual in you brain, you need to be as detailed in your list as possible from the time your alarm screams in your ear to the time you walk out the door. Here's what my Running-Morning Next Action List looks like:

RunnerDude's Running Morning Ritual:
1. Shut off alarm
2. Make Coffee
3. Get the newspaper
4. Fix breakfast
5. Eat/Drink coffee/Read newspaper
6. Drink 16% of water
7. Fill water bottle for run/Put in backpack
8. Put sports gels in backpack

9. Put on running clothes/shoes
10. Put post-run dry clothes in backpack
11. Double check that wallet, keys, and phone are in backpack
12. Brush teeth/Take care of other bathroom needs
13. Grab backpack
14. Head to car

Seems like a "Well Duhhh" list, right? I thought so too, but it really does help. For the first few times, have the list out and use it almost like a check list. The key is doing the same steps in the same order each morning. Eventually, the steps will become second nature and you won't need the actual paper list.
Creating the list also helped me realize that I needed to do some things the night before. For example, I needed to make sure I had clean running clothes and a set of post-run dry clothes. If I lay them out the night before, I'm not running around waking-up the rest of the family looking for clean clothes. I also realized I needed to dedicate one spot in the kitchen for me to place my wallet, phone, and keys. For me, this ended up being a backpack that I hang on the back of my chair at the kitchen table.
The night before, I toss my wallet, phone, and keys in the backpack. The next morning, the backpack is the destination for my filled water bottle, my sports gels, the dry set of clothes, and my gloves and hat (if it's cold). No more running around like a madman! Oh yeah, be careful. If you have a beagle like mine (that will eat anything and everything), you may want to wait to toss in those sports gels until the morning. Let's just say JayJay (my beagle) was in the "doghouse" for while after I woke up to a virtual backpack explosion one morning.

The morning ritual is very helpful when training for a marathon. Remember those super long marathon training runs where you get up before the crack of dawn walking around in a stupor tyring to get fed, dressed, and out the door? Well, if you have a morning ritual, your body and mind will actually work together on autopilot and this time they'll be doing all the right things!

Do I still squeal into the parking lot at the last minute? Of course! But at least now I have everything I need for the run and I haven't forgotten anything! I still have work to do on Step 5 of my list. No body's perfect.