Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Holiday Gifts for Runners!

At a loss for what to give someone who has everything? Maybe it's your spouse? Sibling? Best friend? Boss? Colleague? Neighbor down the street? Are they a runner? If so, then check out the gift suggestions below. From the practical, to the indulgent, to the whimsical, there's something for every runner in your life. Check it out!

Warrior Training Bracelets
Warrior Training Bracelets from Endorphin Warrior are made to wear while running, cycling, working out, sweating, racing...or all day long. Each features a positive and powerful keyword or phrase to help you train, perform and live with greater strength of body and mind. Available in multiple sizes to fit both women and men. Selling for $20 each, these make great gifts. Perfect for stocking stuffers! Endorphin Warrior also sells rings, necklaces, hats, T-shirts, and more!

Hog Wash and Toe Juice®
Hog Wash™ was created by request from nurses that were suffering from dry, cracked hands from having to wash them so frequently. They wanted a sanitizer that would prevent the dryness and cracking while at work. I personally use Hog Wash™ and have it available for my clients to use in the Studio at RunnerDude's Fitness. With multiple clients using the same equipment, it's essential for both me and my clients to take care not to spread germs and colds. I can speak from personal experience that it really does work. Your hands don't have that dried-out feeling you get when using most other hand sanitizers. Toe Juice is another great product. It works great getting rid of dry calloused areas on you feet. Also helps get rid of athlete's foot, jock itch, ringworm, and other fungus related skin issues. Both Hog Washand Toe Juice make great stocking stuffers. You can order the products online at the Hog Wash™ or Toe Juice® site as well as at amazon.com and drugstore.com. Or if you live in the western part of the country as well as Illinois and Kentucky, you can pick them up at your local Walgreens, Harmon's or Albertsons.

CEP Compression Socks
Give yourself an edge with CEP Running O2 Compression Sportsocks featuring 18-25mmHg compression. Used by professional triathletes around the world, CEP running socks are the first scientifically proven compression running socks - to maximize power, boost energy, and speed recovery time. See what all the buzz is about and try CEP Running O2 compression socks today. With a 30-day money back guarantee, you have nothing to lose. Available for men and women in white, black, pink or green. Sold per pair for $59.90. Use the coupon code "Runnerdude" and save 10% on  your order!

If you are a runner, cyclist, triathlete or just a person who doesn't sit on the couch all day, RoadID is for you. This awesome piece of gear not only looks good but it could save your life. In the event of an accident, if you can't speak for yourself, your Road ID will. Available in 6 different styles. It's not just a piece of gear - it's peace of mind. $19.99

Firefly® Supernova

Running at night? Cycling in the wee hours of the morning? If so, make sure you can be seen by motorists - it could save your life. Make sure you can be seen - take Firefly with you - whenever you go out in the dark. This little fella packs quite a punch. Simply put, it's the brightest, lightest, most durable security light in its class. Other lights just don't compare. You won't believe how bright this safety light is. Its durable plastic clip enables you to securely attach it to your waistband, belt or even your shirt collar. Wear it whenever you go out at dark and be seen by motorists from up to a mile away. $12.99

The Sprinter Headlamp
This month, Black Diamond released a new headlamp called The Sprinter. This headlamp is ultra light, weighing only 3.5oz. It has a very bright light (around 70 lumens) which well let you see about 150 feet ahead and best of all the light is focused on the ground right around your feet and a few strides ahead, perfect for runners. The headlamp also comes with a blinking red light positioned on the back strap making it a great safety feature. Probably the best feature of all is that the lamp is rechargeable. There's no batteries!! $79.95 

Timex Global Trainer GPS
Introducing the Global Trainer™ Bodylink® System, the first GPS-enabled watch worthy of the Timex® Ironman® name. Get pace, speed, distance and more—all on your wrist. Easy to use for those who want a simple speed & distance product, thanks to the thoughtful and intuitive interface that Timex is known for. But also fully customizable for multisport athletes that require a high-performance training tool. $300
Right now Timex is offering a $50 Rebate!

Saucony ViZi-PRO High Visibility Gear
Are you concerned with safety when out on a run at dawn or dusk? If the answer is yes, then Saucony has a solution for you. Saucony introduces VI PROZI to the high visibility gear on the market. This striking fluorescent orange definitely stands out from the traditional fluorescent yellow. There are three essential pieces in the men’s and women’s VIZI PRO line, which include the Saucony VIZI PRO Soniclite HD Jacket, Saucony VIZI PRO Optech Sportop and the Saucony VIZI PRO Soniclite HD Vest. For the men's line [click here]. For the women's line [click here]. $15-$150

Hot Hands Hand Warmers and Toastitoes Foot Warmers
Many people find that when the weather turns cold, no matter what they do they have a very difficult time keeping warm. No matter how many layers they put on they still can not beat the chill factor, but the good news is now there is a way!            Hot Hands hand warmers are 100% natural which means no harmful chemicals or batteries. Composed of iron, water, salt, wood fiber and activated charcoal these all natural products make our hand warmers, safe and environmentally friendly. Once the warmer is removed from its package, it is air activated to produce a warming all natural heat keeping your hands warm for up to ten hours. Hand Warmers are perfect for anyone who enjoys enjoying the great outdoors regardless of the temperature. Because of their air activation they are easy to open and activate, even with gloves on! They are perfect for sticking in your pockets for some added warmth. $.75 per pair or $27.95 for a box of 40. Also check out Toastitoes Foot Warmers.

Stuffitts Shoe Savers
Stuffitts is a soft, form-fitting shape that is inserted into shoes after wearing. Combining new fabric technology, a unique foot-shaped design that maximizes point-to-point absorption, and soft cedar inserts – a pair of Stuffitts can help extend the life of your shoes significantly by protecting your shoes from moisture and odor! Stuffitts work effectively in all types of shoes, boots, and cleats…they also come in sizes to fit men, women, and children. They are made from 100% natural cedar and are 100% reusable. I have a pair of Stuffitts and they're great! Check out my review of Stuffitts. $24.95

The great people at Gone For A Run have created a unique place to keep all those race bibs! BibFOLIO is the perfect solution for collecting racing bibs. As you add racing bibs and your collection grows it becomes a great memory and conversation piece of races run.  Supply the name or message and your BibFOLIO cover will be customize just for you.  It's a great piece to display on a coffee table, easel, desk or bookcase. Surely to be treasured for many years to come. I have a BibFOLIO and it's a great way to safely store your treasured racing bibs. Check out my review of the BibFOLIO. $39.99 While you're at the Gone For A Run Website, be sure to check out all their other great gifts for runners!

THRIV Natural Performance Apparel
For many years, cotton was the only option for athletes. Traditional cotton could become heavy and damp with sweat, making extended workouts uncomfortable. Polyester was reintroduced as a fiber that could perform, keeping the athlete dry. However, the material had its own host of problems—skin irritation, odor retention, lack of comfort, and a reliance on petroleum-based products and chemicals. To solve the synthetic problem, the founders of Thriv looked back to nature for a solution. Natural answers are often the best, but the toughest to come by. The solution: flex-fiv natural performance technology—a blend of Organic Cotton and Bamboo with the innovative fabric finish (bamco™—patent pending). I have several Thriv shirts and I love them. They wear very well. I highly recommend the brand. Check out the website to see all the tops, shorts, and tights available for men and women. $29.99 and up. Want more informaiton on Thriv? Check out my review.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Fat: The Good and the Bad

Just like most things, with fat there's a good side and a bad side. Yep, I actually said there's a good side to fat. Along with carbohydrates and protein, fat is an essential macronutrient. Fat is a backup source of energy. It also supplies linoleic acid which is an essential fatty acid needed for growth. Also, the nerves in your body are covered with something called a myelin sheath. Guess what? The myelin sheath is made of fat. That's one of the reasons why when you go on a starvation diet, you can actually gain weight. If your body thinks it dipping too far into the fat reserves, then it will begin burning muscle as fuel instead of carbs or fat, in order to protect itself.

So who da thunk that fat was a good thing. Well, just like most everything else in this wonderful world, there can be too much of a good thing. Fat is no different, especially if you're talking about visceral fat. Have you ever seen an individual with a protruding gut? Maybe you have one? Is it hard? Ever wonder why? Well, the hard protruding gut sometimes called a "beer belly" isn't strong muscle. The protrusion is caused by too much visceral fat. The stomach appears hard because unlike fat stored else where on the body, visceral fat is located beneath the abdominal muscles in the chest cavity. So as the amount of visceral fat increases, it begins to push the abdominal muscles out causing them to become taunt, not strong. Elsewhere in the body, fat is more subcutaneous which means it's found just beneath the skin. That's why on your butt, legs, arms, and thighs, you see it wiggle and jiggle. 

Just because you have a high body fat percentage doesn't automatically mean you have a lot of visceral fat. Have you ever heard, "It's better to have a pear shape than an apple shape?" Well, what that means is, if the body fat is carried below the waist it's in a healthier location. Now if a person has a body fat percentage that puts him or her in the Obese category, then no matter where it's located, it's not too healthy for the individual and they need to work on decreasing their total body fat. However, if you're within the healthy body fat percent range or maybe just a tad over into the overfat range, and what you do have is carried more below the waist, then you're at a lower risk of diabetes and coronary heart disease.

Visceral fat is a fancy name for the fat in the chest cavity. Your body needs a little amount of visceral fat. It's kind of like nature's bubble wrap for your internal organs. It acts as a cushion for the organs and protects them when you're hit in the stomach or when you fall. The key phrase there is "a little amount of visceral fat." When you have more than you need, it becomes dangerous. High amounts of visceral fat have been linked to diabetes, heart attack, high blood pressure, stroke and some cancers.

The first thing many people think of in trying to get rid of the gut or visceral fat is doing tons of crunches and or going on a diet. Well, exercise is key, but it doesn't have to be crunches. It's almost next to impossible to target a specific area and make it lose fat. So, doing crunches may help strengthen the area, but if you're losing fat, it's probably more just due to the fact that you're upping your metabolism and burning more calories as a result of the crunches.

Diet is great and everyone should be watching the types of fats that they're eating, making sure to eat more of the healthy fats such as polyunsaturated and monounsaturated as well as Omega 3s. Many are surprised to find out that their total daily caloric intake should be comprised of 20%-35% fat. But again, this needs to be healthy fat. Decreasing your daily intake of fat or just trying to get rid of visceral fat with diet modifications alone will probably have very little effect.

Physical exercise is the best way to lose visceral fat. Not only will you look and feel better, your entire body will benefit when you decrease the amount of excess visceral fat you have. Decreasing the amount of visceral fat you have will decrease your resistance to insulin. This can help prevent or reduce your risk of Type II Diabetes. If you're already a diabetic, reducing the amount of visceral fat you have can increase the efficiency of the insulin your body produces, making it easier to control your blood glucose levels. If you have hypertension, reduced visceral fat can help you better control your blood pressure reducing your risk of stroke or heart attack. And best of all, your clothes will feel better!!

Full body workouts, fitness walking, and running are great ways to increase your metabolism overall which in turn will help decrease your body fat percentage on the whole, particularly fat in the gut. Resistance training or weight training is one of the best ways to lose body fat. It's probably even better than running. Yes, RunnerDude just said that resistance training is better. In this case, it really is. Running is great and while you're running you're getting a great caloric burn, especially if you're doing more intense types of runs such as intervals, fartleks, tempo runs, sprints, or hill workouts. But unfortunately when you stop running, that good caloric burn pretty much stops soon after. Research has shown, however, that with resistance training(weight training), the caloric burn can last up to 9 hours after you've finished your workout. Wow! What a better way to start your day than with a good workout and get the metabolism ramped up for the day; then top it off with an afternoon walk or run.

If you're worried that resistance training will add bulky muscles, you need not worry. If you stick to lighter weights and higher repetitions for each exercise then you'll definitely gain muscular endurance and you'll begin to see some more definition in your muscles, but you won't bulk up like a body builder.

Circuit workouts are great for upping you metabolism. You can get a full-body workout in a fairly short period of time. Or you can break the circuit workout into an upper-body and lower-body workout. A circuit workout is simply a workout where you move from one exercise to the next without taking a break in between. The circuit should consist of 10-12 different exercises. I like to insert a core exercise in between each exercise. For example you'd begin with an upper-body exercise (like a dumbbell pec fly), followed by a core exercise (like a plank), followed by an upper-body exercise (like an upright row), followed by a core (bicycle crunches), etc. After all 10 or 12 exercises are completed, then take a 1-3 minute break, get water, towel off, and then repeat.

If you're interested in having a custom full-body, upper-body, and/or lower-body circuit workout created to meet your specific needs, email me at runnerdude@runnerdudesfitness.com. I'll be happy to work with you.

What are you waiting for? BUST THAT GUT!!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Post Turkey Day Workout!

Okay, so Turkey Day has come and gone. Did you eat way too much yesterday? Is the ole gut protruding just a little more than normal? Do you feel that second helping of stuffing creeping onto your thighs? Are you feeling a little guilty for having the second piece of pie? (By the way did you know it takes more than 2 hours to walk off a slice of pecan pie?) The average Thanksgiving meal is about 1500 calories. That's almost as many calories you need for the entire day. Then there's all the leftovers and some of you are you still making the rounds and have other family meals to attend.

Are you panicking at the thought of more culinary delights just waiting to temp you?  Do you feel doomed that from here through the New Year you're going to undo all the hard work you've done the previous 11 months? Not to worry! Couple a little self-control at the table with some high-intensity workouts and you'll enter the New Year with something other than "lose 10 pounds" on your New Year's resolution list. 

Remember that exercises targeting the larger muscles groups such as the hamstrings, glutes, and quads will help you get the largest calorie burn. Muscle is what burns the calories, so if you're working more muscle mass, you'll burn more calories. Squats and lunges are some of the best lower-body exercises that will help up your metabolism. Plyometric exercises (hopping, bounding, jumping) will also get a great calorie burn. Jumpsquats, mountain climbers, burpees, ice-skaters, and lateral hops are simple and effective plyometrics exercises that are great for upping the metabolism. Below are a couple of great post Turkey Day workouts to up that metabolism and burn off some of those few thousands extra calories you took in yesterday.

Ramp it up with a weekly speed workout. Pick one of the workouts below to add to your weekly routine and you'll quickly up your metabolism, drop a few pounds and increase your pace too! (My favorite is #6. It's tough, but man, when you finish it, you feel great!)
  • Workout #1—5x1000m @5K race pace with 2-minute recovery (walk or jog) in between
  • Workout #2—6x800m @10K race pace with 90-second recovery (walk or jog) in between
  • Workout #3—Three sets: 1x1200m @ 10K race pace with 1-minute recovery, 1x400m @5K race pace with a 3-minute recovery (walk or jog) in between each set
  • Workout #4—4x1600m @10K race pace with 3-minute recovery (walk or jog) in between
  • Workout #5—8x800m @10K race pace with 90-second recovery (walk or jog) in between
  • Workout #6—400m @ 5K race pace (30sec recovery); 800 @ 10K race pace (90-sec recovery); 1200m @10K race pace (2-min recovery); 1600m @10K race pace (3-min recovery); 1200m @10K race pace (2-min recovery); 800 @ 10K race pace (90-sec recovery); 400m @ 5K race pace
Not into interval workouts, then try this up-your-metabolism circuit workout.

Or, try this full-body circuit workout.

So enjoy a few of those holiday delights and then hit the road or the gym or both!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

A RunnerDude's Thanksgiving-2010

I’m thankful for the creation of Anti Chafing creams.
I’m thankful for the ice bath although it makes me scream.

I’m thankful for the inserts that keep my tootsies comfy.
I’m thankful for pre-run oatmeal and yes, I like mine lumpy.

I’m thankful for post-run coffee, with my buds around the table.
I’m thankful for the peanut butter smeared atop my bagel.

I’m thankful for the long run and how it relieves the tension.
I’m thankful for all the support during a year of huge transition.

I’m thankful for all the guidance I’ve received from many peers.
I’m thankful for family’s patience during this year of switching gears.

I’m thankful for the interviews with greats like Yasso and Galloway.
I’m honored that they took the time, it really made my day.

I’m thankful for the pasta, bagels, and the Gu.
I’m thankful for the long runs that don’t involve a loo.

I’m thankful for my running buds, like Bobby, Dena, and Wayne.
I’m thankful for their support and hope I’ve not been a pain.

I’m thankful to the marathon, for eleven I have conquered.
I’m thankful for that annual goal and the confidence it has nurtured.

I’m thankful for my fitness passion and being oh so driven.
I’m even thankful to my Garmin although it’s been a lemon.

I’m thankful for my running shoes that carry me miles and miles.
I’m thankful for the race volunteers and their big encouraging smiles.

I’m thankful for my beginning runners and their faces all a glow.
I’m thankful for their many questions that keep me on my toes.

I’m thankful for the awesome runners I’ve been privileged to encounter.
I’m thankful for their inspiration, for without, life would be a downer.

I’m thankful for my dream to one day BQ,
Even though I may have to wait until I’m 72.

I’m thankful to the one above for being by my side
I’m thankful for friends and family and the encouragement they provide.


Saturday, November 20, 2010

Mind Games

buuuuzzzzzZZZZZZZZ!! How many times has your alarm shocked you out of a deep morning's sleep to wake you for your morning run? How many times have you hit that snooze button while the "mind games" begin? It's too cold to get out of bed. I think I'm getting a cold....better not run today. How many of you actually sleep during that extra 5 minutes of snooze time? I must confess that all too often I'm struck with the "runner's wake-up mind games." Thankfully, I rarely ever succumb to the games. Instead I moan, roll out of bed, and stumble in the dark looking for my running shoes, because I know that if I miss that run, I'll regret it for the rest of the day.

Recently Nike released a new short movie from director Casey Neistat. It was written years ago when Casey first started running. The 2.5 minute short movie not only explores the mind games runners face before they get out the door, it also delves into the ideas one focuses on while on the run.

His film was commissioned to be made while Neistat trained in NYC for the New York City Marathon this year, to help celebrate the Nike way of showing creativity through sport. For three weeks, Casey used a smalled HD video camera that he carried with him on runs to shoot the movie. Jordan Galland, a good friend and long time collaborator, did the the music for the movie.

I think any runner will relate to Neistat and his running journey. Check it out below.

Mind Games - directed by Casey Neistat from Nike Sportswear on Vimeo.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Wonder if Poseidon Was a Runner

Treadmills. We've all used them. They're great for when it's too cold, too hot, or just simply when there's no good or safe place to run. If you're creative you can get in a great workout on a treadmill be it a regular run, sprint intervals, a tempo run, or even hill work. Whether you use the treadmill at the gym or you've invested in a quality home treadmill, it can be a lifesaver for a runner, especially one who is in training.

Recently I was introduced to an entirely different approach to the treadmill—the water treadmill. Yep, that's right, a water treadmill. Water therapy has been used for decades for rehabilitation. The use of a physical therapy pool is very beneficial in the recovery of muscle injuries. The support of the water provides resistance and muscle activation without the impact.

The people at HydroWorx have created the best of both worlds with their HydroWorx X80 portable underwater treadmill and jet machine. This unique underwater treadmill turns any static pool into a highly functional rehab and fitness experience. The portable underwater treadmill offers low impact cardio and also comes with an integrated resistance jet for enhanced rehabilitation and conditioning. By attaching a massage hose to the fully adjustable resistance jet, you can soothe aching joints and muscles with a deep tissue massage.

The water treadmill is not just for physical therapy rehab centers. Fitness centers and universities are starting to see the benefits of water training and are equipping their pools with water treadmills for fitness training. UO, NCSU, OSU, KU, UK, and MSU are just a few of the universities across the country using water treadmills.  The really cool thing is that you can do entirely different workouts on the water treadmill, because there's not the concern of falling off and hurting yourself.

So, is there going to be an Atlantis Marathon? Don't know, but if you ever have a chance to test out a water treadmill, you might be pleasantly surprised. I know I'm heading to NCSU for a test run. Wonder if I have to put baggies over my running shoes? ;-)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Push-Ups, A Runner's Best Friend

One of the biggest reasons, runners begin to slow down as they get older really has nothing to do with age. Instead, it has more to do with a weak upper-body and core. For this post, I want to focus on the upper-body.         
Dr. Kenneth Cooper of the Cooper Institute once said, "We do not stop exercising because we grow old - we grow old because we stop exercising." I think this quote really speaks to why many older runners begin to slow in their 50s and 60s.

Older runners are definitely exercising their legs and their legs aren't the problem. That's why so many are perplexed as to why they're slowing down or fatiguing sooner. In many cases, the "slowdown" has more to do with decreased upper-body strength rather than age. As we get older, our everyday activities require less upper-body muscle. Work has us more sedentary. We're too busy for the softball or bowling league. The kids are grown and we're no longer playing with them in the back yard. We're paying the kid down the street to do the yard work. We gave up that gym membership long ago. As a result, the lack of upper-body and core strength, causes the upper-body to fatigue sooner than it used to. When the upper-body fatigues, you lose good running form. And when that happens, leg fatigue is soon to follow.

So, instead of just accepting that you're getting older, do something about it! Okay, so now your thinking, "I don't have time or the money for a gym membership or to invest in in-home gym equipment." No, problem. You don't need any. Push-ups are one of the best upper-body exercises a runner can do to increase upper-body strength and improve running form.

Push-ups are often thought of as just a chest exercise. Well, push-ups do target the Pec Major muscles, but they also strengthen the Anterior Deltoids (front of the shoulder), Triceps, Biceps, Lats, and Abs. And the great thing is all you need is your body and the floor!

The movement of a push-up is as simple as 1, 2, 3.
  1. Lay face down on the floor. With arms bent, place your hands palm-side down on the floor a little wider than shoulder-width apart. Your hands should be positioned in line with your shoulders.
  2. Think of your entire body from head to toe as one unit. While exhaling, push away from the floor until you've fully extend your arms. From head to toe, your body should be a straight diagonal line. (No bent knees or arched mid-section.)
  3. Inhale as you slowly lower your body, bending your elbows until your chest touching or almost touching the floor. That's one repetition.
That's it! 1, 2, 3! Push ups are one of the simplest exercises, but don't let the simplicity of the movement fool you. They're darn tough, especially if you're new to doing them. Take it slow. If needed, you can do a modified version where you rest on your knees instead of your toes. If you do the modified version, however, you still need to make sure that from your head to your knees is a solid unit (no arched backside). Take it slow. If 10 is max, that's awesome! Stop at 10, take a  break, and then do ten more. Over a week try to work yourself up to doing 3 sets of ten. Once you've mastered that. Shoot for 3 sets of 12. Master that, then go for 3 sets of 15. Working up to 3 sets of 20-25 three times a week is awesome.

After you've mastered the basic push-up, there are countless ways to vary the exercise. Below are seven variations on the standard push-up. These exercises are more challenging and place more focus on either the upper, middle, or lower chest. A few of the exercises even use a med ball to throw in a balance element working all the stabilizer muscles in your arms and torso. Enjoy the variety and have fun. Keep at it and before you know it, you'll be running stronger and longer!


Sunday, November 14, 2010

RunnerDude Chats with Ultra-Endurance Athlete Toby Guillette

I've run marathons for years, but one distance that has eluded me to this point is the ultra-endurance run. I envy runners that endure such long distances and often in very challenging locations. One such athlete that I've been following on Twitter and Facebook is Toby Guillette. Based in San Diego, Toby is an ultra-endurance athlete, outdoor-adventure blogger and social media specialist for the Active Network.  

What I like about Toby is that even though he's an ultra-endurance athlete he's also an expert on running for the beginner audience. His syndicated blog appeals to everyone.  He has written product, book and race reviews for the Active Network, where he is currently employed as a social media specialist. He has been featured in interviews on AmateurEndurance.com, the Triathlon Club of San Diego monthly newsletter and is establishing himself as a sponsored ultra-endurance athlete. Toby didn't start running until the age of 23. In the short time since his entry in to the world of running has raced at nearly every competitive distance and completed eight ultra marathons, including two 100-mile ultra marathons and a full iron-distance triathlon. Most recently he just completed the Grand Canyon Rim to Rim to Rim run which is about a 50-mile double crossing of the Grand Canyon from the South Rim in Arizona to the North Rim in Colorado and back, in about 15 hours.

Read on to learn more about this amazing young man....

RD: I believe you were born in my neck of the woods (Durham, NC), but shortly after, your family moved to Massachusetts. I see you’re now based in San Diego. I ran the Rock-n-Roll Marathon in San Diego several years ago. It’s a beautiful city. What brought you to the west coast?
TOBY: You got it! I relocated to San Diego after earning a degree in Sociology from George Washington University in D.C. My plan was to work at REI until my PeaceCorp application processed, but I fell in love with the west and have since both found and created myself here.

RD: You’re an Ultra-endurance athlete, outdoor-adventure blogger and social media expert. That’s quite a diverse load on your plate. Share a little about each and how you manage to wrap it all into (I must admit) an envious career.
TOBY: I’ve always been an athlete and I share my adventures with all my family and friends via the web. Since my brain is completely wired for social networking, an Internet-based career has been the natural path. Now I work at the Active Network where I have been able to fuse all of my passions into an exciting career in social media marketing.

RD: You must be unbelievably busy. When you do have free time, how do you spend it?
TOBY: I keep a full schedule with work, training and social life. It takes a lot of planning to fit it all in, but I’m at my best when challenged to balance it all. In my free time I coach endurance athletes, take lots of photos, enjoy craft beer, watch movies and plan fun adventures with my friends.

RD: You started running at age 23. What got into it?
TOBY: My brother encouraged me to train for the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon with him. I’ve always been inspired by him so I dove right into training and ramped up too soon. I ended up with really bad Achilles Tendonitis from training and couldn’t run the race with him. I could barely walk. So I became fascinated with figuring out what I did wrong and ended up cracking the code on my potential as an endurance runner. One year later I ran the San Diego 100 Mile Endurance Run, during which my brother paced me for over 15 miles through the night.

RD: Had you been a sports oriented kid? Did you grow up in a sports oriented family?
TOBY: It seems like my brother and I played every sport, but it all started with competitive swimming and then baseball. Our parents have always been supportive. We even had our own batting cage in our backyard. We both played a lot of soccer too and had a record-setting high school soccer season my senior year of prep school. I learned the value of hard work early on and have leveraged it to really take my running to a new level.

RD: What do you enjoy most about running? Is it the mental? Physical? Both?
TOBY: I enjoy the daily and annual structure of training, the goal setting process, the health benefits and the amazing people and places I’ve discovered along the way. Most of all, it’s helped me become a more positive and productive member of society.

RD: Do you ever get burned out with training? If so, share some of your strategies for pulling yourself out of a training funk.
TOBY: I’ve learned to set my year up to peak with a couple key events. Plus, I try and have a break in the summer and the winter for rest, too. But most of all, cross training helps me keep things interesting. Any given week I may run five times but I’ll also fit in a session or two of rock climbing, mountain biking, swimming, yoga and functional strength training. This typically helps me avoid injury and burn out.

RD:  Do you have a favorite training food? What other favorite foods do you include in your training? Do you ever concoct your own training recipes?
TOBY: My body does best on a healthy diet of fruits, vegetables, meat and as gluten-free as possible. But if I could fuel on only burritos and craft beer I definitely would!

RD: Are you a lone runner or do you run with some buddies? What do you like about each?
TOBY: It depends where in the season I am and how many runs per week I’m doing but I try to be as social as possible with my training. Last month I ran with over 30 different people. Sometimes it’s just more efficient to knock out the weekday stuff solo to get it done if I have something else on my schedule.

RD: What’s the funniest or oddest thing that’s happened to you while on a run?
TOBY: I was on a night run in a canyon when I saw two sets of big glowing eyes in the bushes staring back at me. Needless to say I had a near record-setting pace that night! Wasn’t too funny when it was happening but I can’t help but laugh about it now.

RD: What’s your biggest running accomplishment? Why?
TOBY: My most memorable running experience was the 2009 Vermont 100 Mile Endurance Run where I ran to a sub-22 hour finish with my family as my race crew. That was a very proud day for all of us.

RD: Do you have a favorite brand of running shoe? Which model? Why?
TOBY: I run in Brooks Glycerin with Superfeet insoles and GreenLaces from Yankz with Injinji toe-socks. I may have lost a few toenails in longer races, but I’ve never had blisters wearing this combination.

RD: What’s your favorite race distance(s)? Do you have a favorite race you run each year?
TOBY: I’ve raced nearly every competitive distance in both running and triathlon and have yet to discover my favorite distance. I do really enjoy 50K ultras because there are plenty of events to choose from, they are typically in beautiful off-road locations on very challenging terrain and there is still the rest of the day left after the race.

RD: What’s the craziest event you’ve done that after you started, you thought, “What the hell was I thinking?”
TOBY: My first 50-mile run was the hardest thing I’ve ever endured. I’ve never been more destroyed. Not even running 100’s. It didn’t hit me until the half-way mark when I started to cramp up and it all went downhill. It revealed a side of me I had never met before. I learned so much that day.

RD: You’ve got some pretty awesome runs coming up in the near future—the Grand Canyon Rim-to-Rim-to-Rim run in November and the Coastal Challenge Rain forest Expedition Run in January 2011. I am ENVIOUS!!!! The Green-Eyed Monster is sitting on my shoulder right now. Share a little about each race.
TOBY: I’m heading out to run the Grand Canyon this weekend so by the time you read this I’ll have attempted the rim-to-rim-to-rim run which is a 46-mile double crossing of the canyon. It’s a classic adventure run that three of my buddies and I have been planning for the past few months. Check out my site for the recap! (Toby and his team finished the run in about 15 hrs. Congrats, Toby!)

I’ve recently chosen not to run the Coastal Challenge in January because I’ll be on the east coast for half of December in family and holiday mode. There are just so many rad events that sometimes it’s tough to prioritize. But I have a couple epics in the mix for the 2011 season so stay tuned!

RD: One of the most appealing things about your blog is that even though you travel all over running these amazing and exotic races, you write to inspire the everyday and/or new runner. I’ve always felt that running is an inclusive sport and you definitely help support my theory. Why do you feel it’s important to stay connected to the everyday runner?
TOBY: Running is my vehicle of choice for interacting with the world around me and most people respect running, even if they love it or hate it. I choose to share my adventures with others in hopes of inspiring anyone I can because I recognize that people need inspiration. I’m no different – I need it too. So if what I do inspires someone to push through that final mile of their training run or go out and give running a try then I am stoked!

RD: If you were speaking to a group of non-runners or runner wannabes and trying to encourage them to run, what would you say?
TOBY: I’d encourage them to choose an event that feels like it’s just beyond what they are capable of and follow a training plan to accomplish it. It’s a transformational process that needs to be experienced because the lessons learned apply to all walks of life.
RD: What tips would you give someone contemplating their first ultra run?
TOBY: Simulate race conditions as closely as possible through the training process. Become your race.

RD: Is there anything you else you'd like to share?
TOBY: Thanks so much to the RunnerDude for this opportunity to share my story with your audience! I really appreciate how you are helping so many people get active and enjoy it. 
RD: Thanks, Toby! Same to you man and good luck with your upcoming 2011 epics! Looking forward to finding out what you'll be up to.

Be sure to check out Toby's blog as well as his Facebook and Twitter pages. 

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Two Great Running Products from Saucony

Recently, I had the opportunity to test two products from Saucony. The first product is Saucony's version of a minimalist shoe—the Progrid Kinvara. I've tested a lot of shoes over the past two years, and I can honestly say that this shoe tops them all. I've been testing the minimalist waters and the shoes that I've tried have worked well, but the Kinvara worked great for me right out of the box.

The first thing I noticed is how lightweight they are—only a little over 7oz! The second thing I noticed is the amount of cushion they provide. I have very little natural padding in my fore foot and heel, so I need a good cushioned shoe. The Kinvara's cushion rivals the cushion of Saucony's Progrid Triumph shoe, which is my personal favorite neutral trainer.
It does take a little getting used to wearing the shoe. There is very little heal and if you're wanting to work on more of a midfoot/forefoot strike this shoe's construction allows you to do this very easily. Just be sure to test them on some shorter runs first to let you body get use to the lower-to-the-ground construction.

The Kinvara won't break the bank, either. Retailing for $90, it's right in line (maybe even on the lower end) of other running shoes on the market today.

Runner's World also like the shoe and gave the Kinvara its prestigious "Best Debut" award for 2010. Here's a video review from Runner's Word's Warren Greene. (My test results ended with my having pretty much the same conclusions as the Runner's World testers—Awesome!)

The other Saucony product that I had the opportunity to test and also had great success with is the men's Epic Run Vest in the ViZiPRO color. As runners find themselves faced with shorter daylight hours, I discovered that Saucony is working hard to ensure safe running with its highly reflective ViZiPRO Collection. The ViZiPRO collection provides enhanced visibility with its bright neon orange color. The collection features jackets, footwear, sport tops, vests, hand gear and head gear, both in women’s and men’s sizes. According to industry-standard chromaticity testing results, Saucony’s ViZiPRO fluorescent orange fabric rated highest in visibility within the running industry.

I have training groups that run in the early evening, and when the time change recently occurred we had to don head lamps and/or carry flashlights to see our running routes as well as let drivers see us. On one of these dark runs I tested the Epic Run Vest and it was very light weight. It kept the cold air out but was breathable at the same time.

The vest is made of 100% woven polyester with water-resistant DWR coating. The outer shell is constructed with reflective piping down the sleeves and along the front zipper. There's also reflective mesh panels on the front shoulders and along the back hem. The vest also sports lots of pockets including a media pocket for an iPod or MP3 player. The vest even comes with a removable USB LED light that's rechargeable by inserting it in your computers USB port. You can leave the light hooked to the jacked and set it to flashing mode or you can remove it and set it to steady beam and use it as a flashlight. The bright neon color and reflective piping and panels worked very well.

If you're having to do any runs in the dark, I highly recommend Saucony's line of ViZiPRO shoes and apparel. Both products, the Progrid Kinvara and the ViziPRO Epic Run Vest, receive 5 dudes out of 5 dudes on the RunnerDude's Rating Scale!

Note: While Saucony did provide the Progrid Kinvara shoes and the ViZiPRO Epic Run Vest, I was in no way encouraged to write a positive review nor did I receive any form of payment for writing this review. This review is based entirely on my personal experience using both products.

Monday, November 8, 2010

RunnerDude Chats With Bart Yasso, Sarah Reinertsen, and Brian Boyle

Back in the spring, I had the awesome opportunity to interview Bart Yasso, Chief Running Officer at Runner's World, about his new book, My Life on the Run as well as his quest for Comrades. During that interview, he mentioned two athletes that were inspirations of his own—Sarah Reinertsen, and Brian Boyle. In addition to Bart, both Sarah and Brian were inspirations in my own life as well. I had followed their personal and professional stories over the past few years.

Sarah was born with a congenital birth defect and at the age of 7, her leg was amputated. This didn't stop Sarah though. As a teenager, she began to break all kinds of records and set firsts for female above-the-knee amputees including being the first female leg amputee to complete the Ironman World Championship in Hawaii. Sarah tells her story in her autobiography, In a Single Bound: Losing My Leg, Finding Myself, and Training for Life. My daughter and I fell in love with Sarah and her story while watching the reality show The Amazing Race back in 2006 in which she was a contestant.

About a year before Sarah's conquering of the Hawaii Ironman, 18-year-old Brain Boyle was the victim of a horrific car crash in which a dump truck crushed him and his car. Brain was in a medically induced comma for 2 months. He lost 60% of his blood. His heart suffered horrific trauma, and his internal organs and pelvis also received devastating damage. During his recovery period, he lost 100lbs. Even though doctors thought he'd never walk again, Brian fought back with superhuman and unbelievable determination. Not only did he recover, he became an Ironman when he completed the 2007 Hawaii Ironman in Kona. You can read about the accident and Brian's comeback in his autobiography Iron Heart: The True Story of How I Came Back From the Dead.

After the interview with Bart, I got to thinking how great it would be to do an interview with Sarah and one with Brian for blog. So, I emailed Bart to see if he had any contact information for Sarah and Brian. Bart immediately said, "Yes!" But, Bart had an even better idea. Bart said, "I'd love to talk with Sarah and Brian too. What do you think about all four of us talking at the same time?" Excited to no end, I said, "Great idea!" Bart checked it out with Sarah and Brian and before I knew it, I was contacting everyone setting up the conference call.

Thanks, Bart for such a great idea! And thanks to Sarah, Brian, and Bart for taking the time to talk with RunnerDude and share their stories with the blog readers. You guys rock!

In the introduction to Bart's book, he says, "Running may be the connective tissue, but the true experience of the sport is a passage to a bigger world. So open the door and run through. Just don't be surprised if you arrive in a place you only dreamed existed." That's how I felt talking with Bart, Sarah, and Brian during the interview. Below is our conversation.

Bart: Okay Thad, you’re in charge buddy. Where do you what to go from here?

RD: Well, I do have some questions that I want to be sure and ask each of you, but with the four of us on the call, it would be great to just have a rich conversation and a good dialogue. If you guys have questions for each other or want to interject a comment at any time, please feel free to do so.

I wanted to start off by saying that I’ve read all three of your books, Bart’s My Life on the Run: Wit, Wisdom, and Insights of a Road Racing Icon, Sarah’s In a Single Bound: Losing My Leg, Finding Myself, and Training for Life, and Brian’s Iron Heart: The True Story of How I Came Back From the Dead. All of them were amazing books to read and so inspirational. I was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis about 10 years ago and had a related surgery about 7 years ago and I used running to help me recover and get back into life. So, on some levels, I could relate to parts of your stories of overcoming struggles that life presents you. It meant a lot to read about how each of you dealt with your own unique struggles with life, health, and running and how you each overcame your life adversities to go on to accomplish such great things. Bart, your running over 1000 races and just recently running Comrades in Africa. Sarah, your setting all kinds of firsts and records for female amputees. Brian, I mean you literally came back from the dead to run your first Ironman and then go on to be competitive in so many more endurance events. So, thank each of you for sharing your stories.

It seems like each of you has this innate determination or lack of a better word “gumption” to live life to the fullest. I’d like each of you to speak to this. Where did it come from? Were you born with it? Did you get it from your parents or family? Was it cultivated over time?

BART: Who wants to go first? I always say, “Ladies first.” So Sarah, go for it.

SARAH: Yes, I’ll start, I know my family was a big part of it for sure in me finding my own independence and really encouraging me to find my own strength. They supported me to push myself beyond the limits. So for sure my parents played a big part. My mom was quoted in the Ironman interview and shared the story other times about when I’d fall down at the playground. She’d make me get up on my own. The other mothers thought that was cruel for her to make her one-legged daughter get up on her own, but she was helping me learn to be self-sufficient and independent. That was an important lesson for me to learn for sure.

RD: How about you, Brian?

BRIAN: I would say just like Sarah said, "Family first." I mean my parents were there all my life supporting me all the way through athletics and academics. I grew up with a very positive attitude and was very outgoing and very determined, so when the accident happened, it just went into overdrive. I was still kind of the same person; just more driven. Kind of driven to get back into life again. To walk. To jog. To swim. To ride again. Just to do everything I used to do. Having the support of my parents was a Godsend. And then to come back the way I did and then do all the races was just a wonderful thing to cross the finish line. It was like a big thank you to my parents and everyone who helped in my recovery. It’s a constant show of appreciation to everyone who has helped me in my journey.

RD: I think you mention on your website how all the nurses, technicians, medical staff and others at all the various hospitals and rehabilitation centers you stayed in were like family and played an important part in your recovery too.

BRIAN: Definitely. Everyone from the hospital to the rehab center to the outpatient rehab center gave so much support. The Ironman was a way of saying, “This is what you’ve done for me. Thank you.” That was a big day for me back in 2007.

RD: How about you Bart?

BART: Yeah, you know my mother and my brother George where truly the guiding lights in my life. My older brother was more of a father figure than a brother to me. He was a great teacher even though he wasn’t a teacher by profession. He was a financial analyst, but he was a great teacher. He knew what to give me. He gave me enough to get me going then made me do the work. I think of my mom as always there for me. My guiding light. You know my mom and brother aren’t with us any longer, so I rely on people like Sarah and Brian as my sources of inspiration and as mentors. I talk about them all the time in my shows. If you have this gift, this passion and then you have this story, you have to go out and share your story with others with great enthusiasm to motivate and inspire others no matter their situations.

RD: Sarah, I just wanted to let you know that one of your biggest fans is my 15-year-old daughter. We’re both big fans of the reality show The Amazing Race and she first became familiar with you and your story when you were a contestant in the race. She loves it when girls are just as gutsy and competitive as the guys and you were that and then some in that race. She thought you were awesome and it actually helped inspire her to eventually take up running. She just recently finished one of my beginning running programs. That provided us with a really unique bonding experience.

SARAH: Thanks, that’s one of my big missions as an athlete and role model is to mentor. Bart’s actually one of my mentors and inspirations and like he mentioned earlier, it’s important to help inspire others to get active and get into the sport, so I’m really tickled that your daughter was moved by The Amazing Race to get into running. Thanks for sharing that with me.

RD: Brian, are there any mentors you’ve look to for inspiration over the years?

BRIAN: I would definitely say going back before the Ironman, just growing up and watching the Ironman as a kid and watching the athletes compete and then seeing Sarah’s journey two years in a row and seeing the determination it took to get to the bike course to finish that race. As an inspiring Ironman, that was my determination just to be there and feel that Ironman spirit. And to do that and then be accepted into the marathon community and meet people like Bart has been awesome. Just doing each race is a journey in itself. You meet so many inspirational people like Sarah and getting to talk to Bart Yasso over the past year has been tremendous.

RD: I thought it was cool that both you and Sarah did the Hawaii Ironman in Kona. Did Sarah’s journey inspire you to run the same Ironman?

BRIAN: Growing up I just wanted to do an Ironman. It could have been any of the Ironman races, but to go in and run Hawaii is like completing the Ironman of Ironmans.

RD: It’s funny how life sometimes provides moments, events, encounters that can end up having such a profound impact on our lives. Sarah, I know in your book you talk about meeting a lady, Paddy Rossbach, who first planted the seed that you could run marathons. I think you were pretty young, maybe around 6th grade.

SARAH: Yeah, Paddy is a runner who runs on a prosthetic leg. Backing up, my dad was a runner. He was a Runner’s World subscriber. He'd often take me to races. This was the first race, however, where I saw someone running on a prosthetic leg in the same race as my dad. Seeing Paddy run opened up a whole new reality that if she could do it on a prosthetic leg then I could do it to. You know that really completely changed my life. I started meeting with physical therapists who taught me how to run. And like my dad, I clipped out articles from Runner’s World magazine and eventually started using their 5K and 10K training plans and you know got myself in all these races. It started this whole new passion in my life that's lasted over 20 years now. So, I owe a lot to Paddy Rossbach for sure.

RD: Brian and Bart, did either of you have some type of event like Sarah’s that sort of got the ball rolling for your interest in running?

BART: Yeah, there was a guy who was a few years older than me that went to the same school I was going to. I used to see him running every morning. And at one point I was jealous of seeing this guy running every morning. And when I got into running 33 years ago he was the gentleman that inspired me. I thought I had to get out there every morning at 5:30AM and run like this dude. He really inspired me.

RD: That’s cool Bart. So, if this older student hadn’t been a runner, no telling what you’d be doing now. Hey Brain, what about you?

BRIAN: Early on in my athletic career in High School I started swimming competitively on the high school swim team. Before this my background had been basketball, shot put, discus, track, but no distance. When I switched over to swimming my sophomore year in high school, I really didn’t know the competitive strokes. I swam in some summer programs but that was more for fun. One of the upper classmen, Ethan Ratliff, (he was a senior and I was a sophomore) took me under his wing and showed me the ropes, kept me in the loop, and helped me perfect my swimming performance and racing abilities. The fact that I had an older guy believe in me (I was new to the team and he was “the King” of the swim team and state champion in Maryland) to be in that limelight with him was pretty overwhelming for me in such a positive manner. A few months went by and I was able to train and get better and get really, really good at the sport. I think in the first year near the end of the year, there was a state championship and he picked me to be on his relay team and we got a state championship medal which was tremendous for me in my athletic career so as an athlete that was a big thing for me.

RD: Sarah, in your book you talk about the gift of being different and you talk about how hard it was to fit in as a youngster in different situations. I wondered if you could speak to kids today who find themselves in similar situations by sharing what helped you persevere and get through those tough times.

SARAH: I have to give a lot of credit to sports for really making me feel comfortable in my skin and whole in my body when I did feel so different. I think a lot of teenagers, even if they’re not disabled, all go through some experience of feeling different. I was just lucky to find the outlet of sports and go to the track and sweat it out and turn those bad days into good days and kind of leave all the teasing and tormenting aside. Sports really helped me find that. I think you’ve got to rock what you’ve got. I truly do believe that what makes us unique is what makes us beautiful. Part of the human experience is that we all bring this unique point of view and I’m glad I have that, but that’s hard for teenagers to see.

RD: Yeah, I just read a report that said that one out of every six kids are bullied in some way, so I think it’s great for kids to hear your message that we should celebrate out differences and find our unique outlets whether it's sports, or the arts, or whatever.

RD: A lot of people, especially non-runners think of running just as a means of exercise and staying fit, but for me it’s so much more. It’s part of what keeps me sane. Can any of you imagine life without running? What would it be like without it?

BART: Wow, I’ve never been asked that question. But you know, I can barely run these days. I run literally like 1/100 what I used to run, but I feel very lucky that I still work in the sport and through Runner’s World I can still stay connected to people through running. I don’t know…there are so many things to gravitate to in life. I just think that if I can’t run that I’ll gravitate to something that's going to make me just as happy and still keep me connected to people. I just think you have this type of personality that you have and you go wherever it’s going to lead you.

SARAH: Well, Bart’s modest about saying he doesn’t run much, but I know he manages to squeeze in miles here and there and he pushes himself even though he has Lyme disease which is hard on his joints and makes it not the easiest thing to run these days. He still bikes and I know he gets out there and hammers and he does find some activity to get his heart pumping. I think we all have that common thread of knowing that sports helps us feel alive and if we find we can’t run some day, we’ll bike. And if we can’t bike, we’ll swim. And if I can’t swim, well I don’t know, maybe I’ll take up watercolor painting, just something (laughing) that keeps me active and makes me feel passionate and keeps me as an observer in the world.

BART: I totally agree with what Sarah’s said.

RD: How about you Brian?

BRIAN: Definitely agree with what Sarah’s said. That’s the perfect answer there (laughing).

RD: I’ve had the privilege to work with all ages and abilities of runners, but one of my groups that I find the most inspirational are the beginning running groups. Not always, but often the group ends up being comprised of individuals coming to the sport for the first time as older adults in their 40s, 50s, and 60s. Most of them are very concerned about how they’re going to stack up to the others in the group. Will they be the least fit? The slowest? The oldest? The funny thing is that they have no idea that every one of them is thinking the exact same thing. What’s so cool is to see these very hesitant runners progress over time. Seeing them gain physical strength and muscular and aerobic endurance is awesome. Even more awesome is seeing them become more confident. More than physical constraints, lack of confidence is what often holds individuals back from becoming more active, especially as older adults. How do you guys feel about the importance of staying active throughout your life to maintain a good quality of life and how do you share that with others? Sarah and Brian you guys are both still youngsters, but Bart….? (Chuckling)

BART: Yep, I’m just about ready to turn 55 in a couple of weeks…yeah; I meet people of all ages getting into running and triathlons. I’m just happy people got to the sport. The great thing about running is that we do include everyone. We don’t turn anyone away. If people would just get to a race, they’d understand that they’d fit in. The hard part is getting them to take those first couple of steps to run and then enter an event, because it is intimidating. Everyone does think that all the runners run as fast as Ryan Hall and Carl Lewis and that’s just not the case when you go to a local 5K. But that’s someone’s perception and when they go out and run they know they’re not that fast so they just suppress their feelings that they should be out there. But, once they get out there, someone can convince them into trying and taking those first steps, then they are hooked. Then they feel a part of something. That’s what I love. I want to keep doing this for another ….I don’t know how long I’ll be at Runner’s World, but you know, I hope to work here a few more years and then I hope to keep this passion going that I have of connecting with people through running for a long time.

RD: There’s a lot of research I’ve read recently that says this is the first generation of kids whose life expectancy is shorter than that of their parents. There are so many contributing factors to this like kids living more sedentary lives, schools reducing or taking out physical education and/or recess, kids being engrossed in television and/or computer games, non-stop texting, families no longer eating together and/or eating more fast-food or prepackaged meals. All of this is causing the childhood obesity rate to skyrocket. What do you think is a solution? I see running playing a part in the solution, but what are your thoughts?

BART: Go ahead Brian; you’re still a kid in my eyes. (Brain chuckling) I mean you’re still in school.

BRIAN: I’d say it’s a pretty tough call. For many people my age and in high school, video games are a big factor. When you’re not in class, a lot of your time is spent playing these games. I think it’s an escape for some stress-free time, which is good, but if you’re not careful it can consume more time than you realize and that’s an unfortunate thing. Not all kids get caught up in that cycle. I was one of the rare few and I still am. You know I just preferred to go and be outdoors not ever indoors. I had enough of that being in the hospital. I’d much rather be walking, jogging, hiking, running…anything. There’s so much more to that. The endorphins are going. You go out in an Ironman, marathon or any kind of race or event and there's so much more. It’s a social gathering. It’s a way of being in an environment where everyone is supporting each other. It’s like another family in a way. I think if young people in high school or college get out there and experience that feeling of being active and belonging, they’ll want that more and more.

RD: Yep, I couldn’t agree more. For the younger kids, it’s providing those opportunities for kids to experience being active especially being active in group situations. Last year I had the privilege of being on the board of a non-profit called GO FAR which stands for Go Out For A Run. This organization provides a 10-week program that trains 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th graders to run their first 5K. It also includes learning about good nutrition and character building. The kids culminate the program by running a 5K set up especially for them, their coaches, and families. I attended the spring GO FAR 5K and there were close to 1000 kids running. It was an amazing sight to see.

RD: On a different topic, what do you guys think about the Boston controversy with the registration filling up so quickly? Some think the qualification requirements need to be changed for everyone. Others think the women’s qualifying times need to be reconfigured. What is your take on the issue?

SARAH: Well, I don’t know that much about it, but you know running and racing in general is getting more and more popular and races are seeing the effects of this. As more people get active and run, then just naturally more people are going to qualify. The city has to put a cap on it. I’m certainly not going to tell Boston how they should do things.

BART: I can certainly touch on it. I communicate quite a bit with Dave McGillivray, the race director of the Boston Marathon and um it did sell out in what, something like 9hours and I thought it would because of this backlog of people that didn’t get in. I do feel sorry for some of the people who tried to get on in the morning and there were some server issues or computer problems. But, you know, this has been going on in Ironman races for years (Sarah and Brian in unison, “Exactly!”). They physically go to the races and sign up at the race because it’s the only way to get in. A lot of times there’s only a three-hour window where you can get in online. It’s just a part of the deal. If you’re that passionate about doing it, then you got to do it.

SARAH: I guess that’s why, when I heard “9 hours!” it seemed pretty….

BART: Seem pretty lenient, huh?

SARAH: Yeah! (laughing)

RD: So you’re wondering why they’re whining.

BART: Well, it’s news about the marathon so I understand and people got caught off guard. But, I’ve been telling people for months how fast Boston was going to sell out. If you’re passionate about doing it, you have to commit and do it. That’s all there is to it. You can’t waiver. You enter and that’s it. There’s no sitting on the fence. You know the Boston Marathon people are obligated to the seven municipalities that the race runs through that they’ll only have 25,000 runners. It’s up to the marathon if they want to toughen the standards. When I ran Boston back in the day when I was a young guy, you had to run a 2:50:00 and that was the standard. We knew that and we worked for that. Honestly, I do hope they toughen the standards, but I don’t know about making it tougher for women than men. I don’t agree with that. I think they should leave the older age group times alone because there’s not a lot of people in those age groups, but toughen up the open standard because those people are young and fit and they can run these faster times. They’ll just have to do the work. If Boston sets the bar higher, they’ll just have to for it. I think it would help runners in the US, if they toughen the standards, specifically on the open men’s side and women’s side.

RD: Brain, what are your thoughts?

BRIAN: I’m just hoping to get to Boston, first…. (RunnerDude: “Me too.” [laughing]) One question I do have is, do the marathons after the registration period qualify you for the 2012 Boston? How does that work

BART: Yeah, so if you do Marine Corps or Philly and made your times, then you'd qualify for 2012.

BRIAN: Oh man, then I should have done Baltimore. I’m not even close, but I was curious how that whole process works.

RD: Yeah, I think there were a lot of runners qualified that didn’t make it before the registration closed. Those were the ones who were speaking out the loudest, but that's just the nature of the beast. Good or bad.

BART: And honest Thad, I think for a couple of people it will change their mindset that they thought they always had to do Boston every year because they qualified. They’ll pick another race like London or Big Sur and they may find that they like these smaller marathons or ones more exotic locations. For some people it will be a blessing in disguise, but they’re going to have to find their way and see how they feel about it.

RD: Earlier today, I spoke with Matt Fitzgerald; he’s the senior editor at Triathlete magazine and the author of Run: The Mind-Body Method of Running by Feel. The book talks about how the brain really is what’s in charge of your training not a plan. It details the importance of knowing your own body and its limitations, but also what’s possible beyond the boundaries, how hard to push yourself, and when to rest. I was wondering how that or if that played a part in your training. Do you have a plan you follow? How much to rely on feel

SARAH: I’ll just say briefly, I haven’t read Matt’s book, but when you were just describing it, my immediate thoughts were that I’m definitely a plan person and I like to look at a training schedule and if it says to run that much I’ll do it. I like to have that to follow; however, I have medical considerations that I have to think about. So, definitely sometimes when I’m out there and my prosthetic leg is rubbing and it’s going to put a sore on my stump, I’m like, “you know I’m not going to push it” because then I’ll have a worse sore on my stump and then I have to recover and then I can’t run as much. So, I definitely know my own mind-body connection and I know what I can and cannot push it to and I think that’s just something that you learn over time. Anyone who has a medical consideration kind of finds those parameters.

RD: And they probably find those parameters sooner than runners without medical conditions. Sometimes I think the average runner finds themselves in trouble because they do stick so rigidly to the plan and don’t realize they have some input in their training. Sometimes the body needs to rest while other times it might be ready to go beyond what’s slated for the day. Matt mentioned that many of African runners he’s spoken with think American’s tend to over-think running. Instead of running more by feel, we tend to have to run a certain distance at a certain pace on a certain day. The book is enlightening in that it frees up the runner, not to toss the plan, but to just be liberated to not feel guilty if he alters the plan based on where he’s at mentally or physically each day.

SARAH: Yeah, sometimes I love to run a race without a watch. I think that’s a great way to tap into that whole running by feel. Don’t worry about the time, just run based on how you feel that day.

RD: Yep, in fact a good friend of mine Dena Harris just did that very same thing in a local half marathon and ended up with an awesome time.

SARAH: Well, and especially since you have the chip timing. You’re paying for that service and you’re going to get a split, so it’s like free yourself from that labor of checking the watch.

RD: How about you Brian?

BRIAN: I try to get an overall plan set up for the season and I do my best to try to stick to it, but with my accident, I lost a lot of organs and the organs that were affected still cause a lot of medical problems now. So, if I know I have a hard week, I try my best to stick to the plan, but if I get sick or get bronchitis then I’ll have to adjust the schedule to work around it. Like Sarah said, you know the part of the race that’s the best for me is the experience of it. A lot of races I just run to be in the experience and be with the other runners and enjoy the sights. You just feel it…physically…emotionally…psychologically...every way possible. To me that’s so much better than crossing the finish line and setting a personal best. When you race a lot, you can’t always get a personal best so you’ve got to go out there and just enjoy it too.

RD: I know, Bart, you said that even though you’re running a lot slower than you did years ago that you still get that thrill of crossing the finish line each time.

BART: Yeah, you know prior to Comrades, I did 10 marathons in like a 21-week period and a lot of times my time was 2 hours slower than what I used to do, but the thrill was still there. And it wasn’t that I just was running 2 hours slower. I was physically running what my body would allow me to run. What I discovered and what made me happy was that I was surrounded by a lot more runners than I was used to, and these runners liked to communicate and encourage you and I could do the same to them. I didn’t have that in my other running life, so it was eye-opening in many ways and absolutely a wonderful experience.

RD: A lot of the runners I work with are in their 40s, 50s, and 60s and many of them will come to me saying, “You know I’m not running like I used to. I’m fatiguing sooner.” They often think it’s just related to getting older, but I’ve found that it has more to do with having a weak core and upper-body. As we age, we tend to be involved less in activities that would naturally strengthen the core and upper body. So, if a person is just running to keep fit, they’re getting a great leg workout and aerobic workout, but the upper-body is being neglected. The Core is the power source for a runner and a strong upper-body helps maintain good running form. It’s kind of a domino effect. If the good running form goes, then more stress is put on the core that in turn puts more stress on the lower-body and then before you know it, you’re fatigued and slowing down. I’m a big advocate of full-body strength, especially focusing on the core and upper-body shooting for muscular endurance to help maintain good running form, but also to help increase stability, balance and flexibility for everyday life. Do you guys incorporate that into your training

BART: Brian was a body builder at one point, right Brian? (Brian laughing) My wife was in love with Brian. He’s got long hair. I have no hair. (Everyone laughing) He’s got muscles. I have no muscle. He’s young and good looking and well, I’m neither. So my wife always loves to be around Brian. I believe (and you can speak to this, Brian) the reason why Brian survived his accident was that he had body mass. When you lost over 100lbs you were still strong enough to survive.

BRIAN: Yes sir. Yes sir. Back during the accident recovery, I remember hearing the doctors saying that if I hadn't had all that muscle mass and been in such good physical health, that I wouldn’t have survived. My heart would have stopped beating and everything would have just shut down. I wouldn’t have been able to have pushed through those two months of being comatose. A lot of my program now involves cross-training--swim, bike, run--weights, core work (abs, planks). Planks are really tough and frustrating, but they have a really great benefit to them (Bart agreeing in the background). A lot of medicine ball work. Having the background with power lifting and body building helps, but it also has its affects because I was built like a linebacker. You know I don’t have the best running form, but I’m out there just doing what I got to do. Trying my best.

RD: That’s great. I think a lot of runners have a fear of doing resistance training and lifting weights because they’re picturing a bodybuilder physique and they’re hesitant thinking if they lift weights they’ll add bulk which will slow them down. Unfortunately many don’t see and miss out on all the benefits of working the core and full body conditioning geared more for muscular endurance rather than strength. Great hearing you and Bart talk about using other methods in your training in addition to the aerobic workouts.

BART: Core strength is really vital, when you mentioned being in your 50s, because you have to keep a good posture during running and that really comes from your core. As you get older, people tend to slouch more not only in the shoulders, but they'll lean more from the waist and that’s not good in running. I work on core strength all the time. In the Comrades piece in the current Runner’s World, I had to bring in all these old running photos of me. They wanted kind of a history of me running from college till now. So, I brought this tub of photos and gave it to the photo editors and they kept saying, “Oh my god, you had these ripped abs" and all this stuff. I don’t have those abs any more, they’re covered up with 15-20lbs I put on when I cut back on my running, but I still have core strength. I just don’t have the 6-pack Men’s Health ab thing, but I still feel like I have good core strength and I work on that at our gym. We are very fortunate here at Rodale to have our own fitness center and it’s convenient. I go there at least 2-3 times a week.

RD: That’s great. Sarah, how about you? How do you incorporate other types of training into your plan?

SARAH: You know, I was going to say as well that weight training is important, especially for women for prevention of osteoporosis. I do hit the gym. Sometimes I’m not as consistent about it. I don’t really like being indoors that much, but I do workout. I've also practiced a lot of yoga the past 13 years, not that yoga is necessarily the same exact thing, but I do think it helps work on my core and it’s helped me to stretch as well as other things that have helped me as an athlete.

BART: Sarah’s totally ripped! She’s got legs and arms like I wish I had. She works it. And, plus Sarah, I would assume that your non-prosthetic leg does so much work, that you just use it nonstop.

SARAH: Yeah, I’m actually doing exercises to strengthen other parts of my body to help prevent getting injuries because I know that I’m going to be demanding so much of that leg for the rest of my life…just to live, not just to run a race.

RD: This has been great. I wish we had the time to talk for the rest of the day. I’ve learned so much more about each of you as athletes and individuals. So thank you for sharing yourselves with the readers of RunnerDude’s Blog. I wanted to end by asking what’s next on the horizon for each of you.

BART: Go Sarah. You start us off.

SARAH: Yeah, let’s save Bart for last, because he probably has the busiest schedule ahead. I’m going to be at Rocket City Marathon in December. I’m also doing the half-marathon at Rock-n-Roll Vegas and Muddy Buddy in a couple of weeks and that’s about it for the rest of this season of 2010.

RD: Hey Brian, what about you?

BRIAN: I’m actually packing today (10/27) to do Ironman Florida next week (11/5). Then the following week I have my first 50K. Then the next week is the JFK 50-Miler. Then maybe 2 or 3 weeks after that is the Charlotte Marathon and that will be the end of 2010.

RD: Man, both of you have busy schedules ahead. The Charlotte Marathon, huh? Cool. That’s just a little less than 2 hours SW of me here in NC. I’m in Greensboro, more in the middle of the state.

BRIAN: Yeah, Thunder Road!

RD: Bart, your turn man.

BART: Yeah, I’ve got a few more events ahead this year. Nothing I’m going to run, but some I’m going to attend—NYC Marathon, Richmond Marathon, the Running Event in Austin Texas, the Barbados Marathon. And then I get into all these warm places in the month of December, January, and February because my wife is a California girl and doesn’t like winter in Pennsylvania and since we don’t have kids, we can travel, you know, through the winter. That’s what we do. We go to warm places and I find races in all the warm areas. But it never ends. I get speaking engagements during the week. I just feel so lucky I get to stay so connected to the sport through the speaking engagements and going to the events.

RD: Busy man. Busy man. I just wanted to thank each of you for taking the time to speak with me today and give us a little peak into your lives. I can’t thank you enough for sharing more about your stories and your sport and I know the readers of RunnerDude’s Blog will enjoy immensely getting to know more about each of you. Each of you in so many different ways has contributed so much to the sport as well as being such a source of inspiration to me and countless others across the country and the world. Keep doing what you’re doing.

BART: Thank you. Thank you for doing this and what you’re doing for the running community.

SARAH: Thanks!

BRIAN: Thanks very much.

BART: I say this all the time, that Brian and Sarah are the two greatest athletes I’ve ever encountered because to be a great athlete, not only do you have to be a great athlete in the athletic sense, but whatever you accomplish you have to share with everyone and have that passion to do that and these two do that better than anyone I’ve ever encountered.

RD: Thanks again and happy running!