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!


Mark U. said...

Great interview!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for doing and posting this!

RunnerDude said...

Thanks Mark!

RunnerDude said...

Hi Lesley! Sure thing! It was a blast!

Miguel said...

Fabulous interview! Very inspiring...and 2 more books to read! Thanks for letting us in om the conversation

RunnerDude said...

Hi Miguel!
Yep, all three books are awesome. Enjoy!

Jen said...

Loved the interview. Inspiring people for sure!

RunnerDude said...

Thanks Jen!