Saturday, January 22, 2011

Runner of the Week: Jill

Last March, I shared with you John's story and his amazing journey to a healthier life-style and a life of fitness and running. John is an amazing man and when he suggested I share the story of a friend of his (Jill), I knew it would also be an inspiration.

Jill definitely is just that. After a year of personal struggles and loss, Jill has prevailed and become an even stronger young lady for herself and her family. Read on to learn more about Jill and her journey.

When people ask me why I run, my first response is usually “blood pressure”. Even though I am overweight and need to lose several more pounds, it isn't my first thought or concern. My second response is usually the newly adopted motto of our team in training group “I run because I can. I run because they can’t” and then I follow up with some brief overview of Caleb’s Crusade, the non profit organization that put together the marathon training program in which I participated. This non-profit’s mission is to help families affected by childhood cancer.

The real reason I started running is because it’s not complicated. All you need is a good pair of running shoes and motivation to walk out the door. I now know that there is a lot more to it, but still, running is relatively simple. And it is the only “sport” I have ever been able to stick with.

I am NOT an athlete, nor am I a particularly fit personality. I am competitive, but not a competitor. I have had times when I wanted to get healthy and lose weight trying diets or gym memberships but nothing really stuck. I feel lost in the gym with all the choices and bored out of my mind in circuit training centers like Curves. I love to eat and will try just about anything (fresh, cooked, raw, steamed, fried, green, red or white) as long as its prepared well and seasoned right, I love it all.

But, I have been increasingly gaining weight for several years (on average about 5 lbs a year), capping out at around 185-190lbs at 5’ 4”. When I was diagnosed with high blood pressure, I knew that I needed to make some changes.

Early last year (2010) something really changed for me. I started to get embarrassed about the way I was looking and feeling. I went for a walk with a coworker at lunch one day. When I came back from what ended up being about a 30-minute walk, my face was so red, I looked like a tomato. Yes a tomato. It took a better part of the afternoon for my color to return to normal.

I joined a fitness challenge at work and started going to the gym everyday (treadmill and elliptical machines, nothing too complicated). And I set a new goal for the year--Work on working out, don’t worry about diet, just worry about developing a work out routine and stick with it. I was up to jogging (inside and out) about 2 ½ miles a day four or five days a week when a friend convinced me to run in a local 5k. She convinced me that having short term goals, like signing up for a run, would help me stay motivated to keep working out. I had followed her husband's (John) own success story of going from an unhealthy lifestyle to a healthy one, so it wasn't hard to buy what she was saying. (Great for John but unfortunately for me, he made it look a whole lot easier than it would turn out to be). I hung tight though and did in fact cross that 5K finish line on April Fools Day with a time of 35:13.

Later that month I was invited to a running group meeting. Little did I know, this group was working to raise awareness for a new non-profit organization (Caleb’s Crusade) in an effort to raise money to support families affected by childhood cancer. The group would be training as a team for the DISNEY MARATHON …. Wait…. What?... Train for a what? I walked away from this meeting thinking they were CRAZY. I was touched by their story and moved by the dedication of the coaches and volunteers involved, but REALLY a marathon. Yeah right!

I was signed up the next day. I’m not exactly sure what attracted me more, Caleb’s Story, access to professional coaches, or the closeness of the group. You could tell they were good people and I liked them right away. They were training for the full, the half and even had walking coaches for people who wanted to walk the entire race. So I had options. But, was I really going to do this?

We had our first group training run on May 8th. I talked to the coaches and decided very quickly that I wanted to set my goal high, again competitive but not a competitor. I wanted to accomplish something great, but I didn’t feel the need to be first in line. After all, if they were telling me it was possible for me to run a marathon, who was I to tell them they were wrong. So I signed up for the full marathon. Was I really doing this?

Training went well through June. We started off pretty easy and the team was really great. July was a different story. It was hot! Training two nights a week and doing one long run early on Saturday's to beat the heat, or so they keep saying, but it was HOT!

In August I ended up with a strained hip flexor from all the training. Then I received devastating news from my family. My sister-in-law’s breast cancer spread to her cerebral fluid and she was given just a few months to live (by this time she had been fighting off breast cancer since giving birth to her youngest daughter two years prior).

A few months later in October I received more devastating news. My grandmother passed away. This was a great loss for me. One that has changed me forever. A life without her is a sadder place to be. I will miss her more than I can even put into words. With this news, I went out of town to be with my family and ended up not training for another two weeks. I considered putting off the marathon. With the hip flexor injury and the break in training I was worried about being too far behind to catch up. I didn’t want to push it and get hurt even more. I was also emotionally drained, but I wanted to keep going. At the recommendation of my coach and my run buddy, we modified my training to a definite run/walk goal and continued to move forward.

My life was getting a little overwhelming (husband, two teenage kids, work, training, recent loss of my grandmother, my sister-n-law’s illness, and studying for my masters degree). Something had to give. I decided to put off school for the semester and re-prioritize my life.

Then my sister-in-law took a turn for the worse and I took leave from work. I was able to stick with the training program to an extent while in Texas, but I was definitely getting worried about meeting our training goals and being ready for the marathon. My run partner and I adopted the Galloway ½-mile run to 1-minute walk training program for the marathon run and decided to use this method in all of our training runs from then on. Everyone assured me I’d still “finish” the race.

Sadly, in November, my sister-in-law (Healther) passed away from breast cancer at the age of 33, leaving behind my brother and five children ages 2½ to 16 years. This loss affected me in a way I don’t think I will ever truly be able to verbalize. It gave me an appreciation for life and motivated me, more than I can explain, to continue with this training goal. I needed to make a difference in the way I was living my life. Heather fought every day for 2½ years for the opportunity to spend another day with my brother and her children. The least I could do is appreciate what a gift good health really is.

Three weeks after taking leave from work, I was back home and back on my training program with the group.

2010 saw a lot of loss, but I made a lot of gains too.
  • Adopted a training program and saw it through to the end of the year
  • Ended the year running four or five times a week
  • Successfully completed my longest run alone 13.1 miles (training run)
  • Successfully completed my longest run ever 22 miles (training run)
  • Raised $1,133 for Caleb’s Crusade
  • Met and became close friends with 20 or so really great people
  • Lost 25 lbs.
  • Learned a great deal about personal loss and personal triumph

2011 has also started with a lot of gains. On January 8th, I watched as several members of our training group crossed the 13 mile mark of their half-marathon race. They were definitely going to finish! And a couple of them, crazy enough, would be running with me the next day. I was scared but so proud of the work they had put in and very proud to be standing on the sidelines to support our Caleb’s Crusaders team.

The next day on January 9th, I crossed the full-marathon finish line. I never gave up even though I wanted to after hitting “the wall” at mile 19. I honestly didn’t think I would be able to take one step further and then (with the support of my team)… I did. Chip time: 6:25:02.

Collective accomplishments so far for the year 2011:

  • Finished my first marathon 26.2 miles
  • Lost another 4 lbs
  • Running three days a week
  • Cross training two days a week
  • Committed to participate (with a team) in the March 2011- Sunset to Sunrise Relay (180 mile run from Florida ’s coast to coast)
  • Training to participate in an awareness run that I have coordinated for the past three years, but have previously been unable to run. The Law Enforcement Torch Run to benefit Special Olympics Florida April 15th, 2011. The training challenge for me: Pace- 10 miles at a 10 minute/mile pace.
  • Back in school (signed up just waiting for the class to begin in February)
  • Planning out meals on a weekly basis and am still eating great food, with limits
  • Living life daily with an appreciation for my ability to live an active lifestyle, when others can not.
“I run because I can. I run because they can’t” a motto that I am truly starting to believe. So I guess I could say that I am hooked. I found motivation through personal loss, friendship and success. Equipped with a good pair of running shoes, the rest is easy, right?

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

MY RUN: Be Somebody's Hero...the Terry Hitchcock Story

About a month ago, producer and director Tim VandeSteeg contacted me about a new documentary, MY RUN that features the amazing story of Terry Hitchcock who completed the equivalent of 75 marathons in 75 days. I wasn’t familiar with story, so I was immediately intrigued. We chatted on the phone for a while and Tim asked, if I’d like an interview with Terry. My response? “Heck, yeah!” So, a week or so later, I spent about an hour chatting with this truly inspiring man, now in his 70s.

I’ve met some amazing people through the interviews I’ve done for the blog. Terry Hitchcock is definitely one of them. Funny thing is, Terry’s not really a runner. Well, he did run the equivalent of 75 marathons in 75 days, and yet he doesn’t describe himself as a runner. This man’s story is more about the life marathons many of us run each day of our lives, day in and day out. Yes, his story does involve physical running, but each step Terry took in his 2000+ mile journey from St. Paul, Minnesota to Atlanta, Georgia contains so much more meaning than steps taken in a typical marathon. Each of the 3,000,000 steps in Terry’s 75 day journey represents the struggles of the single parent and the kids of single-parent households.

Terry’s story begins like many. Boy meets girl. Boy and girl fall in love and soon after, three little ones arrive. Life was like a Norman Rockwell painting. But When Terry’s wife, was stricken with breast cancer in her early 30s life began to change. Like a thief in the night, cancer took Terry’s beloved and suddenly his entire life changed.

A couple days after his wife’s funeral, terry returned to work and within two minutes he was told he no longer had a job. His office was cleared out and was now the new boardroom. Within a blink of the eye, Terry had gone from a Norman Rockwell life to widower, single-parent of three, and unemployed.

I asked Terry how he was able to deal with such a domino effect of loss. He said it was the children that helped him pull it together. He decided to change his entire life and get away from corporate America and learn how to be a good parent. So, Terry started on a new path. While raising his kids he started 5 companies that were pretty successful and allowed him time to be with his kids. Terry didn’t want his children to experience the instability that he had growing up as a child.

Terry shared that he was the child of a broken home. His mother battled many demons. At 6-years old Terry was even kidnapped by his father, but upon his return to his mother, his father was rarely in his life. Terry was even in a street gang as a youngster. He says, that by today’s standards, they didn’t do really bad things, but nevertheless, the gang was not the best role model.

Things began to turn for the better around the 7th grade when Terry went to live with his grandparents in Vermont. That event totally changed Terry’s life. His grandparents lived in a very small town of about 400 people. The town’s residents played a big part in Terry’s upbringing from that point on. Terry said, "The town put their arms around me and said, 'You’re going to be okay.'" Life continued to get better and better. He met his first wife, Sue while in college at Bowling Green, and as mentioned earlier, they began a wonderful life and soon had three children, a sheepdog, a station wagon, and a beautiful house.

So, life was different and life was hard without Sue, but Terry managed to build a strong family unit with his kids. In doing so, his eyes were opened to the hardshipsemotional and financialthat single parent-families face.

One night in 1994, Terry was sitting at home with his kids (by then in their late teens and early twenties) and he said, “You know, I want to give something back. I want to do something for single parents and their kids.” So he started researching how many millions fell into that category (at the time about 35 million). Then he recalled Canadian, Terry Fox who at 18 years old was diagnosed with bone cancer and forced to have his right leg amputated above the knee in 1977. While in hospital, Terry Fox was so overcome by the suffering of other cancer patients, many of them young children, that he decided to run across Canada to raise money for cancer research.

Terry [Hitchcock] began to think, “you know Terry Fox really wasn’t a runner, he was running to get the media attention for his cause, maybe I can do something similar to bring attention to the plight of single-parent families.” Terry decided Americans needed to see an “ordinary guy doing extraordinary” things for a cause. So, it was decided. He’d run from St. Paul to Atlanta.

Beginning in 1994, Terry trained for 17 months. The target date for his run was May 2, 1996. His trainer (Scott Meier) knowing there was no way to prepare Terry (who had never run in his life) for such a journey, focused on teaching Terry how to never give up and how to “climb the highest mountain.” So, Terry ran 2 or 3 miles a day (everyday) and that was pretty much it for the running. However, Scott had Terry do lots of other training and would push and push Terry so he’d go the extra mile pushing beyond his physical abilities.

Halfway through the training, Terry had a heart attack. His cardiologist said it was impossible for him to run. He shouldn’t even consider it. Four different doctors told Terry he could not do the run to Atlanta. Terry had his mind set, though and he recovered and continued with his training. Terry never told his trainer he had the heart attack until just a few years ago. During the time, Scott thought Terry had been on an extended vacation.

So after 17 months of training, a heart attack, growing his white hair long, and turning 57, Terry set off on his 2000-mile trek to Atlanta. The night before the run, the Minnesota Twins gave Terry a huge send off, and then on May 2, 1996, Terry’s first day of the run, he ran 31 miles. Terry said, “I thought I was going to die. It was terrible. It took me 4 days to get out of the state of Minnesota.”

After 30 days, all but one member of his crew (his son) left. They said it was too hard. But with the support of many along the way, Terry did in fact finish his trek to Atlanta covering the distance of 75 marathons in 75 days.

A new full-length documentary movie titled MY RUN has been made about Terry’s amazing journey. Indiewood Pictures in Association with Destiny Pictures presents this 10-time award-winning and critically acclaimed inspirational documentary, narrated by Academy Award winner Billy Bob Thornton. The film is Directed and Produced by Tim VandeSteeg and Produced by Mark Castaldo.

MY RUN has teamed up Lance Armstrong’s Foundation LIVESTRONG, and Life Time Fitness and other promotional partners for its 2011 theatrical and DVD release. MY RUN’s message is to be somebody’s hero and audiences can “Be Somebody’s Hero” by purchasing a ticket to MY RUN, because a portion of each ticket sold will be donated to LIVESTRONG to FIGHT CANCER. Doug Ulman President/CEO of LIVESTRONG was quoted as saying, “Your film [My Run] is so important to raising awareness of so many issues including the power of the human spirit. Mr. Hitchcock’s vision and story is one I will never forget.”

Be sure to check out the MY RUN trailer below, show support and stay tuned with MY RUN updates by JOINING its Facebook FAN PAGE at and follow on Twitter @MyRunMovie. Also check out the official website


What inspired me to make this film?
First and foremost, meeting Terry and hearing the story of his life as a single parent and of his megamarathon. I can relate to Terry’s experience on so many levels. My mom raised my brother and me on her own in the late 1970s and early 1980s. I know firsthand what it’s like for kids to grow up in a single-parent family and how hard it is for single moms and dads to cope with all the challenges their situation throws at them. I share Terry’s intense desire to show that to the world.

Second, I love “hero triumphs over all” stories. In many
senses, Terry is a real-life Forrest Gump, someone who had all the cards stacked against him and still managed to come out with a winning hand. Terry succeeded in the tremendous challenge of raising three kids on his own. That’s an incredible accomplishment but it’s not a unique one: many other moms and dads are going through the same thing.

What makes Terry’s story special is that after raising his kids, he took it upon himself to make life better for other single parents and their kids. At the age of 56, out of shape, with heart, knee, and ankle problems, he decided to run from Minneapolis to Atlanta in 75 consecutive days to bring attention to and provide a voice for single parent families. Despite the cold and heat, the rain and wind, the irate drivers trying to knock him off the road, the loss of all of his support team but one, Terry made it and touched hundreds if not thousands with his courage and his message along the way.

That’s why I made this film. I want as many people as possible to see it and be inspired by its story the way I was, to learn that with guts and stubbornness anything can be accomplished, and that with compassion and caring, every individual can make a difference in this world.

Be sure to be on the lookout for when MY RUN comes to a theater near you and to learn more about Terry be sure to check out his book, A Father’s Odyssey: 75 Marathons in 75 Consecutive Days (Bascom Hill Publishing Group, 2009).

Monday, January 10, 2011

Vote for RunnerDude's Blog

For the past two years, RunnerDude's Blog has been a passion of mine and it continues to be so as it grows with readers all over the country and even the world. Most readers hail from the US and Canada, but there is a large contingent of readers in the United Kingdom and Australia too! Last I checked, readers from 77 different countries had visited the blog. There's nothing I love more than sharing information about running and fitness to anyone interested.

If you feel so inclined, I'd love your support with a vote for the blog at "The Top 100 Running Sites" by [clicking here]. Once you've clicked on the link, all you have to do is scroll down to where it says "Click Here to Enter" and then scroll down and find "RunnerDude's Blog" and click on it. That will cast your vote.

Your support and readership of the blog is greatly appreciated! I look forward to being able to bring you more running information, more awesome Runner's of the Week (like Peggy for this week's blog), more interviews with running greats like Bart Yasso and Jeff Galloway, more product reviews and more and contest drawings (like the current contest for a $50 online gift card).

If you've already voted, I greatly appreciate the support.

Thanks and Happy Running,

PS: Check out the upcoming February issue of Guideposts magazine to learn more about RunnerDude and his fitness quest.

Friday, January 7, 2011

RunningWarehouse $50 E-Gift Certificate Drawing!

Today there are several great online gear and apparel stores for runners to choose from. One that I find myself returning too frequently is The selection at this online store is great for both women and men and the customer service is awesome.

There's nothing I dislike more than to find a great online deal only to discover that the added shipping costs make the items even more expensive than before the sale price. Not a problem with RunningWarehouse. They offer free 2-day shipping and free return shipping if you find you need to return something. And....if you need something in a hurry, they offer overnight shipping for only $9.95.

I first encountered RunningWarehouse when looking online for some running shoes several years ago. I was really pleased with the experience I had and I've continued to shop their site. Today not only do they have shoes, but they also have a huge selection of running apparel and accessories (everything from energy bars to watches).

They've also added some other great benefits to runners visiting their website. They're new Learning Center offers a great array of video on everything from  how to select the right shoe to how to train in your 40s, 50s, and beyond. These quick-and-easy to use, get-it-at-a-glance videos are informative and fun to watch. 

And the Winner of the  $50 RunningWarehouse E-Gift Certificate Is...
Congratulations to Shelley Bowman of Texas, the winner of the $50 RunningWarehouse Online Gift Certificate! Her entry was #99 and that was the lucky number chosen by the True Random Number Generator. Some of you may know Shelley from her blog My Journey to Fit. Check it out when you can.

Thanks Joe for providing such a great service to the running community, your support of the blog, and the awesome prize!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Runner of the Week: Peggy Hewitt

This week's Runner of the Week just graduated from a recent RunnerDude's Fitness Beginning Running Group.

Peggy, like many mom's, found herself filling most of her time with family and work commitments, leaving very little time for herself. But, after seeing her daughter getting into running and loving it, she decided to check it out for herself and ended up getting hooked.

Throughout the beginning running program, Peggy often shared her appreciation for the group and the knowledge she was learning, but what Peggy didn't know was that her desire to become a runner along with the other eight ladies in her group (ages 33 to 61) was one of the most motivating and inspirational things I've been involved with.

Each lady in the group had the same concerns, "will I be the oldest," "...the slowest", "...the least fit." They were nervous and worried they wouldn't be able to complete the program. The group, however, quickly bonded and supported each other through the weekly group runs and the weekly independent runs. It wasn't long before the comments turned from "Will I be the slowest?" to "How far have we gone?" "What's my pace?" "How far is a 5K?" I loved every minute of it.

Read on to learn more about Peggy and her experience with running.

Having been tall and skinny while growing up, people always asked me if I played basketball or was athletic. The truth is, no one in my family was athletic! Especially me! We were all encouraged to learn piano or violin, or some other form of the arts. Even though I was the only one out of my large family most likely to play in neighborhood 'pickup' games, I could never talk my siblings into joining in the fun. So, I was thrilled when my three children all showed athletic abilities (along with artistic talents!). However, instead of joining along side them, again I was the spectator - or the band Mom, Scout Mom, taxi Mom, church youth group Mom, ect… Being a single parent since my oldest was 5 years of age left little time for personal exercise. (Or, so, was my excuse!)

Over the past few years, though, all three kids, now in their early 20's, have all continued with running on a more serious level. Amy joined a running group about a year ago, and then decided to train for a half marathon. She found Thad McLaurin, from RunnerDude's Fitness, and signed up with him. She would come home and tell me how far she had run and how much progress she was making. I could see such a change in her, that I became curious about this thing called running. So, I threw on a pair of tennis shoes and started running around the neighborhood.

Amy, Andy, and David were so proud of me; they decided we should do a Family 5K. There was one coming up a few weeks later and they were SURE it would be the perfect race for the four of us. When the 5K start time rang out, all the runners took off at the fastest pace I had ever seen! Amy ran at my side the whole race encouraging me to keep going even though I'm sure I was barely moving at times! Was I the last one to finish? I may have been; but I FINISHED! And I loved it! Every aching muscle and breathless moment! I knew then, I wanted to learn the right way to run!

I was in luck; Thad was starting another beginner's running group in just a few weeks. About eight to ten of us beginners met twice a week to learn the proper techniques of running from Thad. He is surely the most patient trainer ever! We were always asking "Why do my knees…", "When will my breathing…", What should I eat…" "When should I eat…"? Our questions were endless! Thad answered each question, and if he wasn’t sure, he would find the answer and email it to us. Thad never pushed us or made us feel like we were not doing our best. He ran alongside us each day telling us how well we were doing.

Although Thad never pushed us to make a certain 'time' or distance, we were all curious as to how far we were running. Thad measured our route and discovered we were running about 3 miles! The last week of our program had us up to running 30 minutes. What perfect timing for the Resolution Run 5K! I decided to go for it!

David and I met a few new running friends at the start line that New Year's Day. But, I was so thrilled when Thad came and ran alongside me the whole race! It was like having my own personal trainer there cheering me on! His watch measured distance and time so at the end of each mile he could tell me how I was doing! Even though I was running faster than I usually go on my weekly runs, once I saw the finish line I had that second wind come over me. I sprinted that last tenth of a mile and managed to come in 7th for my age group! David came in second for his age group! What a great feeling!

I know I could not have done this without Thad! I am so thankful for his encouragement and dedication to helping us meet our goals and live a healthier lifestyle. He truly has a special gift. Five of us in this last beginners group are nurses and we often commented on how it makes us feel good to be role models for others by routinely exercising. If not for Thad and his gift for encouraging and teaching, I know I would not be so excited about running. I know this is something I will continue doing!--Peggy

Monday, January 3, 2011

Win A Pair of Tickets to the Hood to Coast Movie!

Caleb Kinney of Pasadena, MD!  CONGRATULATIONS Caleb!
Enjoy the Movie!

A couple of weeks ago, I posted on an awesome movie coming out on January 11th for a special one-night showing--Hood to Coast. Hood to Coast is an inspiring new documentary that follows four teams with various levels of athletic ability on their epic journey to conquer the world's largest relay race. Some run to test their personal limits, some to overcome personal obstacles, and others leap in blindly looking for a way to shake up a complacent life. As you follow these four teams, you realize that winning isn't everything in a film that takes a celebratory look at personal motivation and attempting the extraordinary. Tickets are available at now!

Last week I had the opportunity to talk with Christoph Baaden, the director and producer of the film. Come to find out he got his MFA at the University of North Carolina-Greensboro (UNCG), right here where I live! Small world, huh? A few years back, Christoph was asked by his producing partner (and wife) Anna to fill in on a Hood To Coast team. From the moment he hit the mountain, he was overwhelmed by the sense of adventure and community that was evident even as people put themselves through a grueling challenge.

Within days, the production team began working on a proposal for a feature documentary about the world's largest relay. The idea was not to simply document a race, but to experience an event of epic proportion through the eyes of the people crazy enough to do it.

Filming began months before the race, eventually narrowing the cast of characters to four teams: the novices, the experts, the survival story, and the story of a family healing.

Over 100 crew members from both Portland and Los Angeles gathered to film the two day race in August. Even for the experienced crew members, the scope of the shoot was overwhelming. Over the 36 hours, the crews worked in alternating shifts, covering 197 miles of Oregon wilderness with limited cell phone reception. Each of the four main teams had their vans embedded with microphones and extra lighting, along with a field director, camera and sound operator who all traveled hidden in the trunk. In addition it took seven more film crews, timelapse cameras, cranes, and a helicopter, all strategically moving to capture the magic of the event.

With over 500 hours of footage editing took over a year. When the picture was ready, composer Nathan Barr signed on and recorded an incredible score, the final glue that the movie needed.

The film was honored to have its film festival premiere in March 2010 at the prestigious South By Southwest Film Festival in Austin, Texas.

Drawing for Free Pair of Tickets!

Now one lucky person will have the awesome chance to win 2 free tickets from RunnerDude's Blog, thanks to Christoph! To enter, first [click here] to make sure the movie is playing at a theater near you, then simply email me at and be sure to put "Movie Tickets" in the subject line of the email. In the body of the email, put your full name, mailing address and phone number. The winner's name/info will be forwarded to Christoph. Each email will be assigned a number in the order that it's received. The True Random Number Generator  will be used to select the winning email entry.
Hurry!!!  You only have until end of day on
Wednesday, January 5th, 2011 to enter!!
The winner will be posted on the blog on Thursday, January 6th.

Hood To Coast Movie Trailer with Bart Yasso Intro from HoodToCoastMovie on Vimeo.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Do I Dare Run Faster on a Long Run?

Pacing. Sounds easy enough, but ask any runner and it can often be the bain of their existence. Before the dawn of wrist-bound GPS watches, you practically had to be a mathematician to calculate your pace as you ran.

I got smart for one marathon several years ago (I thought) and decided to print out one of those cool wrist pacing bands. I had read where if you covered it with clear packing tape before attaching it around your wrist, it would keep the moisture (sweat) out. Well, I didn't have any clear packing tape, but I did have clear Contact paper. Sounds like a good substitute, right? WRONG! Evidently Contact paper is porous and packing tape is not. So, halfway through the marathon I looked down at my wrist band. Under the contact paper was a swirl of colors. Basically I had a lava lamp on my wrist. Looked really pretty, but didn't do a dang thing for helping me keep up with my pace. Live and Learn.

Non runners and new runners often think that the second half of a race should be faster than the first half—a negative split. That may be doable in a shorter race, but more than likely with 5K, 10K, and even half marathon races, runners are shooting for even splits.  Even splits can be a tall order for a full marathon but it can be done. Some running experts say that it may be more realistic, espeically for a lesser experienced runner to shoot for the second half being about 5-mins slower than the first half.

To prepare for even marathon splits or splits that are somewhat close to each other, the key really is doing race-pace runs during your training along with your tempo and long slow runs. The tempo runs help push out your lactate threshold and increase your VO2Max, making you a stronger more efficient runner. The long slow runs, help build your mileage and your muscular endurance. In most training plans you run short-and-fast and you run long-and-slow, but you don't get to run at the pace you'll be running for 26.2 miles. Seems odd to have a goal race pace, but to never run it in your training.. I think sticking in some runs that allow you to run at pace will better prepare you for the race and better prepare you for your pacing during the race.

With my runners, I have them run some of their longer tempo runs (7 or 8 miles) at race pace. They begin and end with a 1-mile warm-up/cool-down followed with the tempo miles in between. It's also a good idea to take some of those long runs and instead of running them at a minute slower than race-pace try running them at 20 to 30 seconds slower than race pace. Another good strategy is to position a mid-mileage run (say maybe 14 or 15 miles) and run it at race pace (making sure to begin with a 1-mile easy warm-up). I've also discovered that adding some speed later in a long run is an effective strategy. For example, ramp up the pace to race pace or faster for the last two miles of your long run. This helps teach your body to know that it can "pull-out" some reserves at the end of the race. If you do this in your training, it won't surprise or shock your brain/body if you do it during the race.

The long slow run is important and the bulk of your long runs need to be done in this fashion, but ramping up the pace on a select few of these long runs can really help prepare you mentally and physically for running those even splits (or close to even splits) on race day.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Do You Know a Running Hero?

You may not know it, but there are heroes all around us. They're not given medals. They're not recognized on the 6 o'clock news. And they're not rich and famous. But, they are heroic nonetheless.

These are ordinary people who overcome extraordinary obstaclesweight challenges, the death of a loved one, a chronic illness, the loss of a job, and/or mental or physical disabilities, just to name a few. Many of these people use running to help them overcome those life obstacles.

Over the past two years, I've featured over 40 examples of these everyday running heroes. These are some of the most inspirational and motivating people I have had the privilege to encounter.

There is Noah who lost over 60lbs to make sure he was setting a good example for his son and so he'd be around to see him grow up. There is Ann affectionately known as "Grannie Annie" who decided to take up running at age 50 and who now at age 67 has run over 70 marathons. There is Danica and her amazing story about her courageous mom's battle with cancer and how running helped Danica gain back some normalcy in her life after the passing of her mom. There is Mel who has an amazing 2nd-chance story of how she regained her life from mysterious seizures. And there is David who used running to help him deal with his sister’s cancer having come out of remission. These are just a few of the 40+ stories shared on the blog.

Recommend a Runner of the Week!
Do you know someone like Noah, Ann, or Mel who with an inspirational running story? If so, I'd love to hear it and share it with the thousands of runners all over the USA and the world who read RunnerDude's Blog. If you know of a great candidate for RunnerDude's Runner of the Week, please email me at Be sure to put "Runner of the Week" in the email's subject line.

Looking for a Personal Trainer in Greensboro, NC?

RunnerDude's Fitness Studio
Do you live in Greensboro, NC? Are you looking to improve your level of fitness and improve your quality of life in a safe, small studio setting with a well certified, knowledgeable, and supportive personal trainer? RunnerDude’s Fitness offers that and a whole lot more!

RunnerDude’s Fitness is dedicated to helping you meet your fitness goals through one-hour and half-hour one-on-one and partner personal training sessions for...
Beginning Fitness Training
General Fitness Training
Senior Fitness
Fitness Assessments

RunnerDude’s Fitness also provides individual and group training for runners and walkers including...
Fitness Walking
Fitness Training for Runners
Beginning Running
Race Training for 5Ks to Marathons
Online Training
Customized Running Training Plans

Why Choose RunnerDude's Fitness? The owner and trainer, Thad McLaurin, provides a relaxed, fun, non-intimidating training in a small informal studio setting. Thad knows that beginning fitness for the first time or returning after being away for a while can be very intimidating. Don't be mislead, you'll get a great workout, but one that's nurturing, motivating, and confidence-building. Thad's goal is to "Education not Intimidate." He won't be yelling in your face. Thad also feels it's important to explain why the exercises you're doing are beneficial to you and your health. So, not only will you become fit, you'll learn more about your body and your musculoskeletal system. You'll also learn proper technique so when you workout at home or in your own gym, you'll feel confident you're doing the exercises safely.

Still Not Sure? Check out the information below about Thad, then call (336) 288-6155 or email him and set up a free consultation. You'll get to check out the studio and talk with Thad for an hour. You can share your fitness goals and Thad can share information about the various training programs available to best meet your needs.

About the Owner/Trainer:
Thad McLaurin (aka: RunnerDude), his wife Mitzi, and their three kids have lived in Greensboro, NC since 1998. He's come a long way since being "that overweight kid" as a youngster. After Weight Watchers® and a 40-pound weight loss in high school, he discovered running during college and has been passionate about running and fitness ever since. (Over 25 years!) It all started with the '84 Great Raleigh Road Race 10K. He wasn't fast, but he had a blast and was hooked. 13 years later, Thad caught the marathon bug. His marathon quest began with the '97 NYC Marathon. Fourteen years later, he's run 10 marathons all over the country from NYC to Baltimore to Nashville to Honolulu, and then some.

A UNC Chapel Hill grad, Thad began his career as a 5th grade teacher before moving into the world of Educational publishing where he worked as a writer, editor, and book development manager for 13 years. Thad combines his love of writing with his love of running and fitness by hosting RunnerDude's Blog. He's a contributing writing for the Landice Fitness Blog and he's also written articles for and Fitter U Fitness. Thad was also featured in the "Ask the Experts" section of the July 2010 Issue of Runner's World magazine. He's also had the wonderful opportunity to interview some of running's greatest legends and personalities.

You can catch Thad weekly on where he's the NC Endurance State Reporter. Thad's also active in the community and has been a member of the executive board for GOFAR, a nonprofit organization that prepares youngsters to run their first 5K!

Thad is well credentialed with his Personal Trainer and Nutrition Consultant diploma certifications from NPTI (National Personal Trainer Institute), his ACSM (American College of Sports Medicine) personal trainer certification, his RRCA Running Coach certification, and his USA-Track & Field Level 1 Coaching certification. He's also current with his Red Cross adult CPR/AED and First Aid training.

Read More About RunnerDude: Guideposts magazine recently featured an article on Thad and his life transition into the fitness world. [Click here] to check it out.

Check out the Jan/Feb '11 RunnerDude's Fitness Newsletter!
For more information about RunnerDude's Fitness, the various training programs, and pricing, go to