Saturday, March 29, 2014

RunnerDude's Full-Body Fitness for Runners

It's a Bouncing Baby Book!
Writing a book, I've discovered, in many ways is not too unlike giving birth. There are months of anxiety, weight gain, moodiness, second-guessing. Your brain is rolling with questions like, "How am I going to afford this child?", "How will I know how to take care of this living being?", "Will I be a good parent?" Biggest difference was my gestation period was about 24 months instead of eight.

In the beginning stages of creating this book, I had similar thoughts. "What makes me think I can write a book?" "Will anyone want to read it.", "How am I going to publish it?" But like having a child, if you wait until you're ready, you'll never have it. So, I took the plunge and began the process a little over two years ago.

I spent several months creating the workouts and brainstorming the other sections of the book. If your luck is anything like mine, you're probably familiar with the the "Suck-it-Away-Syndrome. You know whenever you have extra money, something breaks down sucking up every bit of that money. Bonus Money! Woohoo! Air conditioner breaks down. Refund check! Woohoo! Transmission goes out. Never fails. So, a couple of years ago, when I ended up with some extra money, I decided to go ahead and do a photo shoot for all the exercises in the book, even though the book was yet to be written. I hooked up with an awesome photographer, Daniel Rice of Allez Photography. We spent an entire day shooting the exercise photos with two of my clients (Matthew Halip and Kristen Bowles) who graciously agreed to be my exercise models. Now, when looking through the book, it's hard to believe that those 100+ exercise photos were all taken in my (at the time) little 400sq.ft. studioa testament to Daniel's talent. (The cover photography was done by another talented photographer Deno Kontoulas of 48 Layers Photography.)

After the photo shoot, business at RunnerDude's Fitness began to grow and so did my need for space. I remodeled a larger space in the complex where the original RunnerDude's Fitness Studio was located. Great for the business, but not great for having time to work on the book. So, it was shelved for a while. During this time, I was working with a pretty big publisher who was very interested in the book. An insider told me it was at the final executive-level of approval. Then I was informed that the publishing company had cleared house and the new head editor wasn't interested in publishing my book. I was disheartened to say the least. I submitted my proposal to several other big publishing houses who all liked the concept, but all declined. I talked with some of my author friends who all encouraged me to self-publish. The upside is I have more control of the book. The downside, I have to do all the hoofing to publicize the book.

I took the plunge and investigated all the self-publishing options and found CreateSpace to be the best option for my needs. Ironically around this same time, I got a press release from the publisher that was originally interested in my book announcing their new fitness book for runners. Looked very familiar. For a short time, I was livid. How dare they!  But after looking through their version, I realized that my book still had so much more to offer. So, I forged ahead.

One of the many things that Full-Body Fitness for Runners offers that "the other" book does not is contributions from some of running's greatest. Olympian Jeff Galloway provides great before-, during-, and after-running nutrition tips. Endurance runner Dean Karnazes, ChiRunning Founder Danny Dreyer, and international yoga expert Sage Rountree (among others) provide recipes for some of their favorite fueling and/or refueling snacks. Author, illustrator, and creator of the nationally syndicated comic Frazz and author of Trizophrenia: Inside the Minds of a Triathlete, Jef Mallett also wrote the foreword for the book. Their insight is an awesome addition to the book.

Another thing this book has is the behind-the-scene input of an  awesome editor, Iris Sutcliffe. Not only did she do a great job in the editing of the book, she was a wealth of valuable advice on many other aspects of the book. She provided a sounding board, another eye, a fresh focus. We worked our way through some formatting and document issues, but we prevailed. When it was time to approve the final proof for CreateSpace, I was a nervous wreck. The finality of it was a bit overwhelming. Not only because of the worry of missing a mistake, but also just the shear fact that all the work had come to an end. That feeling however was short-lived and soon replaced with the panic that now I have to sell the book. LOL! That's where you come in. I hope you'll take some time to check out the book at And, if you like it, tell your running buddies about it.

Providing over 90 exercises for runners, nutrition tips from Olympian Jeff Galloway, fueling recipes from experts such as endurance runner Dean Karnazes and ChiRunning founder Danny Dreyer, good running form tips, and more, Full-Body Fitness for Runners is a must-have resource for every runner. Three levels of workouts (Novice, Intermediate, Advanced) are divided into lower-body/core and upper-body/core circuits. Each circuit consists of 12 exercises designed to build muscular endurance to support your running helping you run longer, strong, faster, and with less injury.

Inside Full-Body Fitness for Runners you’ll find:
  • Jeff Galloway’s before-, during-, and after-running nutrition tips
  • Anatomy of a runner
  • Five steps for getting started
  • Acclimation and what to expect
  • 10 tips for new runners
  • Stretching
  • How to complete the workouts
  • Lower-Body/Core Workouts (Novice, Intermediate, Advanced)
  • Upper-Body/Core Workouts (Novice, Intermediate, Advanced)
  • Full-body exercises
  • Additional core exercises
  • Partner exercises
  • How to fit the workouts into your week
  • Good running form
  • “Wise Choice” foods for runners
  • Pre-, during-, and post-run snack ideas
  • Recipes from the experts
I'm pretty sure that as in the case of our family when "maternity amnesia" kicked in paving the way for a second and third child, I too will have "book-creating amnesia" paving the way for another RunnerDude book for runners. Stay tuned.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

From Engelberg to RunnerDude

When I was in elementary school, I played baseball for 2 years. Hated every minute of it. I was basically Engleberg from The Bad News Bears except I played right field. The first year I played we had to wear those old scruffy, itchy wool uniforms. Remember this was in the early 70s. There I was, the pudgy kid in this itchy as heck gray wool uniform out in right field, praying hard the ball wouldn't come my way. 

I knew from day one of practice that I was not cut out for baseball. I think it was when the ball popped up and smashed into my face that I had that epiphany. Somehow I made it through a second year of baseball. A short career (so I thought). Maybe if Tatum O'Neal had been on my team I would have lasted longer.

I figured I was supposed to be the fat kid in the plaid pants. You know the happy-go-lucky kid who always had a joke to tell. Back then, if you were "husky" (as they so politely called it) you had very little options for clothing. And it seemed that the designers at the time believed that fat kids looked best in plaid. Better yet, plaid pants with reinforced knees (guys you remember Sears Toughskins?). 

That's how it played out for the rest of elementary school and middle school too. My older brother played baseball, football, basketball, and tennis while I ate twin bags of Lays potato chips on the couch after school watching General Hospital. My best friend Dennis, however, was a gymnast. I always admired his bravery to be the only male on the gymnastics team. He was probably the strongest guy in our class, but he took a lot of ribbing from the other guys. 

Looking back, it wasn't really that I wasn't athletic or didn't have athletic potential, it was that I was not a team sports person. Because there weren't any alternative athletic activities (or at least any that I knew of) it was just assumed I was non-athletic and thus an oddball. My 8th grade PE teacher used to love picking on me in class. I still have nightmares of trying to climb that rope that hung from the gym ceiling. I wish I could challenge him to a road race now.  

The summer before high school (circa 1979) I decided to lose weight. I went on Weight Watchers and lost a little over 40 pounds. During my freshman year we had to run the mile in PE. The previous year in 8th grade, the mile had been torture. That year I ran the mile in 18:20 (and yes I was wearing plaid pants and wallabees). This time it was different. I ran the mile in under 8 minutes. By no means a world record, but I was astounded. For the first time, I realized I could actually do something athletic. I still didn't have the confidence to go out for cross-country or track. Even after losing weight you still feel like a fat person on the inside, even though the weight is gone.

About 5 years later I ran my first 10K. This was around the time (in the mid 80s) when road races began to gain some popularity with "average runners." I was hooked. I finally found my niche. Something athletic where I could compete against myself...or others if I wanted.

Running has taken me many places and provided me the opportunity to meet many people from all walks of life and eventually has become my career. Who'd a thunk that the fat kid in the plaid pants would become RunnerDude! 

Children today as well as adults have so many more opportunities to be involved in exercise. If you're a parent, be observant and foster the activities that interest your child. If you're an adult, be willing to explore different options until you find what clicks. It might be baseball, soccer, walking, running, kick boxing, or hot yoga. Doesn't matter—just get up and move!

I think I'm going to see if I can find me some plaid running shorts. :-)

Avoid the Taper Tantrums

If you're training for a spring marathon, then many of you are about to head into your Taper Time or as I call it sometimes... Taper Tantrum time. Of all the many weeks of training, these last three weeks can often be the most difficult.

A non-runner looking in might think, "Cool! Now you get to run less. Rest. Recover." But a runner's mind is often thinking, "I'm losing my mojo. I'll get weaker if I don't keep running 20-milers up to race day."

The last three weeks are extremely mental for runners. Lots of head games and self-doubt can creep in. Many can find themselves in trouble when instead of heeding to the taper, they try to make up for all the "lost runs" from their training.

Family members of endurance runners know exactly when their loved ones are in their taper. They're grumpy, grouchy, talking to themselves, doubting, irritable, and on edge. Just ask your significant other or your kids. They'll tell you, you act like a trapped animal.

Typically a full-marathon taper begins 3 weeks from race day. The first week is usually about 75% of your longest mileage a week (which is usually the week right before the taper). Most of the decreased mileage comes out of the long run. So if your last long run before the taper was a 20-miler, then your first taper week long run would be 15 miles. The second week into taper is about 50% of your longest mileage week. So, your long run for that week would be 10 miles. The last week is the week of the race. Your long run for that week is your race. You run that week, but very little and while you can have a speed workout early or mid week, it should be more around race pace instead of blowing out your usually tempo or interval pace.

Rest for many runners means weakness. This is a HUGE misnomer. Rest is Strength. Rest is Stamina. Rest is endurance. Rest is rebuilding. Rest is improvement. Rest is growth. Rest is repair. In reality, a runner could probably do no running those last three weeks and end up having an awesome race on race day, but many would end up in the mental ward with no running for 3 weeks.

It's kind of funny how runners all during their training will moan and groan about all the running, the aches and pains, the fatigue (myself included), but then when they're given the gift of a taper they freak out. Research has shown that runners that don't heed the taper hit the "wall" sooner in a race than those that took advantage of the taper. These non-taper runners also have a tendency to peek a week or so early. The taper is a time for rebuilding your body. Giving it time to repair from the weeks of hard training. It's also a time of preparing mentally for the race. Use this time to think strategy. Look over the race course. Learn where the hills are, where the long flat stretches are. Think about the weather conditions. Are you prepared gear and clothes wise for any weather condition that possibly take place on race day? Are all your trip arrangements in place.

Embrace the taper. You'll be glad you did on race day.