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Saturday, November 28, 2009

I am not a runner

I’m been doing this fitness thing for a long time. This isn’t my first rodeo, so to speak. I’ve learned a lot over the years. One of things that I’ve learned is that this industry is fluid. What’s good today is bad tomorrow and vice versa. In other words what makes a lot of money today may not make as much money tomorrow. Oops… was that our loud?

I digress.

OK, here is what I’ve learned. I’ve learned that I don’t know everything. Yes, it pains me to admit that. I tend to form very strong opinions about certain things. This is good for me as a fitness professional. I am unique and I stand by my guns. This is part of the reason that I am successful.

I can’t be stubborn though. That could hold me back.

Thus, some opinions have softened and even changed over the years. This is a good thing.

Maybe it’s me getting older. Maybe it’s me being involved at different levels of the industry. Regardless of what the reason the fact is this: I have learned to evolve and change.

I’m still always right. Don’t confuse the issue. Anyway…

I write this introduction for a reason. The reason is that I’ve changed my opinion about something. It is something that is near and dear to my heart. It’s an activity that I do everyday. It’s and activity that DEFINES me. Yeah, it’s running.

For years I’ve let people get away with a lame excuse. That excuse was this, “I am not a runner”. Fine. You’re not a runner. Not everybody can run or has the mental capacity to run so it’s ok if you don’t.

That’s a bunch of crap. I no longer accept that excuse.

Humans are made to run. Did you know that humans can beat a horse over a marathon distance? Did you know that humans can beat most any animal over a long distance? Did you know that the early humans would chase their prey until said pray got tired and then we’d simply club them to death!

Check out this interesting audio piece from NPR about running. It runs about 17 minutes and is well worth it:

Because we sweat while other animals simply pant and drool we can go much further before we need to eat, drink and rest. Humans are long distance creatures.

What about the sprints? Yeah, not so much. Usain Bolt is one fast dude but my dog could outrun him over 100m and my dog is FAT.

We weren’t made to swim either. No self respecting alligator is going to let Michael Phelps out swim her.

Jumping we suck at as well. My cat stands like 6 inches off the ground but yet can jump on the counter with very little effort. That would be like you and I jumping on to the roof of our homes from a standstill. Not likely.

Don’t even get me going on how much we can haul on our backs versus what bugs are capable of. Have you ever seen an ant doing lunge walks? See you got me going…

But we can outrun most animals over a long distance.

You are a runner, just like me. Most of you just don’t know it.

So what does this all mean?

It means that if you haven’t done a marathon you need to. Start small. Do a 5k first. Then a 10k or a 10 miler. Then a half marathon. Then the whole enchilada. The full Monty. The marathon. 26 miles 385 yards. You can do it. It’s in your genes. Where is there a race?

Find a race. Pay your entry fee. Do the race. Stop whining and do it.

My knee hurts. My ankle hurts. My back hurts. I have asthma. I get cramps. I cry a lot. I’m depressed. I’m anxious. I’m too busy. I don’t have money. I don’t know how to train.

You know these are all excuses. Everybody should do a marathon at least once in their lives. I’ve done mine. My wife has done hers. My friends Peter and River just did theirs. What about you?

Yes, you can walk a marathon. If you can walk you can walk a marathon. Yes, you can overcome all the EXCUSES that I listed about. You can and should do a marathon. Who wants to go for a run?

The vast majority of Americans refuse to take 100% responsibility for their lives and their fitness levels. This is why we are one of the sickest, fattest and slowest developed nations on earth. It doesn’t have to be that way.

Just imagine if every American trained for and completed a marathon in the next year. That’s the thought I want to leave you with. Just imagine….

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Pass the Turkey

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. One of the many days per year that people think it’s OK to eat like a sow. The others, of course, being Christmas, New Years, Easter, Groundhog Day, the Super Bowl, March Madness (the entire month), 4th of July, Veterans Day, whenever the Gators, Bucs, Magic or Seminoles play, Columbus Day, First Day of School, Last Day of School, Black Friday, Red Monday, Friday the 13th, Saturday the 14th…

Of course I’m joking but I do have a serious point to make. It starts today with a question:

Is it OK to eat like a 400 pound gorilla every once in a while? Logically the answer it yes. BUT, (and that is a massive BUT) it is not OK to do this often.

I’ll explain.

Overeating on the holidays usually turns into overeating on any occasion where the mood hits you. This turns into dinner every night, then buffet lunches, then you’re putting new holes in your belt because you’re going to start your diet next week. That’s crap and you know it.

Can an alcoholic have one drink?

Can a former smoker have just one smoke?

Overeating on the holidays turns into overeating all the time. Why do you think that Americans are so fat?

How can YOU avoid the “Holiday Bulge” in your belly?

1. Get your butt out the door and do something first thing in the morning! For as long as I can remember I do one of two things on Thanksgiving morning. I either go for a long bike ride or I do a road race. This year I’m going the “Seniors First 5k” in Orlando. . Perhaps you’d like to join me?

2. Play football. That’s another thing that I do every Thanksgiving. Even if it’s just throwing the ball with my kids at least I’m outside and moving.

3. Eat a great breakfast. Have some oatmeal and fruit or some organic cereal. Just made sure that after you exercise in the morning you get some good food in you.

4. Bring a healthy dish to the party. Don’t be the one that bring pie. You know someone else will do that. Bring a salad or a fruit tray. Then you need to eat what you brought.

5. Graze like a horse. Once the food is out start munching. It’s better than all at once.

6. Drink lots of water. Water fills you up and helps to counteract al the alcohol you are likely to consume.

7. When dinner time comes eat lots of different foods but have small portions.

8. A typical Thanksgiving Dinner can have 5000 + calories. Most of that comes from mashed potatoes with gravy and dessert. Have an extra helping of turkey or salad.

9. Try to steer clear of the cranberry sauce (added sugar) and gravitate towards good stuff like green beans or asparagus.

10. Enjoy a piece of pie. Not three!!

The biggest tip for the health conscious at Thanksgiving (or any other holiday for that matter) is to enjoy yourself and don’t try to be perfect. You are allowed to slip once in a while. Americans are not fat because we eat too much at the holidays. We are fat because we eat too much on those pesky days that end in “y”.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! From my family to yours we wish you a happy and safe holiday season!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Mad as HELL!

I won the Tower 10 Miler in Clermont today. That in itself is a great accomplishment. Right? Winning a big race in an endurance mecca like Clermont, Florida means I ran fast and must have beaten a plethora of fast dudes.

Not so.

I won by 6 minutes and barely ran 7 minute mile pace. I know, it was a Podunk first time ever race.

Not so.

It was put on by a professional race management company who, presumably, marketed it well. While this race hasn't taken place in a few years it was a staple in the early 2000's. It was a pitiful race and a pitiful turnout. I'm embarrassed to have won that race with a 1:07. I'm not surprised. This is the direction that our country is going.

OK, time for a trip in the way back machine.

It was the late 1980's. I was a young buck running road races all over Cape Cod, Massachusetts because I loved it. I was pretty fast for a teenager and won my age group most every time. Races cost $5-$8 and I won many a trophy. There were races within a 30 minute drive every weekend. Some weekends I did 2 races. If there wasn't a race there was a training race on Friday nights that I'd run every so often. I enjoyed then, like I do now, running road races.

All the races were 5 milers or 10K's and I ran around 6 minute mile pace when I was 14-15 and 5:10 to 5:30 pace when I was a little older. I'm not bragging but I ran 29:30 at 15, 27:30 at 16, 26:15 at 18, and 26:06 at 20 for 5 miles. I ran 15:40 for a 5k at 20 years old. Pretty fast, huh?

Would you believe I didn't win a road race till I was 22 years old?

I would run 27:30 for 5 miles and finish 18th. I ran 26:06 for 5 miles and didn't win. Same for my 15:40 5k. I would run 29:30 for 5 miles and finish in the 20's.

Wait a minute.

5 miles? When was the last time I ran a 5 miler? I don't remember.

Back to today.

All the races are 5k and 6 minutes per mile will win most races. WHY IN THE HELL IS THAT? Why do local races draw 40 people and someone running 7 minutes per mile can finish top 3 and even win some races?

Where have all the runners gone?

Sounds like a country song.

But wait. What about the 4th of July Watermelon race in Orlando. I did that race a couple of years ago and there were 5000 people there. Also the Turkey Trot last year in Downtown O-Town had at least 5000 people. It was a zoo.

Why did 5000 people go to those races and 50 people show up to the 10 Miler today?

Well, both of those races were 5K's. I guess runners can't make it 10 miles anymore. Also both of those races were not timed.


5000 people showed up and paid $30-$35 to run a 5k that wasn't timed? Huh? Here in lies two of the major problems.

Paying $5 for a road race in 1988 was painless. Paying $30 in 2009 hurts a lot. It took just an hour to earn your way for a person making minimum wage in 1988. You have to work for 4 hours to earn your way into a race now. Some races are still $20-$25 but still that's twice as long you have to work to race. A family of 4 could run a race in 1988 for $20. Today it's over $100. I've paid $35 for 5K's more than once. Not cool.

The money is a minor issue. The races are all still for a good cause. That's not the biggie.

Pop quiz. Do people have more diseases today than in 1988? Are people fatter today than in 1988? Do people take more drugs today? Is the popular in this country more or less fit today than in 1998?

It gets bigger than that.

Pop quiz number two. Did we have the Internet in 1988? Cell phones? I-Phones? I-Pods? Blackberry's? Instant messaging? Texting? 180 channels? HD TV?

Wow! 1998 sucked. How did we do it? How did we survive?

Oh yeah, we got up on Saturday mornings and ran road races.

I don't think it is my imagination. The running boom that people like Bill Bowerman, Frank Shorter, Kenny Moore and Dick Beardsley helping to start in the 1960's and 70's is dying a slow death. It makes me mad and it makes me sad.

All this technology has made us lazy and apathetic.

All the vaccines, drugs, caffeine, food additives and sugar have made us sick and fat.

Running is just too hard. Who wants to get all sweaty, tired and sore when you could be surfing the Internet or downloading apps for your HTC Hero.

No wonder people think 6 minute pace in a road race in fast. It's not. It's pathetic.

I'm so happy to see some of my high school running buddies getting back in shape and running marathons. I myself and going to run many road races this winter. I encourage YOU to do the same.

If you are reading this right now FIND A RACE and put it on your calender. Who cares what kind of shape you are in. Just find a race and run in it. Then find another one...

Local Central Florida Races: . Everywhere else .

You'll support a good cause, you'll get healthy and you'll have a good time.

Please support a local road race. Maybe you could bring a friend...