Archive for December, 2011

2011 In Review

Posted: December 31, 2011 in Uncategorized

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.


Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Syndey Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 21,000 times in 2011. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 8 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Happy New Year!

Posted: December 31, 2011 in Uncategorized

Lori, Rider and Macie Jo joined me this morning for my training run with the Marathon Coalition runners.  I never enjoy waking the kids up @ 5:30 a.m. on a weekend but they were both so excited to attend training.  Rider ran 5 of the scheduled 8 miles and I enjoyed running up Heartbreak Hill with him for the first time.  We often discuss running the Boston Marathon together someday.  I remember when Lori and I brought him to training before he was even before he was a week old.

Today was a reminder of how quickly time passes.  Rider ran with Bob Connolly and Stephen Najarian today, two runners that were at training the first week of his life.  Charity runners have had a significant influence on him.  Before he was even 4 years old, and just after he learned to ride his bike, he proclaimed, “I want to ride my bike to raise money for kids with cancer!”  As a parent, that will certainly make her hear smile.    Lori found a Pan Mass Challenge For Kids in a nearby town and Rider rode in memory of his grandma and grandpa.  It was one of the proudest days of my life.

As I consider resolutions for the New Year, I certainly hope to improve as a runner, coach, husband and father (not necessarily in that order), but I am more focused on providing a healthy, safe and empowering environment for Rider and Macie Jo to thrive.  I wouldn’t be able to accomplish a fraction of what I have or hope to without the unconditional love and support of Lori.  We are all blessed to have her in our lives.

I hope that your 2012 is filled with great health, hope, inspiration and it exceeds your expectations on every level.

Happy New Year!


Attention To Detail!

Posted: December 28, 2011 in Uncategorized

Running in the moment and focusing exclusively on your running form will serve you well.  This is easier said than done as we tend to focus more on how many miles are remaining in our run and what we have planned for the balance of the day.  It’s so easy to allow our mind to wander as a mild form of escapism from the rigors of running.

Focusing on your form and allowing your mind to wander aren’t necessarily mutually exclusive.  You simply have to check in with your body periodically to ensure it hasn’t strayed too far off course.  Much like a pilot of your own body, you have a pre-flight, in-flight and post-flight checklist that will guide you through a successful run.

Before each run you need to be rested, well hydrated and properly fueled.  As you begin your run you should focus on starting slowly (i.e., your first two miles should be run at a pace that’s two minutes per mile slower than you expect to average for the remaining miles…it will seem rather pedestrian) and easing into a rhythm. 

During your run it’s imperative to monitor your breathing and arm carriage.  So many runners waste energy by swinging their arms needlessly.  Your feet should be landing directly beneath you and at a stride rate of 180 steps per minute.  If your feet are slapping the road or your making a lot of noise you are undoubtedly running very inefficiently.  Run tall and keep your shoulders back.  Your hands should be relaxed as though you’re carrying a butterfly in each one.  Maintaining your form throughout your run will allow you to expend less energy and avoid injury.  Runners tend to lose their form as their run progresses which causes them to go through a greater range of motion and placing additional stress on their lower extremities…increasing the likelihood of an injury.

As each run concludes it’s important to allow your heart rate to gradually return to normal levels by walking for 4-5 minutes afterwards.  Using the stick, foam roller and stretching are investments that pay significant long-term benefits.  Eating and rehydrating within the first 30 minutes of concluding a run will help with the recovery process and prepare your body for the next workout.

Pat close attention to all the small details of every aspect of your runs and you’ll get into better shape with less effort.  You will also enhance your enjoyment of running considerably!

Setting Realistic Goals

Posted: December 26, 2011 in Uncategorized

Setting realistic goals for the New Year will allow you to avoid disappointment.  It’s far more effective to prioritize your goals and focus on the Top 3.  Some of the more common resolutions for runners are:

  • Be more consistent with training
  • Improve nutrition by eating a well-balanced diet and avoid foods that are processed and high in sugar
  • Improve flexibility
  • Focus on running more efficiently

Ironically, these are going to be my goals for 2012.  I’m looking forward to my best year of running.  I may not be running as fast as I once did, but I can certainly garner as much enjoyment from running as I ever have.  It’s also important to be a great role model for the runners I coach so that’s additional incentive to focus on the aforementioned areas.

Keeping a journal has always been an effective method of assessing my running and making the requisite adjustments.  My daily journal entry includes:

  • Total Miles Run
  • Course Description and Location
  • Average Pace
  • Average and Maximum Heart Rate.
  • Weight
  • Hours Slept
  • Rank Each Run On A Scale Of 1-10 (10 being the most difficult)
  • General Comments About Each Run And My Attitude

It’s important to accept the reality that you’ll have setbacks and disappointments.  How you respond to them will determine how effective you are in achieving your goals for 2012.

The recipe for success is establishing realistic goals, developing a strategy steeped in reason and having dogged determination in your pursuit of achieving them.

The Joy Of Coaching

Posted: December 23, 2011 in Uncategorized

Coaching has always been so much more to me than training someone to get to the finish line of a marathon in relative comfort.  There are countless books written by distinguished runners that can help someone accomplish that.  My coaching career happened quite literally after the tragedy of losing my mother to leukemia the day before her 58th birthday on August 1, 1996.

When I spoke with mom for the last time I promised her I would do something significant with my life; something that would make her proud.  I have been able to fulfill that commitment beyond measure through my role as a marathon running coach for charity runners.  All credit goes to the amazing runners that I’ve had the honor of coaching and whom have raised countless millions to give hope to those desiring educational opportunities or just one more day of life!

I have been so inspired by their example and have never felt I can reciprocate enough for all they have given me.  I’m always touched when someone finds even an ounce of inspiration by my words or deeds.  Trisha Reeves attended training with the Marathon Coalition for the first time last week and here are her observations.  This journey that I’ve been immersed in the past 16 years begins at the finish line of every marathon…when every runner begins to believe they can accomplish more than they every imagined!

“I was invited to attend a Saturday training run given by Coach Rick, with a fellow (very inspiring) blogger and Boston Marathon runner, Sherée. This was the first time I’d ever met Sherée in person, and also the first time that I’d ever shared a training run with 40+ people and a Real Life Running Coach. I didn’t know what to expect, but I found myself sitting in a large room on the basement floor of the First Baptist Church in Newton, tights-clad butts in chairs lining the walls, every pair of eyes following the man with the inspired voice in the center. Coach Rick is just one of those people: you know the type, the guy who makes you feel like you could save the world with a paperclip. The kind of person who holds your gaze and appears truly enthusiastic about making your acquaintance, who instantly makes you feel important to him, even if you only just shook hands. He possesses the powerful companionability that got Barrack Obama voted into the White House, and the unshakable integrity of your greatest personal hero. The man talked for an entire hour in that church basement, and I was hooked the whole time. He mentioned the training and the fundraising that most of the runners had to do, but he talked about a lot of other stuff too. Motivating stuff. Sad stuff. Awe-inducing stuff. Stuff that you think about later on when you’re by yourself in the shower or having a bad day. All I could think the whole time was, man…if I had Coach Rick last winter, I bet that Incident of the Colossal Hill never would have happened, nor would I have had such a shitty outlook upon finishing my first half marathon. Hell…if I had Coach Rick last year, I might have run an entire marathon instead of just half of one. There was such a sense of community there, that I felt like I could conquer any distance I wanted, as long as I had this team of runners and coach with me.”

Energy Management

Posted: December 21, 2011 in Uncategorized

Proper energy management can be the difference between an extremely positive running experience and a complete nightmare.  Having coached thousands of runners of various abilities, I’ve witnessed several common mistakes runners of all levels commit.  At the top of the list is mismanagement of energy.

Runners begin each training run or marathon with a tank full of energy, one that will never be as full for the balance of their run.  Wasting energy at the beginning of a run or race can come at an extremely high price.  Starting too fast and not allowing the heart to pump large volumes of blood to oxygenate the major muscle groups can be disastrous.  Experiencing oxygen debt and becoming anaerobic will result in lost form and wasted energy, thereby making you more vulnerable to an injury.

The easy solution is to run the first two miles of every run at a pace that’s at least two minutes slower than you expect to average for the remaining miles.  This may seem rather pedestrian but it’s truly the key to success to effective energy management.  Incorporating moderation in the beginning of each run allows you to maintain your form throughout the run, reduce the risk of injury, and improve the likelihood of more enjoyable runs.

You can experience breakthrough running results when you are mindful of how you manage energy throughout your runs!

Running Shoe Strategy

Posted: December 16, 2011 in Uncategorized

Runners often ask why they experience difficulty when training in a new training shoe.  Inevitably I see the same pattern repeated (i.e., running in only one pair of shoes until they are exhausted).  Running shoes can be expensive so I understand the need to train in one pair of shoes from an economic perspective.

However, it is worth investing in multiple pairs of shoes from several standpoints.  First and foremost, you are less likely to become injured when you rotate multiple pairs of running shoes.  Your lower extremities won’t become accustomed to the range of motion of just one pair of shoes.  You get far more mileage from your running shoes when you rotate multiple pairs because the midsoles are allowed to rest between runs.  Most runners don’t realize running shoes require rest.

The majority of running shoes have midsoles comprised of EVA (ethylene vinyl acetate) or air blown rubber.  EVA contains thousands of tiny air bubbles that act as shock absorbers.  You are placing several times your body weight on your lower extremities with each footstrike.  Multiply the number of miles run x 1000-1500 footstrikes per mile  and you’re placing a ton (no pun intended) of force on your legs and feet.  This compresses the tiny air bubbles in an EVA midsole and they require between 24-48 hours of rest to expand back to their full resiliency.  If you only wear one pair of running shoes you’re likely to wear them out prematurely.

Most runners look at the outsole to determine whether their shoes need replacing but it’s actually the midsole that compresses and wears out first.  If you listen closely to your body you will start feeling aches and pains when your midsoles have completely compressed and are no longer absorbing the shock. 

The reason runners experience difficulty when going to a new shoe after training in just one pair is due to the completely compressed midsole and the excessive range of motion your experience going through your entire gait cycle.   Running in a new pair of shoes is a shock to your system because you’ve gone to a completely different end of the spectrum. 

Rotating multiple pairs of shoes will reduce injury and provide far more mileage from each pair.  Running in multiple pairs of running shoes is initially expensive but ultimately far more economical because you enjoy more miles from each pair.  I recommend staying within the same model or genre (i.e., stability, neutral or cushioned) of shoes, provided you’re happy with them, when choosing multiple shoes.

Develop a shoe strategy that works for you and your will significantly reduce the risk of injury and dramatically improve the quality of your runs!


Posted: December 11, 2011 in Uncategorized

We had our national sales meeting in Providence, Rhode Island this past week.  The days began extremely early and ended late which prevented me from posting.  However I am recommitted to getting back on track with regular updates.

Lori and I attended several holiday parties last night in Boston and Grafton but still managed to complete 10 hilly miles in Grafton this morning.  The closing miles were filled with thoughts of Lori’s warm oatmeal, a Bananarama (i.e., bananas, yogurt, peanut butter and ice) and a complete session of stretching in front of the fireplace.

Running in the morning is the perfect start to the day and makes everything else throughout the day more pleasant.  I’m looking forward to visiting my favorite city in the country this week.  Austin, Texas is simply incredible.  They undoubtedly have the best Whole Foods in the country and within a mile is Lance Armstrong’s bike shop (Mellow Johnny’s) and Luke’s Locker, a great running/fitness store.  I always stay in a beautiful hotel in downtown Austin and stock my room with great meals from Whole Foods.  I’ll run along the lake each morning and encounter hundreds of extremely fit people…a seismic departure from the unhealthy people I encounter when I travel.

My priorities for the week are to eat healthy, get plenty of rest, run consistently and put my best effort into my work.  I’ll be in Austin, San Antonio, Killeen, Texas as well as Birmingham, Alabama.  Next week I’ll spend 3 days in Denver and 2 in Boise, Idaho.  Although I NEVER want to be apart from Lori, Macie Jo and Rider, at least I’m able to experience some amazing destinations.  I’m determined to make it to Eugene and Beaverton, Oregon soon to run on Pre’s trail and visit Nike.

I’m so excited to have training underway for the 2012 Boston Marathon.  We’ve had two great sessions so far and I look forward to our weekly meetings up until the marathon.  I enjoy meeting all the new runners and learning what their goals are and helping them to achieve them.  I feel blessed to still have such a high degree of interest and enthusiasm for my coaching and hope to coach long enough to train Rider and share his first marathon with him.  The reality that I will likely be in my early 60’s is a concern with respect to keeping up with him 🙂

I appreciate your following my blog and, again, you have my recommitment to post more regularly.

Proper Running Form

Posted: December 5, 2011 in Uncategorized

The focus of our initial training session last Saturday was the importance of developing  proper (i.e.,smooth and efficient) form.  You become less tired throughout your runs and significantly reduce the risk of injury if you can maintain proper running form throughout every run.  It’s imperative to conserve energy from the very first step of every run.  Many runners don’t focus on their form until fatigue sets in.  By then it’s far too late, it’s similar to waiting to hydrate until you’re thirsty.  I recommend running the first 1-2 miles of every race at a pace that’s at least 1-2 minutes slower than you expect to average for the remaining miles.  This allows your heart to pump major volumes of blood (oxygen) to your major muscles and prevents going into oxygen debt.

Sustaining proper form becomes more challenging as the miles progress and fatigue sets in.  Core strength is an essential component to proper running form.  An upright position with a slight forward lean is the ideal position for running.  A runner constantly monitoring their form is similar to an airline pilot trimming the wings in an effort to gain maximum efficiency.  This ideal position places less stress on the body and significantly reduces the risk of injury.

Running at a stride rate of 180 steps per minute is the ideal range .  During your next run count your foot strikes on one foot for a minute and you should be near 90.  Most runners over stride so that number will be less than 90.  It seems counter intuitive but you improve your efficiency by taking more steps.  You expend less energy attempting to propel your body over a greater distance by maintaining an 180 spm (steps per minute) rhythm.

Running with a slight bend in your knees also places less stress on your body.  Heel strikers tend to straighten and almost hyper-extend their legs, placing a considerable amount of shock on their lower extremities.  Each   generates 2-3 times your body weight of force  so it’s important that each foot strike be flowing and rhythmic, almost like a dance.  Maintaining relaxed shoulders, hands, and breathing will improve the ability to run efficiently.

As the miles progress and fatigue sets in it becomes increasingly difficult to maintain running efficiency.  Taking regular walk breaks staves off fatigue and extends the ability to run efficiently. Developing proper running form throughout each run should be a top priority for every runner.  Living in the moment and focusing on smooth and efficient movement, rather than how many miles remain, is a huge step in the right direction!

First Day Of Training

Posted: December 3, 2011 in Uncategorized

The Marathon Coalition TEAM met for the first time this morning.  We started conservatively with a 4 mile run and will gradually increase our runs each week and culminate with our last training run of 21 miles three weeks prior to the Boston Marathon.  The weather was absolutely perfect. 

I provided a brief demonstration of proper and efficient running form and plan to reinforce this technique throughout training.

 I am always inspired when I pass the Johnny Kelley statue positioned at the corner of Commonwealth Avenue and Walnut Street.  Johnny Kelley competed in a record 61 Boston Marathons.  A legend of the marathon, Kelley won the 1935 and 1945 runnings of the Boston Marathon.  He finished in second place at Boston a record seven times. Between 1934 to 1950, he finished in the top five 15 times at Boston, consistently running in the 2:30s. He ran his last full marathon at Boston in 1992 at the age of 84, his 61st start and 58th finish there.

I never miss an opportunity to touch the statue each time I pass it…it’s good marathon karma.  He was one of my running heroes and I will always pay tribute to his contribution to and history with the Boston Marathon!