Archive for April, 2012

Movement Equals Achievement

Posted: April 9, 2012 in Uncategorized

Achievement never rests…it will be waiting for you when you awake!  I am drawn to motivated people who are in constant motion and who place a high value on health, wellness, fitness and serving others.

Our society has become so soft and undisciplined.  We’re killing ourselves with comfort and conveniences that don’t require us to move.  Traveling the country has provided an interesting perspective on how unhealthy we’ve become.  It’s unsettling that the standard of being surprised when I see a healthy person has become far too common.

There’s a seismic divide between the healthy and unhealthy…similar to the middle-class swiftly evaporating.  On one hand you have the Boston Athletic Association being forced to tighten the qualifying standards because the marathon’s popularity has reached epic proportions and at the other end of the spectrum there are vast amounts of people racing towards obesity at record rates.  The most unsettling aspect of this is the recent research indicating that more than 30% of children are obese.  The long-term ramifications of this, coupled with the removal of physical education classes being eliminated and the lack of education on leading a healthier lifestyle, should concern everyone!

My hope is the Marathon Coalition runners will continue to be as disciplined as they have the past 5 months once the marathon concludes.  I know that I will be focusing on improving my diet and restructuring my fitness routine to achieve greater balance in the mind, body, spirit model.  I will also evaluate the feedback that I receive from each charity that I coach to identify areas where I can improve.

I have plenty of room for improvement in my life.   I’m motivated to lose a few pounds by being more consistent with my fitness, eating healthier and establishing several new fitness goals.  I certainly want to learn more about yoga so that I can have better overall health.  I definitely need to improve my flexibility and I would like to spend more time running on trails and enjoying nature.

I still have another attempt of running 24 hours on the track on my radar.  My goal is to run at least 100 miles.  I also plan to improve my swimming in an effort to complete an Ironman.  I’ve done plenty of ultramarathons but I plan to do plenty more.  The marathon continues to intrigue me so I hope to have a consistent summer of training and run Hartford in October.

Movement has been an integral part of my life…that’s not going to change.  Movement has been my constant and loyal companion..it’s been the foundation of incredible achievement!

Team Spirit

Posted: April 8, 2012 in Uncategorized

Teamwork is the ability to work together toward a common vision.  The ability to direct individual accomplishments toward organizational objectives.  It it the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results.”   -Andrew Carnegie.

Running is essentially an individual pursuit…it’s one of the primary reasons I was initially drawn to it.  I didn’t have to rely on anyone else.  I could simply put on my running shoes whenever I liked and go wherever I wanted.  In races I didn’t have to rely on a teammate to make the shot, hit the ball or catch the pass.  Whether I did extremely well or was an abysmal failure, I was entirely responsible.

My perspective on the individual aspect of running began to change soon after I became a running coach for Team In Training.  I realized that nothing significant in life, particularly training for and running a marathon, is ever accomplished alone.  The support and encouragement a runner receives during training and along the marathon course is as important as the perfect pass in a team sport. 

Charity runners are undoubtedly part of a TEAM committed to one goal…raising as much money as possible to make a significant difference in the lives of others.  I’ve been so inspired by the example of the thousands of charity runners that I’ve coached who place their commitment to the mission of their respective charity about their individual achievement.

I have never been more proud to be on a team than being on Team In Training and the Marathon Coalition TEAM!  I am honored to be the coach of so many determined and committed runners.  Their example of selflessness inspires me to give more of myself at every opportunity.  The team spirit that exists on the Marathon Coalition TEAM has helped me to think less of myself and my personal goals  and far more about how I can help others achieve their goals.

Being a coach of charity runners is one of the greatest gifts I’ve received…I rank it up there with my wife and children!

Go TEAM!

This is the time of year that I’m most proud of being a marathon running coach!  I’m excited to see the Marathon Coalition runners accomplish a goal they’ve worked extremely had towards for nearly 5 months.  It may have even been a lifelong dream that was cultivated when they sat on their parent’s shoulders along the historic route to Boston cheering on the runners.  We’re just over a week away from seeing their dreams realized!

I get far too much credit for the role that I play in their journey.  Yes, I am there for them when they need me and I host a weekly training for those 5 months.  But I am not doing the work that’s required to weather the storm known as the Hills of Newton.  I’m not the one battling the demons of doubt that need to be managed and fought at a time when they’re feeling their backs are against the wall and they’re uncertain whether they can crest the next hill.  And I certainly don’t ask family, friends and colleagues to support their fundraising efforts.

My pride for them extends well beyond the running of the Boston Marathon.  They have displayed an incredible commitment to improving the lives of others-to give opportunities to students that spend far too much time dreaming about them and not receiving them.  I mentioned in a podcast at the Museum of Science before the 2011 Boston Marathon that I’ve seen Kenyans walking at Mile 15 but every charity runner I coach finishes.  When you’re committed to a cause greater than yourself, particularly when it’s to improve the lives of others, there’s no doubt you’re going to dance on Boylston Street.

Some of my most special times have occurred at the Runner’s Expo when I encounter a runner I’ve coached.  They have their Adidas bag with their number inside and they’re beaming with pride.  It makes me so proud when they introduce me as ‘their’ coach to their family and friends.  I’m really just a small cog in a wheel of compassion they likely don’t even see.  Because they don’t spend much, if any, time contemplating how special they and their efforts are…they’re too busy committed to improving the lives of others.  They are so selfless that they’ve even taught me to think less of myself and more of others…now that is a task far greater than 10 Boston Marathons.

So my role as a charity running coach is quite simple…fan the flame of compassion in a group of special people 5 months before the Boston Marathon..and stand back and watch it blaze as each one of them crosses the finish line on April 16, 2012!

Let’s Roll Baby!

Embrace The Emotion!

Posted: April 5, 2012 in Uncategorized

This Saturday marks the last official training run for the Marathon Coalition TEAM.  It’s the convergence of two diametrically opposed emotions.  The excitement of the approaching Boston Marathon is palpable, the sadness of an incredible journey is drawing to a close.  Being a running coach is very similar to be a teacher…I’m on the verge of seeing my students graduate.

I’ve witnessed the incredible impact the Boston Marathon has on runners and that’s the perfect capstone to a training season.  Looking back to the first TEAM meeting seems so long ago.  I’ve witnessed a complete transformation from a group of people who were uncertain whether they could complete the 26.2 mile journey from Hopkinton to Boston to a unified group of runners filled with anticipation and confidence.  Nervousness and uncertainty are constant companions leading up to the marathon…even for veteran marathoners.

Our training is about to cross the threshold from the comfort of training to the reality of the race.  It’s time to embrace all the emotions that occur in the final days before the Boston Marathon!

Boston Marathon History!

Posted: April 4, 2012 in Uncategorized

This picture was taken in the Athlete’s Village before the 1979 Boston Marathon.  Yes…ahem, that’s me on the right in all black…it was during my Johnny Cash phase of marathoning.  The two friends with me were from Langley Air Force Base, Virginia.  I encountered them during my longest run at the time (7 miles).  They were running in front of me so I sped up and engaged them in conversation.

They told me they were tapering for the Richmond Newspaper Marathon the following weekend.  I remember asking them how far a marathon was.  When they indicated it was 26.2 miles I mentioned I would like to try it.  After learning that 7 miles was my longest run, they recommended I train for 4-6 months and complete several 20 mile runs.  They were surprised when I greeted them at the starting line a few days later.  They were even more surprised when I passed them both in the marathon and went on to run 2:59:55 and qualify for Boston.  The qualifying time in 1979 was 3 hours so I made it by 5 seconds!

And so began my marathoning career.  Less than a month later I ran 2:55:00 in the Marine Corps Marathon in Washinton, DC.  I thought it might be a good idea for a final tune-up before Boston so I ran the Virginia Beach Marathon in March (2:47:28).  With just under a month of recovery I ran Boston for the very first time…it was unbelievably special.  The finish line was at the Pru and I remember finishing and eating some type of hot sout on a military cot in the basement parking lot.  I finished in 2:48:35 and had never been happier to see the finish line of a marathon.

I eventually ran my fastest Boston in 2:38:44.

When I look back on that day in 1979, I never imagined that I would be returning 33 years later as a coach of 150 Marathon Coalition runners.  It’s been an amazing journey.  Running has been very, very good to me!

This is a recent picture of me racing in the Grafton Road Race…a lot has changed in all those years!

Making an investment in mastering the art of running will provide major dividends.  Improving your running efficiency will provide years of enjoyment and reduce the amount of stress on your body, thereby minimizing the possibility of an injury.  Seeing someone run effortlessly is a thing of beauty-but it’s extremely rare.  Runners tend to to be inefficient and loud with their running and it’s always a constant struggle…physically and mentally.

It’s extremely gratifying to spend time with a runner interested in improving their running form.  It’s an opportunity to teach and coach on an entirely new level.  And nothing is better than witnessing a runner experience an epiphany that running can actually be easier and more enjoyable with less effort.  The act of running is so simple and easy in theory…but ask any runner how many runs they’ve experienced that truly feel effortless and the silence is deafening.

It suprises me how many runners assume that running is always going to be a struggle and not attempt to improve their form.  Laura Gassner Otting is NOT one of them.  She has been inquisitive from the moment I met her…always operating in the spirit of continuous improvement…the consummate student of running.  Here is what she had to say about our time together:

“I ran my first mile ever less than two years ago.  On April 16, I will finish the Boston Marathon.  And, when I do, my heartiest thanks will go to Rick Muhr, running coach extraordinaire. 

It would be a fortunate thing if Rick was just an excellent diagnostician of form and master mechanic of technique.  It would be amazing if he paired this talent with an unmatched knowledge of fuel, hydration, and gear.  And it would be yet even more unbelievable if he combined the two with a can-do spirit and joy of the sport that is infectious beyond compare.  And, how incredibly lucky for me that he has all of these in spades.

It’s simply impossible to be around Rick and not want to run better, faster, and farther than you’ve ever run before.  And lucky for you, he’ll help you do this as he did for me, by teaching how to run more efficiently and effectively.  It is no exaggeration to say that Rick has single-handedly changed what I am capable of doing come the marathon, and for that, I can’t thank him enough!”  -Laura Gassner Otting

Thank you for allowing me to be your coach, Laura!