Archive for August, 2013

Inspired Running

Posted: August 31, 2013 in Uncategorized

I enjoyed this morning’s run in Grafton.  I ran 10 miles on the new high school track.  I have run 50 miles and 62 miles on this track to raise funds for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and The Latino Mental Health program at the Massachusetts School of Professional Psychology in memory of Dr. Cynthia Lucero.  Thanks to the support of so many amazing TNT runners, I was able to raise $25,000 for the Man & Woman Of The Year campaign sponsored by the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

Lori and I coached Cynthia for the 2000 San Diego Rock N’ Roll Marathon and the 2002 Boston Marathon.  She collapsed near Mile 22 of the Boston Marathon and later succumbed to hyponatremia.  She was one of the most remarkable people I ever met and continues to inspire me to give more and expect less.

I am planning to make a 100 mile attempt on this track in 2014 and will likely support several charities that have  been involved with the Marathon Coalition.

So many special runners and worthwhile causes are my greatest source of inspiration.

Rick's Ride 026By Tony Boiardi, Grafton News Reporter


A Grafton man recently completed an amazing feat, circumnavigating the United States in just over two weeks on the back of his 2002 BMW R1150R motorcycle.

Richard “Rick” Muhr, a marathon training coach for the Boston Marathon, took it upon himself to test his physical and psychological limits in a 12,000-mile trip this past July.

“Testing my limits was definitely the primary reason for attempting this ride,” commented Muhr.  “I have always been drawn to the extreme in any arena I enter.”

And testing his limits is exactly what Muhr did.  Attempting a ride of such magnitude is an impressive feat in itself, but try riding 1500 miles in 23 hours as well.  Utilizing his physical aptitude from training runners for the Boston Marathon, Muhr logged over 1,000 miles almost every day.

Many endurance motorcyclists attempt this feat, but few accomplish it.  Muhr said he reached the 1500-mile mark in 23 hours in the first 40 hours of his trip.

“It took a lot out of me to push the limits right out of the gate in Jacksonville.”  He said, “I was in Texas when I surpassed the 1500 mile mark at 23 hours.”

Carrying nothing but a messenger bag over his shoulder, Muhr left behind all luxuries, including rain gear.  Of the 30 states Muhr passed through along his trip, he encountered rain in 21 of them.

Muhr, 55, says he has been riding motorcycles for 46 years, receiving his first motorcycle at the age of 9.  Always a lover of movement and exploration.  Muhr says motorcycling has allowed him to experience many new areas.

Muhr survived on Gatorade and energy bars for most of his ride.  Time was crucial at each fuel stop, so he would eat while refueling his bike.  Muhr lost 15 pounds during his excursion.

The trip included completing the coveted “Four Corners” Tour, where a rider drives to the four corners of the United States.  Starting in Madawaska, Maine, Muhr traveled south to Key West, Florida, west to San Ysidro, California, and then north to Blaine, Washington in just over 8 days.

Muhr rode 1100 miles from Grafton to Madawaska in 17 hours.  Afterwards he rode from Grafton to Key West in 34 hours, stopping briefly in Christiansburg, Virginia due to inclement weather.  During his trip, Muhr also was attempting to ride coast to coast in less than 50 hours.

“I rode from Jacksonville to San Diego, California in just over 40 hours.” said Muhr.  “I didn’t sleep for 46 consecutive hours and only stopped to refuel my motorcycle 12 times.”

He then rode non-stop from San Diego to Blaine, Washington in 26 hours straight,

His entire ride almost was for naught when his bag of receipts, cash, and credit cards almost fell off his bike.

“Receipts are everything when completing a ride of this magnitude,” explained Muhr, as they provide proof of the time, location, and mileage on the motorcycle.

“I’ve heard horror stories of riders leaving their receipts at a fuel stop,” he said.

While riding through Texas, Muhr felt something hit his left foot.  Reaching down, Muhr discovered that the bag containing the receipts had fallen out of his zippered pocket.

“My entire trip would not have counted because I didn’t have the required paperwork to provide the proof,” Muhr said.

“I continue to count my blessings for averting that disaster.”

Disaster almost struck for a second time while in Texas.  Muhr stopped at a closed gas station and went through his normal procedure.  After completing refueling, he hit the receipt button and the message “SEE CASHIER” lit up.

“My heart sank because I desperately need the receipt, it was 4:00 a.m. and the station didn’t open until 6:00,” Muhr explained.  “I moved to another pump and was able to add 10 cents of fuel.  Again I received the “SEE CASHIER” message.”

With time running out on his 24-hour deadline, Muhr rode to the next exit and refueled again.  The station was closed but he was able to convince the attendant to open the door.  He explained his mission to the attendant who said she was running the morning books and would not be done for an hour.

Muhr waited anxiously for one hour, fearing to sleep as he might not have woken up.  He eventually retrieved both receipts but lost two precious hours that would have allowed him to break the 40-hour mark.

According to Muhr, things became incredibly challenging once he hit the desert and temperatures began surpassing 124 degrees.

“I was at the 33 hour point and really had to dig deep to stay awake, tolerate the heat and make it to San Diego,” commented Muhr.  “I was in an extremely altered state and feel extremely fortunate to have weathered that storm.”

Shortly after arriving home, Muhr said to his wife, Lori LeClaire Muhr, that he would never attempt something similar, not even for a million dollars.

“It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done…no exception,” he said.

Yet within two weeks of returning home, he began researching the 2014 Cannonball Run and the 2015 Iron Butt Rally.  The rides include traveling from Key West to Seattle, Washington on a pre-1930 motorcycle and riding 11.000 miles in 11 days, respectively.

Completing the “Four Corners” journey was a monumentally emotional experience for Muhr.

“When I took the final exit in Blaine…I was extremely emotional,” explained Muhr.  “I thought about all the people that I love who are no longer here.  They taught me to enjoy the small things in life and to chase my dreams.”

He says circumstances are never likely to be perfect, so people must accept that and just get on with chasing their dreams.  The whole experience left Muhr with feelings of pride, accomplishment and inspiration.

“When I am sitting in a nursing home later in life, I may not know my name but I will darn sure remember this ride.”

Technology Obsession

Posted: August 15, 2013 in Uncategorized

Technology has become an integral part of running.  Runners, by nature, tend to be very quantitative and need instant feedback on their training.  It’s wonderful to monitor such important data as average pace, average heart rate, maximum heart rate, calories burned, total running time and distance. Today’s  GPS technology is a marked improvement over the Timex watch with only a stopwatch feature I relied on for so many years.

But there is a significant downside to this modern technology.  I have witnessed runners I coach become obsessed with all the data that’s at their fingertips.  Runners circle the parking lot at training to make sure they get to the next full mile or a designated distance.   I have witnessed runners  visibly upset because the scheduled run was slightly shorter or longer than the designated distance.  These same runners cannot reconcile their GPS not reflecting precisely 26.2 miles when they cross the marathon finish line.

The biggest downside to modern technology occurs during races.  Runners tend to micro-manage their race strategy.  They monitor their average pace so closely they overlook far more important aspects to achieving the goal marathon pace.  Marathon courses, particularly in Boston, aren’t conducive to running a consistent pace because of  their topography.  Consequently, it’s likely that a runner’s average or goal marathon pace will be slower or faster; causing a runner to panic or become erratic with their pacing.  This burns fuel unnecessarily and wreaks havoc on them mentally.

The reality is that a runner will not be capable or running any faster than they are physically and mentally prepared to run on a given day…regardless of the data on their GPS.  I have convinced many of my runners to not monitor their average pace during the marathon or, in a few rare cases,  to not wear a watch at all.  That’s almost like asking a runner to not where their running clothes during the marathon-they feel completed naked without their GPS.  But, without exception, 100% of these runners have enjoyed personal bests.

This occurs because runners tend to focus more on their form and breathing and actually enjoy all the marathon offers when they aren’t consumed and obsessed with technology.  It’s a far more enjoyable experience.

iPods also have provided a wonderful distraction from the difficulty of running by allowing runners to listen to their favorite music.  I’m always surprised when I observe runners wearing an iPod during a marathon because they miss all the encouragement and comments from the spectators.  Listening to their favorite music has a downside, too.  Certain music can also contribute to erratic pacing because some songs are more motivating than others.

Balance is the key to enjoying the benefits of running technology.  I recommend running entirely by feel at least twice a week.  It may ultimately require therapy, but you should leave your GPS and iPod at home.  You should focus on establishing a good rhythm and perfect form by practicing efficient running form.  Listen to how your feet are striking and how quietly you are breathing and suddenly you’ll feel more engaged with the one thing that will provide the result you desire…efficient running.

Running by feel…not by data from modern technology… will yield far greater results and return your running to a higher level of enjoyment!

One of the more common questions I receive from runners of all levels relates to breaking out of a rut.  Most runners train at a very narrow range of pace and distance.  On a scale of 1-10 (1 being walking and 10 being racing), 99.9% of runners train at Level 5.

This is an extremely effective approach to becoming a Level 5 runner.  But most runner’s goals are well beyond being a Level 5 runner so a new approach to training is necessary.  While training at a faster is challenging, training at Level 2-4 is a far greater challenge because runners don’t see the value and benefit of running easy.

An active rest day (i.e. Level 2-4) is as important to a successful training program as a run at a much higher intensity level.  Training at this level provides an opportunity to flush out lactic acid from a speed workout or a race and practice perfect running technique at a far more comfortable pace.

Variety in the form of pace and distance prepares the body and mind for racing.  This is also an extremely effective approach to simply getting into better shape.  I base my running on my resting heart rate each morning.  If I awake with an elevated heart rate, I reduce the mileage and intensity of my scheduled run, cross train or take the day off completely.  Training hard with an elevated heart rate is a recipe for injury, burnout or, at the very least, frustration.

Switch things up with your training (i.e., run shorter and faster, longer and slower, incorporate hills and 1 track workout a week) and you’ll get a far greater return on your investment of time and effort.  You will also likely experience more enthusiasm in your training!

Love Of Coaching

Posted: August 5, 2013 in Uncategorized

I spent most of yesterday coaching new runners at the Wellesley High School track.  They ranged from the daughter of a mother I coached for the 2013 Boston Marathon to a father and son who were inspired to run Boston 2014 after this year’s tragedy.

I have thoroughly enjoyed coaching runners privately this past year, a new dimension to my coaching.  I enjoy providing one-on-one attention to runners of all levels.  The focus of these personal sessions is to improve a runner’s technique and efficiency.  It’s transformative when runners realize they can run faster and longer with less effort.

Investing one day a week ‘practicing’ proper and efficient running technique at a local track will provide greater benefits than adding specificity in the form of distance or speed.  Improper form is one of the leading causes of injuries.  Runners need to feel the sense of accomplishment at the end of a challenging run and don’t always appreciate the benefit of slowing down and investing in improving their form through proper practice.

Privately coaching a much smaller group than the hundreds of Marathon Coalition runners I coach for the Boston Marathon requires a lot more time because I provide a day-by-day training program specifically for them; based entirely on their ability and goals.  But the reward of seeing runners of all abilities realize their running potential is the greatest gift a coach can receive.

I love coaching!




I lost my mom to leukemia 17 years ago today-the day before her 58th birthday.  Having just turned 55 two days ago, I’m reminded of how brief life can be and the importance of living with purpose and meaning.

During my last conversation with mom in the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, I promised her I would  do something significant with my life to honor her memory.  It was the most difficult conversation of my life.  After I offered the eulogy at her funeral I returned to New England and decided to run the Ocean State Marathon in her memory…to reflect on my life with mom.  Serendipitously, I noticed Team In Training-Leukemia & Lymphoma Society signs from the start to the finish.

I contacted the LLS office the following morning and shared my commitment to mom.  I ran the 1997 Boston Marathon with TNT as a qualified runner and became the head coach shortly afterwards.  That began an amazing 12 year journey where, with the help and commitment of thousands of amazing people, we raised nearly $60 million for leukemia research.

This was the most significant period of my life.  I met Lori, Rider was born, and I learned the importance of serving others.  This was a significant transformation for me because I was a solo runner, consumed by running fast marathons and my selfishness was off the chart.  I was also honored to carry the Olympic Torch during the 2004 Olympic Torch Relay.  This recognition resulted from the efforts of so many others so I was simply representing them…the amazing runners of Team In Training!

It has been a blessing to start the Marathon Coalition 5 years ago with Mike Wasserman from Bottom Line and  continue to honor mom’s memory and enjoy my love of coaching.  I cannot adequately describe how honored I feel to have coached so many amazing runners.

Anything I have accomplished since I began coaching in 1996, I owe to them and their inspiring example of selflessness and giving…it has changed me beyond measure.   One of the most important lessons that I have learned is that NOTHING significant is ever accomplished alone.

So today is a day to recognize the contribution of every runner that I have coached.  They have allowed me to fulfill my commitment to mom so many years ago.

Today…I salute you with a heart filled with gratitude!