Archive for December, 2013

Devastation And Inspiration

Posted: December 31, 2013 in Uncategorized


My year was defined by two significant events that were inextricably connected.  While tragedy can shake one’s sense of normalcy, it can also provide inspiration and serve as a reminder of the importance of embracing every moment of life and chasing our dreams.  The Boston Marathon was nothing if not devastating and my 12,000 mile motorcycle trip, exploring the most extreme Four Corners of the United States, proved to be one of the most inspirational experiences of my life.

As a marathon running coach, the Boston Marathon is always the greatest and most inspirational day of the year.  It’s the biggest celebration with the people who I  admire and respect the most.  The Marathon Coalition runners are a shining example of the importance and significance of serving others.   I receive immeasurable inspiration from their commitment to providing hope and opportunity to people with neither….empowering others through running!

Here is what I wrote the day after the 2013 Boston Marathon:

Finding Hope

I hope everyone begins today with a strengthened resolve to live life to the fullest and with a marathoner’s determination to continue to chase your dreams. It will take considerable time to reconcile why this incredible tragedy occurred yesterday, but I’m confident we will continue to celebrate the amazing accomplishments of so many before and during yesterday’s Boston Marathon.

I am heartbroken that so many runners were deprived of the opportunity to experience crossing the finish line yesterday. Our focus, thoughts and prayers should be with the victims and their families and friends during this trying time. Much like life, yesterday didn’t go as planned for nearly everyone. But we will be defined by how we handle this unexpected and tragic occurrence. We need to not be paralyzed by fear of pursuing our goals. We need to show unwavering determination in paying tribute to all who have suffered and sacrificed so we can enjoy our freedom and live honorable lives.

I am going for a run to begin the healing process and to reflect on how I can be a better coach and father….and a more appreciative person. Despite yesterday’s tragedy, my heart is full this morning because of the knowledge that I am a smart part of a huge community of runners that have a relentless commitment to serving others. A group that provides hope, opportunity and life to others!

Thank you all for allowing me into your heart and your life!

I have had a love and passion for motorcycles from my earliest memories.  I dreamed of exploring the far corners of our amazing country before I could even ride a bicycle.  The tragedy of April 15, 2013 served as a reminder to not wait until the circumstances are perfect to chase my dreams.  I’ve experienced the premature loss of too many people I love to wait another moment to take on the biggest challenge of my life.  I felt the draw of the road to healing…figuratively and literally!

Staying on my motorcycle for over 20+ hours a day for most of two weeks and riding 12,000 miles was unimaginable.  Attempting to ride across the country, from Jacksonville, Florida to San Diego, California, in less than 50 hours seemed unattainable.  I stayed on my BMW R1150R for over 40 consecutive hours, riding through the day, riding through the night, riding through the day again and arriving just as the sun was setting in 40 hours and 35 minutes.   I battled extreme traffic, rain in practically every state, exhaustion like never before and the 124 degree heat through the desert where I thought my tires would explode.  The heat was so extreme the specially designed cooling vest that I wore and  soaked with water at each fuel stop, was completely dry after 5 minutes in the desert.  The most challenging part was battling hallucinations after riding for 33 consecutive hours.

I realized the first casualty of extreme fatigue is the ability to recognize how tired you are…pretty ironic.  When I arrived in San Diego and was able to finally eat, hydrate and sleep…I realized how dangerous that effort was and how fortunate I was to still be alive.

Here is an article written after I returned to New England:

Muhr Travels 12,000 Miles In ‘Journey Of A Lifetime’

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.”

I am looking forward to sharing the 2014 Boston Marathon with the entire world…celebrating our freedom and embracing the spirit of a marathoner…showcasing the strength and power of the human spirit….Boston Strong!

I hope your New Year is filled with great health, adventure, and inspiration!

Boston Strong

Happy New Year!

Posted: December 30, 2013 in Uncategorized

It’s always nice to start the New Year with a clean slate…a new beginning. The New Year provides hope, promise and a chance to make necessary changes to improve our lives.

It’s also an opportunity to assess our fitness goals and identify the greatest opportunity for improvement. As a marathon running coach for nearly 19 years, I see trends in runners of all abilities.  Proper running technique, nutrition, flexibility and core strength are the areas most neglected.

Many runners focus exclusively on simply running a specific distance with little regard for proper running technique.  The easiest way to improve running technique is to land with your feet directly beneath your body (mid-foot) at a stride rate of 180 SPM (steps per minute).  Many runners believe taking a longer stride allows them to cover more ground.  That’s actually true, but the cost is extremely high because you typically land on your heels when you overstriding; sending shock waves equal to 2-3 times your body weight through your lower extremities.  This places significant stress on the tendons, ligaments and muscles and can lead to long-term overuse injuries.

I seldom hear runners mention they are going to ‘practice’ running.  Yet players in every other sport practice key techniques to improve their efficiency.  Running on your local track, without the distractions of traffic, uneven road surfaces and hills, is a perfect venue to practice proper running technique.  I actually practice proper running technique throughout every run.  If your mind isn’t engaged in ‘running in the moment’ or you are obsessed with how many miles are remaining until this misery is over, you can’t focus on improving your form.  Taking frequent but brief walk breaks allows you to slow the burn of energy and maintain proper running technique longer.  Transitioning between running and walking can be challenging in the beginning but eventually your body and mind will embrace this concept and you will maintain perfect form throughout your runs.

Nutrition is often neglected because it can be very confusing and people just surrender to doing the best they can. Proper nutrition requires planning and discipline, which can be extremely challenging with our fast-paced lives. Consuming a well-balanced and healthy breakfast is the best way to start each day. Skipping breakfast produces low-blood sugar and causes temptations to consume foods high in sugar and fat. Eating smaller meals composed of nutrient rich foods throughout the day helps to regulate blood sugar and minimize the temptation to eat unhealthy foods. Minimizing large meals late in the day is also helpful in avoiding excess weight. Running at the ideal weight for your body structure will help reduce impact and injury.

Flexibility diminishes as we age. Not stretching after a run can exacerbate tightness and create imbalance in running specific muscles-leading to inefficient running and injury. Every run can seem so challenging and it feels so good to just do nothing afterwards. Develop a plan to change into comfortable clothes upon finishing a run, eat and hydrate immediately and transition into your stretching program and you will immediately enjoy the rewards. Spending 15 minutes thoroughly and properly stretching will improve your flexibility, balance core and running economy.

Having a strong core improves general posture and provides a strong center of gravity. This allows for easier breathing and maintaining proper form throughout a run. A weak core manifests itself in inefficient running economy, requiring major running muscles to work harder than necessary and increasing the risk of injury.

Developing a sound plan for these 4 key areas will yield a significant return on your investment of time. Successful running involves so much more than running. Piecing this puzzle together to fit your lifestyle and running goals should be a top priority in 2014.

I hope that your New Year is filled with great health, hope and inspiration!

One Door Closes

Posted: December 27, 2013 in Uncategorized

“One Door Closes is testament to the power of the human spirit. Overcoming Adversity
continues to be the breeding ground of empowerment and the inspiration to continue to
pursue dreams. Tom and Jared have not only experienced this themselves, but they have
assembled an amazing group of people that have similar experiences. I highly
recommend this book to anyone looking for inspiration and encouragement to never let
their dreams die!”

Rick Muhr, Co-Founder & Head Coach, The Marathon Coalition

I wrote this review for Marathon Coalition runner Tom Ingrassia’s new book, One Door Closes.  I’m always intrigued by the interests and passions of the runners I coach.  Tom is clearly motivated to live beyond his comfort zone and chase his dreams.  I asked him to share more about himself and his recent book.

Tom Ingrassia I


What are YOUR aspirations and hopes, YOUR goals and dreams for YOUR life in 2014?

Do you believe in yourself? Do you believe that you CAN achieve your dreams…no matter the obstacles?

Do you have a blueprint to get from where you are to where you truly want to be in life—with vision, courage, determination and passion?

In other words, are you living into YOUR dreams?

2013 has been a mountaintop year for me. On April 15—at age 59 and exactly 3 years

after taking my first, tentative run—I ran my first Boston Marathon. Despite the tragedy of the day, and despite the fact that I was not able to cross the finish line, Boston was my best, most joyful run ever (and, based on BAA calculations, I was on track to shave 7 minutes off my previous marathon PR, posted in Atlantic City in October, 2012—thanks,

And in October, along with my business partner, Jared Chrudimsky, I published my first book—One Door Closes: Overcoming Adversity By Following Your Dreams (Wyatt-Mackenzie Publishing). This book had been roiling around in my head for at least 10years—and it took joining forces with Jared to turn that dream into reality.

One Door Closes captures the inspirational, highly emotional stories of 16 individuals from all walks of life who have triumphed over seemingly insurmountable obstacles to achieve their dreams. Through first-person accounts, these incredible survivors describe their personal approaches to living their lives with vision, courage, determination and passion. They share the wisdom they learned along the way—often the hard way—wisdom readers can use on their own journeys.

Most of those profiled are “ordinary people who have achieved the extraordinary,” the odds. I share the story about how running has, quite literally, transformed my life. Another profile is of a triathlete who suffered a traumatic brain injury in a bicycle accident, and his long, hard fight back to life.

Also profiled are Scherrie Payne of The Supremes, June Monteiro of The Toys, and Mary Wilson of The Supremes (for whom I worked for 5 years)—who shares a special message of healing and hope that forms the Epilogue of the book.

We don’t stop there, though! Following the stories of our inspirational “wilderness guides,” we provide 10 self-assessment tools you can use to design your own, personal blueprint for success.

Jared and I crafted One Door Closes to provide you with the opportunity to step back from the hustle and bustle of daily life to focus on the things that are most important to you—your own hopes and dreams, goals and aspirations; your values, interests roadblocks and fears. These self-assessments will, we hope, guide you to enhance your sense of worth as an individual, take 100% responsibility for your life, clarify and set your goals, and tap into the power you already have within to achieve your goals…no matter the obstacles!

2013 was the year in which I broke through my own, self-imposed limitations to achieve things I previously thought were far beyond my natural abilities.

The Reverend Dr. martin Luther King, Jr., said “Faith is taking the first step, even when you don’t see the whole staircase.”

Commit to making 2014 the year in which you become the best YOU possible.

If I can do this, so can YOU!

(One Door Closes: Overcoming Adversity By Following Your Dreams is available from


I have noticed a very compelling trend during my 18 years of coaching marathoners.  Most runners, regardless of ability, train at the same level most of the time.  This isn’t the most effective approach to maximizing the training effort.

On a scale of 1-10 (1 being walking and 10 being racing), most runners train at level 5 most of the time.  Runners seldom train above level 5 unless they are racing and almost never train below level 5 because they don’t see the value of a lower intensity workout.

Variety in the form of speed play, tempo runs, intervals, hill repeats,  active and complete rest should be part of every runners training plan.

While I follow the basic structure of a phase-based training program, it’s not etched in stone.  I determine the length and intensity of each workout based on my resting heart rate each morning.  RHR (resting heart rate) is the best indicator of how I am adapting to the rigors of training.  An elevated RHR indicates my body is taxed and needs less intensity and distance.  I definitely train at a Level 2-3 or take the day off completely when I have an elevated RHR.

That is a great time to go to a track and practice running with perfect form to improve running economy.  Focus on eating well, staying hydrated and getting plenty of rest.  Almost always, your RHR should return to the normal average the following morning and you have the green light to proceed at a higher intensity.

This is a very simple way to adjust your training to accommodate how you are feeling.

Monitoring your morning RHR should be the cornerstone for your entire training.  Based on how you are feeling, you have the option of base training with LSD (long slow distance), speed play, tempo runs, intervals, hill repeats and active or complete rest.

This approach to training maximizes your investment of time and effort.

The motivation to run a marathon is as varied and numerous as the runners themselves.  The significance of running 26.2 miles cannot be discounted…it serves as the benchmark for every runner to reach.  Many simply want to check it off their To Do list along with other significant accomplishments.  Others embrace the challenge of running a marathon and it becomes an integral part of their lives.

I’m drawn to and inspired by those runners that take it to an entirely new level.  These are the runners that are also motivated to  help others through their running…charity runners!  While they have a healthy respect for the training required to finish a marathon, they take on the added responsibility and challenge of raising large amounts of money to support the mission of the charity they’ve chosen to support.

Running in general,  and training for a marathon in particular,  is an extremely consuming and selfish act.  But charity runners are the most selfless people that I know.  Their efforts provide hope and opportunity for others without both.  The commitment they invest in making a difference in the lives of others and the world ensures they have a greater chance of making it to the finish line than even the best Kenyan runners in the world.  This journey is more than just about them!

When a charity runner encounters difficulty in the latter miles of a marathon, they don’t need any more motivation to make it to the finish line than a reminder of all the support they’ve received (financial and otherwise) from friends, colleagues and family and the knowledge that the community served by their respective charity will have an immediate opportunity for a better life!

And there is no greater motivation to run a marathon than that!

Fresh Start

Posted: December 2, 2013 in Uncategorized

The beginning of December is like the New Year for most runners.  We are coming off the Thanksgiving break and many of us are beginning to train for the 2014 Boston Marathon.

In the aftermath of Thanksgiving, we have more determination to make up for the overindulgence and renewed enthusiasm for beginning our marathon training in a positive way.  Unlike most people that can only sustain their commitment to ‘turn things around’ relative to diet and exercise for a few weeks, runners training for Boston have to extend our commitment for 5 months and, hopefully, beyond.

The keys to success are quite simple in theory but more challenging in practice…consistency and moderation.  Runners can be excessive compulsive by nature (don’t ask me how I know) so it can be challenging to incorporate these important ingredients into their training.

Without moderation, it can be almost impossible to be consistent.  Embarking on a marathon training program with unbridled enthusiasm often results in an injury.  Nothing is worse than being forced to take time off from running while everyone else continues to prepare for Boston.  One of the best rules to follow is not increasing your long run by more than 2 miles beyond your longest run in the last 7-10 days.

Another common mistake is to begin each run too fast.  I run the first two miles of every run 60-90 seconds slower than I expect to average during the remaining miles.  It may seem pedestrian but it’s the best insurance against a possible injury.  It also makes my runs more effective and enjoyable.  During the first two miles I focus on establishing a good rhythm with my technique and breathing.  I also don’t start my Garmin until mile 3 so I don’t feel I’m running the remaining miles at a deficit.  This removes the stress of having to make up for lost time and immediately transitioning to a pace that places me at higher risk for injury.  Taking regular but brief walk breaks also allows you to maintain perfect form throughout each run.

The goal of any successful training program has to have remaining injury-free as a focal point.  It’s always better to err on the side of caution and take an extra day of cross training or complete rest.  A well-timed and much-needed rest day is as important to your overall training as a great run.

It’s always great to wipe the slate clean and begin a new training program.  Just be sure that you listen closely to the signs your body is providing and focus on being moderate and consistent.