A Few Steps Aways – Running – Life – and Tomorrow

With the advent of fitness watches, the world is concerned with their step count.  In the course of a day without even bringing up the topic I hear a number of times “I got in 10,000 steps today.” Or “I’m 1,000 steps short.” and “I need to walk/run a few more steps tonight.”

DCrainmaker(Image borrowed from DC Rainmaker)

After my 8 mile run tonight, I looked at my gps watch noticing that I had moved 18,724 steps…seeing that number on the face of my Garmin I wondered where these steps had taken me.  And more importantly where are they taking me?

It’s not the steps…it’s the result.

A single step can move you

One step closer to your goals.

One step further away from “the past.”

One step from hurt, anguish and regret.

One step closer to restoring relationships.

Improved health.

One step further away from mistakes.

Closer to where we can stop running from the ghosts of our past.

One step from surrender.

One step closer to someone who loves you.

One step nearer the new you that you want to become.

One step closer to open arms.

One step closer to the finish line.

Life is not made up of major movements.  Few things in this world can be corrected changed or their course diverted with one massive, singular, course changing movement.  Most victories, battles, and achievements are set into motion by taking one step.

 

Runners helping Runners – National Brain Tumor Society and the Boston Marathon

Running the Boston Marathon is a goal for some, for others it’s about LIFE and DEATH.

ryanrobertson

Ryan Robertson’s story about both.

March of 2010 seems like an eternity ago, but it’s a month I’ll never forget.  I was feeling great, training for some summer races, and had a week long rock climbing trip planned to Nevada at the end of the month. After going out for a run one day, I noticed that the left side of my face felt slightly numb. After a few days of increasing numbness, I checked in with my doctor who suggested an MRI.

Feeling completely confident that it would turn out to be nothing, I was shocked to learn that, at the age of 25, I had a type of brain tumor called an acoustic neuroma. Even more devastating, was finding out the tumor was nearly the size of a tennis ball. In less than 24 hours, my general practitioner contacted Dr. Allan Friedman at Duke, considered by many to be the top brain surgeon in the world. As you can imagine, Dr. Friedman is incredibly sought after and busy. He wasn’t taking any appointments that day, but after seeing my MRI, agreed to meet with me right away.

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Two months later I underwent brain surgery with Dr. Friedman and another world renowned brain surgeon, Dr. Fukushima, who happened to be teaching as an adjunct professor at Duke. The surgery was scheduled to take around 6 hours but ended up lasting 13 as the doctors worked with meticulous precision trying not to damage nerves that could have left the side of my face permanently paralyzed. Thanks to their skill, expertise, and precision I came out of the surgery with great results. The entire team that worked with me at the Duke Brain Tumor Center was phenomenal. Within a couple months of surgery I was back to running, rock climbing, and working my way through graduate school classes. I’m incredibly thankful for the results of my surgery, but unfortunately, being diagnosed with a brain tumor doesn’t always end the same way.

I consider it a great privilege to be able to run the Boston Marathon and raise money on behalf of the National Brain Tumor Society. Funding for research is continually leading to better treatments for brain tumors and the hope that a cure will eventually be found. Please join me in this continuing journey and the fight against brain tumors. I was incredibly thankful to have this world-class facility just a few miles down the street. Beyond the high caliber of everyone I’ve had the pleasure to encounter at Duke, the thing that impressed me most was their level of knowledge, skill, and teamwork. Their cutting edge research and technology gave me confidence that everything would work out. I would wish the same peace of mind for anyone diagnosed with a brain tumor.

How can you help?  PLEASE visit Ryan Robertson’s Crowd Rise page and make a donation.  Any amount helps…lost for a number, 26.2 sounds good.

 

Marathon – Running A Sub Four Hour Marathon – Myrtle Beach Marathon

Running a sub-four hour marathon in a dream location.  There are some races that you size up and target for a good day.  The elite runners call them goal or feature races.  Coming off my second sub four-hour marathon at the City of Oaks Marathon in November, I wanted a spring race that would provide an opportunity to repeat that performance.  Myrtle Beach Marathon with is advertised flat and face course seemed like the perfect stage for another sub four or maybe even a new personal record.  Myrtle Beach Marathon on March 4th become my feature race.  Then the winds of fate had their say.

cover photo 2017

With a fully loaded race calendar I opened the doors on the month of February on target and hopeful of a good showing in the March marathon.  Then during a simple five-mile run my right calf painfully locked up for the second time in five days.  It was if the cold hand of the Grim Reaper himself reached out and put the touch of death on my spring running plans.  I was days away from a 40-mile mountain race and a month out from my goal race at Myrtle Beach.  I thought for sure all was lost.

With much uncertainty, and after three weeks off I nursed myself back and toed the line at 6:15 a.m. on a cold Saturday morning.  I stood there in the corral amongst numerous others complaining about the cold.  Also weighing on my mind was the fact that my longest run in the last four weeks had been a paltry eight miles.  I questioned if I would get through this race in one piece.  I also questioned if I would be smart enough to limit the damage if something did go wrong.  One thing for certain I would find out soon as Myrtle Beach offers a flat, fast and fantastic marathon experience.

map

FLAT - With Myrtle Beach’s relatively flat course I was thankful I would not have to put my calf to the test of climbing a lot of hills.  From the get go the course lived up to its billing.  What elevation changes the 26-mile course could offer up could have been measured with a 25-foot tape measure.  At the end of this race I would not have the excuse that I lost time on the hills.  In fact, during the race my main thought was wondering if my right calf would let me finish.  If my wonky calf held up I was determined to not leave anytime on the course.

FAST - Heralded as South Carolina’s fastest marathon course, I believe that statement to be 110% true.  Outside of the already mentioned flatness of the terrain, there were no awkward sections of the course that I felt cost me time.  Yes, there were a few out and back sections but those had wide sweeping turns that did not bog down my leg turnover or cadence compared to some races I’ve run where I had to downshift into first gear just to get thru the hairpin curve.

If you’re looking for the BQ time or a personal record I can’t think of a better venue them Myrtle Beach.

FANTASTIC – I had a great time in Myrtle Beach.  From the expo, where for the first time I was there as a vendor promoting my recently release book Running to Leadville, to the starting area, the course, the finish and the local community support.  Everything was spot on…normally at some point during my previous races there had always been a moment where I said “what the heck was the Race Director thinking?”  But I failed to have that moment this weekend.  My wife even commented that I did not have my typical race blow up moment this weekend.

I honestly had a great time at this race.  I met a lot of nice people at the expo, got to hang out with a great Running store with Roanoke Island Running Company, sold and signed a few books and ran the entire race without calf pain.  I had a FANTASTIC time in Myrtle beach and running the Myrtle beach Marathon.

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MY RACE KIT:

racekitMBM2017

U.S. Military Endurance Sports team long sleeve tech shirt
OPEDIX compression shorts
Injinji trail socks
Nike Air Pegasus shoes
Garmin 920 GPS watch
Sleefs USA arm warmer
Running Buddy pouch to carry my phone
GU strawberry banana gels
Nathan handheld with 20 oz bottle of lemon Gatoraid and gel mix
Julbo sunglasses
Recovery Drink by Cocoa Elite
Race Dots – No Pin Holes

RESULTS: My calf was never an issue, I might have felt it around mile 8, or it may have been my mind playing tricks on me.  I ran a perfect race, kept my pace under control, refueled before it began an issue, stayed on my hydration plan.  The result…a marathon personal record time by over two minutes.  I ran a 3:56:06 at the City of Oaks, at Myrtle Beach I bested that time with a 3:53:47 cutting 2 minutes and 19 seconds off my time.  More rewarding for me was that I was able to back up my 2nd sub-four-marathon 3 months later with my third, SUB-FOURS back to back.

PRMBMarathon2017

When I posted on Facebook live how happy I was with my sub-four finish a number of running and non-running friends asked why I seemed so happy.  I normally don’t judge my race times against others, or against established times by other runners.  For me the sub-four marathon is the mark of validation that I’m a serious marathon runner, or serious runner in general.  I’m not implying that this standard is a measure on others…it is a standard I impose on myself.  It’s a point of validation for me and me alone.

My thoughts on pre-race nutrition and race strategies on aid stations.

booksigning

EXPO:  This was the first expo where I was part of the event.  I had the great fortune to hanging out with Shane and the Roanoke Island Running Company who helped me make my book Running to Leadville available.  I also got to meet a lot of great people.  If you would like a signed copy you can get one direct by clicking here.

A sub-four-hour marathon for me is victory…

Running Home – Marathon – Ultra Marathon – Runners – Wake Forest

I have found a running home in Wake Forest, Run-Tri-Outfitters.

I’m proud to announce that I’ve teamed up with Run-N-Tri Outfitters to bring running to a new level in Wake Forest, NC.

runtri

To help the runners in Wake Forest achieve their goals, we are going to: (dates to be announced)

1.  Hosted Saturday morning training runs

2.  Ultra marathon seminars

3.  Explore new trail outings

Look for updates and exciting news on the Run-N-Tri Outfitters Facebook page.  Stop on out and visit the gang today…tell them Brian sent ya!

Run-N-Tri Outfitters
11831 Retail Dr
Wake Forest, NC 27587

Marathon – Ultra Marathon – Pre Race Nutrition

Running a successful marathon or ultramarathon is so much more than just simply running the race.  The training, mental fortitude, race day strategies, and nutrition are all keys to a successful day.

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One of the most frequently asked questions I receive on Facebook, Twitter or on my Blog is “what do you eat before and during the race?”

In this post I’ll look at pre-race and race day nutrition.

The week prior to the race I ensure I concentrate on hydration.  Now I’m not saying that’s the only time hydration is important,  I’m saying I really focus on it during this time.

I also focus on eating better during this final week and cut out all alcohol.  Now I don’t drink much by rule…but seven to ten days out I stop drinking altogether.

The day “before” the day before (48 Hrs out), I concentrate on filling up the tank.  I don’t count carbs or calories.  I like to keep it simple.  I have a good breakfast, a solid lunch and I ensure I get a good meal in with a little extra helping.  I don’t pig out or go over board I just have a good sized portion maybe with an extra bread stick, slice of pizza, or second go at the spaghetti. .

Race day eve I again ensure I get in a good breakfast and a carb backed lunch.  For dinner I like to have a good meal, pizza, pasta or on occasion a “breakfast for dinner meal, of pancakes or waffles.  The night before I do not want to take on a “gut buster bomb” timed to maybe go off on the starting line or mid race.

I talk about my race day nutrition on this YouTube video.

Hope this helps…the important thing is to find out what works for you and to get the energy into in the tank so that you can run your best race.

 

Ultra Marathon Running – Racing – Mental Toughness – Success

Do Not Feed The Trolls…Ultra Marathon Running

Once I decided to take my running, racing game into the Ultra Marathon level the first piece of advice I received was “There is going to come a point where a race, a run is really going to suck.”  This simple statement was followed up with “It will get better, just keep making forward progress by any means you can.”

So how do you keep running when a ultra marathon or any race turns ugly.

troll(Cute one minute, Ugly the next…do not feed the trolls)

1.  Do not feed the trolls.  Your mind will begin to work against you, do not feed it.  Those ugly thoughts that pop up, “I can’t do this, I’m tired, I’m sore and I just want to stop.”  Do not feed these thoughts.  Do not allow them to grow.  If left unfed they will pass, they will die out.  They will be defeated.  If you feed the trolls they grow, they get more self defeating, they make it acceptable to quit.

2.  Focus on anything positive.  In my worse race, even when my feet have wanted to explode, my legs were spent or my mental game was not there…I could find something positive to focus on.  That single positive thought can carry you to the next step, the next mile, to the next aid station.

IMG_6075(In the middle of the Graveyard 100K)

3.  Play a game.  When you’re in the middle of a personal battle turn those thoughts into a game.  During my first 100k it got ugly for me around mile 40.  I had been running stride for stride with my running mentor George N. when I simply got tired of running.  To get past that point I started singing stupid songs about the mile we had just passed.  “Forty, miles down I’m a running clown….not going to frown.”  It took George a little to catch on but before we knew it those stupid songs got us (me) into a better mind set.

boogie2016(When the trolls attack…)

4.  Do not start to formulate an escape plan.  In my one DNF, I gave into my escape plan.  After a lap of the Bethel Moonlight Boogie 50 miler in 2016, I mentally did not want to be there.  I did not want to suffer.  The next thing I knew I was drafting my blog post, my Facebook update, and my Twitter broadcast.  Once you get that far, DNF is close….do not give into this.  Focus on your Victory Post.

5.  The trolls only win if YOU let them.  The strongest motivating force you have is a belief in yourself.  Positive mental thoughts can power you thru any challenge if you believe.  Your body will accomplish what your brain believes it can do.

Life gets ugly, races get ugly, miles get hard…Do Not Feed the Trolls

Marathon – Runner – Happy Birthday – To Me – Outer Banks Marathon 26.2

When a local Marathon and your birthday align that is special for any 26.2 mile runner.

Happy Marathon Birthday to me.  I’ll run 26.2 miles and then blow out my marathon candles at the Outer Banks Marathon.

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Come Run the Outer Banks Marathon with me…why you ask?

USATF Certified Course
RUNNING SWAG!
CUSTOM MEDALS FOR ALL FINISHERS
FREE SHUTTLE SERVICE (26.2 & 13.1)
EVENT SHIRT
FREE RUNNER FOOD & BEER (21+)
RUNNER EXPO
4 CHALLENGES – earn extra bling!
POST RACE PARTY WITH LIVE MUSIC – FOOD – BEER – RETAIL
AWESOME COMMUNITY SUPPORT!
SOMETHING FOR EVERYONE!

“I have to say The Outer Banks race is one of the best around. The people that organize it are amazing and always super helpful. The course totally rocks! And then the community support is just phenomenal. I may be partial to it because it is in the Outer Banks and I love it there but I have done a number of full marathons, even more half marathons and for me this is by far the best around. Thank you for all that you do and for putting on a great race!” ~ CB Aldie, VA

Sign up today and tell them Brian sent ya…..to the Outer Banks!

 

Runner – Injured – Ultra Marathon – Training – On Hold – Recovery

Okay so here it is…I’m an injured runner.  I should be running and training for my next race and a bum achilles tendon/calf has me on the sidelines.  I’m injured or if you’re reading this post you may be injured as well.  Recovery. What to do. More importantly what not to do! (speaking to myself here).

Injured-Runner

The Injured runner to do and not to do list.

“Today the rain is going on strong, but tomorrow baby, the sun is going to come out again.” Bruce Lee

DO

1.  Rest – Every time I google injury recovery no matter if it’s for myself or someone I know the number one course of action is rest.  Stop running or doing whatever it is that causes pain.  For us runners that’s tough.  We build a sense of pride in the pain that we can tolerate.  BUT to recover you must inflicting the injury.

NOT TO DO

1.  Continue to run and risk a worse injury.  You’ll know a true injury when it comes along.  This pain stopped me dead in my tracks.  Do not ignore your body.

DO

2.  Seek treatment, whether by a professional or your own research.  Find out how you should treat the injury and how you can begin to recover.

NOT TO DO

2.  Ignore the injury in hopes that it will simply heal on it’s own.  It may but it will take significantly longer.   Why do professional athletes come back from some major injuries so fast?  They work as hard on recovery as they do on performance…and maybe harder.  Your on the running sidelines but not on the sidelines of your recovery.

DO

3.  Stick to your good eating habits.

NOT TO DO

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3.  Fall off the nutrition/good eating freight train.  You have to accept that your body is not going to burn calories like it did before.  You won’t have the long run, the intense workouts, to burn off those extra thin mints, (Hello man in the mirror), and you need the right foods to heal properly.  Step away from the ding dongs!

DO

4.  Stay engaged with the community.  Just because your injured, do not pull away from your running community.  Go to the meetings, attend the races, and continue to interact on-line.  You’re still a runner…continue to be involved.

NOT TO DO

4.  Withdraw, sluk, become a recluse in the community.  It’s tough I get it…but stay out there, motivate, lift up and support others.  The positive energy will help you recover and keep you in touch with the real you, “The runner you.”

DO

5.  Stay positive…this is one bump in the road.  The injury does not define you.  The injury does not take away who you are, what you do or the goals and successes that you are still capable of.

NOT TO DO

5.  Get Depressed – This one is going to be hard.  I do, I fight depression when I’m not running.  I get sad.  I feel like I’m not who I am.  I run….now I can’t.  This sucks.

If you’re struggling with an injury, I get it….I’m there too (or have been recently)  Drop me a note I understand how your feeling.

 

Running – While in a writers slump

The last few days I’ve had a hard time coming up with a new topic for my Running blog.  Running has been easy, but writing, well I’ve been in a writer’s slump.   A writer’s slump you ask?  Well not really.  I’ve written a few chapters in my next running themed book.  I’ve written for another fitness themed blog, but I just could not seem to get motivated for a new post on my blog.

Running while in a writer’s slump.  What gives with that…???

What makes me qualified to write about running?  I started to ask myself.

I started to have some negatives thoughts seek into my mind.

Why do I think anyone cares about my running or what I write about?

Does anyone really read my blog?  Or is it just another collection of digits amongst the many brighter stars in the internet galaxy?

Then it hit me….I am qualified to write about running, and that is the perfect title, theme, thought, and motivation for me to write.

Why am I qualified to write about running?  Simple…

thuletreadmill(A few months into my running journey, Thule Air Base, Greenland, 2001)

I’ve been there.  I started my running journey, out of shape, overweight, and in the throes of middle age.  I had to fight self-doubt, laziness, and a lifestyle that was content to be still.  That alone makes me perfectly qualified to write to 99% of the running population.  Unlike the elite athletes, a large number of us “real” people begin our running careers behind the power curve.  We struggle, fight, and crawl our way to fitness.  I understand you.  I was among you and I’m still one of you.

I live a normal life.  As much as I wish it was, running is not my number one priority.  I may think it is.  I may want it to be but no matter what, my job and family are what enables me to run.  Most of us fight to find time, fight to find the money, and fight to get our runs in.  Some days it’s easy and some days it takes every ounce of effort to get out the door, to step on the treadmill, and begin our run.  I live that battle every day.

I can relate.  At some point running gets hard.  We get injured.  We suffer from blisters.  Our stomachs rebel.  We lose motivation.  We just want to cuddle up on the couch with a bag of chips, some Oreos, a gallon of milk and be still.  I’ve struggled and overcame all of those thoughts….sometimes within the first mile of a single outing.  I feel your pain; your pain has been my pain.  I understand.

I’ve made the mistakes.  We all do.  We up the mileage too soon.  We take on a bigger challenge then we were ready for.  We run when we should have rested.   There is no worse feeling than when you realize your body has let you down.  We get sidelined. I’ve felt that very soul crushing, and self-defeating thought; I’m injured.

I can write about running because I’m like you and you are like me.  We live a normal life. We need each other, we can relate to each other struggles.  We motivate each other.  We inspire each other…and we learn, grow, and support each other.

I may not be educated on the proper techniques of running, I may lack the knowledge and understanding of nutrition and how it relates to running and I might not digest the function of the human body.

But I know exactly what you’re going through…and I care.

medoc-2016-finish(Finishing the Medoc Mountain Trail Marathon, 2016)

That makes me perfectly qualified to write about running.