Open Mic Friday: Meet Runner Dude
We want you to meet today’s guest because he’s pouring his life into running. Known as Runner Dude, he has transformed his life around running, enjoying every distance from 5k to the marathon.
He’s designed his blog Runner Dude's Blog to provide information and inspiration to other runners and promoting some great running resources. His friends call him Thad, but the online world knows him as Runner Dude.
Let’s get right down to it. Dudes ride skateboards, snowboards, wear Dude hair, and do other extreme stuff. What makes you a Dude?
A Dude is also a “regular Joe.” That’s how I think of myself—a regular running Joe. I try to write about stuff that will appeal to any runner. Often training info is written in such technical mumbo jumbo that the average runner is left thinking, huh? So, I try to peel back the layers and make the information user-friendly.
In October 2008, I began the blog just as a hobby and a way to celebrate the accomplishments of the members of my running group—The BlueLiners. When someone completed a marathon or their first Ironman, I’d laud their accomplishments. During various runs, I’d hear my buddies talking about various running topics and it made me curious for answers to their questions, so I began researching and writing blog posts about those topics. Soon, the blog turned more into weekly and then a daily topical blog instead of journal-type blog.
What’s it like running in your part of the country.
North Carolina is a beautiful place to run. The summers can be a bit hot and humid, but all-in-all, it’s a great place to live and run. NC has mountains, plains, and the coast. I’ve run races in all three areas and each is very different, providing amazing views. Running in the fall, especially in the mountains and foothills, when the leaves turn their beautiful colors can be breath-taking. We are lucky here in Greensboro, NC because the city has a great network of greenways and trails perfect for running. Greensboro also has several large parks that are great for running.
Tell us how you got started running.
I was the “fat kid” in elementary and middle school and was far, far, far from being what you might call athletic. My biggest accomplishment was eating a twin pack of Lays Potato Chips in one sitting. In 8th grade, I ran the mile in 18 minutes! In High School, I lost weight but still wasn’t into athletics. All I knew were team sports and I wasn’t the team sport type. It wasn’t until college that I discovered local 5K and 10K races. I ran my first 10K in 1984. I was slow, but finished and had a blast. I was amazed at the sense of accomplishment and pride that it gave me. I continued running more and more races enjoying the competition with myself always trying to beat my previous time. In 1998 I began ramping up my running and actually began to place in my age group even winning it at times. This coincided with moving to Greensboro, where I joined my running group—The BlueLiners—who helped me greatly improve my running.
I am a bit of a running-network-a-holic, that’s for sure. Through the blog, Twitter, and FaceBook, I’ve met so many cool runners that belong to the various running networks. Many have invited me to join, and so I have. Although all the networks are essentially achieving the same goal—bringing runners together—they each also provide something a little different. I’ve enjoyed being a part of all of them and I value all the friendships I’ve gained from them.
Who are some of the more interesting runners you know or have met?
Oh man, there are so many, but just to name a few…there is Jeff May in Canada. Jeff is a wheelchair athlete who uses his feet and specially designed chair to propel himself forward. Jeff is the founder of the Boiling Point Wheelchair Track Classic.
Then there’s Jeff Pickett in South Dakota who hosts a video blog about his journey to his first marathon. He has some very interesting theories about running that he often tests out on the blog such as “Does the color of your running clothes effect your run?”
Then there’s Danica Kooiman (aka: Chicrunner) who began running as a way to cope with her mother’s death from cancer. In honor of her mom, Danica has decided to take on an awesome challenge. She's decided to do the Avon Los Angeles 2 Day Breast Cancer Walk. This is 39 miles in 2 days throughout the Long Beach, CA area.
Then there’s Claudia Becque who’s used a job layout to her advantage and is an Olympic Trials Qualifier and has her eye on the 2012 Olympic Games. And then there’s Gina Harris a running grandmother who has more energy and passion for running than anyone I know. The list could go on and on…
I would love for my 8th-grade PE teacher, Mr. Wade (who thought I could do nothing) knew that I’m now in training for my 11th marathon.
What are some key things you’ve learned about yourself since starting running?
I’ve learned that I have a lot of determination. I’ve also learned that I’m a survivor. I was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis in 2001 and after being very ill in 2002 and a surgery during that time, I was able to use my running to help me recover. Nine months after the surgery I ran the Country Music Marathon in Nashville. Setting that marathon goal got me up and moving much faster than I would have otherwise. Today, healthy habits, good nutrition, my running, and medication have helped me basically remain in remission for the past 6 years.
What would your family and friends tell us about your passion for running?
They would probably tell you that I’m a running fanatic, but they would also probably tell you that running is a part of me and that they know how important it is to my well-being and health. My wife often tells me, “You need to go for a run….Please, honey….go for a run.” ☺
My best race experience was setting a half-marathon PR at the Danville Half Marathon in Danville, VA in 2007. I ran a 1:30:47. I know runners my age (42 at that time) can run a half marathon faster, but for me that was quite an achievement. Also that year, finally broke a 20-minute 5K at the Beat The Heat 5K in Winston Salem, NC with a time of 19:53. Now if I can just get back to those times again!
What have you not done with your running that you’re still looking forward to?
I so much want to qualify for Boston. I need a 3:30. I’m hoping to do that at the Marine Corps Marathon in October.
What gets you excited about running?
Just being outdoors and enjoying the moving of my body and knowing that I’m staying healthy. Also being with my running buddies. I’ve made some lifelong friendships through my running that I will always cherish. Also, sharing the knowledge I’ve learned about running through the blog gets me excited. When a reader tells me that some advice or information that I’ve shared has helped them, that is just the ultimate.
What’s your secret to running success? My secret? Well, I guess loving my sport, respecting my sport, and sharing it with others has been my secret. There’s no fun or joy in keeping all this healthy fun to myself.
The San Francisco Marathon for the overall great experience and the Honolulu Marathon for its amazing beauty.
I would have to say that my very first marathon (NYC 1997) was my greatest accomplishment. It was nowhere near my PR, but just finishing 26.2 miles for the very first time was such an emotional experience. I remember crying after I crossed the finish. I couldn’t help it. It was that overwhelming and emotional. I’ll always remember that first marathon accomplishment feeling.
Current running goals?
Qualify for Boston!! Also, I recently received my RRCA running coach certification and I’m currently in a 6-month diploma program to become a certified personal trainer and nutrition consultant. My goal is to open my own business and provide services as a running, fitness, and healthy-living coach.
Non- running and non-blogging interests?
Spending time with my three kids (ages 8, 13, and 18). I also love reading, especially mysteries, legal thrillers, and even a little Stephen King every now and then.
Joan Benoit Samuelson. I met her at the NC Marathon this past May and had the pleasure to hear her speak at the pre-race dinner. What a humble and amazingly talented lady. Also, Frank Shorter. I met him at the NYC Marathon in 1998. While he probably won’t remember me, I surely remember him because he spoke to me, encouraged me, and made me feel like a real runner.
What is one unique thing about you that most people don't know?
I love country music! LOL!
Who are some of your virtual running friends you would like to meet up and run with?
I’d love to meet and run with all the previously mentioned runners plus I’d also love to meet and run with Otto Voss (a runner in Mexico) who’s an avid reader of the blog, Jo Lynn from the San Francisco Bay area in CA who has the driest whit and keeps me chuckling with her comments on the blog, and Adam Ricklefs in Arizona who is an amazing inspirational young man.
Most embarrassing running moment?
Hmm…the most embarrassing moment probably had to be the time I was attacked by a Canadian goose. I unknowingly had run too close to mama goose’s nest and papa returning to the nest didn’t like it. He attacked me while in flight, rammed me in the back twice, just about knocking me over. I had a huge bruise on my back for about a week. It was embarrassing because this happened in the parking lot right outside my work. All my colleagues had a perfect view of the incident. I still don’t like Geese!
What’s going on in your life outside of running?
I was laid off this past February from a job of 13-years that I loved in the educational publishing field. As hurt and dismayed as I was, I decided to turn it into a positive and make a complete career change to my passion—running and fitness. I’m well on my way, just having received my RRCA running coach certification and I’m currently in the National Personal Training Institute’s 6-month diploma certification program to become a personal trainer and nutrition consultant. I’m so excited to be able to pursue what was only a dream 7 months ago.
If money could buy you a running dream, what would it be?
To run a sub 1:30 half marathon, a sub 3:30 marathon, have the blog reach more and more runners, and have a hugely successful running and fitness coaching business.
Best running advice you’ve ever been given?
“Don’t pay attention to the mile markers,” Joan Benoit Samuelson
Best running advice you’d like to share?
Spread the “runnin’ luv.” Invite colleagues, friends, and family to go on a run with you. You never know when someone is just waiting for that nudge to get them up and into running for the first time.
Do you know a runner you would recommend for Open Mic Friday?
Pass along their name, contact info, and some background and we'll explore introducing them to the Runners' Lounge Community.
Send your suggestions to Tom@runnerslounge.com or Amy@runnerslounge.com